Letter to Frangin, November 20, 1934

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Suggestions for the GBL

Dear Frangin:

This time I want to speak of a number of things — in my own name and that of several friends here and at B. [“Besançon”], from whom I have just received a very interesting letter. To take them in order:

1. The question of the [CGT’s labor] plan increases in importance and, in passing, I think you should put this question in your trade union opposition platform; but above all the paper must take a position: the comrades in B. think we must devote a special number of the paper to this question, continuing and developing the series “Whither France?” but on the plan. If you are in agreement, you should create a special commission On this question, perhaps the same as for the previous text, and enter into collaboration with the B. group, which wants to propose a text on this question. They request, in case of your consent, some necessary documents (among others, Varga’s pamphlet on the de Man plan, the SP’s documents on planning, the CGT’s Peuple, etc.). The elaboration of a text will naturally take ten or twelve days.

2. It seems to me in general that La Vérité cannot and should not imitate the big papers, using the same type of headlines, etc. It loses its effectiveness if the text is spread out. The most homogeneous numbers (like that devoted to the militia) are the best. This, generally, should be the orientation. Of course, this is not a pedantic rule, but a general tendency. If you plan a series of special numbers, you should get other comrades to collaborate who are outside your leadership and outside Paris. Preparation will then be better and more methodical.

3. Don’t you think that after a certain “stabilization” on the new basis, La V. can send out a questionnaire along the following lines to sympathizing individuals and groups?

a. Have you noticed a change in the line of La V. since entry into the SP?

b. Don’t you find that the possibilities for struggle for a revolutionary Marxist policy in the SFIO have increased through this experience?

c. What prevents you from joining the SFIO to strengthen the left wing?

d. What advice have you for improving the content or form of our paper, etc.?

4. I think a special number should be devoted to the CP, composed of quotations with sober comments. The policy of the Comintern and its French section, at least since the German catastrophe, should be reviewed. Oskar Fischer wrote such a pamphlet on Germany, translated by you. Such a work should be done for France, using the files of L’Humanité, Cahiers du Bolshévisme, etc., and contrasting them with quotations from La V. Don’t forget that you are addressing a new audience that does not know your past. Don’t forget that you have to vaccinate the revolutionary socialists against Stalinism. Above all, don’t forget that the CP, in its new phase, is the most serious barrier to a mass revolutionary policy. Readers must be shown their zigzags of the last two years at least so as to discredit their present line. A number like this could have a great repercussion inside the CP. Two or three young comrades could prepare it. The editors need only write a lead article criticizing the Stalinist zigzags and the miserable regime that prevents revolutionary education of the youth above all.

5. Given the unfavorable social composition of the Young Socialists, a supplementary rule should perhaps be established: each member of our tendency who does not win two young workers within a certain time should be excluded from our tendency. It seems to us that the young comrades do not give decisive enough importance to this question. We also think that an environment of young workers would have a salutary effect on our own youth, without which a dangerous development can be expected; it is always dangerous when young students talk in the name of the proletariat without daily contact with the young workers and without learning many things about them before setting themselves up as educators.

6. The threat to Blum and Le Populaire’s reaction seem to us extremely important from the point of view of [our agitation for] the militia. It should be used to this end.

7. Are our comrades concerning themselves with Saint-Denis?It is possible a good harvest can be reaped there. In any case the Saint-Denis workers’ pulse should be felt.

8. A friend writes me that Treint has given talks on the USSR at Socialist meetings that are along the line of Laurat’s view. In this case we must sharply demarcate ourselves from Treint. Nothing helps push revolutionary workers toward the Stalinists more than an equivocal attitude toward the USSR on our part. This is why the Stalinists, always and everywhere, call us enemies of the USSR. Each equivocal statement on this question, even in private conversation, is a political crime, which weakens our future. Beware!

9. It seems nothing can be expected from Just, for whom socialism is not a question of immediate revolutionary struggle but “the noblest expression of human solidarity.” You don’t say! He occupies himself with making designs for the future socialist administration instead of occupying himself with the struggle against the capitalist state. The last number of Bataille Socialiste, despite its insufficiency, gives a more favorable impression. The article by H. and R. Modiano on the plan was written with intelligence and understanding. Unfortunately the authors imply the best intentions to Jouhaux because Jouhaux supports bourgeois democracy. Instead of denouncing Jouhaux they caress him, although a bit gingerly.

Fraternally,

B. [Leon Trotsky]