The scope and depth of Ted Grant’s writings are a testament to his profound understanding of Marxism. The first volume of his writings covered the period just prior the war, the first three years of the imperialist war, the entry of the Soviet Union into the war, the formation of the Workers’ International League, and the beginnings of industrial unrest during the war. These writings during this period, following the death of Trotsky, mark Ted’s ascendency as the Trotskyist movement’s main theoretician.
In August 1942, the Workers’ International League issued a perspectives document, called Preparing for power, written by Ted, which served to direct the attention of the young forces of the WIL to the revolutionary tasks of the time. “The possibility exists for an unprecedented growth in influence and numbers in the shortest possible time. Today the problem consists mainly in preparing the basis for a rapid increase in growth and influence”, stated the document.
While armchair critics scoffed at this “wild” perspective, the question of posing a struggle for power was bound up with the perspectives of war producing a revolutionary wave. This is what Trotsky had explained. “This perspective must be made the basis of our agitation”, stated Trotsky. “It is not merely a question of a position on capitalist militarism and of renouncing the defence of the bourgeois state, but of directly preparing for the conquest of power and the defence of the proletarian fatherland.” (Writings, 1939-41, p.414)
This second volume, starting at the beginning of 1943, takes us over the next three years of the Second World War. In January 1943, the editorial in Socialist Appeal assesses the situation and concludes:
“The lessons of the recent period of history in one country after another can be focused on the same point – that there was in these countries no closely knit and soundly built party with a firm policy ready to lead the masses at the critical hour to the taking of power. ‘Popular Fronts,’ ‘national unity,’ every sort of unprincipled amalgamation: but never a genuine workers’ party prepared to take power, and with a programme that could win the masses.
“WIL sets itself the task of building such a party. The programme is no dead set of rules and tenets but a live instrument of power which responds to the changing situation, though never losing its firm Marxist foundation. The nucleus of the party is already formed, and as it grows it turns outwards more and more towards broader circles of the workers.
“The first stage of the struggle for a party is over. WIL has left the narrow discussion circles which are an inevitable stage on the way towards the building of a fresh movement and leadership, and is already taking its place on the actual field of battle. WIL now places itself directly before the workers and offers its programme as the only solution to their problems.
“A year is just beginning. It will see mighty events and portentous changes both on the international scene and on the field of the class struggle at home. Those events will sharpen and crystallise the moods and demands among the British workers. They will impress on the workers more and more the iron necessity for an independent class policy. It is the historic task of the fourth internationalists in Britain to provide that policy and to build up the party that will lead the way to its successful application. It is on this road that there lies the true continuation of British labour’s militant past.”
The military conflagration in the Second World War had shifted to the eastern front where the Russians were facing 176 enemy divisions, and the conflict was evolving into a struggle between the Soviet Union and Hitler’s Germany. “The workers are awaiting with bated breath on the outcome of the Battle of Stalingrad”, explained the Socialist Appeal of October 1942.
“Lieutenant General Diethmar, the German military spokesman, said over the Berlin radio: ‘No other enemy can extend or postpone decisions as the Russians. Over and over again they succeed in balancing the scales by the sheer force of their masses.’
“The Russian workers and peasants are pouring out their blood unstintingly in defence of their cities. The same Nazi spokesman stated: ‘The Soviet soldier is far more strongly attached than any soldier to the system in which he finds himself.’ The system, for which the Soviet masses are grimly giving their lives, is based upon the gains of the October revolution. The tradition of the great Russian revolution has given the Russian workers and peasants something worth fighting for – something so vital and so important that it must be defended at all costs. The socialised property and the collective ownership of the means of production and distribution are what gives the heroic defenders of Stalingrad the courage and tenacity which is amazing the world.”
The article continues:
“While the Bolshevik and Nazi armies are locked in colossal struggle, British and American imperialism sit like vultures watching their prey bleed to death. Commenting on the failure to open the Second Front the Frankfurter Zeitung of September 24th states: ‘British interests are best served if as many Germans and Bolsheviks as possible mutually kill each other.’ Britain and America are content to watch both their ‘enemy’ and their ‘ally’ destroy each other. When the destruction has sufficiently weakened both Germany and Russia, they hope to step in and take control.”
During 1943, the regime of Mussolini fell and the dictator’s bloody body was publicly hung upside down alongside his girlfriend in the centre of Milan. The authorities rushed to replace him by Marshal Badoglio, described by Ted as the Italian Petain, and King Victor Emmanuel III, in a desperate attempt to shore up capitalism and prevent revolution. Ted analyses this turn of events and explained that this marked “the beginning of the revolutionary upsurge in all the countries of Europe.” Soviets appeared in the northern industrial cities and the masses poured onto the streets. This was certainly the beginning of the Italian revolution.
The news of events in Italy provoked a letter to Socialist Appeal from Andy Scott, a Central Committee comrade who had been drafted into the army in the summer of 1943. Scott was his pen name; his real name was private Andy Paton. “The Italian events are just the beginning – and what a beginning!” he wrote. “Soviets with a few days, after 20 years of bloody repression, and in spite of every brand of treacherous leadership” (Socialist Appeal, Mid-September 1943).
Soon afterward, Stalin rushed to recognise the regime of Badoglio and the King, propped up by the bayonets of Anglo-American imperialism.
In May 1943, Stalin had dissolved the Communist International as a gesture to the Allies. In response, the Workers’ International League rushed out a statement by Ted Grant in the Workers’ International News entitled The rise and fall of the Communist International, directed at the rank and file of the Communist Party.
Stalingrad had proved to be a turning point in the war. The defeat of the German advance was turned into a massive counter-offensive. The Soviet military, backed by the resources of the planned economy, proved to be decisive in this massive reversal of fortunes and the driving back of the German armies. The WIL tracked the different stages of the war and closely monitored the prospects for a revolutionary upsurge, as Trotsky had predicted.
The war in Europe had meant that the only openly functioning section of the Fourth International was in Britain. From the smallest grouping in 1938, by 1943 the Workers’ International League had become the most developed Trotskyist force in Europe with around 300 members rooted in the working class. Although the WIL had not been recognised as the official section of the Fourth International since 1938, its correct policies and orientation allowed it to completely overshadow the official group, the Revolutionary Socialist League, which had dwindled to almost nothing with some 23 members. Their paper ceased to appear along with their ever-declining activity.
While the WIL adopted and carried into practice the Proletarian Military Policy of Trotsky, the RSL repudiated this “defensive” policy in 1940 and adopted both an ultra-left and opportunist-pacifist position. “The British Section, therefore, states that the demand in the international manifesto [War and the world proletarian revolution] has no validity in the existing conditions in this country…” explained a statement from the RSL. Instead they counter-posed the pacifist slogan of “peace” and “stop the war”.
The Fourth International was completely opposed to the imperialist war, but as Ted explained in his polemic with the RSL, under the concrete conditions it was wrong to repeat word for word Lenin’s position from 1914. At this time, Lenin was addressing the cadres and drawing a sharp line between defencism and internationalism. It was necessary to connect the revolutionary tendency with a war against fascism, but without giving credence to the war aims of British imperialism. Within this volume is contained the debate between the two positions. The WIL’s main statement, written by Ted, remains a classic document on this important question.
The RSL was not the only party of the Fourth International that failed to understand or rejected the Proletarian Military Policy. In fact, it provoked widespread opposition. Like the RSL, who repudiated the policy, the Belgian section struck out several paragraphs on this question from their clandestine version of the May 1940 Manifesto. There was also opposition in the French section, which was moving in opposite directions, and even in the European Secretariat, which was supposed to be guiding the work. Even in the United States, the policy was reduced to mere propaganda. (See Pierre Broué, How Trotsky and the Trotskyists confronted the Second World War, September 1985) Only in Britain, did the WIL take the policy into the working class and armed forces in the widest possible manner.
Given their dominant position and growing success, the WIL opened up friendly relations and correspondence with the International with a view to becoming the officially recognised section. The International Secretariat of the Fourth International in fact criticised the RSL for attacking the WIL as “centrist”, “chauvinist”, etc. “The impression of the WIL’s leadership we have here is that these are young comrades. If we could desire, at times, a little more firmness in their propaganda, we must recognise that they learn quickly. The last issue of their paper (that of May, with the article on the Second Front) is excellent, and to speak of “centrism”, “defencism”, “chauvinism”, etc., is simply false. It is necessary to say clearly: The WIL stands entirely on the grounds of the principles and methods of the FI and it should find its place in our ranks as soon as possible.” (Letter from the IS to RSL, June 21 1942, emphasis in original)
Despite the patronising tone at the beginning, the International Secretariat could not but criticise the RSL for its policies and groundless attacks. As we will see the RSL was in a state of acute crisis, riddled with factions, and in the process of complete disintegration prior to the 1944 fusion with the WIL. Just like a French bedroom farce, the minority leaders actually expelled the majority! This was revealed in a resolution of the IS of September 26 1943:
“1) The IS has now received adequate reports and statements from all concerned regarding the wholesale expulsion carried out by the DDH [Denzil Harber] leadership and its handling of the question of fusion with the WIL…
“2) The Central Committee of DDH has, by a series of impermissible and unheard-of bureaucratic manipulations, finally managed to ‘expel’ a majority of the organisation. These fantastic operations have been carried through in gross violation of the elementary rules and methods and traditional practices of the FI, and despite repeated warnings and demands of the IS. The CC has likewise disloyally sabotaged the policy of the IS regarding fusion with the WIL – a matter now of the greatest international urgency which can no longer be trifled with.
“3) By its actions the CC of DDH has forfeited all rights to be considered the leadership of the British Section of the Fourth International, and is no longer so regarded by the IS. It no longer has the right or moral authority to expel or reinstate anybody. The CC of DDH represents a minority fraction no more, and has no special rights or authority whatsoever.
“4) The IS has received the statement signed by Dunipace, Lawrence and Robinson in the name of the groups they represent which make up the majority of the membership, proposing to call a national conference to reconstitute the RSL as the official BSFI. We endorse this move as the most necessary action in the present situation, with the following proviso: The DDH group must be invited to participate in the conference and its arrangements committee on the same basis as other groups.”
In 1943, one of the factions within the crisis-ridden RSL, called the Trotskyist Opposition and led by John Lawrence, had opened up secret talks with the WIL. Eventually, after the RSL had reconstituted itself from the ashes, a hasty fusion conference was organised with the WIL in March 1944, where the Revolutionary Communist Party was formed and recognised as the official section of the Fourth.
With the political truce and the pro-war stand of the Communist Party, the WIL had concentrated its attention on the industrial field. At this time the Socialist Appeal is full of reports of industrial disputes. The resolution on the industrial situation presented to the 1943 WIL national conference explained that the previous year has seen the largest number of strikes for 16 years, and the first 5 months of 1943 had seen a 150 percent rise in the number of disputes compared to the same period of 1942. Clearly, this indicated a rising discontent within the workers in industry, which the Stalinists were attempting to suppress in support of the war effort. Worried at the growing effect of the Trotskyists, the British Communist Party launched a frenzied attack on members of the WIL, denouncing them as “Hitler’s agents”, and when discovered were to be treated accordingly.
To advance their work, and undermine the influence of the Communist Party, the WIL established the Militant Workers’ Federation in 1943. Roy Tearse was appointed the WIL’s industrial organiser and became the secretary of the MWF. The comrades threw themselves into the strike movement, the most significant being the Barrow-in-Furness strike, which the trade union bureaucracy and the Stalinists opposed. The influence of the MWF extended to the shop stewards in the Glasgow munitions factory at Fairfields and more decisively to the Nottingham Royal Ordinance Factory, where the convenor had joined the WIL.
The Stalinists were livid. In October 1943, Harry Pollitt, the CP leader, wrote after the great Barrow dispute: “We oppose strikes at the present time because they are against the present and future interests of the working class; and because existing trade union machinery, if rightly used, and backed by public opinion, can bring results satisfactory to the workers without dislocating the productive process.” This was also the line of the capitalist press and politicians.
The Stalinists advocated a “strong government” of Tories, Liberals and Labour. Their hatred of the Trotskyists also extended itself to the centrist Independent Labour Party. The ILP’s demand for “replacing the Churchill government by a Socialist government” was, according to the Stalinist J. R. Campbell, “black treachery”. “Restricted practices”, he continued, “are a relic of craft unionism”, and “whether we like it or not, we are in for vast changes in industry, which cannot be met by clinging to old customs and practices.”
Harry Pollitt, the leading Stalinist, claimed that “it is the class conscious workers in Britain, inspired by the Communist Party, who have led the fight for increased production and to make the Joint Production Committees work, have been ready to accept dilution, forego hard-earned customs and practices in industry.”
Workers, however, had other ideas. Resentment was growing and was reflected in the increasing number of industrial disputes. In the autumn of 1943, workers at the Vickers Armstrong factory in Barrow took action, which resulted in the union executive suspending the whole of the Barrow District Committee of the AEU. “Barrow has become the cockpit of Trotskyist agitation”, ranted Jack Owen in the Daily Worker, as they campaigned for a return to work.
Strikes spread to other areas, including the Kent coalfield, Fife, Doncaster, and South Wales, where 100,000 were out on strike. Anger was fed in July 1943, when the government announced the “Bevin Ballot Scheme”, in which young workers were removed from their jobs and forced to work in the mines on lower pay.
In October, the WIL held its Second National Conference attended by over 100 members, with 34 delegates, with firm roots in the working class. “Striking too was the number of newcomers fresh from the ranks of the Communist Party”, stated the report by Millie Lee in Socialist Appeal. Comrades attended the conference from all branches of the armed forces. The three statements discussed were on Perspectives, the relations with the Fourth International and Industrial Policy. The report on the WIL witnessed a 40 percent growth in membership over the previous year and established the WIL as a truly national organisation. There was enormous enthusiasm and sacrifice shown in the future building and success of the party. It was a tremendous fitting reply to the press witch-hunt led by Ernest Bevin, Minister of Labour, and the Daily Mail.
In March 1944, 5,000 apprentices went on strike on Tyneside against being conscripted to work in the mines and this quickly spread to other areas, including the Clyde. Welsh miners also went on strike. This movement coincided with the launch of the Revolutionary Communist Party on 12-13 March. As the Socialist Appeal put it: “Whilst 100,000 Welsh miners were demonstrating a wonderful class spirit and solidarity in the great Welsh coal strike, another important event was taking place in London. The Trotskyists were meeting in London for two days for the purpose of fusing together the hitherto separate organisations: the Revolutionary Socialist League and Workers’ International League, into one united Trotskyist party for Great Britain.” The event was attended by 69 delegates as well as a host of visitors. The name of the new party was to draw a sharp distinction between it and His Majesty’s Communist Party which supported the imperialist war and tied the workers to the Coalition government. It was to be the Revolutionary Communist Party.
It must be said that the new organisation was hardly a “fusion”, but represented in reality a complete takeover by the WIL. The RCP adopted lock, stock and barrel the programme, perspectives and methods of the Workers’ International League.
During the conference, the representative of the IS met with the old faction leaders of the RSL and with Gerry Healy established a new secret “anti-leadership” faction inside the RCP. James Cannon, the leader of the American Trotskyists, had always held a grudge against the leaders of the WIL ever since they refused to enter the unprincipled fusion of 1938. He was interested in replacing the RCP leaders by using Zinovievite organisational methods. A key ally in this conspiracy was Gerry Healy, who had been expelled from the WIL in February 1943 after walking out. From then on he established factional relations with John Lawrence in the RSL and wheedled his way back into the WIL. This was the beginning of a factional career that was to eventually destroy the movement.
During this time, the Trotskyists were active in supporting the apprentices’ strike, and managed to win over the strike leader, Bill Davy, to the movement. The capitalist press led a hue and cry over “trained agitators” and “fanatical adherents of Trotskyism” who were “doing all they can to foment class warfare” (Daily Mail).
The Mail continued its barrage, when on April 6 1944 it announced a “special team of investigators” to track down the Trotskyists. The Special Branch, according to the paper, was “in search of documents that would reveal the hidden hand of finance” and was following “a fantastic trail of clues.”
The Sunday Dispatch on 9 April explained: “Strikes are being fomented by agitators belonging to the organisations calling themselves the ‘Militant Workers’ Federation’ and the ‘Revolutionary Communist Party’ in connection with which is published and distributed the Socialist Appeal … those behind the Socialist Appeal – the writers on the paper and the agitators who foment trouble among the miners – are Trotskyists who believe in permanent revolution.”
Even Britain’s foremost cartoonist “Low” joined in the “nasty man” campaign by drawing a cartoon of a sinister Trotskyist pied piper leading a bunch of blindfolded youngsters labelled “strike suckers”. As Jock Haston commented in the Socialist Appeal: “Yes Low, they are suckers all right. Suckers to dig, to sweat, to fight, to die so that your employers might profit and you can throw mud at them; for which you get paid a little bit more than the lads who will dig coal in the mine.”
The authorities were so alarmed that they moved in to arrest four RCP comrades, Roy Tearse, Heaton Lee, Ann Keen and later Jock Haston. They were accused of conspiring to act in furtherance of an illegal strike; acting in furtherance of an illegal strike; inciting others to act in furtherance of an illegal strike; and aiding and abetting William Davy (the 19-year old apprentice and secretary of the Tyne Apprentices’ Guild) and others to act in furtherance of an illegal strike.
The headquarters of the RCP was also raided along with members’ homes. The Stalinists, who attempted to demoralise the apprentices by accusing them of being manipulated by pro-Nazi elements, applauded these actions. These arrests, however, were met by protests, including ILP leader James Maxton, who became head of the defence committee. The issue was also raised in Parliament, and eventually, after a successful campaign, the sentences were quashed at the end of September and the comrades released. “The whole thing is disgraceful”, declared Nye Bevan in the House of Commons.
In mid-1944, a revolutionary movement broke out in Greece. The entire population was involved in armed resistance. There had been a general strike in Athens against the execution of hostages by the occupying power a year earlier. The main organisation engaged in the resistance armed struggle was EAM (and its army ELAS). EAM was a broad mass movement, under the control of the Stalinists, which conducted the struggle against the fascists. As expected, the British government was fully behind the Monarchist forces, and supplied it with arms. However, the leaders of EAM entered the reactionary Greek exile government of Papandreou, and made all kinds of political concessions.
When the Germans were forced to leave Athens in October 1944, the CP called on the Greek people to “ensure public order”. It also ensured the Papandreou government came to power accompanied by British troops. The government proceeded to disarm ELAS, but this provoked armed resistance and an uprising. The ranks of ELAS took up the fight in Athens, Salonika and elsewhere as power passed into the hands of the working class.
By the end of the year, under orders from Churchill, British troops were used alongside Greek reactionaries to put down the Greek workers “to prevent a massacre” and to stop “triumphant Trotskyism”. “British imperialism has intervened with tanks, machine guns, and planes against the popular democratic will of the people”, explained the Socialist Appeal (Mid-December 1944). In this Churchill had the full backing of Stalin who believed the British should have a free hand. Eventually, the uprising was put down. Nevertheless, it would require several more years of betrayal at the hands of the Stalinists before the fighting spirit of the Greek revolution was extinguished.
In August 1944, there was a massive movement in France against the German occupation, led by an insurrection in Paris. “Barricades were set up in all the working class districts of Paris and tens of thousands, armed with revolvers, sticks and rifles were joined on the barricades by hundreds of thousands without arms”, explained Ted Grant in the lead article of the Socialist Appeal (September 1944). The Germans, despite having tanks, were completely defeated. It was a situation of dual power, with many factories in the hands of the workers. Out of fear of the revolutionary masses, de Gaulle was rushed in to head the movement and quickly make a truce with the Nazis. With the retreat of the Germans, the task of de Gaulle was to disarm the workers and, with the help of the Stalinists, to derail the revolution.
“The political general staff of capitalism, especially men like Churchill, have assimilated the lessons of the last world war”, stated the Socialist Appeal.
“It was ended by the Russian revolution, revolutions in Germany, Austria-Hungary and other countries and a revolutionary situation in Italy, France and even Britain. The masses, who had paid the price in blood and suffering while their masters made millions out of the slaughter and hunger, demanded a reckoning for the crimes of capitalism. The capitalist spokesmen have been haunted throughout this war by the fear of the repetition of these events.” (Mid-December 1944)
Such events were sweeping France and Greece and were part of a wider revolutionary wave that was sweeping across Europe, as Leon Trotsky had predicted before the war.
Unfortunately, the Trotskyists were too small to take advantage of the situation, which was hijacked by the Stalinists and social democrats. They deliberately set about betraying this movement and were in the forefront in disarming the resistance. They also waged the most vulgar campaign of chauvinism by blaming the German workers for the crimes of Hitler and demanded they pay the price. The actions of these “leaders” were to derail the revolution into the safe channels of protecting private property. It was a period of “counter-revolution in a democratic form.”
In January 1945, the RCP decided to fight the Neath by-election. This was the first time a British Trotskyist party had ever contested a parliamentary election.
The January edition of the Socialist Appeal boldly declared:
“In the whole course of the war, not a single election has been fought wherein a direct revolutionary appeal has been made to the electorate. The Revolutionary Communist Party will make this election a test of the real feelings in the ranks of the working class. Our candidate will fight on a platform of uncompromising hostility to the imperialist, war, for the breaking of the coalition, for the overthrow of the Churchill government and for Labour to power on a socialist programme…
“The Trotskyist candidate will fight the election on the basis of international socialism; he will conduct his fight in the traditions of the great socialist teachers of our time – Marx, Lenin, Liebknecht and Trotsky. For the overthrow and destruction of Nazism as well as the monarchist and capitalist quislings and governments set up by Anglo-American imperialism in “liberated” territories. Land to the peasants and factories to the workers throughout Europe and the world! Not the military domination of Europe by the Allied imperialist armies but a united socialist states of Europe. In particular he will appeal for a hand of friendship and fraternity to the German working class for the overthrow of Hitler and the establishment of the socialist brotherhood of European nations – against Vansittartism – against reparations, against blockade and revenge on the German working class.”
The writs were delayed and the election was not held until 15 May 1945, not long before the war was over in Europe. While the RCP never expected to win the seat, the election campaign was used to establish a base within the South Wales coalfield. This was considered fertile ground. Two-thirds of all strikes were concentrated in the British coalfield, a significant number in South Wales.
This immediately caused a ferocious reaction from the Stalinists. “There are only a few scattered Trotskyists in the Welsh coalfields”, explained a statement from the South Wales Communist Party. “They have no real influence in the miners’ Lodges, but the genuine grievances over the Porter Award … gave the Trotskyists their chance to exploit the strike for their own ends, and to slander the elected leaders of the miners, especially Arthur Horner, the President.”
There was talk that the left-wing Miners’ Agent, Trevor James, would be put forward as an independent Communist, well-known for his anti-war, anti-Stalinist views. James’ refusal gave the opportunity for the RCP to wage the challenge. Neath was a rock solid Labour seat and therefore there was no chance of splitting the vote and handing victory to an anti-Labour candidate.
The campaign was a marvellous affair. Thousands of copies of Socialist Appeal were sold throughout the constituency. In fact the February issue sold 7,500 copies, approximately one to every three houses. Two mass meetings were held in the Gwyn Hall, the first attracting 750 people, and the second attracting 1,500. The latter was the biggest political rally in Neath since Ramsay MacDonald held a rally in the same place in the 1929 General Election.
In the final rally, the CP was forced to debate. Councillor Alun Thomas, chairman of the West Wales CP debated Jock Haston. As expected, he raised all the old Stalinist slanders. “He tried to get the miners out on strike everywhere when we were preparing for invasion”, stated Thomas. “His policy was the same as Oswald Mosley, both parts of one and the same policy.
“He comes out against unconditional surrender. Says the German worker is our ally. How can the Russians, who tried to fraternise with the Germans and get them to mutiny, talk about these elements as brothers? Hitler has created a nation of nincompoops and murderers. Haston had to follow in Hitler’s footsteps.”
Haston, however, was a skilled debater and took up every point that Thomas had raised and then turned the tables on the Stalinists for their class collaboration and the betrayals of Stalin.
On Election Day, the RCP candidate, Jock Haston, secured 1,781 votes, a credible achievement under the circumstances. The Labour candidate scored 30,847. The war was almost at an end and workers were looking forward to a General Election to return a majority Labour government.
“In 1929, in the height of the depression Harry Pollitt, contesting Seaham Harbour against Ramsay MacDonald polled 1,451 votes against 35,615”, explained the Socialist Appeal. “In 1940 at the Silvertown by-election Pollitt received 996 votes on an anti-war ticket against Labour’s 14,343. In comparison with these figures, the result of the first election which our party has contested should be an encouragement and inspiration to the workers seeking a communist solution.” (Mid-May 1945)
The issue concluded that “Trotskyism has found its roots in Wales. But its richest harvest will be reaped in the years to come.”
Nationally, the organisation report at the second National Conference stated that the membership of the RCP had grown by 20 percent since the fusion. The organisation was in a healthy position to face up to the opportunities of the post war period.
Throughout these past three years, the theoretical and political line of the WIL and RCP was largely determined by Ted Grant, which can be seen from this written work. He drafted most of the main documents and statements of the party. The final important statement contained in this collection is The changed relationship of forces in Europe and the role of the Fourth International, which was presented by Ted to the March 1945 Central Committee, and later approved in the August National Conference. This was especially important, and while it was necessarily conditional about developments in those countries occupied by the Red Army, it nevertheless raises the possibility of the overturn of property forms being carried through by the Stalinists, albeit on a totalitarian basis.
More importantly, for the first time it is recognised that a developing stabilisation was unfolding in Europe as a consequence of the role of the leaders of the mass organisations. This development was to take the appearance of a “counter-revolution in a ‘democratic’ form”. It was counter-revolutionary in so far as the ruling class could ride out the revolutionary storm given the weakness of the subjective factor, i.e., the revolutionary party, but “democratic” because of the weakness of reaction and the pressure of the masses. What is also explained is the political preconditions for a new economic recovery of capitalism, a new departure from the traditional perspective of the past. It was this ability of Ted to grasp the new conditions in order to reorient the forces of Trotskyism, which the leaders of the Fourth International were incapable of doing.
This inability of the International leadership to recognise reality led to enormous problems in the years ahead. However, that is the subject on the next volume of Ted Grant’s writings.
Rob Sewell, May 2012