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Fourth International, January 1946


Inside the Fourth International


From Fourth International, January 1946, Vol.7 No.1, p.31.
Transcribed, edited & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.



De Rode October, weekly organ of the Committee of Revolutionary Marxists (CRM), Dutch section of the Fourth International, is in its fourth year. Having appeared illegally under the Nazi occupation, it is now being published legally and was recently enlarged from four to six pages.

In its main articles and editorials the paper concentrates on the three major political problems immediately facing the Dutch workers, which are also expressed in the papers’ main slogans scattered over its pages in heavy print: “Indonesia loose from Holland now!”; “Immediate Elections!”; “No annexation of German Territory!“

Together with a group of Indonesians, who were expelled from the now conciliationist Perhimpoenan Indonesia (Indonesian Society) because of their stand for absolute independence, our comrades have taken the initiative in founding the Anti-Imperialist Committee of Struggle.

This committee has issued leaflets to the Dutch workers and to the Rotterdam dockworkers and sailors, appealing to them to support the Indonesians by refusing to load or man ships destined for Indonesia.

De Rode October proves how the Stalinists, while ostensibly opposing Dutch suppression of the independence struggle, are playing a double game. In Holland there are no StaIinist-led strikes of dockworkers in support of the Indonesians, although it is known that the Stalinists have considerable influence in the EVC, The Unity Trade-Union Center, which led the recent dock strikes in Rotterdam for increased wages. The Stalinists openly state that they stand by their withdrawal in 1937 of the slogan “Indonesia Loose from Holland,” because they wish to maintain the “tie” between Holland and Indonesia. For this ..reason they favor Queen Wilhelmina’s promise of “independence” for Indonesia, i.e., keeping it within the framework of the Dutch Commonwealth.

The question of immediate elections is a timely one in Holland. We quote from an article in De Rode October of October 27:

“There is in Holland a government which claims to exercise its powers in the name of the Dutch people. It claims to be democratic, but the Dutch people have never had a chance to express their confidence or their distrust. The Schermerhorn government came without ever having been confronted by a representative body of the Dutch people. It takes important decisions. It decides whether workers can strike and what wages they will receive. It decides whether elections will be held or not. Whether Indonesia will be independent or not. What is this government? Where does it come from?

“The Gerbrandy government (in London during the occupation) was not popular with the Dutch people and the opposition assumed ever sharper forms. After the German capitulation the promise that this government would resign was kept. A more representative and progressive government would be formed. It was decided in higher regions to launch the Schermerhorn-Drees government, a supposedly democratic and progressive government. The face of this government was formed by the Social Democrat Drees and the ‘personalistic’ Socialist Schermerhorn. But to every face there is the back of the head and the brain. And these were formed in the present government by a large number of representatives of trusts and banks.”

This is the government which refuses elections with the excuse that there is chaos in the election registers. De Rode October pointed out that the rationing system could be used as the basis of emergency elections. This was borne out by the National Advisory Committee, a national body representing bourgeois and reformist organizations which rejected the reasons given by the government and demanded council elections in December and elections for the lower house in April of next year.

Our comrades do not want to see the lower house elections postponed until next April; they urge the workers to demand immediate elections. They point out that the government is afraid of elections this winter, when the mood of the workers will be most militant due to cold and hunger. The government cannot now afford elections because it needs a free hand for the suppression of the Indonesian masses. What is more there is the threat of the new rising trade-union organization, the EVC, which is not playing the game of the government like the old NVV.

The government clearly wishes to wait until the population, which has travelled further left, returns through apathy or discouragement to their old reactionary parties. Minister Drees brazenly said so in a speech at the party conference of the Social Democrats: “Large sections of the population, especially from the old church parties have gone adrift. All this must simmer out before the people is capable of elections ...”

De Rode October carries a number of regular features. The back page is almost completely devoted to a feature called the Free Tribune. Its original function was to have readers send in pieces exposing conditions in the factories and government bodies. But frequently readers raise questions of a wider political character. One issue carried a discussion on the defense of the Soviet Union. In another a Communist Party member who had attended a Trotskyist meeting urged our comrades to enter the CPN and band together with the opposition inside it to get the party to return to a revolutionary course.

De Rode October is a lively paper. It deals with many minor events which loom large in the day-to-day life of the Dutch workers. It ridicules the benevolent suggestion of the government that the workers who can’t make ends meet should start saving for textiles which will be on the market in the summer of 1946. It speaks up for the Jews who still have not reacquired their rights, for the war victims (mostly women) whose allowances hate been cut to the bone, for housewives’ committees protesting high prices. In a word, the paper speaks with the authentic voice of the oppressed, with humor and indignation which is always fresh.

In several of the issues there are appeals for the formation of a revolutionary party. Our comrades address themselves to revolutionists outside the organization, to the opposition within the ultra-left “Spartacus,” and to the oppositionists in the Communist party. They have opened the pages of De Rode October for discussions on this important question. According to our latest information the Trotskyists are planning a conference soon during which they hope the Committee of Revolutionary Marxists will be dissolved and the Revolutionary Communist Party of Holland founded. They are also planning an enlargement of the paper, a theoretical magazine Permanence Revolutie, and general expansion of the organization.

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Last updated on 8.2.2009