James P Cannon

The two Trotskyisms during World War 2: Workers' Liberty 3/48

Tracing the development of "two Trotskyisms" from the 1940 split to the 1944 polemic between Harry Braverman and Max Shachtman.

Tracing the development of "two Trotskyisms" through from the 1940 split to the 1944 polemic between Harry Braverman and Max Shachtman.

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The pagination in the pdf is correct, but, by a mishap, the pages of the printed version of Workers' Liberty 3/48, as a pull-out in Solidarity 347, are in the wrong order. Our apologies to readers.

Check the printed version with the pdf, or follow this guide:

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Marxist Theory and History: 

Workers' Liberty 3/30: The 1939-40 split in the Fourth International

WL 3/30

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Two documents by Max Shachtman

In 1940 the Trotskyist movement split over attitudes to Stalinism. The participation and victory of Stalin's USSR in World War 2 as an imperialist power would make that split a fundamental political dividing-point.

In 1940 the Trotskyist movement split over attitudes to Stalinism. The participation and victory of Stalin's USSR in World War 2 as an imperialist power would make that split a fundamental political dividing-point.

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Marxist Theory and History: 

The two Trotskyisms

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

This month marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the murder of Leon Trotsky by an agent of the Stalinist USSR’s secret police. Next month, Workers’ Liberty will publish a second volume of documents from the movement which kept alive and developed the revolutionary socialist politics Trotsky fought for. Just before Trotsky’s death, the American Trotskyist organisation split after a dispute triggered by Stalin’s invasion of Poland. The majority was led by James P Cannon, the minority by Max Shachtman.

This month marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the murder of Leon Trotsky by an agent of the Stalinist USSR’s secret police. Next month Workers’ Liberty will publish a second volume of documents from the movement which kept alive and developed the revolutionary socialist politics Trotsky fought for.

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Speech on the Way to Prison (1943)

Author: 

James P. Cannon

This last opportunity to speak to you for a period, comrades, is also the first opportunity I have had to thank you all for the gifts that were presented to me and Rose on the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of our movement. We were both given gold watches by the comrades of Local New York. While I will not be able to take the watch with me to Sandstone penitentiary, I will nevertheless be able to take something even more valuable than the watch or any other material gift. That is the memory of your kindness and your friendship.

This fine declaration of faith, principles and motives for socialist action was made by the great American Marxist James P Cannon as he and 15 others prepared to go to jail for their political activities.

Marxist Theory and History: 

History of the Trotskyist movement

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

By the eve of Leon Trotsky’s death in August 1940, the American Trotskyist organisation, which was by far the most important group in the Fourth International, had split. Two currents of Trotskyism had begun the process of complete separation, but only begun.

It would take most of a decade before the evolution of two distinct species was complete.

For brevity they can be named after their chief proponents, James P Cannon and Max Shachtman. Trotsky’s political relationship to those two currents is one of the things that will concern us here.

Despite Trotsky’s continuing “defence of the USSR” in late 1939 and 1940, he had taken the giant step of accepting that the USSR, as it was, could be reconceptualised as a new form of exploitative class society.

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Marxist Theory and History: 

From Shamefacedness to Solid Brass

Author: 

Hal Draper

From Labor Action, 14 July 1941.

Those very principled people, the Socialist Workers Party (Cannonites), have re-discovered the “defense of the Soviet Union.”

From Labor Action, 14 July 1941.

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Marxist Theory and History: 

A Rift in the Iron Curtain :1. FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROME

Author: 

James P Cannon

Taking advantage of what is left of my rights, I hereby serve notice of intention to join in the public discussions stirred up by President Truman's decision to send a United States ambassador to the Vatican. And if you expect me to be calm and politely restrained in my utterances, you're in for a disappointment. I was burned up about the encroachments of authoritarian clericalism long before the President's decision was announced. His latest stroke of statesmanship just added a little fuel to the flames which have been scaring my tender flesh.

James P Cannon's contribution to the public discussions stirred up in 1951 by President Truman's decision to send a United States ambassador to the Vatican.

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