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Jan Frankel

In the International


(January 1931)

From The Militant, Vol. IV No. 2, 15 January 1931, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Austrian Opposition movement is certainly not lacking in surprises. Unfortunately, these surprises are rarely rejoicing. At the very moment when, after two years of efforts to overcome incredibly petty and unprincipled quarrels the question of creating a united section of the international Left Opposition assumed concrete forms in Austria and the International Bureau began to elaborate its concrete proposals, the leadership of the Austrian Communist Party (Opposition) announces in a letter signed by Frey and 16 other comrades, their formal withdrawal from the International Left Opposition. The declaration is formulated to these words:

“To the International Secretariat of the Left Opposition, Paris:

“Since their visit to Vienna, we announced to comrades Molinier and Mille that while ‘being in political agreement’ – this political agreement still exists now – we have for some time considered with growing doubt and without confidence the false and dishonest organizational methods which comrade Trotsky and the International Secretariat employ in practise.

“We hoped that this would be changed after the impressions comrades Mille and Molinier obtained in Austria. But we have been greatly deceived. The letter of comrade Mille of November 12, and above all, that of comrade Trotsky of November 16, 1930, as well as the supplements it contained, have deprived us of the last bit of confidence.

“Consequently, we formally withdraw our adherence to the International Left Opposition.

“A supplement on the decision on the expulsion of Stift is enclosed.

“The above letter was adopted by the unanimous decision of the Opposition leadership.”

The letter speaks of false and dishonest (that is, anti-Communist) organizational methods of the International Opposition, and above all of its secretariat and comrade Trotsky. The lightness and unspeakable lack of scruple of this accusation, which requires no comment for any serious Left Communist, are shown by the fact alone that the accusers are in no position to give their estimate a precise political expression, based on facts and couched in Communist language. They resort to diplomatic figures, speaking of “growing doubts”, “confidence”, “personal impressions” and the like. Instead of answering for their charges before the international tribunal, they reveal themselves in a ridiculous and shameful manner. Certainly these are not the methods of the International Left Opposition.

It is not the first time that Frey (we speak of him as the’ representative of the administration of the A.C.P. [Opposition], believes he must feel himself greatly deceived. From the very beginning, Frey gave his adherence and his “confidence” to the International Opposition on the sole condition that the latter express a priori its confidence in his organization and his whole past activity, and that it proscribe all the other Austrian Opposition groups, with which Frey had had or still has more or less important differences – differences which, in any case, have no importance now for the International Opposition. On this question, there was an exchange of letters between comrade Trotsky and Frey and his friends which lasted for months, in which comrade Trotsky, given the absence of any programmatic or tactical divergences, recommended a broad unity move on the basis of a common platform, as the only possibility of rallying in a revolutionary manner the Left Communist elements. The conclusions drawn by Frey, at various periods in the correspondence, were rich in changes as to his formal attitude towards the International Opposition.

In September 1929, he declared that he wanted to retain a “free hand” towards the International Opposition and to remain a “sympathizing” member. In April 1930, [he] refused to participate in the International conference of the Left Opposition, because he had to “settle” the “disputes” in question with the Russian Opposition. After the “final” formal adherence, he again played (during the sojourn of the French comrades in Vienna) with the idea of resigning, in order to preserve “elbow room” for “settling” the nasty Austrian affairs. Now he takes refuge in abandoning the “last bit of confidence”. This puerile and formalistic hocus-pocus can only arouse astonishment and regret. But if one considers further the obstinate refusal to collaborate actively in the international work, one concludes that Frey, by now occupying the position of national Communism, only quits the position of a fictitious internationalism. He does not see in his adherence to the International Left Opposition the consequence of a community of action and program, but a formal organizational maneuver useful for covering up private factional interests. So that we see in Austria a very unedifying spectacle where, in alternating cycles, one of the Left Opposition groups makes the best of its solidarity with the International Opposition while it hopes thereby to hit a blow at the other group.

As to the letter of comrade Trotsky, including the supplements of November 16, it doubtlessly concerns the copy of a letter from comrade Trotsky sent to the administration of the A.C.P. (Opposition) and addressed to Stift and four other comrades expelled from the A.C.P.(O.) following upon internal disputes in which, considering themselves as expelled, these comrades continued to call themselves members of the International Opposition and partisans of any movement for Austrian unity, and had appealed to the International Bureau. Without desiring to anticipate the formal decision of the International Bureau or expressing any final opinion on the differences (considering that some had attributed capitulationist tendencies to these comrades), comrade Trotsky, in a most cautious manner, had admitted the possibility of modifying the internal regime of the Austrian Opposition. (Moreover, for the united Opposition which was to be formed, he had made quite precise proposals as to the internal regime and the relations with the International Opposition.)

It seems that these doubts, which comrade Trotsky expressed in a very prudent manner, concerning the organizational methods of the administration of the A.C.P.(O.) were enough for Frey to (resume his old lamentations on the methods of Zinoviev-Bucharin-Stalin in the International Opposition and to take flight “formally”. To call the International Left the “caricature of the Comintern” is the favorite method of the Brandler-Neuraths, who have created a caricature of the pre-war International under the form of a flexible union of the various national currents who are greatly concerned about their own “autonomy”. Frey, on his part, demands for the A.C.P.(O.) more than “autonomy”, but complete “non-intervention” of the International, exclusively under the form of an unrestricted sanctioning of all his measures. Obviously these are not the methods of the International Left

In Austria, considerable sections of the present Oppositionist groupings (above all the group around Frey) were at one time (since 1922) already engaged within the party in violent and ceaseless faction fights which, while being objectively the expression of the regroupings in the Communist camp, nevertheless revolved around specifically Austrian questions. The traditions of the old factional groupings are today still the basis of the internal friction of the Austrian Opposition movement, and have given birth to a species of Austro-oppositionism, the principal character of which is the lack of international orientation based upon very marked fractional principles and pettiness, which is well illustrated by the resignation of the administration of the A.C.P.(O.) which came in 24 hours. But Frey and his comrades are not the only ones in this case: the Mahnruf group which, not without internal obstacles, declared its adherence to the International Opposition, has not yet come to the point of translating it in its journal, which does not appear as the organ of the Left Opposition but as the “organ of the workers’ struggle.”

Frey and his comrades, in quitting, say at the same tune that they are politically in complete agreement with the International Left. They believe it possible to substitute for the community of struggle with the Left, which is indissolubly bound up with its program and its activity, the isolated existence in one country. In other words, they want to put a national-socialist basis under the revolutionary program of the Left. Isn’t it absurd to speak in such a case of political agreement? No, the International Left Opposition has nothing in common with this opportunism.

The document underlines the unanimity of the decision. It is sad that among the leading comrades nobody opposed this clear turn to nationalist Austro-oppositionism. Thus, one can only hope that the worker-members of the A.C.P.(O.) will know how to defend internationalism against Austrian provincialism.

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