From New International, Vol.5 No.5, May 1939, pp.138-139.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
Dear Comrade Trotsky:
I take the liberty of adding a personal word to the letter which Marceau Pivert has written you. I was out of town, and not present at the meeting of the party executive at which the contents of that letter were approved.
If I had been present I should undoubtedly have insisted that the last section should have been put differently.
I am not altogether in agreement, indeed, with my comrades on the executive when they emphasize serious differences which might exist between the POI and the PSOP I believe that these “serious differences” were created artificially by the sectarianism of certain of your friends, such as Naville. And I regret that we take up, on our side, the assertion that these “serious differences” exist. I have the impression that, on both sides, we take refuge behind these “differences” in order not to unite.
I do not believe, moreover, that a “united front” would be preferable to fusion, nor that such a fusion would necessarily carry “in its breast the germs of confusion and speedy disintegration”.
It is possible, even quite possible that it might be so, but only in the event that your friends should consider the fusion as a disloyal maneuver, planning to get a foothold as an “alien body” in the PSOP, in such a way as to destroy it from within and to prepare a new split – that is, to drag along, for the purpose of forming a new POI, a certain number of our militants. Yes, if that should be the plan of your friends, the fusion would be “illusory” and disastrous.
But I cannot believe, in spite of the suspicion which the tactic of certain of your friends arouses in me, I cannot believe that, in the present serious circumstances, they would commit the crime of destroying the only movement which, in France, can serve as the crucible for forming the revolutionary vanguard. Consequently, I do not dismiss the possibility of a loyal fusion.
You will not stand on formality if I tell you exactly what I think: it is upon you, upon you alone, that there depends the question of whether the fusion would be loyal or disloyal.
In order to avoid any misunderstanding, I point out that by fusion I mean, naturally, the entry of the members of the POI as individuals into the PSOP: the numerical disproportion between the POI and the PSOP, on the one hand, and the approach of our next convention, on the other, rule out a special fusion convention.
But it is actually a question of fusion, because the voice of your friends, in accordance with our principles of full workers’ democracy, will be able to be freely heard in our party – as early, I believe, as our convention in May.
The only difference which I see between your friends and us, and I persist in regarding it as purely formal, is the question of the “Fourth”. We want to build a new revolutionary international. The only “difference” springs from the fact that you have baptised your international secretariat as the “Fourth International”, whereas in our opinion the new international cannot be created by a wave of the magic wand. It will be borne within the masses, and the masses must be actively prepared for it, must be made to understand its necessity, must be made to find the road that leads to it. Yes, I repeat (though I understand in advance your vehement protest) that it is a question only of a formal difference. It should not become an obstacle to the indispensable re-grouping, the indispensable and urgent re-enforcing of the revolutionary vanguard in France.
Last updated: 29.6.2005