The task of communists emphasized by Leon Trotsky in the last of the three discussions in Mexico in 1939the building of parties that are proletarian in composition, not just in program and strategywas central to the revolutionary continuity he was organizing his co-thinkers in the Socialist Workers Party and worldwide to put into practice.
Trotsky had summarized this course much earlier in a June 13, 1932, letter urging the leadership of the world communist movement to actively work to recruit a group of Black workers in Johannesburg, South Africa, who had asked to join.
The Johannesburg comrades may not as yet have had the opportunity to acquaint themselves more closely with the views of the Left Opposition on all the most important questions. But this cannot be an obstacle to our working together with them as closely as possible at this very moment, and helping them in a comradely way to come into the orbit of our program and our tactics.
When ten intellectuals, whether in Paris, Berlin, or New York, who have already been members of various organizations, address themselves to us with a request to be taken into our midst, I would offer the following advice: put them through a series of tests on all the programmatic questions; wet them in the rain, dry them in the sun, and then after a new and careful examination accept maybe one or two.
The case is radically altered when ten workers connected with the masses turn to us. The difference in our attitude to a petty-bourgeois group and to the proletarian group does not require any explanation. But if a proletarian group functions in an area where there are workers of different races and, in spite of this, remains composed solely of workers of a privileged nationality, then I am inclined to view them with suspicion. Are we not dealing perhaps with the labor aristocracy? Isnt the group infected with slaveholding prejudices, active or passive?
It is an entirely different matter when we are approached by a group of Negro workers. Here I am prepared to take it for granted in advance that we shall achieve agreement with them, even if such an agreement is not yet evident, because the Negro workers, by virtue of their whole position, do not and cannot strive to degrade anybody, oppress anybody, or deprive anybody of his rights. They do not seek privileges and cannot rise to the top except on the road of the international revolution.
We can and we must find a way to the consciousness of the Negro workers, the Chinese workers, the Indian workers, and all the oppressed in the human ocean of the colored races to whom belongs the decisive word in the development of mankind.