Written: 1 September 1933.
Source: The Militant, Vol. VI No. 44, 23 September 1933, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2015. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.
The conference is over. As yet we have neither the minutes nor the final text of the resolution. Nevertheless the principal conclusions can be drawn. These conclusions are entirely favorable to the Left Opposition. This can be seen best of all by the comparison of what we expected to obtain and what we obtained. In preliminary discussions and correspondence we all agreed that if we should succeed in getting four or even three signatures under a clear and precise document in favor of the new International, we would make an enormous step forward. We obtained the four signatures that we counted on (the Revolutionary Socialist Party of Holland, the Socialist Labor Party of Germany and the Independent Socialist Party of Holland together with the International Left Opposition) under a document which is the only tangible result of the conference and which may and should become of historic importance.
We achieved this momentous result not by some chance combination or skillful maneuvers (on the contrary, in this field we made some errors) but due to the fact that the historic step made by us has fully matured, in spite of ten years of worldwide baiting and slander of the Left Opposition; in spite of the fact that this slander left its trace even in the consciousness of the opponents of Stalinism, among them in the ranks of the social-democratic workers; in spite of all this, three organizations which lead a few tens of thousands of workers found no other path but to unite with us on a common document which presupposes a long and stubborn struggle. A wide breach was made in the wall surrounding the Left Opposition. We can expect with certainty that new and more organizations and fractions which are pushed to the revolutionary path by the whole situation will with every passing month convince themselves that the only banner under which the proletarian vanguard can rally is the banner of Bolshevism-Leninism.
The Declaration of Four is called above the only serious result of the Paris conference. As far as the vague decisions of the majority are concerned, they have no future. This will not be hard to understand if we. should analyze the composition of the conference. If the delegates of the four organizations which signed the declaration made up its Left wing, then the Right wing was made up of the representatives of the Norwegian Workers party which aims at the creation of a Scandinavian “International” through an alliance with the Swedish and Dutch social-democracy and is afraid, therefore, to compromise itself by proximity to Communists. One must be a hopelessly naive person, or what is worse, an unprincipled schemer to hope for a union or collaboration with this, through and through, opportunistic party or with the small groups which gravitate to it like the French Pupists, Party of Proletarian Unity, the Italian Maximalists, the Catalonian Federation of Maurin, the Polish group of Doctor Cruck, or the altogether humorous party of Steinberg (former “People’s Commissar”).
Urbahns represented at the conference that little which remained of the Leninbund. If, with all his best revolutionary intentions, Urbahns proved anything in the last years, it is his total incapacity for collective work, on one side, and for systematic thinking, on the other. Alone his laughable theory of “state capitalism” which puts on the same level the U.S.S.R. the U.S.A., the Germany of Hitler and the Italy of Mussolini excludes the possibility of joint work with him in the creation of a new International.
The Swedish Independent Communist party (Kilbom) and the British Independent Labor Party stand in a class by themselves. Both these organizations are at the crossroads. The Swedish party represents too solid a workers’ organization to follow the policy of Brandler-Thalheimer, based entirely on the servile hope that, perhaps, Manuilsky will pardon them and call them to power. On the other hand, the party of Kilbom is, apparently, as yet strongly infected with rightist tendencies and especially with distrust towards the Left Opposition. It cannot retain its present intermediary position. It must make a choice. We must help it make the right choice.
If the party of Kilbom vacillates between the Right and the Left Communist oppositions, the Independent Labor party vacillates between the Comintern and the new International. Maybe not at once, but inevitably the bureaucrats of the Comintern will push the Independent Labor Party on the road of the new International. Sooner or later this party, at least its revolutionary nucleus, and we shall meet.
It is absolutely clear, that the decisions adopted by such a heterogeneous majority can have only a platonic, decorative character. No a few are all too willing to “condemn” the Second International, to shout about its bankruptcy, so as to carry on in practice a policy of opportunism. Not a few are will in to shout about the bankruptcy of the Third International so as to carry on in reality a policy of back-stage combinations which are in spirit very much akin to bureaucratic centrism. Not only are denunciation of the Second and Third Internationals insufficient to advanced workers but the bare admission of the necessity of a new International does not suffice either, it is necessary to say clearly what International we have in mind: the restoration of the miserable Two and a half International, or the unification of the international proletarian vanguard on the basis of a revolutionary program really corresponding to the problems of our epoch. To elaborate such a program in the company of Tranmael Louis Seller, Maurin and others, or even to support the fiction of an international organization in common with them would mean to sow chaos and ideological demoralization instead of the necessary saving clarity.
We cannot pass by the fact that two of our allies (the German S.A.P. and the Holland O.S.P., Independent Socialist Party) enter not only in the bloc of four which signed the Declaration but also in the Committee of the majority (together with two representatives of the I.L.P. and one representative of the Norwegian party). We, the Left Opposition, cannot expect and do not expect anything positive from this Committee. We consider the participation of two of our allies (S.A.P. and O.S.P.) in the Committee (the RSP, the party of Sneevliet does not enter in the Committee) as a glaring contradiction, we consider also the voting of the representatives of the O.S.P. and the S.A.P. for the resolution of the majority as a grave political error which is capable only of sowing illusions and confusion. But it would be entirely wrong if we should on this basis renounce the honest attempt at collaboration with these two allies. Their participation in a bloc with us is the tomorrow. Their participation in the “Committee” is the yesterday. Revolutionary irreconcilability consists not in demanding that our “leadership” be recognized a priori, not in presenting our allies at every occasion with ultimatums and threatening with a break, with the removal of signatures, etc. We leave such methods, on one hand, to the Stalinist bureaucrats, on the other – to some impatient allies. We realize full well that disagreements between us and our allies will arise more than once. But we hope, more than that, we are convinced, that the march of events will reveal in deeds the impossibility of participating simultaneously in the principled bloc of four and in the unprincipled bloc of the majority. Without resorting to any unbecoming “ultimatums” we retain, however, the full right not only to appear under our own banner, but also to tell our allies openly our opinion with regard to that which we consider their mistakes. We expect the same frankness from our allies. Our alliance will only be strengthened by this.
The elaboration of a programmatic document stands now on the order of the day. The Manifesto of the new International should give a general picture of the modern capitalist world (as well as of the Soviet Union), of its economy, politics and international relations. All the convulsions of our epoch (wars, crisis, fascist barbarism) should be explained as the result of the tardiness of the proletarian revolution. The responsibility for this tardiness must be placed on the Second and Third Internationals. A special chapter of the Manifesto should be devoted to the picture of the decline of both Internationals. Conclusion: the problems of the proletarian revolution, as well as the problems of saving the U.S.S.R. demand the creation of a new International. The concluding chapters should outline the program of struggle of the new International.
The elaboration of such a document is the task of the coming two-three months. So responsible a task can be solved well only in a collective manner. Although it is a question of a document of an international character, the most important national problems must find reflection in it. The receipt of various political documents and in general of written or printed material that might help in the elaboration of this or that part of the Manifesto is most desirable.
The sections of the Left Opposition will, of course, exert all their efforts to give the Declaration of Four the widest possible publicity and popularization. Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of revolutionary workers will breathe with relief upon learning that there is a way out from the revolutionary impasse. We must strike while the iron is hot!
September 1, 1933
Last updated on: 22 October 2015