Leon Trotsky

How to Defend Ourselves

(August 1940)

Written: 2 August 1940.
First Published: Fourth International, Vol.1 No.5, October 1940, p.126.
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

Transcriber’s comments:
This letter is a part of a series of letters published in this issue of Fourth International
under the heading of Trotsky’s Last Letters,
D.W., 2002.

In a Dies Committee raid on some student rooms in Austin, Texas, large quantities of Trotskyist literature were seized. There were headlines in the Texas press about it and the sensationalist stories attempted to link Trotsky to the case. The following letter suggests the course to be taken by the defense.

August 12, 1940

Dear Friend:

The Texas story is very important. The attitude of the people involved can become decisive from the legal point of view.

We, of course, cannot imitate the Stalinists who proclaim their absolute devotion to the bourgeois democracy. However, we do not wish to furnish any pretext for persecutions.

In this case, as in any others, we should speak the truth as it is; namely, the best, the most economical and favorable method for the masses would be to achieve the transformation of this society by democratic means. The democracy is also necessary for the organization and education of the masses. That is why we are always ready to defend the democratic rights of the people by our own means. However, we know on the basis of tremendous historical experience that the 60 Families will never permit the democratic realization of socialist principles. At a given moment the 60 Families will inevitably overthrow, or try to overthrow, the democratic institutions and replace them by a reactionary dictatorship. This is what happened in Italy, in Germany and in the last days in France – not to mention the lesser countries. We say in advance that we are ready to reject such an attempt with arms in hands, and crush the fascist dictatorship by a proletarian dictatorship.

This position corresponds to the historical reality and is juridically unattackable.


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Last updated on: 22.4.2007