Leon Trotsky

The Faults of the ASR [1]

(March 1936)

Written: March 1936.
Publisher: From Revolutionary History, Vol.7 No.1.
Translated: Ted Crawford.
Online Version: Marxists Internet Archive, 2002.
Transcribed: Ted Crawford.
HTML Markup: David Walters.

29 March 1936

Dear comrade Fux

I have not had a reply from you to my last (letter). But I wish to write once more to salve my conscience.

I have the feeling that you would be able to have important successes but that a great danger menaces you, the same which has compromised the gains of our comrades in France.

Your stumbling block is called Godefroid, while in France it is called Marceau Pivert. The attitude of Action socialiste revolutionnaire vis-à-vis Godefroid seems to me to be altogether false and extremely dangerous. You strengthen him against yourself.

What is the present role of Godefroid? To show to discontented workers, above all the youth that they can be “revolutionary” and at the same time on good terms with the apparatus or at least so manage things that they are not expelled. But that is essentially a treacherous function. Each “revolutionary” formula of Godefroid serves only to mislead confused revolutionaries and to break them from the ASR.

What should be your attitude in this situation? To denounce the hollow rhetoric of Godefroid, to contrast his verbal radicalism to his servility to the apparatus and his active hostility against the Bolshevik-Leninists. In my opinion you should devote a page in each issue of the ASR to this criticism of La Jeune Garde and also the Liga. Instead of which you keep totally silent on La Jeune Garde, this dubious and equivocal organ which only serves to chloroform the youth. At the same time you seize every opportunity to show your solidarity with Godefroid. Instead of fighting him you try to instil in him revolutionary ideas. Your article on the Hubin-Godefroid incident is wholly characteristic of this attitude of adaptation and caution. [2] Godefroid had attacked Hubin for covereing up Vandervelde, to give workers the idea that Vandervelde was altogther different from Hubin. And when even Godefroid criticised Vandervelde he carried out the same mission. He wished to show workers that Vandervelde could be “criticised” (but really to tell only one tenth or one hundredth of the truth) and at the same time not to be expelled like these clumsy sectarian “Trotskyoids”. That is the mission of Godefroid. Instead of explaining the real significance of his “conflict” with Hubin you embrace this treacherous adversary: “Yes, comrade Godefroid, as you have written in Le Peuple, we must continue the revolutionary struggle even if the threat of expulsion is posed”. But he makes this threat against you.

At the point of your expulsion which is coming your sympathisers are going to say: since Fux himself considers Godefroid as a revolutionary and, since Godefroid knows how to get out of trouble with the apparatus, better stay with Godefroid than go out with Fux.

It is Vandervelde who is going to expel you but it is Godefroid who is going to isolate you. You have already lost a lot of time. Through your policy you are weaker at Charleroi and if this policy continues you will leave the party as small a handful as you entered it.

The offensive against Godefroid is now much more important than against Vandervelde. You can argue with him in a calm and reasoned way. But the reader has to feel that there is a great gulf between you and Godefroid and that it is not by chance that Godefroid hems you in, hunts you down and prepares to expel you.

What a wretched journal is this Jeune Garde where the young bureaucrats imitate the old monkeys, mutually advertise each other, speak only about themselves, treating the most important questions lightly and finish the analysis of a problem where it in fact only starts. The revolutionary phraseology makes this poison even more dangerous.

The Action socialiste revolutionnaire is such that it does not correspond to the present situation any more. The paper loses itself in generalities and repetitions. It buries its head in the sand on the most burning questions (La Jeune Garde, Godefroid, Liebaers etc.)

I implore to discuss this question very seriously since it concerns the life and death of your tendency.

P.S. A serious polemic between the ASR and Godefroid could postpone your expulsion from the party. In similar cases the bureaucracy says to itself “Better leave them a bit to batter one another and weaken both”. This calculation on the part of the bureaucracy is false since it is the revolutionaries who win a new delay to the detriment of the centrists (if the revolutionaries behave as revolutionaries!) In short, the bureaucracy would notice its mistake and expel you anyway but in much more favourable conditions for you. Naturally this is about a hypothetical eventuality. But it is not without importance. In sum: if Godefroid chooses Hubin as a target in order to save Vandervelde you must take Godefroid as a target to better undermine Vandervelde.


1. Letter to Fux. Houghton Library Harvard (8224). Original in French

2. In Action socialiste revolutionnaire of 21 March Fux had recounted this incident as if Hubin had been on one side of the barricades and Godefroid on the other with the ASR.

Trotsky on Belgium

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Last updated on: 22.2.2007