Leon Trotsky

The Anniversary of the Russian Revolution

Right of Revolutionary Optimism

(Late 1939)

First Published: Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 87, 14 November 1939, p. 1.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2018. Creative Commons (Attribute & Share-alike).

In the weekly of the well-known newspaper Paris-Soir ofAugust 31, 1939, an extremely instructive conversation is reportedbetween the French ambassador Coulondre and Hitler on August 25, atthe time of their last interview. (The source of the information isundoubtedly Coulondre himself.) Hitler sputters, boasts of the pactwhich he concluded with Stalin (“a realistic pact”) and“regrets” that German and French blood will be spilled.

“But,” Coulondre objects, “Stalin displayedgreat double-dealing. The real victor (in case of war) will beTrotsky. Have you thought this over?”

“I know,” Der Fuehrer responds, “but why didFrance and Britain give Poland complete freedom of action?”etc.

These gentlemen like to give a personal name to the spectre ofrevolution. But this of course is not the essence of this dramaticconversation, at the very moment when diplomatic relations wereruptured. “War will inevitably provoke revolution”; therepresentative of imperialist democracy, himself chilled to themarrow, frightens his adversary.

“I know,” Hitler responds, as if it were a questiondecided long ago. “I know.” Astonishing dialogue!

Both of them, Coulondre and Hitler, represent the barbarism whichadvances over Europe. At the same time neither of them doubt thattheir barbarism will be conquered by socialist revolution. Such isnow the awareness of the ruling classes of all the capitalistcountries of the world. Their complete demoralization is one of themost important elements in the relation of class forces. Theproletariat has a young and still weak revolutionary leadership. Butthe leadership of the bourgeoisie rots on its feet. At the veryoutset of the war which they could not avert, these gentlemen areconvinced in advance of the collapse of their regime! This fact alonemust be for us the source of invincible revolutionary optimism!

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Last updated on: 19 April 2016