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Fourth International, May 1946



A Documentary History of the Fourth International



From Fourth International, May 1946, Vol.7 No.5, pp.153.
Transcribed, edited & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.


With this issue we begin publication of political documents from the pen of Leon Trotsky concerning the internal problems of building the Fourth International.

The Trotskyist movement had its inception in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, existing as the Russian Left Opposition (Bolshevik-Leninists) from 1923 to 1927, when the formal expulsions took place. The Opposition was not formally organized on a world scale until the deportation of Trotsky to Turkey in February 1929.

In many countries there were individuals, groups and tendencies that professed sympathy with the views of the Russian Left Opposition. At the same time, with the break in the ruling bloc of Stalin-Bukharin, the right wing groupings in the Communist International found themselves expelled (the Brandler-Thalheimer Group in Germany, the Lovestone group in the United States, etc.). It seemed plausible on the surface that the general Communist standpoint of this right wing tendency and especially its opposition to Stalinism, could provide an adequate basis for coexistence and joint work within the same organization.

To clarify the situation and to prepare the basis for an international consolidation of the revolutionary vanguard, Trotsky proceeded to write a series of letters clarifying the principled grounds for political collaboration.

The initial letters were written primarily “against the Right Wing” – to explain why unity with the right wing in the Communist movement was excluded on grounds of principle. The chief right wing group abroad was the Brandler-Thalheimer group of Germany, who upon their expulsion in 1929 from the Communist International tried to organize an international association of all the expelled right wing groups under the name of International Communist Opposition (to which the Lovestone group in America adhered). The Brandlerites later joined the London Bureau, a melange of various centrist formations sponsored by the English ILP. The Brandler-Lovestone tendency did not survive the war.

Souvarine began by actively supporting the Russian Left Opposition but after his expulsion from the French Communist Party began to vacillate, leaning in 1929 toward unity with the Brandlerites. Shortly thereafter he withdrew from active political life. He later wrote his well known biography of Stalin, the keynote of which is the identification of Stalinism with Bolshevism.

Against the Right Opposition

Of Groupings in the Communist Opposition

A Letter to Souvarine

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