Leon Trotsky

[1st] Letter to the Communist League

(October 1931)

Written: 10 October 1931.
First Published: 1931.
Source: Class Struggle Official Organ Of The Communist League Of Struggle (Adhering to the International Left Opposition), Vol. 1 No. 5, December 1931.
Alternative Translation: The Reply of Trotsky to Weisbord, The Militant, Vol. 4 No. 33 (Whole No. 92), 18 November 1931, p. 4.
Online Version: Vera Buch & Albert Weisbord Internet Archive.
Transcribed/HTML Markup: Albert Weisbord Internet Archive/David Walters.
Proofread: Einde O’Callaghan (February 2013).

Kadikoy, October 10

To the Communist League of Struggle,

Dear Comrades,

I have received several documents from you. I apologize that I answer with delay and then in the German language. To write English would be too for me much too big and too thankless a task. Now to business.

I cannot sympathize with your position. Your criticism of the League seems to me one-sided, artificial and terribly exaggerated. You throw the League in together with the Right, which means that you trample under foot the necessary proportion in politics. You deride the publishing work of the League, and you oppose it to “Mass action”. Have you any mass action whatsoever behind you? Before we turn to the masses we must build a principled basis. We begin with a propagandist group and develop in the direction of mass action.

Also your international connections, sympathies and half-sympathies speak against you. While I cannot claim to be so initiated in present day American affairs, yet I know well enough what the Landau group and other similar groups in Europe mean. Tell me with whom you go and I will tell you what you are.

The International Opposition cannot need two groups in America. Your group is new, has but recently split away from the Right, goes against the Left Opposition on many questions, and flirts with those elements that split away from the International Left. Can you ask us to prefer you to the American League?

You declare yourselves as adhering to the International Opposition. Organizationally this is not so. So it can be taken only in the sense of general solidarity of ideas. Now you must also put yourselves the question of how this is to be expressed organizationally. In your letter to the conference of the league you propose a united front, but without the leading comrades. This is the famous “united front from below” which the Stalinists practice (in words) towards the Social Democracy and the unions. At the same time we fight the league because it will not employ the policy of the united front. This does not really make a serious impression. Were you really to hold any community of ideas with the Left Opposition, you would have to bridge behind you to the league in common. This in no way excludes inner criticism on the ground of a healthy revolutionary democracy.


With Communist greetings,
(Signed) L.D. Trotsky

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Last updated on: 14.2.2013