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Norwegian Labor Party
and the Fourth International

(January 1934)

From The Militant, Vol. VII No. 1, 4 January 1934, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

After the Norwegian Labor Party had rejected the proposal to elaborate a joint platform, the problem of this party among others was discussed more or less haphazardly by our German comrades and the S.A.P. In this way the question of the Norwegian Labor Party (N.A.P.) has come to the fore. This international question is extremely interesting to a large circle of people.

What does this N.A.P. represent? With 200,000 members (undoubtedly, as in the British Labor Party the largest part of this is collective membership) it represents like the Austrian Socialist party the political party of the Norwegian proletariat. It is strikingly similar to the Austrian Socialist party in another way. The strong Leftist currents among the members (who have up to now not dared to join the Second International) who form a Left wing, use a vaguely radical phraseology are basically reformist and are deplorably reformistic and vulgar in practise, that is pursue a policy of toleration which precipitates layers of the middle classes into the arms of Fascism.

It is true that the party has gained of recent date (like other reformist parties) great election successes, but as the Nieuw Rotterdamische Kourant correctly puts it, its conduct is at bottom especially moderate.

The Marxist Attitude

The attitude towards this party is particularly clear for Marxists: to work as a fraction inside the party as long as they (the Marxists) are too weak to create a new Communist party; the construction of this fraction on the basis of the sharpest criticism of the reformist leadership and no collusion of any kind with this leadership.

On the principle questions which face the ranks of the united front the position of the S.A.P. is quite different from the one we defend. Not only did it sign a resolution on the regeneration of the workers movement, together with this famous party, besides the Declaration of the Four not only did it sit with it in the London Bureau, but what is worse it abstained from our criticism of this party on the national and international scale.

What are the results of such procedure? There are a number of important groups and parties internationally, like the I.L.P. and the Independent Communist party of Sweden (the latter has broken with the Brandler international) which are evolving to the left. The principal task of all the participants in the Declaration of the Four should be the strengthening of relations with these parties. Therefore it can continue openly with the N.A.P. only in the face of the growing development of opposition.

The N.A.P. and Sweden

It conducts itself in a similar manner with the Independent Communist party of Sweden. As long as the N.A.P. deems it advisable to have relations with the latter, it will exert a bad influence on it and will arrest its development. These facts are so striking that every member of the S.A.P. should take them into consideration.

But in Norway itself such passivity can only lead to disgust in the N.A.P. No Left wing can develop without criticism. On the other hand an appeal to international allies permits Tranmael to play the revolutionist in his own party.

After the Declaration of the Four the London Bureau has lost its significance. It is even unable to explain how it happens that each of its participants follows a different aim. One holds for the IInd, the second for the II½, the third for the IIIrd, the fourth for the IVth, etc., etc. Better yet the simultaneous alliance of two of the signees of the Declaration of the Four with a completely reformist party must compromise the conception of the IVth International, not only in the eyes of some bureaucrats but before many thinking revolutionary workers.

The S.A.P. argues about the results of its alliance with the N.A.P. in a very confused, and unique way. It does not help Tranmel because he treats the alliance very disdainfully. Tactical exigencies demand this alliance. Yes, this element which is worthy of eulogies, still demands the entrance of the League of Communist Internationalists in the London Bureau, that is to abandon our Declaration of Four for an optional and cordial union with Tranmel. One should not fear compromises, etc. ...

The Charge of “Sectarianism”

Conversely the demand of the League of Communist Internationalists is called “sectarian” in the largest degree (?). At every step they discover the original sin. In that they make use of Lenin’s method (Dear friends, study once again in what circumstances, with, what methods, and with what results Lenin marched in 1915 towards the construction of the III International! How he condemned every equivocal union containing traces of opportunism, which was precisely the reason that led to the collapse of the IInd International) in order to accuse others as sectarian so that they can appear “correct”.

But we ask our opponents: Is there another method of building a revolutionary organization, no matter how, on the national and international scale? What are the results of other methods, of the silent concessions, of the “flexible” maneuvers, of hesitations (of course we speak of the building of the new party and the new international, not of the struggle for concrete economic and political ends in which a united front is possible “even with the devil and his grandmother”).

Our opponents can look into the long history of the revolutionary movement as much as they want, but they will not find any other workable method. Every concession to opportunism and centrism, however small or great, has ended in a 4th of August. Only Leninist intransigence has brought results. The Road of the IVth International

Only on this road is the building of a IVth International possible, the political level already acquired. On this road they do not abandon They would do much better, not in the N.A.P., not in the Independent Communist party of Sweden, if they brought others to their point of view by means of decisive struggle.

An example. The leaders of the S.A.P. believe that they possess a sufficiently important historical experience to create a new strategy and a new tactic on the basis of this experience; their own results in winning over the S.A.P. As is known the present leadership was formerly Brandlerite. It entered the S.A.P. with 800 members in the spring of 1932. At that time the S.A.P. numbered 24,000 members according to some and 50,000 according to others. A year later Seydewitz capitulated to the social democracy, Rosenfeld to the Communist party and the present leadership found itself at the head of a party which had about 14,000 members.

In the meanwhile illegality has naturally reduced this number in extraordinary proportions as it has in all organizations.

The Result of the “New” Methods

We proposed to the comrades now in the leadership, on their entry into the S.A.P., that they carry on an open struggle in the party against Seydewitz-Rosenfeld on the basis of a platform. They did not want to do this. They applied their own tactic and perhaps, despite themselves, conquered around a third of the party. Most of those remaining went to the social democracy; a small section to the Stalinist party where they are continuing their evolution towards the Brandlerites and to us; the majority have sunk into indifference. Do you call that the triumph of the “new” Leninist method over the “old”?

“Gentlemen, consider the outcome!”, it is said in old German history. We believe that the historic study of the S.A.P. should be deepened and amplified. It. is not written that they would not have obtained this result with the “old” method, (they would possibly have obtained a belter result. Today the transient homogeneity of the S.A.P. is the product of the external oppression of Hitler. But the political homogeneity of the S.A.P. ... At a public meeting where three members of the S.A.P. spoke, one of them said that there was no proletarian state in the U.S.S.R., the other said that there was one, and the third said something quite unique: bureaucratic socialism. The Picture

This is broadly the picture of a truly revolutionary party. And that leads us to believe that the final results of the “new method” will be quite different than the leaders of the S.A.P. today think they will, if they generalize and immortalize these methods instead of recognizing their accomplishments in order to correct them. That is why we prefer the “old” methods by means of which the Bolsheviks built their party.

We see that the question of the N.A.P. has not only a particular and actual significance, but that on its correct solution depends In large part the further development of the IVth International. It leads us also to the principles of building a party and a revolutionary International. Their immediate clarification is decisive for future development.

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