Leon Trotsky

Workers and Theory [1]

(November 1937)

Written: November 1937.
Publisher: From Revolutionary History, Vol.7 No.1.
Translated: Ted Crawford.
Online Version: Marxists Internet Archive, 2002.
Transcribed: Ted Crawford.
HTML Markup: David Walters.

30 November 1937

Dear Comrade Galloy [2],

Your letter came too late for me to make a judgement on your conference, which now already belongs to the past. Moreover I have spoken on the questions which are on your agenda many times in the last few months, in letters and articles of which some were directly aimed at the point of view of some Belgian friends, in particular against my old friend Vereeken whom I value greatly, but with whom I am unhappily more often in disagreement than agreement.

You complain of your lack of intellectual forces. [3] It is naturally a great advantage for a revolutionary organisation to have a reserve of intellectuals but on the sole condition that they do not play a dominant role as intellectuals only, that is to say as individuals who have a certain store of knowledge. An intellectual should only reach a leadership post after a long and serious testing in many differing circumstances. On the other hand your section possesses excellent working class cadres, well rooted in the soil of their class. That is an enormous advantage. The intellectuals will come after your first successes. They will even be too numerous. You must carefully select them and that will be the moment when the great value of your worker cadres will be fully revealed.

On the other had it is necessary that worker comrades, above all the young, seriously involve themselves in theory to get an education for the vast size of the task that they have to solve. Doctrinal education was never the strong side of the Belgian movement Vandervelde with his superficial eclecticism, Anseele with his cynical empiricism [4] have influenced the older generation very unfavourably. However reformist policy always flees before the light of doctrine. It is the IVth International to which has devolved the task of solidly implanting Marxism in the milieu of the Belgian working class and also in the whole world.


1. Letter to F. Galloy, Houghton Library Harvard (8226). Original in French

2. Florent Galloy (1904-1958), engineering worker, who was then a leading member of the Belgian PSR.

3. The core of the Belgian section was a working class core which always had great difficulty in recruiting intellectuals.

4. Edouard Anseele (1856-1938) was the boss of the POB apparatus and had, like Vandervelde, been a minister several times.

Trotsky on Belgium

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Last updated on: 22.2.2007