Ernest Mandel

The professor and the helicopter


Colin Foster

People tried to construct flying machines for thousands of years before the first planes were built in the early 20th century, and the first regularly-produced helicopters from the 1930s.

Suppose a historian were to study all the documents she or he could find about that effort, prior to say 1900, but without registering that the purpose was to find a flying machine.

Maybe the historian would imagine that the purpose was just to find some way of getting from place to place, and would comment: why didn’t they just walk?

The life of Ernest Mandel and the impasse of orthodoxy


Martin Thomas

Ernest Mandel (1923-95) was the world's best-known Trotskyist for some decades; the interpreter and synthesiser for the "Orthodox Trotskyist" mainstream; and also a prolific writer many of whose books reached readerships far beyond circles sympathising with Trotskyism.

Jan Willem Stutje, a Dutch academic professing "a close affinity" to Mandel's ideas, has written a biography which is of great interest for the reasons that biographies are generally interesting, that they help us see how the subject's ideas intertwined with their life and times.

The new opposition in the post-Mandelite Fourth International


Martin Thomas

1. How the Fourth International's world view was shattered in 1989-91

Since the 1990s, the "Fourth International" has become more and more like a loosely-Marxist think-tank, or association of think-tanks, geared to left social democracy.

"Fourth International" here refers to the international network associated with the ideas of Ernest Mandel, otherwise called "USFI" or "United Secretariat of the Fourth International", though it ceased to have a leading body called "United Secretariat" as long ago as 2003.

Ernest Mandel 1923-95

Ernest Mandel, the foremost post-Trotsky Trotskyist for many decades, died in his native Belgium on 21 July, at the age of 72.

He joined the Trotskyist movement at the age of 16 in 1939. Showing a fortitude and a courage difficult for us to imagine, in 1940 Mandel and other young Trotskyists set about reorganising the Trotskyist movement under the guns of the Nazi occupation forces. Arrested, Mandel persuaded his guard to help him escape. He survived a period in a concentration camp.

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