James P Cannon

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

WL 3/30

Author: 

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: 

Stalinism, sepia and sentiment: Sydney Lumet's film about Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. (1984)

SIDNEY Lumet's 'Daniel' is a powerful emotional account of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Communist Party USA members who were victims of a legal Iynching in the early '5Os, and of their children.

A discussion of the politics of Sydney Lumet's film 'Daniel', about Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Communist Party USA members who died in the electric chair in 1953, victims of a legal lynching.

Culture and Reviews: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Stalinism, sepia and sentiment: Sydney Lumet's film about Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. (1984)

SIDNEY Lumet's 'Daniel' is a powerful emotional account of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Communist Party USA members who were victims of a legal Iynching in the early '5Os, and of their children.

A discussion of the politics of Sydney Lumet's film 'Daniel', about Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Communist Party USA members who died in the electric chair in 1953, victims of a legal lynching.

Culture and Reviews: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

In Defense of Revisionism (1946)

The survival and expansion of Russian Stalinism threw all the political compass points of Trotsky's pre-World War "Trotskyism" into seismic confusion. Years of political ferment produced two "Trotskyisms" - Shachtmanites and Cannonites. The tiny Irish Group in this document declared for Shachtman.


The survival and expansion of Russian Stalinism threw all the political compass points of Trotsky's pre-World War "Trotskyism" into seismic confusion. Years of political ferment produced two "Trotskyisms" - Shachtmanites and Cannonites. The tiny Irish Group in this document declared for Shachtman.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Around the world: 

Year of the Heroic Scab: The Miners' Strike 1984-'85

The typical hero of Mrs Thatcher's brave new Britain during the 1985-85 miners' strike was the scab.

"By their heroes ye shall know them... for in the individuals whom they exalt and glorify and hold up to the youth as example every class and every movement unfailingly reveals its standards of worth, its morality, its very soul."

"Thus the communist workers of Germany glorified the name of the courageous and incorruptible Liebknecht who sacrificed his life in battle for a great cause. The degenerate Nazis countered with the dedication of their official hymn to Horst Wessel the pimp who was killed in a brawl...

Marxist Theory and History: 

What does Hal Draper's Marxist “micro-sect” do in the labour movement?

This positive exposition of the role of a Marxist “Fighting Educationalist Group” in the class struggle and in the transformation of existing labour movements, was written against three comrades who left AWL to join Labour Briefing and sank into Labour Party routinism. They were influenced by the polemics of Hal Draper against what he called the “micro-sect” form of organisation.

This positive exposition of the role of a Marxist “Fighting Educationalist Group” in the class struggle and in the transformation of existing labour movements, was written against three comrades who left AWL to join Labour Briefing and sank into Labour Party routinism. They were influenced by the polemics of Hal Draper against what he called the “micro-sect” form of organisation.

Click here for other discussion of Draper's polemics, and links to Draper's texts.

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The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

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Leon Trotsky and the (Shachtman) Workers Party (1946)

The infancy and childhood of the movement was fortunate in having the intellectual leadership of one of the greatest minds of all time, Karl Marx. It was doubly fortunate in having in Marx’s collaborator, Friedrich Engels, a genius in his own right, whose true stature always remained obscured in the public mind as a result of his modest subordination to the towering height of Marx. The period of the formation of the Second International under the sound, experienced guidance of Engels, his last great service to the working class, coincided with the rise of the Marxist movement in Russia.

Leon Trotsky's death at the hands of Stalin’s axe-man left the world movement without a real titan at its head for the first time in its history.

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

The Price of Isolation for the Russian Workers and their Revolution

The world is paying dearly for the isolation of the Russian
Revolution, paying in blood and sweat, and tears and in car-
nage and destruction such as history records nowhere else.

Max Shachtman, writing on the Twenty-fourth Anniversary of the Great Russian Revolution, in Labor Action 17 November 1941

Around the world: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

The Price of Isolation for the Russian Workers and their Revolution

The world is paying dearly for the isolation of the Russian
Revolution, paying in blood and sweat, and tears and in car-
nage and destruction such as history records nowhere else.

Max Shachtman on the Twenty-fourth Anniversary of the Great Russian Revolution

Around the world: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Reclaiming Trotskyist history: introduction to Shachtman's Where is the petty-bourgeois opposition?

George Santanyana’s aphorism, “Those who do not learn from history are likely to repeat it”, is not less true for having become a cliché. And those who do not know their own history cannot learn from it.

Take the history of the Trotskyist movement — that is, of organised revolutionary Marxism for most of the 20th century. To an enormous extent the received history of that movement is not “history” but the all-too-often mendacious, and always tendentious, folklore generated by competing sects over many decades.

The history of the Trotskyist movement is to an enormous extent not “history” but all-too-often mendacious, tendentious folklore generated by competing sects over many decades.

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1940: Max Shachtman's reply to Leon Trotsky - A “petty bourgeois” opposition?

Where Is the Petty Bourgeois Opposition? A Repeated Challenge Remains Unanswered.


Where Is the Petty Bourgeois Opposition? By the SWP Political Committee minority, March 1940.

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The Marxists on oppression

The fourth part of a review article looking at the themes of John Riddell’s new book of documents from the early communist movement.

The week Paul Hampton looks at how they debated women’s liberation and other issues of oppression.


The early Communist International’s focus was on working class self-liberation and this was reflected in the time spent on discussions on party building, work to transform the labour movement and on the specifics of class struggle strategy.

The fourth part of a review of John Riddell’s new book of documents from the early communist movement looks at how it debated women’s liberation and other issues of oppression.

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Notes on James P Cannon's three "party" books

James P Cannon's books "Struggle for a Proletarian Party", "History of American Trotskyism", and "Speeches to the Party"

James P Cannon's books "Struggle for a Proletarian Party", "History of American Trotskyism", and "Speeches to the Party" contain much of educational value.

They are skewed by political misconceptions, but it is possible and useful to separate out the valuable discussion from the misconceptions.

HOW THE "STALINGRAD" BOOKS ARE SKEWED

"Struggle for a Proletarian Party" was published not (as you might at first think) in 1940, just after the SWP faction fight and split, but in 1943.

Marxist Theory and History: 

London bus strike a defeat?

20,000 London bus workers win a clear-cut victory in the first London-wide bus strike since 1982. Unite’s demand was for a £500 bonus payment to compensate for the increased workload caused by the Olympics and they finally won £577.

Our analysis of strikes should include sharp criticism of union bureacrats when they sell out as well as due credit to them when they do broadly the right thing.

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Trade Unions: 

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How the Bourgeois Press Moulds 'Public Opinion'

James P Cannon reviews The Big Wheel by John Brooks (in four parts)

1. The Mind Molders at Work

In this 1951 review of John Brooks' novel, The Big Wheel, American Trotskyist James P Cannon discusses the bourgeois press, the way it shapes public opinion and corrupts the writers who churn out its lies and misrepresentations.

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James P Cannon: 1890-1974

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

Click here to download pdf.

A tribute and critique, on the 100th anniversary of the birth of the main figure in the US Trotskyist movement for many decades by Sean Matgamna.

A tribute and critique, written on the 100th anniversary of the birth of the main figure in the US Trotskyist movement for many decades, by Sean Matgamna.

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Marxist Theory and History: 

Ernest Mandel and post-Trotsky Trotskyism

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

An assessment of the leading thinker of post-Trotsky "orthodox Trotskyism", the "Fourth International".

An assessment of the leading thinker of post-Trotsky "orthodox Trotskyism", the "Fourth International"

Marxist Theory and History: 

Around the world: 

Introduction: many Trotskyisms

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

More or less everywhere in the world now there are groups of avowed revolutionary socialists — usually, but not invariably, small or very small groups — who are “Trotskyist” or Trotskisant.

They trace their political genealogy back to Leon Trotsky’s politics in the 1920s and 30s, and before that to the Bolshevik party of Lenin and Trotsky which led the Russian workers to power in 1917.

In this issue of Workers’ Liberty we print two key documents about the split of the Fourth International (the Trotskyist movement) into two fundamental political tendencies 70 years ago.

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Marxist Theory and History: 

1939-40: when the Fourth International split into two tendencies. Part 3

Author: 

Max Shachtman

Part 3: the bureaucratic conservatism of the Cannon majority

From the “Report on the Russian question” delivered by Max Shachtman to the New York membership meeting of the US Trotskyist movement, the Socialist Workers’ Party, on 15 October 1939.

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Marxist Theory and History: 

Chronology

October 1917: Russian workers take power.

November 1917 to summer 1921: The Russian workers' state fights for its life in civil war against counter-revolutionaries, peasant revolts, and 14 foreign armies.

1923 to 1927: Trotsky leads the Left Opposition against the rising Stalinist bureaucracy. Trotskyists and dissidents purged from many Communist Parties outside Russia.

December 1927: Defeat of the Left Opposition in Russia. Trotsky's allies Zinoviev and Kamenev capitulate immediately; Trotskyists sent to exile in remote parts of the USSR.

Background dates

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James P. Cannon: "Trade unionists and revolutionists"

Cannon at 19

Author: 

James P Cannon

"The party is the highest prize to the young trade unionist who becomes a revolutionist, the apple of his eye. But to the revolutionist who becomes transformed into a trade unionist – we have all seen this happen more than once – the party is no prize at all".

"The party is the highest prize to the young trade unionist who becomes a revolutionist... But to the revolutionist who becomes transformed into a trade unionist, the party is no prize at all".

Marxist Theory and History: 

What is the Bolshevik-Trotskyist tradition?

Workers' Liberty

What follows is a summary of the political and ideological traditions on which Workers’ Liberty and Solidarity base ourselves.

Isaac Newton famously summed up the importance of studying, learning, and building on forerunners. “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”, he wrote, referring to René Descartes, his contemporary Robert Hooke, and presumably also to his direct predecessor Isaac Barrow.

In science few people think they can neglect the “tradition” and rely on improvisation. In politics, alas, too many.

A summary of the political and ideological traditions on which we base ourselves.

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