L. Trotsky

In the International Opposition

Pertinent Questions to
the Prometeo Group

(April 1930)

Written: 22 April 1930.
Source: The Militant, vol. III No. 23, 14 June 1930, p. 4.
Transcription/HTML Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive.
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Dear Comrades:

A few months ago you addressed to me an open letter to which I then replied. Now it seems to me the time has come to address an open letter to your group.

In Paris a preliminary conference of the International Left Opposition was recently held. This conference is a serious step forward because it was made possible only in consequence of lengthy preparatory work of an ideological character. Your group, before the eyes of which this work was being developed, did not consider it possible to participate in this conference. This extremely important fact of absenteeism prompts me to ask you the following questions:

1.) Do you assume that Communism can have a national character? This for example, is the position of Urbahns, who, while repeating the ritualistic formulas of internationalism, created a purely German sect having no connections in the whole world and consequently deprived of revolutionary perspective. Therefore do you regard yourselves as a national current or part of an international current!

2.) If in your answer to this question you state that you are fully satisfied with your isolated national existence then there would be no room for any further questions. But I have no doubt that you consider yourselves internationalists. In this case the second question looms up: to what particular international current do you belong! There are now three basic currents in international Communism: the Centrist, the Right and the Left (Leninist). Besides these there are different kinds of ultra-Left offshoots who grope about between Marxism and anarchism. Until now we thought that you stood nearest to the Left Opposition. Your hesitancy we ascribed to your possible desire to orientate yourselves in the development of the Left Opposition. But hesitancy cannot be maintained forever. Life is not stagnant either in Italy or in the rest of the world. In order to join the International Left there is no need whatever for false “monolithism” in the spirit of the Stalinist bureaucracy. What is needed is actual solidarity on the basic questions of revolutionary strategy that has stood the test of the past few years.

Particular tactical disagreements are absolutely unavoidable and can be no obstacle for close common work in the framework of an international organization. Wherein do your disagreements with the Left Opposition consist? Are they of a principled or of an episodic character? You must reply to this clearly and precisely.

3.) Your absence from the preliminary international conference can be interpreted that there are disagreements of principle that divide you from the Left Opposition. If this be so a third question crops up: why don’t yon proceed with the organization of an international faction of your own current? After all you cannot conceive that revolutionary principles adaptable for the whole world are not applicable to Italy or vice versa. The passive-conciliatory attitude towards the Left Opposition combined with reluctance to join it and the refusal to participate in the life of the Communist vanguard of other countries is characteristic of national socialism or national Communism and has nothing in common with Marxist Communism.

Your reply to these questions is of serious consequence not only from the international but first of all from the Italian point of view in so far as these two viewpoints can be in any way set off against one another. The illegal character of the Italian Communist Party makes it difficult to follow up developments. Nevertheless there can be no doubt that within the framework of the Italian Communist Party there are besides the official faction, your group and the group of Rights (Tasca), numerous revolutionary elements who have not yet openly formulated their positions. Under these circumstances you are among the indefinite elements. Meanwhile precisely the illegal existence of the Party demands with double force the full principled clarity of the leading groups. Your reply will help speed up the ideological crystallization within the Italian proletarian vanguard.

It is needless to say that the Russian Opposition would be happy to learn of your decision to join the International Left.

Prinkipo, April 22, 1930

With Communist Greetings,

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Last updated on: 13.10.2012