Leon Trotsky

Was Stalinism the new barbarism?

Published in Workers' Liberty Series 1 No. 66 January 2001. Paul Hampton analyses the arguments used by Tony Cliff and others to rubbish the ideas developed in the 1940s by Max Shachtman and the “unorthodox” Trotskyists in the USA about the USSR. This is the second part of an article whose first part appeared in Workers’ Liberty 62. By the late forties Shachtman came to the conclusion that Stalinism was “the new barbarism”. Cliff understood that there were two meanings of the term “barbarism’; the first sense meant a description of the period since 1917, given the belatedness of the socialist...

Stalinism in theory and history

Published in Workers' Liberty Series 1 No. 62 March 2000 In theories of Stalinism, as Haberkern comments in his review of The Fate of the Russian Revolution (WL59-60), plainly there are many nuances, and valuable contributions from the likes of Burnham, Carter and Draper which ought to be more widely known. But the book, criticised by Ernie for its failure to include more such texts, was not intended as a compilation of theories of bureaucratic collectivism. It is rather a critique of the ideas of latter-day Trotskyism, from the premises of Trotsky and by his most ardent followers. Many...

The dynamics of bureaucratism

Left Oppositionists in Siberian exile, late 1920s Published in Workers Liberty Series 1 No.59/60 December 1999 / January 2000 The Fate of the Russian Revolution: Lost Texts of Critical Marxism Volume One is a significant contribution to the literature of the anti-Stalinist left. Long buried in the archives the polemics and analyses of those socialists who refused to accept the definition of Stalin’s barbaric regime as a “workers’ state” simply because property was nationalised and private property, large and small, was obliterated, deserve to see the light. My criticism of this anthology...

Penetrating but unsound

Statue of Stalin toppled in the 1956 Hungarian revolution Published in Workers Liberty Series 1 No. 53 February 1999 I welcome the publication of The Fate of the Russian Revolution: Lost Texts of Critical Marxism Volume One a sort of library in itself. It is a handy compendium of the sweep of Max Shachtman's journalism, and of his co-thinkers. Always penetrating, often witty, and never without interest, Shachtman was a very gifted revolutionary journalist. But he was no theoretician. This puts him well ahead of James P Cannon, who was neither, but journalism is what it is, and not theory. The...

The pilots who weathered the storm

Natalia Sedova, Frida Kahlo, Leon Trotsky and Max Shachtman In the first of a series of critical responses to The Fate of the Russian Revolution: Lost Texts of Critical Marxism, recently published by Phoenix Press and Workers’ Liberty, Alan Johnson argues that the book can play an invaluable role in restoring democracy to the heart of Marxism and help lay to rest the theoretical confusions of post-Trotsky Trotskyism. Originally published in Workers Liberty Series 1 No.50/52 October 1998/January 1999. “However well-intentioned Marxists are nowadays about the need to value democracy the latter...

A socialist vote for Biden

• See here for other articles debating the US election, Trump, etc. Trump’s defeat in the election is, as of now, likely. It is by no means certain. A lot can happen in the coming weeks. It is of fundamental importance to the US working class that he does not win. The US left is divided. Some see it as overriding principle not to back Biden — they tend to favour a vote for the Green Party presidential candidate, Howie Hawkins, who is a socialist. Others work within the very big tent around the Democratic Party for Biden’s election. But if Biden does not win, Trump will win. If by some freak...

80 years after a Stalinist agent murdered Trotsky

Leon Trotsky was murdered by a Stalinist agent 80 years ago. He was attacked with an ice-pick on 20 August 1940, and died in hospital the day after, 21 August 1940. Trotsky was one of the chief leaders of the Russian workers' revolution of October 1917, and the foremost leader of the revolutionary socialist resistance to the Stalinist reaction and counter-revolution which followed that revolution and eventually killed it. His legacy is still central to the fight for working-class socialism, and against Stalinism of all shades. Below are the tributes to Trotsky from the "heterodox" Trotskyist...

How the Bolsheviks governed

The 1917 October Russian revolution produced the world’s first workers’ state. But how did the Bolsheviks govern? Historian Lara Douds has mined state and party archives in Moscow to produce an excellent book, Inside Lenin's Government: Ideology, Power and Practice in the Early Soviet State (2018) on how the central apparatus operated. In the early period of Soviet power, the Council of People’s Commissars (Sovnarkom) rather than party bodies governed. Douds argues that “in no way could the party central committee be viewed as the effective government of the nascent Soviet regime. Instead, it...

Previously untranslated articles by Trotsky on antisemitism

Articles by Leon Trotsky on antisemitism and Jewish questions, translated into English by Stan Crooke. • The Decomposition of Zionism – And What Might Succeed It (1904) • The Tsar’s Footsoldiers at Work (1908) • The Tsar's Footsoldiers at Work (1909) • The Jewish Question in Romania (1913) • Under the Sign of the Beylis Affair (1913) • "Stalin never had qualms about using antisemitism" (1936) The 1909 "Tsar's Footsoldiers" has had a previous English translation, as chapter 12 of Trotsky's book 1905: online here. The 1913 article on Romania has had a previous English translation, appearing in...

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