Trotsky’s struggle to found the Fourth International (1933-1938)

Since the founding of the Left Opposition in 1923, Trotsky had insisted, despite the crimes of the Stalinist leadership, that the fight to reform the Communist International and win its parties back to the revolutionary program of its first four congresses could not be prematurely abandoned. But the coming to power of the Nazis in Germany in 1933, facilitated by Stalin’s disastrous policies, demanded a reconsideration of this policy.

In the months that followed, Trotsky waited to see if any criticism of Stalin's policies would emerge from any of the parties of the Comintern. On April 7, 1933 the Comintern endorsed the policies of the German Communist Party. Trotsky concluded that a new course was necessary. A new world revolutionary party was an historical necessity. He devoted the remainder of his life to this struggle.

This conception was substantiated further by his analysis of the Soviet regime, contained in the monumental work, The Revolution Betrayed. The material interests of the Soviet bureaucracy were irreconcilably opposed to those of the working class. It could not be reformed, but had to be overthrown by means of a political revolution.

The five years between 1933 and the founding of the Fourth International in September 1938 were marked by a continuous struggle against centrist political organizations, particularly in Europe, many of which professed sympathy with Trotsky’s perspective and some of which declared themselves for the Fourth International.

Trotsky in Coyoacan, Mexico
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Vadim Rogovin’s greatest work was accomplished in the aftermath of the dissolution of the USSR. Beginning in 1992, he began intensive work on what would become a seven-volume history of the revolutionary Marxist opposition, led by Leon Trotsky, to the Stalinist degeneration of the USSR.

Covering the years from 1923 to 1940, Rogovin’s Was There an Alternative? is an unsurpassed work of historical scholarship, indispensable for an understanding of the Stalinist regime and the deep-rooted socialist opposition to its betrayal of the principles and program of the October Revolution.

Rogovin documented the immense popularity of Trotsky, even after his exile from the Soviet Union in 1929, and established that the principal purpose of Stalin’s bloody terror in the 1930s was the eradication of Trotsky’s political influence.

More about Vadim Rogovin
From the founding documents of the Socialist Equality Parties
Historical and International Foundations of the SEP (Australia)
Available from Mehring Books
The History of the Russian Revolution (Leon Trotsky)
Leon Trotsky on France
Revolution Betrayed (Leon Trotsky)
Fascism: What it is and how to fight it (Leon Trotsky)

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