The two Trotskyisms during World War 2: Workers' Liberty 3/48

The two Trotskyisms during World War 2: Workers' Liberty 3/48

Submitted by AWL on 10 December, 2014 - 8:15

Tracing the development of "two Trotskyisms" through from the 1940 split to the 1944 polemic between Harry Braverman and Max Shachtman.

Click here to download as pdf or read online.

The pagination in the pdf is correct, but, by a mishap, the pages of the printed version of Workers' Liberty 3/48, as a pull-out in Solidarity 347, are in the wrong order. Our apologies to readers.

Check the printed version with the pdf, or follow this guide:

History of the Trotskyist movement

Submitted by Matthew on 11 December, 2014 - 11:43 Author: Sean Matgamna

By the eve of Leon Trotsky’s death in August 1940, the American Trotskyist organisation, which was by far the most important group in the Fourth International, had split. Two currents of Trotskyism had begun the process of complete separation, but only begun.

It would take most of a decade before the evolution of two distinct species was complete.

For brevity they can be named after their chief proponents, James P Cannon and Max Shachtman. Trotsky’s political relationship to those two currents is one of the things that will concern us here.

Why we needed a new theory

Submitted by Matthew on 11 December, 2014 - 11:29 Author: Max Shachtman

From New International, August 1944.

Leon Trotsky’s name will be forever linked with the Russian Revolution, not of course as a Russian revolution but as the beginning of the international socialist revolution in Russia.

He fought for this revolution with pen and sword, from his study and from his armoured train in the Red Army. Between the start of his fight, under Tsarism, and its end, under Stalinism, there is a continuous line, the line flowing from Trotsky’s great contribution to Marxism, the theory of the permanent revolution.

What is Trotskyism?

Submitted by Matthew on 11 December, 2014 - 11:05 Author: Max Shachtman

From The Struggle for the New Course, preface to an edition of Trotsky’s The New Course, 1943

Our criticism of Trotsky’s later theory of the “workers’ state” introduces into it an indispensable correction. Far from “demolishing” Trotskyism, it eliminates from it a distorting element of contradiction and restores its essential inner harmony and continuity. The writer considers himself a follower of Trotsky, as of Lenin before him, and of Marx and Engels in the earlier generation.

What is Leninism?

Submitted by Matthew on 11 December, 2014 - 10:55 Author: Leon Trotsky

From The New Course, 1923

Leninism cannot be conceived of without theoretical breadth, without a critical analysis of the material bases of the political process. The weapon of Marxian investigation must be constantly sharpened and applied. It is precisely in this that tradition consists, and not in the substitution of a formal reference or of an accidental quotation.

Least of all can Leninism be reconciled with ideological superficialty and theoretical slovenliness.

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