Hitler, Stalin and the Trotskyist split of 1939-40: Workers' Liberty 3/41

Problems of Trotskyist history

Problems of 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.

March 1939: Stalin offers an olive branch to Hitler


Max Shachtman

The text of Stalin’s report to the 18th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union is as yet available only in abridged form and there has not, at this writing, been enough time to give the report the detailed and thoroughgoing analysis it merits.

Even the condensed version, however, is important and clear enough for a number of preliminary observations, both with reference to what it omits as well as to what it contains.

September 1939: Behind the Stalinazi pact


Max Shachtman

I: 5 September 1939

The Hitler-Stalin pact is the most sensational news to come out of Moscow in many years.

Up to yesterday, it was the general belief that Stalin was moving heaven and earth in an earnest attempt to establish a “peace front” of the “democracies” against the “fascist aggressors”, especially against Fascist Germany.

April 1940: the USSR and and the World War


Max Shachtman

The outbreak of the Second World War has once more put prominently at the top of the order of the day the “Russian question”. The signing of the Hitler-Stalin Pact was followed by the joint invasion of Poland; by the reduction of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to the state of vassals of the Kremlin; by the invasion and seizure of part of Finland by the Red Army; and by speculation and prediction of coming events which, a year ago, would have been waved aside as preposterous.

1948: Flashback on 1939

Flashback on the “Russian Question”. The 1939 dispute in the light of new documents, by Ernest Erber: New International February 1948.

The captured German archives bearing on German-Russian relations during the period of the Hitler-Stalin pact, published by the US State Department, are of special interest to our movement.

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

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

In his open letter to Comrade Trotsky, Comrade Shachtman, repeating the challenge issued by the Minority since the moment it was accused of representing a petty-bourgeois tendency in the party, declared:

“... it is first necessary to prove (a) that the Minority represents a deviation from the proletarian Marxian line, (b) that this deviation is typically petty-bourgeois, and (c) that it is more than an isolated deviation — it is a tendency. That is precisely what has not been proved.”

1940: the Mensheviks split

Russian Mensheviks in split over attitude toward Soviet Union, by John G Wright. Socialist Appeal, 6 April 1940 (the issue for the SWP convention of 5-8 April 1940).

The “Foreign Delegation” of the Russian Mensheviks, that is, their leading center, has split on the question of the attitude toward Stalin’s regime.

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