Leon Trotsky

The Treachery of the Spanish
“Labor Party of Marxist Unity”

(22 January 1936)

Written: 22 January 1936.
Source: New Militant, Vol. II No. 7, 15 February 1936, p. 3.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive (20 March 2018).
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2018. Creative Commons (Share & Attribute).

The Spanish organization of the “Left Communists,” which was always a muddled organization, merged, after countless vacillations to the right and to the left, with the Catalan Federation of Maurin into a party of “Marxist (?) Unity”, on a centrist program. Some of our own periodicals, misled by this name, have written about this party as though it was drawing close to the Fourth International. There is nothing more dangerous than to exaggerate one’s own forces with the aid of ... a credulous imagination. Reality will not be restrained thereby from bringing cruel disillusion!

The newspapers report that in Spain all the “Left” parties, both bourgeois and working class, have made an electoral bloc on the basis of a common program, which, in the nature of things; differs in no way from the program of the French “People’s Front” and all other fake programs of the same type. Here we find “reform of the tribunal of constitutional guarantees” as well as rigid support of the “principle of authority” (!) as well as the “freeing of justice from all influences of a political and economic order” (the freeing of capitalist justice from the influence of capital). And more of the same. The program has in it the rejection of the nationalization of land by the bourgeois republican members of the bloc but “in return,” along with the customary cheap promises in favor of the peasantry (credits, higher prices for agricultural products, etc.), the program, declares for the “recovery (!) of industry” and protection for small industry and petty merchants. Then follows the inevitable “control over banks,” which, since the bourgeois republicans, according to the text of the program, reject workers’ control, involves the control over banks ... by the bankers themselves, through the medium of their parliamentary agents, like Azana and similar gentlemen. Finally, the foreign policy of Spain will be laid down in accordance with the “principles and methods of the League of Nations.” Is there anything left out?

Signatories to this infamous document are the representatives of two Left bourgeois parties, the Socialist party, the Socialist Federation of Labor, the Communist party (why, of course!), the Socialist Youth (too bad!), “Syndicalist party” (Pestana) and finally the “Labor Party of Marxist Unity” (Juan Andrade).

Most of these parties stood at the head of the Spanish revolution during the years of its upsurge and they did everything in their power to betray it and trample it underfoot. The new feature lies in the signature of the party of Maurin-Nin-Andrade. The former Spanish “Left Communists” have turned into a mere tail of the “left” bourgeoisie. It is hard to conceive a more ignominious downfall!

Political Betrayal

A few months ago there was published, in Madrid, Juan Andrade’s book, The Reformist Bureaucracy and the Labor Movement, in which along with quotations from Marx, Engels, Lenin and other authors, an analysis is made of the causes underlying the degeneration of labor bureaucrats. Juan Andrade forwarded his book to me twice, each time with glowing dedications, in which he calls me his “leader and teacher.” This fact, which under different conditions would have only made me happy, compels me at present to announce all the more decisively in public that I never taught anybody political betrayal. And Andrade’s conduct is nothing else but betrayal of the proletariat for the sake of an alliance with the bourgeoisie.

In this connection, it is in place to recall that the Spanish “Left Communists,” as their very name indicates, posed on every appropriate occasion, as irreconcilable revolutionists. In particular, they thunderously condemned the French Bolshevik-Leninists for entering the Socialist party. Never! Under no conditions! To enter temporarily into a mass political organization in order to carry on an irreconcilable struggle in its ranks against the reformist leaders for the banner of the proletarian revolution – that is opportunism; but to conclude a political alliance with the leaders of a reformist party on the basis of a deliberately dishonest program serving to dupe the masses and cover up the bourgeoisie – that is valour! Can there be any greater debasement and prostitution of Marxism?

I.L.P. and Spain

The “Party of Marxist Unity” is a member of the celebrated London Bureau of “Revolutionary Socialist Parties” (the former I.A.G.). The leadership of this Bureau is now in the hands of Fenner Brockway, secretary of the Independent Labor Party. We have already written that, despite the antiquated and apparently incurable pacifist prejudices of Maxton and others, the I.L.P. has taken an honest revolutionary position on the question of the League of Nations and its sanctions. Each of us has read with pleasure a number of excellent articles in the New Leader. During the last parliamentary elections the Independent Labour Party refused to give even electoral support to the Laborites, precisely because the latter supported the League of Nations. In itself this refusal was a tactical error. Wherever the I.L.P. was unable to run its own candidates, it should have supported a Laborite against a Tory. But this is incidental. In any case, even talk was excluded of any “common programs” with the Laborites. Internationalists would have combined support in elections with an exposure of the crawling of the British social-patriots before the League of Nations and its “sanctions.”

We take the liberty to put a question to Fenner Brockway: just what is the purport of the “International” of which he is the secretary? The British section of this “International” rejects the mere electoral support of labor candidates, if they support the League of Nations. The Spanish section concludes a bloc with bourgeois parties on a common program of supporting the League of Nations. Is not this the extreme in the domain of contradictions, confusion and bankruptcy? There is no war as yet, but the sections of the London “International” are already pulling in just the opposite directions. What will happen to them when the ominous events break?

“Unity” – with Whom?

But let us return to the Spanish party of “Marxist Unity.” How ironical is the name “Marxist Unity” ... with the bourgeoisie. The Spanish “Left Communists” (Andres Nin, Juan Andrade and others) have more than once tried to parry our criticism of their collaborationist policies by citing our lack of understanding of the “special conditions” in Spain. This is the customary argument put to use by all opportunists – for the first duty of a genuine proletarian revolutionist lies in translating the special conditions of his country into the international language of Marxism, which is accessible even beyond the confines of one’s own country. [1] But today there is no need of these theoretical arguments. The Spanish bloc of the tops of the working class with the left bourgeoisie does not include in it anything “national,” for it does not differ in the least from the “People’s Front” in France, Czechoslovakia, Brazil or China. The “Party of Marxist Unity” is merely slavishly conducting the same policy that the Seventh Congress of the Comintern foisted upon all its sections, absolutely independently of their “national peculiarities.” The real difference in the Spanish policy this time lies only in the fact that a section of the London International has also adhered officially to the bloc with the bourgeoisie. So much the worse for it. As far as we are concerned we prefer clarity. In Spain, genuine revolutionists will no doubt be found who will mercilessly expose the betrayal of Maurin, Nin, Andrade and Co., and lay the foundation for the Spanish section of the Fourth International!

January 22, 1936


1. In search for justifications for their policy Maurin-Nin refer to the Spanish electoral law which makes it extremely difficult for a young party to run its own candidates. (See the resolution of the C.E.C., Batalla, No. 234.) But this argument is worthless. Electoral technique cannot justify perfidious policy, in the shape of a common program with the bourgeoisie.

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Last updated on: 20 March 2018