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

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

Published on: Wed, 10/12/2014 - 20:15

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:

Page 2 has been mistakenly swapped with page 6, and page 7 with page 11.

The printed pull-out can be navigated as follows:

1: the first page, with the

History of the Trotskyist movement

Published on: Thu, 11/12/2014 - 11:43

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.

There is no question where he stood in the actual

Defending the Soviet Union

Published on: Thu, 11/12/2014 - 11:37

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.

In 1923, the year of the writing of these articles, the Russian Bolshevik Party was passing through a profound internal crisis. It was not the first struggle inside the Bolshevik Party which had grown and developed through many previous internal disputes over questions of program, strategy, and tactics. The 1923 conflict, however, differed from all the previous ones in culminating in the triumph, not of the proletarian-Leninist

Why we needed a new theory

Published on: Thu, 11/12/2014 - 11:29

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.

Except for the first period of the Bolshevik revolution, when

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

Published on: Thu, 11/12/2014 - 11:16

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.

Also emphasised, over again, is the burning need of reconstructing the world vanguard of the working class, of regrouping all the revolutionary Marxists who have remained true to their principles, and of organising them on the basis of the fundamental program of the Fourth International. Now, more than ever before, can it be said that without this program, the downward march of mankind into the abyss

From Shamefacedness to Solid Brass

Published on: Thu, 11/12/2014 - 11:11

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.”

This event occurs under very happy auspices. for them. While Russia was busy grabbing Poland and Finland, they were also for its defense — but not so happily. The masses of people (not to speak of Churchill, Sumner Welles and Alexander Kerensky) were quite annoyed with Stalin in those days, so the principled Cannonites kept their slogan under their hats. In their public press they merely called the invasions a “crime” and “de-emphasised”

What is Trotskyism?

Published on: Thu, 11/12/2014 - 11:05

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.

Such has been the intellectual havoc wrought in the revolutionary movement by the manners and standards of Stalinism

What is Leninism?

Published on: Thu, 11/12/2014 - 10:55

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.

Lenin cannot be chopped up into quotations suited for every possible case, because for Lenin the formula never stands higher

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