Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History, Vol. 5 No. 2


International Trotskyism

Robert J. Alexander,
International Trotskyism 1929-1985: A Documented Analysis of the Movement,
Duke University Press, Durham NC, 1991, pp1125, $165.00

The text below continues from the general review of this book, and the addenda on New Zealand and South African Trotskyism, which appeared in Revolutionary History, Volume 4, no. 4.

DESPITE its subtitle, Professor Alexander’s latest work is not very well documented with regard to the history of Trotskyism in several countries. As I thumbed through this ponderous book, my eye fell on a single page devoted to Trotskyism in Romania. I found this section so short and inadequate as to require some additions and clarifications.

Alexander implies that Romanian Trotskyism started in April 1935 with the founding of a small Bolshevik-Leninist Group (BLG) in Bucharest. As a matter of fact, however, Trotskyism began to take shape and put down roots in Romania at least three years before, that is to say, in early 1932. In February that year the International Secretariat of the International Left Opposition (ILO) discussed a letter which came from Romanian oppositionists, and approved a reply to them prepared by ‘Bauer’ (Erwin Ackernecht) (IS Minutes, 7 February 1932, Trotsky’s exile papers, 16437). Contacts with the Romanians were maintained, in one way or another, until mid-1933. It was at this time that a Romanian Trotskyist group started functioning in Paris (IS Minutes, 9 July 1933, Trotsky’s exile papers, 16471).

Romanian Trotskyists in Paris were also members of the ILO’s French section, the Ligue Communiste. Three of them – under the pseudonyms of ‘Cristian’, ‘Martin’ and ‘Victor’ – broke with the latter to take part in the creation of the Union Communiste in October 1933. Later that month the Union Communiste hoped to start ‘Romanian work’, which would have been carried on by its Romanian ‘groupe de langue’ (Procès-verbal de la réunion du Comité du 20-X-33, Archives G. Davoust), the activity of which was to have been oriented to Romania (Comité du 29-X-33, Archives G. Davoust). Two months later the Union Communiste united with the Gauche Communiste – which had emerged from the unification of three small groups in the aftermath of the Conference Politique de l’Opposition Communiste de Gauche organised in April-June 1933 by the Davoust-led Groupe de la Banlieue Ouest – whilst keeping the old name of the Union Communiste, and it is quite likely that by that time all attempts at starting ‘Romanian work’ were virtually dropped.

In the meantime, in November 1933 a young member of the Romanian Communist Party, David Korner, travelled to Paris for the first time. On that occasion, or on subsequent visits, he established contacts with the French Ligue, and became a Trotskyist. Under the pseudonym of ‘Barta’ he was among the founders – together with his companion ‘Louise’ and Nelu Grunberg, better known as ‘Nicholas Spoulber’ or ‘Marcoux’ – of the Bucharest BLG in 1935, which distinguished itself by its campaign against the Communist International’s Popular Front policy, and had to face police and Stalinist-Social Democratic persecution. (For further details, see Richard Moyon, Barta, Cahiers Léon Trotsky, no. 49, January 1993, pp. 8-10, as well as the collection of Korner’s writings, Textes d’avant-guerre 1935-1939, Publications du GET, Fontenay-aux-Roses 1993).

As a result of the July 1936 events in Spain, ‘Barta’, ‘Louise’, ‘Marcoux’ and the latter’s companion decided to participate in the Spanish revolution. On their way to Spain, however, they decided to stop in Paris in October 1936, and were to remain there as members of the Parti Ouvrier Internationaliste, the new name adopted by the French section of the Fourth Internationalist movement. Their decision undoubtedly weakened the Bucharest BLG, which nevertheless seems to have survived until the time of the founding conference of the Fourth International in September 1938. This was, so to speak, the ‘second wave’ of Romanian Trotskyism – and the last one, as far as we know.

Paolo Casciola

Updated by ETOL: 20.9.2011