Letter to the International Secretariat, March 19, 1934

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The Youth Conference’s Unsatisfactory Resolution

The resolution makes an extremely unsatisfying impression. The entire text rests on half-made points, ambiguities, radical sounding phrases and evasion of the consequences. Martov’sdocuments at Zimmerwald and Kienthal were much more radical. In a word — the document is centrist through and through

Here I will emphasize only a few points where our delegation revealed itself as unreliably conciliatory.

1. Beginning with the title, we read “Conference of Revolutionary Socialist Youth Organizations.” But we are Communist and not Socialist. Why wasn’t our name included in the title “… Socialist and Communist Youth Organizations”? Did our delegates ask for this? Or did they merely overlook this “petty detail”? Politics, at least in the preparatory stages, consists of such details.

2. The question of centrism is completely ignored. Only once, in paragraph VII (page 4), do we find centrism named between reformism and Stalinism. Thus, the word is used only for a legalistic alibi. There is not one word to the effect that not only the various independent organizations but also those of the Second International reflect centrism in all its colors, and that hence the construction of the Fourth International depends upon liberating the working class youth from centrist confusion. One of the letters to Glotzer was devoted to this all-important question, and, as I have been informed, the IS found this letter to be correct. Yet there is not a hint of this idea to be found in the document. The “sharp,” “irreconcilable” criticism of Stalinism and reformism actually serves only as a cover for the toleration of centrism. And our delegation fell into this error as well.

I don’t find the final version of the text concerning the Fourth International. The original version is slippery. For “transcending the Second and Third Internationals” with the goal of “creating proletarian unity” sounds not only like Tranmæl, but also like Louis Sellier, who, moreover, figures in the debates of the [French parliamentary] commission of inquiry as a candidate for a semi-fascist government. “Transcending” both Internationals is Tranmæl's fraudulent formulation: “I don’t want a Fourth International, there are too many already.” This formulation is classical Menshevism. Year after year, especially during the imperialist war, Lenin led a struggle against the philosophy of “transcending” [the Second International] put forward by the revisionists, opportunists, chauvinists, etc., etc. In Lenin’s writings the word is always set in quotes as a symbolic word, representing an entire program. Everything Walcher’s people write is unwitting plagiarism from Martov.

4. It is true that after the departure of Finn Moe, the SAP graciously accepted the new international formulation, but only in connection with transcending. We cannot agree to this under any circumstances. It is not simply a question of a new International; the Two-and-a-half International would be a new International, too, as would a unification of the Second and Third. For us there is something quite different at issue — the Fourth International that must be built in irreconcilable struggle against the two existing Internationals and against centrist tendencies in general. To make the slightest concession on this is a betrayal and a crime. Walcher is not fighting about terminology. He needs an elastic formulation for smuggling in his centrist goods, and this is the very thing we cannot allow.

A suggestion: We can sign this document (with qualification, i.e., with a special official statement) only if

1. the title is changed;

2. “transcending the Second and Third Internationals” is removed and/or replaced by liberating the workers from the Second and Third Internationals through irreconcilable struggle against all opportunist and centrist currents; and

3. the goal set is the creation of the Fourth (and not the new) International.

These three points must be put forward as an absolute ultimatum and we cannot give an inch. An open break would be a thousand times better than a conscious deception at the heart of the youth International.

We must also demand, not as an ultimatum but as very important, that a sentence be added where the role of the Austrian Social Democracy is discussed, to the effect that the Norwegian Labor Party is following in the footsteps of Austro-Marxism and preparing a similar catastrophe for the Norwegian proletariat.

If the three points above are accepted by the SAP, we will sign the document. But we will make a written declaration in which we make the point that neither the youth nor ourselves take the slightest responsibility for the destructive London-Amsterdam Bureau, which now serves as nothing more than a fig leaf for TranmĂŚl, whose politics are simply a new edition of Austro-Marxism, etc.

P.S. If our young delegates feel that they are being “repudiated,” that is only partially true. The IS is there not just to approve of its delegates, but also to repudiate them. With many of our comrades one notices the following: they understand very well how to explain and ridicule the psychology and methods of the centrist big shots, but not how to combat them on the practical plane.

On the organizational question: As far as the three-member secretariat is concerned, we must for the moment wait for the official position of the Swedish youth before committing ourselves. A single comrade in Sweden, where we have no organization, is not sufficient surety for the consistency of our political line in the future secretariat. At least a principled basis must be laid through clarification: a) the correction of the document; b) the position of the Swedes.