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H.F. Roberts

Plan Expulsion of the French
Bolshevik-Leninists as War Nears

(September 1935)

From New Militant, Vol. I No. 39, 21 September 1935, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

The bureaucracy of the French Socialist Party has openly announced its intention to smash, if it can, the revolutionary left wing represented by the Bolshevik-Leninist group. In the face of the imminent threat of war the Socialist and Stalinist bureaucracies with one voice call for “pressure on the League of Nations” and the extermination of the revolutionary left wing of the French labor movement. Shouting loudly to drown out the rumble of tomorrow’s war and of tomorrow’s betrayal, the bureaucrats hope to silence the one voice in France which is calling for the revolutionary mobilization of the masses for the seizure of power, for the proletariat’s only answer to the threat of imperialist war – the overthrow of the war-mongers and imperialist freebooters.

A set of special decisions adopted by the Permanent Administrative Committee of the S.F.I.O. (French Socialist Party) on August 28 (Populaire, August 30) call for the excommunication of La Verité, organ of the French Bolshevik-Leninists, which is “no longer to be regarded as an organ of the Socialist Party.” Populaire is expressly forbidden to mention or cite from the columns of La Verité, or to publish any announcements of meetings of any groups in any way connected with La Verité. Party members who help distribute this journal are to be informed that they are carrying out work prejudicial to the interests of the whole party and of the Intentional to which they belong.” Finally – and here is the threat itself – the committee decided to “request that the very next National Council of the Party take any measures, however grave they may be, against the comrades responsible for the editing of La Verité, as are required by the interests and unity of the Party.”

The “Crime” of La Verité

What, according to the French Socialist bureaucrats, has been the crime of La Verité? That reprehensible little sheet, it seems, has been guilty of “outrageous attacks” on good, sterling revolutionaries, presumably heroic leaders of the proletariat like Leon Blum, Paul Faure, to say nothing of Cachin, Thorez and Co. Moreover, and this comes second, “the group of which La Verité is the organ has associated itself with an attempt to create a Fourth International.”

In this attempt, the indictment is careful not to add, the Bolshevik-Leninists have raised and alone held aloft the banner of revolutionary defeatism, rejecting the blatant social patriotism of the Socialist and Stalinist Internationals. They have alone put before the French workers the slogan of general strike and the struggle for power as the answer to the threats of war and Fascism. They have alone dared to call for an armed workers’ militia as an answer to the growing Fascist bands. The French Bolshevik-Leninists are the sole obstacle in the path of the Socialist-Stalinist program for a union sacrée and for the support of the French bourgeoisie in the coming war. That is why the bureaucrats want them smashed and silenced. There is no other reason.

At the same meeting of the C.A.P. which announces the open offensive against the Bolshevik-Leninists, it was also decided to carry a step further the negotiations with the Stalinist Party for a common program of action and for the elaboration of a common “protest” against the coming Italo-Ethiopian war. What this program and protest amount to, we already know. Aristide Briand himself was never more eloquent than the Socialist and Stalinist leaders of today who offer the workers of the world no other way out of the war danger but reliance upon the League of Nations, the league of what Lenin called “imperialist brigands.” In France last month the Young Communist League, self-styled “vanguard of the proletarian youth,” offered to hurl itself into the struggle against war by inviting the Socialist Youth to join it in a delegation to Geneva to “exert pressure” upon the League of Nations!

Spectre of New Party

What, then, is going to happen? This annoying left wing, these bothersome Trotskyists with that scurrilous journal, La Verité, insist upon exposing these policies as policies of betrayal. They insist upon exposing the bankruptcy of the two old Internationals and call for a new, Fourth International. Their voice is beginning to be heard by broadening sections of the French proletariat. What is it that the bureaucrats fear? They fear the spectre of a new revolutionary party in France which will cut loose once and for all from the bankruptcies of reformism and Stalinism. They are afraid that this new party will win to its banners a section of the French proletariat large enough to put a spoke in the plan for social patriotic betrayal!

Ample evidence of this perspective is already at hand in the situation which exists today in the French Socialist Youth. Readers of the New Militant know that in August the first barrage of the anti-Bolshevik-Leninist offensive was laid down with the expulsion of thirteen leaders of the revolutionary Socialist Youth of the Seine Federation. The majority of these were Bolshevik-Leninists. Since the expulsions, which took place early in August, the Socialist Youth organization throughout France has been thrown into turmoil. The new and “safe” committee installed in the Seine Federation by the bureaucrats has been unable to establish its leadership. Instead 65 sections of the Seine Federation and 30 out of the 44 sections in Seine-et-Oise have solidarized with the expelled leaders. On this support the Bolshevik-Leninists and their allies led by Fred Zeller knew they could count. But all during the month of August the fight was carried out to the provinces with results to date which already prove to the hilt that a large section of the revolutionary youth of France is ready to assume its full responsibilities in the struggle against war, against Fascism – in the struggle for power. Letters of solidarity have poured in from the Federations of the Rhone, Pyrenees Orientales, Haute-Savoie, Var, Bourses, Narbonne, Angers, Puy-de-Dome, from Morocco and Algeria, from the Maritime Alps, Morbihan, the North, Bouches-du-Rhone, Indre-et-Loire and others.

Youth Support Left

The last issue at hand of Révolution, organ of the left-wing youth, reports that “half of the Federation of Loiret is in agreement with the revolutionary left.” A letter from the Orleans leadership says: “We urgently await your directives.” In the Federation of Gard one section, that of Ales, writes that the little group of eight adherents of the left of a year ago has now grown to ninety and that they are all awaiting orders. From the group in Nimes comes word: “The hour has come to show the struggling proletariat the road to victory ... Forward to the battles of the future!” A youth comrade writes from Tarn: “Words fail me, but I bid you keep courage. Do not forget you have comrades behind you!” The secretary from Lot: “I can assure you that the Federation of Lot is entirely in solidarity with you.” From Grenoble in the Federation of L’Isere: “The Socialist Youth of Grenoble declare themselves prepared if necessary to follow their comrades of the Seine along the path of revolutionary action against the capitulants.” From the Federation of Finistere: “We have decided to govern our future conduct by the instructions of the comrades of the Paris region.” Scores of such letters, official communications from whole sections of the youth, overflow the columns of Révolution. Step by step but surely the revolutionary youth are drawing the necessary conclusions from the reformist-Stalinist betrayal.

Voice after voice joins those of the Bolshevik-Leninists and their allies. In Paris, the unemployed organization of St. Denis, counting in its ranks 8,000 workers, has announced solidarity with the revolutionary left wing. The Communist Youth of St. Denis, expelled from the Stalinist Party, announced on August. 10 its readiness to work with the expelled youth leaders for “the regrouping of truly revolutionary forces.”

Convulsions in S.P.

It is this ferment which is driving the bureaucracies of both parties to hasten their unholy union and to sharpen, if they can, their blows to the left. The attempt to amputate the living, vital left wing of the French Socialist Party will not take place without terrific convulsions within the whole party.

Out of these and oat of the ferment now shaking the ranks of the youth, a unified process which will sift the revolutionary gold from the reactionary and reformist dross will begin to clarify itself.

The initial reaction among the leftward moving masses in both the youth and adult parties to the attempts of the bureaucracy to amputate the left-wing takes the form of a stiffening resistance to this amputation. It is expressed in the Youth now, for example, in a widespread sentiment against the expulsions of the revolutionary youth leaders and the demand for their reintegration into the party. Far from heeding this demand, the bureaucracy now moves forward to its next step, the expulsion of the Bolshevik-Leninists from the adult party.

From this, coming at so critical a moment, increasing sections of the workers, both in and outside the parties, will in the heat of events swiftly draw the necessary conclusions. The voice of revolutionary internationalism, calling today for the Fourth International, will redouble in strength. As the war crisis hits France and all Europe in full force, it will bring forth a resounding echo from the very depths of a proletariat unwilling to let itself meekly be strangled or shattered to pieces against the guns of an imperialist enemy of its own bourgeoisie. Blum, Cachin and Co., with all their conspiracies, will only uncover themselves before the French workers as the traitors they have become. The struggle of the Bolshevik-Leninists of France for a revolutionary solution to the problems of the day will be carried a mighty step forward.

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