Leon Trotsky

The Anniversary of the Russian Revolution

Right of Revolutionary Optimism

(Late 1939)

First Published: Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 87, 14 November 1939, p. 1.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2018. Creative Commons (Attribute & Share-alike).

In the weekly of the well-known newspaper Paris-Soir of August 31, 1939, an extremely instructive conversation is reported between the French ambassador Coulondre and Hitler on August 25, at the time of their last interview. (The source of the information is undoubtedly Coulondre himself.) Hitler sputters, boasts of the pact which he concluded with Stalin (“a realistic pact”) and “regrets” that German and French blood will be spilled.

“But,” Coulondre objects, “Stalin displayed great double-dealing. The real victor (in case of war) will be Trotsky. Have you thought this over?”

“I know,” Der Fuehrer responds, “but why did France and Britain give Poland complete freedom of action?” etc.

These gentlemen like to give a personal name to the spectre of revolution. But this of course is not the essence of this dramatic conversation, at the very moment when diplomatic relations were ruptured. “War will inevitably provoke revolution”; the representative of imperialist democracy, himself chilled to the marrow, frightens his adversary.

“I know,” Hitler responds, as if it were a question decided long ago. “I know.” Astonishing dialogue!

Both of them, Coulondre and Hitler, represent the barbarism which advances over Europe. At the same time neither of them doubt thatvtheir barbarism will be conquered by socialist revolution. Such is now the awareness of the ruling classes of all the capitalist countries of the world. Their complete demoralization is one of the most important elements in the relation of class forces. The proletariat has a young and still weak revolutionary leadership. But the leadership of the bourgeoisie rots on its feet. At the very outset of the war which they could not avert, these gentlemen are convinced in advance of the collapse of their regime! This fact alone must be for us the source of invincible revolutionary optimism!

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Last updated on: 27 June 2016