On the Caricature of Defeatism
In my letter to Com. Van (2/1/38), i had admitted the possibility that in the stenographic report (The Case of L.T.) some unfortunate expressions night have slipped in (at the moment I did not have the book at hand). No man who thinks sanely and honestly, besides, will start out to find tho reply to the fundamental problems of our policy during war in a brief, verbal remark made during discussions which lasted one week. However, I now see with satisfaction that my reply to Stolberg is transcribed in the report with sufficient exactitude and is in full accord with our programmatic theses (war and the 4th Int’l)
There is however no need for me to return to this question.
Com W.St. has written on this subject an article in German ("Zu den Aufgaben des Proletariats im Kriege, printed in the New International for May, 1938). I most warmly recommend this article to the attention of all comrades. As the article is not confined to any internal1 polemic, it can and must, in my opinion, be reproduccd in all our publications. The excellent article of Com. W.St. shows anew that new, very serious Marxist cadres have grown up among us. This article has completely done away with any necessity of my personally polemizing against Com. Ver.’s recent writings, where there is nothing but scholasticism and casuistry.
On the subject of Com. W.St.’s article, I allow myself to make one particular remark. W.St. draws an absolutely correct principled difference between revolutionary "defeatism" with respect to one’s own imperialist gov't and acts of direct military sabotage in favor of another country (Workers’ State, colonial country, etc.). However, it would hardly be correct to include among acts of this type ‘'mass desertion". Desertion of a revolutionary character can only become a mass one under conditions of an enormous influence of the revolutionary party. But such a condition in the army and country in itself already signifies the approach or the beginning of the revolution. Under those conditions, it would hardly be admissable to cut off the revolutionary vanguard from the mass-army of tho latter in the name of an episodic military aid to a Worker's State or an oppressed country. Concerning “mass desertion" , one can say in this case the same thing as in many others – It is either impossible or superfluous and harmful..
I hope that the German text of W. St.'s article has been sent to all sections and will be translated into the different languages.