Leon Trotsky

Nine-Tenths of Our Activities
for the Revolution in Spain

On the Maurin Group in Catalonia and the Left Opposition

Written & Dated: 8 July 1931.
First published: The Militant, Vol. IV, No. 17, 1 August 1931, p. 1.
Translated: The Militant, unknown.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Martin Fahlgren.
Proofread: Einde O’Callaghan (January 2013).
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 .

It would be most harmful, most dangerous and even most disastrous were the idea to sink into the minds of the workers of Catalonia, of Spain and of the whole world that we are solidary with the policy of the Catalonian Federation or that we bear responsibility for it, or, at least, that we are closer to it than to the Centrist grouping. The Stalinists present matters in this way with all their might. Up to now we have not fought against this with sufficient vigor. It is all the more important and urgent to dispel this misunderstanding which compromises us terribly and which hampers the development of the Catalonian and the Spanish workers.

To he sure, the denunciation of the Catalonian Federation is a task which falls in the first place to our supporters in Catalonia itself. They must come forward with a clear, open, precise criticism, a criticism which does not pass over in silence anything in the policy of Maurin, of that concoction of petty bourgeois prejudices, of ignorance, of provincial “science” and of political knavery.

The Federation in the Elections

In the elections to the Cortes, the Federation received nearly 10,000 votes. That is not much. But in a revolutionary epoch, a really revolutionary organization is capable of growing quickly. There is however a circumstance which diminishes the weight of these 10,000 votes: in the elections to the Cortes, the Catalonian Federation received less votes than in the municipal elections in Barcelona, that is, in the most important revolutionary center. This fact, trifling at first sight has an enormous symptomatic significance. It shows that while in the most secluded corners of the country a flow of workers, however feeble, is manifested towards the Federation, in Barcelona, the confusion of Maurin does not attract but repulses the workers. Of course, the inevitable bankruptcy of Macia may aid even Maurin as a bankrupt of second order. But the impotence of the present leadership of the Federation is demonstrated completely by the elections to the Cortes: really, special “talents” are required to tax one’s ingenuity so as not to increase one’s influence in Barcelona during the three months of the revolution!

What does the Federation represent in the language of revolutionary politics? Is it a Communist organization? and precisely what kind – of the Right wing, the Center or the Left? It is beyond doubt that they are revolutionary workers, potential Communists who vote for the Federation. But they have as yet no clarity in their minds. And where is it to come from if these workers are led by confusionists? Under these conditions, the most determined, the boldest, the most consistent workers must inevitably rush to the side of the official party. The latter obtained only 170 votes in Barcelona and nearly 1,000 in all of Catalonia. But it must not be thought that these are the worst elements. On the contrary, most of these elements might be with us and they will be when we unfurl our banner.

At the beginning of the 1917 revolution, the majority of the Russian social democratic organizations had a mixed character, including in their ranks Bolshevik’s, Mensheviks, conciliators etc. The tendency for unification was so great at the conference of the Bolshevik party at the end of March, that Stalin, a few days before the arrival of Lenin, pronounced himself in favor of the unification with the Mensheviks. Certain provincial organizations remained mixed up to the October revolution. I picture the Catalonian Federation as a sort of similar mixed organization, a not defined organization which includes future Bolsheviks and future Mensheviks. This justifies the policy which seeks to introduce into the ranks of the Federation a political differentiation. The first step in this road is the denunciation of the vulgar policy of Maurinism. Here one must be merciless. The comparison of the Catalonian Federation with the unified organizations of Russia, nevertheless requires essential restrictions. The unified organizations (lid not exclude any existing social democratic grouping. All of them had the right to fight for their opinions inside the unified organization. The matter is quite different in the Catalonian Federation. There, “Trotskyism”; is put on the index. Every confusionist has the right to defend his confusionism there, but the Bolshevik-Leninist cannot raise his voice openly. Thus, this eclectic mixed unified organization delimits itself from the Left wing at the very outset. But by that very fact it becomes a chaotic bloc of Centrist and Right wing tendencies. Centrism can develop either to the Left or else to the Right. The Centrism of the Catalonian Federation which rejects the Left wing during the revolution is doomed to a shameful destruction. The task of the Left Opposition consists of precipitating this destruction by its merciless criticism.

Unity à la Maurin

But there is another circumstance to which an exceptional importance must be attributed. The Catalonian Federation is officially for the unification of all the Communist organizations and groupings. It is certain that the rank and file sincerely and loyally desire this unity, even though they attach all sorts of illusions to the slogan. We are entirely alien to these illusions. We are fighting for unity because within the framework of a unified party we hope to conduct with success a progressive work of ideological delimitation on the basis of questions and tasks imposed not from without, but flowing from the development of the Spanish revolution itself. But we support in every way the struggle for the unification of the Communists. The fundamental condition for this unification is for us the right to the possibility of lighting for our slogans, for our points of view within the framework of the unified organization. We can and we must promise a complete loyalty in this struggle, but the fundamental condition is destroyed at the very outset by the Federation itself: while fighting under the banner of unity, it banishes the Bolshevik-Leninists from its own ranks. Under these conditions, to support the leading role of the Catalonian Federation in the struggle for the unity of the Communist party would be the greatest absurdity on our part. At the unification congress, Maurin is preparing himself to play first fiddle. Can we tolerate in silence this revolting hypocrisy? In fighting against the Left Opposition, Maurin apes the Stalinist bureaucracy so as to win its favors. In reality he says to the Stalinists: Give me your blessing and above all your subsidies, and I promise you to fight against the Bolshevik-Leninists not out of fear but in all sincerity. The unifying activity of Maurin is only a form of blackmail against the Stalinists. Were we to keep quiet about it, we would not be revolutionists, but passive auxiliaries to political blackmail. We must denounce mercilessly the role of Maurin, that is, his “unifying” charlatanism, without for a single instant weakening our struggle for the genuine unification of the Communist ranks and without weakening our struggle for the Communist ranks to range themselves under our banner.

Nine-tenths of the work of the international Left must be concentrated today upon Spain. All expenditures must be restricted so as to have the possibility of establishing a weekly in Spanish and periodic publications in Catalan, at the same time issuing leaflets in great number. The question must considered of restricting all expenditures for other purposes without exception, in order to lend the greatest aid to the Spanish Opposition.

The International Secretariat in my opinion, must devote nine-tenths of its forces to the questions of the Spanish revolution. We must simply forget that there exists in the world any kind of  Landau. We must turn our backs upon all the quarrels, upon all the intrigues and the intrigants, without devoting a single minute to them. The most important documents must be printed without delay and submitted to a necessary criticism. The next number of the International Bulletin must be devoted entirely to the Spanish revolution. We must also take a number of organizational measures. For this we need men and means. Both must be found.

There is not and there cannot be a greater crime than the loss of time.

Kadikoy, July 8, 1031.

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Last updated on: 14.1.2013