Leon Trotsky

To the publishers of De Nieuwe Fakkel
and De Internationale

(January 1938)

Written: 21 January 1938.
Transcription/Markup: Frans-Arne Stylegar
Proofread: Einde O’Callaghan (September 2015).
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2007. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

(copy to all sections of the Fourth International with request that they publish it)

Honoured Comrades,

You have more than once honoured me by publishing my articles. I therefore have no doubts that you will print the following short letter.

From the first beginnings of your party’s existence I have had differences with your leaders and most of all with comrade Sneevliet in all questions of principle. In fact, the leadership of the RSAP has always been in irreconcilable opposition to all other sections of the Fourth International, but over the last two years the differences have heightened increasingly.

I. In perfect agreement with the overwhelming majority of our International organisation I have considered, and still consider, Sneevliet’s politics when it comes to trade unions as pernicious.

II. I have considered, and still consider, the RSAP’s lack of a revolutionary programme of action and the resulting unprincipled character of its agitation as totally illegitimate.

III. I have considered, and still consider, the attitude of the RSAP leadership in regard to the politics of the ’Popular front’ as always being ambiguous, i.e. covertly and sometimes openly opportunistic.

IV. The politics of comrade Sneevliet regarding the question of the POUM are totally at odds with the alphabet of class struggle and has caused an unmistakable damage to the Spanish revolution and the Fourth International.

V. The politics of comrade Sneevliet on the Russian question was and still is basically wrong and disloyal in regard to the Russian Bolshevik-Leninists.

VI. I have considered, and still consider, the parliamentary activities of comrade Sneevliet as opportunistic.

VII. I have considered, and still consider, the uncomradely attitude of the RSAP leadership against all other sections of the International Secretariat as illegitimate.

VIII. I have considered, and still consider, that the International Secretariat has been correct in all conflicts of principle between comrade Sneevliet and the IS.

Dozens of times has the International Secretariat offered your party leadership to open a free discussion on all points of difference. You have obstinately refused to fulfil this elementary duty toward your own party. Instead of opening a discussion your party leadership resorted to expel true supporters of the Fourth International from your organisation. This action cannot signify anything else than a preparation to break with the Fourth International and move on to the camp of the ‘left’ social democrats united around the London Bureau.

My latest letter to comrade Sneevliet, dated December 2, 1937, wherein I queried whether your party was planning to attend the International Conference, was never answered. More important is the fact that neither the official query from the International Secretariat got a reply.

The pupose of this letter, attempting to summarise five years of cooperation, comradely critique, mutual clarification and rapprochement is to bring the situation into the open. Everyone has to carry responsibility for his political line. The members of your party and of all sections of the Fourth International will be the judges.


With revolutionary greetings,
Leon Trotsky


Coyoacan, D.F
January 21, 1938

Note: The numbering I–VIII was introduced by the editors, H. Sneevliet.

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Last updated on: 11 September 2015