Leon Trotsky and the Organizational Principles of the Revolutionary Party

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He added that it was crucial to say openly to the masses that the revolutionaries would fight side by side with their class brothers and sisters in favour of this referendum proposed by Ludlow, showing in practice that he wasn't really interested in realizing it, and that the working class could only trust its own forces in order to achieve such a referendum.

History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) - Chapter 2

The words of Trotsky about the Ludlow amendment could perfectly have been written yesterday about the democratic demands in Tunisia and Egypt, where millions are struggling against the remnants of the dictatorships of Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak. It is a good answer to all those sectarian elements who reject the necessity of giving support to democratic demands, among them for a Constituent Assembly.

In all these discussions we can observe the dialectical method of Trotsky in contrast with the mechanical ideas of sectarianism. In the history of the destiny of revolutionaries throughout the world, it is impossible to find a life with more pain and suffering than Trotsky's. He had already suffered several losses in his family, among them his daughter Zina, who committed suicide in Berlin in after having had her Soviet citizenship removed and thus being unable to see her husband and child again.

Trotsky and the struggle for a Revolutionary International ()

Sedov was not just Trotsky's son but had also worked as his secretary, giving indispensable assistance in the collection of facts and sources for the books of the Old Man. Sedov had stayed in Berlin and subsequently in Paris, where he had organized the International Secretariat of the movement and also maintained the publication of the Bulletin of the Russian Left Opposition, which he managed to smuggle into the USSR through a clandestine network of supporters. Sedov was a brilliant organizer and his death left an enormous vacuum in the movement [8].

The young Rudolf Klement took over his responsibility in the work at the International Secretariat, but the GPU — Stalin's secret police — was following his footsteps. In the end he was kidnapped by that intelligence service in July of the same year, , and his body was found, headless, in the river a couple of weeks later. Ignace Reiss, an agent of the GPU who had deserted and embraced the Fourth International, was found shot in a car in a rural area of Switzerland in Even the other of son of Trotsky, Sergei, who held no interest in politics and had stayed in the USSR, was deported and executed on Stalin's orders in Even until the last moments they maintained their revolutionary spirit, organizing a hunger strike to protest against the terrible conditions of the political prisoners.

Witnesses saw them singing the Internationale when they were taken out to the execution squads [9]. In the s Lev Davidovich had to put up an energetic struggle to convince the various national sections of his movement of the necessity of an International , in the real sense of the word.

All the conflicts with the groups of Andreu Nin in Spain — and later Molinier in France, Sneevliet in Holland and Vereecken in Belgium — had their origins in the narrow-minded national outlook and the provincial and opportunist mentality of the main leaders of those groups. Lenin, Trotsky and the other Bolshevik leaders had the great advantage of having got to know the international labour movement in person during their exiles in several countries. Trotsky spoke German and French fluently and also gained a certain level of English in the last period of his life.

But even more decisive than that was his profound knowledge of the general characteristics of the class struggle on an international level, of the question of oppressed nationalities and of the effects of imperialist domination. It is no coincidence that Trotsky also criticized the American SWP leaders for not giving sufficient attention to the international questions. In various letters and in the discussions he had with them during , he underlined three aspects:. In the first place he considered it the fundamental duty of any Bolshevik-Leninist group in an imperialist country to condemn in an energetic way the foreign policy of the country and help the working class in the colonial countries.

In the case of the SWP, Trotsky believed that the party had not done what was necessary in relation to Latin America and that it should write more frequently about this theme in its press and translate the articles into Spanish and distribute them south of the border. Secondly, Trotsky complained about the lack of serious work among the racial minorities in the United States, particularly among the black workers. He proposed that the American party should make a special effort to reach the most oppressed layers of the proletariat and that its struggles should be reflected in the Socialist Appeal.


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Furthermore, he underlined that the transitional programme should adapt itself to the black minority in the United States, including demands for civil and democratic rights. In one letter after the other, the Old Man tried to pressurize Cannon and Shactmann to take on the responsibility of building the Fourth International in a serious manner. He demanded that they make political trips to give advice and exchange experience with the other sections of the international, particularly in France, where the political situation was very tense and explosive in the years leading up to the outbreak of WW2.

The writings of Lev Davidovich on Latin America are particularly interesting. In another detailed analysis we have dealt with the main lessons in those texts. The latter was of course not a Marxist, but there cannot be any doubt about his honesty and political stance in the anti-imperialist struggle. It was exactly for this reason that it had the sufficient independence which allowed them to receive the world's most persecuted man. Even Norway, supposedly free and ruled by the social-democrats, had bent down after the Stalinist pressure and had recalled the right to asylum.

While some of his Mexican supporters, led by a man named Fernando Galicia, constantly denounced the Mexican government, Trotsky himself advocated the maintenance of friendly relations and defended unconditionally the actions of the Mexican government which were directed against the imperialist dominance of Great Britain and the United States. Trotsky replied with firmness and demanded that the British Labour Party take a stand in favour of the working class in the colonial world.

The expropriation of oil is neither socialism nor communism. But it is a highly progressive measure of national self-defense. Marx did not, of course, consider Abraham Lincoln a communist; this did not, however, prevent Marx from entertaining the deepest sympathy for the struggle that Lincoln headed. The First International sent the Civil War president a message of greeting, and Lincoln in his answer greatly appreciated this moral support. Revolutionists have no need of changing colour, adapting themselves, and rendering flattery in the manner of the GPU school of courtiers, who in a moment of danger will sell out and betray the weaker side.

Without giving up its own identity, every honest working class organization of the entire world, and first of all in Great Britain, is duty-bound — to take an irreconcilable position against the imperialist robbers, their diplomacy, their press, and their fascist hirelings. The cause of Mexico, like the cause of Spain, like the cause of China, is the cause of the international working class.

The struggle over Mexican oil is only one of the advance-line skirmishes of future battles between the oppressors and the oppressed. How relevant are these words for Venezuela today! But they forget this attitude of Trotsky who was never afraid of a discussion and a dialogue with the best representatives of the revolutionary-democratic movement. This has not been proved decisively.

Others argue that the political collaboration between the two took place through the general of the Mexican Army, Francisco J. Apart from replying to the outrageous lies in the Second Moscow Trial, Trotsky used most of his time in the first half of for the political preparation of the Founding Congress of the Fourth International. Twenty-three delegates of national sections met under severely adverse circumstances. Because of security measures, the congress could only last for one day. Fortunately, they did not give him indications about the meeting place until the last moment, a measure which prevented a violent persecution of the congress on the part of the Stalinists.

The main document at the congress was the Transitional Programme, which is still an invaluable guide for revolutionaries to this day. But the document, drafted by Trotsky, contained several elements which created controversy with some of the congress delegates. We see in this the seed to the famous Proletarian Military Policy, which the Old Man developed the following year; a theme we will touch upon in the next part. The majority did approve the original formulations and thus the international, at least officially, defended Trotsky's policy on the war.

Trotsky responded in the following way, emphasizing the necessity of preserving the Marxist doctrine in spite of all obstacles:. All of these objections merely show that sceptics are no good for the building of a new International.

Leon Trotsky and the Organizational Principles of the Revolutionary Party

They are good for scarcely anything at all. The cause for these defeats is to be found in the degeneration and perfidy of the old leadership. The class struggle does not tolerate an interruption. The Third International, following the Second, is dead for purposes of revolution. Long live the Fourth International!


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It is weak? Yes, its ranks are not numerous because it is still young. They are as yet chiefly cadres. But these cadres are pledges for the future. Outside these cadres there does not exist a single revolutionary current on this planet really meriting the name. If our international be still weak in numbers, it is strong in doctrine, program, tradition, in the incomparable tempering of its cadres.

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Who does not perceive this today, let him in the meantime stand aside. Tomorrow it will become more evident. The calling of this Conference is a major achievement. The irreconcilable revolutionary tendency, subjected to such persecutions as no other political tendency in world history has in all likelihood suffered, has again given proof of its power.

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