Notes on the GBL’s Internal Problems

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Late 1934 or Early 1935

These comments may lag behind events, but I will make them just the same. Comrade Gerard [Rosenthal], as I see in the minutes, tries to justify collaboration with Lutte de classes, which was created as a competitor of the GBL. Working with it would mean becoming uninvolved with one’s own organization. But without dedication to one’s own organization nothing important can be done in the working class movement.

I consider the (rather belated) publication of Lutte de classes a mistake on the part of Comrade Naville. But I hope that the mistake will be remedied by a merger [of the two groups]. Abstractly, a conference could be dispensed with, but the Naville group, bound by its past (and above all by its mistakes), insists on a conference. Why not comply? Why not show the Naville group and the Socialist milieu around us our .willingness to collaborate in good faith, our freedom from considerations of false pride, etc.?

The leadership’s reorganization of itself is an experiment. An experiment is judged by its results. What deserves praise in this experiment is the goodwill of the majority in applying reasonable suggestions from the minority. The censure of resignations is excellent. Let us hope there will be no need to repeat it.

As for the Central Committee’s new organization of its work, I have only one point to make, and that concerns the relation of the Political Bureau to everyday administrative work. Comrade Gerard is right in pointing out that the omnipotent secretariat is a Stalinist innovation. But in Lenin’s time, in addition to the Political Bureau, which met once a week (except in special cases), there was another bureau of five comrades operating continuously and issuing directives for day-to-day work. There was a rule that one negative vote in this other bureau was enough for the question to be referred to the first bureau. I mention this for information. I do not draw any conclusions for our organization.

We are much too weak. Our task is to find a line that will save us from two pitfalls: concentrating the leadership in the hands of a very small number of comrades, and dispersing it among independent bodies. Only experience can point to the most suitable form of organization.

As for the personal composition [of the Political Bureau], I have no comments to make. In the minutes I find this sentence from Comrade Meche: “I will work harder than ever despite not being chosen for the Political Bureau.” There’s a truly revolutionary remark.

I return to the question of the merger conference. I read the objection of Comrade Frank, who asserts that nothing can come of the conference. Why nothing, since it can bring about the merger? The conference could be organized in a thoroughly modest way to avoid expense and waste of time. Naville himself suggests a small-scale meeting. Why oppose that suggestion?

I find that, absorbed as you are by your day-to-day work, you still are not addressing international questions which could soon take on great importance.

Legally speaking, we have “lost” our American section and we are “losing” our Dutch section; at the same time, we could do with a more solid base to work for the Fourth International.

The question of the London-Amsterdam Bureau should not be neglected. Their conference in February (???) has to be considered. To take part in such a conference would be an unforgivable blunder. It seems that the NAP has let them down. Only the SAP, OSP, and ILP are left. But the SAP and OSP previously signed the Declaration of Four, only to betray it the following day. If they are willing to reaffirm this declaration, we would be quite happy to give the matter another try. But to go to this conference without prior assurances would be a criminal mistake. It would be tantamount to entering a conference with Rimbert, Lhuiller, Lasterade, etc., without prior understandings, giving them an opportunity to sit in judgment on us, defame us, etc.

It is important to stress the activity of the SAP members in the SFIO. I have reason to believe that this activity may be quite harmful. They declare themselves in agreement with us “in principle” only to denigrate and compromise us as much as possible. That kind of company is always dangerous (which is why, in particular, I insist on the need to settle the question with the Naville group: either we join forces, or we contend openly). And since the SAP influences the left formations, especially M. Pivert, an article in Vérité should be devoted to this party.

In the latest issue of Vérité a comrade poses the question of organic unity. I do not think it would be useful to return to that question in all its breadth. It would only confuse matters. All we need to do is consider the current situation: everyone has now emerged from that period of confusion when the byword organic unity meant everything and nothing. Now we are facing the problem of a program for the united front, as we did for organic unity. That is enough for us to say: we are committed to follow this through to its conclusion. The letter in question should be answered, I think, along those lines.