The Fourth International was proclaimed 75 years ago, after a 15-year struggle against Stalinism.

Submitted by dalcassian on 21 November, 2013 - 6:42

Just as the main body of the
Communist International came
out of the Second International,
so the roots of the Fourth Inter-
national are to be traced to the
beginnings of the crisis in the
Third.
Fifteen years have elapsed
since the movement now organ-
ized under the banner of the
Fourth International first took
shape. It arose in the form of the
Opposition in the Russian Com-
munist Party, variously called the
"Moscow" or "1923" or "Trotsky-
ist" Opposition. Uniting the best
elements of the Old Guard and
of the youth of the Party, and led
by Leon Trotsky, it was the first
to sound the alarm against the
growing menace of degeneration
in the ruling party and the revo-
lution Itself.
Against Buraucratism
Significantly enough, the first
blows dealt the ruling clique by
the Opposition centered araund
the struggle against bureaucrat-
ism and for party and proletarian
democracy. These questions,
however, were inseperably associated
in the views of the Opposition,
with the questions of the rhythm
of industrialization of the coun-
try and the relationships to the
Soviet peasantry, questions which
were to play such an overwhelm-
ingly decisive part in the further
evolution of the Soviet Union.
The Opposition was supported
by an unmistakable majority of
the party and youth members in
Moscow and numerous other im-
portant centers. But the almighty
apparatus was in the hands of
the notorious "triumvirate"—Zino-
viev. Kamenev and Stalin. They
proceeded to invent the bogey-
man of "Trotskyism," to befuddle
the minds of those they could not
intimidate, and by the crassest
manipulation of the party ma-
chinery they not only succeeded
in voting down the Opposition
but in accelerating the trend to-
wards bureaucratic degeneration.
Rallied to the Opposition
It is interesting to note that
from the very beginning, many
of the most solid and ablest
elements in the Communist In-
ternational took a position either
outrightly in favor of the Trots-
kyiat Opposition or conciliatory
to it. The leadership of the Polish
party protested vigorously a-
gainst the disloyal and dishonest
assaults against the Opposition;
it was answered—the reply soon
became standardized!—by having
its leadership arbitrarily re-
moved, its leader Domsky called
to Moscow from which, years
later, he was exiled, then impris-
oned and, according to more re-
cent reports, shot.

The founders and outstanding
leaders of the French party took
the position of the Trotskyists,
and such figures as Rosmer, Lo-
riot, Souvarlne, Louzon, Dunois,
Monatte, Chambelland, and a-
mong the younger elements, Tho-
rez (yes, the present!) [Thorez
was the leader of the French
Communist Party until he died,
in 1964.]
ranged themselves alongside the
Opposition, with early expulsion
from the Comintern as their re-
ward.

The German party leadership
of the time—Brandler-Thalheim-
er—only "dissociated" itself from
the Russian Opposition under the
most severe pressure and threats
of retaliation. The leadership of
the Italian party, headed by Bord-
iga, also soliderised itself sub-
stantlally with the Russian Op-
position, and met the usual fate
at the hands of the Kremlin ma-
chine. Virtually the entire party
leadership in Belgium was arbit-
rarily ousted for the same reason
The same occurred in varying de-
grees in all the parties of the
International.
Subsequent Struggles
In the course of the inner
struggle which followed in the
International, centering mainly
around the question of the cap
itulation of the Stalinists to the
British labor Bureaucracy, cul-
minating In the fiasco of the 1926
General Stike ond the notorious
Anglo-Russian Trade Union U-
nity Committee; of the Chinese
Revolution, in which Stalin re.
duced the communist, the work-
ing class and peasant move-
ments to so many serfs of the
perfidious national bourgeoisie;
of the domestic policy of the
Soviet Union, which brought the
country to the brink of catas-
trophe by favoring the well-tu-du
kulak and the labour aristocrat as
against a policy, advocated by
the Opposition, of a broad indus-
trialization plan and the collect-
ivization of agriculture; and
above all, of the generalized the-
oretical expression of Stalinist red-
action contained in its national-
istic concept of "socialism in a
single country"—the original
Moscow Opposition gained new
support in a second layer of ad-
versaries of Stalin.
Led by Zinoviev, Kamenev,
Krupskaya and other former op-
ponents of an alleged "Trotsky-
ism," the Leningrad party organ-
ization joined with the Moscow
revolutionists to form, in 1926-
1927, the United Opposition Bloc.
It was crushed even more sav-
agely by the Stalin-Bukharin bloc
than the 1923 Opposition had
been. But not before significant
international repercussions were
heard. A whole section of the
Comintern leadership which had
been forced into power by Zin-
ovievist appointment, broke away
from the Stalinists and came
closer to the Opposition.
Other Breaks
These included the new Ger-
man leadership of Maslow-Fisch-
er-Urbans-Scholem; the French
party leadership of Treint-Gi-
rault; the Neurath-Michalec
group in Czechoslovakia; the
Frey group in Austria. In the
course of the next few years, new
forces developed in the direc-
tion of the Opposition—Nin, An-
drade and others in Spain, Chen
Tu-hsiu in China, the Italian
party leaders Feroci, Blasco and
Santini, Spector and MacDonald
in Canada, Diego Rivera in Mex-
ico, Juan Antonio Mella in Cuba,
Abern, Cannon and Shachtman
in the United States and similar
groups of active and leading mil-
itants, many of them founders of
the International. In other lands.
Almost everywhere, their places
were taken by unknown up-
starts, young (and old) servile
bureaucrats, people without ideas
or character or principle, who
were appointed today and as like
as not demoted tomorrow as
scapegoats for Stalin's cata-
strophic policies.
Process of Selection
Not all .those who associated
themselves at one time or another-
er with the Opposition, remained
in its ranks. Far from it. Many
of them, driven to extremes by
the brutal provocations of Stal-
inism, went off on wild political
tangents or retired from politics
altogether. Others proved to have
insufficient stamina and endur-
ance, and capitulated under the
terrific pressure of the Stalinist
machine and the defeats and
world-wide reaction it engen-
dered. Still others were broken in
character, and collapsed under
bribes.
But in the course of fifteen
years of struggle for the prin-
ciples and methods of Bolshev-
ism, of revolutionary internation-
alism, a process of selection was
constantly at work. This process
was enormously speeded up and
assisted in a thousand ways by
that most colossal of all of Stal-
in's factional blunders: the de-
portation to Turkey in 1929 of
comrade Leon Trotsky.
Trotsky's Role
The relative freedom he there-
upon enjoyed, as compared with
the isolation and almost insuperable
able restrictions imposed upon
him in Stalinist exile at Alma-
Ata, made it possible for the in-
ternational oppositional move-
ment to benefit for the first time
on such a grand scale by the the-
oretical, literary and organiza-
tional activity of its keenest and
boldest thinker. Thousands upon
thousands of communist milit-
ants began to learn the truth about the pro-
found historical disputes that had
shaken the Russian party and
the International, but which had
hitherto reached us in distorted
scraps—when it reached abroad
at all. Literally years of activ-
ity had to be devoted to sweeping
away the muck of misrepresenta-
tion and the ideological cobwebs
with which the Stalinist machine
had muddled and muddled up
the issues involved and the minds
of the revolutionists abroad.
It is in the course of these
years that a small but inestim-
ably precious nucleus of the re-
constructed world movement was
welded together in one country
after another, more genuinely
united and more homogeneous,
more qualified to assemble the
forces of the coming mass move
ment than any revolutionary
Marxist movement before it had
been.
History's Lessons
It is impossible in so brief a
space to do more than indicate
the great events and issues
around which the International
Left Opposition—established at
the first world conference in
Paris in 1930, on the initiative of
our American organization—de-
veloped in the past nine or ten
years, for that would require nar-
rating the history of a decade of
the class struggle.
Suffice it to remind the reader
of the notorious "Third Period"
policy of the Stalintern and the
incessant struggle fought against
it by our movement. "Social-Fas-
Cttr" and allied dogmas of Stal-
inirm have, it is true, given way
to new but not better dogmas, yet
not without leaving murderous
scars not only upon the Third In-
ternational but, alas, on the body
of the world working class.
The lamentable tragedy of the
German and then the Austrian,
the Saar and the Czech proleta-
riat can be traced to the criminal
capitulation of Stalinism to Hit-
ler in 1933, in which it outdid
the long-ago bankrupt social de-
mocracy in cowardice and treach-
ery. Under guise of the thrice-
stupid policy of "united front
only from below," the Stalinists
condemned the German prolet-
ariat to a state of division
through which fascism marched
unmolestedly to power. The in-
terests of the German proletariat
were sacrificed for the sake of
preserving the
Soviet bureaucracy and its posi-
tions in a state of not very per-
manent tranquiility during which
presumably a national-socialist
Utopia might be constructed in
Russia unaffected by "disruptive"
social clashes abroad.
A Sharp Turn
The International Communist
League, as our movement was
then named, had pursued up to
then a policy based upon reform-
ing the Third International. The
German catastrophe demonstra-
ted the complete unfeasability of
continuing along that line. We
therefore took the initiative in
calling for the organization of
new communist parties every-
where and a new communist, a
Fourth, International.
In that period, while the Com-
intern remained virtually un-
moved because of the bureaucrat-
ic vise in which It was held,
there occurred unmistakable
shifts to the left in the camp of
the social democracy. In several
countries therefore, almost coin-
cidental with the turn of the
Stalinists to the fatal policy of
"People's Frontism" and the for-
mal abandonment of even a pre-
tence to the basic revolutionary
principles upon which the Comin-
tern had been founded, the small
revoutionary internationalist
groups entered the sections of the
Second International for the pur-
pose of fusing into a solid Marx-
ian bloc with the leftward-mov-
ing socialist workers. In coun-
tries like France, Belgium, Eng-
land and the United States, this
tactic yielded significant results,
and brought new forces on to the
road of the Fourth International.