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The New International, February 1946


A. Arlins


[On the IKD]

(March 1946)


From New International, Vol. XII No. 5, May 1946, p. 159.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Dear Comrade Shachtman:

Some of our IKD comrades published an article in the theoretical organ of the English section under the title: Problems of the European Revolution (Workers International News, July–August 1945). This article was a contribution to the discussion on the national question and expressed (in a generally correct framework) certain opinions which were, without doubt, erroneous. Comrade T. Grant polemized for the English section against the article of our friends and his polemic is now reprinted in Fourth International (we never wonder why this paper has nothing to say of its own, except for the “summarizing” calumnies of the unspeakable E.R. Frank). Naturally, the false position on the national question which the English section has in common with the SWP in no way improved by the mistakes of our friends, but the mistakes none the less should be openly acknowledged. This is what our comrades recognized for themselves (they have already corrected their position in an answer to Comrade Grant) when they wrote to us in a letter of Dec. 26, 1945:

“Incorrect formulations in our contribution to the discussion of the national question are not so much a matter of incorrect formulations. They are much more the result of an overly summarized and ‘mechanical’ generalization of fundamental tendencies, i.e., the result of an incorrect and, therefore, false interpretation of the development in its concrete course.”

Since the polemic of Comrade Grant was reprinted in the FI in order to spread confusion about the official position of the IKD, I would like to say to the leadership of the SWP by means of this letter:

  1. You intended to discredit the IKD as a whole by using (out of context) the polemic against an article for which the AK (Committee Abroad) of the IKD was not responsible. Good! – Everybody acts according to his needs and his politico-moral level (that which Comrade Cannon calls his “standards”). But the SWP level can be greatly improved if you, the leadership of the SWP, take the IKD as a model. Our friends know how to correct their own errors freely – they display a remarkable skill in finding the real source of these errors. Read carefully the above quoted paragraph and you will see: They are interested solely in advancing our common cause – they do not live in fear of losing “prestige.” Nota bene: This is the standard of the IKD, who will in one way or another, invariably lose “adherents” who do not possess that skill shown by the authors of the article in question. Consequently:
  2. To improve at least the level of the FI it would be very good if you would also publish the answer our friends have written to Comrade Grant. We shall forward you a copy, and if you decide to publish it, your readers will be surprised to see that there exists nowadays such a thing as political honesty in your magazine. To be sure: Given our past experiences I don’t believe that our moral standards go so high as to permit such an act of honesty at all.

* * *

So far, dear Max, my direct message to the Cannonites. Have you noticed that Pierre Frank (the twin brother of that other specimen, E.R. Frank) opens in the same FI an attack against the IKD? We have, this time, committed the “crime” of being for freedom of religion. Terrible as it may seem to such “Marxists” as we have in the SWP and its international factions: Yes, we defend the freedom of religion (100 per cent guaranteed under the proletarian dictatorship!) and we share this crime with poor men like Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, etc. If Trotsky were alive, the editors of the FI would be astonished at what he would tell them ... exactly as he did in 1935 when he defended our position on the church struggle in Germany against this same Pierre Frank and other “radicals” (we had not to withdraw a single comma!). If Comrade Johnson will permit me: What a “retrogression” since the days when the German Social Democracy (in her glorious period) defended “even” the Jesuits against Bismarckian oppression! This defense was then simply “self-evident.” But cast aside the history of the German Social Democracy – if only they would learn something from their beloved “Bolshevism.” Objectively they support the calumnies about Bolshevism, for these calumnies say that Bolshevism is a totalitarian monster suppressing all kinds of individual liberties, especially in regard to religion.

London, March 21, 1946

With warmest greetings,
A. Arlins

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