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A series of articles by Simon Pirani reprinted from the Workers Press together with supplementary material.

Written: 1986 / 87.
First Published: 1987.
Source: Published by the Communist League (Australia).
Transcription / HTML Markup: Sean Robertson and David Walters for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Copyleft: Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line ( 2013. Permission is granted to copy and / or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons license. Please cite any editors, proofreaders and formatters noted above along with any other publishing information including the URL of this document.

Battle for Trotskyism

Excerpts from writings of Leon Trotsky, 1939.

Excerpt from ‘The Kremlin in World Politics’ – Trotsky, July 1, 1939.

New International, Oct 1942.

Especially striking is the Kremlin’s change of attitude towards the colonial peoples, who have lost for it any particular interest, since they are not the subjects but the objects of world politics. At the last convention of the party in Moscow (March 1939) the refusal of the Comintern to demand freedom for the colonies that belong to democratic countries was officially proclaimed. On the contrary, the Comintern enjoined these colonies to sustain their masters against fascist pretensions. In order to demonstrate to London and Paris the high value of an alliance with the Kremlin, the Comintern is agitating in British India, as in French Indochina, against the Japanese danger and not at all against French and British domination. ‘The Stalinist leaders have made a new step in the way of treason’, wrote the Saigon workers’ paper, La Lutte, on April 7 of this year. ‘Taking off their revolutionary masks, they have become champions of imperialism and express themselves openly against the emancipation of oppressed colonial peoples’. It merits attention that in the elections for the colonial council, the candidates of the party represented by the quoted newspaper received in Saigon more votes than the bloc of the Communists and the governmental party. In the colonies, Moscow’s authority is declining rapidly.

Excerpt from ‘Trotskyism & the PSOP’ – Trotsky, July 15, 1939.

In connection with the elections to the Colonial Council held April 30 of this year, the Bolshevik-Leninists have written me from Saigon: ‘Despite the infamous coalition between the Stalinists and bourgeois of all colours, we have gained a brilliant victory. This victory was all the more hard won because the minds of the voters were befuddled for months by the foggy propaganda of a centrist group called October . . . We marched into the struggle with the banner of the Fourth International fully unfurled . . . ’. ‘Today, more than ever before’, the letter continues, ‘we understand the significance not only of the program of the Fourth International, but also of the struggle of 1925-8 against the theory and practice of socialism in one country, the struggle against the Anti-Imperialist League and other show committees, Amsterdam Pleyel and others’.

This voice of the revolutionary workers from Saigon is infinitely more important than the voices of all the London Bureaus and pseudo-‘Marxist centres’. The advanced workers of an oppressed country rally to a persecuted International. From the experiences of their own struggles they have come to understand our program and they will know how to champion it. Especially precious and important is the declaration that the advanced Saigon workers understand the meaning of the struggle of the Left Opposition during the years from 1925 to 1928. Only continuity of ideas creates a revolutionary tradition, without which a political party sways like a reed in the wind.

Excerpt from ‘An Open Letter to the Workers of India – Trotsky, July 25, 1939.

New International (predecessor of International Socialist Review) Sept. 1939.

The war, however, may bring to India as well as to the other colonies not a redoubled slavery but, on the contrary, complete liberty: the proviso for this is a correct revolutionary policy. The Indian people must divorce their fate from the very outset from that of British imperialism. The oppressors and the oppressed stand on opposite sides of the trenches. No aid whatsover to the slave owners! On the contrary, those immense difficulties which the war will bring in its wake must be utilized so as to deal a mortal blow to all the ruling classes. That is how the oppressed classes and peoples in all countries should act, irrespective of whether Messrs. Imperialists don democratic or fascist masks.

To realize such a policy a revolutionary party, basing itself on the vanguard of the proletariat, is necessary. Such a party does not yet exist in India. The Fourth International offers this party its program, its experience, its collaboration. The basic conditions for this party are: complete independence from imperialist democracy, complete independence from the Second and Third Internationals and complete independence from the national Indian bourgeoisie.

In a number of colonial and semi-colonial countries sections of the Fourth International already exist and are making successful progress. First place among them is unquestionably held by our section in French Indochina which is conducting an irreconcilable struggle against French imperialism and ‘People’s Front’ mystifications. ‘The Stalinist leaders’, it is stated in the newspaper of the Saigon workers, La Lutte, of April 7, 1939, ‘have taken yet another step on the road of betrayal. Throwing off their masks as revolutionists, they have become champions of imperialism and openly speak out against emancipation of the oppressed colonial peoples’. Owing to their bold revolutionary politics, the Saigon proletarians, members of the Fourth International, scored a brilliant victory over the bloc of the ruling party and the Stalinists at the elections to the colonial council held in April of this year.

The very same policy ought to be pursued by the advanced workers of British India.

Peasant War in China and the Proletariat – Trotsky, 22 September 1932.

The Vietnamese Revolution of 1945 brought the Trotskyists, using methods of working class revolutionary organisation, into open conflict with the Stalinists who had adopted the strategy of peasant guerrilla warfare first practiced by Mao Tse Tung and continued in Latin America and elsewhere. Trotsky had already written to his supporters in China, back in 1932, about the differences which could arise between peasant armies and working class revolutionaries, and surmised that, with Stalinist leadership of the peasants, these could become open conflicts. The following is a letter dated 22 September 1932, from Trotsky on China, Monad Press p. 522-531 – SP.

[The full article can be found here].

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