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Paul G. Stevens

In the World of Labor

(12 May 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 32, 12 May 1939, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Two Examples Portend Coming Divisions in the Stalinist Camp

Particularly in view of such recent developments as the removal of the champion of “collective security,” Maxim Litvinov, and the trend towards some kind of a deal with Hitler, Stalinism is due for large-scale splits and desertions. On the one hand, a turn to Hitler is bound to open the eyes of many deceived workers in the so-called communist parties. On the other hand, many of the petty-bourgeois patriots whom the “democracy” line attracted in the past will no doubt take the first opportunity of cleansing themselves from every last tarnishing vestige of “radicalism” in order to get themselves accepted as bona-fide nationalist warriors by the ruling class.

What will be left of the apparatus of the Comintern parties will probably be determined in each country by the exigencies of the moment confronting the local bureaucracies. But the two-fold trend indicated above is already coming into evidence, although slowly.

We have before us two cases. In the one case, the defection of a group of rank and file workers from the Communist Party of Great Britain. In the other, the resignation of a certain Dr. Bourguignon, who as recently as April 2 was a candidate for parliament on its list, from the Communist Party of Belgium. Each case is symptomatic of the trend described.

Resignation of Dr. Bourguignon from the Belgian Stalinist Party

Dr. Bourguignon recently had his letter of resignation from the Stalinist party of Belgium published in the Belgian press. In this letter he describes his disgust with the party, the intrigues, injustices, etc., going on inside of it as well as what he calls the “enormous bluff” organized by the party around the “supposed betterment brought about by the Soviet regime for the peoples of the U.S.S.R.”

It seems that in the year 1939, the honorable doctor has finally discovered that “civic and material equality is only a memory there, that castes and classes with all their inequalities are taking shape again, that the standard of living is lower than in our countries, that the regime is as bestially dictatorial as in the totalitarian countries and hardly democratic even in appearance ...”

No doubt, pointed remarks. But, as our Belgian comrades comment, why was Dr. Bourguignon so strangely silent until after the elections of April 2? (He was not re-elected as a deputy at that time.)

In the same vein, the ex-deputy depicts the structure of the so-called communist party, ruled as a satrapy by a Kremlin proconsul. But it is just in this description that the real political nature of Dr. Bourguignon’s divergence from Stalinism begins to become clear. Here is what he says about his attitude toward the straw-boss:

“I do not want to bear any longer having this Slav Jew, ignorant as he is about our national mentality, impose upon us our manner of voting and dictate to us our attitudes.”

From here, it is only one step to the ultra-nationalistic conclusion with which Dr. Bourguignon ends his letter:

“I am merely submitting to the dictates of my conscience in rejoining as a simple soldier (sic), the great labor (?) family and in having no other aim than that of applying whatever strength and dynamic (!) force there is left in me to the service of the people, of the country; in being above all, a good Belgian.”

That’s a foretaste of the way many bureaucrats abroad are going to part company with the Kremlin …

C.P.G.B. Members in Islington Split and Join the Fourth Int’l

An entirely different road away from Stalinism has been taken by a group of workers in the Islington Branch of the British Communist Party. A section of this branch raised the question of the betrayal in Spain, particularly with reference to the membership in the Spanish C.P. of General Miaja. During the discussions the members developed an anti-People’s Front position and began to read and quote Marx and Lenin.

The party machinery was put into action to crush this revolt. Compulsory branch meetings were called under the direction of such C.P.G.B. big shots as Campbell and Springhall. All to no avail. What these workers got out of the branch meeting’s was merely a strong conviction that, if it were in their power, Campbell and Co. would repeat the Spanish experience in England. These workers decided to split away in a body. After prolonged discussion with our English comrades, we now hear, these Islington Communists have joined the Revolutionary Socialist League, British Section of the Fourth International.

No doubt, the course of the Islington comrades, like that of the Belgian ex-Stalinist, but foreshadow bigger developments in the future. The class lines, so to speak, are being drawn inside the ranks of Stalinism. We of the Fourth International have clearly the task before us of preparing to join forces with the proletarians who inevitably are breaking with the rotten-ripe bureaucratic apparatus of the Comintern.

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