Leon Trotsky On
Excerpts from his writings

Trotskyism versus Centrism in Britain—Part II


If we were to leave aside the Revolutionary Socialist Party of Holland which stands under the banner of the Fourth Internationa1 we could assuredly say that the ILP of Britain stands on the left wing of the parties that adhere to the London-Amsterdam Bureau. In contrast to the SAP which has shifted recently to the right to the side of crassest petty bourgeois pacifism, the ILP has indubitably undergone a serious evolution to the left. This became definitely revealed by Mussolini’s predatory assault upon Ethiopia.[1] On the question of the League of Nations,[2] on the role played in it by British imperialism, and on the ‘peaceful’ policy of the Labour Party[3] the New Leader has perhaps carried the best articles in the entire’ Labour press. But a single swallow does not make a spring, nor do a few excellent articles determine as yet the policy of a party. It is comparatively easy to take a ‘revolutionary’ position on the question of war; but it is extremely difficult to draw from this position all the necessary theoretical and practical conclusions. Yet, this is precisely the task.

Compromised by the experience of 1914-18, social-patriotism has found today a new source to feed from, namely, Stalinism. Thanks to this, bourgeois chauvinism obtains the opportunity to unleash a rabid attack against the revolutionary internationalists. The vacillating elements, the so-called centrists. will capitulate inevitably to the onset of chauvinism on the eve Of the war. or the moment it breaks out. To be sure, they will take cover behind the argument from ‘unity’, the need not to break away from mass organizations, and so on. The formulas of hypocrisy are quite diversified, which supply the centrists with a screen for their cowardice in the face of bourgeois public opinion, but they all serve the self-same purpose: to cover up the capitulation. ‘Unity’ with the social-patriots—not a temporary coexistence with them in a common organization with a view to waging a struggle against them, but unity as a principle—is unity with one’s own imperialism, and consequently, an open split with the proletariat of other nations. The centrist principle of unity at any price prepares for the most malignant split possible, along the lines of imperialist contradictions. Even today, we can observe in France the Spartacus group[4] which translates into the French language the ideas of the SAP, advocating, in the name of ‘unity’ with the masses, the political capitulation to Blum who was and who remains the chief agent of French imperialism within the working class.

After its split with the Labour Party, the ILP came into close contact with the British Communist Party, and through it, with the Communist International. The acute financial difficulties under which the New Leader labours right now indicate that the ILP was able to preserve complete financial independence from the Soviet bureaucracy, and its methods of corruption. This can only be a source of gratification. Nevertheless, the connection with the Communist Party did not pass without leaving a trace: despite its name, the ILP did not become really independent but turned into a sort of appendage to the Communist International. It did not pay the necessary attention to mass work, which cannot be carried on outside of the trade unions and the Labour Party; instead it became seduced by the Amsterdam-Pleyel masquerade, the Anti-Imperialist League,[5] and other surrogates for revolutionary activity. As a result, it appeared to the workers to be a second grade Communist Party. So disadvantageous a position for the ILP did not arise accidentally: it was conditioned by its lack of a firm principled basis. It is a secret to nobody that Stalinism long over-awed the leaders of the ILP with those rubber-stamp formulas which comprise the miserable bureaucratic falsification of Leninism.

More than two years ago the writer of this article sought to arrive at an understanding with the leaders of the ILP by means of several articles, and in letters; the attempt was barren of results: during that period, our criticism of the Communist International seemed to the leaders of the ILP to be ‘preconceived’, and ‘factionally’, perhaps even ‘personally’ motivated. Nothing remained except to yield the floor to time. For the ILP, the last two years have been scanty in successes, but bountiful in experience. The social-patriotic degeneration of the Communist International, the direct consequence of the theory and practice of ‘socialism in one country’, was turned from a forecast into a living, incontestable fact. Have the leaders of the ILP fully plumbed the meaning of this fact? Are they ready and able to draw all the necessary conclusions from it? The future of the ILP depends upon the answer to these questions.

From pacifism towards proletarian revolution—such has indubitably been the general tendency of the evolution of the ILP. But this development has far from reached a rounded-out programme as yet. Worse yet: not uninfluenced by the hoary and expert opportunistic combinations of the German SAP, the leaders of the ILP have apparently halted in the middle, and keep marking time.

In the following critical lines, we intend to dwell primarily upon two questions: the attitude of the ILP toward the general strike in connection with the struggle against war, and the position of the ILP on the question of the International. In the latter as well as the former question there are to be found elements of a half-way attitude: or. the question of the general strike this hesitancy assumes the guise of irresponsible radical phraseology; on the question of the International hesitancy pulls up short of the radical decision. And yet Marxism, and Leninism as the direct continuation of its doctrine, is absolutely irreconcilable both with an inclination to radical phraseology, and with the dread of radical decisions.

The question of the general strike has a long and rich history, in theory as well as practice. Yet the leaders of the ILP behave as if they were the first to run across the idea of general strike, as a method to stop war. In this is their greatest error. Improvisation is impermissible precisely on the question of the general strike. The world experience of the struggle during the last forty years has been fundamentally a confirmation of what Engels had to say[6] about the general strike towards the close of the last century, primarily on the basis of the experience of the Chartists, and in part of the Belgians.[7] Cautioning the Austrian Social Democrats against much too flighty an attitude towards the general strike, Engels wrote to Kautsky, on November 3, 1893, as follows: ‘You yourself remark that the barricades have become antiquated (they may, however, prove useful again should the army turn one third or two fifths socialist and the question arises of providing it with the opportunity to turn its bayonets), but the political strike must either prove victorious immediately by the threat alone (as in Belgium, where the army was very shaky), or it must end in a colossal fiasco, or, finally lead directly to the barricades.’ These terse lines provide, incidentally, a remarkable exposition of Engels’ views on a number of questions. Innumerable controversies raged over Engels’ famous introduction to Marx’s The Class Struggle in France (1895), an introduction which was in its time modified and cut in Germany with a view to censorship. Philistines of every stripe have asserted hundreds and thousands of times during the last forty years that ‘Engels himself’ had apparently rejected once and for all the ancient ‘romantic’ methods of street fighting. But there is no need of referring to the past: one need only read the contemporary and inordinately ignorant and mawkish discourses of Paul Faure, Lebas and others[8] on this subject, who are of the opinion that the very question of armed insurrection is ‘Blanquism’. [9] Concurrently, if Engels rejected anything, it was first of all, putsches, i.e. untimely flurries of a small minority; and secondly, antiquated methods, that is to say, forms and methods of street fighting which did not correspond to the new technological conditions. In the above quoted letter, Engels corrects Kautsky, in passing, as if he were referring to something self-evident: barricades have become ‘antiquated’ only in the sense that the bourgeois revolution has receded into the past, and the time for the socialist barricades has not come as yet. It is necessary for the army, one third, or better still, two fifths of it (these ratios, of course, are given only for the sake of illustration), to become imbued with sympathy for socialism; then the insurrection would not be a ‘putsch’, then the barricades would once again come into their own not the barricades of the year 1848, to be sure, but the new ‘barricades’, serving, however, the self-same goal: to check the offensive of the army against the workers, give the soldiers the opportunity and the time to sense the power of the uprising, and by this to create the most advantageous conditions for the army’s passing over to the side of the insurrectionists. How far removed are these lines of Engels -not the youth, but the man 73 years of age!—from the asinine and reactionary attitude to the barricade, as a piece of ‘romanticism’! Kautsky has found the leisure to publish this remarkable letter just recently, in 1935! Without engaging in a direct polemic with Engels, whom he never understood fully, Kautsky tells us smugly, in a special note, that toward the end of 1893, he had himself published an article in which he ‘developed the advantages of the democratic-proletarian method of struggle in democratic countries as against the policy of violence.’ These remarks about ‘advantages’ (as if the proletariat has the freedom of choice!) have a particularly choice ring in our day, after the policies of the Weimar democracy, not without Kautsky’s cooperation, have fully revealed all their … disadvantages. To leave no room for doubt as to his own attitude on Engels’ views, Kautsky goes on to add, ‘I defended then the self-same policy I defend today.’ In order to defend ‘the self-same policy’ Kautsky needed only to become a citizen of Czechoslovakia: outside of the passport, nothing has changed.

But let us return to Engels. He differentiates, as we have seen, between three cases in relation to the political strike: (1) The government takes fright at the general strike, and at the very outset, without carrying matters to an open clash, takes to concessions. Engels points to the ‘shaky’ condition of the army in Belgium as the basic condition for the success of the Belgian general strike (1893). A somewhat similar situation, but on a much more colossal scale, occurred in Russia, October, 1905. After the miserable outcome of the Russo-Japanese War, the Tsarist army was, or, at any rate, seemed extremely unreliable. The Petersburg government, thrown into a mortal panic by the strike, made the first constitutional concessions (Manifesto, October 17, 1905).

It is all too evident, however, that without resorting to decisive battles, the ruling class will make only such concessions as will not touch the basis of its rule. That is precisely how matters stood in Belgium and Russia. Are such cases possible in the future? They are inevitable in the countries of the Orient. They are, generally speaking, less probable in the countries of the West, although, here too, they are quite possible as partial episodes of the unfolding revolution.

(2) If the army is sufficiently reliable, and the government feels sure of itself; if a political strike is promulgated from above, and if, at the same time, it is calculated not for decisive battles, but to ‘frighten’ the enemy, then it can easily turn out a mere adventure, and reveal its utter impotence. To this we ought to add that after the initial experiences of the general strike, the novelty of which reacted upon the imagination of the popular masses as well as governments, several decades have elapsed—discounting the half-forgotten Chartists—in the course of which the strategists of capital have accumulated an enormous experience. That is why a general strike, particularly in the old capitalist countries, requires a painstaking Marxist accounting of all the concrete circumstances.

(3) Finally, there remains a general strike which, as Engels put it, ‘leads directly to the barricades’. A strike of this sort can result either in complete victory or defeat. But to shy away from battle, when the battle is forced by the objective situation, is to lead inevitably to the most fatal and demoralizing of all possible defeats. The outcome of a revolutionary, insurrectionary general strike depends, of course, upon the relationship of forces, covering a great number of factors: the class differentiation of society, the specific weight of the proletariat, the mood of the lower layers of the petty-bourgeoisie, the social composition and the political mood of the army, etc. However, among the conditions for victory, far from the last place is occupied by the correct revolutionary leadership, a clear understanding of conditions and methods of the general strike and its transition to open revolutionary struggle.

Engels’ classification must not, of course, be taken dogmatically. In present day France not partial concessions but power is indubitably in question: the revolutionary proletariat or Fascism—which? The working class masses want to struggle. But the leadership applies the brakes, hoodwinks and demoralizes the workers. A general strike can flare up just as the movements flared in Toulon and Brest.[10] Under these conditions, independently of its immediate results, a general strike will not of course be a ‘putsch’ but a necessary stage in the mass struggle, the necessary means for casting off the treachery of the leadership and for creating within the working class itself the preliminary conditions for a victorious uprising. In this sense the policy of the French Bolshevik-Leninists is entirely correct, who have advanced the slogan of general strike, and who explain the conditions for its victory. The French cousins of the SAP come out against this slogan, the Spartacists who at the beginning of the struggle are already assuming the role of strikebreakers.

We should also add that Engels did not point out another ‘category’ of general strike, exemplars of which have been provided in Britain, Belgium, France and some other countries: we refer here to cases in which the leadership of the strike previously, i.e. without a struggle, arrives at an agreement with the class enemy as to the course and outcome of the strike. The parliamentarians and the trade unionists perceive at a given moment the need to provide an outlet for the accumulated ire of the masses, or they are simply compelled to jump in step with a movement that has flared over their heads. In such cases they come scurrying through the backstairs to the Government and obtain the permission to head the general strike, this with the obligation to conclude it as soon as possible, without any damage being done to the state crockery. Sometimes, far from always, they manage to haggle beforehand some petty concessions, to serve them as fig leaves. Thus did the General Council of British Trade Unions (TUC) in 1926. Thus did Jouhaux in 1934.[11] Thus will they act in the future also. The exposure of these contemptible machinations behind the backs of the struggling proletariat enters as a necessary part into the preparation of a general strike.

To which type does a general strike belong which is specially intended by the ILP in the event of mobilization, as a means to stop war at the very outset?[12] We want to say beforehand: it pertains to the most inconsidered and unfortunate of all types possible. This does not mean to say that the revolution can never coincide with mobilization or with the outbreak of war. If a wide-scale revolutionary movement is developing in a country, if at its head is a revolutionary party possessing the confidence of the masses and capable of going through to the end; if the government, losing its head, despite the revolutionary crisis, or just because of such a crisis, plunges headlong into a war adventure—then the mobilization can act as a mighty impetus for the masses, lead to a general strike of railwaymen, fraternization between the mobilized and the workers, seizure of important key centres, clashes between insurrectionists and the police and the reactionary sections of the army, the establishment of local, workers’ and soldiers’ councils, and, finally, to the complete overthrow of the government, and consequently, to stopping the war. Such a case is theoretically possible. If, in the words of Clausewitz,[13] ‘war is the continuation of politics by other means’. then the struggle against war is also the continuation of the entire preceding policy of a revolutionary class and its party. Hence follows that a general strike can be put on the order of the day as a method of struggle against mobilization and war only in the event that the entire preceding developments in the country have placed revolution and armed insurrection on the order of the day. Taken, however, as a ‘special’ method of struggle against mobilization, a general strike would be a sheer adventure. Excluding a possible but nevertheless an exceptional case of a government plunging into war in order to escape from a revolution that directly threatens it, it must remain, as a general rule, that precisely prior to, during, and after mobilization the government feels itself strongest, and, consequently, least inclined to allow itself to be scared by a general strike. The patriotic moods that accompany mobilization, together with the war terror make hopeless the very execution of a general strike, as a rule. The most intrepid elements who, without taking the circumstances into account, plunge into the struggle, would be crushed. The defeat, and the partial annihilation of the vanguard would make revolutionary work difficult for a long time in the atmosphere of dissatisfaction that war breeds. A strike called artificially must turn inevitably into a putsch, and into an obstacle in the path of the revolution.

In its theses accepted in April, 1935, the ILP writes as follows: ‘The policy of the party aims at the use of a general strike to stop war and at social revolution should war occur.’ An astonishingly precise, but—sad to say—absolutely fictitious obligation! The general strike is not only separated here from the social revolution but also counterposed to it as a specific method to ‘stop war’. This is an ancient conception of the anarchists which life itself smashed long ago. A general strike without a victorious insurrection cannot ‘stop war’. If, under the conditions of mobilization, the insurrection is impossible, then so is a general strike impossible.

In an ensuing paragraph we read: ‘The ILP will urge a General Strike against the British Government, if this country is in any way involved in an attack on the Soviet Union. . . .’ If it is possible to forestall any war by a general strike, then of course it is all the more necessary to stop war against the USSR. But here we enter into the realm of illusions: to inscribe in the theses a general strike as punishment for a given capital crime of the government is to commit the sin of revolutionary phrase-mongering. If it were possible to call a general strike at will, then it would be best called today to prevent the British government from strangling India and from collaborating with Japan to strangle China. The leaders of the ILP will of course tell us that they have not the power to do so. But nothing gives them the right to promise that they will apparently have the power to call a general strike on the day of mobilization. And if they be able, why confine it to a strike? As a matter of fact, the conduct of a party during mobilization will flow from its preceding successes and from the situation in the country as a whole. But the aim of revolutionary policy should not be an isolated general strike, as a special means to ‘stop war’, but the proletarian revolution into which a general strike will enter as an inevitable or a very probable integral part.

The ILP split from the Labour Party chiefly for the sake of keeping the independence of its parliamentary fraction. We do not intend here to discuss whether the split was correct at the given moment, and whether the ILP gleaned from it the expected advantages. We don’t think so. But it remains a fact that for every revolutionary organiza-tion in England its attitude to the masses and to the class is almost coincident with its attitude toward the Labour Party, which bases itself upon the trade unions. At this time the question whether to function inside the Labour Party or outside it is not a principled question, but a question of actual possibilities. In any case, without a strong faction in the trade unions, and, consequently, in the Labour Party itself, the ILP is doomed to impotence even today. Yet, for a long period, the ILP attached much greater importance to the ‘united front’ with the insignificant Communist Party than to work in mass organizations. The leaders of the ILP consider the policy of the opposition wing in the Labour Party incorrect out of considerations which are absolutely unexpected: although ‘they (the Opposition) criticize the leadership and policy of the party but, owing to the block vote and the form of organization of the Party, they cannot change the personnel and policy of the Executive and Parliamentary Party within the period necessary to resist capitalist reaction, fascism and war’ The policy of the opposition in the Labour Party is unspeakably bad. But this only means that it is necessary to counterpose to it inside the Labour Party another, a correct Marxist policy. That isn’t so easy? Of course not! But one must know how to hide one’s activities from the police vigilance of Sir Walter Citrine and his agents, until the proper time. But isn’t it a fact that a Marxist faction would not succeed in changing the structure and policy of the Labour Party? With this we are entirely in accord: the bureaucracy will not surrender. But the revolutionists, functioning outside and inside, can and must succeed in winning over tens and hundreds of thousands of workers. The criticism directed by the ILP against the left-wing faction in the Labour Party is of an obviously artificial character. One would have much more reason for saying that the tiny ILP by involving itself with the compromised Communist Party and thus drawing away from the mass organizations, hasn’t a chance to become a mass party ‘within the period necessary to resist capitalist reaction, fascism and war.’

Thus, the ILP considers it necessary for a revolutionary organization to exist independently within the national framework even at the present time. Marxist logic, it would seem, demands that this consideration be applied to the international arena as well. A struggle against war and for the revolution is unthinkable without the International. The ILP deems it necessary for it to exist side by side with the Communist Party, and consequently, against the Communist Party, and by this very fact it recognizes the need of creating against the Communist International—a New International. Yet the ILP dares not draw this conclusion. Why?

If in the opinion of the ILP the Comintern could be reformed, it would be its duty to join its ranks, and work for this reform. If, however, the ILP has become convinced that the Comintern is incorrigible, it is its duty to join with us in the struggle for the Fourth International. The ILP does neither. It halts midway. It is bent on maintaining a ‘friendly collaboration’ with the Communist International. If it is invited to the next Congress of the Communist International -such is the literal wording of its April theses of this year!—it will there fight for its position and in the interests of the ‘unity of revolutionary socialism’. Evidently, the ILP expected to be ‘invited’ to the International. This means that its psychology in relation to the International, is that of a guest, and not of a host. But the Comintern did not invite the ILP. What to do, now?

It is necessary to understand first of all that really independent workers’ parties—independent not only of the bourgeoisie, but also of both bankrupt Internationals—cannot be built unless there is a close international bond between them, on the basis of self-same principles, and provided there is a living interchange of experience, and vigilant mutual control. The notion that national parties (which ones? on what basis?) must be established first, and coalesced only later into a new International (how will a common principled basis then be guaranteed?) is a caricature echo of the history of the Second International: the First and Third Internationals were both built differently. But, today, under the conditions of the imperialist epoch, after the proletarian vanguard of all countries in the world has passed through many decades of a colossal and common experience, including the experience of the collapse of the two Internationals, it is absolutely unthinkable to build new Marxist, revolutionary parties, without direct contact with the self-same work in other countries. And this means the building of the Fourth International.

To be sure, the ILP has in reserve a certain international association, namely, the London Bureau (IAG). Is this the beginning of a new International? Emphatically, no! The ILP comes out against ,split’ more decisively than any other participant: not for nothing has the Bureau of those organizations who themselves split away inscribed on its banner . ..’unity’. Unity with whom? The ILP itself yearns exceedingly to see all revolutionary-socialist organizations and all sections of the Communist International united in a single International, and that this International have a good programme. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The position of the ILP is all the more helpless since nobody else shares it inside of the London association itself. On the other hand, the Communist International, having drawn social-patriotic conclusions from the theory of socialism in one country, seeks today an alliance with powerful reformist organizations, and not at all with weak revolutionary groups. The April theses of the ILP console us: ‘ . . . but they (i.e. the other organizations in the London association) agree that the question of a new International is now theoretical (!), and that the form (!) which the reconstructed International will take will depend upon historical events (!) and the development of the actual working class struggle.’ (p. 20). Remarkable reasoning! The ILP urges the unity of the ‘revolutionary-socialist organizations’ with the sections of the Communist International; but there is not and there cannot be any desire on the part of either for this unification. ‘But’, the ILP consoles itself, the revolutionary-socialist organizations are agreed upon . . what? Upon the fact that it is still impossible to foresee today what ‘form’ the reconstructed International will take. For this reason, the very question of the International (’Workers of the World Unite!’) is declared to be ‘theoretical’. With equal justification one might proclaim the question of socialism to be theoretical, since it is unknown what form it will take; besides, it is impossible to achieve the socialist revolution by means of a ‘theoretical’ International.

For the ILP, the question of a national party and the question of the International rest on two different planes. The danger of war and fascism demands, as we were told, immediate work for the building of a national party. As regards the International, this question is . . .’theoretical’. Opportunism reveals itself so clearly and incontestably in nothing else as in this principled counterposing of a national party to the International. The banner of ‘revolutionary socialist unity’ serves only as a cover for the yawning gap in the policy of the ILP. Are we not justified in saying that the London association is a temporary haven for vacillators, waifs, and those who hope to be ‘invited’ to one of the existing Internationals?

While acknowledging that the Communist Party has a ‘revolutionary and theoretical basis’, the ILP discerns ‘sectarianism’ in its conduct. This characterization is superficial, one-sided, and fundamentally false. Which ‘theoretical basis’ has the ILP in mind? Is it Marx’s Das Kapital, Lenin’s Works, the resolutions of the first Congresses of the Comintern?—or the eclectic programme of the Communist International accepted in 1928, the wretched theory of the ‘Third Period’, ‘social-fascism’, and, finally, the latest social patriotic avowals.

The leaders of the ILP make believe (at any rate, such was the case up to yesterday) that the Communist International has preserved the theoretical basis that was lodged by Lenin. In other words, they identify Leninism with Stalinism. To be sure, they are unable to make up their minds to say it in so many words. But, in their passing silently over the enormous critical struggle that took place first inside the Communist International and then outside it; in their refusal to study the struggle waged by the ‘Left Opposition’ (the Bolshevik-Leninists) and to determine upon their attitude towards it, the leaders of the ILP turn out to be backward provincials in the sphere of the questions of the world movement. In this they pay tribute to the worst traditions of the insular working class movement. As a matter of fact the Communist International has no theoretical basis. Indeed, what sort of theoretical basis can there be, when yesterday’s leaders, like Bukharin, are pronounced to be ‘bourgeois liberals’, when the leaders of the day before yesterday, like Zinoviev, are incarcerated in jail as ‘counter-revolutionists’, while the Manuilskys, Lozovskys, Dirnitrovs[14] together with Stalin himself never generally bothered much with questions of theory.

The remark in relation to ‘sectarianism’ is no less erroneous. Bureaucratic Centrism which seeks to dominate the working class is not sectarianism but a specific refraction of the autocratic rule of the Soviet bureaucracy. Having burnt their fingers, these gentlemen are abjectly crawling today before reformism and patriotism. The leaders of the ILP took for gospel the assertion of the leaders of the SAP (poor counsellors!) that the Comintern would rest on the pinnacle, if not for its ‘ultra-left sectarianism’. In the meantime, the Seventh Congress has spurned the last remnants of ‘ultra-leftism’ ; but, as a result, the Communist International did not rise higher but fell still lower, losing all right to an independent political existence. Because the parties of the Second International are in any case, more suitable for the policy of blocs with the bourgeoisie and for the patriotic corruption of workers: they have behind them an imposing opportunist record, and they arouse less suspicion on the part of the bourgeois allies.

Aren’t the leaders of the ILP of the opinion that after the Seventh Congress they ought to reconsider radically their attitude toward the Communist International? If it is impossible to reform the Labour Party, then there are immeasurably less chances for reforming the Communist International. Nothing remains except to build the new International. True, in the ranks of the Communist parties quite a few honest revolutionary workers are still to be found. But they must be led out from the quagmire of the Comintern onto the revolutionary road.

Both the revolutionary conquest of power and the dictatorship of the proletariat are included in the programme of the ILP. After the events in Germany, Austria and Spain,[15] these slogans have become compulsory. But this does not at all mean that in every case they are invested with a genuine revolutionary content. The Zyromskis[16] of all countries find no embarrassment in combining the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ with the most debased patriotism, and besides, such fakery is becoming more and more fashionable. The leaders of the ILP are not social-patriots. But until they blow up their bridges to Stalinism, their internationalism will remain semi-platonic in character.

The April theses of the ILP enable us to approach the same question from a new standpoint. In the theses two special paragraphs (27 and 28) are devoted to the future British Councils of Workers ‘ Deputies. They contain nothing wrong. But it is necessary to point out that the Councils (Soviets) as such are only an organizational form and not at all a sort of immutable principle. Marx and Engels provided us with the theory of the proletarian revolution, partly in their analysis of the Paris Commune, but they did not have a single word to say about the Councils. In Russia there were Social-Revolutionary and Menshevik Soviets (Councils), i.e. anti-revolutionary Soviets. In Germany and Austria the Councils in 1918 were under the leadership of reformists and patriots and they played a counter-revolutionary role. In autumn 1923, in Germany, the role of the Councils was fulfilled actually by the shop committees that could have guaranteed fully the victory of the revolution were it not for the craven policy of the Communist Party under the leadership of Brandler and Co. Thus, the slogan of Councils, as an organizational form, is not in itself of a principled character. We have no objection, of course, to the inclusion of Councils as ‘all-inclusive organizations’ in the programme of the ILP. Only, the slogan must not be turned into a fetish, or worse yet—into a hollow phrase, as in the hands of the French Stalinists (’Power to Daladier!’—’Soviets Everywhere!’).[17]

But we are interested in another aspect of the question. Paragraph 28 of the theses reads, ‘The Workers’ Councils will arise in their final form in the actual revolutionary crisis, but the Party must consistently prepare for their organization’ (our italics). Keeping this in mind, let us compare the attitude of the ILP toward the future Councils with its own attitude toward the future International: the erroneousness of the ILP’s position will then stand before us in sharpest clarity. In relation to the International we are given generalities after the spirit of the SAP: ‘the form which the reconstructed International will take will depend upon historic events and the actual development of the working class struggle.’ On this ground the ILP draws the conclusion that the question of the International is purely ‘theoretical’, i.e., in the language of empiricists, unreal. At the same time we are told that: ‘the Workers Councils will arise in their final form in the actual revolutionary crisis, but the Party must consistently prepare for their organization’. It is hard to become more hopelessly muddled. On the question of the Councils and on the question of the International, the ILP resorts to methods of reasoning that are directly contradictory. In which case is it mistaken? In both. The theses turn topsy-survy the actual tasks of the party. The Council’s represent an organizational form, and only a form. There is no way of ‘preparing for’ Councils except by means of a correct revolutionary policy applied in all spheres of the working class movement: there is no special, specific ‘preparation for’ Councils. It is entirely otherwise with the International. While the Councils can arise only under the condition that there is a revolutionary ferment among the many-millioned masses, the International is always necessary: both on holidays and weekdays, during periods of offensive as well as in retreat, in peace as well as in war. The International is not at all a ‘form’ as flows from the utterly false formulation of the ILP. The International is first of all a programme, and a system of strategic, tactical and organizational methods that flow from it. By dint of historic circumstances the question of the British Councils is deferred for an indeterminate period of time. But the question of the International, as well as the question of national parties, cannot be deferred for a single hour: we have here in essence two sides of one and the same question. Without a Marxist International, national organizations, even the most advanced, are doomed to narrowness, vacillation and helplessness; the advanced workers are forced to feed upon surrogates for internationalism. To proclaim as ‘purely theoretical’, i.e. needless, the building of the Fourth International, is cravenly to renounce the basic task of our epoch. In such a case, slogans of revolution, of the dictatorship of the proletariat, Councils, etc., lose nine-tenths of their meaning.

The August 30 issue of the New Leader carries an excellent article: ‘Don’t Trust the Government!’ The article points out that the danger of ‘national unity’ draws closer with the approaching danger of war. At the time when the ill-fated leaders of the SAP call for the emulation—literally so!—of British pacifists, the New Leader writes: ‘It (the government) is actually using the enthusiasm for peace to prepare the British people for imperialist war.’ These lines, which are printed in italics, express with utmost precision the political function of petty-bourgeois pacifism: by providing a platonic outlet for the horror of the masses to war, pacifism enables imperialism all the easier to transform these masses into cannon fodder. The New Leader lashes the patriotic position of Citrine and other social-imperialists who (with quotations from Stalin) mount upon the backs of Lansbury and other pacifists.[18] But this same article goes on to express its ‘astonishment’ at the fact that the British Communists are supporting Citrine’s policy on the question of the League of Nations and the ‘sanctions’ against Italy (’astonishing support of Labour line’). The ‘astonishment’ in the article is the Achilles heel of the entire policy of the ILP. When an individual ‘astonishes’ us by his unexpected behaviour, it only means that we are poorly acquainted with this individual’s real character. It is immeasurably worse when a politician is compelled to confess his astonishment’ at the acts of a political party, and what is more, of an entire International. For the British Communists are only carrying out the decisions of the Seventh Congress of the Communist International. The leaders of the ILP are ‘astonished’ only because they have failed up to now to grasp the real character of the Communist International, and its sections. Yet, there is a twelve years’ history behind the Marxist criticism of the Communist International. From the time the Soviet bureaucracy made as its symbol of faith the theory of ‘socialism in one country’ (1924), the Bolshevik-Leninists forecast the inevitability of the nationalist and patriotic degeneration of the sections of the Communist International, and from then on they followed this process critically through all its stages. The leaders of the ILP were caught off guard by events only because they had ignored the criticism of our tendency. The privilege of becoming ‘astonished’ by major events is the prerogative of a pacifist and reformist petty-bourgeois. The Marxists, especially those claiming the right to leadership, must be capable not of astonishment but of foresight. And, we may remark in passing, it is not the first time in history that Marxist misdoubt turned out more penetrating than centrist credulity.

The ILP broke with the mighty Labour Party because of the latter’s reformism and patriotism. And today, retorting to Wilkinson, the New Leader writes that the independence of the ILP is fully justified by the patriotic position of the Labour Party. Then what are we to say about the ILP’s interminable flirtation with the British Communist Party that now tails behind the Labour Party? What are we to say about the ILP’s urge to fuse with the Third International that is now the first violinist in the social patriotic orchestra? Are you ‘astonished’, comrades Maxton, Fenner Brockway, and others? That does not suffice for a party leadership. In order to put an end to becoming astonished, one must critically evaluate the road that has been travelled, and draw the conclusion for the future.

Back in August 1933, the Bolshevik-Leninist delegation issued a special declaration officially proposing to all the participants in the London Bureau, among them the ILP, that they review jointly with us the basic strategic problems of our epoch, and in particular, that they determine their attitude to our programmatic documents. But the leaders of the ILP deemed it below their dignity to occupy themselves with such matters. Besides, they were afraid they might compromise themselves by consorting with an organization which is the target of a particularly rabid and vile persecution at the hands of the Moscow bureaucracy: we should not overlook the fact that the leaders of the ILP awaited all the while an ‘invitation’ from the Communist International. They waited, but the awaited did not materialize. . ..

Is it conceivable that even after the Seventh Congress the leaders of the ILP will be so hardy as to present the matter as if the British Stalinists turned out to be the squires of the little honoured Sir Walter Citrine only through a misunderstanding, and only for a split-second? Such a dodge would be unworthy of a revolutionary party. We should like to entertain the hope that the leaders of the ILP will come at last to an understanding of how lawful is the complete and irremediable collapse of the Communist International, as a revolutionary organization, and that they will draw from this all the necessary conclusions. These are quite simple:

Work out a Marxist programme.
Turn away from the leaders of the Communist Party and face towards … the mass organizations.
Stand under the banner of the Fourth International.

On this road we are ready to march shoulder to shoulder with the ILP.

A Necessary Addition: In my article I approved the attitude of this party on the question of sanctions. Later, friends sent me a copy of an important letter of Comrade Robertson to the members of the ILP. Comrade Robertson accuses the leadership of the party of maintaining pacifist illusions, particularly in the matter of ‘refusal’ of military service. I can only associate myself wholly with what is said in Comrade Robertson’s letter. The ILP’s misfortune is that it doesn’t have a truly Marxist programme. That too is why its best activities, such as sanctions against British imperialism, are always influenced by pacifist and centrist mixtures.

Written on 18th September, 1935 (postscript dated 20th October), New International, December 1935

The POUM[19] is a member of the celebrated London Bureau of ‘Revolutionary Socialist Parties’ (the former IAG). The leadership of this bureau is now in the hands of Fenner Brockway, secretary of the Independent Labour Party (ILP). We have already written that, despite the antiquated and apparently incurable pacifist prejudices of Maxton and others, the ILP has taken an honest revolutionary position on the question of the League of Nations and its sanctions. Each of us has read with pleasure a number of excellent articles in the New Leader. During the last parliamentary elections, the Independent Labour Party refused to give even electoral support to the Labourites, precisely because the latter supported the League of Nations. In itself this refusal was a tactical error. Wherever the ILP was unable to run its own candidates, it should have supported a Labour candidate against a Tory. But this is incidental. In any case, even talk of any i common programmes’ with the Labourites was excluded. Internationalists would have combined support in elections with an exposure of the crawling of the British social patriots before the League of Nations and its ‘sanctions.’

We take the liberty of putting a question to Fenner Brockway: just what is the purpose of this ‘International’ of which he is the secretary? The British section of this ‘International’ rejects giving even mere electoral support to Labour candidates if they support the League of Nations. The Spanish section concludes a bloc with bourgeois parties on a common programme of support to the League of Nations. Is not this the extreme in the domain of contradictions, confusion, and bankruptcy? There is no war as yet, but the sections of the London International’ are already pulling in completely opposite directions. What will happen to them when the ominous events break?

From ‘The Treachery of the Spanish POUM’ (dated 23rd January, 1936),New International, February 1936


Question—What do you mean specifically when you say, at the conclusion of your article, that the ILP must still ‘work out a Marxian prograrnme’?

Answer—My whole article was a documentation of the instances in which ILP policy still fails to be Marxist, to be revolutionary: its failure to break sharply with pacifism and with Stalinism, and to turn its face fully to the British masses and to reach a clear position on international organization. These defects are one and the same. Take, for example, pacifism. Despite the revolutionary phraseology of What the ILP Stands For, it is still possible in the ILP that Maxton, McGovern and Campbell Stephen can issue an authoritative statement urging the workers not to bear arms when war comes. This is a bankrupt policy; this is only defeatism against the workers, not revolutionary defeatism against capitalism. Moreover, war is an international product of capitalism and can be fought only internationally. Which are the workers’ organizations in other countries that the revolutionists in the ILP must unite with? Not the CI as your pacifist leaders had fondly imagined, for the CI is committed to socialpatriotism. Not with the International Bureau of Revolutionary Socialist Unity (IAG, i.e. London Bureau) for of the ten groups forming this Bureau some have expired, others are pacifist or even social-patriotic, and only the Dutch party (RSAP) is in agreement with the ILP on the fight against sanctions and for independent workers’ action only. This party has long since declared for the Fourth International and this week (about November 21, 1935) declared also for a break with the Bureau. It is, then, the Dutch party and the other parties openly fighting for the Fourth International with whom the ILP must of necessity solidarize itself if it is to join in the international revolutionary fight against war.

In the New Leader I read that the Lancashire and London and Scottish divisions of the ILP have already declared themselves to be in opposition to the pacifist statements of the Inner Executive, and the similar utterances of McGovern in the House of Commons. But this is not enough. Their fight can succeed only if it is positive—not simply `against pacifism’, but for revolutionary defeatism. This can only mean that the main fight will be for the Fourth International.

Question—Was the ILP correct in running as many candidates as possible in the recent General Elections, even at the risk of splitting the vote?[20]

Answer—Yes. It would have been foolish for the ILP to have sacrificed its political programme in the interests of so-called unity, to allow the Labour Party to monopolize the platform, as the Communist Party did. We do not know our strength unless we test it. There is always a risk of splitting, and of losing deposits but such risks must be taken. Otherwise we boycott ourselves.

Question—Was the ILP correct in refusing critical support to Labour Party candidates who advocated military sanctions?

Answer—No. Economic sanctions, if real, lead to military sanctions, to war. The ILP itself has been saying this. It should have given critical support to all Labour Party candidates, i.e., where the ILP itself was not contesting. In the New Leader I read that your London Division agreed to support only anti-sanctionist Labour Party candidates. This too is incorrect. The Labour Party should have been critically supported not because it was for or against sanctions but because it represented the working class masses.

The basic error which was made by some ILPers who withdrew critical support was to assume that the war danger necessitated a change in our appreciation of reformism. But as Clausewitz said, and Lenin often repeated, war is the continuation of politics by other means. If this is true, it applies not only to capitalist parties but to social democratic parties. The war crisis does not alter the fact that the Labour Party is a workers’ party, which the governmental party is not. Nor does it alter the fact that the Labour Party leadership cannot fulfil their promises, that they will betray the confidence which the masses place in them. In peace-time the workers will die of hunger if they trust in social democracy; in war, for the same reason, they will die from bullets. Revolutionists never give critical support to reformism on the assumption that reformism, in power, could satisfy the fundamental needs of the workers. It is possible, of course, that a Labour government could introduce a few mild temporary reforms. It is also possible that the League could postpone a military conflict about secondary issues—just as a cartel can eliminate secondary economic crises only to reproduce them on a larger scale. So the League can eliminate small episodic conflicts only to generalize them into world war.

Thus, both economic and military crises will only return with an added explosive force so long as capitalism remains. And we know that social democracy cannot abolish capitalism.

No, in war as in peace, the ILP must say to the workers: ‘The Labour Party will deceive you and betray you, but you do not believe us. Very well, we will go through your experiences with you but in no case do we identify ourselves with the Labour Party programme.’

Morrison, Clynes, etc., represent certain prejudices of the workers. When the ILP seeks to boycott Clynes it helps not only Baldwin but Clynes himself. If successful in its tactic, the ILP prevents the election of Clynes, of the Labour government, and so prevents their exposure before the masses. The workers will say: ‘If only we had Clynes and Morrison in power, things would have been better.’

It is true, of course, that the mental content of Clynes and Baldwin is much the same except, perhaps, that Baldwin is a little more ‘progressive’ and more courageous. But the class content of the support for Clynes is very different.

It is argued that the Labour Party already stands exposed by its past deeds in power and its present reactionary platform. For example, by its decision at Brighton.[21] For us—yes! But not for the masses, the eight millions who voted Labour. It is a great danger for revolutionists to attach too much importance to conference decisions. We use such evidence in our propaganda—but it cannot be presented beyond the power of our own press. One cannot shout louder than the strength of his own throat.

Let us suppose that the ILP had been successful in a boycott tactic, had won a million workers to follow it, and that it was the absence of this million votes which lost the election for the Labour Party. What would happen when the war came? The masses would in their disillusionment turn to the Labour Party, not to us. If Soviets were formed during the war the soldiers would elect Labour Party people to them, not us. Workers would still say that we handicapped Labour. But if we gave critical support and by that means helped the Labour Party to power, at the same time telling the workers that the Labour Party would function as a capitalist government, and would direct a capitalist war—then, when war came, workers would see that we predicted rightly, at the same time that we marched with them. We would be elected to the Soviets and the Soviets would not betray.

As a general principle, a revolutionary party has the right to boycott parliament only when it has the capacity to overthrow it, that is, when it can replace parliamentary action by general strike and insurrection, by direct struggle for power. In Britain the masses have yet no confidence in the ILP. The ILP is therefore too weak to break the parliamentary machine and must continue to use it. As for a partial boycott, such as the ILP sought to operate, it was unreal. At this stage of British politics it would be interpreted by the working class as a certain contempt for them; this is particularly true in Britain where parliamentary traditions are still so strong.

Moreover, the London Division’s policy of giving critical support only to anti-sanctionists would imply a fundamental distinction between the social-patriots like Morrison and Ponsoriby or—with your permission—even Cripps. Actually, their differences are merely propagandistic. Cripps is actually only a second-class supporter of the bourgeoisie. He has said, in effect: ‘Pay no attention to my ideas; our differences are only small.’ This is the attitude of a dilettante, not a revolutionist. A thousand times better an open enemy like Morrison. Lansbury himself is a sincere but extravagant and irresponsible old man; he should be in a museum not Parliament. The other pacifists are more duplicitous—more shifty: like Norman Angell, who demands more sanctions now, they will easily turn into social-patriots as war develops. Then they could say to the workers: ‘You know us. We were anti-sanctionists. Even the ILP supported our struggle. Therefore you can have confidence in us now when we say that this war is a just war.’ No, the ILP should have applied the same policy of critical support to the whole of the Labour Party, only varying our arguments to meet the slightly varied propaganda of pacifists and social-patriots. Otherwise illusions are provoked that pacifism has more power to resist than has social-patriotism.

This is not true; their differences are not fundamental. Even among the Tories there are differences on sanctions and war policies. The distinction between Amery and Lansbury is simply that Amery is more of a realist. Both are anti-sanctionists; but for the working class, Lansbury with his illusions and sincerity is more dangerous.

Most dangerous of all, however, is the Stalinist policy. The parties of the Communist International try to appeal especially to the more revolutionary workers by denouncing the League (a denunciation that is an apology) by asking for ‘workers’ sanctions’ and then nevertheless saying: ‘We must use the League when it is for sanctions.’ They seek to hitch the revolutionary workers to the shafts so that they can draw the cart of the League. Just as the General Council in 1926 accepted the General Strike but behind the curtains concluded a deal with the clergy and pacifist radicals and in this way used bourgeois opinion and influence to ‘discipline’ the workers and sabotage their strike, so the Stalinists seek to discipline the workers by confining the boycott within the limits of the League of Nations.

The truth is that if the workers begin their own sanctions against Italy, their action inevitably strikes at their own capitalists, and the League would be compelled to drop all sanctions. It proposes them now just because the workers’ voices are muted in every country. Workers’ action can begin only by absolute opposition to the national bourgeoisie and its international combinations. Support of the League and support of workers’ actions are fire and water; they cannot be united.

Because of this, the ILP should have more sharply differentiated itself from the CP at the elections than it did. It should have critically supported the Labour Party against Pollitt and Gallacher. It should have been declared openly that the CP has all the deficiencies of the Labour Party without any of its advantages. It should have, above all, shown in practice what true critical support means. By accompanying support with the sharpest and widest criticism, by patiently explain- ing that such support,, only for the purpose of exposing the treachery of the Labour Party leadership, the ILP would have completely exposed, also, the spurious ‘critical’ support of the Stalinists themselves, a support which was actually whole-hearted and uncritical, and based on an agreement in principle with the Labour Party leadership.

Question—Should the ILP seek entry into the Labour Party?

Answer—At the moment the question is not posed this way. What the ILP must do, if it is to become a revolutionary party, is to turn its back on the CP and face the mass organizations. It must put 99 per cent of its energies into building of fractions in the trade union movement. At the moment I understand that much of the fractional work can be done openly by ILPers in their capacity of trade union and co-operative members. But the ILP should never rest content; it must build its influence in the mass organizations with the utmost speed and energy. For the time may come when, in order to reach the masses, it must enter the Labour Party, and it must have tracks laid for the occasion. Only the experience that comes from such fractional work can inform the ILP if and when it must enter the Labour Party. But for all its activity an absolutely clear programme is the first condition. A small axe can fell a large tree only if it is sharp enough.

Question—Will the Labour Party split?

Answer- The ILP should not assume that it will automatically grow at the expense of the Labour Party, that the Labour Party left wingers will be split off by the bureaucracy and come to the ILP. These are possibilities. But it is equally possible that the left wing, which will develop as the crisis deepens, and particularly now within the trade unions after the failure of the Labour Party to win the elections, will be successful in its fight to stay within the Labour Party. Even the departure of the Socialist League[22] to join the ILP would not end these possibilities, for the Socialist League is very petty bourgeois in character and is not likely to organize the militancy within the Labour Party. In any case, the history of the British General Strike of 1926 teaches us that a strong militant movement can develop in a strongly bureaucratized trade union organization, creating a very important minority movement without being forced out of the trade unions.

Instead, what happens is that the labour fakers swing left in order to retain control. If the ILP is not there at the critical moment with a revolutionary leadership the workers will need to find their leadership elsewhere. They might still turn to Citrine, for Citrine might even be willing to shout for Soviets, for the moment, rather than lose his hold. As Scheidemann and Ebert[23] shouted for Soviets, and betrayed them, so will Citrine. Leon Blum, rather by the revolutionary pressure of the French masses, runs headlines in his Populaire -’Sanctions—but the workers must control’, etc. It is this treacherous ‘heading in order to behead’ which the ILP must prevent in Britain.

Question—Is Stalinism the chief danger?

Answer—Of all the radical phrasemongers, the ones who offer the greatest danger in this respect are the Stalinists. The members of the CPGB are now on their bellies before the Labour Party—but this makes it all the easier for them to crawl inside. They will make every concession demanded of them, but once within—they will still be able to pose as the left-wing because the workers still retain some illusions about the revolutionary nature of the Comintern—illusions which the ILP in the past has helped to retain. They will use this illusion to corrupt the militants with their own social-patriotic policy. They will sow seed from which only weeds can sprout. Only a clear and courageous policy on the part of the ILP can prevent this disaster.

Question—Would you recommend the same perspective for the ILP Guild of Youth as the adult party?[24]

Answer—Even more. Since the ILP youth seem to be few and scattered, while the Labour Youth is the mass youth organization.[25] I would say: ‘Do not only build fractions—seek to enter.’ For here the danger of Stalinist devastation is extreme. The youth are all-important. Unlike the older generation they have little actual experience of war; it will be easier for the Stalinists and the other pseudo-revolutionary patriots to confuse the youth on the war issues than to confuse those who survived the last war. On the other hand, the willingness of the Stalinists to drive these same youth into another actual war will make the young workers properly suspicious. They will listen more easily to us—if we are there to speak to them. No time must be lost. Out of the new generation comes the new International, the only hope for the world revolution. The British section will recruit its first cadres from the 30,000 young workers in the Labour League of Youth. Their more advanced comrades in the ILP youth must not allow themselves to be isolated from them, especially now at the very moment when war is a real danger.

Question—Should the ILP terminate its united front with the CP?

Answer—Absolutely and categorically—yes I The ILP must learn to turn its back on the CP and towards the working masses. The permanent ‘unity committees’ in which the ILP has sat with the CP were nonsense in any case. The ILP and the CPGB were propaganda organizations not mass organizations; united fronts between them were meaningless if each of them had the right to advance its own programme. These programmes must have been different or there would have been no justification for separate parties, and with different programmes there is nothing to unite around. United fronts for certain specific actions could have been of some use, of course, but the only important united front for the ILP is with the Labour Party, the trade unions, the co-operatives. At the moment, the ILP is too weak to secure these; it must first conquer the right for a united front by winning the support of the masses. At this stage, united fronts with the CP will only compromise the ILP. Rupture with the CP is the first step towards a mass basis for the ILP and the achievement of a mass basis is the first step towards a proper united front, that is, a united front with the mass organizations.

Question—Should the ILP forbid groups?

Answer—It can scarcely do that without forbidding its leadership, which is also a group, a centrist group, protected by the party machinery, or without denying the very fractional principle by which it must build its influence in the mass organizations.

Factions existed in the Bolshevik party as temporary groupings of opinion during its whole life—except for a brief period in 1921 when they were forbidden by unanimous vote of the leadership as an extreme measure during, an acute crisis.

Question—How far can factions develop with safety to the party?

Answer- That depends on the social composition of the party, upon the political situation and upon the quality of the leadership. Generally it is best to let petty-bourgeois tendencies express themselves fully so that they may expose themselves. If there are no such tendencies, if the membership is fairly homogeneous, there will be only temporary groupings—unless the leadership is incorrect. And this will be shown best in practice. So, when a difference occurs ‘ a discussion should take place, a vote be taken, and a majority line adopted. There must be no discrimination against the minority; any personal animosity will compromise not them but the leadership. Real leadership will be loyal and friendly to the disciplined minority.

It is true, of course, that discussion always provokes feelings which remain for some time. Political life is full of difficulties—personalities clash—they widen their dissensions—they get in each other’s hair. These differences must be overcome by common experience, by education of the rank and file, by the leadership proving it is right. Organizational measures should be resorted to only in extreme cases. Discipline is built by education, not only by statutes. It was the elastic life within it which allowed the Bolshevik party to build its discipline. Even after the conquest of power, Bukharin and other members of the party voted against the government in the Central Executive on important questions, such as the German peace, and in so doing lined themselves with those Socialist-Revolutionaries who soon attempted armed insurrection against the Soviet state. But Bukharin was not expelled. Lenin said, in effect: ‘We will tolerate a certain lack of discipline. We will demonstrate to them that we are right. Tomorrow they will learn that our policy is correct, and they will not break discipline so quickly.’ By this I do not advise the dissenting comrades to imitate the arrogance of Bukharin. Rather do I recommend that the leadership learns from the patience and tact of Lenin. Though when it was necessary, he could wield the razor as well as the brush.

The authority of the national leadership is the necessary condition of revolutionary discipline. It can be immensely increased when it represents an international agreement of principles, of common action. Therein lies one of the sources of strength of the new International.

Question—What do you think of the ILP colonial policy?

Answer—So far, it seems to be mainly on paper. Fenner Brockway has written some very good articles on the Mohmand struggles,[26] and upon Ethiopia. But there should be many more—and beyond words, there should be action. The ILP should long ago have created some kind of colonial bureau to co-ordinate those organizations of colonial workers who are striving to overthrow British imperialism. Of course, only the real revolutionists in the ILP will bother to work for such policies. It is the test of their revolutionary understanding.

Question—What should be the basic concept of illegal work?

Answer—Illegal work is work in the mass organizations—for the ILP it is systematic entry and work in the trade unions, co-operatives, etc. In peace-time and in war, it is the same. You will perhaps say: ‘They will not let us in. They will expel us.’ You do not shout: ‘I am a revolutionist,’ when working in a trade union with reactionary leadership. You educate your cadres who carry on the fight under your direction. You keep educating new forces to replace those expelled, and so you build up a mass opposition. Illegal work must keep you in the working masses. You do not retire into a cellar as some comrades imagine. The trade unions are the schools for illegal work. The trade union leadership is the unofficial police of the state—The protective covering for the revolutionist is the trade union. Transition into war conditions is almost imperceptible.

Question—What specifically do you think the ILP should do in order to build a new International?

Answer—The ILP, if it intends to become a genuine revolutionary party must face honestly the question of the new International.

The Second International is bankrupt, the ILP has already said. It now recognizes the betrayal of the Third International. It should also realize that the International Bureau for Revolutionary Socialist Unity 166 is a myth. It should draw the only possible conclusion and add its name to the Open Letter for the Fourth International.

Question—You mention that the IBRSU offers no basis for the struggle against war. What is the policy of this Bureau? What is its future?

Answer—The Bureau has no comnlon policv; its parties are going in all directions. The SAP of Germany now marches steadily rightwards toward social democracy and Stalinism. Today I have news that the congress of the RSAP, one of the largest parties in the Bureau has voted by an overwhelming majority to sever its old close co-operation with the SAP and also to break off completely with the Bureau and to associate with parties which work to build the Fourth International. It even passed a vote of censure on the Central Committee for having maintained a connection with the SAP as long as it did.

The Spanish POB[27] is, in a certain sense, similar to the ILP. Its leadership is not internationalist in perspective but its membership includes an important section who are for the Fourth International. The USP of Rumania[28] is also developing towards a revolutionary internationalist position. Recently it expelled the tiny Stalinist faction within it, and it is already being accused of ‘Trotskyism’. I hope that in the near future they will recognize the necessity of joining in the great work of building the Fourth Internatlonal.

As for the other members of the Bureau, they are either nonentities or they have no real relation to the Bureau. The Italian SP (Maximalist) is not a party, only a microscopic group living for the most part in exile. The Austrian Red Front` only two years ago had 1,000 members in illegality. Today it is non-existent, dissolved. Why? Because it had no programme—no banner! The Polish ILP2[29]is only a topic for humour, a caricature organization of no political importance, while the Bulgarian LSG[30] is never heard of. Like the Norwegian ‘Mot-Dag’—another ‘member’ of the Bureau—it is only a small left-wing group of intellectuals which is in process of decomposition. Here in Norway, the only workers’ party is the NAP.[31] It belonged to the Bureau for two years, but does so no more and is in no way desirous of building a new International. just now, I have received word that the NAP decided (on the very same day that the Dutch party withdrew from the Bureau) to sever even formal connections—for opposite political reasons. Only two parties of consequence remain to be considered—the ILP and the Swedish SP. [32] Already the latter grows cold to the Bureau as the SP turns to the right like the NAP. It is altogether likely that it will follow.

The Bureau suffers the fate of all centrist organizations in times of acute class struggle; it is destroyed by the release of the centrifugal forces within itself. We predicted that the IAG would lose both to the right and to the left. It is happening before our eyes, and even more quickly than we had expected. History could not arrange a better demonstration of the correctness of our analysis of centrism. If the ILP does not soon make up its mind it will find itself sitting in lonely possession of the Bureau.

Question—Was not Doriot also a member of the ‘Seven Lefts’?[33]

Answer—Certainly. He may never, for his own reasons, have adhered formally, but he was chosen with Schwab, and Gorkin [34] to form the Bureau’s World Committee for Peace Work. The committee, of course, never functioned. Later, when Doriot came to terms with Laval he slipped out of the Committee as quickly as possible. Before, the IAG had met in St. Denis, under his protection. Later, when they called him on the ‘phone it was always busy—connected with the government. Doriot is quite openly a traitor. It is interesting that at the last IAG conference Doriot was the loudest in condemning the Trotskyists for their slogan of the new International, and the SAP quoted him with enthusiastic approval.

Question—May not the Bureau recoup its losses from other forces?

Answer—The course of events is not that way. Zyromski, in France, has been the great hope of the IAG. He was, together with Pivert, a year in the Bataille Socialiste.[35] Since that time, the Bataille Socialiste has ceased to exist. The reason? Like the Austrian Red Front, it had no clear programme, no banner. Pivert has moved further left and Zyroniski has had to solidarize himself with the right, with Blum himself. Zyromski now plays the perfidious role of Stalinist social-patriot within the SFIO.

Pivert has now built up another left group, but this too will not last six months. It is composed of one element afraid of the patriots and another afraid of the Bolshevik-Leninists. The group calls itself ‘Revolutionary Left’. it is a little left, but it is not yet revolutionary.

Question—What do you think of the Lovestoneite argument, which we hear in the ILP, that the CPSU must still be a good party because it exists in a workers’ state.

Answer—That is not a Marxian argument, that is metaphysics. If a workers’ state automatically produced a good government there would be no need for a communist party within it. The fact is that the CP as the government of the workers’ state is not a ‘thing-in-itself’ but is subjected to the play of different historical forces. it can deviate, degenerate, become a danger to the existence of the workers’ state. That is precisely what has happened in Russia.

Interview with Robertson (November 1935), New International, February 1936


Dear Comrade,

The article written against me in the New Leader of March 20 of this year is sharp but incorrect. The sharpness is good. One must always welcome it when a revolutionary defends his ideas with sharpness and precision. Unfortunately, in spite of all the sharpness I fail to notice the necessary precision.

The polemical article sets itself the task of protecting the International Bureau for Revolutionary Socialist Unity’ against my attacks. My criticism of the parties affiliated to the Bureau is said to be totally wrong. These Parties are said to be by no means disintegrating, but on the contrary to be showing themselves more and more unified in the international struggle

Let us try to verify these assertions. As far as I am concerned I know of only one single common international action of the London Bureau. That is the creation of the ‘World Committee for Peace.’ I carefully criticized at the time the programme of this committee proposed by the SAP on the basis of their document, and branded it with perfect justification, I think, as an expression of the shallowest petty-bourgeois pacifism. No one, not even the leaders of the SAP, has ever given to this criticism a material and pertinent answer. My point of view, consequently, remains valid. The parties which on the question of war adopt a pacifist attitude cannot be looked upon by a Marxist as revolutionary proletarian parties. Maxton, for instance, is a pacifist and not a Marxist. His war policy can perhaps contribute much to the saving of his soul but scarcely to the liberation of the working class.

The above-mentioned Committee was formed of three people: the German Schwab, the Frenchman Doriot (!), and the Spaniard Gorkin. Since then Doriot, the host of the last conference of the so-called Socialist Revolutionary Parties, has gone over with his clique to the reaction. Gorkin fought his election in Spain with a miserable democratic-pacifist programme of the People’s Front. And, the third member, Schwab, has up to now not yet explained that the Committee for Peace was an anti-revolutionary undertaking and that the programme laid down by him, Schwab, of the ‘Fight for Peace’ mocks the whole tecahing of Marx and Lenin in every word. (Incidentally there are still a few lamb-like people who think that they can still convince the minority of the SAP by endless, totally abstract discussion. We certainly believe that Schwab and some other leaders with their reactionary ideas are in the minority—but that this minority is to be won by good words, no, we are really not so naive as to believe that.)

This, then, is at present the growing capacity of the London Bureau for ‘united international action.’

I have never put a low value on small organizations merely because they are small. Even here the New Leader twists the Marxist criterion. The mass organizations have value precisely because they are mass organizations. Even when they are under patriotic reformist leadership one cannot discount them. One must win the masses who are in their clutches: whether from outside or from inside depends on the circumstance.

Small organizations which regard themselves as selective, as pioneers, can only have value on the strength of their programme and of the schooling and steeling of their cadres. A small organization which has no unified programme and no really revolutionary will is less than nothing, is a negative quantity. In this sense I have spoken very contemptuously of the small groups in Bulgaria, Rumania and Poland. Their confusion is really too big for their small compass. The revolutionary movement is only injured by them. On the other hand, the smallest of our groups are valuable because they know what they want and because they look back on the great tradition of Bolshevism with which they are internationally closely bound. Sooner or later every one of these groups will show its value.

The Austrian ‘Red Front’, which had united in itself the really militant worker elements, has united itself ostensibly with the Revolutionary Socialist Party of Austria, i.e., with the old Austro-Marxist Party.[36] Fenner Brockway’s bulletin affirms: ‘The united party, although it is affiliated to the Second International, supports the anti-war policy of the IBRSU’. This representation of Austro-Marxism is utterly wrong and confusing. Anyone who has read the theses of Messrs. Otto Bauer, Dan,[37] and Zyromski knows that Austro-Marxism represents even now nothing else than a cowardly, wretched falsification of Marxism, i.e., has remained completely true to its tradition. The ‘Red Front’ could accomplish revolutionary work in the Austro-Marxist Party under two closely related conditions: firstly, it must itself have clear principles, secondly, it must see clearly the rottenness of Austro-Marxism. Both conditions are completely missing (incidentally, one might mention that the Neue Front, the organ of the SAP, makes propaganda for Der Kampf, the Austro-Marxist organ). Actually the point is that the ‘Red Front’ is being absorbed in the Austro-Marxist slough.

The Norwegian group ‘Mot-Dag’ adopts the point of view of the Locarno Powers[38] and is now preparing to be absorbed in the Labour Party. This group too has been for years nothing else but confusion worse confounded.

It is really hardly worthwhile losing any more words about the Italian section (the Maximalists). It is enough to say that this `revolutionary’ organization, together with the Italian Socialist Party (Second International) and the Italian Communist Party(Third International), has signed a common appeal in which it calls on the League of Nations to widen sanctions, and tries to instil into the Italian people that imperialist sanctions are a means of peace.’ Perhaps Fenner Brockway does, not know of this appeal? Let him become acquainted with it. And if he does know why does he treat these people as revolutionary friends and not as traitors to proletarian internationalism?

The policy article of the New Leader maintains that the Swedish Socialist Party feels itself more closely connected with the London Bureau than I have maintained. It is quite possible that this connection has recently become somewhat closer. But that the Swedish Socialist Party has an international attitude—that is either a naive or consciously false legend. It is of course anti-war and it declares itself to be anti-League of Nations. But its ‘fight’ against war leads it hand-in-hand with the peace companies in the form of petitions. One could with the same success hold divine services for peace. But this method of action which manifests a shrieking contradiction between goal and method is enough to make us understand that the leaders of the Swedish Socialist Party with all their phraseology, which by the way changes very easily, are pacifistic philistines and certainly not proletarian revolutionaries, The peace policy of Kilboom,[39] like that of a Schwab, is in the final analysis a small edition of the policy of Lord Cecil. Every important event in Sweden will confirm this explanation.

The ILP cannot and will not admit that the Swedish Party is an anti-Marxist organization, because its own leadership shows that it itself is through and through a pacifist-centrist party. We have heartily welcomed the series of truly revolutionary New Leader articles about sanctions with Unser Wort, Nos. 6, and 8 Without any of those mental reservations with which the critic has reproached us. But one swallow does not make a summer. But even these articles bestow no Marxist halo upon the ILP. Maxton and the others remain what they were: petty-bourgeois pacifists and they decide the party’s course today as yesterday.

May I be permitted to point out that I publicly warned the ILP more than two years ago against the sterile alliance with the CPGB, as this alliance only multiplies the defects of both parties and diverts the attention of the ILP from the workers’ mass organizations. Were these warnings right or not? The CPGB is ending in the slough of opportunism. But the ILP is now politically weaker than ever, and its own ideas remain as indefinite and hazy as they were two years ago.

Lastly a few more words about what the New Leader says concerning the organizations of the Fourth International: it calls them ‘merest cliques’. In this characterization ignorance surpasses dishonesty. Clique is the word used by us Marxists for a group of individuals who have neither programme nor high aim but who cluster round a leader in order to satisfy personal and certainly not praiseworthy desires. (’Sect,’ on the other hand, is the designation of a group with definite ideas and methods.) ‘Clique’ also implies lack of honour. Does the New Leader believe that our party, organizations and groups possess no principles, no programme and no revolutionary consciousness? It would be really interesting to hear this sometime from Maxton or Fenner Brockway. On our side we maintain: we are the only international organization which has developed in a struggle of many years an absolutely definite programme, which the greatest events confirm and strengthen every day. The passion with which all our organizations enter into discussion in order to clarify all the questions of the international workers’ movement, the independence with which they develop their opinion, proves how seriously they understand Marxism and how many miles distant they are from an unprincipled clique spirit.

According to figures, too, they do not stand in any way inferior to the organizations around the London Bureau. A short time ago I proved, using the official Soviet press, that in the last few months of the year 1935 about 20,000 Bolshevik-Leninists had been expelled from the official Communist Party. I believe that in the Soviet Union alone we have more followers than the London Bureau has in the whole world. According to figures the Dutch party stands hardly inferior to the ILP. We have a courageous and militant section in France,[40] the focal point of European politics. Although the French comrades of the Fourth International have no representative in Parliament they play a much more important part today in French political life. The fascist and capitalist press of France is an irrefutable proof of this. And this is not to be wondered at: the Bolshevik-Leninists put forward in a revolutionary situation a really revolutionary programme. It is true that our earlier Spanish section has declined into the worst opportunism. But why? Because it has fused with the section of the London Bureau in order to pursue ‘big politics’ in the wake of Se-or Azana.[41] Our friends in Belgium have fought their way to a significant influence.[42] Even in South America we have important and growing sections. Our American section, which has now joined the Socialist Party,[43] has gained within it considerable sympathy for its ideas. Incidentally, it seems to me that the flag of the Fourth International has some supporters even inside the ILP. And the number of these is systematically increasing.

The difference between the London Bureau and the association of the Fourth International is as follows: in the first case it is a question of different hybrid organizations with quite a different past, with different ideas and a different future which, being without a roof, have temporarily associated themselves with the International London Bureau; in contrast to this the sections of the Fourth International are selective bodies which came into existence on the basis of quite definite ideas and methods worked out in the struggle with the Second and Third Internationals and the London Bureau. That is the reason why we increase systematically in spite of enormous difficulties, why the influence of the Fourth International grows stronger and stronger, why the two old Internationals have entered into a holy alliance against it, and why, when all is said and done, the sections of the London Bureau associate themselves everywhere with this holy alliance. The article in the New Leader is only one of the many proofs of these circumstances.

With the same certitude with which we some years ago warned the ILP against the alliance with the CPGB we affirm today that the ILP under its present leadership and on its present course is marching directly towards the abyss. We are at the same time no less certain that the best elements of the English workers’ movement will group themselves around the standard of the Fourth International, for it is now the only flag of the proletarian revolution.

Written 3rd April, 1936 and published in Unser Wort, May 1936


1. The invasion of this feudal kingdom on 3rd October, 1935 by the Italian fascists precipitated a crisis in the so-called ‘collective security’ Policy of the League of Nations. The Stalinists and social democrats called for ‘sanctions’ by the League. The Trotskyist movement on other hand tried to develop working class opposition to the war and fought for this perspective, for example within the ILP.

2. Which Lenin called a ‘thieves’ kitchen’. Established in 1919 at Geneva by the victors of the imperialist war, it nevertheless admitted the Germans in 1926. The Stalinist government of the Soviet Union joined in 1934 as part of its coming to terms with the imperialist nations. The League was at the centre of many pacifist, social democratic and also Stalinist illusions as a method of preventing further imperialist war, which it only helped to prepare.

3. The attitude of the executive of the Labour Party was that full support should be given to League of Nations sanctions against Italy, including military ones. This view, though not shared by Lansbury, the party leader nor by Cripps, won majority support at the 1935 Party Conference.

4. Apparently a group of French supporters of Brandler Right Oppositionists, though they were very small and insignificant.

5. In May 1932, in an early anticipation of policies of the popular front, the writers Henri Barbusse and Romain Roland launched the call for a conference against war which was ultimately held in August in Amsterdam. This put forward a succession of semi-pacifist policies, winning the support of many radicals and ‘fellow travellers’. A further conference along the same fines was held in Paris in the Salle Playel in June 1933. (The real instigator of all this was the German Stalinist agent Willi Mônzenberg who broke from the Stalinist movement in 1938, and was found dead in mysterious circumstances two years later.)

6. The statements by Engels quoted in this paragraph were only beginning to see the light of day at the time this paragraph was written. The introduction to The Civil War in France, for example, was only published in full in English in 1933.

7. This was called by the Belgian Labour Party on the demand for manhood suffrage at 25. About 300,000 workers came out and major changes in the electoral law were introduced.

8. The leaders of French social democracy in this period. Paul Faure (1878-1960) was General Secretary of the SFIO throughout the inter-war period, though later expelled for collaborating with the Vichy regime. Jean-Baptiste Lebas (1878-1944) was also a functionary of the SFIO, a member of Blum’s 1936 cabinet and a resistance martyr.

9. After Louis Auguste Blanqui, the French revolutionary of the 19th century, who stood at the extreme left of the turbulent Parisian movement of his time. In contrast to Marxism, Blanquism favoured an insurrectionary movement organized conspiratorially and conducted by a small, active minority which, without basing itself on a broad working class movement, would seize power by a single, sudden stroke, establish a proletarian party dictatorship and inaugurate the new social order by the decrees of the revolutionary government. Lenin, accused in 1917 of Blanquism, even by many of his own party friends, dealt in his writings at great length with the distinctions between Blanquism and the Marxist conception of ‘insurrection as an art’ based upon the preparation, guidance and active participation of a broad mass movement.

10. The scene of massive local strike action and demonstrations in the period before the election of the 1936 Popular Front government. At Brest, where the town was taken over for a time, the Trotskyists played an active part.

11. Leon Jouhaux (1879-1954) began his career as a revolutionary syndicalist and became general secretary of the CGT in 1906. A supporter of the war in 1914, he joined the government and became a Commissioner of the Nation gearing the working class to the war effort. Supported a reformist policy after the war. Opposed the Bolshevik Revolution. Dominant figure in the CGT and supported by the Stalinists after the 1935 re-unification. Negotiated the end of the strike wave that followed the election of the Popular Front government in 1936. Arrested and deported by Vichy regime. Organized split in 1948 which led to the formation of ‘Force Ouvriere’ unions. Advocate of class collaboration. Awarded Nobel Peace Prize, 1951

12. Cf. What the ILP Stands For, a compendium of the basic party documents. LDT.

13. Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) was the outstanding military theoretician of the early 19th century. His best known work, On War, shows strong Hegelian influence. Participated in the campaigns against Napoleon and later served as head of the Prussian General Staff (1831). In the service of the Russian army 1812-1813.

14. In August 1935 the Comintern held its seventh, and last Congress declaring its support for the policies of the Popular Front.

15. This refers to the coming to power of reactionary groups in all three countries. Hitler had come to power in Germany in 1933. In Austria in February 1934 the labour movement had been subjected to violent attack and most of its leaders imprisoned or exiled by the clerical-fascist Chancellor Dolfuss. Though Dolfuss was murdered in an unsuccessful Nazi coup in July 1934, a similar regime under Schusnigg remained in power until the Nazis eventually did take over in 1938. In Spain, the right-wing government of Leroux from 1933 began to dismantle the democratic reforms won from Pervious administrations and to smash strike and insurrectionary movements of workers and peasants.

16. Jean Zyromski (1890- ) joined the SFIO in 1912, remaining a member after the 1920 Split in order, as he said, to fight reformism. He founded the ‘Bataille Socialiste’, a centrist group within the Socialist Party from 1929-1940 and advocated ‘organic unity’ of the Socialist and Communist Parties. He eventually joined the Stalinists in 1945.

17. This slogan of 1934 expressed an attempt to cover over the new right wing policies of the Popular Front era with a verbal leftism inherited from the ‘third period’. They were calling for the formation of organs of dual power—to install a government of the main bourgeois party. The position of the CP was soon clarified by a sharp shift to the right.

18. The Policy of Citrine and the TUC at this stage was for full support for the League of Nations sanctions against Italy over the threatened invasion of Ethiopia. Such policies won the support of Stalinism internationally, and had nothing in common with Lenin’s denunciation of the League as a ‘thieves’ kitchen’ of imperialism.

19. The Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification was formed in 1935 by Andres Nin (1892-1937), a leader of the Spanish Communist Party who had worked with the International Left Opposition from the time of his expulsion in 1927. He broke with Trotsky and united with the Workers and Peasants Bloc of Joaquin Maurin. Though labelled ‘Trotskyist’ by the Stalinists, the POUM remained a centrist grouping, supporting the Popular Front. Some of its members, including Nin, joined the Catalan government for a time. (See also other notes).

20. In the 1935 General Election the ILP stood 17 candidates of whom four were elected, all in Glasgow. In Bradford East the Conservatives were elected on &minority vote as the result of the ILP intervention, but in most cases the ILP received very few votes.

21. The Labour Party conference of 1935, held in Brighton, approved an NEC resolution supporting the League of Nations measures against Italy’s attack on Abyssinia. This was the main discussion, and the lengthiest in the party’s history. The resolution was opposed by Lansbury from a pacifist position and by Cripps on the principle that the League was in ‘International Burglars’ Union’, and that Labour ought not to ‘join without power in the responsibility for capitalist and imperialist war that sanctions may entail’. Cripps was opposed to demanding that a Tory government exercise sanctions. Ernest Bevin attacked Cripps and the resolution to support sanctions was carried by 2,168,000 votes to 102,000. Lansbury resigned as leader of the parliamentary party, to be followed by Attlee.

22. A left-wing organization affiliated to the Labour Party. Established in October 1932 initially by those members of the ILP who had not agreed with its recent disaffiliation, the Socialist League soon became a focus for a disparate group of largely middle-class Labour Party activists, including Charles Trevelyan and Stafford Cripps. JT Murphy, now out of the CP but still an admirer of Stalin, was secretary 1934-6. Members also included Reg Groves and others who had been associated with the Trotskyist movement but were not working in the Labour Party as communists. It is hardly surprising that such a group proved unable to provide any serious alternative to the right-wing Labour leaders. Early in 1937 the Socialist League supported a Popular Front unity manifesto with the ILP and CP. In March the Labour Party executive decreed its disaffiliation and in May agreed to disband. This did not happen before the establishment of the magazine Tribune which continues some of its traditions to this day.

23. Leaders of the German Social Democratic Party responsible for the bloody suppression of the revolutionary movements of the German working class in 1918-19. Philip Scheidemann (1865-1939) was Prime Minister briefly in 1918. Frederick Ebert (1871-1925) was secretary of the SPI) in 1905, a fervent social-patriot from 1914, Chancellor 1918-19 and President from then until his death.

24. Formed at the York Conference of 1924, the ILP Guild of Youth had 171 branches by 1925. Catered for young people between 14 and 21, organized football leagues, swimming, hiking as well as meetings. Penetrated by CP. Attended ‘National Left-Wing Movement Conference’ in 1927 inspired by CP. In April-May 1928 the majority of Scottish Guild of Youth joined the Young Communist League. When in May 1934 the English section decided to ‘seek sympathetic affiliation to the YCL’ the ILP EC took measures to dissolve it.

25. This was established by the Youth sections of the Labour Party in 1926, largely in response to the initial successes of the ILP Guild of Youth. In the following period there was continual conflict between the League of Youth and the Party apparatus about whether the youth organization should even be allowed to discuss the policies of the adult party. The view of the Party leaders was that the League of Youth had no function other than to recruit obedient and submissive Labour Party members. At first the League of Youth was not even allowed a national organization, though in 1935 a paper was established and representatives were elected to the Labour Party National Executive. In 1936 a National Administrative Council of the League was disbanded for criticizing Party Policy, and a national Conference was allowed only on condition that such criticisms could not be voiced. In the following year the League was again placed under the direct control of Head Office and local Labour Parties. In 1939, despite all the efforts of the Party bureaucrats, they were forced to cancel a national conference of the League because of the sympathy that continued to be shown within its ranks to various left Policies, including those of the now expelled Stafford Cripps. It declined during the War, but was revived in 1946 and began once again on its familiar cycle of conflict with the Party authority. In 1960 the Labour Party Young Socialists was established.

26. The Mohmands are a tribe on the North-West frontier of India who engaged in spasmodic battles with British imperialism from the middle of the nineteenth century onwards. The area they inhabit, north of the Khyber Pass, was Under British control from 1896 to 1947. It is now a special area attached to North Western Pakistan.

27. The Workers and Peasants Bloc established by Joaquin Maurin (1897- ) in 1931 after his expulsion from the Spanish Communist Party. It joined in 1935 with the Left Opposition group of Andres Nin to form the POUM. It is known as the BOC from its Spanish initials, and POB more usually refers to the Belgian Social Democratic party.

28. This organization was in fact so insignificant that nothing can be found out about it in any reference book or available histories of the socialist movement.

29. A small group adhering to the London Bureau. It’ leaders included Joseph Kruk, who later became an active Zionist. It consistently supported the British ILP within the Bureau.

30. An organization of no significance in the history of Bulgarian socialism. A small Trotskyist movement did however have some influence in the period 1931-3, under the leadership of Stefan Manov and Sider Todorov, when it published a Paper called Osvobozhdenie (Liberation).

31. Mot Dag (Towards Day) is the name of a left-wing magazine which existed from 1921 to 1936, and of the group of intellectuals which formed round it under the leadership of Erling Falk. In the early period, from within the Labour Party (NAP) Falk was a particularly virulent opponent of its affiliation to the Communist International. The group was expelled from the NAP in 1925, but eventually re-joined it in 1936.

32. Formerly known as the Swedish Independent Communist Party (see note).

33. Jacques Doriot (1898-1945) was a leader in turn of the Communist Party and of fascism in France. As a leader of the Young Communists he was active in campaigns against militarism and was a Comintern agent in China in 1927. A great orator, he built up a political base as Mayor of St. Denis, and from 1934 he wanted to proceed to the Popular Front even more rapidly than the Stalinists. For a short period between 1934 and 1936 he took a centrist position, supporting the London Bureau (the ‘Seven Lefts’), but winning no approval from Trotsky. He set up a fascist party in 1936, became a leading Vichy collaborator, involved in military activity on behalf of that regime when he was killed.

34. Schwab was the real name of J. Walcher, a leader of the German SAP (see note). Gorkin, whose real name was Julian Gomez, was a leading member of the Spanish CP during the 1920s, though he left—according to his own account—because he was ordered to assassinate the dictator Primo de Rivera. After supporting the Spanish Left Opposition for a time, he left to join Maurin’s Workers and Peasants Bloc, later becoming a leader of the POUM.

35. Marceau Pivert (1859-1958) was a left social democrat throughout his long political life. He joined the SFIO in 1924, supporting Zyromski for a time and founding the Revolutionary Left group within the SFIO in 1935. This was dissolved in 1937 and in the following year Pivert left the social democrats to set up the Workers and Peasants Socialist Party IPSOP). For the Bataille Socialist see note.

36. This was the name adopted by the Austrian Social Democrats when they were made illegal by the clerical-fascist regimes of Dollfuss and Schuschnigg from 1933 onwards, and after they had broken from some of the older and more discredited right-wing leaders like Renner and Bauer.

37. Otto Bauer (1881-1938) was one of the chief theorists of Austro-Marxism. Fedor Dan (1871-1947) was a founder of the Russian Social Democratic Party and a leader of the Menshevik faction. During the First World War he was a pacifist and a member of the Petrograd Soviet. After engaging in various political activities hostile to the Bolselivik Revolution, he left the Soviet Union in 1921 and thereafter remained prominent in various centrist and reformist international organizations.

38. Locarno was the venue for the conference held in 1925 of the main European powers except for the Soviet Union, i.e., France, Germany, Belgium, Britain and Italy. It resulted in the non-aggression pact known as the Locarno Treaty.

39. Karl Kilboom (1885- ) was a founder of the Swedish Communist Party and represented it on the Executive Committee of the Comintern. After being attacked in 1929 for failing to call the social democrats ‘social fascists’, he set up the Independent Communist Party (later known as the Socialist Party) which participated in the London Bureau en route to going over to social democracy.

40. Trotsky was well known to many of the leaders of French Communism and he secured the support of some of their number as early as 1923 when he warned in The New Course of the bureaucratic degeneration of the Russian Revolution. Various of them were expelled from the CP and began to produce the documents of the Soviet Left Opposition in different magazines. Eventually they came together to produce La Verit from August 1929, and in April 1930 established the ‘Ligue Communiste’. Trotsky took a close interest in the development of his French supporters after that, and considered that the issues raised there had a significance that went well beyond France itself. In August 1934, with strong encouragement from Trotsky, the group entered the SFYO (see note). Twenty-six prominent Bolshevik- Leninists were expelled from the SFIO in September 1935 as the party leadership lined up with the Popular Front. This led to further debate among the Trotskyists about how to proceed, and Trotsky gave firm support to those in favour of establishing an independent organization, which was achieved with the founding of the Parti Communiste Internationaliste in March 1936.

41. Manuel Azana (1880- 1940) was a leading bourgeois Radical politician in Spain. He was Prime Minister in the repuublican government in June 1931 and again in 1936, and President of the Republic from May 1936 until his resignation in 1939.

42. The Belgian Workers Party (POB) which entered the Social Democratic party in 1935.

43. In June 1936 the American Trotskyists dissolved their organization and joined the Socialist Party, at Trotsky’s Prompting. After fighting on major questions, in particular the failure of the SP to break from the politics of the Spanish Popular Front, they re-established their paper Socialist Appeal in August 1937 and were all expelled by the end of the following month. Details can be found in James P. Cannon, History of American Trotskyism. Table of Contents