Fourth International & Trotskyism

This is the first volume of Ted Grant’s Writings. It covers the period from 1938 to 1942, when he was involved in building up the forces of Trotskyism in Britain. During the early years of the Second World War, Ted became editor of the Socialist Appeal and political secretary of the Workers’ International League. In this role Ted emerged as the principal theoretician of the British Trotskyist movement.

At a recent meeting of the International Marxist Tendency in Canada, Alex Grant, editor of Fightback magazine, speaks on the writings of Trotsky in the 1930's. This period, encompassing the Great Depression and mass revolutionary movements, is a goldmine of ideas for today's youth and working class activists. Grant gives an overview of the flavour of Trotsky's writings of the period in order to encourage further reading and study.

This year is the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Fourth International. The International was established by Leon Trotsky and his supporters in September 1938. As part of the commemoration of this event Rob Sewell draws out some of the key lessons and methods on which the Trotskyist movement was built during the 1930s. He also explains that while the Fourth International no longer exists in an organisational form, it continues for Marxists today in our theory, programme, method and approach.

Leon Sedov

Tomorrow marks the 70th anniversary of the murder of Trotsky's eldest son - Leon Sedov - by agents of the Stalinist secret police, the GPU. He was thirty-two years of age. This crime constituted part of the systematic hounding and murder of Trotsky's key supporters and family, whose only ‘crime' was to defend genuine Marxism against Stalin and the crimes of the Russian bureaucracy.

Leon Trotsky's murder was no accident or spontaneous action by the dictator Stalin, but a monstrous preconceived act that was the culmination of a murder campaign against the whole of the old Bolshevik leadership of the revolution and those who stood by the genuine ideas of Marxism. We republish this article published in Militant in 1985.

In 1988 Alan Woods interviewed Esteban Volkov in a room in the Trotsky Museum in Coyoacan, of which he is the curator. On the night of 24 May 1940, Esteban Volkov, then only 14 years old, was wounded in a brutal machine-gun attack by Stalinist supporters, from which the Trotsky family miraculously escaped alive. Sixty-six years after the murder of Leon Trotsky, we republish this interview dealing with the various assassination attempts on Trotsky and his family.

Ted Grant remembers the day the news of Trotsky's murder came over the radio as he lay in bed in hospital. First published in Militant 17 August 1990.

The media have just finished celebrating the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. We would like to remind our readers of an important event that took place around the same time, the Neath by-election on 15th May 1945. For the first time in Britain, a Trotskyist party, the Revolutionary Communist Party, contested a Parliamentary election. The seat was solid Labour, but the vote for the RCP was significant. Even more significant was the way the party was able to link up with the most advanced workers and youth.

In 1946 the perspectives of the then leadership of the Fourth International were that through “the combined economic, political and diplomatic pressure and the military threats of American and British imperialism” the Stalinist regime in the Soviet Union could collapse. The complete opposite was the truth. Ted Grant, together with the leadership of the RCP, attempted to correct this mistaken prognosis. Here we provide the historical 1946 documentation.

We remember all those thousands of genuine Communists who perished in Stalin’s camps, butchered simply for defending the ideas of Lenin and Trotsky. Old Bolsheviks like Zinoviev, Kamenev and Bukharin were forced to confess to crimes they had not committed. These famous victims were only the tip of the iceberg. Not remembered are the thousands of Trotskyists who languished in brutal concentration camps. They were brave and defiant to the end.

In 1946 the leaders of the Fourth International were predicting imminent revolutonary upheavals, when in reality capitalism was entering the biggest boom in its history. The leadership of the British Trotskyists, in particular Ted Grant, tried to convince the International that their perspective was false. History has proven Ted to be right. No one can doubt it, and we are proud to continue the tradition that he laid down of serious, meticulous analysis of the real processes taking place in society.

The resolution adopted by the International Pre-Conference of the Fourth International in April 1946, was permeated with the false perspective of the impending revolutionary crisis, the impossibility of a general economic recovery of capitalism and therefore it highlighted the excellent possibilities to develop the forces of the Fourth International. All this of course was false and eventually led to one crisis after another of the organization, and to its final collapse.

I recently visited Mexico at the invitation of Esteban Volkov, Trotsky's grandson, to participate in the filming of a documentary about the life and death of the great Russian revolutionary. The documentary, by the Argentine-Mexican director, Adolfo Videla, was filmed in the house in Coyoacan where Leon Trotsky lived for the last few years of his life, together with his faithful companion and comrade, Natalia Sedova. The documentary draws on rich archive material and includes valuable contributions by people like the French Trotskist historian Pierre Broue. It is due to be shown on Mexican television in the autumn.

In January Wang Fanxi died in Leeds, England. He was one of the few remaining links to the early Chinese Trotskyist movement. It was after the defeat of the 1926 Chinese revolution that, together with hundreds of other members of the Chinese Communist Party, he began to question the policies of the leadership and joined Trotsky’s Left Opposition.

Join us!

Help build the forces of Marxism worldwide!

Join the IMT!