The other history of American Trotskyism: Workers' Liberty 3/8

What is the role of a revolutionary organisation?

Published on: Mon, 18/06/2007 - 17:15

Max Shachtman

It is an axiom by now that the defeats and setbacks suffered by the working class throughout the world [in the Twentieth Century] have been due not to the vigour and stability of the exisiting social order, but to the absence or immaturity of the conscious revolutionary vanguard.

A score of times since 1917, the people have either been ready to rise or have actually risen against the ruling classes. Each time they have sought to remove the decomposing barrier to social progress. In every case, there was enough will to struggle, aggressiveness, sacrifice. Defeat was due to the lack of a

L’autre histoire du trotskisme américain

Published on: Fri, 20/04/2007 - 08:09

Workers' Liberty Numéro 3/8

L’autre histoire du trotskisme américain

(Introduction du numéro 3/8 de novembre 2006 de la revue Workers’ Liberty qui reproduit quatre textes de Max Shachtman : Quel est le rôle de l’organisation révolutionnaire ? paru dans New International d’Avril 1945, Vingt ans du trotskisme américain et La fondation du Workers’ Party, parus dans New International de janvier - février 1954, L’accusation de Natalia Trotsky contre la Quatrième Internationale de Cannon de 1951. Ce numéro reproduit aussi la lettre de rupture de Natalia Sedova Trotsky du 9 mai 1951 adressée au

Natalia Sedova Trotsky's Break with the Fourth International

Published on: Sun, 11/02/2007 - 11:51

To the Executive Committee of the Fourth International and the Political Committee of the Socialist Workers Party (USA)

May 9, 1951

Comrades: You know quite well that I have not been in political agreement with you for the past five or six years, since the end of the war and even earlier. The position you have taken on the important events of recent times shows me that, instead of correcting your earlier errors, you are persisting in them and deepening them. On the road you have taken, you have reached a point where it is no longer possible for me to remain silent or to confine myself to

Cannon and Shachtman: The other history of American Trotskyism

Published on: Sat, 04/11/2006 - 17:05

Cassius: Stoop then, and wash. How many ages hence
Shall this our lofty scene be acted o'er
In states yet unborn and in accents yet unknown.
Julius Caesar

The photograph on this front page of Workers’ Liberty shows James P Cannon and Max Shachtman standing under the sign of the two angels (at the entrance to a cul-de-sac!). It was taken at the time of the founding conference of the Fourth International, in Paris, September 1938. It neatly, if unwittingly, pictures the two Trotskyist leaders in the role they would play in the “narrative” of its own origin promulgated by post-Trotsky “Orthodox

Twenty Five Years of American Trotskyism

Published on: Sat, 04/11/2006 - 17:01

It is now twenty-five years since the Trotskyist movement was launched in the United States under circumstances which had already ceased to be unusual for that movement. The date was 27 October 1928.

On that day, an enlarged session of the Political Committee of the Communist Party, upon hearing a statement by three members of the party’s Central Committee in which they aligned themselves with the then Russian (or Trotskyist) Opposition, voted to expel the three from the party: James P Cannon, Martin Abern, and Max Shachtman (an alternate member).

This action, as the expelled knew before they

The 1940 Split in the SWP (USA) and the Founding of the Workers’ Party

Published on: Sat, 04/11/2006 - 16:43

By Max Shachtman

The Workers Party was organised as a result of the factional struggle that broke out in the American Trotskyist movement (the Socialist Workers Party and its youth organisation) when the Second World War began, and ended in a split. Those who founded the new party had reason to be confident.

First they had better than held their own in the debate. Differences of opinion and even factional struggle were not new in the Trotskyist movement. But never before had the leadership of any section of the International shown such poverty of ideas, such bewilderment and downright

Natalia Trotsky’s indictment of Cannon’s Fourth International

Published on: Sat, 04/11/2006 - 16:42

By Max Shachtman

The letter of Natalia Sedova Trotsky, in which she breaks off relations with the Fourth International and with the Socialist Workers Party, is a document of outstanding political importance.

Natalia Trotsky is not only the comrade who was the life-long companion of Leon Trotsky in the revolutionary movement and the one who followed most closely the development of his ideas. She is the last of the living representatives of the greatest revolutionary generation of our time and in particular of that deathless band, the Trotskyist Opposition, which launched its war more than a

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