Leon Trotsky

It Is High Time to Launch a World
Offensive Against Stalinism

An Open Letter to All Worker’ Organizations

(November 1937)

Written: 2 November 1937.
Published: Socialist Appeal, Vol. 1 No. 15, 20 November 1937, pp. 5 & 7.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2014. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.

The world social movement is being consumed by a terrible disease. The source of contagion is the Comintern, or to put it more correctly, the G.P.U. for whom the apparatus of the Comintern serves only as a legal cover. The events of the last few months in Spain have shown what crimes the unbridled and completely degenerated Moscow bureaucracy and its hirelings from among the declassed international scum are capable of. It is not a question of “incidental” murders or “incidental” frame-ups. In question is a conspiracy against the world labor movement.

The Moscow trials could, of course, have taken place only under a totalitarian regime, where the G.P.U. dictates alike the conduct of defendants, the prosecution, and the defense. But these judicial frame-ups were from the outset designed as a starting point for a crushing offensive against the opponents of the Moscow clique on the world arena. On March 3 Stalin delivered a speech at a plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU in which he declared that “the Fourth International consists two-thirds of spies and diversionists.” This brazen and truly Stalinist declaration already indicated quite clearly at what the Kremlin Cain was aiming. His designs are not confined, however, to the framework of the Fourth International. In Spain the POUM, which was itself in an irreconcilable conflict with the Fourth International, was enrolled among the “Trotskyites.” After the POUM came the turn of anarcho-syndicalists and even left Socialists. And now, all those who protest against the repression of anarchists are being enrolled among the Trotskyites. The frame-ups and crimes are mounting at a fearful rate. Isolated and especially scandalous details may, of course, be accounted for by excessive zeal on the part of individual agents. But the activity as a whole is rigidly centralized, and is being conducted in accordance with a plan elaborated by the Kremlin.

An ECCI Plenum Served to Prepare The World Murder Campaign

On April 21 an emergency plenum of the ECCI convened in Paris, at which the most trusted representatives of 17 most important sections participated. The sessions were strictly secret in character. The world press carried only a brief dispatch mentioning the fact that the deliberations of the plenum were devoted to an international struggle against Trotskyism. The instructions came from Moscow, directly from Stalin. Neither the discussion nor the decisions have been published. As is evident from the information at our disposal, and from all the ensuing events, this mysterious plenum was in reality a conference of the most important international agents of the G.P.U. for the purpose of preparing a campaign of framed accusations, denunciations, kidnappings and assassinations against the adversaries of Stalinism in the labor movement the world over.

At the time of the Zinoviev-Kamenev trial (August 1936) there was still some wavering in the ranks of the Comintern. Despite the efforts of hoary hirelings of the G.P.U. like Jacques Duclos in France, even the inured cadres of the Comintern were loath to prostrate themselves in the mud which was soaked with fresh blood. But within a few months, the resistance of the waverers was broken down. The entire press of the Comintern, which Stalin keeps in a dog-collar of gold, was drawn into an orgy of slander unprecedented in vileness and cruelty. The guiding role was assigned, as it always is, to the emissaries of Moscow like Michael Koltsov, Willie Muenzenberg and other scoundrels. Pravda confidently promised that the purge in Spain would be conducted with the same ruthlessness as in the USSR. Its words were followed with deeds: framed documents against the POUM, assassinations of anarchist writers, the murder of Andres Nin, the kidnapping of Erwin Wolfe, the kidnapping of Mark Rein, dozens of less prominent stabbings in the back or murders from ambush, incarcerations in Stalin’s extra-territorial prisons in Spain, confinement in these prisons in special cells, beating and infliction of all sorts of physical and moral torture! – all this under the cover of continuous, crude, poisonous and truly Stalinist slander.

The G.P.U. Works on a World Scale with Anyone Who Will Serve

In Spain, where the so-called Republican Government serves as a legal shield for Stalin’s criminal gangs, the G.P.U. found the most favorable arena for fulfilling the directives of the April plenum. But matters were not confined to Spain alone. The French and British military staffs, as appears from the press of the Comintern itself, were supplied with some sort of mysterious documents pertaining to “Trotsky’s meeting with Rudolf Hess.” The Czech military staff was handed forged correspondence intended to establish a connection between the Gestapo and an old German Revolutionist, Anton Grylewicz. Jacques Duclos tried to link up the “Troskyites” with mysterious terrorist acts in Paris, concerning which the GPU could doubtless have supplied some information to the French police. On September 4, in Lausanne, Ignace Reiss was murdered, only because, horrified at the crimes of Stalin, he had publicly broken with Moscow. Some of Reiss’s assassins have been arrested.

They are members of the Comintern and agents of the G.P.U. recruited from among Russian White Guards. The investigation of the French and Swiss court authorities provides every ground for the assumption that this very gang had committed a whole series of hitherto unrevealed crimes. White Guards serve Stalin as assassins, just as they serve him in the guise of prosecutors (Vyshinsky), publicist (M. Koltsov, Zaslavsky etc.) or diplomats (Troyanovsky, Maisky, and the rest of the fraternity).

No sooner did military activities begin in the Far East than Stalin launched a crushing offensive against his revolutionary opponents in China. The method is identical with that applied in Spain. Stalin sells to Chiang Kai-shek, as to Negrin, products of Soviet industry at high prices, and with the income thus obtained pays his falsifiers, journalistic swindlers, and hired assassins. On October 5, a cable dispatch from Shanghai appeared in the New York Daily Worker, accusing Chinese “Trotskyites” in Kwangsi of an alliance with the Japanese General Staff. The Daily Worker is an organ of the G.P.U. published in New York; its Shanghai correspondent is a G.P.U. agent who fulfills the decisions – of the April plenum. Informed Chinese sources have in the meantime ascertained that there was and is no Trotskyist organization in Kwangsi. (Socialist Appeal, October 16) But this does not alter the situation: The Shanghai cable signifies that in China there has opened the chapter of framed documents, kidnappings of “Trotskyites” and murders from ambush. The prisons of Chiang Kai-shek have already in them not a few impeccable revolutionists. Their lives are now being directly threatened by Stalin.

The Amazing Testimony of a Canadian Communist Who Revolted

The Canadian Communist, Henry Beattie, who participated as a volunteer for four months on the Spanish front, and who was then sent back to his own country as an agitator by the militiamen themselves, has recently recounted in the press how the party of Canadian Stalinists had compelled him to say at public meetings that Trotskyites in Spain “shot wounded militia-men.” For a while, Beattie, according to his own statement, fulfilled this monstrous order, “submitting to party discipline,” i.e. to the decision of that same secret plenum directed by Stalin. Today, after Beattie escaped from the poisoned atmosphere of the Comintern into the clear air outside he is of course branded as a spy and a diversionist, and it is even possible that there is a price on his head. When it comes to such understandings Stalin is not stingy: the technical expenses alone for the murder of Ignace Reiss amounted to 300,000 francs! To cover up or justify these crimes, dozens of foreign bourgeois journalists of the Walter Duranty-Louis Fisher school are kept on the payrolls of the G.P.U. It has long been no secret to those able to read between the lines that the amiable-critical-equivocal dispatches and articles from Moscow signed by “independent” names, often accompanied with a notation “uncensored,” are in reality written under the dictation of the G.P.U. and have as their aim to reconcile world public opinion with the sinister figure of the Kremlin Cain. “Independent” journalists of this type differ from the Messers Durianty only in this, that they come at a higher price. But the reporters are not the only ones mobilized. Writers with high-sounding or famous names like Romain Rolland, the deceased Barbusse, Malraux, Heinrich Mann or Feuchtwanger are in effect pensioners of the G.P.U., which pays liberally for the “moral” services of these friends through the medium of the State Publishing House.

The Headers of the Second International and Their Relation to Stalin

There is a somewhat different but not greatly improved situation with regard to the leaders of the Second and Labor International. Out of considerations of diplomatic or internal-apolitical character Leon Blum, Leon Jouhaux, Vandervelde and their compeers in other countries have organized, in the full sense of the term, a conspiracy of silence around the crimes of the Stalinist bureaucracy both in the USSR and on the world arena. Negrin and Prieto are direct accomplices of the G.P.U. All this they do – under the guise of defending “democracy!”

We know that the enemy is powerful; he has a long reach; gold clinks in his pockets. He covers himself with the authority of the revolution which he is strangling and dishonoring. But we also know something else: however powerful the enemy may be, he is not omnipotent. Despite the Kremlin’s treasury and apparatus and legion of “friends,” truth is beginning to cut a path, for itself into the consciousness of the labor masses of the world. Drunk with impunity, Stalin has grossly over-stepped that boundary which caution dictates even to the most privileged criminal. It is possible to dupe so brazenly only those who want to be duped. Not a few of the dubious luminaries belong to this category. But the masses do not want to be deceived. They need the truth. They are striving for it, and they will attain it.

No longer bound by any principles, Stalin has over-stepped the final boundary. Precisely therein is weakness. He is still able to kill. But he cannot halt the truth. More and more worker-communists, socialists and anarchists are being seized by alarm. Even Stalin’s allies in the Second International are beginning to cast fearful glances at the Kremlin. Many literary “friends” have already cautiously withdrawn to the sidelines under the pretext of “neutrality.” But this is only the beginning.

The Truth Will Out: We Must Organize to Make It Known

Ignace Reiss was not the last to bring us his revelations. The murderers of Reiss apprehended in Switzerland and France, may disclose a good many things. Thousands of revolutionary volunteers in Spain will spread throughout the globe the truth about the hang-man of the revolution. Thinking workers are asking themselves: “To what end is all this? What aim is this endless chain of crimes serving?” And the answer is hammering its way into their minds: Stalin is preparing his “coronation” over the ruins of the revolution and the corpses of revolutionists.

The Bonapartist coronation of Stalin must coincide with his political death for the working class movement. It is necessary to rally the efforts of all revolutionists, all honest workers, all true friends of the proletariat, to purge the ranks of the emancipatory movement from the horrible contagion of Stalinism. There is only one way to attain this: By disclosing to the workers the truth, without exaggerations, but also without any embellishment. The program of action thus flows well nigh automatically from the situation itself.

We must definitely establish and make public the names of all the national delegates who participated in the recent Paris plenum, as the men directly responsible for the organization of frame-ups, kidnapping, and murders in the respective countries.

We must definitely establish and make public the names of all foreign Stalinists who either held or are holding any kind of military, police, or administrative posts in Spain. All these individuals are agents of the G.P.U. implicated in the crimes committed in Spain. We must carefully follow the international Stalinist press, as well as the “literary” activity of the avowed and under-cover friends of the G.P.U., inasmuch as from the character of the fumes they emit it is often possible to forecast what new crimes Stalin is preparing.

It is necessary to institute in all labor organizations a regime of rigid mistrust of everyone directly or indirectly connected with the Stalinist apparatus. One must always expect any kind of perfidy on the part of the agents of the Comintern who are the spineless tools of the G.P.U.

We must tirelessly gather printed material, documents, testimonials of witnesses concerning the criminal work of the agents of the G.P.U.-Comintern. We must periodically publish in the press rigorously substantiated conclusions drawn from these materials.

It is necessary to open the eyes of public opinion to the fact that the honeyed and lying propaganda of many philosophers, moralists, aesthetes, artists, pacifists and labor “leaders” in defense of the Kremlin, under the guise of “defense of the Soviet Union” is paid for liberally in Moscow gold. These gentlemen must be covered with the infamy they so richly have earned.

Never before has the labor movement had in its own ranks so vicious, dangerous, powerful and unscrupulous an enemy as Stalin’s clique and its international agentry. Remissness in the struggle against this enemy is tantamount to betrayal. Only windbags and dilettantes but not serious revolutionists can confine themselves to pathetic outbursts of indignation. It is necessary to have a plan and an organization. It is urgent to create special commissions which would follow the maneuvers, intrigues and crimes of the Stalinists, warn the labor organizations of danger in store, and elaborate the best methods of parrying and resisting the Moscow gangsters.

It is necessary to publish appropriate literature and collect funds for its publication. In each country a book should be issued, exposing completely the respective section of the Comintern.

We possess neither a state apparatus nor hired friends. Nevertheless we confidently fling our challenge to the Stalinist gang before all mankind. Our hands will not hang. Some among us may still fall in this struggle. But its general outcome is predetermined. Stalinism will be laid low, crushed, and covered forever with infamy. The world working class will march out onto the open road.

Coyoacan, Nov. 2, 1937

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Last updated on: 21 November 2014