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

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

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

Click here to download as pdf or read online.

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:

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

Publications: 

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.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

Defending the Soviet Union

Author: 

Harry Braverman

From Fourth International, May 1944.

The collection of articles entitled The New Course was Trotsky’s opening gun in the struggle against the Stalinist bureaucracy.

From Fourth International, May 1944.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

Why we needed a new theory

Author: 

Max Shachtman

From New International, August 1944.

Leon Trotsky’s name will be forever linked with the Russian Revolution, not of course as a Russian revolution but as the beginning of the international socialist revolution in Russia.

He fought for this revolution with pen and sword, from his study and from his armoured train in the Red Army. Between the start of his fight, under Tsarism, and its end, under Stalinism, there is a continuous line, the line flowing from Trotsky’s great contribution to Marxism, the theory of the permanent revolution.

From New International, August 1944.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

The Fourth International Without Trotsky: Need a New Start, 1940

From Labor Action, December 16 1940

The utter collapse of the two old Internationals, even before the outbreak of the Second World War, has only been spectacularly emphasized since the war began.

From Labor Action, December 16 1940.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

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.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

What is Trotskyism?

Author: 

Max Shachtman

From The Struggle for the New Course, preface to an edition of Trotsky’s The New Course, 1943

Our criticism of Trotsky’s later theory of the “workers’ state” introduces into it an indispensable correction. Far from “demolishing” Trotskyism, it eliminates from it a distorting element of contradiction and restores its essential inner harmony and continuity. The writer considers himself a follower of Trotsky, as of Lenin before him, and of Marx and Engels in the earlier generation.

From The Struggle for the New Course, preface to an edition of Trotsky’s The New Course, 1943.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

What is Leninism?

Author: 

Leon Trotsky

From The New Course, 1923

Leninism cannot be conceived of without theoretical breadth, without a critical analysis of the material bases of the political process. The weapon of Marxian investigation must be constantly sharpened and applied. It is precisely in this that tradition consists, and not in the substitution of a formal reference or of an accidental quotation.

Least of all can Leninism be reconciled with ideological superficialty and theoretical slovenliness.

From The New Course, 1923.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: