Written: 29 November 1937.
Source: Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 1, 1 January 1938, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up: 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.
Pioneer Publishers has just made public a letter received from Leon Trotsky on the occasion of its seventh anniversary. The letter follows:
According to all indications, the present crisis should bring about tremendous changes in the whole world and perhaps first of all in the U.S.A. The crisis of 1929 has already dealt a serious blow to the traditional ideologies of Americanism and created the necessity for a new orientation.
The economic revival of the past year has, it is true, somewhat damped theoretical searches and social criticism. Hopes arose that the process of economic growth interrupted by the crisis would again be re-established. But sooner than one could have expected the hour of a new crisis struck. It started from a lower level than the crisis of 1929 and is developing at a more rapid tempo. This demonstrates that it not an accidental recession nor even a conjunctural depression but an organic crisis of the whole capitalist system. That is why one can with assurance predict that in all fields of human ideology – in economics, politics, philosophy, literature, art – there will open an epoch of bold criticism, liquidation of old prejudices, searches for new systems, courageous creation. Revolutionary thought in America, with immeasurably more stability and vigor than hitherto, will begin to study different social doctrines in order to resolve the question of the fate of the United States and of the capitalist system as a whole.
On the other hand, one can expect that the bourgeois publishing houses which from time to time printed radical works in the firm belief that the U.S. was immune to the actions of “destructive” ideas will in the coming years become more cautious; i.e., reactionary, and will completely ostracize revolutionary theoretic thought.
It is impossible to place the slightest hope in this respect in the publishing activity of the so-called Communist Party. With time it becomes ever more hostile to theory. No wonder: every page of the revolutionary classics is an accusation against the present politics of the Comintern. Frame-up and falsification have become its basic method in all fields. It is impossible to trust any book, any article, any quotation issued by the Comintern press. Sooner of later all these works will be placed on a special Index under the general title, “The library of pseudo-Marxism and lies.”
As far as the Socialist Party is concerned one cannot in general speak about it in relation to the problems of theoretic thought. This party lives on vulgar commonplaces. Its leaders are ingrained with an organic aversion to scientific analysis. Concern over revolutionary theory appears to their eyes as an unmistakable sign of sectarianism, if not a form of lunacy.
Under these conditions the necessity for a revolutionary publishing house, independent both from capital and from the Soviet bureaucracy is completely evident. Pioneer Publishers from the very beginning set itself the task of bringing out a serious library of revolutionary thought for advanced workers and radical intelligentsia.
During the last few years the first step along this road have been taken. They have been met with manifest and encouraging sympathy. But there yet remains immeasurably more to be done than has been accomplished. There is weight in the idea that the center of social-revolutionary and revolutionary-philosophical thought will shift in the next period to America. Under the blows of the crisis and social shake-ups there will here arise a generation of revolutionary theoreticians capable of saying a new word. All the more necessary is it to create for this awakening social criticism a stable base in the form of a publishing house not bound by any other considerations and obligations outside of the objective to open to humanity a new road of development. Pioneer Publishers can accomplish a great historic task. Our common duty is to help them.
(Signed) Leon Trotsky
Last updated on: 30 July 2015