Friday, January 10, 2014

From The Marxist Archives -The Revolutionary History Journal-With the Masses, Against the Stream-French Trotskyism in the Second World War

...the question of the right revolutionary response to imperialist war, and whatever else they were (vehicles for colonial liberation struggles, etc.) WWI and WWII were such wars, was developed by Lenin and the Bolsheviks during World War I. 

That position of revolutionary defeatism for your imperialist homeland however has been a tough nut to crack no more so that during WWII when the long knives were very sharp  and it was easy to become defensist for the losing imperialist side like in France during the Occupation.  As recent wars like the American occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have shown it is relatively easy (hell even bourgeois politician have fed at that trough) to oppose your side in the  wars aims it pursues it is another to call for its defeat as the lesser evil in the class struggle. Yet as the Bolshevik example showed there is not much wiggly room on this question to drive the struggle forward.   

Click below to link to the Revolutionary History Journal index.

Peter Paul Markin comment on this series:

This is an excellent documentary source for today’s leftist militants to “discover” the work of our forebears, particularly the bewildering myriad of tendencies which have historically flown under the flag of the great Russian revolutionary, Leon Trotsky and his Fourth International, whether one agrees with their programs or not. But also other laborite, semi-anarchist, ant-Stalinist and just plain garden-variety old school social democrat groupings and individual pro-socialist proponents.

Some, maybe most of the material presented here, cast as weak-kneed programs for struggle in many cases tend to be anti-Leninist as screened through the Stalinist monstrosities and/or support groups and individuals who have no intention of making a revolution. Or in the case of examining past revolutionary efforts either declare that no revolutionary possibilities existed (most notably Germany in 1923) or alibi, there is no other word for it, those who failed to make a revolution when it was possible.


The Spanish Civil War can serve as something of litmus test for this latter proposition, most infamously around attitudes toward the Party Of Marxist Unification's (POUM) role in not keeping step with revolutionary developments there, especially the Barcelona days in 1937 and by acting as political lawyers for every non-revolutionary impulse of those forebears. While we all honor the memory of the POUM militants, according to even Trotsky the most honest band of militants in Spain then, and decry the murder of their leader, Andreas Nin, by the bloody Stalinists they were rudderless in the storm of revolution. But those present political disagreements do not negate the value of researching the POUM’s (and others) work, work moreover done under the pressure of revolutionary times. Hopefully we will do better when our time comes.

Finally, I place some material in this space which may be of interest to the radical public that I do not necessarily agree with or support. Off hand, as I have mentioned before, I think it would be easier, infinitely easier, to fight for the socialist revolution straight up than some of the “remedies” provided by the commentators in these entries from the Revolutionary History journal in which they have post hoc attempted to rehabilitate some pretty hoary politics and politicians, most notably August Thalheimer and Paul Levy of the early post Liebknecht-Luxemburg German Communist Party. But part of that struggle for the socialist revolution is to sort out the “real” stuff from the fluff as we struggle for that more just world that animates our efforts. So read, learn, and try to figure out the
wheat from the chaff. 


Ian H. Birchall

With the Masses, Against the Stream-French Trotskyism in the Second World War

Revolutionary History, Vol.1, No.4, Winter 1988-89. Used by permission.
The following piece, an extended review of two French works on the history of Trotskyism in that country during the war, was written in 1981 by Ian Birchall of the Socialist Workers Party for his Party’s theoretical quarterly International Socialism. It was not published at the time, apparently because it was considered somewhat esoteric. The article is thus an attempt to make known some of the material available in French and to attempt some sort of analysis from the standpoint of the SWP.
The Editorial Board of Revolutionary History is very pleased to publish this article. We have no doubt that it will engender considerable disagreement and hope that those who have differences with Comrade Birchall on some of’ the points that he raises will take them up in their own journals or will write to us.

For Marxists, the Second World War remains an unsolved enigma. Yet it is one which continues to haunt us. The world we live in today is still, to a large extent, that of the ‘spheres of influence’ carved out by the victorious powers. And as our own crisis deepens, the poisonous doctrines of Nazism and Fascism swim once more to the surface. In fighting them we have quite legitimately mobilised the traditions of anti-Fascism. Yet it is necessary to be aware that those traditions are deeply rooted in the ideology of an imperialist war.
There can be no simple formula to resolve the enigma. The dangers of uncritical support for the Allied cause and of capitulation to the worst varieties of nationalism are all too apparent in the grotesque record of the Stalinist parties. Yet to argue that it made no difference whether or not Hitler was victorious is to collapse into the unrealistic sectarianism of the Comintern’s Third Period. The Allies did demolish Fascism (except in Spain and Portugal), and in some countries at least their victory did restore the rights of political and trade union organisation. Yet they did so at the price of – and in large measure in order to achieve – the strangling of a potential revolution.
The enigma may be illuminated, if not solved, by examining how those revolutionaries who lived – and died – during the war elaborated their line. The case in France, where one of the strongest Trotskyist currents in Europe had to fight for four years against the Gestapo and the Stalinists in order to maintain independent proletarian politics, is of particular interest. Two recent books have made available much of the documentation on this period. [1]
The Trotskyist movement entered the war armed with a theoretical perspective developed by Trotsky in the extensive writings of his final year, notably the Manifesto of the Fourth International on the Imperialist War and the Proletarian World Revolution of May 1940, written by Trotsky himself. When compared with the confusion and opportunism emanating from the reformist and Stalinist parties, Trotsky’s analyses were lucid and principled. They were, however, to prove wrong on a number of key questions.
Essentially, Trotsky believed the coming war would produce a cataclysmic upheaval in the world order. The political regime in Russia, he claimed, would ‘not survive the war’. [2] And in the West the consequences would be equally catastrophic:
‘All countries will come out of the war so ruined that the standard of living for the workers will be thrown back a hundred years. Reformist unions are possible only under the regime of bourgeois democracy. But the first to be vanquished in the war will be the thoroughly rotten democracy. In its definitive downfall it will drag with it all the workers’ organisations which serve as its support. Capitalist reaction will destroy them ruthlessly. [3]
In such a perspective there was no place for reformist politics. The Comintern was ‘already a corpse’ and the Second International was being ‘killed by the present war for the second time and, one must think, this time forever’. [4] Trotsky was even confident enough to name names:
Attlee and Pollitt, Blum and Thorez work in the same harness. In case of war the last remaining distinctions between them will vanish. All of them, together with bourgeois society as a whole, will be crushed under the wheel of history. [5]
By 1946 Attlee and Blum became Prime Ministers, Thorez headed France’s largest political party, and even Pollitt had seen his party achieve greater size and influence than at any time before or since.
The predictions had political implications. If reformism was, in effect, already dead, then the politics of the United Front, of slowly winning reformist mist workers away from their organisations by patient engagement in struggles for limited objectives, had no meaning. Socialism or barbarism was the immediate choice, and the Fourth International, whose sections at best counted their membership in hundreds, had to win millions within the space of a few years. The situation invited a search for short-cuts, in particular the pseudo-magic of ‘transitional demands’.
Trotsky sharply rejected any notion of taking sides in the war:
By his victories and bestialities, Hitler provokes naturally the sharp hatred of workers the world over. But between this legitimate hatred of workers and the helping of his weaker but less reactionary enemies is an unbridgeable gulf. The victory of the imperialists of Great Britain and France would not be less frightful for the ultimate fate of mankind than that of Hitler and Mussolini. Bourgeois democracy cannot be saved. By helping their bourgeoisie against foreign Fascism, the workers would only accelerate the victory of Fascism in their own country. The task posed by history is not to support one part of the imperialist system against another but to make an end of the system as a whole. [6]
Just as in 1914, Trotsky was urging his followers to swim against the stream. In doing so, he cut through the ideological claptrap of the ‘democracies’ opposed to Hitler. What he failed to do was to offer any real indication of a strategy which would enable the tiny Trotskyist current to relate to the broad anti-Fascist movement that would emerge in occupied Europe. [7]
At the start of the war French Trotskyism was in a state of some disarray. Entry into the PSOP and the subsequent disintegration of that party had left the movement deeply divided, [8] and the rapid military collapse of France followed by the German occupation left militants dispersed and disoriented. However, clandestine organisation and publication were fairly rapidly resumed, and four groupings emerged. Firstly, the pre-war Parti Ouvrier Internationaliste (POI), which had been deeply divided by entry into the PSOP, regrouped; initially it did not resume its title of party, but, recognising its modest potential, took the name of French Committees for the Fourth. At the end of 1942 it again adopted the name POI. This grouping was probably the largest, yet its membership was only about three to four hundred, almost all under the age of 25. [9] It had a clandestine printing press in the cellar of a suburban villa near Paris, and its paper La Verité appeared regularly. [10]
Militants of the pre-war Parti Communiste Internationaliste came together to form the Comité Communiste Internationaliste pour la construction de la IVe Internationale (CCI), which published the paper La Seule Voie. This was a tighter-knit group, more orientated to theory, which only very gradually developed an agitational practice.
Thirdly there was the Octobre group, which had evolved out of the pre-war Abondanciste movement, and developed towards Trotskyist positions. And finally there was the Lutte de Classes group which had broken from the rest of the French Trotskyist movement in 1940, primarily over its insistence on tighter organisational forms.
Early in 1944 the POI, CCI and Octobre groups agreed to unite into a single organisation, the Parti Communiste Internationaliste (PCI), which became the French section of the Fourth International. Only the Lutte de Classes group stood aside from the reunification – it was the forerunner of the Lutte Ouvrière grouping of today.


Working illegally under a repressive regime, the French Trotskyists had the greatest difficulties in obtaining reliable information on which to base a world analysis. Contacts with other sections of the International were tenuous and fraught with danger. The French Trotskyists always put the possibility of a German revolution at the centre of their perspective; but reliable information from Germany was hard to come by, and they seem to have greatly overestimated the indications of opposition in that country.
In this context, it is hardly surprising that all the groupings clung tenaciously to Trotsky’s 1940 analyses. As late as February 1944 the European Conference of the FI predicted that reformism would try to save capitalism again but would fail in the face of the absolute inability of capitalism to offer the slightest conciliating reform and in the face of the irresistible upsurge of the masses’. [11]
The Lutte de Classes grouping essentially shared this prospective, writing in May 1943:
In fact European capitalism cannot live on after this war without lowering the standard of living to its furthest limit and establishing a dictatorial political order. Longer and deeper economic crises than all those we have hitherto known, massive and permanent unemployment, low wages, rising prices, political slavery, these are the post-war perspectives if we permit capitalism a further spell of life. [12]
As for the CCI, they insisted as late as November 1943 that the reality of the American intervention in the war was, despite appearances, to oppose Russia rather than Germany:
The United States wants to preserve Hitler as a counter-revolutionary gendarme in Europe for as long as it will take them to overcome the resistance of the Stalinist bureaucracy, whose existence does not allow them the freedom of manoeuvre they need against the European revolution. [13]
The POI’s position was that revolutionaries could not simply ignore this upsurge of opposition, however nationalist it might be. Their position was confirmed by a resolution of the European Secretariat of the FI in December 1943:
Faced with the partly spontaneous character of the partisan movement, an expression of the open and inevitable revolt of broad layers of working people against German imperialism and against the order and the state of the native bourgeoisie who in their eyes are responsible for their poverty and suffering, the Bolshevik-Leninists are obliged to take into account this will to struggle on the part of the masses and to try, despite the many dangers deriving from the nationalist forms that this struggle assumes, to orient it towards class aims. [14]
This analysis of progressive nationalism echoes an earlier statement of the European Secretariat from 1942:
The national movement of the masses, far from having strictly nationalist roots, goes deep into one of the most fundamental contradictions of the capitalist system in the imperialist epoch; it is above all the manifestation in the form of nationalism of the radicalisation of the petit-bourgeoisie, a new expression of the revolt of the middle classes against big finance capital. [15]
In 1941 the POI had gone so far as to find in ‘the Gaullism of the workers, peasants and petit-bourgeoisie something basically healthy which means the will to fight to free the country from the Hitlerite yoke and to re-establish democratic freedoms and social gains’. [16] But by 1942 La Verité made it clear there could be no question of Popular Frontism:
Unity can be established this very day in the struggle for wages, for food supplies, against deportations to Germany. But it cannot and must not be established around a programme which once more subordinates the working class to the bourgeoisie. It must on the contrary open the way to the struggle of the working class for power. [17]
The POI, then, was ambiguous and less than consistent in its attitude to nationalism. But, in a sense, this was an academic question. For although some tentative links were made with Jean Moulin in early 1943, the POI never actually entered the Resistance movement; the question of its relation to nationalism remained on the level of propaganda. [18] And even if they had entered, it is unlikely they would have had any significant impact, given their size in relation to that of the PCF. The Insurgie group, made up of former members of the Pivertist PSOP, who did join the Resistance in order to push it towards a revolutionary line, appear to have had no impact. [19]
The other tendencies, above all the Lutte de Classes group, were highly critical of the POI’s alleged concessions to nationalism; but they do not seem to have evolved any alternative strategy for intervening in the movement.
One practical question on which the French Trotskyists were able to do limited but significant work was fraternisation with occupying Germany soldiers. They were not, of course, the only people to do so. In terms of sheer quantity the PCF distributed far more propaganda aimed at German troops. But what they produced fell within the normal framework of military propaganda aimed at demoralising enemy forces. It was within the framework of these analyses that the French Trotskyists had to face the practical question of how to relate to the growing Resistance movement. The harsh conditions imposed by the occupiers, and the imposition of forced labour and deportation, drove thousands upon thousands of people into active opposition. From 1941 onwards the movement was dominated by two tendencies, Gaullism and the French Communist Party (PCF), and the latter often outdid the former in terms of crude nationalism; their slogan was ‘chacun son boche’ (let everyone kill a Hun).


For the POI, on the other hand, the question of the German Revolution was central to their perspective; German workers in uniform were to be perceived, not as an object of a military tactic, but as part of the subject of revolutionary change.
La Verité reported, perhaps over optimistically, on instances of discontent and mutiny in the German ranks. A paper aimed at German soldiers, Arbeiter und Soldat (Worker and Soldier), was produced by a young German Trotskyist, Paul Widelin, and distributed in Paris and especially in Brest. [20]
Such work is a testimony to the courage and dedication of those involved, but its actual effectiveness seems to have been limited. However, the political line which led to this work ensured that the Trotskyists clearly demarcated themselves from the political line of the PCF, which supported and organised acts of individual violence against members of the occupying forces. The Trotskyists opposed this, in terms of classical Leninist opposition to terrorism as well as because of their perspective towards the German proletariat. As La Verité put it:
The terrorist act creates a barrier between French workers and German soldiers, but no victory is possible without unity between them. [21]
The potential of the fraternisation policy is shown by the ferocity of the repression exercised against it. In 1943 the Gestapo discovered a meeting in Brest and seventeen German soldiers and a French Trotskyist, Robert Cruau, were shot. In July 1944 Widelin was arrested by the Gestapo, tortured and left for dead; he was found and taken to hospital, but the Gestapo discovered him and this time succeeded in killing him.
By 1944 there were a number of cases of desertions and mutinies in the German occupying army – Angers, Correze, Beziers, Dijon, etc. In many cases, however, the soldiers in question were not in fact Germans, but soldiers of other nationalities – Tartars, Georgians and so on – who had been integrated into the army of occupation.
On balance, we can say that the Trotskyist strategy of fraternisation was politically correct, but that the hopes of a significant response were very over-optimistic. The key factor, which both confirmed the validity of the perspective and prevented its success, was the determination of the United States that Hitler should be crushed militarily and that there should be no question of a popular anti-Hitler rising in Germany which could threaten the security of capitalist domination of occupied Europe. Hence the publication of the Morgenthau Plan, which declared the intention to reduce Germany to the level of an agricultural country, and the Allied insistence on unconditional surrender. Though this may have prolonged the war, it effectively stifled any revolt in the German army or working class. [22] Given the relation of forces, there was little or nothing the revolutionary left could do to alter this situation.
The other question which helped define the French Trotskyists’ attitude to the war was, of course, the characterisation of the Russian state. Here ‘orthodox Trotskyism’ was unchallenged. (At the first Congress of the PCI in 1944 one delegate argued that Russia was imperialist, and then left to join the Council Communists.) Theoretically, this was a serious defect; but in practice the consequences were not so grave, since the movement still held firmly to Trotsky’s contention that the best way to defend Russia was to strengthen the international working class and advance the cause of world revolution. The tendency to abstract the ‘defence of the Soviet Union’ from a revolutionary context and to glorify the Red Army as an agency of Socialist expansion still lay in the future. But the analysis of Russian society as essentially unstable did undoubtedly reinforce the tendency to develop a cataclysmic perspective of events at the end of the war. In January 1944 the European Conference of the FI declared:
The war, making contradictions of the Russian economy intolerably acute, has inescapably struck the hour for the liquidation of the Russian bureaucracy. [23]
But, although in retrospect we might wish to clarify certain aspects of their analysis, the real problem for French Trotskyism in the Second World War was not the political perspective; it was the ability to influence events. With a real implantation they might well have been effective; but the movement entered the war with no such implantation, and ended it little better off.
The key question, therefore, was their relation to the mass of workers still under the influence of reformist ideas. And here their continued adherence to Trotsky’s perspectives of 1940 was to prove disastrous. The French Trotskyists remained convinced that there could be no post-war revival of bourgeois democracy, and hence no political space for reformism. Commenting on the impact of the dissolution of the Comintern in 1943, La Verité declared:
These are only the first echoes of the crisis which will soon sweep away Stalinism as an ideology foreign to the proletariat. [24]
Meanwhile, of course, the PCF, working inside the Resistance on the basis of essentially nationalist politics, was growing rapidly. And, since the new recruits were being won to an openly nationalist and reformist programme, there could be no hope that they would be disillusioned by their leaders and seek an alternative to the left.


A central problem was therefore the relation of the economic struggle to political struggle. Undoubtedly the working class bore the heaviest burden during the occupation – wage-freeze, anti-strike laws, unemployment and longer hours. From 1942 workers were deported to work in Germany. And the fightback that came often started around economic rather than immediate political issues. The miners’ strike of May 1941, the first major struggle against the occupiers, began with demands for money, bread and soup. Strikes continued during the occupation, and despite the fact that employers could draw on support from the German military authorities, some struggles were won.
Important efforts were made to work within the industrial milieu. By 1944 Trotskyist papers had appeared for a number of industrial groups – firefighters, railway workers, miners, telephonists – though most of them were short lived. But the tendency to seek shortcuts was illustrated by the decision, in 1943, of the CCI to ‘industrialise’ all its student members – several of whom succeeded in creating small factory groups. The Lutte de Classes group gave priority to factory organisation.
Yet despite the determination shown by the militants, the task of industrial implantation presented enormous problems. On the one hand was the danger of simply submerging oneself into the day-today economic struggles. In July 1944 the PCI internal bulletin reported on the success of the members in Nantes in producing a workers’ paper Front Ouvrier. This had taken up local grievances – for example poor conditions in a factory canteen – and had become very popular among the workers, who enthusiastically helped to distribute it. Yet the paper failed to draw out a clear political line; as a result many workers believed that the paper was produced by the PCF. [25]
Yet on the other hand militants of a tiny organisation found it difficult to integrate with their fellow-workers; as an article in the POI internal bulletin from April 1943 puts it:
Our comrades don’t go to the canteen with their workmates because they have too many other things to do, and they’re wrong. They change address frequently and local contacts suffer as a result. This tends to make Bolshevik-Leninists a sort of social category which is alien to the others, and having only rare and difficult points of contact with the others. [26]
Moreover, for quite a long time the Trotskyists seem to have neglected, under the conditions of illegality, the question of trade union work. Only in 1944 did the PCI move to a position of stressing the fight inside the unions. The PCF, on the other hand, had not only built the CGT in clandestinity, but also worked inside the pro-Vichy official unions. [27] It was this work that undoubtedly gave the PCF the implantation that enabled it to carry out its non-revolutionary line in 1944-45.
Isolation made serious application of the United Front tactic difficult. The strategy of the ‘front ouvrier’ (workers’ front) adopted at the beginning of 1944 aimed to regroup revolutionary workers into workers’ groups as a first step towards the establishment of workers’ committees. [28] In practice such a strategy was both too ambitious and too late.
Early in 1944, the PCF decided to build armed groups of workers in the factories (patriotic workers’ militias). Initially La Verité denounced these as a ‘nationalist trap’, and it was only towards the end of May that the line changed and the PCI called on workers to ‘join the militias in your factories, whatever label they have, and make them into effective workers’ militias’. [29] Once again, this was too late for effective United Front work.
In August 1944, at the moment of the liberation of Paris the PCI issued an appeal for a United Front with the PCF and the Socialist Party. Needless to say, no reply was ever received; without any prior preparation in terms of United Front at the base, the mass reformist parties could afford to treat the Trotskyists with contempt. [30]
It is, of course, a frequent phenomenon for small groupings to make their own weakness into a virtue; and the French Trotskyist movement was no exception. The worst offender in this respect was the grouping around La Seule Voie. This argued right up until 1943 that the key task was not to work among the masses, but rather to form a disciplined and theoretically trained cadre which would eventually be able to take advantage of a changed situation. Against this the POI grouping insisted that a cadre could be trained and a party built only through the experience of involvement in the mass struggle. [31]
In retrospect the 1944 fusion of the POI and the CCI may be seen as less than the major step forward which it appeared to offer at the time. If the POI had carried on with its own more open orientation, instead of compromising with the much more unhealthy sectarian elements in the CCI [32], it might have had more chance of taking advantage of the situation that opened up in 1944. The pursuit or ‘Trotskyist unity’ meant that much time and energy was diverted into internal debate and negotiation.
The Normandy landings in June 1944 opened up a new social dynamic. For the Lutte de Classes group nothing had changed; it refused to seek the right to publish legally and its paper continued to appear as a clandestine publication, arguing:
Today the bourgeoisie is trying to manoeuvre the Fourth International movement in France by granting permission to appear legally to a paper which claims to belong to the movement. We denounce this manoeuvre, and we also denounce the compromise of those who believe that they can really fight against imperialist war with the authorisation and under the control of bourgeois censorship. [33]
The PCI’s line in La Verité was rather more sensitive to the possibilities of the new situation:
The PCI says to workers: you’ve had enough of the war; you want to be really liberated; trust no-one but your own class. Don’t trust Eisenhower. Get organised today in militias, stay grouped in your own factory which is your bastion; don’t let yourself be mobilised in the army of liberation; prepare for a new June 1936: you must elect your factory committee, your soviet, to free yourself from your proletarian slavery. [34]
To put this line into practice was quite another matter. Workers’ committees were set up in many places; and if the PCF had a tight grip in many cases, militants of the PCI took the initiative or played leading roles in a number of cases. Often, however, they did so on the basis of personal credibility rather than as representatives of a distinct political current; certainly they were quite unable to challenge the PCF’s grip on the majority of the class. [35]
On the contrary, the reformist forces were able effectively to stifle the voice of the POI; La Verité was persistently, under PCF pressure, refused permission to appear legally. The novelist Andre Malraux and Gaston Deferre (who recently served in Mitterrand’s cabinet) were among those who conspired at this suppression of press freedom. [36]
From now on the movement was downhill. While immediate seizure of power was unlikely in 1944, a rising tide of struggle might have produced a revolutionary situation within two or three years. Instead, the PCF co-opted and tamed the movement. The Trotskyist movement retained a certain degree of influence up to the time of the Renault strike in 1947, before falling apart in a series of debilitating internal disputes. [37]
The story of French Trotskyism in the Second World War is, despite the enormous courage and determination of those involved, one of failure. To ask whether that failure was inevitable can only be an exercise in idle speculation. What we can learn from that experience is, firstly, the possibility of fighting for principled internationalism even against enormous odds; and secondly the danger, even in the deepest crisis, of underestimating the power of reformism.
Ian Birchall


1. J. Pluet-Despatin, Les Trotskystes et la Guerre 1940-1944, Paris 1980; Y. Craipeau, Contre Vents et Marees, Paris, 1977. Pluet-Despatin’s work is essentially academic in tone, based on the laborious attempt to reassemble what remain of the clandestine publications of the period. Craipeau was a leading figure of the French Trotskyist movement until 1947. His work gains from the insights of personal experience, but often seems to be written as a justification of Craipeau’s positions against those of his political opponents.
2. L. Trotsky, On the Eve of World War II, Writings of Leon Trotsky 1939-40, New York 1973, p.18.
3. L. Trotsky, Manifesto of the Fourth International on the Imperialist War and the Proletarian World Revolution, ibid., p.213. Trotsky’s positions caused problems for some of his more dogmatic followers in the post-war period. Thus James P. Cannon wrote: ‘We disagree with some people who carelessly think the war is over ... The war is not over, and the revolution which we said would issue from the war in Europe is not taken off the agenda’. (The Militant, 17 November 1945) There is, of course, a bizarre logic to Cannon’s comments; since the Second World War there have been over a hundred local or civil wars; virtually every one of them can be traced back to unresolved conflicts stemming from the Second World War. Trotsky was right to see that the war would solve nothing; wrong in failing to see that the system would find new ways of patching itself up for a comparatively long period.
4. L. Trotsky, Stalin – Hitler’s Quartermaster, op. cit., p.80 and Manifesto ..., ibid., p.208.
5. L. Trotsky, Progressive Paralysis, ibid., p.43.
6. L. Trotsky, Manifesto ..., ibid., p.221.
7. Trotsky further muddied the waters by his advocacy that the American SWP should pursue what came to be known as the Proletarian Military Policy. Trotsky’s argument was that the SWP should not oppose conscription. ‘We are absolutely in favour of compulsory military training and in the same way for conscription. Conscription? Yes. By the bourgeois state’! No.’ (On Conscription, ibid., p.321) ‘We will defend the United States with a workers’ army, with workers’ officers, with a workers government, etc.’ (American Problems, ibid., p.333) What such a demand could mean on the part of a tiny group like the SWP is quite unclear. It presents an unrealisable and hence abstract alternative, which in practice leads to a capitulation to the Roosevelt government’s war effort. Equally lamentable are some of the arguments that Trotsky used to defend his position: ‘The Institute of Public Opinion established that over 70 per cent of workers are in favour of conscription ... We place ourselves on the same ground as the 70 per cent of the workers.’ (How to Really Defend Democracy, ibid., p345) A revolutionary policy based on opinion polls would lead to some strange conclusions. ‘Conscription under workers’ control’ has no more merit than the call for ‘incomes policy under workers’ control’ hawked in some Trotskyist circles a few decades later.
8. Cf. I. Birchall, Too Much. Too Little. Too Late, International Socialism 2/13.
9. Y. Craipeau, op. cit., p.93.
10. For the sake of simplicity, this group will be referred to as the POI throughout.
11. Pluet-Despatin. op. cit., p.160.
12. ibid., p.139.
13. ibid., p.120.
14. Craipeau, op. cit.. p.203.
15. Pluet-Despatin. op. cit., pp.86-7.
16. ibid., p.84.
17. Craipeau, op. cit., pp.112-3.
18. ibid., p.181.
19. ibid. p.205.
20. Cf. ibid., pp.129-30. By the nature of things, few copies of such publications survived, and there seems to be a doubt as to how many issues of Arbeiter und Soldat appeared.
21. La Verité, 15 March 1942: Craipeau. op. cit., p.120.
22. For a confirmation of this analysis from a source which can scarcely be suspected of Trotskyism, cf. Chester Wilmot, The Struggle for Europe, London 1959, p.632: ‘By coupling the Morgenthau Plan with the demand for “Unconditional Surrender” Goebbels convinced the mass of the German people that their only hope of saving the Fatherland and themselves lay in giving unconditional obedience to the Führer and unconditional resistance to their enemies ... the underground opposition, crippled and disrupted by the purge which followed the ill-fated attentat of 20 July, was powerless.’
23. Craipeau, op. cit., p250.
24. La Verité; 30 July 1943: Craipeau. op. cit., p.209.
25. ibid., p.260.
26. Pluet-Despatin, op. cit., p.145.
27. ibid., pp.192-3.
28. Craipeau, op. cit., p.251.
29. ibid., pp.268-70.
30. Pluet-Despatin, op. cit., pp.200-2.
31. Cf Craipeau, op. cit.. pp 147-8 Pluet-Despatin. op. cit.. ppIO9. 131-3.
32. One of the leading members of the CCI was Pierre Lambert, who today leads the rightist-sectarian OCI.
33. Lutte de Classes, 19 September 1944, quoted by Y. Craipeau, La Liberation Confisquée, Paris 1978, p.104.
34. La Verité, 22 June 1944: Craipeau, op. cit., p.19.
35. ibid., pp.41-4, 53-7.
36. ibid., pp.105-7.
37. Cf. Duncan Hallas, Fourth International in Decline, International Socialism 1/60.

Revolutionary History, Vol.1, No.4, Winter 1988-89
Editor: Al Richardson
Deputy Editors: Ted Crawford and Mike Howgate
Business Manager: Barry Buitekant
Production and Design Manager: Paul Flewers
Editorial Board: John Archer, David Bruce, William Cazenave, Keith Hassell, Ravi Jamieson, George Leslie, Sam Levy, Jon Lewis, Charles Pottins, Jim Ring, Bruce Robinson and Ernest Rogers.
ISSN 0953-2382
Copyright © 1989 Socialist Platform, BCM 7646, London WC1N 3XX
Typeset by Junius Publications Ltd (TU), BCM JPLtd, London WC1N 3XX
Printed by Dot Press Ltd (TU), Folly Bridge Workshops, Thames Street, Oxford, OX1 ISU

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