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Fourth International, August 1946


Leon Trotsky

The Alternatives Facing Mankind


From Fourth International, August 1946, Vol.7 No.8, p.255.
Transcribed, edited & formatted by Einde O’Callaghan in 2009 for ETOL.


The opportunists, who before the World War summoned the workers to practice moderation for the sake of gradual transition to socialism, and who during the war demanded class docility in the name of civil peace and national defense, are again demanding self-renunciation of the proletariat – this time for the purpose of overcoming the terrible consequences of the war. If these preachments were to find acceptance among the working masses, capitalist development in new, much more concentrated and monstrous forms would be restored on the bones of several generations – with the perspective of a new and inevitable world war. Fortunately for mankind this is not possible.

The state-ization of economic life, against which capitalist liberalism used to protest so much, has become an accomplished fact. There is no turning back from this fact – it is impossible to return not only to free competition but even to the domination of trusts, syndicates and other economic octopi. Today the one and only issue is: Who shall henceforth be the bearer of state-ized production – the imperialist state or the state of the victorious proletariat?

In other words: Is all toiling mankind to become the bond slaves of victorious world cliques who, under the firm-name of the League of Nations and aided by an “international” army and “international” navy, will here plunder and strangle some peoples and there cast crumbs to others, while everywhere and always shackling the proletariat – with the sole object of maintaining their own rule? Or shall the working class of Europe and of the advanced countries in other parts of the world take in hand the disrupted and mined economy in order to assure its regeneration upon socialist principles? (From the Manifesto of the 1st Congress of the Communist International, March 1919; L. Trotsky, The First Five Years of the Communist International)

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Last updated on 10.2.2009