Sellier is Right – Lovestone Wrong

(April 1930)

From The Militant, Vol. III No. 15, 12 April 1930, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Ca Ira, organ of the P.O.P. (Workers and Peasants Party) of France, the newly-formed party of the French Right wing, writes on March 1:

“Analyzing our manifesto, our friends from Germany (the Brandler group), after some criticisms of details, conclude that outside of Alsace we are ‘the group closest to their position and the one possessing the greatest influence’. We are proud of this new approbation, sent to us by old militants. It is the commencement of our international contact.”

Revolutionary Age, organ of the American Right wing, following the tip, changes the last line in its chorus of previously unstinted praise for the good French comrades, by submitting them to a timid “criticism of details”. In its issue of March 1, it writes:

“The Six (that is, the movement led by the six expelled municipal councillors) have taken the road of a new Party. On December 28, the conference called by the ‘Six’ decided upon the formation of a ‘Workers and Farmers Party’ ... The apparent purpose of this move was to create an ‘election Party’, a parliamentary apparatus for the expelled. This step – which is directly contrary to the line (?) and experiences of the international Opposition movement – has set back the development of the French Opposition a great deal.”

Thus the brave internationalism of the Right wing. The suspicious tardiness of the “criticism” – the P.O.P. was organized nine weeks ago and an analysis of it published a short while afterwards in the Militant – we will leave to more qualified parties to explain. But we must establish, if only in the interests of strict accuracy that Loveatone is wrong and Sellier the leading spirit of the new draft of French Mensheviks, is right at least so far-as the disputed point is concerned. And as between the stated view of Lovestone that Sellier and Co. should have constituted themselves only as a fraction for the “conquest of the Communist Party”, and the action of Sellier himself in forming a new party, the more natural and proper path is the Frenchman’s.

Internationalism Is Forgotten

Indeed, what have Sellier and his friends in common with revolutionary Marxism that they should form a faction to win even the shivering shadow of the once powerful Communist Party of France? Nothing, so far as we can perceive. The P.O.P. is a purely parliamentary apparatus to safeguard the municipal, and in general, the electoral bottoms of its leaders. In the trade union field (C.G.T.U.), it has allied itself with the syndicalist-reformist elements who are for the “independence of the trade unions” – that is, for their dependence upon the reformists and their masters. Its leaders’ activities in the municipal councils are largely indistinguishable from those of a “Left” social democrat of, let us say, the more “solid” Austrian. school. They do not even bother, as Lovestone and Brandler do out of politeness to the confused Communist workers still in their ranks, to call themselves a Communist movement; on the contrary, apparently taking Stalin’s slogan as good revolutionary coin, they have labelled themselves a “workers and peasants” party. In their manifesto, which was posted upon the billboards and walls of Paris as I passed through that city two weeks ago, they addressed themselves to the good and honest French citizenry, and out of sheer oversight we presume ... did not as much as mention the Bolshevik revolution or the Soviet republic. They did appeal, however, for a rally to the P.O.P. on the basis of the good old revolutionary French traditions of – 1789.

After all, one can read the material of Brandler and Lovestone and find some vague mutterings about the Russian revolution and internationalism, like the incoherent babblings of a man waking out of a sleep and talking about something that happened long, long ago. But Messrs. Sellier and Co. are “sobered up”, they are quite through with what they consider yesterday’s bubblings of revolutionary beverages “artificially imported” from Moscow. What have they to do with Internationals and with a revolution in far-off Russia (or any other country, it might be added)? Let Stalin build up his socialism in Russia: that’s his affair. And let Brandler build his “Communist” Opposition in Germany, if he wants to. As for ourselves, say Sellier, Gelis, Chasseigne, Dunois and Co., let us build our modest little election machine in France. Everyone to his own taste! Live and let live! These are the fearless slogans emblazoned on the standards of the Right wing “international”.

Travelling Toward Menshevism

At the conference to constitute the P.O.P., by the way, there was also on hand Maurice Paz, erstwhile Oppositionist of the Left. He too made his essential criticism of the Selliers the fact that they were forming a “second party”. Paz has found bad company. Like him, Lovestone is little concerned with all these petty, bothersome questions of Communist principles. What is important is the question: Second party or party faction. And alas, it is precisely in this last question that Sellier is correct and Lovestone wrong.

It is necessary, again in the interests of strict accuracy, to conclude with one more aspect of the issue. Sellier would be wrong and Lovestone right if it were a matter of not organizing a new party but instead of that, a faction – in the socialist party, a faction allied – from the Left side, if you wish – with M. Zyromski and his friends. Indeed it is not so long ago that Lovestone, as secretary of the American Party, proposed to its Political Bureau that Party members be sent into the Socialist Party to build a “Left wing” there. Is there any reason to doubt that now, travelling with express speed away from Communism, Lovestone and Sellier will not soon realize the step that Lovestone advocated in an unguarded moment? In our opinion there is none.

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