Leon Trotsky

The Catalonian Federation’s Platform

Written & Dated: 12 June, 1931.
First published in The Militant of Vol IV, No. 17, Page 1, August 1 of 1931.
Translated: The Militant, individuals unknown.
Transcription/HTML Markup:Riazinov Library & David Walters.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2011. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 .

I have just read for the first time in La Lutte de classes of the platform of the socalled Workers and Peasants Bloc, the name under which the Catalonian Federation acts. I acknowledge that the document is translated in La Lutte de classes in a thorough and correct manner. The document as a whole, from beginning to end, produces a painful impression. All that I have written in my latest work, “The Spanish Revolution in Danger”, against the official policy of the C. I. [Comintern] on the Spanish question, applies entirely to the Catalonian Federation. Even more, the latter commits errors which the leadership of the C. I. has already renounced, at least in words.

1. The document is issued by the “Workers and Peasants’ Bloc”. What is this? A pseudonym for the Catalonian Federation? The bloc, that is, the union of the workers and peasants, is a gigantic political task that the proletarian vanguard must accomplish. This task must be written into its platform. In place of this, the “Workers and Peasants Bloc” becomes the name of the revolutionary organization. This is nothing else but a new edition of the workers’ and peasants’ party. Yet even the Sixth Congress of the Comintern renounced this reactionary idea under the criticism of the Left Opposition.

2. In all the documents the word Communism does not appear a single time. Whoever hides his Communism from the masses, ceases to be a Communist.

Menshevik Criticism

3. They speak of the democratic revolution, of the democratic republic, of the popular revolution, without the slightest attempt at a class analysis. The government is accused of indecision, of vacillation, etc. . . . But nowhere is it said that it is a government of the bourgeoisie, an enemy of the people. Their criticism of the Zamora government coincides entirely with the criticism addressed by the Mensheviks and the Social Revolutionists to the government of Prince Lvov-Kerensky. On the subject of the Macia government nothing is said.

4. The document speaks of a “rational construction of society” without explaining what this means. It is the language of the “true” socialists before 1848. Then it says: “The republic must signal a new social organization”. Which? Is it a question of a bourgeois regime or of a socialist regime? The platform plays hide and seek with capitalism and with socialism.

5. The fact of having given Alfonso the possibility of fleeing abroad is presented as a “first profound mistake of the provisional government.” Mistake? Is this to mean that Zamora is not sufficiently “sensible” in his revolutionary policy? This is how the Russian Mensheviks put the question. To call a “mistake” that which with the bourgeoisie is a deliberate counter-revolutionary calculation, means to whitewash the bourgeoisie and to cover it up before the masses.

6. “The republic must be a victory not only for the bourgeoisie but also for the workers.” What is the meaning of this mealy-mouthed, vulgarly democratic and profoundly false phrase? Where and when has a republic existed that satisfied at the same time the interests of the bourgeoisie and those of the workers? From the republican bourgeoisie, we can and should demand democratic rights and social reforms, ceaselessly exposing the bourgeois, even the arch-democratic, republic as a machine which the bourgeoisie uses to squeeze the sweat and blood of the workers and the peasants.

7. The reference to the republic of 1873 is accompanied by this incredible moral: “Thus a complete division was created between the power and the people.” The abstraction of the people is separated from the abstraction of the power. Perhaps the bourgeoisie separated itself from the working people? The example of 1873 must be referred to not in order to insist that the bourgeoisie become softer, better, more generous, more tender, but in order to teach the masses not to believe for a single instant in the more “generous”, the “softer”, the “tenderer” bourgeoisie. That is how the Marxists put the question.

8. The platform calls upon the “working masses to organize themselves in all the provinces on the basis of revolutionary Juntas.” To what end? No program is indicated. Not only is it not indicated that Juntas of this kind will have to guarantee the revolutionary passage of power into the hands of the workers and the poor peasants, but a program of transitional demands is not put forward: 7-hour working day, control of production, organization through revolutionary Juntas of workers and of soldiers for the agrarian uprising. They do not mention by a single word that the Junta is an organization of the proletariat and the exploited masses against the class which is in power, that is, against the bourgeoisie. The Junta is taken as a “revolutionary organization” in the spirit of the Spanish petty bourgeois tradition.

9. In speaking of the importance of the agrarian uprising the platform refers to the French and the Russian revolutions. Not a word about the experience of the Chinese revolution, which, under our very eyes, has just been strangled by the leadership of the C. I. Did the Comintern “solve” the agrarian question in China correctly? Not a word about that. The communist who has not profited by the lessons of the Chinese revolution has no right to address himself to the masses in order to teach them and to issue appeals to them, especially in a revolutionary country.

10. The platform says: “We are supporters of a State for each nation.” What does this mean for Spain? What nation is involved? The Pan-Spanish state organization is defined as follows: “The Union of the Republics of Iberia.” What does this mean? If it means a federation, it would be better to say so.

11. “The defense of the revolution must be the supreme law.” Defense against whom? The bourgeoisie in power defends “its” revolution against the proletariat. Whoever conceals this fact behind hollow phrases on the defense in general of the revolution in general against enemies in general, helps the bourgeoisie to stifle the proletariat under the banner of the revolution.

12. The “Workers and Peasants Bloc”, that is, the workers’ and peasants’ party, promises at the end of its platform to “fight with all its strength for the complete realization of the democratic revolution.” Does this mean the bourgeois republic on the basis of democratic parliamentarism? Then one must say so, but in this case it is necessary at least to put forward demands for democratic electoral rights, inasmuch as before the “rational” republic and the “rational organization of society” is realized on the Iberian Peninsula, it is necessary for the bourgeois republic of Zamora at least gives to the workingman and the workingwoman, the peasant and the peasant woman, the right to vote.

13. The name of the Socialist Party is not mentioned in the platform. Not a word is said about the anarcho-syndicalists. The official Communist Party is not mentioned. One might say that the “Workers’ and Peasants’ Bloc” is prepared to act in the void.

Spanish Kuo Min Tangism

These are the rapid objections that I believe it is necessary to make on the basis of the text published in La Lutte de classes. It is possible that, already, the Catalonian Federation has introduced into its platform some change, correction or amendment or other. I am ready, to be sure, to welcome every step of the Federation in the sense of Marxism. But the document as it stands represents a pure “Kuo Min Tangism” transported to Spanish soil. The ideas and the methods against which the Opposition fought implacably when it was a question of the Chinese policy of the Comintern, find their most disastrous expression in this document. As far as I know, the leaders of the Catalonian Federation systematically draw a line of demarcation from the Left Opposition. This is not enough: the Left Opposition must draw a line of demarcation in a clear and precise manner from the ideas and methods which are expressed by the leaders of the Catalonian Federation in the document which we have just analyzed briefly. A false point of departure during a revolution is inevitably translated in the course of events into the language of defeat. The Spanish Left Opposition, weak though it is, can render enormous services to the proletariat and to the Spanish revolution. But in order to fulfill this mission, it must establish in its own ranks a regime of clarity, honesty, and intransigence. It is to this that I call our Spanish friends.

June 12, 1931

Leon Trotsky

return return return return return

Last updated on: 2 January 2011