Reply to a Question About Birobidjan

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Letter by Leon Trotsky

With respect to the letter by Ykslagor; the statement that Birobidjan is "Left Zionism" seems to me to be completely incorrect. Zionism draws away the workers from the class struggle by means of unrealizable hopes of a Jewish state under capitalist conditions. But a workers' government is duty bound to create for the Jews, as for any nation, the very best circumstances for cultural development. This means, inter alia: to provide for those Jews who desire to have their own schools, their own press, their own theater, etc., a separate territory for self-administration and development. The International proletariat will behave in the same way when it will become the master of the whole globe. In the sphere of the national question there must be no restraint; on the contrary there must be an all-sided material assistance for the cultural needs of all nationalities and ethnic groups. If this or that national group is doomed to go down (in the national sense) then this must proceed in the same way as a natural process, but never as a consequence of any territorial, economic, or administrative difficulties. L. Trotsky

Editorial Office, Opposition Bulletin of the Bolshevik Leninists


Dear Comrades,

Your letter was duly received and if we did not answer you immediately, this was due only to the fact that we are working under exceptionally difficult conditions. In connection with your question about Birobidjan we wanted to give you an authoritative reply. The author of this reply, as you know, lives and works under the most difficult conditions. This is the explanation for the lateness of our reply to you. With regard to your other question of rejoining the Gezerd – we are not in a position to give our opinion, due to scanty information. We shall try our best to reply on this question as soon as we receive the necessary information. . . .

With comradely greetings,

Schwartz [Leon Sedov]