International Pre-Conference of the Left Opposition Presents Thesis

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Author(s) Leon Trotsky
Written December 1932


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Source: The Militant, Vol. VI No. 16, 6 March 1933, p. 2, Vol. VI No. 17, 8 March 1933, p. 2, Vol. VI No. 18, 10 March 1933, p. 2, Vol. VI No. 19, 18 March 1933, p. 3 & Vol. VI No. 20, 25 March 1933, p. 4.
Collection(s): The Militant

This resolution was drafted by Trotsky in December 1932. There were also two sections, On the Spanish Section Of the Left Opposition and On the Crisis of the German Section, which were only published in the CLA’s Internal Bulletin, No. 11, March 1933. During the Pre-Conference a number of amendments on the Left Opposition in the Balkans; the Left Opposition in Czechoslovakia, reorganization of the International Secretariat, preparation of the international conference, which were not written by Trotsky, were added.

(We begin today with the publication of the most important of the theses adopted at the international Pre-Conference of the International Left Opposition which concluded its sessions last month in Paris. Representatives were present from the Russian, Greek, Swiss, American and other sections of the Opposition. The theses which we reprint here is now up for discussion in the membership of the Opposition, for final adoption at the regular international Conference which is planned for convocation later in the year. – Ed.)

The task of the coming Conference of the Left Opposition (Bolshevik-Leninists) consists of accepting a clear and precisely-formulated platform and organizational statues, as well as of selecting the leading bodies. The preceding theoretical, political and organizational work of the Left Opposition in various countries, especially in the last four years, has created sufficiently prerequisites for the solution of this task.

The fundamental programmatic and political documents of the Left Opposition are issued in no less than 15 languages. The Left Opposition disposes of 32 periodical publications in 16 countries. It has reorganized and strengthened its sections in 9 countries and in the past three years created new sections in 7 countries. But the most important and most valuable achievement is the undeniable raising of the theoretical level of the International Left Opposition, the growth of its ideological solidity and of its revolutionary initiative.

The Organ of the Left Opposition in the U.S.S.R.[edit source]

The Left Opposition arose in 1923, ten years ago, in the land of the October revolution, in the ruling Party of the first workers’ state. The delay in the development of the October revolution had necessarily called forth a political reaction in the land of the October revolution. Complete counter-revolution means the displacement of the rule of one class by that of another; reaction begins and develops while still under the rule of the revolutionary class. As the bearer of the reaction against October there appeared the petty bourgeoisie, particularly the leaders of the peasantry. Its spokesman became the bureaucracy which stands close to the petty bourgeoisie. Supported by the pressure of the petty bourgeois masses, the bureaucracy won a very far-reaching independence of the proletariat. After it had replaced in fact the program of the international revolution by national-reformism, it made the theory of socialism in one country its official doctrine. The Left wing of the proletariat suffered under the blows of the alliance of the Soviet bureaucracy with the petty bourgeois, predominantly peasant, masses and the backward strata of the workers themselves. That is the dialectics of the replacement of Leninism by Stalinism.

After the organizational breaking-up of the Left Opposition, the official policy became definitively a policy of empirical oscillation between the classes. The dependence of the bureaucracy upon the proletariat meanwhile expressed itself in the fact that, in spite of a series of blows, it did not dare or was not able to overthrow the essential achievements of the October revolution: the nationalization of the land, the nationalization of industry, the monopoly of foreign trade. Still more – when the Party bureaucracy in 1928 felt itself endangered by its petty bourgeois allies, the kulaks, in its fear of losing its whole support among the proletariat it carried out a sharp turn to the Left. The final results of the zig-zag were: the adventurist tempo of industrialization, the thoroughgoing collectivization, and the administrative breaking-up of the kulaks. The disorganization of economy brought about by this unconsidered policy led at the beginning of this year to a new turn to the Right.

According to the conditions of its privileged situation and its habits of thinking, the Soviet bureaucracy has many features in common with the reformist bureaucracy of capitalist countries. It is far more Inclined to trust in the “revolutionary” Kuo Min Tang, the “Left” bureaucracy of the British trade unions, the petty bourgeois “friends of the Soviet Union”, the liberal and radical pacifists, than in the independent revolutionary initiative of the proletariat. But, through the necessity of defending its position in the workers’ state, the Soviet bureaucracy is forced every time into sharp collisions with the reformist hand-maiden of capital. In this way under unique historical conditions a fraction of bureaucratic Centrism has separated out of proletarian Bolshevism, and has laid a heavy hand on a whole epoch of development of the Soviet Republic and of the world proletariat.

Bureaucratic Centrism is the worst degeneration of the workers’ state. But even in its bureaucratically degenerated form, the Soviet Union remains a worker’s state. To transform the struggle against the centrist bureaucracy into a struggle against the Soviet state, would be to place oneself on the same level as the Stalinist clique, which declares, “The State – is I”.

The unreserved defense of the Soviet Union against world imperialism is such an elementary task of every revolutionary proletarian that the Left Opposition tolerates in its midst no vacillations or doubts on this question. As before, it will break ruthlessly with all groups and elements which attempt to occupy a “neutral” role between the Soviet Union and the capitalist world (Monatte-Louzon in France, Urbahns group in Germany).

The Left Opposition in Imperialist Countries[edit source]

The Third International arose as the immediate result of the experience of the advanced workers in the imperialist war, in the epoch of post-war' upheavals, and particularly in the October revolution. This determined the leading role of Russian Bolshevism in the Third International, and therefore also the influence of its internal struggles on the development of the other national sections. Still, it is absolutely false to regard the evolution of the Comintern during the last ten years as a mere reflection of the fractional struggle within the world Communist party. In the development of the international labor movement there were internal reasons of its own which drove the young Communist sections to the Stalinist bureaucracy.

The first post-war years were everywhere, particularly in Europe, a period of expectancy of the nearby overthrow of the rule of the bourgeoisie. But at the moment when the internal crisis of the Party broke out, most of the European sections had suffered their first great defeats and disappointments. Particularly depressing was the powerless retreat of the German proletariat in October 1933. A new political orientation became an inner necessity for the majority of the Communist parties. When the Soviet bureaucracy, exploiting the disappointment of the Russian workers with respect to the European revolution, set forth the national-reformist theory of Socialism in one country, the young bureaucracy of the other sections breathed a sigh of relief; the new perspective opened before them a road to Socialism independent of the process of the international revolution. In this way the internal reaction within the U.S.S.R. coincided with the reaction in the capitalist countries and created the conditions for a successful administrative punishment of the Left Opposition by the centrist bureaucracy.

But in their further movement to the Right, the official Parties collided with the real Kuo Min Tang, the real bureaucracy of the Trade Unions and of the Social-Democracy, just as the Stalinists collided with the real kulaks. The new zig-zag to the side of an ultra- Left policy carried out thereafter led to the split of the official Comintern majority Into the ruling Center and the Right oppositionist wing.

In the camp of Communism, therefore, during the past years it has been possible to follow clearly three fundamental groups: the Marxist wing (Bolshevik-Leninists); the Centrist fraction (Stalinists), and finally the Right, or properly speaking right-centrist wing (Brandlerists), which leads directly into reformism. The political development of almost all countries without exception has confirmed and every new day confirms the correctness of this classification and its living reality.

It was and remains in the highest degree characteristic of centrism that for long periods it went hand in hand with the right as the current most nearly related to it in principle, but never made a bloc with the Bolshevik-Leninists against the Right. As to the Right wing on an international scale, like every form of opportunism it is marked by an extraordinary variety and contradictoriness among its national constituents, while they all have in common hostility to the Bolshevik-Leninists.

In the U.S.S.R., under the conditions of the dictatorship, in the absence of legal opposition parties, the Right Opposition inevitably becomes the tool whereby the class forces which are hostile to the proletariat exert their pressure – therein consists the main danger of the Right Opposition; on the other hand, the consciousness of this danger paralyzes those leaders of the Right Opposition who through their whole past are bound the Communist party all the shades up with the Party. In capitalist countries, where to the right oil of reformism can spread themselves, the Right wing (Brandlerists) has no field of activity. Insofar as the Right Opposition has mass organizations, it turns them over directly or indirectly to the social democracy (Czecho-Slovakia, Sweden), except for the revolutionary elements who find their way to the Bolshevik-Leninists (Czecho-Slovakia, Poland). The Brandlerist elements who have remained independent here and there (Germany, U.S.A.) build their calculations on being called back and pardoned sooner or later by the Stalinist bureaucracy; in the name of this perspective they carry on a campaign of lies and slander against the Left Opposition quite in the spirit of Stalinism.

* * * *

The Militant, Vol. VI No. 17, 8 March 1933, p. 2.

Fundamental Principles of the Left Opposition[edit source]

The International Left Opposition stands on the ground of the first four Congresses of the Comintern. This does not mean that it bows before every letter of its decisions, of which many had a purely temporary character and in individual practical consequences have been refuted by subsequent practice. But all the essential principles (relation to imperialism and to the bourgeois state; to democracy and reformism; the problem of the insurrection; the dictatorship of the proletariat; the relation to the peasantry and to the oppressed nations; Soviets; work in the trade unions; parliamentarism; the policy of the united front) remain even today the highest expression of proletarian strategy in the epoch of the general crisis of capitalism

The Left Opposition rejects the revisionist decisions of the Fifth and Sixth World Congresses and considers necessary a radical restatement of the program of the Comintern, in which the gold of Marxism has been rendered completely worthless by the centristic alloy.

In accordance with the spirit and the sense of the decisions of the first for World Congresses, and in continuation of these decisions, the Left Opposition sets up the following principles, develops them theoretically and carries them through practically:

  1. The independence of the proletarian party, always and under all conditions; condemnation of the Kuo Min Tang policy of 1924–28; condemnation of the policy of the Anglo-Russian Committee; condemnation of Stalin’s theory of two-class (worker and peasant) parties and of the whole practice based on this theory; condemnation of the policy of the Amsterdam Congress, in which the Communist party was dissolved in the pacifist swamp.
  2. Recognition of the international and thereby of the permanent character of the proletarian revolution; rejection of the theory of socialism in one country as well as of the policy of national Bolshevism which complements it in Germany (platform of “national liberation”).
  3. Recognition of the Soviet State as a Workers’ State, in spite of the growing degeneration of the bureaucratic regime. Unconditional command that every worker defend the Soviet state against imperialism as well as against internal counter-revolution.
  4. Condemnation of the economic policy of the Stalinist fraction both in its stage of economic opportunism in 1923 to 1928 (struggle against “overindustrialization” and staking all on the kulaks), as well as its stage of economic adventurism in 1928 to 1932 (over-stretched tempo of industrialization, through- going collectivization, administrative liquidation of the kulaks as a class). Condemnation of the criminal bureaucratic legend that “the Soviet state has already entered into Socialism”. Recognition of the necessity of a return to the realistic economic policies of Leninism.
  5. Recognition of the necessity of systematic Communist work in the proletarian mass organizations, particularly in the reformist trade unions. Condemnation of the theory and practice of the Red Trade Union Organization in Germany and similar constructions in the other countries.
  6. Rejection of the formula of the “democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry” as a separate regime distinguished from the dictatorship of the proletariat, which carries along the peasant and the oppressed massed in general behind it. Rejection of the anti-Marxist theory of the peaceful “growing-over” of the democratic dictatorship into the socialist one.
  7. Recognition of the necessity of mobilizing the masses under transitional slogans corresponding to the concrete situation in each country, and particularly under democratic slogans insofar as it is a question of struggle against feudal relations, national oppression or different varieties of open imperialistic dictatorship (Fascism, Bonapartism, etc.).
  8. Recognition of the necessity of a developed united front policy with respect to the mass organizations of the working class, both of trade union and political character, including the Social Democracy as a party. Condemnation of the ultimatist slogan “only from below”, which in practice means the refusal of the united front and consequently the refusal to create Soviets. Condemnation of the opportunistic application of the united front policy as in the Anglo-Russian Committee (bloc with the leaders without the masses and against the masses); double condemnation of the policy of the present German Central Committee, which combines the ultimatist slogan “only from below” with opportunistic practise on the occasion of parliamentary pacts with the leaders of the social democracy.
  9. Rejection of the theory of social Fascism and of the whole practice bound up with it, as serving Fascism on the one hand and the social democracy on the other.
  10. Differentiation of three groupings within the camp of Communism: the Marxist, the Centrist and the Right. Recognition of the impermissibility of a political alliance with the Right against Centrism; support of Centrism against the class enemy; irreconcilable and systematic struggle against Centrism and its zigzag policies.
  11. Recognition of party democracy not only in words but also in fact; ruthless condemnation of the Stalinist plebiscitary regime (gagging the will and the thought of the party, the rule of usurpers, deliberate suppression of information from the party, etc.).

The fundamental principles enumerated above, which are of basic Importance for the strategy of the proletariat in the present period, place the Left Opposition into a position of irreconcilable hostility to the Stalinist fraction which currently dominates the U.S.S.R. and the C.I. The recognition of these principles, on the basis of the decisions of the first four Congresses of the Comintern, is an indispensable condition for the acceptance of single organizations, groups and persons into the composition of the International Left Opposition.

Faction and Not Party[edit source]

The International Left Opposition regards itself as a faction of the Comintern, and its separate national sections as factions of the national Communist parties. This means that the Left Opposition does not regard the organizational regime created by the Stalinist bureaucracy as final. On the contrary, it proposes as its aim to tear the banner of Bolshevism out of the hands of the usurping bureaucracy and to bring back the Communist International to the principles of Marx and Lenin. That such a policy under the given conditions is the only correct one, is proven both by theoretical analysis as well as historical experience.

Although the special conditions of Russia had brought Bolshevism to a final break with Menshevism as early as 1912, the Bolshevik party remained on in the Second International until the end of the year 1914. The lesson of the world war was necessary, to pose the question of a new International; the October revolution was necessary, to call the new International into being.

Such an historical catastrophe as the collapse of the Soviet state would naturally sweep away with it the Third International too. In the same way, the victory of Fascism in Germany and the smashing of the German proletariat would hardly allow the Comintern to survive the consequences of its disastrous polices. But who in the camp of the revolution would today dare to say that the collapse of the Soviet power and the victory of Fascism in Germany are inevitable and invincible? Not the Left Opposition, in any event. Its policies are, on the contrary, directed toward defending the Soviet Union from the danger of Thermidor which has been brought closer by centrism, and toward helping the German proletariat not only to get rid of Fascism but also to conquer power. Standing on the ground of the October revolution and of the Third International, the Left Opposition rejects the idea of parallel Communist parties.

The entire responsibility for the splitting of Communism lies naturally on the Stalinist bureaucracy. The Bolshevik-Leninists are prepared at any moment to return into the composition of the Comintern and to preserve strict discipline of action, while at the same time carrying on an irreconcilable struggle against bureaucratic centrism on the basis of Party democracy. But today, under the conditions of the split, our adherence to the Communist International cannot be expressed by organizational self-limitation, by refusal to assume independent political initiative and engage in mass work, but must be expressed by the content of our work. The Left Opposition does not adapt itself to the Stalinist bureaucracy, does not pass over its mistakes and crimes in silence; on the contrary, it subjects them to an irreconcilable criticism. But the aim of this criticism is not to set up competitive Parties against the existing Communist Parties, but in drawing the proletarian nucleus of the official Parties over to our side and in this way reviving them on a Marxist foundation.

This question is put more crudely and more sharply in the USSR than anywhere else. The policy of a second party there would mean the policy of armed insurrection and of a new revolution. The policy of the faction means steering a course toward the internal reform of the Party and of the workers’ state. Despite all the slanders of the Stalinist bureaucracy and of its admirers, the Opposition remains fully and completely on the ground of reform.

Our relation to the Communist International is determined by the name of our faction: Left Opposition. The content of our ideas and methods is characterized with sufficient clarity by the name Bolshevik-Leninists. Every section must bear both of these complementary designations.

* * * *

The Militant, Vol. VI No. 18, 10 March 1933, p. 2.

Cleansing of the Ranks of the Left Opposition and Composition of the International Conference[edit source]

The Left Opposition is able to grow and strengthen itself only by the purging of its ranks of casual and alien elements.

The revolutionary awakening after the war seized not only the young generation of the proletariat, but also revived a great variety of sectarian groups, which sought a way out on the roads of anarchism, syndicalism, pure propagandism, etc. Many of them hoped to find an arena for their confused ideas in the Communist International. Many elements of the petty bourgeois Bohemia also joined under the banner of Communism, having been thrown out of their ruts by the war and the postwar upheavals. A part of this many-colored army of partisans dissolved itself into Communism and entered into the composition of its apparatus; poachers often make the best gendarmes. The dissatisfied ones on the other hand either returned immediately into their political, non-existence or attempted, on the way, to attach themselves to the Opposition. Such elements are prepared to accept in words the best of principles; on condition that they not be prevented from remaining good bourgeois (Paz & Co.), that they be obliged to no discipline of thought and action (Souvarine)); or to give up their syndicalist and other prejudices (Rosmer).

In approaching the task of assembling its ranks on the national as well as the International scale, the Left Opposition could do nothing else than begin with those manifold groups which actually existed. But from the very beginning it was clear to the basic nucleus of the International Left that the mechanical combination of separate groups which count themselves among the Left Opposition is permissible only as a starting-point, and that later on, based on the theoretical and political work as well as on internal criticism, the necessary selection must be made. In fact, the last four years were for the International Left Opposition a time, not only of clarification and deepening of theory on the ground of the individual countries, but also of its cleansing of alien, sectarian and adventurist elements of the international Bohemia, without a principled position, without serious devotion to the cause, without connection with the masses, without a sense of responsibility and discipline, but for that all the more inclined to listen to the voice of careerism (Landau, Mill, Graef, Well and other varieties of the same fundamental type).

The principle of party democracy is in no way identical with the principle of the open door. The Left Opposition has never demanded of the Stalinists that they transform the party into a mechanical sum of fractions, groups, sects and individualities. We accuse the centrist fraction of carrying on an essentially false policy which at every step brings them into contradiction with the flower of the proletariat, and that it looks for the way out of these contradictions in the strangling of Party democracy. Between the organizational policy of bureaucratic centrism and its “general line” there is an inseparable connection. In contradistinction to Stalinism, the Left Opposition is the bearer of the theory of Marxism and of the strategic achievements of Leninism in the world labor movement. As far as principle methods are concerned, the International Opposition has never broken with any group or with any individual comrade without exhausting all meth

ods of ideological influence, Exactly for that reason the work of selecting cadres that has been accomplished possesses an organic and permanent character. By checking over each and every one on the basis of his actual work, the Left Opposition must carry through to the end the cleansing of its ranks of alien elements, since, as experience has shown, only in this way can it expand and educate its proletarian cadres. The International Conference can rest only on the basis of the work which has already been done, and deepen and consolidate the results of this work.

The proposal to call a conference with each and every group that reckons itself in the Left Opposition (the groups of Landau and Rosmer, the “Mahnruf”, “Spartacos”, the Weisbord group, etc.) means the attempt to turn the wheel backward and gives evidence of a complete lack of understanding of the conditions and laws of development of a revolutionary organization and of the methods of selection and education of its cadres. The pre-Conference not only rejects but condemns such an attitude as being radically opposed to the organizational policies of Marxism.

The Left Opposition in Italy (Relations with the Bordigists)[edit source]

The so-called Left Faction of the Italian Communists (Prometeo-group or Bordigists) has its traditions, which are sharply distinguished from the traditions of the Bolshevik-Lenlnists. The Bordigists, who had originated in the struggle against the opportunism of the old Italian Socialist Party, at one blow put themselves on the ground of anti-parliamentarism and of ultimatism and persisted in their opposition to the Comintern as early as the period of its first four world Congresses. The formal abandonment of anti-parliamentarism, which took place after the second world Congress changed nothing essential in the policies of the Bordigists. The rejection of the struggle for democratic slogans under any and all conditions, and the refusal of the policy of the united front with regard to the social democracy – today, in the year 1933, after the enormous experience in all the countries of the world – sufficiently proves the sectarian character of the “Prometeo” group. The Bordigist faction, while claiming the role of an independent Marxist current, has proven its complete inability to exercise any influence on the development of the official party. Within the latter there has arisen a new Marxist grouping (N.I.O.), entirely on the basis of the ideas of the International Left Opposition. Just as glaring a mark of the sectarian character of the Prometeo group is its complete inability, in spite of an existence of more than ten years, to extend its influence to other countries. The national limitations of Bordigism, from the standpoint of Marxism, represent its harshest and most bitter condemnation.

The International Opposition, in this case as in others, has made every attempt to make possible the adaptation of the Bordigists to the Bolshevik-Leninists. The gigantic events which have taken place in the last few years in China, Spain and Germany, have been an exhaustive checking-up of the differences of opinion in the questions of democratic slogans and of the policy of the united front. Every critical blow which the Left Opposition struck against the Stalinists, at the same time rebounded against the Bordigists. The three years of existence in common, the criticism of ideas and the criticism of events have brought them no nearer to us. Now the necessary conclusions must be drawn. Within the framework of a mass party it would naturally be possible to live together with the Bordigists – under the condition of a firm discipline in action; but within the framework of a fraction it is completely impermissible, especially after the entire experience which we have gone through, to support the fiction of unity with an alien group, which remains ideologically immovable and isolated in a sectarian manner.

The Bordigists themselves have never assumed a loyal attitude toward our international organization. By compelling all their members. irrespective of their individual opinion, to come forward and to vote in no other way than in the spirit of the majority of their fraction at meetings and conferences of the International Opposition, the Prometeo group has placed its national discipline higher than the international and thereby violated not only the principles of democratic centralism but also those of internationalism. This alone proves that the Bordigists were never actually a part of the Left Opposition. If in spite of this they still hang on to their formal adherence to the International Left Opposition, that is only because in that way the character of their group as a purely national sect is disguised. But the policy of Marxism is not a policy of disguise. While paying due recognition to the honesty and revolutionary devotion of many Bordigists, the International Opposition still considers that the moment has arrived to declare openly: The Prometeo group does net belong to the composition of the International Left Opposition.

The only section of the Bolshevik-Leninists for Italy is the New Italian Opposition (N.I.O.).

* * * *

The Militant, Vol VI No. 19, 18 March 1933, p. 3.

On Party Democracy[edit source]

The sections of the Left Opposition, originating out of small propaganda groups, gradually are transformed into workers’ organizations. This transition puts into the foreground the tasks of party democracy: the kind of regime in which a few comrades who are closely connected and understand each other even with the most informal indications, making all their decisions in a casual manner, must finally give way to regular organizational relations.

The foundation of party democracy is a timely and complete information service, available to all members of the organization and covering all the important questions of their life and struggle. Discipline can be built up only on a conscious assimilation of the policies of the organization by all its members and on confidence in its leadership. Such confidence can be won only gradually, in the course of common struggle and reciprocal influence. The iron discipline which is needed cannot be achieved by naked command. The revolutionary organization cannot do without the punishment of undisciplined and disorganizing elements; but such disciplinary measures can be applied only as the most extreme means, and moreover under the condition of solid support from the public opinion of the majority of the organization.

The frequent practical objections, based on the “loss of time” in keeping to democratic methods are short-sighted opportunism. The education and the consolidation of the organization is a most important task, for whose fulfillment neither time nor efforts should be spared. Moreover, Party democracy, as the only conceivable guarantee against unprincipled conflicts and unmotivated splits, in the last analysis does not increase the overhead costs of development, but reduces them.

Only through constant and conscientious keeping to the methods of democracy can the leadership undertake important steps on its own responsibility in truly emergency cases, without provoking disorganisation or dissatisfaction thereby.

The pre-Conference charges the Secretariat to observe the carrying-out of the principles of Party democracy in contend as well as in form, within each section as well as in the reciprocal relations between the Secretariat and the sections, particularly and above all in the question of the preparation for the International Conference.

The Left Opposition in Russia [1][edit source]

The Austrian “Frey” group first entered the composition of our grouping, then left it, against attempt to enter, but refused to give information as to its internal condition and broke off negotiations on its own initiative. Through its actions it has shown that the tasks and aims of the Left Opposition are completely strange to it, and that it needs the international banner of the Bolshevik-Leninists only as a cover for its hopeless stagnation. The pre-Conference states openly that the International Left Opposition beans neither direct nor indirect responsibility for the Frey group.

In Austria the group “Left Opposition of the CPA (Bolshevik- Leninists)”, originating as the result of a first regrouping of Oppositionist elements, places itself on the ground of the principles and methods of the International Left Opposition and is engaged in laying the foundations for an organization of the Left Opposition.

In view of the sad experiences of the past the International Secretariat had decided to set a probationary period of six months until the formal and final admission as a section of the International Left Opposition.

The pre-Conference approves this measure of the International Secretariat as a means of checking over the regrouping which has already taken place, in action, and it charges the International Secretariat to follow closely the development of the group “Left Opposition of the CPA (Bolshevik-Leninists)” and with the help of the German section to support its conversion into a real section of the International Left Opposition.

The Left Opposition in the Balkans[edit source]

The disintegration of the capitalist regime in the Balkans has taken on an ever accelerated rhythm. Great social shock are being prepared. An epoch of great revolutionary struggles is opening. In the near future the burning problems of the strategy of the proletarian revolution will be forced to the surface in the Balkans in all their sharpness and scope.

The pre-Conference calls upon the sections as well as the I.S. to follow with the greatest attention the events in the Balkans and the life of the sections which exist there, and to make every effort to establish and consolidate connections with those countries in which no sections have been formed.

The pre-Conference regards it as especially necessary to devote more attention within the International Left Opposition and in its publications to the activity of our Greek section (“Archio-Marxists”); this organization, through its strength, its ideological level and its revolutionary consolidation represents the most advanced of our European sections.

After the experience of the participation for more than two years of the Greek Left Opposition (Bolshevik-Leninists, – “Archio-Marxists”) in the life of our international organization, the pre-Conference declares:

  1. The Greek Left Opposition (Bolshevik-Leninists – “Archio-Marxists”) is the only representative of the ideas of the International Left Opposition in Greece.
  2. The International Left Opposition bears no responsibility,, direct or indirect, for the other groups “Spartacos”, “Fractionists”, “Leninist Left Opposition”, etc.), which in words accept the International Left Opposition.
  3. The pre-Conference calls upon all honest workers to condemn the unprincipled struggle, contrary to the revolutionary spirit and now serving the interests of the Stalinist fraction, now of the class enemy, which the above-mentioned groups have been carrying on against our Greek section.
  4. The pre-Conference calls upon all honest members of these above-mentioned groups to break with the policy of the united front which the Left Opposition in Greece, and to support the latter in its ideological struggles and its everyday actions.

The Left Opposition in Czecho-Slovakia[edit source]

The manifold efforts of the ILO to achieve a permanent unification of the various Czechoslovakian groupings which claim to accept the ILO, in order to make possible their assimilation into the ILO, have not shown the results desired. The organization created by the Unification Conference of Easter 1932 has proven unable to exert an adequate and systematic activity. Not only did the condition of split-up groups and of insufficient consolidation with the International Opposition continue: in addition, it placed the International Opposition before the accomplished fact of a new split. By this fact alone the existence of a genuine section of the ILO in Czechoslovakia has become illusory. It would be an inexcusable mistake to tolerate a fiction. We must say that which is; under the given conditions the International Opposition finds it impossible to make a final selection among the existing Oppositionist elements in Czechoslovakia. Therefore the pre-Conference regards it as necessary to declare all the groups in Czechoslovakia which count themselves in the Left Opposition to be sympathizing groups. The pre-Conference charges the Secretariat to follow for the next six months the activity of the Czechoslovakian groups, their evolution and their possible regrouping, in order to propose at an appropriate time a final selection.

It is taken for granted that the various groups must make every effort to arrive at a loyal agreement with regard to their public activities (publishing work, meetings, etc.), and in general to maintain a loyal attitude to each other, so as to avoid anything which might discredit the I.L.O. in the eyes of the Czechoslovak workers.

* * * *

The Militant, Vol. VI No. 20, 25 March 1933, p. 4.

On the Reorganization of the International Organ of the ILO[edit source]

1. After a period of delimitation and selection the ILO has passed into a new phase, which is characterized by the advanced crystallization of its cadres, the expansion of its organized forces, and the strengthening of its international cohesion.

The leading organ of the ILO has reflected and will continue to reflect necessarily, to a great extent, the general condition, the weaknesses as well as the progress of our sections and groups. The birth difficulties of the L.O. as an international organization have, through all weaknesses and mistakes, found their expression in the progress of our leading international organ.

2. The pre-Conference is of the opinion that the present stage of development of the ILO demands an improvement in the form of our leading international organ, which might assure its evolution into a real political center, capable of leading the ILO in its entirety.

3. The pre-Conference has decided on the following organizational form, which in its opinion best corresponds to the present stage and the degree of consolidation of the International Left:

a. It has determined the formation of a so-called “Plenum” composed of one delegate each, of the Russian, Greek, German, Belgian and French sections, which is to meet at least once every three months to investigate and solve the most important problems raised before the ILO.

b. The naming of delegates to the Plenum is to be assumed directly by the sections named.

c. in case of conflicts of opinion on serious matters (expulsions, splits, approval or refusal of admission) the minority has the right to demand a final decision by means of a referendum of the national sections.

d. The organ which assured the political continuity and practical execution of the work of the international leadership, is the International Secretariat. Composed, not of delegates of the sections, but of comrades who are capable of fulfilling this function, it is selected by the Plenum, is responsible to the Plenum, and can be deposed by the Plenum. (For the first time the pre-Conference itself has assumed the selection of the I.S.). The I.S. must be a real center for connection, information, control, and political impulsion. In accordance with the growing development of the I. S. the relations among the sections should be carried on more and more through the I.S. and not through individual correspondence.

4. The pre-Conference has determined on Paris as the location of the I.S.

5. International connection can be adequately assured only through the regular publication of the International Bulletin, which should be an organ of international discussion and not only a bulletin of information and of the exchange of experiences.

In order to assure the independent financial life of the Bulletin, it will be sent to the sections, cash payable on receipt.

6. In order to assure the independent financial life of the I.S., an international membership contribution of the national organization is necessary.

P.S. The pre-Conference charges the I.S. to conduct, and to follow attentively, the reshaping of the sections in the sense of the organizational forms described in the theses of the first four Congresses of the C.I., as well as the adaptation of the section to the fundamental principles of a Communist organization (control of the work, collective and responsible work, etc.).

On the International Conference of the Left Opposition[edit source]

In order to prepare seriously for the first International Conference of the ILO, the pre-Conference has decided to have theses prepared on the following political problems:

  1. Theses on the German situation (by the German section).
  2. Theses on the Spanish situation (each of the two tendencies will work out its own theses).
  3. Project of a platform on the USSR (by the Russian section).
  4. Theses on the international situation by the French Ligue).
  5. Theses on the Balkan countries (by the Greek and Bulgarian sections jointly.
  6. Theses on the dictatorship of the proletariat, democracy and Fascism (by the New Italian Opposition).

Possibly the American League will prepare a thesis on American imperialism.

All the projects for these above-mentioned must be prepared for publication, by April 15, 1933.

A discussion period of three months is to take place, and the International Conference is then to be called for the month of July.

The sections are called upon to prepare special funds beginning today in order to assure their representation at the International Conference.

Accepted by the pre-Conference of the

International Left Opposition (Bolshevik-Leninists)

in Paris, February 4–8, 1933.

  1. This title refers to Russia while the content refers to Austria. This is probably the result of an editing error.