Letter to James P. Cannon, August 22, 1933

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The ILP and the British Section

Dear Comrade Cannon:

I wish to write to you today on English matters specially. Within the past period the Independent Labour Party has made an enormous shift toward a revolutionary position. The old layer of [the ILP] bureaucracy remained almost as a whole in the Labour Party. The ILP consists of the youth. In the leadership, however, there remain a few old men (Maxton, Brockway, Paton) who are by far not in accord among themselves. … For the rank and file of the ILP the problems of revolutionary strategy constitute entirely a new field. In this the Stalinists reveal the preponderance of their routine. We need not doubt that promises of financial assistance are also not lacking, and in its present social composition the ILP is very poor.

Our small British group has good connections with the ILP and exercises considerable influence there; the Inprecorr complains bitterly about it. But by systematic work to strengthen this party, to cleanse it from the heritage of centrism, to protect it from Stalinism and to transform it into a truly revolutionary party: all this is absolutely possible now. Precisely in this is now needed the assistance of the American League. It seems to me that literary aid could be of decisive importance. First of all, it is necessary that The Militant carry an analysis of the situation in the ILP and in the British Communist Party, emphasizing our friendly attitude toward the ILP. A number of articles and correspondence on the basis of new material are needed. The corresponding issues of The Militant should be sent in a considerable number of copies to the ILP through our British section. Of course, the whole work should be carried on hand-in-hand with our British section.

The pamphlets and books published by Pioneer Publishers would be of great importance for the educational work in the ILP. The question of program should be now placed on the order of the day in the ILP and circles should be organized for a critical study of the program of the Comintern. The Criticism of the Program of the Comintern [The Third International After Lenin] published by you would be of value in this connection. Possibly a certain number of copies of this book as well as of others could be collected and sent to the British section (alas, they are not in a position to pay for it) specially for the work in the ILP. Other methods of assistance in the above-indicated work will of course also be found. The moment is a most responsible one! By making the necessary efforts we may be able to reap now what we have so patiently sown during the last years.

I shall be very glad to have you write me on this as well as on American matters.

With communist greetings.


L. Trotsky