[Book] Ted Grant Writings: Volume One



The Workers’ International League was founded at the end of 1937 in the middle of the preparations for the Second World War. Through the publications of the WIL we can see how this group of young comrades were preparing for the imminent war without making any concessions to pacifist or ambiguous positions. Their characterisation of the war as an imperialist war gave them the theoretical basis to resist the pressure of petty-bourgeois pacifism which was dominant in the ILP at that time. It also put them firmly against the CP’s “peace on Hitler’s terms”, then the complete somersault of a war of “democracy against fascism”.

The WIL, from its inception, stood out for its active agitation and propaganda, and for the efficient organisation that allowed them to produce two monthly publications, The Searchlight, then Youth For Socialism, the theoretical magazine Workers’ International News, and also many pamphlets. The WIL became the main voice of British Trotskyism and it is thanks to this small organisation that the most advanced British workers had the possibility of reading and debating the ideas put forward by Trotsky—a task that the then bigger Revolutionary Socialist League was never able to accomplish.

The documents of this section give a reduced sample of the ideological battle for the political rearmament of the movement that was taking place in such difficult conditions. We have decided to include the document produced by the WIL political bureau for the June 1938 “unification” conference of Trotskyist groups. Suffice to say that the principled position of the WIL was soon vindicated by the continuous crises of the RSL provoked by the hasty fusion of groups without a real political agreement. On these grounds, although standing as an independent organisation outside of the official section, the WIL appealed for membership to the founding congress of the Fourth International.

Ted Grant’s lead articles for Youth For Socialism provide the theoretical grounds for the future evolution of the WIL and the adoption of Trotsky’s military policy.