On Comrade Morrow’s Reply

(April 1946)

From Fourth International, Vol. 7 No. 7, July 1946, pp. 218–222.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The indefatigable Comrade Morrow concentrates his ammunition against the ES and its Theses, among which he generously includes all the political documents collectively and responsibly drawn up by international gatherings such as the European Conference of February 1944 and the European Executive Committee of January 1945, which were attended by qualified representatives of numerous sections of the International.

Does Morrow – who seems generally to consider himself thoroughly informed on events and persons in Europe – know for example that it is impermissible for a serious comrade to attribute to the ES either the Theses of February, 1944, or the resolution of January 1945?

Does he know that the February 1944 Theses were drawn up by the European Conference which was attended by representatives of five Sections of the International, that in their broad outlines they were unanimously adopted (with the exception of the left opposition of the French comrades of the ex-CCI), and that several parts were drawn up by comrades whom Morrow today considers his political friends in the International (Comrade Hic, the Belgian comrades)? Does he know also that the January 1945 resolution is not a resolution of the ES but a document adopted by the European Executive Committee at its session of January 1945? Does he know, finally, that the ES as a body was reconstituted several times, and that there finally remained only one comrade of those who were elected at the European Conference of February 1944?

The document of Comrade Morrow, which bears the modest title The Infantile Sickness of the ES and which pretends to be a reply to the document of the ES of January 1946, is an example of the unprincipled combinationism which Comrade Morrow has been devoting himself to lately with special zeal in his painful and, it might be said, not very successful attempt to bring together the most disparate elements of the International against the ES and the SWP majority.

In these combinations his purpose is not political clarity but a bloc at any cost with all the currents and all the various malcontents, first of all against the leadership of the SWP and later against all those whom he considers to be allies of the SWP.

For our part, we categorically refuse to regard the life of our International solely through the internal struggles within our American section.

Morrow cannot forgive the ES for its “treachery” toward him, and speaks over and over again of the letter of Comrade P., “secretary of the ES,” assuring him “that the European Secretariat and the SWP minority was in 75 per cent agreement.” [1]

It would perhaps be helpful for Morrow in order to be – and if he really wants to be – a little better informed on the development of the political life in the International in Europe, to learn under what conditions Comrade P. was led to send him this letter.

It is perfectly true that at that time there was general agreement in the ES that the first critical documents of Comrade Morrow and especially his criticism of the resolution of the December 1943 NC Plenum of the SWP, contained some correct observations on the tempo of development of the revolutionary situation in Europe, the importance of democratic slogans, and the dangers of sectarianism in our International. All the more is this so because the ES and the then majority of the leadership of the French section were engaged in a struggle, already begun in part at the time of the European Conference and followed through very sharply afterwards, against the leftist tendency represented by the French comrades of the ex-CCI, a struggle around precisely the same questions brought up by Comrade Morrow.

This struggle – which lasted more than a year and gave rise to a series of documents proving incontestably that the errors committed at the time of the February 1944 European Conference had been in great part corrected through the initiative of the ES and of leading members of the French majority – is completely ignored by Comrade Morrow.

Should we conclude from this that his sources of information in Europe omitted to tell him about it, or that it is he himself who considers it preferable to pass over in silence this important chapter in the internal life of the International in Europe – a chapter which would make difficult for him his task of defaming and completely misrepresenting the policy of the ES?

In any case, it is not too late for Comrade Morrow to condescend to consult the documents of this period which would throw a new light for him upon the political physiognomy of the different tendencies which developed in the International in Europe during the war.

We advise him at the same time to read all the documents drawn up by the comrades of the present French minority on the national question, as well as the files of Verité of 1942 to November 1943, and to compare the political line of these documents with the line he himself defended on the national question when, for example, he replied to the Three Theses.

Has Morrow now changed his position on this question also, a position which he defended during the war up to the December 1943 Plenum and including the criticism which he made of the resolution of that Plenum?

Because if anyone has changed and keeps continually changing his position under the pressure of opportunist currents with whom he is now forced to make a bloc, it is, alas, Comrade Morrow.

It is he who, far from abiding by the agreement established by the Political Committee of the SWP in May 1945 (see Fourth International, May 1945) between the minority and the majority of the SWP on all the important political questions, has moved over since then to a different political standpoint, no longer bringing forward the question of the tempo of development of the situation in Europe, the importance of democratic slogans, the influence of the Stalinists and the reformists, but the nature of the period into which we have entered, the character of the program we defend, the tasks which flow from it.

Drawn into the whirlpool of the factional struggle against the SWP majority, Morrow has begun to make a series of concessions to all the opportunist currents outside and within the International, concessions the general line of which now follows the line of the Shachtmanites who have already won him over ideologically before having won him also organizationally. We will speak of this later.

The Struggle for Legality in France

Morrow, from the information given him by his political friends in France, speaks with great assurance of what has happened in that country and of the “sectarian” policy of the ES in regard to the legalization of the French section.

We refuse to admit that it is the French comrades who could have distorted the real situation to such an extent.

In any case, at the time of the last Congress of the French party not a single voice (and all the leaders of the French minority were present) protested when the ES had occasion to mention the role it played from the very outset in the legalization of the French party.

It is absolutely false that the ES expected “on the eve of the arrival of the Allies, a speedy development of the organs of dual power – factory committees, worker-militias, etc.”

The ES did not exclude such a possibility; but at the same time, in its struggle against the assertions of the comrades of the ex-CCI it emphasized that the extent of such a development would be limited by the fact of the influence of the Stalinists and the reformists and by the fact of the new occupation of Europe by the Anglo-American armies.

The struggle in the French party which preceded and followed the days of the “liberation” of Paris in August, 1944, was exactly along these lines, and all the documents of the period prove this completely.

That the possibility of a certain development of organs of dual power nevertheless existed in the situation, was entirely proved by the establishment of genuine factory committees and militias in most of the large factories of the Paris region and of other cities in France around the end of August and the beginning of September 1944.

It is impermissible for Morrow to ignore or to neglect this extremely important experience of the French proletariat in which our party played a front-rank role.

It is furthermore an absolute falsehood that the ES ever put forth the hypothesis that “fascism being near, it is useless and even dangerous to try to emerge out of illegality.”

Such ideas were set forth, though very timidly, by certain comrades of the French majority, against the position of the ES. The ES, on the other hand, had already, at the time of the landing of the Allied forces in Europe, drawn the attention of the French comrades to the legal reappearance of the workers’ movement and the urgent need of adapting ourselves to the new conditions.

Several months before the return from concentration camps of certain French comrades – to whom Comrade Morrow generously attributes the initiative for legalization – the ES had sharply posed the question of legalization of the party and had used every effort to push the French comrades toward achieving this end rapidly and boldly.

It is now extremely painful to have to defend ourselves against attacks which are as unjust as they are stupid, and which tend to completely distort the real situation. Morrow, generally so well and so honestly informed, should at least know that from the first Congress of the French party up to just recently, the agenda of almost all the sessions of the ES has included the question of the French party; and this question was considered from the point of view of the political, practical and financial aid which the ES gave to the party leadership to help it achieve complete legalization of the party, readapt its structure to the conditions of legal life, forcibly push through the legalization of Verité by an unflagging political mobilization of the entire party, and to help the party adopt a program of concrete action, take pan in elections, etc.

For no other section has the ES expended such efforts to aid it in moving toward the masses, and we believe that this fact has been unanimously recognized by the French organization.

The Nature of This Period

Morrow, who complains that the ES has avoided replying to him on a series of questions contained in his documents of July and November, 1945, finds a way of skipping over all the essential sections of this reply of the ES regarding the basic conceptions for the drawing up of a program and for the defining of the tasks, of the “objectively revolutionary situation,” and of the relationship between the objective and the subjective factors.

He states that “there is no difference between us as to the economic and other objective factors ... the difference is concerning the state of political consciousness of the proletariat.”

And he finds that on this last question there is a “clear-cut difference between the Belgian, Dutch, Italian, British parties and the French and American minorities on one side, and on the other the SWP majority, the French majority and the ES.”

We are very curious to see what this “clear-cut difference” consists of, between the line defended up to now by the ES and the line of our Belgian, Dutch, Italian and British comrades, from whom the gifted tactician Morrow tries to distinguish us (and to separate us).

The essential difference between us and them, he says, concerns “the state of political consciousness of the proletariat.”

“The ES,” he writes, “and the SWP majority, in denying or evading this decisive fact about the present ‘prelude’ in Europe, are thereby launched on a sectarian policy which is wreaking havoc in the International. The masses want socialism, they say, pointing to the dominance of the Communist and Socialist parties. They leave out the detail that today, disoriented and worn out by the terrible ordeals since 1939, the masses hope to get their socialism through parliamentarism.”

Morrow makes this thought, which constitutes the base of his whole present policy, still more precise when he writes:

“For a whole period the struggle of the European proletariat is destined to remain within the framework of parliamentary democracy, even though the masses are already demanding of that parliament essentially socialist tasks such as nationalization of industry. Our task is to shorten that ‘prelude’ by arousing the masses to demand everything from the parliament.”

First of all, it is false to begin chiefly with the “state of political consciousness of the proletariat” in order to elaborate a program of action and to define the slogans and tasks of a given period.

The ES in its first reply to Comrade Morrow was compelled precisely to explain to him that from the Marxist point of view one does not determine a program by starting chiefly from the “political consciousness” of the proletariat, but by starting chiefly from the objective conditions which characterize the situation.

Morrow reverses the problem, as he reverses it when he says that it is the existence of the revolutionary party which determines the revolutionary character of a situation.

Starting from this consideration of the “political consciousness” of the proletariat, one can arrive at the most opportunist conclusions. Thus Morrow, reasoning from the “political consciousness of the proletariat” which according to him is dominated at the present time by democratic and parliamentary illusions, limits our program essentially to democratic demands and places our activities chiefly in the parliamentary field. He would proceed entirely differently if, in order to outline a program from an analysis of the objective situation, he began from the starting-point of the situation that capitalism in general and European capitalism in particular finds itself in after the liquidation of the second imperialist war – from the living conditions of the masses, from the objective possibilities of a policy of reforms, of democracy, etc.

Trotsky, commenting in June 1938 on the working out of the Transitional Program, wrote:

“Make our program fit the objective situation or the mentality of the workers? And I believe that this question must be put before every comrade who says that this program is not fit for the American situation. This program is a scientific program. It is based on an objective analysis of the objective situation. It cannot be understood by the workers as a whole. It would be very good if the vanguard would understand it in the next period ...”

And to the question, “Isn’t the ideology of the workers a part of the objective factors?” Trotsky replied:

“For us as a small minority this whole thing is objective including the mood of the workers. But we must analyze and classify those elements of the objective situation which can be changed by our paper and those which cannot be changed. That is why we say that the program is adapted to the fundamental stable elements of the objective situation and the task is to adapt the mentality of the masses to those objective factors. To adapt the mentality is a pedagogical task. We must be patient, etc. The crisis of society is given as the base of our activity. The mentality is the political arena of our activity. We must change it. We must give a scientific explanation of society, and clearly explain it to the masses. That is the difference between Marxism and reformism.

“The reformists have a good smell for what the audience wants – as Norman Thomas – he gives them that. But that is not serious revolutionary activity. We must have the courage to be unpopular, to say ‘you are fools,’ ‘you are stupid,’ ‘they betray you,’ and every once in a while with a scandal launch our ideas with passion. If it is necessary to shake the worker from time to time, to explain, and then shake him again – that all belongs to the art of propaganda. But it must be scientific, not bent to the moods of the masses. We are the most realistic people because we reckon with facts which cannot be changed by the eloquence of Norman Thomas. If we win immediate success we swim with the current of the masses and that current is the revolution.”

Morrow rejects this conception of the program and speaks to us of the “political consciousness” of the proletariat which is so to speak hypnotized by parliamentarism. This assertion of Morrow is, furthermore, quite without foundation and does not correspond in any way to the real conditions of the situation in Europe.

When one speaks of the latter, one cannot make an identity between the various conditions which reign in the different countries of the continent, and forget that there are sometimes enormous differences between what characterizes, for example, the situation in the countries controlled by the USSR and the countries of western Europe, between the situation in Greece and Italy and the situation in France and Belgium, etc. ... In a general way we can say that for all of Europe the present applicability of the Transitional Program as a whole is enormous.

But the emphasis on the different slogans is different according to whether it is a question of this country or that, whether a country characterized by a more or a less full and rapid maturing of the situation. In France, for example, we still have a situation which is less advanced than that of Italy and even less than that of Greece. But even in France, to say that the masses “today accept parliamentarism more than they did 25 years ago” and that “all France, first of all the proletariat, has its eyes fixed on the Constituent Assembly, which they look upon as their own because it has a workers’ majority, and the business of the Constituent is to draw up a Constitution” – to say this is to become a laughable victim of illusions which are far less prevalent among the masses.

Because of the close three-party collaboration between the so-called Workers’ parties and the MRP (the moderate right of the bourgeoisie), the Constituent Assembly has lost all special attractiveness for the masses. It is precisely this change which has erased the importance of the slogan of Committees of Defense of the Constituent, which was launched at a moment when de Gaulle’s presence and his hostility to a Sovereign Constituent had pushed the Communists [Stalinists] into a kind of momentary opposition which was able also to attract the masses. It is the same thing with the new Constitution; according to several statistical samplings, the debates on the Constitution have not been followed by more than 20% of public opinion.

Morrow, starting from the “political consciousness” of the proletariat, confines the meaning of all our slogans within the “democratic” and “parliamentary” framework. Thus even our central slogan of a Workers’ and Farmers’ Government, concretized in France in the formula “CP-SP-CGT government,” should be regarded, Morrow tells us, solely on “the parliamentary plane” because “the workers would see it as realizable” only on that plane.

What is probably involved here is a new concession of Comrade Morrow, this time to the French minority which has become the champion of this opportunist interpretation of the foremost anti-capitalist and revolutionary slogan of our Transitional Program. [2]

Morrow generously attributes to us a complete lack of understanding of the importance of democratic slogans because we refuse to confine the meaning of all our present slogans within the “democratic” and “parliamentary” framework, and because we maintain the distinction between the essentially democratic slogans and the transitional slogans.

One can play with words if one wishes, and fill entire pages with sterile and puerile terminological slavishness.

It is the Transitional Program itself which points out the distinction between the purely democratic slogans – concerning either the demands for political democracy (freedom of association, of the press, overthrow of the monarchy, etc.) or the demands for the democratic program in backward countries (national independence, Constituent Assembly, land to those who cultivate it, etc.) – and the more specifically transitional slogans:

“The relative weight of the individual democratic and transitional demands in the proletariat’s struggle, their mutual ties and their order of presentation, is determined by the peculiarities and the specific conditions of each backward country.” (Transitional Program).


“Of course, this does not mean that the Fourth International rejects democratic slogans ... On the contrary, such slogans at certain moments can play a serious role. But the formulas of democracy (freedom of press, the right to unionize, etc.) mean for us only incidental or episodic slogans in the independent movement of the proletariat and not a democratic noose fastened to the neck of the proletariat by the bourgeoisie’s agents (Spain!) As soon as the movement assumes something of a mass character, the democratic slogans will be intertwined with the transitional ones ...” (Transitional Program).

Democratic slogans are included in the Transitional Program, and to the extent that they are tied to the rest of the program they are themselves also transitional slogans.

Furthermore, it is Morrow himself who constantly makes this distinction between democratic slogans and transitional slogans, as for example in his criticism of the December 1943 Plenum resolution in which he writes:

“Democratic slogans are subordinate to transitional slogans and to programmatic fundamentals; democratic slogans must be constantly connected in our agitation to transitional slogans and programmatic fundamentals!”

We have never said otherwise, and we have never minimized the importance of democratic slogans placed in this framework. But where does Morrow now stand in relation to this conception? Has he sacrificed this also to his need for a bloc with tendencies which openly reject it?

With a cleverness which does not exactly command admiration, Morrow, in his attempt to refute the entire section of the reply which the ES made to him on this subject, answers, completely beside the mark, as we have already indicated, with a quotation from Trotsky who explains the reason why the objectively revolutionary situation which followed the first imperialist war did not result in the triumph of the revolution. The reason was the lack of experienced revolutionary parties. We have tried to explain patiently to Morrow that an objectively revolutionary situation, where the masses, urged on and driven by the objective conditions, prepare to engage in revolutionary action, is independent of whether or not a revolutionary party exists. Morrow now admits it, but he draws from it no conclusion regarding his own orientation. Such situations have existed and will exist, and it is through them that a revolutionary party will have the opportunities to grow, to educate itself and finally to conquer.

We have already explained to Morrow that the second imperialist war, like the first, has also been transformed in more than one country into civil war, into revolutionary action of the masses. We have cited for him the specific examples of Italy, Greece, China, Indo-China, Indonesia, and almost all the countries of Europe – including Germany – during the period between the departure and defeat of the German troops and the arrival of the Anglo-American and Russian armies. In all these countries where the masses engaged in revolutionary actions, spontaneously formed committees and militias, occupied the factories, objectively attacked through their whole struggle the bourgeois power, and objectively posed the question of their own power – they began in a certain sense the revolution.

Wasn’t it Morrow himself who greeted the fall of Mussolini in August 1943 in the following terms:

“At the beginning of the war, Trotsky wrote the Manifesto of the Fourth International on The Imperialist War and the Proletarian Revolution. For four years we have had the imperialist war. Now, the first stage of the proletarian revolution is beginning, as the Italian events demonstrate. Trotsky was murdered by Stalin before he could see his prediction come true. On the third anniversary of his death we are already permitted to see that his revolutionary optimism was based on the most scientific analysis of the course of events.” (Fourth International, August 1943.)

What has become of this revolutionary optimism? Looking for a stronger vantage point, Morrow returns to “our” erroneous perspective on the German revolution. This was, we repeat, the perspective, up to the end of 1944, of the entire International including that of Morrow. We have searched in vain in all of his writings up to the end of 1944 for a different perspective. In his criticism of the 1943 Plenum resolution he says not a word against this perspective.

The resolution of the November 1944 Convention of the SWP took up and developed this perspective, and we know of no document of Morrow’s which takes a position against it. It is only in 1945 that Morrow begins to be fully aware of the “error” of this perspective, – that is to say, when it is no longer a question of predicting but of asserting an actual fact, and when various comrades in the International were already asserting the same fact. [3]

Morrow modestly agrees to replace the obviously opportunist formulation of his letter of July 1945 to the EEC, by a quotation from Trotsky which means nothing else than this elementary truth: The triumph of the revolution, the ending of an objectively revolutionary situation in a victorious outcome, is impossible without the existence and the leadership of the revolutionary party. When and where have we denied this necessity? Morrow by a sleight-of-hand removes the problem and again avoids answering the questions which we have clearly put to him: Does he or does he not admit that the program, the slogans and the tasks of the Party flow chiefly not from the “political consciousness” of the proletariat and from the strength of the party, but from the objective conditions; and that in this sense, at least today in Europe, in spite of the influence of Stalinism and of reformism and the weakness of our forces, our program can be nothing else than, the Transitional Program in its entirety?

Does he or does he not admit that the objective conditions for the growth of our parties are not much more favorable than they were before the war?

Does he or does he not admit that the perspective for building our parties can be outlined only within the framework of a revolutionary upsurge and that this upsurge exists objectively at present?

All the rest and the so-called underestimation on our part of the importance of the party is nothing more than puerile verbiage. In order for the party to function and have influence, it must first of all exist as a force of some importance; and for it to exist and become a force, the objective conditions must be favorable, the masses must be moving into struggle in large part by themselves, they must enter, on their own motion and through their own experience, into conflict with the treacherous leaderships and come to understand our program.

We say today that such conditions exist and that our parties can grow by making intelligent application, according to the situation in each country, of our Transitional and Socialist Program.

Entrism: Is It Now Excluded?

Morrow is a great tactician. He has a sense “of organizational tactics, turns and maneuvers.”

Carried away by his polemic against the ES, Morrow furthermore commits some inexcusable excesses. Thus he confuses the February 1944 Theses of the European Conference with the January 1945 resolution of the EEC to which he attributes the perspective on the German revolution.

The same is true with Morrow’s unfounded statement regarding the observations on the slogan of the Constituent, which he attributes to the January 1945 Theses instead of to the Theses of the February 1944 European Conference. No such sentence exists in the January 1945 resolution.

Situated in the United States, with no previous investigation and no precise knowledge of actual conditions, he knows “positively that before or at the time of the liberation the comrades could have and should have entered or remained in the reformist parties of Italy, Belgium and Germany.”

On France, he now says, he was more cautious:

“About France I was not at all sure but asked whether the Malraux wing of the MLN – which published Franc-Tireur with a larger circulation than the Stalinist l’Humanité – did not offer an entrist tactic possibility.”

The ES, it is true, did not make the rapid decision of Comrade Morrow. It believed that in such a situation each section should give its own responsible opinion and that the final decision belonged to the European Executive Committee, on which there were representatives of various European sections. Morrow ignores the fact that the ES has asked each section, after thoroughly analyzing the situation in its country, to point out the best tactic, in its opinion, for its development.

For Italy, the question could not have been seriously posed because relations with the Italian section still remained very difficult. For Germany no final decision has been taken, because our work in that country was completely disorganized. This does not mean, however, that even in these countries we would necessarily in any case adopt the total entrist policy recommended by Morrow.

With regard to Belgium and France, no one in these two sections has considered or proposed their dissolution in another political formation. No one in France has given any thought to what Morrow calls the “Malraux wing of the MLN” and its paper Franc-Tireur, and one really had to be in America to discover this extraordinary milieu of work for the development of our movement. In Belgium as well as in France the comrades have always been unanimous in asserting that at the present stage our growth was through a combination of independent work and of fraction work in the CP and the SP.

As for England, where Morrow states that “everybody understands that our party must enter the Labor Party at the next opportunity,” it is not the ES but the comrades of our English majority (whom Morrow wrongly believes we consider as his political friends) who are most strongly opposed to immediate entry into the Labor Party. Morrow knows this well, but faithful to his tactic of making blocs indifferently with no matter who in the International against the SWP and now against the ES, he prefers to skip over the difficulty by the equivocal formula “at the next opportunity.”

Furthermore, it is significant indeed of the “sectarian” policy of the ES that on its own initiative the European Executive Committee in October 1945 adopted a resolution on the unification of the Communist and Socialist Parties, which reads:

“However, under the present conditions of the ideological retreat of the workers’ movement and in spite of the extreme maturity of the objective conditions for revolution, the unification of the Communist and Socialist Parties into one single party could under certain conditions constitute a relatively favorable step in eliminating for the masses the distinction between two political formations which hardly differ at all in their present reformist policy, in strengthening the regroupment of the working class and especially in allowing, through the establishment of an internal democratic regime such as the Stalinist bureaucracy can never accept in its own party, the development of revolutionary tendencies.

“This consideration may, in certain countries, have an influence on the tactics to be adopted by the sections of the Fourth International for the building of the revolutionary party.

“That is to say, it may be that, in face of the accomplished fact of the unification of the Socialist and Communist Parties, or during the process of unification, and under conditions which can be established as favorable (important progressive centrist currents, favorable internal democratic atmosphere, extreme weakness of our forces, etc.) – it may be that tactical considerations may indicate to certain sections of the Fourth International the abandonment of their own organizational independence.

“However, no such decision may be taken by any section without the formal assent of the leadership of the International.”

Morrow, fully armed, launches into a violent attack against what he calls the distortions of the reasons which led Trotsky between 1933 and 1938 to call for the policy of entry into the Social Democracy. In its first answer to Morrow the ES wrote:

“Trotsky advocated the ‘entrist’ policy with respect to the Social Democracy in a period of the general ebb of the labor movement following a long series of defeats and on the day after the victory of German fascism which sounded the tocsin for world reaction and accelerated the outbreak of the war.

Social Democracy which had still retained considerable influence among working class circles, was capable under the menace of fascism of again passing through a healthy reaction and of permitting, thanks to a more or less democratic internal atmosphere, the development of revolutionary tendencies (and this was only a hypothesis to be verified).

Morrow in his reply selects only the first paragraph, makes no mention of the second, and cries triumphantly:

“Trotsky called for entry first of all because there was a powerful current in the Social Democracy moving sharply to the left precisely because it was seeking to learn the lessons of the defeat in Germany.”

The ES has not denied the marked radicalization at that time within the Social Democracy, but it has not failed at the same time to emphasize that this radicalization was a sign of the crisis which the Social Democracy was entering and which reflected the general crisis of bourgeois democracy after the victory of fascism in Germany and the approach of the new war.

Since 1923 and especially since 1933, the successive defeats of the proletariat have determined, in spite of temporary leaps, a general line of retreat.

Does Morrow deny this truth while he cites “the old documents”? Let us examine these documents. In 1933, after the German defeat, in the theses in which he outlined the necessity of the new orientation towards building the Fourth International, Trotsky wrote:

“How explain the fact that our grouping, whose analysis and prognosis has been verified by the entire course of events, is growing so slowly? The cause must be looked for in the general course of the class struggle.

“The victory of fascism seizes tens of millions. Political prognoses are accessible only to thousands or tens of thousands who moreover feel the presence of millions. A revolutionary tendency cannot serve stormy victories at a time when the proletariat as a whole is suffering the greatest defeats.

“But this is no justification for letting one’s hands hang. Precisely in the periods of revolutionary ebb-tide are cadres formed and tempered, etc. ...”

In 1938 Trotsky, taking up this idea again, wrote in his article, A Great Achievement, on the Founding Conference of the Fourth International:

“The working class, especially in Europe, is still in retreat, or at best, in a state of expectancy. Defeats are still too fresh, and their number far from exhausted. They have assumed their sharpest form in Spain. Such are the conditions in which the Fourth International is developing. Is it any wonder that its growth proceeds more slowly than we should like?”

We say today that the period we are entering with the liquidation of the second imperialist war, differs precisely from the preceding period in the fact that the war and its consequences have recreated the revolutionary potential of the proletariat, have wiped out the impression of former defeats, have created objective conditions which greatly favor our development.

We say also that the Social Democracy no longer finds itself in the conditions which between 1933 and 1938 caused its crisis, the development of leftist tendencies and the enlargement of its internal democracy.

We say, finally, that to carry out in general at the present stage a total entrist policy in regard to the Social Democracy, such as Morrow calls for, without even having the possibility of an organ and of developing our program, would be political suicide.

When Trotsky called for the entrist policy he based this on a theoretical analysis of the whole situation, and he justified the choice of the Social Democracy from the fact that “the crisis of the democratic state of the bourgeoisie signifies of necessity the crisis of the Social Democratic Party.” (Verité, August 17, 1934).

From this assertion he then drew two conclusions: (a) That while the parliamentary democracy of the bourgeois state disappears the internal democracy of the Socialist Party on the contrary becomes an ever-greater reality,” and (b) “At the same time as the state becomes bonapartized and as the fascist danger approaches, the majority of the (Socialist) Party must inevitably become radicalized, and the internal differentiation, which is as yet far from complete, must enter a new phase.”

Nor did Trotsky fail to point out that if the tendency toward transformation of reformism into centrism could only be a general one in the period of the approach of fascism and of the crisis of bourgeois democracy, what remained decisive for the practical and especially the organizational conclusions, was “how this tendency is reflected – at a given stage of development – in the Socialist Party of a given country.” And he mentioned in this connection the difference which existed at that time between the situation in the French Socialist Party (moving toward the left) and the situation in the Belgian Socialist Party (moving toward the right).

What theoretical analysis of the present situation leads Morrow today to call for a general policy of entry into the Social Democracy?

We have not been able to discover it.

Where Does Morrow Stand Now?

We have tried to follow the arrangement of Comrade Morrow’s answer, and to give him satisfaction at least on the most important questions which he has posed.

But it is now our turn to ask him: Our line, correct or incorrect, is clear and we have always clearly explained it and defended it. But where does Morrow stand now? Does he now believe that his differences with the SWP majority, which he still admitted in May 1945 were not “fundamental in character,” have since then developed into principled differences?

Does he still have the same position on the national question which he defended from 1940 to 1943 against the Three Theses and against the Shachtmanites?

Is he still for the Trotskyist position on the question of the USSR, against “bureaucratic collectivism,” “Russian imperialism,” “Russian totalitarianism” and the other revisionist and confusionist formulas of Shachtman?

In what way, for example, does he distinguish himself from the French minority on the national question and on its present policy, and from the English majority on the question of entry into the Labor Party?

For to carry on a struggle by making a bloc with heterogeneous political tendencies and with those who have evaded all discussion that might throw a light on the differences which exist – that in our language is called unprincipled combinationism.

April 15, 1946


1. Why does Morrow insist so on this first testimony of the “political sympathy” that a member of the ES showed him, and not mention the second letter of Comrade P. who wrote him in November 1945 after having taken into consideration Morrow’s letter of July 10 and the new positions developed in it? Comrade P. gave him to understand then that he was embarking on a false course and that he thus risked losing all the sympathies he had won among the European comrades at the time of his first documents in criticism of the December 1943 Plenum resolution.

2. We will devote the June issue of Quatrième Internationale to an article covering this entire question.

3. Morrow mentions the case of a German comrade whose article was published in the March–June issue of Quatrième Internationale, the issue which also contains the resolution of the EEC of June 1945 correcting the perspective on Germany and with which Morrow at that time said he was in agreement. The broad outlines of this resolution had been established some months before by the ES as a whole.

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Michel Pablo
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Marxist Writers’

Updated on: 10 April 2015