Written: 23 February 1938.
Source: Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 10, 5 March 1938, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2014. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.
On February 23, 1938, the C.T.M. (Mexican trade union federation dominated by a Stalinist clique under the leadership of Lombardo Toledano and Hernan Laborde, secretary of the Mexican Communist Party) without any previous discussion adopted a resolution attacking Leon Trotsky and repeating all the slanders concocted by Stalin against the leaders of the October Revolution – slanders which were completely exploded and branded as sheer frame-up by the impartial Commission of Inquiry under the leadership of Dr. John Dewey. The following is the text of Comrade Trotsky’s reply to this infamous resolution. – Ed.
COYOACAN, D.F., Feb. 24. – Mr. Lombardo Toledano and his clique, after lengthy and assiduous preparation, have made a malicious attempt to deceive public opinion in this country. The “material” o.n which they based themselves at the February Convention of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Mexico (C.T.M.) does not represent anything new: it is the material of Yagoda, Yezhov, Vyshinsky. It is the material of Stalin. On the basis of this material thousands of people have been shot. Their only guilt was that they detested the dictatorship of the Kremlin clique and felt contempt for its lawyer and lackeys. The “material” which Lombardo Toledano uses in order to deceive Mexican public opinion received the necessary evaluation in the findings of the International Inquiry Commission at New York. In moral height, past, irreproachability of reputation, personal disinterestedness, each member of this Commission, beginning with its president, Dr. John Dewey, surpasses Lombardo Toledano and his kind by several heads. The Commission, point by point, refuted all the accusations of Yagoda, Yezhov, Vyshinsky, Stalin, and their international lackeys. The twenty-first paragraph of the verdict states: “We find the Prosecutor fantastically falsified Trotsky’s role before, during, and after the October revolution.” It is exactly this “fantastic falsification” which, lies at the root of the slanders of Mr. Toledano and his helpers.
My real politics are accessible to all. They are set forth in my books and articles. As in October 1917, I defend the interests and rights of the workers and peasants in the U.S.S.R. – against the new, insatiable and tyrannical aristocracy. In Spain I defend those methods of struggle against Fascism which guaranteed the victory of the Soviets in the Civil War (1917–1920), and I oppose the ruinous methods of the Comintern which guaranteed the victory of Fascism. In Germany, Austria and other countries, and which are laying the basis for the victory of General Franco. Throughout the world I defend those irreconcilable methods of struggle against imperialism which Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, and Karl Liebknecht, my old friends and companions-in-arms, applied; opposing the methods of the now thoroughly putrid Comintern which crawls on all fours before “democratic” imperialism, betraying the interests of the colonial and semi-colonial peoples for the sake of caste privileges for the Soviet bureaucracy. Such are my views. I do not intend to change them. I carry full responsibility for them.
After the decision of the International Inquiry Commission I have no reason to enter into political or juridical altercations with Mr. Lombardo Toledano. But I will be able to explain the truth to the people who have been deceived by him. It is this that Mr. Lombardo Toledano and his clique fear. Their whole machination at the Convention, as the authors themselves have quite clearly revealed, follows but one single aim: to seal my mouth.
They act, of course, not upon their own initiative. Their inspirer lives in Moscow. The verdict of the International Commission, the published stenographic report of the Inquiry at Coyoacan, the disclosures of the former responsible agents of the Kremlin, Reiss, Barmine, and Walter Krivitsky, as well as many other facts during the past year, delivered an irreparable blow to the Kremlin clique. My latest book, The Crimes of Stalin, has already appeared in several languages. I hope that it will also appear in Spanish. Progressive public opinion throughout the world, with ever greater disgust, is turning away from Stalin. This explains the furious attempt of the G.P.U. to force me into silence.
Mr. Lombardo Toledano and his clique are mistaken, however, if they think that they will succeed in executing the mission entrusted to them. Many much stronger than they have tried to accomplish this task before without success. The Czar taught me silence for four years in prison and twice exiled me to Siberia. Kaiser Wilhelm sentenced me to prison in contumacy because I did not wish to keep quiet in Switzerland during the war. The French allies of the Czar expelled me in 1916 from France for the same crime. King Alfonso XIII threw me into a Madrid prison in order to force me into silence. With the same objective, the British imperialists threw me into a Canadian concentration camp. The lawyer Kerensky, who was successful during a certain period of time in deceiving a considerable part of public opinion, tried to seal my mouth in the Petrograd Kresty Prison. But it is written on the pages of history that I have not learned to be silent on command. On the other hand, during forty years of revolutionary struggle I have seen in the ranks of the workers’ movement not a few careerists who can not only be silent but also slanderous on command.
If I had wished to remain silent about the crimes of the Stalin bureaucracy against the workers and peasants, they would have raised me high on their shield and the Messrs. Lombardo Toledanos of the whole world would have crawled before me as they now crawl before the Kremlin clique. The Norwegian Social Democrats, older brothers in spirit to Toledano, discovered only one means with which to force me into silence about the G.P.U.: to throw me into prison. But through a book my son, whom only death has now brought to silence, answered for me. Stalin, who understands this better than his agents, does not doubt that Toledano will be unsuccessful in forcing me into silence by some ancient, warmed-up slanders. It is exactly because of this that Stalin is preparing other measures, considerably more realistic. But for these plans, about which we will speak in due time, Stalin as a preliminary needs to poison public opinion. For this work he requires Lombardo Toledano.
Several months ago, this man asserted at a public meeting that I was plotting a general strike against the Mexican government in the interest of Fascism. In his turn, Mr. Laborde – partly a helper of Toledano in slander, partly his master – asserted after this at a public manifestation that I was conspiring with “fascist generals.” The answer to this “accusation’’ was a general contemptuous laugh. But it is impossible to embarrass these gentlemen. They cast these accusations aside only in order to present others immediately. If you throw enough mud, as the saying goes, some of it is bound to stick!
Messrs. Slanderers continue to build their game on the accusation that I am breaking my obligation about “non-interference in the internal politics of Mexico.” The importation of odious slanders from Moscow and their translation into Spanish these gentlemen identify ... with the internal politics of Mexico. I announce; no one has ever demanded of me and I at no time promised anyone that I would renounce the right to defend my political honor from slanderers, and my ideas – from their opponents. I pledged the government of General Cardenas that I would not interfere in the internal politics of this country according to the general understanding of the word “politics.” This pledge I am fulfilling with absolute conscientiousness. But if on the streets of this capital someone should shove his hand into my pocket in order to steal my documents and letters. I would consider myself completely in the right to seize the criminal’s hand. And let the owner of the hand not scream after this that I am interfering in the internal politics of Mexico! Lombardo Toledano tries to despoil something bigger, my political honor, and demands at that – O democrat, O revolutionist! – that I be hindered by force from designating his actions and himself by those names which they deserve.
I have never concerned myself with the political program and public actions of Mr. Toledano, nor with his references to Lenin, which belong in the sphere of unintentional humor. Likewise I now leave aside the question concerning the kind of machinations that made it possible for Toledano to palm off on the Trade Union Convention a decision upon a question about which the overwhelming majority had not the least conception. But it is completely clear that when Mr. Toledano with the help of forged material mobilizes the whole convention against me, a private individual, a political exile who has no relations whatever with the trade unions of Mexico, and does this with but a single aim – to force me into silence or to deprive me of the right of asylum – then Mr. Toledano acts not as a representative of the internal politics of Mexico but as an agent of the foreign politics of the G.P.U. Let him then carry the responsibility of this unworthy function!
The readers of these lines will understand without difficulty that neither the present circumstances of my personal life nor the general character of my work afford me time to occupy myself over Mr. Toledano. But this question is something altogether different. It is a question concerning public opinion in the country which has shown me and my wife hospitality and which during the past year I have learned to value and to love. It is because of this, and only this, that I consider myself compelled to answer with this declaration the carefully prepared slander of the Mexican agents of Stalin.
Last updated on: 11 September 2015