Fourth International & Trotskyism

One organisation that took the post-war IS position of the Fourth International to its logical, and absurd, conclusion was the IKD, an organisation of German and Austrian Trotskyists who had spent most of the war years in exile in Britain. It published a statement in 1943 in which it argued that the occupation of Europe by nazi Germany had led to an economic regression', that is, to the destruction of technology and advanced methods of production, in favour of small and even handicraft techniques. At the same time, the democratic rights of the masses had been completely destroyed. The conclusion they drew was that the basic tasks in the post-war period would be the struggle

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After WWII, the leadership of the Fourth International were still repeating old and out-dated ideas. Among such leaders was Pierre Frank, one of the leaders of the Parti Communiste Internationaliste (PCI), the French section of the International. He wrote an article which argued that in Western Europe, there had been established only Bonapartist governments, ie 'Governments by the Sword', denying, in other words, that 'normal' capitalist democracy existed. Ted Grant's reply was a devastating critique of Frank's muddled and un-Marxist approach.

This document was presented by Ted Grant as a policy document at the March 1945 Central Committee of the RCP, approved in August at the national conference and printed in Workers International News in September. The resolution presents a broad analysis, an estimation of the political situation coming out of the war and a tentative perspective for the future.

In an attempt to discredit the Trotskyists once again, the CP attempted to disorient and confuse the working class by spreading out-and-out lies on the Chinese Revolution. Ted Grant replies to these points in a effort to set the record straight and expose the methods of the Stalinists.

In 1942 the British Stalinists launched a vicious campaign of slander and lies against Trotskyism. Ted Grant, in the best traditions of Marxism, used the weapon of truth to reply to the Stalinists, whose methods were without honour, truth and conscience.

In 1942 a slanderous campaign against the Socialist Appeal waged by the Communist Party leaders was backed up by the Sunday Dispatch, infamous for its early enthusiastic support of Hitler, Mosley and the Blackshirts. They shamelessly joined forces to accuse the Trotskyists of being Hitler's agents! Here is Ted Grant's reply to these slanders.

As part of a general attempt to slander revolutionary ideas as pro-Nazi, the Labour Party's newspaper, Daily Herald, ‘accidentally' included the report on the trial of the Minneapolis General Drivers' Union, also leaders of the Socialist Workers' Party (Fourth International), into a report of the trial of 33 German spies. Here is the vibrant protest of the Workers' International League, by Ted Grant.

In the good old days when people referred to the crisis of Marxism they had in mind some specific proposition of Marx which had allegedly failed to withstand the test of facts, namely: the theory of the sharpening of the class struggle, the so-called "theory of impoverishment" and the so-called theory of "catastrophic collapse" of capitalism. These three principal points served as the target for bourgeois and reformist criticism. Today it is simply impossible to engage in a controversy over these issues. Who will undertake to prove that social contradictions are not sharpening but rather softening? In the United States, Mr. Ickes, the Secretary of the Interior, and other high

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On October 28, 1938 an inspiring mass meeting in New York celebrated the founding of the Fourth International as well as the tenth anniversary of the Trotskyist movement in this country. American imperialism would not permit Trotsky to be present at that memorable celebration. But an electrical transcription of Trotsky’s speech to the meeting helped to bring him closer.

How do Marxists use programmatic demands to win the working class to the cause of revolutionary socialism? Trotsky explains the need to use transitional demands to bridge the gap between the present consciousness of the working class and the need for the socialist transformation of society.

A transcription of Leon Trotsky's address to the N.Y. Hippodrome Meeting. The speech "I Stake My Life!" was delivered by telephone from Mexico City for the opening event of the Dewey Commission on the Moscow Trials.

"We must now say openly that the Spanish "Left Communists" have allowed this exceptionally favorable interval to slip by, and have revealed themselves to be in no way better than the Socialist and "Communist" traitors. Not that there was any lack of warning. All the greater therefore is the guilt of Andrés Nin, Juan Andrade, and the others. With a correct policy, the "Left Communists" as a section of the Fourth International might have been at the head of the Spanish proletariat today."

"The questions posed by Comrade Zeller’s letter are of interest not only for history but also for the present time. It is not unusual to meet them as often in political literature as in private conversation, although in different forms, mostly personal ones. “How and why did you lose power?” “How did Stalin lay his hands on the apparatus?” “What makes for Stalin’s strength?”"

"The Third International set for the first time the example of the victorious proletarian revolution, but it found itself ground between the millstones of the bureaucracy in the isolated Soviet state and the reformist bureaucracy of the West. Today, under the conditions of decisive capitalist collapse, the Fourth International, standing upon the shoulders of its predecessors, enriched by the experience of their victories and defeats, will mobilize the toilers of the Occident and the Orient for the victorious assault upon the strongholds of world capital."

The official dissolution of the Communist International comes almost ten years after the proclamation by Leon Trotsky that the Third International was dead as the world instrument for the socialist revolution. It was on July 15, 1933 that Trotsky wrote his theses, reprinted here, in justification of this conclusion and the need of building the Fourth International.

A letter written to the Italian Trotskyists in 1930 in which Trotsky deals with the question of the Constituent Assembly and the perspectives for Italy at that time. He severely criticises those who attempted to mix the slogan of the Constituent Assembly with that of workers' soviets, and also showed incredible insight into how the process would unfold once the Mussolini regime collapsed.

"We must not for a minute lose sight of the fact that the power of American capitalism rests more and more upon the foundation of the world economy, with its contradictions and its crises, military and revolutionary. This means that a social crisis in the United States may arrive a good deal sooner than many think, and have a feverish development from the start. Hence the conclusion: it is necessary to prepare." These words of Leon Trotsky seem written for today's situation!

This document was the end product of a process of analysis and struggle in a constantly changing and living movement – the Bolshevik Party. It sums up a period which spans roughly four years, commencing some time before the death of Lenin in 1923 and concluding with attempts to publish this programme in 1927. This Platform was drawn up at a time of crisis for the bureaucracy. This bureaucracy consisted at that time of two basic tendencies – the Bukharinist right and the Stalinist centre of the Party, the latter perhaps less prominent in the public eye but with control of the entire apparatus. Neither was sure of its future at the time. 

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