Weber (Jacobs) Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Jack Weber

March of Events

(18 May 1935)

From The New Militant, Vol. I No. 22, 18 May 1935, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In Belgium ...

Social Democracy again proves its role as a brake on the working class in its struggle against capitalism. With the existence of a Marxist party in Belgium, the political crisis through which that country has been passing could have been utilized to direct the proletariat in militant struggle for the purpose of achieving as a first step a workers’ government. But a revolutionary party did not exist there, owing in largest measure to the criminal blunders and betrayals of Stalinism. Social Democracy retains its power over the trade unions and in the political activities of the masses. But within the ranks of the socialist Labor Party of Belgium, the most advanced workers, absorbing some of the bitter lessons of the German defeat, have been slowly moving to the left. The deep-going crisis of capitalism produced the objective conditions for the rapid growth of such a left wing, but its leadership could only accommodate itself to the pressure of the reformist leaders at the right and thus held back the workers instead of arousing them to militant action.

Coalition Gov’t ...

In Belgium, as in France, fascism is a growing menace to the working class. The Belgian king is in close touch with the forces of reaction and the monarchy will be utilized without a doubt in the attempt to save the capitalist system by handing the power to the extreme reactionaries who will crush all workers’ organizations unless the workers seize the power and liquidate the monarchy at the same time. Far from preparing the masses for this revolutionary task, the Social Democracy is rendering them passive. Instead of breaking with the bourgeoisie as the first step in the defense of the workers against fascism, the betraying leaders of the Labor Party have joined in the coalition ministry. The militant workers have demanded straight along that in the political crisis accompanying the economic one, the Labor Party take over the government alone. But there is nothing that socialist leaders fear so much as power, for then they cannot reject the basic demands of the working class without standing naked and exposed. The entry of Vandervelde, De Man and the “leftist” Spaak into the Van Zeeland coalition shows once more how reformism creates illusions among the workers by denouncing capitalism loudly in words in order the better to save the capitalist (“democratic”) system in deeds. Vandervelde requires the bourgeoisie in the coalition so as to avoid complete exposure when he tramples on the needs of the masses.

* * *

The Effects ...

It is clear from the circumstances surrounding the formation of the coalition ministry that the socialist workers, the rank and file, were opposed to this betrayal and to class collaboration at this juncture. For the entry was in the nature of a coup d’etat, an accomplished fact, put over not merely on the Labor Party, but on the Central Committee of the party as well. This throws the clearest light possible on the attitude of these misleaders towards “legality.” They would have the workers follow the course permitted to them by finance capital in the struggle to overthrow the bourgeoisie, but they reserve to themselves the right to act “illegally” for the benefit of the bourgeoisie in the ranks of the working class. This act on the part of the reactionaries will have wide repercussions. The desertion of the left wing by its leader Spaak, who also joined the ministry (his reward for this foul treachery), prevented an immediate split, since the left forces in the Labor Party were thrown into confusion. Nevertheless the left wing continued its publication of Action Socialiste and denounced the coalition government, stating: “We again reaffirm our belief in the revolutionary road to Socialism. Coalition is disastrous.” The situation in the Labor Party at present is a real test of the leftist forces and may result in rapid progress to a real Marxist basis. Thus a deputy from Brussels declared in the Special Congress called to “ratify” the fait accompli:

“I am convinced now more than ever that with these methods (compromise) capitalism will never be conquered. We have behind us bitter events – Germany, Austria – isn’t that sufficient that we should learn? We must have more confidence in the power of the working class – in our own strength – the time will come when our voice will be heard – the voice of Revolutionary Socialism.”

The struggle against coalition will tend to unite the left centrist forces and aid them to reach the advanced workers. This also involves the struggle against De Man for putting into effect his entire “Labor Plan” which would involve the taking of power by a workers’ government, and not merely portions of it, as De Man now proposes. In this fight the Bolsheviks must come to the aid of the revolutionary workers in the Labor Party. In the course of common struggle the Bolsheviks can win over these forces for a real militant struggle against fascism and for workers’ power.

Weber (Jacobs) Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 23 February 2016