On January 27th, 2010, the working class and the oppressed of the United States lost one of our greatest historians. For many of us on the left, our introduction to political life was reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, which presents a comprehensive history of this country from the “bottom-up.” Zinn made it his life goal to speak for those whose voices had been silenced in the traditional telling of this nation’s history, and to make this history as accessible as possible, so that it did not remain isolated in the ghetto of academia, but was taught in high schools and colleges across the US.

On Thursday October 24th 1929 the great New York stock exchange panic began. 12,894,650 shares changed hands, many at fire sale prices. The following Black Tuesday October 29th Wall Street began its long meltdown. The Wall Street crash divides two eras: the jaunty ‘jazz age’ of the 1920s and the 1930s – the decade of depression.

After a bitter coal yard workers’ strike and organizing campaign in early 1934, Teamsters Local 574 won the right to represent thousands of workers in Minneapolis. But by May, a second strike became necessary, after the trucking and warehouse bosses refused to recognize the local.

On August 21, 1940 the great revolutionary fighter, theoretician, and martyr, Leon Trotsky, died of the wounds inflicted in a brutal attack by a Stalinist agent. To mark the anniversary of the assassination of Trotsky we are publishing a transcript of a speech given by Esteban Volkov, Trotsky's grandson, to a school in Barcelona at the end of July 2003.

Marx has been declared dead so many times, and yet he keeps coming back again and again, the reason being that his ideas, his theories, are the only ones that can explain the present crisis of capitalism. Here a Nigerian Marxist gives his views on the relevance of Marx’s ideas today.

The 1934 Teamsters strike in Minneapolis, led by the Trotskyists of the Communist League of America (the forerunner of the Socialist Workers Party), was a decisive moment in the US labor and socialist movements. During the years preceding the strike, few would have expected the upsurge that took place in 1934.

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.

59 years have passed since that hot afternoon on the 20th of August 1940 in an old house surrounded by leafy trees and cactus in a peaceful suburb of Coyoacán, in the capital of Mexico. Lev Davidovich Bronstein, better known as Leon Trotsky, revolutionary Marxist and, alongside Lenin, one of the most outstanding leaders of the 1905 revolution and the October revolution in Russia, fell victim to an assassination expressly ordered by Joseph Stalin.

It is fashionable among some layers on the left to blame the workers' "low consciousness" for the lack of a genuine left alternative emerging within the labour movement internationally. This is utterly false and represents a lack of understanding of how the working class moves historically. The working class is fully aware of the situation it is in. What it requires is a leadership up to task of leading the class in its struggle to change society.

The celebration of May Day as a working class demonstration evolved from the struggle for the eight-hour day in the 1880s in the USA. The heart of the movement was in Chicago. Workers there had been agitating for an 8-hour day for months and, on the eve of May 1st, 50,000 were already on strike. 30,000 more swelled their ranks the next day, bringing most of Chicago manufacturing to a standstill.

As millions of workers and youth take to the streets world-wide to celebrate May Day as a day of international working class solidarity, we need to reassess our common objectives in the light of a growing world crisis of capitalism. Originally written in 2001.

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