Letter to the French Leadership, January 31, 1935

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Disturbing Signs

Dear Comrades:

Along with Felix and Marie we have carefully studied the minutes of the Central Committee and want to offer you some criticisms and suggestions resulting from this study. Please communicate them at least to all who have the privilege of receiving the Central Committee minutes.

Comrade Craipeau’s attitude seems very disturbing to us because of his deviations on the most important questions, deviations which are becoming deeper but no better defined. Here are some examples:

The Fourth International. Comrade Craipeau says: “We left the Third to go toward the Fourth … then we abandoned this perspective to enter the SP, which belongs to the Second.” It is very surprising to hear such a statement not from a Stalinist or an SAP leader but from a leading member of our own movement. Have we abandoned the slogan and perspective of the Fourth International? Those who have done so should be expelled from our movement instantly. But on the other hand those who reproach us for having quit the road of the Fourth should be called to order. We never expected a line that leads without any turns to the Fourth International. Let Craipeau reread all our documents of the last two years. They always left the door open to all possible developments. It is enough to recall that it was a year and a half ago when we achieved our British section’s entry into the ILP.

What we should above all demand of young intellectuals, especially of Young Socialists who are unfamiliar with the history of our movement, is to study our documents in order to establish the necessary connections between our activity and our ideological education. How can Craipeau do this educational work successfully if he belittles or ignores our history?

We are well acquainted with Craipeau’s positive personal qualities and his important role. That obliges us all the more to cry out: “Stop, you are on a dangerous bridge!”

The USSR. No less dangerous is the position on the question of the USSR taken by Craipeau and supported by Rigaudias.Many times we have asked these comrades to present their ideas, their criticisms, and their doubts in writing — that is, to make them explicit — in order to open a discussion which otherwise seems to us superfluous. Instead, these comrades are satisfied with creating doubts about our fundamental positions without coming out against them openly. They only sow skepticism, to say nothing of ideological demoralization. At the same time Comrade Rigaudias takes a stand against the “systematic distortion” of his point of view. There can be no distortion where there is no form. And there can be no form where there is no content. All you have are doubts, Comrade Rigaudias, and since they are doubts of a sentimental and not a theoretical or political character, you can’t take the risk of “giving them form.”

With unforgivable impressionism you adapt your sentimental doubts to every new situation and every new event, and since nobody, including you, can grasp the trend of your thinking, it seems to you that everybody only distorts your point of view.

The crimes of Stalin and his clique, especially to the Soviet youth, are terrible. The Stalinist regime creates an atmosphere favorable to individual terrorism and pushes disoriented, unbalanced and desperate Young Communists onto the road to terrorism. And on the basis of that, the Stalinist clique physically exterminates the youth, thus making its regime more heinous. This makes us feel indignant. That’s natural. But it is not sufficient. It is necessary to be strong enough to change the situation. We are weak. And weakness always drives people to seek artificial satisfactions. Thus they pick a quarrel with our theoretical concept of the Soviet state. They think that downgrading the USSR theoretically will give us moral revenge against Stalin… .