L. Trotsky

Unser Wort a Weekly

A Real Achievement

(January 1934)

Written: 24 January 1934.
Source: The Militant, Vol. VII No. 7, 10 February 1934, p. 3.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2016. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.

The transformation of Unser Wort into a weekly is a great achievement not only of the revolutionary wing of the German emigration, not only of the new party of the German proletariat that is now being built, but of the Fourth International as well. (The strength of Unser Wort lies in the fact that it serves at one and the same time national and international tasks.

Some wise men who understood nothing of the character of our epoch and learned nothing from the victories and defeats of the proletariat, try to reason as follows: first we will build a national party and then on a solid and safe foundation we shall erect the International. This argument sounds very serious, circumspect, solid but in reality it demonstrates Philistine short-sightedness. The regenerating workers’ movement does not begin history anew; it has a colossal past, similar in its main traits for all countries. The proletariat of the whole world had been united for decades by the Second International and the trade unions. After the world war the proletarian advance-guard united under the banner of the Third International. Not only the world crisis, Fascism and the danger of war, but the decline of the Comintern as well have an inter-national character. It is clear that under the influence of the very same common causes advanced proletarian elements in all countries must seek a way out in the same direction. Can they, in this case, refuse the establishment of international connections, elaboration of programmatic and strategical questions, exchange of political experience and, finally, mutual practical support, already at the first steps of their work?

Some wise slow-movers go even further and say: “We do not want to split our ranks because of questions of the character of the Soviet state the strategy of the Comintern in the Chinese revolution, the policy of the Anglo-Russian Committee, etc., etc. We want “simply” to help the workers of our country to carry on the class struggle. Thus reason, for instance, the initiators of a new Workers Party in the United States (C.P.L.A. – Muste et. al.). Of the same opinion are the leaders of the Swedish Independent Communist Party (Kilboom & others), the British I.L.P. (Fenner Brockway and others), etc. If you will, the authors of the German pamphlet Begin Anew occupy even a lower place in this question. Can one imagine a doctor who would say that he is not concerned with the fundamental theories of anatomy, physiology and pathology, that he does not want to argue about the newest theories on cancer, or malaria, but prefers “simply” to treat the patients of his locality? Not one thinking worker would trait the life of his child, or his own life to such pitiable dullards. No capitalist, on the other hand, would entrust the erection of a plant to an engineer who did not master thoroughly the fundamental theories of technology. Only in the sphere of politics, even “revolutionary” politics, ignorant quackery continues as pretentiously to argue against the scientific method. It is at times difficult to believe that the Manifesto of the Communist Party was written 85 years ago!

The disputed questions, now splitting the world working class movement, have not an episodic, not a tactical but a principled, strategic and, by this very fact, international character. No matter how great the peculiarities of this or that country may be, they determine in our epoch merely the tactics and not the strategy of the working class. The importance of tactics, is, of course, great; in the final analysis all strategy dissolves into tactics. But we cannot make one corroct tactical step without a strategic compass in hand. We cannot orientate ourselves in the national situation, without estimating theoretically the world situation, without drawing conclusions from the international experience of the working class, without outlining an international perspective, that is, without a program of a new International.

When deep-thinking people say: “do not hurry, now is not the time for the Fourth International”, they could with equal success say: “Do not hurry, now is not the time for the class struggle”. Since it is not a question of the formal “proclamation” of the new International but of the building of a new party, not as an isolated national entity but as a part of the International.

The small Unser Wort is now the only organ in the whole field of the German working class movement that realizes correctly, earnestly, in a Marxian fashion the interrelation of tactics and strategy, of a national party and a new International. Precisely in this lies the guarantee of its success. In the epoch of dissolution, ferment, confusion, political half-heartedness may sometimes register great successes which are of the greatest surprise to itself and blind it: but these successes are not trustworthy, they disappear together with the political conjuncture that gave birth to them. The successes of Unser Wort are of a different order; they are successes of method, system, Marxian clarity – these successes are solid.

Friends of Unser Wort must spare no efforts to insure the weekly appearance of the paper, enrich its content, enlarge its size, increase its circulation, facilitate its penetration into Germany and make ready for publication, alongside of Unser Wort of a theoretical monthly for the elaboration of the principal questions of our epoch, that is, of the program of the Fourth International.

Hearty greetings to the editors, personnel, administration, readers and friends of the weekly Unser Wort!

January 24, 1934

L. Trotsky

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Last updated on: 8 February 2016