Leon Trotsky

In Defense of Marxism

A Letter to James P. Cannon [1]

First Published: Leon Trotsky, In Defense of Marxism, New York 1942.
Checked against: Leon Trotsky, In Defence of Marxism, London 1966, p.198.
All footnotes stem from the latter edition.

February 27, 1940

Dear Friend,

I am answering your letter of February 20th. The Minority convention is now, as I suppose, over and I believe that in the concrete tactical question which you analyze in your letter, your immediate moves depend at least to 51 per cent on the results of this convention.

You are convinced that the Minority as a whole is preparing for a split and that you cannot win over anyone else. I accept this premise. But the more was it necessary to accomplish before the Cleveland convention an energetic gesture of peace in order to change radically your line after their negative answer. I appreciate completely your considerations in favor of the necessity to publish an issue of the New International preparing public opinion for the split. But the Minority convention took place on the 24th-25th of February and the Party convention will not be until the beginning of April. You have enough time at your disposal for the proposal of peace, for the denunciation of the Minority’s refusal, and for the publication of the issue of the New International. We must do everything in order to convince also the other sections [2] that the Majority exhausted all the possibilities in favor of unity. This is why we three made the proposition to the International Executive Committee: it is necessary also to put to test every member of this not unimportant body.

I understand well the impatience of many Majority comrades (I suppose that this impatience is not infrequently connected with theoretical indifference), but they should be reminded that the happenings in the Socialist Workers Party have now a great inter national importance and that you must act not only on the basis of your subjective appreciations, as correct as they may be, but on the basis of objective facts available to everyone.

W. RORK [Leon Trotsky]

Coyoacan, D.F.


1. This letter was written by Trotsky in English.

2. Trotsky refers to other sections of the Fourth International. – Ed.

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Last updated on: 12.4.2007