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Fourth International

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This article focusses on the Fourth International prior to 1963. See Fourth International (Post-Reunification) for later developments.

The Fourth International (FI) (founded in 1938) is the communist international organisation consisting of followers of Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky , born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army....

 (Trotskyists), with the declared dedicated goal of helping the working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

 bring about socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

. Historically, the Fourth International was established in France in 1938: Trotsky and his supporters, having been expelled from the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, considered the Comintern
Comintern
The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International, was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919...

 or Third International to have become "lost to" Stalinism
Stalinism
Stalinism refers to the ideology that Joseph Stalin conceived and implemented in the Soviet Union, and is generally considered a branch of Marxist–Leninist ideology but considered by some historians to be a significant deviation from this philosophy...

 and incapable of leading the international working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

 to political power
Political power
Political power is a type of power held by a group in a society which allows administration of some or all of public resources, including labour, and wealth. There are many ways to obtain possession of such power. At the nation-state level political legitimacy for political power is held by the...

. Thus, Trotskyists founded their own, competing "Fourth International".

Today, there is no longer a single, cohesive Fourth International. Throughout the better part of its existence, the Fourth International was hounded by agents of the Soviet secret police
State Political Directorate
The State Political Directorate was the secret police of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and the Soviet Union from 1922 until 1934...

, repressed by capitalist
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 countries such as France and the United States and rejected by followers of the Soviet Union and later Maoism
Maoism
Maoism, also known as the Mao Zedong Thought , is claimed by Maoists as an anti-Revisionist form of Marxist communist theory, derived from the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong . Developed during the 1950s and 1960s, it was widely applied as the political and military guiding...

 as illegitimate a position these communists still hold today. It struggled to maintain contact under these conditions of simultaneous illegality and scorn around much of the world during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, because when workers' uprisings did occur, they were usually under the influence of Soviet-inspired, anarchist
Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

, social democratic
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

, Maoist, or militant nationalist
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 groups, leading to further defeats for the FI and its Trotskyists, who never gathered similar support. Even after the Soviet repudiation of Stalin and de-stalinization
De-Stalinization
De-Stalinization refers to the process of eliminating the cult of personality, Stalinist political system and the Gulag labour-camp system created by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Stalin was succeeded by a collective leadership after his death in March 1953...

, Trotskyism continued to be regarded as politically discredited and there was very little renewed support for Trotskyist ideas, particularly when it came to those already committed to another form of communism. Ideologically, Maoists, left communists, and anarchists all consider Trotskyism, and thus also the Fourth International, to be ideologically bankrupt and impotent. Despite this, many parts of Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

 and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 continue to have large Trotskyist groupings, with followings both young and old, who are attracted to its "anti-Stalinist" positions and its rhetoric of workers' internationalism. Quite a few of these groups carry the label "Fourth Internationalist" either in their organisation's name, major political position documents, or both.

The Fourth International, in line with its Trotskyist underpinnings, tended to view the Comintern as worthy of conditional support even considering its corruption
Deformed workers' state
In Trotskyist political theory, deformed workers' states are states where the bourgeoisie has been overthrown through social revolution, the industrial means of production have been largely nationalized bringing benefits to the working class, but where the working class has never held political power...

, and although it regarded its own ideas as more advanced and thus superior to those of the Third International, it did not actively seek the Comintern's destruction. It has not succeeded in capitalizing on the renewed interest in socialism and do not operate as a cohesive entity in the manner of the prior internationals. The FI suffered a major split in 1940 and an even more significant split in 1953. A partial reunification occurred in 1963, but the international never recovered enough to re-emerge as a single transnational grouping. Trotskyists' response to that situation has been in the form of its broad array of Trotskyist Internationals, almost all of whom are bitterly divided over which organisation represents the "true" Fourth Internationalist political continuity.

Trotskyism


Trotskyists regard themselves as working in opposition to both capitalism and Stalinism. Trotsky advocated proletarian
Proletariat
The proletariat is a term used to identify a lower social class, usually the working class; a member of such a class is proletarian...

 revolution as set out in his theory of "permanent revolution
Permanent Revolution
Permanent revolution is a term within Marxist theory, established in usage by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels by at least 1850 but which has since become most closely associated with Leon Trotsky. The use of the term by different theorists is not identical...

", and believed that a workers' state
Socialist state
A socialist state generally refers to any state constitutionally dedicated to the construction of a socialist society. It is closely related to the political strategy of "state socialism", a set of ideologies and policies that believe a socialist economy can be established through government...

 would not be able to hold out against the pressures of a hostile capitalist world unless socialist revolution
Communist revolution
A communist revolution is a proletarian revolution inspired by the ideas of Marxism that aims to replace capitalism with communism, typically with socialism as an intermediate stage...

s quickly took hold in other countries as well. This theory was advanced in opposition to the view held by the Stalinists that "socialism in one country
Socialism in One Country
Socialism in One Country was a theory put forth by Joseph Stalin in 1924, elaborated by Nikolai Bukharin in 1925 and finally adopted as state policy by Stalin...

" could be built in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 alone. Furthermore, Trotsky and his supporters harshly criticised the increasingly totalitarian
Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

 nature of Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

's rule. They argued that socialism without democracy is impossible. Thus, faced with the increasing lack of democracy in the Soviet Union, they concluded that it was no longer a socialist workers' state, but a degenerated workers' state
Degenerated workers' state
In Trotskyist political theory the term degenerated workers' state has been used since the 1930s to describe the state of the Soviet Union after Joseph Stalin's consolidation of power in or about 1924...

.

Trotsky and his supporters had been organised since 1923 as the Left Opposition
Left Opposition
The Left Opposition was a faction within the Bolshevik Party from 1923 to 1927, headed de facto by Leon Trotsky. The Left Opposition formed as part of the power struggle within the party leadership that began with the Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin's illness and intensified with his death in January...

. They opposed the bureaucratisation of the Soviet Union, which they analysed as being partly caused by the poverty and isolation of the Soviet economy
Economy of the Soviet Union
The economy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was based on a system of state ownership of the means of production, collective farming, industrial manufacturing and centralized administrative planning...

. Stalin's theory of socialism in one country was developed in 1924 as an opposition to Trotsky's Theory of Permanent Revolution
Permanent Revolution
Permanent revolution is a term within Marxist theory, established in usage by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels by at least 1850 but which has since become most closely associated with Leon Trotsky. The use of the term by different theorists is not identical...

, which argued that capitalism was a world system and required a world revolution
World revolution
World revolution is the Marxist concept of overthrowing capitalism in all countries through the conscious revolutionary action of the organized working class...

 in order to replace it with socialism. Prior to 1924, the Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

s' international perspective had been guided by Trotsky's position. Trotsky argued that Stalin's theory represented the interests of bureaucratic elements in direct opposition to the working class.

Eventually Trotsky was sent into internal exile and his supporters were jailed. The Left Opposition, however, continued to work in secret within the Soviet Union. Trotsky was eventually exiled to Turkey. He moved from there to France, Norway, and finally to Mexico.

Political internationals


A political international
Political international
A political international is a trans-national organisation of political parties or activists. The international works together on points of agreement to co-ordinate activity....

 is an organisation of political parties or activists with the aim of co-ordinating their activity for a common purpose. There had been a long tradition of socialists organising on an international basis, and Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 had led the International Workingmen's Association
International Workingmen's Association
The International Workingmen's Association , sometimes called the First International, was an international organization which aimed at uniting a variety of different left-wing socialist, communist and anarchist political groups and trade union organizations that were based on the working class...

, which later became known as the "first international".

After the International Workingmen's Association disbanded in 1876, several attempts were made to revive the organisation, culminating the formation of the Socialist International (Second International
Second International
The Second International , the original Socialist International, was an organization of socialist and labour parties formed in Paris on July 14, 1889. At the Paris meeting delegations from 20 countries participated...

) in 1889. This, in turn, was disbanded in 1916 following disagreements over World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. Although the organisation reformed in 1923 as the Labour and Socialist International
Socialist International
The Socialist International is a worldwide organization of democratic socialist, social democratic and labour political parties. It was formed in 1951.- History :...

, supporters of the October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 and the Bolsheviks had already set up the Communist International (Comintern), which they regarded as the Third International. This was organised on a democratic centralist
Democratic centralism
Democratic centralism is the name given to the principles of internal organization used by Leninist political parties, and the term is sometimes used as a synonym for any Leninist policy inside a political party...

 basis, with component parties required to fight for policies adopted by the body as a whole.

By declaring themselves the Fourth International, the "World Party of Socialist Revolution", the Trotskyists were publicly asserting their continuity with the Comintern, and with its predecessors. Their recognition of the importance of these earlier Internationals was coupled with a belief that they eventually degenerated. Although the Socialist International and Comintern were still in existence, the Trotskyists did not believe those organisations were capable of supporting revolutionary socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 and internationalism
Proletarian internationalism
Proletarian internationalism, sometimes referred to as international socialism, is a Marxist social class concept based on the view that capitalism is now a global system, and therefore the working class must act as a global class if it is to defeat it...

.

The foundation of the Fourth International was therefore spurred in part by a desire to form a stronger political current, rather than being seen as the communist opposition to the Comintern and the Soviet Union. Trotsky believed that its formation was all the more urgent for the role he saw it playing in the impending World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

Decision to form the International


In the early 1930s, Trotsky and his supporters believed that Stalin's influence over the Third International could still be fought from within and slowly rolled back. They organised themselves into the International Left Opposition in 1930, which was intended to be a group of anti-Stalinist dissenters within the Third International. Stalin's supporters, who dominated the International, would no longer tolerate dissent. All Trotskyists, and those suspected of being influenced by Trotskyism, were expelled.

Trotsky claimed that the Third Period
Third Period
The Third Period is a ideological concept adopted by the Communist International at its 6th World Congress, held in Moscow in the summer of 1928....

 policies of the Comintern had contributed to the rise of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 in Germany, and that its turn to a popular front
Popular front
A popular front is a broad coalition of different political groupings, often made up of leftists and centrists. Being very broad, they can sometimes include centrist and liberal forces as well as socialist and communist groups...

 policy (aiming to unite all ostensibly anti-fascist forces) sowed illusions in reformism
Reformism
Reformism is the belief that gradual democratic changes in a society can ultimately change a society's fundamental economic relations and political structures...

 and pacifism
Pacifism
Pacifism is the opposition to war and violence. The term "pacifism" was coined by the French peace campaignerÉmile Arnaud and adopted by other peace activists at the tenth Universal Peace Congress inGlasgow in 1901.- Definition :...

 and "clear[ed] the road for a fascist overturn". By 1935 he claimed that the Comintern had fallen irredeemably into the hands of the Stalinist bureaucracy. He and his supporters, expelled from the Third International, participated in a conference of the London Bureau of socialist parties outside both the Socialist International and the Comintern. Three of those parties joined the Left Opposition in signing a document written by Trotsky calling for a Fourth International, which became known as the "Declaration of Four". Of those, two soon distanced themselves from the agreement, but the Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 Revolutionary Socialist Party
Revolutionary Socialist Party (Netherlands)
The Revolutionary Socialist Party was a Dutch socialist political party.-Predecessors:The oldest predecessor of the Revolutionary Socialist Party is the Revolutionary Socialist Union , a group of dissidents from the Communist Party Holland led by Henk Sneevliet...

 worked with the International Left Opposition to declare the International Communist League.

This position was contested by Andrés Nin
Andrés Nin
Andreu Nin i Pérez was a Spanish Communist revolutionary.- Early life :...

 and some other members of the League who did not support the call for a new International. This group prioritised regroupment with other communist oppositions, principally the International Communist Opposition (ICO), linked to the Right Opposition
Right Opposition
The Right Opposition was the name given to the tendency made up of Nikolai Bukharin, Alexei Rykov, Mikhail Tomsky and their supporters within the Soviet Union in the late 1920s...

 in the Soviet Party, a regroupment which eventually led to the formation of the International Bureau for Revolutionary Socialist Unity. Trotsky considered those organisations to be centrist. Despite Trotsky, the Spanish section merged with the Spanish section of ICO, forming the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (POUM
Poum
Poum is a commune in the North Province of New Caledonia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. The town of Poum is located in the far northwest, located on the southern part of Banare Bay, with Mouac Island just offshore....

). Trotsky claimed the merger was to be a capitulation to centrism. The Socialist Workers' Party of Germany
Socialist Workers' Party of Germany
The Socialist Workers' Party of Germany was a political party in Germany. It was formed by a left-wing party with around 20,000 members which split off from the SPD in the autumn of 1931. In 1931 the remnants of USPD merged into the party, and in 1932 some Communist Party dissenters joined the...

, a left split from the Social Democratic Party of Germany
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 founded in 1931, co-operated with the International Left Opposition briefly in 1933 but soon abandoned the call for a new International.

In 1935, Trotsky wrote an Open Letter for the Fourth International, reaffirming the Declaration of Four, while documenting the recent course of the Comintern and the Socialist International. In the letter, he called for the urgent formation of a Fourth International. The "First International Conference for the Fourth International" was held in Paris in June 1936, reports giving its location as Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

 for security reasons. This meeting dissolved the International Communist League, founding in its place the Movement for the Fourth International on Trotsky's perspectives.

The foundation of the Fourth International was seen as more than just the simple renaming of an international tendency that was already in existence. It was argued that the Third International had now degenerated completely and was therefore to be seen as a counter-revolutionary organisation that would in time of crisis defend capitalism. Trotsky believed that the coming World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 would produce a revolutionary wave
Revolutionary wave
A revolutionary wave is a series of revolutions occurring in various locations in a similar time period. In many cases, an initial revolution inspires other "affiliate revolutions" with similar aims....

 of class and national struggles, rather as World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 had done.

Stalin reacted to the growing strength of Trotsky's supporters with a major political massacre of people within the Soviet Union, and the assassination of Trotsky's supporters and family abroad. He had agents go through historical documents and photos in order to attempt to erase Trotsky's memory from the history books. According to the historian Mario Kessler, Stalin's supporters turned to anti-semitism
Anti-Semitism
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

 to whip up sentiment against Trotsky (as Trotsky was a Jew). Stalin's daughter later claimed that his fight with Trotsky laid the foundations for his later anti-semitic campaigns.

Founding Congress



The International's rationale was to construct new mass revolutionary parties
Revolutionary Party
Revolutionary Party is the name of several political parties, including:*Dominican Revolutionary Party*Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity*Revolutionary Progressive Nationalist Party of Haiti*Democratic Revolutionary Peoples Party, India...

 able to lead successful workers' revolutions. It saw these arising from a revolutionary wave which would develop alongside and as a result of the coming World War. Thirty delegates attended a founding conference, held in September 1938, in the home of Alfred Rosmer
Alfred Rosmer
Alfred Rosmer was a syndicalist leader before World War I and one of the few leaders of that movement to oppose the war from a revolutionary internationalist position....

 just outside Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. Present at the meeting were delegates from all the major countries of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, and from North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, although for reasons of cost and distance, few delegates attended from Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 or Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

. An International Secretariat was established, with many of the day's leading Trotskyists and most countries in which Trotskyists were active represented. Among the resolutions adopted by the conference was the Transitional Programme.

The Transitional Programme was the central programmatic statement of the congress, summarising its strategic and tactical conceptions for the revolutionary period that it saw opening up as a result of the war which Trotsky had been predicting for some years. It is not, however, the definitive programme of the Fourth International as is often suggested but instead contains a summation of the conjunctural understanding of the movement at that date and a series of transitional policies designed to develop the struggle for workers' power.

World War II


At the outbreak of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, in 1939, the International Secretariat was moved to New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. The resident International Executive Committee failed to meet, largely because of a struggle in the U.S. Socialist Workers Party
Socialist Workers Party (United States)
The Socialist Workers Party is a far-left political organization in the United States. The group places a priority on "solidarity work" to aid strikes and is strongly supportive of Cuba...

 (SWP) between Trotsky's supporters and the tendency of Max Shachtman
Max Shachtman
Max Shachtman was an American Marxist theorist. He evolved from being an associate of Leon Trotsky to a social democrat and mentor of senior assistants to AFL-CIO President George Meany.-Beginnings:...

, Martin Abern
Martin Abern
Martin Abern was a Marxist politician who was an important leader of the Communist youth movement of the 1920s as well as a founder of the American Trotskyist movement.-Early years:...

 and James Burnham
James Burnham
James Burnham was an American popular political theorist, best known for his influential work The Managerial Revolution, published in 1941. Burnham was a radical activist in the 1930s and an important factional leader of the American Trotskyist movement. In later years he left Marxism and produced...

. The secretariat was composed of those committee members who happened to be in the city, most of whom were co-thinkers of Shachtman. The disagreement was centred around the Shachtmanite
Shachtmanism
Shachtmanism is the form of Marxism associated with Max Shachtman. It has two major components: a bureaucratic collectivist analysis of the Soviet Union and a third camp approach to world politics...

s' disagreements with the SWP's internal policy, and over the FI's unconditional defence of the USSR.

Trotsky opened a public debate with Shachtman and Burnham and developed his positions in a series of polemics written in 1939–1940 and later collected in In Defense of Marxism. Shachtman and Burnham's tendency resigned from the International in early 1940, alongside almost 40% of the SWP's members, many of whom became founder members of the Workers Party
Workers Party (US)
Not to be confused with the modern Marxist-Leninist party, Workers Party, USA.The Workers Party was a Third Camp Trotskyist group in the United States. It was founded in April 1940 by members of the Socialist Workers Party who opposed the Soviet invasion of Finland. They included Max Shachtman,...

.

Emergency conference


In May 1940 an emergency conference of the International met at a secret location "somewhere in the Western Hemisphere". It adopted a manifesto drafted by Trotsky shortly before his murder and a range of policies on the work of the International, including one calling for the reunification of the then-divided Fourth Internationalist groups in Britain.

Secretariat members who had supported Shachtman were expelled by the emergency conference, with the support of Trotsky himself. While leader of the SWP James P. Cannon
James P. Cannon
James Patrick "Jim" Cannon was an American Trotskyist and a leader of the Socialist Workers Party.Born on February 11, 1890 in Rosedale, Kansas, he joined the Socialist Party of America in 1908 and the Industrial Workers of the World in 1911...

 later said that he did not believe the split to be definitive and final, the two groups did not reunite. A new International Executive Committee was appointed, which came under the increasing influence of the Socialist Workers Party.

The Fourth International was hit hard during World War II. Trotsky was assassinated, many of the FI's European affiliates were destroyed by the Nazis
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 and several of its Asian affiliates were destroyed by the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

. The survivors, in Europe, Asia and elsewhere, were largely cut off from each other and from the International Secretariat. The new secretary, Jean Van Heijenoort
Jean Van Heijenoort
Jean Louis Maxime van Heijenoort was a pioneer historian of mathematical logic. He was also a personal secretary to Leon Trotsky from 1932 to 1939, and from then until 1947, an American Trotskyist activist.-Life:Van Heijenoort was born in Creil, France...

 (also known as Gerland), was able to do little more than publish articles in the SWP's theoretical journal Fourth International. Despite this dislocation, the various groups sought to maintain links and some connections were kept up throughout the early part of the war by sailors enlisted in the U.S. Navy who had cause to visit Marseilles. Contact was steady, if irregular, between the SWP and the British Trotskyists, with the result that the Americans exerted what influence they had to encourage the Workers' International League
Workers' International League (1937)
The Workers' International League was a Trotskyist group in Britain which existed from 1937 to 1944.-Formation:The WIl was formed in 1937 by around members of the Militant Group, who had split due to false allegations from the leadership of that group that Ralph Lee, then a newly arrived South...

 into the International through a fusion with the Revolutionary Socialist League
Revolutionary Socialist League (UK, 1938)
The first RSL was formed in early 1938 with the merger of two different parties, the Marxist League led by Harry Wicks and the Marxist Group led by C. L. R. James....

, a union that had been requested by the Emergency Conference.

In 1942, a debate on the national question in Europe opened up between the majority of the SWP and a current around Van Heijenoort, Albert Goldman
Albert Goldman (politician)
Albert Goldman was an American Trotskyist and lawyer to the labor movement.Born Albert Verblen in Chicago, he studied at Medhill High School and then the University of Cincinnati. He also studied to be a rabbi at the Hebrew Union College...

 and Felix Morrow
Felix Morrow
Felix Morrow was an American communist political activist and newspaper editor. In later years, Morrow left the world of politics to become a book publisher. He is best remembered as a factional leader of the American Trotskyist movement....

. This minority anticipated that the Nazi dictatorship would be replaced with capitalism rather than by a socialist revolution, leading to the revival of Stalinism
Stalinism
Stalinism refers to the ideology that Joseph Stalin conceived and implemented in the Soviet Union, and is generally considered a branch of Marxist–Leninist ideology but considered by some historians to be a significant deviation from this philosophy...

 and social democracy
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

. In December 1943, they criticised the SWP's view as underestimating the rising prestige of Stalinism and the opportunities for the capitalists to use democratic concessions. The SWP's central committee argued that democratic capitalism could not revive, resulting in either military dictatorship by the capitalists or a workers' revolution
Revolution
A revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.Aristotle described two types of political revolution:...

. It held that this would reinforce the need for building the Fourth International, and adhered rigidly to their interpretation of Trotsky's works.

European Conference



The wartime debate about post-war perspectives was accelerated by the resolution of the February 1944 European Conference of the Fourth International. The conference appointed a new European Secretariat and elected Michel Raptis, a Greek resident in France also known as Michel Pablo, the organisational secretary of its European Bureau. Raptis and other bureau members re-established contact between the Trotskyist parties. The European conference extended the lessons of a revolution then unfolding in Italy, and concluded that a revolutionary wave would cross Europe as the war ended. The SWP had a similar perspective. The British Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) disagreed and held that capitalism was not about to plunge into massive crisis but rather that an upturn in the economy was already underway. A group of leaders of the French Internationalist Communist Party
Internationalist Communist Party
The Internationalist Communist Party was a Trotskyist political party in France. It was the name taken by the French Section of the Fourth International from its foundation until a name change in the late 1960s....

 (PCI) around Yvan Craipeau
Yvan Craipeau
Yvan Craipeau was a French Trotskyist activist.Born in La Roche-sur-Yon, he helped found a local independent Marxist organisation while still in his teens. Expelled from school, he moved to Paris and became associated with the Trotskyist group around La Verité. In 1930 this group founded the...

 argued a similar position until they were expelled from the PCI in 1948.

International conference


In April 1946 delegates from the principal European sections and a number of others attended a "Second International Congress". This set about rebuilding the International Secretariat of the Fourth International with Michel Raptis appointed Secretary and Ernest Mandel
Ernest Mandel
Ernest Ezra Mandel, also known by various pseudonyms such as Ernest Germain, Pierre Gousset, Henri Vallin, Walter , was a revolutionary Marxist theorist.-Life:...

, a Belgian, taking a leading role.

Pablo and Mandel aimed to counter the opposition of the majorities inside the British Revolutionary Communist Party and French Internationalist Communist Party. Initially, they encouraged party members to vote out their leaderships. They supported Gerry Healy
Gerry Healy
Thomas Gerard Healy, known as Gerry Healy , was a political activist, a co-founder of the International Committee of the Fourth International, and, according to former prominent U.S. supporter David North, the leader of the Trotskyist movement in Great Britain between 1950 – 1985...

's opposition in the RCP. In France, they backed elements, including Pierre Frank
Pierre Frank
Pierre Frank was a French Trotskyist leader. He served on the secretariat of the Fourth International from 1948 to 1979....

 and Marcel Bleibtreu
Marcel Bleibtreu
Marcel Bleibtreu was a French trotskyist activist and theorist.Bleibtreu was born during his family's refuge in Marseille from wartime bombing, Marcel Bleibtreu because a radical thinker as a child. After studies at the lycée Condorcet, he studied medicine in Paris, and graduated in 1947...

, opposed to the new leadership of the PCI albeit for differing reasons.

The Stalinist occupation of Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 was the issue of prime concern, and it raised many problems of interpretation. At first, the International held that, while the USSR
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 was a degenerated workers' state
Degenerated workers' state
In Trotskyist political theory the term degenerated workers' state has been used since the 1930s to describe the state of the Soviet Union after Joseph Stalin's consolidation of power in or about 1924...

, the post-World War II East European states were still bourgeois entities, because revolution from above was not possible, and capitalism persisted.

Another issue that needed to be dealt with was the possibility that the economy would revive. This was initially denied by Mandel (who was quickly forced to revise his opinion, and later devoted his PhD dissertation to late capitalism
Late capitalism
"Late capitalism" is a term used by neo-Marxists to refer to capitalism from about 1945 onwards, with the implication that it is a historically limited stage rather than an eternal feature of all future human society. Postwar German sociologists needed a term to describe contemporary society...

, analysing the unexpected "third age" of capitalist development). Mandel's perspective mirrored uncertainty at that time about the future viability and prospects of capitalism, not just among all Trotskyist groups, but also among leading economists. Paul Samuelson
Paul Samuelson
Paul Anthony Samuelson was an American economist, and the first American to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. The Swedish Royal Academies stated, when awarding the prize, that he "has done more than any other contemporary economist to raise the level of scientific analysis in...

 had envisaged in 1943 the probability of a "nightmarish combination of the worst features of inflation
Inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

 and deflation," worrying that "there would be ushered in the greatest period of unemployment and industrial dislocation which any economy has ever faced." Joseph Schumpeter
Joseph Schumpeter
Joseph Alois Schumpeter was an Austrian-Hungarian-American economist and political scientist. He popularized the term "creative destruction" in economics.-Life:...

 for his part claimed that "The general opinion seems to be that capitalist methods will be unequal to the task of reconstruction." He regarded it as "not open to doubt that the decay of capitalist society is very far advanced".

Second World Congress


The Second World Congress in April 1948 was attended by delegates from 22 sections. It debated a range of resolutions on the Jewish Question
Jewish Question
The Jewish question encompasses the issues and resolutions surrounding the historically unequal civil, legal and national statuses between minority Ashkenazi Jews and non-Jews, particularly in Europe. The first issues discussed and debated by societies, politicians and writers in western and...

, Stalinism, the colonial countries and the specific situations facing sections in certain countries. By this point the FI was united around the view that the Eastern European "buffer state
Buffer state
A buffer state is a country lying between two rival or potentially hostile greater powers, which by its sheer existence is thought to prevent conflict between them. Buffer states, when authentically independent, typically pursue a neutralist foreign policy, which distinguishes them from satellite...

s" were still capitalist countries.

The Congress was especially notable for bringing the International into much closer contact with Trotskyist groups from across the globe. These included such significant groups as the Revolutionary Workers' Party
Revolutionary Workers' Party (Bolivia)
The Revolutionary Workers' Party is a Trotskyist political party in Bolivia. At its height in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the POR was one of the few Trotskyist parties in history to gain a mass working-class following.-Beginnings:...

 of Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

 and the Lanka Sama Samaja Party
Lanka Sama Samaja Party
The Lanka Sama Samaja Party is a Trotskyist political party in Sri Lanka....

 in what was then Ceylon, but the previously large Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

ese Trotskyist groups had mostly been eliminated or absorbed by the supporters of Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh
Hồ Chí Minh , born Nguyễn Sinh Cung and also known as Nguyễn Ái Quốc, was a Vietnamese Marxist-Leninist revolutionary leader who was prime minister and president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam...

.

After the Second World Congress in 1948, the International Secretariat attempted to open communications with Josip Broz Tito
Josip Broz Tito
Marshal Josip Broz Tito – 4 May 1980) was a Yugoslav revolutionary and statesman. While his presidency has been criticized as authoritarian, Tito was a popular public figure both in Yugoslavia and abroad, viewed as a unifying symbol for the nations of the Yugoslav federation...

's regime in Yugoslavia
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the Yugoslav state that existed from the abolition of the Yugoslav monarchy until it was dissolved in 1992 amid the Yugoslav Wars. It was a socialist state and a federation made up of six socialist republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia,...

. In their analysis, it differed from the rest of the Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

 because it was established by the partisan
Partisan (military)
A partisan is a member of an irregular military force formed to oppose control of an area by a foreign power or by an army of occupation by some kind of insurgent activity...

s of World War II who had fought against Nazi occupation, as opposed to by Stalin's invading armies. The British RCP, led by Jock Haston
Jock Haston
James "Jock" Ritchie Haston was a Trotskyist politician and General Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist Party in Great Britain.-Early years:...

 and supported by Ted Grant
Ted Grant
Edward "Ted" Grant , 9 July 1913 in Germiston, South Africa – 20 July 2006 in London) was a South African Trotskyist who spent most of his adult life in Britain...

, were highly critical of this move.

Third World Congress


The Third World Congress in 1951 resolved that the economies of the East European states and their political regimes had come to resemble that of the USSR more and more. These states were then described as deformed workers states in an analogy with the degenerated workers state in Russia. The term deformed was used rather than degenerated, because no workers' revolution had led to the foundation of these states.

The Third World Congress envisaged the real possibility of an "international civil war" in the near future. It argued that the mass Communist parties "may, under certain favourable conditions, go beyond the aims set for them by the Soviet bureaucracy and project a revolutionary orientation". Given the supposed closeness of war, the FI thought that the Communist Parties and social democratic parties would be the only significant force that could defend the workers of the world against the imperialist camp in those countries where there were mass forces.

In line with this geopolitical perspective, Pablo argued that the only way the Trotskyists could avoid isolation was for various sections of the Fourth International to undertake long-term entryism
Entryism
Entryism is a political tactic by which an organisation or state encourages its members or agents to infiltrate another organisation in an attempt to gain recruits, or take over entirely...

 in the mass Communist or Social Democratic parties. This tactic was known as entrism sui generis, to distinguish it from the short-term entry tactic employed before World War II. For example, it meant that the project of building an open and independent Trotskyist party was shelved in France, because it was regarded as not politically feasible alongside entry into the French Communist Party.

This perspective was accepted within the Fourth International, yet sowed the seeds for the split in 1953. At the Third World Congress, the sections agreed with the perspective of an international civil war. The French section disagreed with the associated tactic of entryism
Entryism
Entryism is a political tactic by which an organisation or state encourages its members or agents to infiltrate another organisation in an attempt to gain recruits, or take over entirely...

 sui generis, and held that Pablo was underestimating the independent role of the working class parties in the Fourth International. The leaders of the majority of the Trotskyist organisation in France, Marcel Bleibtreu and Pierre Lambert
Pierre Lambert
Pierre Lambert was a French Trotskyist leader, who, for many years acted as the central leader of the French Courant Communiste Internationaliste which founded the Parti des Travailleurs.He was born in Paris to a family of Russian Jewish immigrants...

, refused to follow the line of the International. The International leadership had them replaced by a minority, leading to a permanent split in the French section.

In the wake of the World Congress, the line of the International Leadership was generally accepted by groups around the world, including the U.S. SWP whose leader, James P. Cannon, corresponded with the French majority to support the tactic of entrism sui generis. At the same time, however, Cannon, Gerry Healy
Gerry Healy
Thomas Gerard Healy, known as Gerry Healy , was a political activist, a co-founder of the International Committee of the Fourth International, and, according to former prominent U.S. supporter David North, the leader of the Trotskyist movement in Great Britain between 1950 – 1985...

 and Ernest Mandel
Ernest Mandel
Ernest Ezra Mandel, also known by various pseudonyms such as Ernest Germain, Pierre Gousset, Henri Vallin, Walter , was a revolutionary Marxist theorist.-Life:...

 were deeply concerned by Pablo's political evolution. Cannon and Healy were also alarmed by Pablo's intervention into the French section, and by suggestions that Pablo might use the International's authority in this way in other sections of the Fourth International that felt entrism "sui generis" was not a suitable tactic in their own countries. In particular, minority tendencies in Britain around John Lawrence
John Lawrence (political activist)
John Gordon Michael Lawrence was a leading far left activitist in a wide variety of groups in Britain.-Early life:...

 and the U.S. around Bert Cochran
Bert Cochran
Bert Cochran was an American Communist politician and author.Cochran was born in Poland in 1913 and came to the US at an early age. His birth name was Alexander Goldfarb. In the 1930s, Cochran attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison where he was recruited to the Trotskyist movement by Max...

 that supported entrism "sui generis" hinted that Pablo's support for their views indicated that the International might also demand Trotskyists in those countries adopt that tactic.

Formation of the International Committee of the Fourth International


In 1953, the SWP's national committee issued an Open Letter to Trotskyists Throughout the World and organised the International Committee of the Fourth International
International Committee of the Fourth International
The International Committee of the Fourth International is the name of two Trotskyist internationals; one with sections named Socialist Equality Party which publishes the World Socialist Web Site and another linked to the Workers Revolutionary Party in Britain.-Foundation:The International...

 (ICFI). This was a public faction which initially included, in addition to the SWP, Gerry Healy
Gerry Healy
Thomas Gerard Healy, known as Gerry Healy , was a political activist, a co-founder of the International Committee of the Fourth International, and, according to former prominent U.S. supporter David North, the leader of the Trotskyist movement in Great Britain between 1950 – 1985...

's British section The Club
The Club
-Music:*The Club , a dance music program that is broadcast on Australian youth radio station Triple J*"The Club ", a song by Korean group The Grace* The Club, a song from the musical In The Heights...

, the Internationalist Communist Party in France (then led by Lambert
Pierre Lambert
Pierre Lambert was a French Trotskyist leader, who, for many years acted as the central leader of the French Courant Communiste Internationaliste which founded the Parti des Travailleurs.He was born in Paris to a family of Russian Jewish immigrants...

 who had expelled Bleibtreu and his grouping), Nahuel Moreno
Nahuel Moreno
Nahuel Moreno was a Trotskyist leader from Argentina. Moreno was active in the Trotskyist movement from before World War II until his death....

's party in Argentina and the Austrian and Chinese sections of the FI. The sections of the ICFI withdrew from the International Secretariat, which suspended their voting rights. Both sides claimed they constituted a majority of the former International.

Sri Lanka's Lanka Sama Samaja Party, then the country's leading workers' party, took a middle position during this dispute. It continued to participate in the ISFI but argued for a joint congress, for reunification with the ICFI.

An excerpt from the Open Letter explains the split as follows:

To sum up: The lines of cleavage between Pablo's revisionism and orthodox Trotskyism are so deep that no compromise is possible either politically or organizationally. The Pablo faction has demonstrated that it will not permit democratic decisions truly reflecting majority opinion to be reached. They demand complete submission to their criminal policy. They are determined to drive all orthodox Trotskyists
Orthodox Trotskyism
Orthodox Trotskyism is a branch of Trotskyism which aims to adhere more closely to the philosophy, methods and positions of Trotsky and the early Fourth International, Lenin, and Marx than other Trotskyists....

 out of the Fourth International or to muzzle and handcuff them.

Their scheme has been to inject their Stalinist conciliationism piecemeal and likewise in piecemeal fashion, get rid of those who come to see what is happening and raise objections.

From the Fourth World Congress to reunification


Over the following decade, the IC referred to the rest of the International as the "International Secretariat of the Fourth International", emphasising its view that the Secretariat did not speak for the International as a whole. The Secretariat continued to view itself as the leadership of the International. It held a Fourth World Congress in 1954 to regroup and to recognise reorganised sections in Britain, France and the U.S.

Parts of the International Committee were divided over whether the split with "Pabloism" was permanent or temporary, and it was perhaps as a result of this that it did not declare itself to be the Fourth International. Those sections that considered the split permanent embarked on a discussion about the history of the split and its meanings.

The sections of the International that recognised the leadership of the International Secretariat remained optimistic about the possibilities for increasing the International's political influence and extended the entrism into social democratic parties which was already underway in Britain, Austria and elsewhere. The 1954 congress emphasised entrism into communist parties
Communist party
A political party described as a Communist party includes those that advocate the application of the social principles of communism through a communist form of government...

 and nationalist parties in the colonies, pressing for democratic reforms, ostensibly to encourage the left-wing they perceived to exist in the communist parties to join with them in a revolution. Tensions developed between the mainstream around Pablo and a minority that argued unsuccessfully against open work. A number of these delegates walked out of the World Congress, and would eventually leave the International, including the leader of the new British section, John Lawrence, George Clarke, Michele Mestre (a leader of the French section), and Murray Dowson
Murray Dowson
Murray Dowson was a Canadian Trotskyist politician.In the mid-1930s, Murray joined the Workers' Party of Canada while a student at York Memorial Collegiate. He later joined B. J. Field's League for a Revolutionary Workers Party before rejoining the Trotskyists...

 (a leader of the Canadian group).

The Secretariat organised a Fifth World Congress in October 1957. Mandel and Pierre Frank
Pierre Frank
Pierre Frank was a French Trotskyist leader. He served on the secretariat of the Fourth International from 1948 to 1979....

 appraised the Algerian revolution and surmised that it was essential to reorient in the colonial
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

 states and neocolonies towards the emerging guerrilla
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

-led revolutions. According to Robert Alexander, Ernest Mandel has written that an organisation in Indonesia, the Partai Acoma, was affiliate to the FI from 1959 until the 1965 coup in that country.

The Sixth World Congress in 1961 marked a lessening of the political divisions between the majority of supporters of the International Secretariat and the leadership of the SWP in the United States. In particular, the congress stressed support for the Cuban revolution
Cuban Revolution
The Cuban Revolution was an armed revolt by Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement against the regime of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista between 1953 and 1959. Batista was finally ousted on 1 January 1959, and was replaced by a revolutionary government led by Castro...

 and a growing emphasis on building parties in the imperialist countries. The sixth congress also criticised the Lanka Sama Samaja Party, its Sri Lankan section, for seeming to support the Sri Lanka Freedom Party
Sri Lanka Freedom Party
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party is one of the major political parties in Sri Lanka. It was founded by S.W.R.D Bandaranaike in 1951 and, since then, has been one of the two largest parties in the Sri Lankan political arena. It first came to power in 1956 and since then has been the predominant party in...

, which they saw as bourgeois nationalists; the U.S. SWP made similar criticisms.

In 1962 the IC and IS formed a Parity Commission to organise a common World Congress. The supporters of Michel Pablo and Juan Posadas
J. Posadas
J. Posadas , was the pseudonym of Homero Rómulo Cristalli Frasnelli, an Argentine Trotskyist whose personal vision is usually described as Posadism.-Early life:...

 opposed the convergence. The supporters of Posadas left the International in 1962. At the 1963 reunification congress, the sections of the IC and IS reunified (with two exceptions: the British and French sections of the IC). This was largely a result of their mutual support for Ernest Mandel and Joseph Hansen
Joseph Hansen (socialist)
Joseph Leroy Hansen , was an American Trotskyist and leading figure in the Socialist Workers Party.Born in Richfield, Utah, Joseph Hansen was the oldest of 15 children in a poor working class family, and he was the only one of them who could attend college. His father, Conrad J. Z...

's resolution Dynamics of World Revolution Today and for the Cuban Revolution
Cuban Revolution
The Cuban Revolution was an armed revolt by Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement against the regime of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista between 1953 and 1959. Batista was finally ousted on 1 January 1959, and was replaced by a revolutionary government led by Castro...

. This document distinguished between different revolutionary tasks in the imperialist countries, the "workers' states", and the colonial and semi-colonial countries. In 1963, the reunified Fourth International elected a United Secretariat of the Fourth International (USFI), by which name the organisation as a whole is often still referred.

Since reunification



Since the 1963 reunification, a number of approaches have developed within international Trotskyism towards the Fourth International.
  • The reunified Fourth International is the only current with direct organisational continuity to the original Fourth International at an international level. The International Committee and International Secretariat reunified at the 1963 congress, but without the Socialist Labour League and Internationalist Communist Organisation
    Internationalist Communist Organisation
    The Internationalist Communist Organisation was a Trotskyist political party in France. Its successor is the Internationalist Communist Current of the Workers Party.-Origins:...

    . It is sometimes known as the United Secretariat of the Fourth International (USFI) after the name of its leading committee, although that committee was replaced in 2003. It is also the only current to have continuously presented itself as "the" Fourth International. It is the largest current and leaders of some other Trotskyist Internationals occasionally refer to it as "the Fourth International": ICFI secretary Gerry Healy, when proposing reunification discussions in the 1970s, described it as "the Fourth International"; the International Socialist Tendency
    International Socialist Tendency
    The International Socialist Tendency is an international grouping of unorthodox Trotskyist organisations based around the ideas of Tony Cliff, founder of the Socialist Workers Party in Britain...

     also usually refers to it in this way.

  • The International Committee of the Fourth International
    International Committee of the Fourth International
    The International Committee of the Fourth International is the name of two Trotskyist internationals; one with sections named Socialist Equality Party which publishes the World Socialist Web Site and another linked to the Workers Revolutionary Party in Britain.-Foundation:The International...

     member groups customarily describe themselves as sections of the Fourth International, and the organisation as whole describes itself as the "leadership of the Fourth International". However, the ICFI presents itself as the political continuity of the Fourth International and Trotskyism, not as the FI itself. It clearly dates its creation as 1953, rather than from 1938.

  • Some tendencies argue that the Fourth International became dislocated politically during the years between Trotsky's murder and the establishment of the ICFI in 1953; they consequently work to "reconstruct", "reorganise" or "rebuild" it. This view originated with Lutte Ouvriere and the international Spartacist tendency and is shared by others who diverged from the ICFI. For example, the Committee for a Workers International, whose founders dropped out of the reunified FI after 1965, call for a new "revolutionary Fourth International". Indeed, the Fourth International (ICR)
    Fourth International (ICR)
    The Fourth International was established as an "International Centre of Reconstruction" by co-thinkers of Pierre Lambert, in 1981 who argued that the post-war political evolution of the Fourth International under the leadership of Michel Pablo and Ernest Mandel had taken the FI away from the...

     reproclaimed the Fourth International at a congress attended by ICR sections in June 1993.

  • Other Trotskyist groups argue that the Fourth International is dead. They call for the establishment of a new "workers' international" or a Fifth International
    Fifth International
    The phrase Fifth International refers to the efforts made by sections of the far-left to create a new Workers' International.-Previous Internationals:...

    .

Impact


In uniting the large majority of Trotskyists in one organisation, the Fourth International created a tradition which has since been claimed by many Trotskyist organisations.

Echoing Marx's Communist Manifesto, the Transitional Programme ended with the declaration "Workers men and women of all countries, place yourselves under the banner of the Fourth International. It is the banner of your approaching victory!". It declared demands to be placed on capitalists, opposition to the bureaucracy in the Soviet Union, and support for workers' action against fascism. Most of the demands on capitalists remain unfulfilled. The collapse of the Soviet Union occurred, but through a social revolution
Social revolution
The term social revolution may have different connotations depending on the speaker.In the Trotskyist movement, the term "social revolution" refers to an upheaval in which existing property relations are smashed...

 leading to the restoration of capitalism, rather than the political revolution
Political revolution
A political revolution, in the Trotskyist theory, is an upheaval in which the government is replaced, or the form of government altered, but in which property relations are predominantly left intact...

 proposed by the Trotskyists. Many Trotskyist groups have been active in anti-fascist campaigns, but the Fourth International has never played a major role in the toppling of a regime.

Those groups which follow traditions that left the Fourth International in its early years argue that, despite initially correct positions, it had little impact. Lutte Ouvriere claims that it "did not survive the Second World War". Workers Liberty, which follows in the third camp
Third camp
The third camp, also known as third camp socialism or third camp Trotskyism, is a branch of socialism which aims to oppose both capitalism and Stalinism, by supporting the organised working class as a "third camp"....

 tradition established by the Workers Party
Workers Party (US)
Not to be confused with the modern Marxist-Leninist party, Workers Party, USA.The Workers Party was a Third Camp Trotskyist group in the United States. It was founded in April 1940 by members of the Socialist Workers Party who opposed the Soviet invasion of Finland. They included Max Shachtman,...

, holds that "Trotsky and everything he represented was defeated and as we have to recognise in retrospect defeated for a whole historical period."

Other groups point to a positive impact. The ICFI claim that "the [early] Fourth International consisted mainly of cadres who remained true to their aims" and describes much of the Fourth International's early activity as "correct and principled". The reunified FI claim that "the Fourth International refused to compromise with capitalism either in its fascist or democratic variants." In its view, "many of the predictions made by Trotsky when he founded the Fourth International were proved wrong by history. But what was absolutely vindicated were his key political judgements."

See also



Internationals:
  • First International
  • Second International
    Second International
    The Second International , the original Socialist International, was an organization of socialist and labour parties formed in Paris on July 14, 1889. At the Paris meeting delegations from 20 countries participated...

  • Third International
  • Fifth International
    Fifth International
    The phrase Fifth International refers to the efforts made by sections of the far-left to create a new Workers' International.-Previous Internationals:...


Further reading

  • Death Agony of the Fourth International. Workers Power and the Irish Workers Group. 1983. On the League for a Fifth International Website. Retrieved June 21, 2008.
  • Robert J. Alexander, International Trotskyism, 1929–1985: A Documented Analysis of the Movement. Duke University Press, 1991.
  • Alan Benjamin, Toward a Balance Sheet of the Fourth International in the United States. Retrieved June 21, 2008.
  • Alex Callinicos
    Alex Callinicos
    Alexander Theodore Callinicos is a Trotskyist political theorist, a member of the Central Committee of the Socialist Workers Party and its International Secretary, and is Director of the Centre for European Studies at King's College London...

    , Trotskyism, Open University Press, 1990. Retrieved June 21, 2008.
  • Pierre Frank, The Fourth International: The Long March of the Trotskyists, Ink Links, 1979. Retrieved June 21, 2008.
  • Ernest Mandel
    Ernest Mandel
    Ernest Ezra Mandel, also known by various pseudonyms such as Ernest Germain, Pierre Gousset, Henri Vallin, Walter , was a revolutionary Marxist theorist.-Life:...

    , "The Reasons for Founding the Fourth International And Why They Remain Valid Today", from E. Mandel, Revolutionary Marxism and social reality in the 20th century. Humanities Press, 1994. Retrieved June 21, 2008.
  • Francois Moreau, Combats et débats de la Quatrième Internationale. Québec, Vents d'Ouest, 1993.
  • David North
    David North (Socialist)
    David North is an American Trotskyist. He is the national chairman of the Socialist Equality Party in the United States , formerly the Workers League. He served as the national secretary of the SEP until the party's congress in 2008...

    , The Heritage We Defend http://wsws.org/IML/heritage/heritage_index.shtml (1988) ISBN 0-929087-00-3, 539pp., a history of the Fourth International.
  • Jean van Heijenoort
    Jean Van Heijenoort
    Jean Louis Maxime van Heijenoort was a pioneer historian of mathematical logic. He was also a personal secretary to Leon Trotsky from 1932 to 1939, and from then until 1947, an American Trotskyist activist.-Life:Van Heijenoort was born in Creil, France...

    , "The Origins of the Fourth International", on the Socialist Organizer Website; also at marxists.org. Retrieved June 21, 2008.