Leon Trotsky

The following are new translations of excerpts from Trois points c’est tout by Fred Zeller (1912-2003). Zeller, who, at the time, was the secretary of the Seine (Paris) Young Socialists and a sympathiser of the Trotskyist movement in the mid-1930s, visited Trotsky in Norway at the end of October 1935. This was at the time when the Socialist Party leaders were expelling the left from the Young Socialists as well as dissolving the Bolshevik Leninist tendency, whose members had joined the SFIO in late 1934.

The following letters, originally in Russian, were only recently found in the police files on Andres Nin in the National Historical Archives in Madrid (Ministerio de gobernación, policía [histórico], h.394). This material represents a significant historical discovery. Most importantly, Trotsky’s correspondence is an important political weapon for today’s revolutionary movement.

Re-visiting the question of the United States of Europe in the wake of the war and the creation of the Soviet Union, Trotsky once again put forward the slogan of a “United States of Europe” in his 1923 article, "Is the Time Ripe for the Slogan: ‘The United States of Europe’" published in Pravda. Again, Trotsky emphasises the revolutionary significance of the demand for the democratic unification of Europe but this time with an even clearer class content, asserting that the demand for a United States of Europe cannot be isolated from the demand for a “Workers’ Government”.

On 21 August 1940, Leon Trotsky, the great revolutionary leader of the October Revolution, died in Mexico, murdered by a Stalinist agent. We publish his autobiography with forewords by In Defence of Marxism editor, Alan Woods, and Trotsky's grandson, Esteban Volkov.

My high (and still rising) blood pressure is deceiving those near me about my actual condition. I am active and able to work but the outcome is evidently near. These lines will be made public after my death.

Today marks the anniversary of Leon Trotsky’s assassination. Struck down 78 years ago by an ice-pick to the head from a cowardly Stalinist assassin, he soon fell into a coma and died the following day, 21st August 1940. Here we republish an article from the anniversary in 2012, the fight for Trotsky's ideas remain as relevant as ever and we commemorate the life and ideas of this inspiring revolutionary, theoretician and leader.

To mark the 60th anniversary of Trotsky’s death we published a series of articles on our Trotsky.net website in the year 2000, among them this article on capitalist development. The purpose then was to underline the fact that although capitalism was experiencing a boom, the period we had entered was actually one of overall capitalist decline. As we explained in the introduction “Rather than a new upswing, capitalism is heading for a new slump and a downward curve of development similar to the interwar period.”

“The tragic experience of Spain is a terrible - perhaps final - warning before still greater events, a warning addressed to all the advanced workers of the world. ‘Revolutions,’ Marx said, ‘are the locomotives of history.’ They move faster than the thought of semi-revolutionary or quarter-revolutionary parties. Whoever lags behind falls under the wheels of the locomotive, and consequently - and this is the chief danger - the locomotive itself is also not infrequently wrecked.”

The Austrian crisis is a particular manifestation of the crisis of democracy as the main form of bourgeois rule. The excessively high tension of the international struggle and the class struggle results in the short circuit of the dictatorship, blowing out the fuses of democracy one after the other. The process began on the periphery of Europe, in the most backward countries, the weakest links in the capitalist chain. But it is advancing steadily. What is called the crisis of parliamentarism is the political expression of the crisis in the entire system of bourgeois society. Democracy stands or falls with capitalism. By defending a democracy, which has outlived itself,

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Art is important to people. It has always been so from the earliest human societies, when it was indissolubly linked to magic — that is, to the first primitive attempts of men and women to understand and gain control over the world in which they live. However, in class society art is so designed as to exclude the masses, and relegate them to an impoverished existence, not only in a material but in a spiritual sense.

Trotsky's 'ABC of Materialist Dialectics' is a brilliant short explanation of Marxist philosophy. It was written as part of a defence of Marxism against a middle class revisionist tendency in the American Trotskyist movement in the late 1930s, which attempted to challenge its basic principles. As opposed to pragmatism and empiricism, Trotsky defended dialectical materialism as a richer, fuller, more comprehensive view of society and life in general. 

"Art can neither escape the crisis nor partition itself off. Art cannot save itself. It will rot away inevitably as Grecian art rotted beneath the ruins of a culture founded on slavery unless present-day society is able to rebuild itself. This task is essentially revolutionary in character. For these reasons the function of art in our epoch is determined by its relation to the revolution." Leon Trotsky, 1938.

We republish Leon Trotsky's 1938 pamphlet, Their Morals and Ours. Written while Trotsky was in exile in Mexico, the pamphlet answers critics of the Russian Revolution, who smeared the Bolsheviks as "amoral". Trotsky argues that morality is not fixed but reflects class interests in society. So-called common sense and "elementary moral precepts" against violence, for example, in reality serve the interests of the ruling class. Revolutionary morality – including the use of violence in class struggle – is determined by whatever advances the cause of the proletariat, and thus the liberation of humanity.

It is hard to believe that the centennial of the Manifesto of the Communist Party is only ten years away! This pamphlet, displaying greater genius than any other in world literature, astounds us even today by its freshness. Its most important sections appear to have been written yesterday. Assuredly, the young authors (Marx was twenty-nine, Engels twenty-seven) were able to look further into the future than anyone before them, and perhaps than anyone since them.

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.

"The revolutionary power gave women the right to abortion, which in conditions of want and family distress, whatever may be said upon this subject by the eunuchs and old maids of both sexes, is one of her most important civil, political and cultural rights"