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Paul G. Stevens

In the World of Labor

(28 April 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 28, 28 April 1939, p. 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Brazilian Communists Move Towards 4th Internationalist Position

Some months ago, the Appeal reported on a split which had taken place between the San Paolo state organization and the Communist Party of Brazil. Arising over differences on national policy, the San Paolo opposition, contacted by Fourth Internationalists, extended the split to the Communist International on the international questions. Meantime, the Regional Committee of the organization, in its bulletin, posed the question of affiliation to the Fourth International. A lively discussion has been taking place on this subject.

One of the former leaders of the C.P., whose authority was particularly great several years ago, has written a letter to the San Paolo Committee, declaring himself in favor of affiliation to the 4th. This fact is especially significant because the comrade in question had no previous relations with the dissident movement.

In another state, Parana, in the Southern section of the country, the dissident movement in the C.P. which had, due to the imprisonment of almost all its leaders, lost all contact with the San Paolo opposition, has now spontaneously developed to the Trotskyist position. Early this year, one of the leaders of the group was released from jail. This comrade, an old communist militant, reorganized the group which unanimously decided to join the Fourth International. Their resolution was adopted without their knowing that the San Paolo organization had publicly broken with the Communist International. There had never been a Trotskyist movement in the State of Parana before. Their first contact with the Fourth International was made by a delegate whom they sent to Rio de Janeiro for that purpose.

A preliminary conference, in which the dissident groups of San Paolo and Parana, as well as the Leninist Workers Party (Brazilian Section of the 4th International) participated, was recently held. The resolutions and decisions of the conference have not yet reached us. But, from the information we have at hand, it is clear that a strong Brazilian section of the Fourth International is in the making.

* * *

Ta-Tu-Thau Barred from Elections to Colonial Council

No sooner freed from prison, where he contracted a serious illness, our comrade Ta-Tu-Thau immediately joined the campaign of the Indo-Chinese section for elections to the Colonial Council. Together with comrade Tran-Van-Tach, he headed the electoral list decided upon by the party. Although the Colonial Council is in itself a meaningless institution in so far as the rights of the native population are concerned, the electoral platform and the ballot can be utilized to gauge the sentiment of the masses.

But it seems that the French governor of Indo-China and his bosses in Paris are afraid of even such a limited utilization of the suffrage. So the governor has simply disqualified them from standing as candidates. Of course, there is no legal ground, since both Ta-Tu-Thau and Tran-Van-Tach have been elected twice before as municipal councillors of Saigon and have successfully fought previous attempts to disbar them. But, apparently, the fear of a mounting vote of protest around these two famous rebel names is enough to cause the French colonial administration to make light of its own laws.

Both in Indo-China and in France, the move is being fought by our comrades and allied organizations. In Paris, a protest movement is developing, headed by the Bureau for Defense of Colonial Peoples.

* * *

Belgian Elections Mark Swing to “Moderate” Right

The general elections held in Belgium on April 2 marked a distinct turn to the so-called “moderate” right. The home-baked Fascists, the “Rex” movement of M. Degrelle, were practically wiped out as a factor in parliament. The Belgian Labor Party lost 54,000 votes and 6 seats; the Stalinists held on to their 9 seats, but lost 18,000 votes as compared with 1936. The Catholics and Liberals, who constitute the “moderate” right, gained together some 200,000 votes and 20 seats and now form the government coalition.

Our comrades of the Revolutionary Socialist Party also suffered a setback in comparison with their achievements in the municipal elections, even though they did manage to hold 5,000 votes in the Borinage and 2,000 in the Charleroi sections, the two proletarian strongholds of the party.

Generally, the elections appeared to reflect the all-pervading fear of war among the electorate. The defeat of Degrelle naturally indicates how completely unpopular Fascism has become. Fearing war, the masses apparently have not distinguished between the “national defense” policies of the reformists, the Stalinists and the old-line “liberals,” except to see some advantage in the traditional attachment of the latter to such a policy.

The general desire among the working class to get whatever they can of a “realizable” protection in parliament before the war breaks out no doubt caused a good many who voted for the P.S.R. in the communal elections to vote for the Labor Party in the national elections. The P.S.R., in a post-election statement recognizes the results as symptomatic of a reactionary period and directs the attention of the Borinage and Charleroi workers to the impending struggle of the miners against the governmental attack on their conditions.

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