Leon Trotsky

Poland and Trotsky's theory of bureaucracy

Published on: Tue, 02/07/2019 - 20:47

Chris Reynolds

August Grabski's obituary of Karol Modzelewski (Solidarity 511, bit.ly/ag-km) was interesting, but I want to take issue with what he says about Trotsky's theory of the Stalinist bureaucracy.

"Without the analysis of the bureaucracy by Trotsky expressed in his Revolution Betrayed from 1936", write August, we can't understand what happened in Poland.

Trotsky's Revolution Betrayed was about the bureaucracy in the USSR. Essential to his idea of the bureaucracy as a fragile stratum, without the solidity and historical clout of a class, was that part of the bureaucracy was linked back to the

Reading about Rosa Luxemburg

Published on: Wed, 16/01/2019 - 12:33

As we go to press on 15 January 2019, it is exactly the 100th anniversary of the murder of the Polish¬German revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxemburg. She was killed by a right-wing militia operating under the Social¬Democratic government which was heading off the German workers’ revolution.

We have a pamphlet in production on Luxemburg and the German revolution. Readers can also find a good summary of Luxemburg’s political work in two articles, from 1935 and 1938, by Max Shachtman.

The 1938 article is in print as an item in our book In Defence of Bolshevism. Much more on Rosa Luxemburg on

In defence of Ernest Erber

Published on: Wed, 05/12/2018 - 10:35

Alan Johnson

Russia was ruled by 130,000 landowners. They ruled by means of constant force over 150 million people … And yet we are told that Russia will not be able to be governed by 240,000 members of the Bolshevik Party – governing in the interests of the poor and against the rich. – V.I. Lenin, Will the Bolsheviks Retain State Power?, 1917

In 1948, after he spent a year thinking it over, Ernest Erber submitted an 18,000 word resignation letter to the US Workers Party, a small group of mostly young, mostly Jewish (one early internal bulletin carried the subhead “Out To The Gentiles!”), and

Georgi Plekhanov

Published on: Fri, 23/11/2018 - 12:00

John Cunningham

Before the year 2018 reaches its end, the 100th anniversary of the death of Georgi Plekhanov should be noted and remembered. He is sometimes referred to as the “father” of Russian Marxism, and for good reason.

Plekhanov was the most important figure in the early Russian Marxist movement, a major theorist and voice in the Second International; and, as a member of the editorial board of Iskra, a collaborator with Lenin in the first years of the twentieth century.

Plekhanov and Lenin were to go their separate ways. By the time of the October Revolution in 1917 Plekhanov had moved considerably to

The professor and the helicopter

Published on: Wed, 19/09/2018 - 12:44

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?

John Kelly, an academic at Birkbeck University, structures his account of

Why revolutionaries organise

Published on: Wed, 29/08/2018 - 08:56


Why revolutionaries organise

The working class has the potential to become a great power in society, but can make that potential a reality, even on the most limited scale, only by organisation.

That fact follows from two facts about the working class in developed capitalist society. It is the basic productive class. It is simultaneously a wage-slave class. Its members are relegated to relative poverty, cultural and educational restrictions, insecurity, and exhausting work burdens of parcellised tasks. Individual workers, without collective organisation, are merely troops under capitalist

Permanent revolution: Trotsky's theory and later constructions

Published on: Sat, 25/08/2018 - 07:54

Sean Matgamna

From The Left in Disarray

Central to the formation of the ideas of the ostensible left on imperialism and anti-imperialism has been the fact that the Orthodox Trotskyists conflated working-class socialist revolution and the anti-colonial revolutions of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, in what they saw as a variant of Trotsky's permanent revolution.

What is "permanent revolution", as Trotsky expounded it? The French revolution had been a particularly radical bourgeois revolution against the remnants of feudalism in France. Tsarist Russia needed a similar revolution to establish civil liberty and a

Why did working-class militancy collapse in face of Thatcherism?

Published on: Sun, 17/06/2018 - 17:06

John O'Mahony

A small pamphlet published by us in 1989, reprinting extracts from Trotsky previously presented by us in 1983 with a new introduction.

For something like two decades, from the mid-1950s, trade union militancy in Britain increased in a succession of waves. There were ebbs as well as flows, of course, but each time the movement picked up again and rose higher.

That working- class movement frustrated a series of attempts by the ruling class to change Britain to their own advantage. It stopped the ruling class from ruling as it wanted to and as the needs of the profit-regulated capitalist system

The Bolsheviks, Stalin and science

Published on: Tue, 01/05/2018 - 22:03

Les Hearn

In the discussions prompted by centenary of the first workers’ government, little has been said about the Bolsheviks and their science policies.

This series of articles about Marxism, the Bolsheviks, Stalin, and science draws, amongst other sources, on Simon Ings’ recent book Stalin and the Scientists,1 Douglas R Weiner’s book Models of Nature,2 and Loren R Graham’s Lysenko’s Ghost.3
“No previous government in history was so openly and energetically in favor of science. …[it] saw the natural sciences as the answer to both the spiritual and physical problems of Russia” (Graham quoted).1


“A refusal to settle down”

Published on: Wed, 28/03/2018 - 18:41

Fraction L'Etincelle

Klara Feigenbaum, a Trotskyist activist of Romanian origin, known as Irène, died at the age of 97 in March 2017, a year ago.

Alongside her then-partner David Korner, alias Barta, she founded the “Groupe Communiste”, which in 1944 took the name “Union Communiste” (UC), and which led the 1947 Renault strike alongside the militant worker Pierre Bois, at a time when the CGT and the PCF (which was then in the government) were opposed to all strikes. It was from this group that would later spring Voix ouvrière (although Irène was only active in it for the first few years) and then Lutte ouvrière and

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