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New Militant, 9 March 1935

The Left Socialist Conference – A Letter and A Declaration

From New Militant, Vol. I No. 23, 25 May 1935, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Ed. Note: We publish herewith a letter from comrade Seegers on our previous report on the Paris Conference of the Left Socialist Parties and groups (International Arbeits Gemeinschaft). It appears to us that comrade Seegers misunderstands the import of the position taken by the German Socialist Workers Party (S.A.P.) on the question of the Fourth International. The declaration of Schmidt and Sneevliet, the leaders of the newly-formed Revolutionary Socialist Workers Party of Holland (R.S.A.P.), which is also printed below, throws more light on the real nature of the dispute.

* * *

Letter of Comrade Seegers

Editor, The New Militant

Dear Comrade:

In the issue of March 30 there is an introduction to a translated reprint from De Baanbreeker a note on the Paris Conference February 14. In this introductory note you state that the S.A.P. (Socialist Labor Party of Germany) appeared as the chief sabotager of the slogan for a New (Fourth) International.

From the reports on the Paris Conference that I have received (and certainly you have or should have the same information) this does not seem to be the case. Against the motion of Comrades Sneevliet and Schmidt voted only the two Scandinavian comrades and the comrade from the I.L.P. The S.A.P. and five other comrades abstained because they wanted to demonstrate that they are for a New International but believe it will be attained in a different manner. As the official organ of a responsible revolutionary party, we should be careful to avoid misleading statements, and I therefore hope you will correct this statement in the next issue, or print this letter instead.

The resolution submitted by the S.A.P., for which ten of the twelve delegates voted, with only one vote against it (Comrade Schmidt abstaining) is as follows: “In the face of the total failure of the Second and Third Internationals the conference notes that the international revolutionary labor movement is at present without a real leadership having the confidence of the movement and that it is therefore necessary to create such a leadership, i.e. a real, proletarian International.

The conference emphasizes that the necessary international revolutionary leadership can develop only as the result of a historic process and only through the co-operation of the revolutionary elements inside and outside of the prevailing Internationals. It further declares that this leadership can develop only on the basis of a fundamental renewal (Erneuerung) of the international workers movement.

To accelerate the achievement of a proletarian International capable of action (aktionsfaehig), which alone can realize the necessary unity upon a revolutionary basis, the parties represented at the conference resolve:

1. To concentrate with all their power upon initiation of international actions;

2. To utilize all possibilities for the coordination of the ready-for-action forces in the international frame and at the same time to expand the International Arbeitsgemeinschaft.

For this resolution voted 10 of the 12 delegates, against it only Comrade Sneevliet, Comrade Schmidt (O.S.P.) abstaining.

According to the Neue Front, the S.A.P. was ready to sign the motion submitted by the two Dutch Comrades, namely: “The conference declares that the proletariat, in order to conduct the international struggle, must create for itself a new International,” if it had been submitted as a declaration instead of as a MOTION, and the majority of the delegates probably would have followed that example, according to Neue Front. As it was, only the two Dutch comrades and the representative of the International Youth Bureau voted for their motion.

Whatever the merits or demerits of the conference and the decisions, I believe revolutionists should be fully (so far as possible) and fairly informed about it. The following parties or groups were represented: 1. The I.L.P. (England); 2. The O.S.P. (Holland); 3. The S.A.P. (Germany); 4. The Independent Labor Party of Poland; 5. The Socialist Party of Sweden; 6. The Iberian Communist Federation (Spain); 7. The “Red Front” (Austria); 8. The S.P. (Maximalists) of Italy; 9. Friends of Workers Unity (Doriot), France; 10. R.S.P. (Trotskyists), Holland; 11. The International Bureau of Rev. Youth (Stockholm); 12. The Group “Mot-Dag” (Norway).


Fraternally yours,

* * *

Declaration of Schmidt and Sneevliet

The organ of the S.A.P. Die Neue Front, in the March 1st edition, in the course of a report on the Paris International Conference in February, presents the Dutch resolution on the new international as an abstract “proclamation” of the new international.

This presentation is false and without foundation.

Both Schmidt and Sneevliet said quite clearly that they realized that a new international could never be formed by a mere “proclamation.” Both of them understood the difficulties connected with the formation of the new international. Both of them stated with equal clarity that the first step toward the new international must be the recognition of the necessity for a new international. They refused to add to the confusion surrounding this question by voting for ineffective, compromise resolutions.

The proletariat needs above all clarity and precision on this question. The S.A.P., with its resolution, left the door open to every deviation, to such an extent that the delegates of the I.L.P. (who were definitely instructed to vote against the new international) could vote for their resolution, seeing nothing therein but that the possibility of a fusion of the Second and Third Internationals was not excluded. We are of the opinion that our comrades of the S.A.P., by their compromise resolution and by their abstention from the vote on the precise Dutch resolution, have harmed the cause of the New International, for which they have declared themselves.



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