Fourth International

Leon Trotsky Bundesarchiv500

The isolation of the Russian Revolution and the ruinous effect of the Civil War allowed the Stalinist bureaucrats to isolate and expel the genuine forces of Marxism from the Communist Party. After his exile from Russia in 1929, Trotsky immediately threw himself into the task of defending the real traditions of Bolshevism.

While Stalin was preparing to dismantle the Communist International and renouncing the struggle for world socialism, Leon Trotsky was building a new, Fourth International, not only to defend the legacy of the October Revolution, but also to spread its influence throughout the world in the face of war, fascist reaction and Stalinist persecution.

The history of the Fourth International represents a struggle to keep the genuine spirit of working-class internationalism alive. Its construction was also part of Trotsky’s attempt to recruit and educate a new generation of genuine Bolsheviks, who would be able to finish what he and Lenin had started.

The incredibly difficult conditions facing the International meant it was ultimately stillborn. Nevertheless, through Trotsky’s struggle and sacrifice, a new generation could inherit the authentic legacy of the Russian Revolution. The IMT can trace its lineage to the Fourth International. It is part of our heritage, and a vital object of study. 

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.

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.