ленинизм - Leninism

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

Владимир Ильич Ульянов
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov
Karl Marx
In Marxist philosophy, Leninism is the body of political theory for the democratic organisation of a revolutionary vanguard party, and the achievement of a direct-democracy dictatorship of the proletariat, as political prelude to the establishment of socialism.
Developed by, and named for, the Russian revolutionary Lenin (Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, 1870–1924), Leninism comprises political and socialist economic theories, developed from Marxism, and Lenin’s interpretations of Marxist Theory, for practical application to the socio-political conditions of the agrarian Russian Empire (1721–1917) of the early 20th century.
In February 1917, for five years, Leninism was the Russian application of Marxist economics and political philosophy, effected and realised by the Bolshevik party, the vanguard party who led the fight for the political independence of the working class.
Functionally, the Leninist vanguard party provided to the working class the political consciousness (education and organisation), and the revolutionary leadership necessary to depose capitalism in Imperial Russia.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
October Revolution 1917
After the October Revolution of 1917, Leninism was the dominant version of Marxism in Russia, and then the official state ideology of Soviet democracy (by workers’ council) in the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (RSFSR), before its unitary amalgamation into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), in 1922.
Moreover, in post–Lenin Russia, in the 1925–29 period, Joseph Stalin integrated Leninism to Marxist economics, and developed Marxism–Leninism, which then became the state ideology of the USSR.
As a political-science term, Leninism entered common usage in 1922, only after infirmity ended Lenin’s participation in governing the Russian Communist Party.
Two years later, in July 1924, at the fifth congress of the Communist International (Comintern), Grigory Zinoviev popularized the use of the term Leninism to denote vanguard-party revolution. Leninism was composed as and for revolutionary praxis, and originally was neither rigorously proper philosophy nor discrete political theory.

Григо́рий Евсе́евич Зино́вье
Grigory Yevseevich Zinoviev
Григо́рий Евсе́евич Зино́вьев - Grigory Yevseevich Zinoviev (September 23 [O.S. September 11] 1883 – August 25, 1936), born Ovsei-Gershon Aronovich Radomyslsky Apfelbaum (Russian: Радомысльский), was a Bolshevik revolutionary and a Soviet Communist politician. Zinoviev is best remembered as the longtime head of the Communist International and the architect of the several failed attempts to transform Germany into a communist country during the early 1920s. He was in competition against Joseph Stalin who eliminated him from the Soviet political leadership. He was the chief defendant in a 1936 show trial, the Trial of the Sixteen that marked the start of the so-called Great Terror in the USSR and resulted in his execution the day after his conviction in August 1936.

After the Russian Revolution (1917), in 'History and Class Consciousness' (1923), György Lukács ideologically developed and organised Lenin’s pragmatic revolutionary practices into the formal philosophy of vanguard-party revolution (Leninism).

Historical Background

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
In the 19th century, 'The Communist Manifesto' (1848), by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, called for the international political unification of the European working classes in order to achieve a Communist revolution; and proposed that, because the socio-economic organization of communism was of a higher form than that of capitalism, a workers’ revolution would first occur in the economically advanced, industrialized countries.
Yet, in the early 20th century, the socio-economic backwardness of Imperial Russia (uneven and combined economic development) facilitated rapid and intensive industrialization, which produced a united, working-class proletariat in a predominantly rural, agrarian peasant society.
Moreover, because the industrialization was financed mostly with foreign capital, Imperial Russia (1721–1917) did not possess a revolutionary bourgeoisie with political and economic influence upon the workers and the peasants (as occurred in the French Revolution, 1789).
So, although Russia's political economy principally was agrarian and semi-feudal, the task of democratic revolution therefore fell to the urban, industrial working class, as the only social class capable of effecting land reform and democratization, in view that the Russian propertied classes would attempt to suppress any revolution, in town and country.
In April 1917, Lenin published the 'April Theses', the strategy of the October Revolution, which proposed that the Russian revolution was not an isolated national event, but a fundamentally international event — the first world socialist revolution.

апрельские тезисы, - The 'April Theses' were a series of directives issued by the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin upon his return to Petrograd (Saint Petersburg), Russia from his exile in Switzerland. The Theses were mostly aimed at fellow Bolsheviks in Russia and returning to Russia from exile. He called for soviets (workers' councils) to take power (as seen in the slogan "all power to the soviets"), denounced liberals and social democrats in the Provisional Government, called for Bolsheviks not to cooperate with the government, and called for new communist policies. The 'April Theses' influenced the July Days and October Revolution in the next months and are identified with Leninism.

Thus, Lenin's practical application of Marxism and working-class urban revolution to the social, political, and economic conditions of the agrarian peasant society that was Tsarist Russia sparked the “revolutionary nationalism of the poor” to depose the absolute monarchy of the three-hundred-year Romanov dynasty (1613–1917)/


In the course of developing the Russian application of Marxism, the pamphlet 'Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism' (1916) presented Lenin’s analysis of an economic development predicted by Karl Marx: that capitalism would become a global financial system, wherein advanced industrial countries export financial capital to their colonial countries, to finance the exploitation of their natural resources and the labour of the native populations.
Such super-exploitation of the poor (undeveloped) countries allows the wealthy (developed) countries to maintain some homeland workers politically content with a slightly higher standard of living, and so ensure peaceful labour–capital relations in the capitalist homeland, hence, a proletarian revolution of workers and peasants could not occur in the developed capitalist countries, while the imperialist global-finance system remained intact; thus an underdeveloped country would feature the first proletarian revolution; and, in the early 20th century, Imperial Russia was the politically weakest country in the capitalist global-finance system.

The Vanguard Party

In Chapter II: “Proletarians and Communists” of 'The Communist Manifesto' (1848), Engels and Marx presented the idea of the 'vanguard party' as solely qualified to politically lead the proletariat in revolution:

'The Communists, therefore, are, on the one hand, practically the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the lines of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement. The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all other proletarian parties: Formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat.'

Hence, the purpose of the Leninist 'vanguard party' is to establish a democratic dictatorship of the proletariat; supported by the working class, the 'vanguard party' would lead the revolution to depose the incumbent Tsarist government, and then transfer power of government to the working class, which change of ruling class — from bourgeoisie to proletariat — makes possible the full development of socialism.
In the pamphlet 'What is to be Done ?' (1902), Lenin proposed that a revolutionary vanguard party, mostly recruited from the working class, should lead the political campaign, because it was the only way that the proletariat could successfully achieve a revolution; unlike the economist campaign of trade-union-struggle advocated by other socialist political parties; and later by the anarcho-syndicalists.
Like Karl Marx, Lenin distinguished between the aspects of a revolution, the "economic campaign" (labour strikes for increased wages and work concessions), which featured diffused plural leadership; and the "political campaign" (socialist changes to society), which required the decisive revolutionary leadership of the Bolshevik vanguard party.


Before the Revolution, despite supporting political reform (including Bolsheviks elected to the Duma, when opportune), Lenin proposed that capitalism could ultimately only be overthrown with revolution, not with gradual reforms — from within (Fabianism) and from without (social democracy) — which would fail, because the ruling capitalist social class, who hold economic power (the means of production), determine the nature of political power in a bourgeois society.
As epitomised in the slogan, “For a Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Peasantry”, a revolution in underdeveloped Tsarist Russia required an allied proletariat of town and country (urban workers and peasants), because the urban workers would be too few to successfully assume power in the cities on their own.
Moreover, owing to the middle-class aspirations of much of the peasantry, Leon Trotsky proposed that the proletariat should lead the revolution, as the only way for it to be truly socialist and democratic; although Lenin initially disagreed with Trotsky’s formulation, he adopted it before the Russian Revolution in October 1917.

Dictatorship of the Proletariat

In the Russian socialist society, government by direct democracy was effected by elected soviets (workers’ councils), which "soviet government" form Lenin described as the manifestation of the Marxist ‘democratic dictatorship of the proletariat’.
As political organisations, the soviets would comprise representatives of factory workers’ and trade union committees, but would exclude capitalists, as a social class, in order to ensure the establishment of a proletarian government, by and for the working class and the peasants. About the political disenfranchisement of the Russian capitalist social classes, Lenin said that ‘depriving the exploiters of the franchise is a purely Russian question, and not a question of the dictatorship of the proletariat, in general.... In which countries... democracy for the exploiters will be, in one or another form, restricted... is a question of the specific national features of this or that capitalism’.
In chapter five of 'The State and Revolution' (1917) Lenin describes:

'...the dictatorship of the proletariat — i.e. the organisation of the vanguard of the oppressed as the ruling class for the purpose of crushing the oppressors.... An immense expansion of democracy, which for the first time becomes democracy for the poor, democracy for the people, and not democracy for the rich:... and suppression by force, i.e. exclusion from democracy, for the exploiters and oppressors of the people — this is the change which democracy undergoes during the ‘transition’ from capitalism to communism.'

Soviet constitutionalism was the collective government form of the Russian dictatorship of the proletariat, the opposite of the government form of the dictatorship of capital (privately owned means of production) practised in bourgeois democracies.
In the soviet political system, the (Leninist) vanguard party would be one of many political parties competing for elected power.
Nevertheless, the circumstances of the'Red' vs. 'White' Russian Civil War, and terrorism by the opposing political parties, and in aid of the White Armies' counter-revolution, led to the Bolshevik government banning other parties; thus, the vanguard party became the sole, legal political party in Russia.
Lenin did not regard such political suppression as philosophically inherent to the dictatorship of the proletariat; yet the Stalinists retrospectively claimed that such factional suppression was original to Leninism


Soviet democracy nationalised industry and established a foreign-trade monopoly to allow the productive co-ordination of the national economy, and so prevent Russian national industries from competing against each other.
To feed the populaces of town and country, Lenin instituted 'War Communism' (1918–21) as a necessary condition — adequate supplies of food and weapons — for fighting the Russian Civil War (1917–23).
Later, in March 1921, he established the 'New Economic Policy' (NEP, 1921–29), which allowed measures of private commerce, internal free trade, and replaced grain requisitions with an agricultural tax, under the management of State banks.
The purpose of the NEP was to resolve food-shortage riots among the peasantry, and allowed measures of private enterprise, wherein the profit motive encouraged the peasants to harvest the crops required to feed the people of town and country; and to economically re-establish the urban working class, who had lost many men (workers) to the counter-revolutionary Civil War.
With the NEP, the socialist nationalisation of the economy could then be developed to industrialise Russia, strengthen the working class, and raise standards of living; thus the NEP would advance socialism against capitalism.
Lenin regarded the appearance of new socialist states in the developed countries as necessary to the strengthening Russia's economy, and the eventual development of socialism. In that, he was encouraged by the German Revolution of 1918–1919, the Italian insurrection and general strikes of 1920, and industrial unrest in Britain, France, and the U.S.

National Self-Determination

Lenin recognized and accepted the existence of nationalism among oppressed peoples, advocated their national rights to self-determination, and opposed the ethnic chauvinism of “Greater Russia” because such ethnocentrism was a cultural obstacle to establishing the proletarian dictatorship in the territories of the deposed Tsarist Russian Empire (1721–1917).
In 'The Right of Nations to Self-determination' (1914), Lenin said:

'We fight against the privileges and violence of the oppressor nation, and do not in any way condone strivings for privileges on the part of the oppressed nation.... The bourgeois nationalism of any oppressed nation has a general democratic content that is directed against oppression, and it is this content that we unconditionally support. At the same time, we strictly distinguish it from the tendency towards national exclusiveness.... Can a nation be free if it oppresses other nations ? It cannot.'

The internationalist philosophies of Bolshevism and of Marxism are based upon class struggle transcending nationalism, ethnocentrism, and religion, which are intellectual obstacles to class consciousness, because the bourgeois ruling classes manipulated said cultural status quo to politically divide the proletarian working classes.
To overcome the political barrier of nationalism, Lenin said it was necessary to acknowledge the existence of nationalism among oppressed peoples, and to guarantee their national independence, as the right of secession; and that, based upon national self-determination, it was natural for socialist states to transcend nationalism and form a federation.

In 'The Question of Nationalities', or “Autonomisation” (1923), Lenin said:

'...nothing holds up the development and strengthening of proletarian class solidarity so much as national injustice; “offended” nationals are not sensitive to anything, so much as to the feeling of equality, and the violation of this equality, if only through negligence or jest — to the violation of that equality by their proletarian comrades.'

сталинизм - Stalinism


Stalinism is a theory and practice of communism conceived and implemented by Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union whilst officially adhering to Marxist–Leninism.
The term came into prominence during the mid-1930s, when Lazar Kaganovich, a Soviet politician and associate of Stalin, reportedly declared, "Let's replace Long Live Leninism with Long Live Stalinism!"
Stalin initially met this usage with hesitancy, dismissing it as excessive, and contributing to a cult of personality.
Some criticize Stalinist practical measures, such as repression and economic policy, as a deviation from both Marxist and Leninist philosophy.
Stalinist policies in the Soviet Union included: rapid industrialization, socialism in one country, a centralized state, collectivization of agriculture, and subordination of interests of other communist parties to those of the Soviet party - deemed to be the most forefront vanguard party of socialist revolution at the time.
Stalinist rapid industrialization in the Soviet Union was officially designed to accelerate the development towards communism, stressing that such rapid industrialization was needed because the country was previously economically backward in comparison with other countries; and that it was needed in order to challenge internal and external enemies of communism. Rapid industrialization was accompanied with mass collectivization of agriculture and rapid urbanization.
Rapid urbanization converted many small villages into industrial cities.
To accelerate the development of industrialization, Stalin pragmatically created joint venture contracts with major American private enterprises, such as Ford Motor Company, that under state supervision assisted in developing the basis of industry of the Soviet economy from the late 1920s to 1930s.
After the American private enterprises completed their tasks, Soviet state enterprises took over.
Stalinism took an aggressive stance on class conflict, utilizing state violence to forcibly purge society of the bourgeoisie.
State violence against the affluent peasant Kulaks was initiated in response to CPSU workers who were sent to enforce the collectivization of farms, being subjected to gunfire, riots, and mass protests by peasants; Stalin believed that the Kulaks incited the violence.
Stalin responded by committing classicide against the Kulaks for being class enemies.
Stalinism may be used in a negative or pejorative manner due to the known extremely repressive political actions undertaken by Stalin.
The reasons for Stalin's repressive actions have been debated.
One perspective claims that Stalin's repressive actions were calculated, and that he was mentally sane in his execution of repressive measures.
Another, and probably legitimate perspective, states that Stalin's repressive political actions were the result of him having mental illness.
This states that Stalin likely had the mental disorder of psychopathy, and that its traits such as paranoia and manipulative behaviour influenced his political decisions.
Concurrent with the previous scenario, a third perspective suggests that Stalinism's repressive actions were an extension of the prevailing authoritarian political culture that originated in Tsarist Russia.

Stalinist Policies

Stalinism usually denotes a style of a government, and an ideology.
While he claimed to be a perfect adherent to the ideas of Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx, and hence claimed that it was merely a style of government, many of his policies and beliefs were different or in direct opposition to those of Lenin and Marx.
Stalin's ideas of Socialism in one country, his adoption of many aspects of capitalism, and his turn to complete, permanent dictatorship were all in stark contradiction to the ideologies put forth by Lenin or Marx.
Stalinism is a certain political regime claiming to apply the ideas of Marx or Lenin in ways fitting the changing needs of society, as with the transition from "socialism at a snail's pace" in the mid-1920s to the rapid industrialization of the Five-Year Plans.
Simultaneously, however, some people who profess Marxism or Leninism view Stalinism as a perversion of their ideas; Trotskyists, in particular, are virulently anti-Stalinist, considering Stalinism a counter-revolutionary style of governance that used vaguely Marxist-sounding rhetoric to achieve power.
From 1917 to 1924, Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin often appeared united, but their ideological differences never disappeared.
In his dispute with Leon Trotsky, Stalin de-emphasized the role of workers in advanced capitalist countries (for example, he considered the U.S. working class as bourgeoisified labour aristocracy).
Also, Stalin polemicized against Trotsky on the role of peasants, as in China, whereas Trotsky's position was in favor of urban insurrection over peasant-based guerrilla warfare.
The main contributions of Stalin to socialist theory were:

The groundwork for the Soviet policy concerning nationalities, laid in Stalin's 1913 work Marxism and the National Question, praised by Lenin.
'Socialism in One Country'
The theory of aggravation of the class struggle along with the development of socialism, a theoretical base supporting the repression of political opponents as necessary.

Stalin argued that the state must become stronger before it can "wither away" in favor of creating the utopian classless Communist society (which has never been achieved).
In Stalin's view, the state must be powerful enough to defeat counterrevolutionary elements.
For this reason, Communist regimes influenced by Stalin have been widely described as totalitarian.

Stalinist Economic Policy

At the start of the 1930s Stalin launched a wave of radical economic policies, which completely overhauled the industrial and agricultural face of the Soviet Union.
This came to be known as the 'Great Turn' as Russia turned away from the near-capitalist 'New Economic Policy'.
The NEP had been implemented by Lenin in order to ensure the survival of the Socialist state following seven years of war (1914–1921, World War I from 1914 to 1917, and the subsequent Civil War) and had rebuilt Soviet production to its 1913 levels, however, Russia still lagged far behind the West, and the NEP was felt by Stalin, and the majority of the party, not only to be compromising Communist ideals, but also not delivering sufficient economic performance, as well as not creating the envisaged Socialist society.
It was therefore felt necessary to increase the pace of industrialisation in order to catch up with the West.
According to many historians, Stalinist agricultural policies were a key factor in causing the Soviet famine of 1932–1933, which the Ukrainian government now calls the 'Holodomor', recognizing it as an act of genocide.

Soviet (Council) Socialism

Although worker's councils were politically significant in the earliest stages of the Soviet Union, they soon lost their power and significance as political power became more centralised and was concentrated in the hands of the higher levels of a developing hierarchy within the All-Union Communist Party.
The operation of the Soviet Union under Stalinism was almost entirely undemocratic, vesting absolute power into unelected bureaucrats.
This was abhorrent to soviet (council) communists, and more orthodox Leninists, who believe that workers' councils, or communes, embody the fundamental principles of socialism, such as workers' control over production and distribution, indeed, some have described 'council' communism as "socialism from below," which they counterpose against what they see as the "socialism from above" that was endorsed by Stalinism.
According to this view, socialism from above is carried out by a centralized state run by an elite bureaucratic apparatus, whereas socialism from below represents the self-administration and self-rule of the working class.
Council communists described the Soviet Union as a pseudo-capitalist state, believing that the Bolshevik revolution in Russia became a "bourgeois revolution" when a party bureaucracy replaced the old feudal aristocracy.
Although most council communists felt the Russian Revolution was working class in character, they believed that the Soviet Union was a 'state capitalist country', with the state replacing the individual capitalists (an additional argument in favour of that was the continued existence of capitalist relations, as manifested e.g. in the 'New Economic Policy' - NEP).
The core principle of council communism is that the government and the economy should be managed by workers' councils composed of delegates elected at workplaces, and recallable at any moment.
As such, council communists oppose the idea of an authoritarian "State socialist"/"State capitalist" planned economy, such as in the Soviet Union.
They also oppose the idea of a "revolutionary party", since council communists believe that a revolution led by a party will necessarily produce a party dictatorship.
Council communists support a worker's democracy, which they want to produce through a federation of workers' councils.

Relationship to Leninism

The historiography of Stalin is diverse, with many different aspects of continuity and discontinuity between the regimes of Stalin and Lenin proposed.
Stalinism may be seen as the natural consequence of Leninism, that Stalin "faithfully implemented Lenin's domestic and foreign policy programmes".
More nuanced versions of this general view are to be found in the works of other historians, who suggests that "institutionally and ideologically, Lenin laid the foundations for a Stalin... but the passage from Leninism to the worse terrors of Stalinism was not smooth and inevitable."
Proponents of continuity cite a variety of contributory factors: it is argued that it was Lenin, rather than Stalin, whose civil war measures introduced the 'Red Terror', with its hostage taking and internment camps, that it was Lenin who developed the infamous Article 58, and who established the autocratic system within the Communist Party.
They also note that Lenin put a ban on factions within the Russian Communist Party and introduced the one-party state in 1921 - a move that enabled Stalin to get rid of his rivals easily after Lenin's death, and cite Felix Dzerzhinsky, who, during the Bolshevik struggle against opponents in the Russian Civil War, exclaimed "We stand for organised terror – this should be frankly stated".
Opponents of this view include revisionist historians and a number of post–Cold War and otherwise dissident Soviet historians including Roy Medvedev, who argues that although "one could list the various measures carried out by Stalin that were actually a continuation of anti-democratic trends and measures implemented under Lenin... in so many ways, Stalin acted, not in line with Lenin's clear instructions, but in defiance of them".
In doing so, some historians have tried to distance Stalinism from Leninism in order to undermine the Totalitarian view that the negative facets of Stalin (terror, etc.) were inherent in Communism from the start.
Critics of this kind include anti-Stalinist communists such as Leon Trotsky, who pointed out that Lenin attempted to persuade the CPSU to remove Stalin from his post as its General Secretary.
Lenin's Testament, the document which contained this order, was suppressed after Lenin's death. 
It is suggested that on being faced with the evidence "only the blind and the deaf could be unaware of the contrast between Stalinism and Leninism".
It has also been argued that "Stalinism was not a natural flow-on of earlier developments; it formed a sharp break resulting from conscious decisions by leading political actors."

Stalinism as "Red Fascism"

Stalinism has been considered by some reviewers as a "Red fascism".
During the 20th century, the comparison of Stalinism and National Socialism was made on the topics of totalitarianism, ideology, and personality.
Both regimes were seen in contrast to the liberal West, however it was also argued that the National Socialist regime was far too disorganized to be considered totalitarian (alhough this is disputed).


Stalinism and National Socialism mutually emphasized the importance of utopian biopolitics, especially in regards to reproduction.
This emphasis alone was not unique, as many other European states practiced eugenics at this time, and the Stalinist and National Socialist ideals were vastly different.
The key similarity was the connection of reproduction policies with the ideological goals of the state.
There were nevertheless substantial differences between the two regimes' approaches, - Stalin's Soviet Union never officially supported eugenics as the Nazis did - the Soviet government 'officially' called eugenics a "fascist science", however there were in fact Soviet eugenicists; also the two regimes had different approaches to the relationship between family and paid labour - National Socialism promoted the male single-breadwinner family while Stalinism promoted the dual-wageearner househould.
The Third Reich, the Soviet Union, and Fascist Italy were all highly concerned over low fertility rates.
Reproductive policies in the Soviet Union and National Socialist Germany were administered through their health care systems - both regimes saw health care as a key pillar to their designs to develop a new society.
While the Soviet Union had to design a public health care system from scratch, the Third Reich built upon the pre-existing public health care system in Germany that had been developed since 1883 by Otto von Bismarck's legislation that had developed the world's first national public health care program, and since then public health care had dramatically increased in scope.
The National Socialists centralized the German health care system in order to enforce Volkisch ideological components upon it, the National Socialists replaced existing voluntary and government welfare agencies with new ones that were devoted to racial hygiene and other components of Volkisch ideology.[16]
The Communist Party in the RSFSR embraced eugenics in 1920 with the founding of the 'Russian Eugenics Society', followed the next year with the founding of the 'Bureau of Eugenics' in the Soviet Academy of Sciences.

Creating the 'New Man'

Both Stalinism and National Socialism share an ideological vision of creating an ideal 'new man', both identified the "bourgeois" world as the old world that was obsolete, and both involved a total rejection of liberalism as well as individual rights and freedoms, in which they sought to create a new, illiberal modern society.
This vision of the 'New Man' differed between them, the Stalinists conceived of the 'New Man' as necessarily involving the liberation of all of humanity - a global and non-ethnic goal, while the National Socialists conceived of the 'New Man' as a 'new creation' and a 'master race' that would organize a new racial hierarchy in Europe.

Though fascist regimes were ideologically opposed to the Soviet Union, some of them positively regarded Stalinism as evolving Bolshevism into a form of fascism.
Benito Mussolini positively reviewed Stalinism as having transformed Soviet Bolshevism into a Slavic fascism.
Despite ideological differences and holding territorial claims on the Soviet Union, Adolf Hitler admired Stalin and his politics, and believed that Stalin was in effect transforming Soviet Bolshevism into a form of National Socialism.


Both ideologies (National Socialism and Stalinism) were about building a form of socialism.
The National Sociaists were undoubtedly sincere in their use of the adjective socialist, which they saw as inseparable from the adjective national, and meant it as a socialism of the master race, rather than the socialism of the "underprivileged and oppressed seeking justice and equal rights."
Further, while Hitler for "tactical" reasons had rhetorically declared a 1920 party platform with socialist platitudes "unshakable," actually "many paragraphs of the party program were obviously merely a demagogic appeal to the mood of the lower classes at a time when they were in bad straits and were sympathetic to radical and even socialist slogans...Point 11, for example...Point 12...nationalization...Point 16...communalization.... put in at the insistence of Drexler and Feder, who apparently really believed in the 'socialism' of National Socialism."
In actual practice, such points were mere slogans, "most of them forgotten by the time the party came to power.... the Nazi leader himself was later to be embarrassed when reminded of some of them."
At the same time Stalin was consistent in his implementation of complete nationalization and communalization of the country.



Karl Marx
Leon Trotsky
Trotskyism is the Theory of Marxism as advocated by Leon Trotsky.
Trotsky identified as an orthodox Marxist and Bolshevik-Leninist, and supported founding a vanguard party of the working-class.
His politics differed sharply from those of Stalinism, as he opposed the idea of Socialism in One Country.
Trotsky still supported proletarian internationalism, and an authentic dictatorship of the proletariat based on working-class self-emancipation and mass democracy.

He believed that a bureaucracy developed under Stalin after Lenin's death.
Vladimir Lenin
V. I. Lenin and Trotsky were close both ideologically and personally during the Russian Revolution of 1917 and its aftermath, and some call Trotsky its "co-leader", however, Lenin criticized Trotsky's ideas and intra-Party political habits.

Trotsky Reviewing the Red Army
Trotsky was the paramount leader of the Soviet Red Army in the direct aftermath of the Revolutionary period.
Trotsky originally opposed some aspects of Leninism.
Later, he concluded that unity between the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks was impossible, and joined the Bolsheviks.
Trotsky played a leading role with Lenin in the revolution.

Emblem of the Fourth International 
Assessing Trotsky, Lenin wrote, "Trotsky long ago said that unification is impossible. Trotsky understood this and from that time on there has been no better Bolshevik."

Trotsky's Fourth International was established in France in 1938 when Trotskyists argued that the Comintern or Third International had become irretrievably "lost to Stalinism" and thus incapable of leading the international working class to political power.
In contemporary English language, an advocate of Trotsky's ideas is often called a "Trotskyist"; a Trotskyist can be called a "Trotskyite" or "Trot", especially by a critic of Trotskyism.


Marx, Engles, Lenin, Trotsky
Supporters of Trotsky would contend that Trotskyism is not a new movement, a new doctrine, but the restoration, the revival of genuine Marxism as it was expounded and practiced in the Russian revolution and in the early days of the Communist International."
According to Trotsky, his thought could be distinguished from other Marxist theories by five key elements:
Support for the strategy of permanent revolution, in opposition to the 'Two Stage Theory' of his opponents;
Criticism of the post-1924 leadership of the Soviet Union, analysis of its features and after 1933, support for political revolution in the Soviet Union and in what Trotskyists term the deformed workers' states;
Support for social revolution in the advanced capitalist countries through working class mass action;
Support for proletarian internationalism; and
Use of a 'transitional' programme of demands that bridge between daily struggles of the working class and the 'maximal' ideas of the socialist transformation of society.
On the political spectrum of Marxism, Trotskyists are considered to be on the left.
They supported democratic rights in the USSR, opposed political deals with the imperialist powers, and advocated a spreading of the revolution throughout Europe and Asia.


Па́вел Никола́евич Милюко́
Pavel Nikolayevich Milyukov
According to Trotsky, the term 'Trotskyism' was coined by Pavel Milyukov, (sometimes transliterated as 'Paul Miliukoff'), the ideological leader of the Constitutional Democratic party (Kadets) in Russia.

Па́вел Никола́евич Милюко́в - Pavel Nikolayevich Milyukov (27 January [O.S. 15 January] 1859 – 31 March 1943), a Russian politician, was the founder, leader, and the most prominent member of the Constitutional Democratic party (known as the Kadets). His name is sometimes rendered in English as Paul Miliukov or Paul Milukoff.

Конституционная Демократическая партия - The Constitutional Democratic Party (Constitutional Democrats, formally Party of People's Freedom, informally 'Kadets') was a liberal political party in the Russian Empire. Party members were called Kadets, from the abbreviation K-D of the party name in Russian. This name should not be confused with the term 'cadets', which referred to students at military schools in the Imperial Russia. Konstantin Kavelin's, and Boris Chicherin's writings formed the theoretical basis of the party's platform. Historian Pavel Miliukov was the party's leader throughout its existence. The Kadets were mainly supported by professionals—university professors and lawyers were particularly prominent within the party, members of the zemstvo (a form of local government) and some industrialists.

Emblem of the Romanov State
Milyukov waged a bitter war against 'Trotskyism' "as early as 1905".
Trotsky was elected chairman of the St. Petersburg Soviet during the 1905 Russian Revolution. He pursued a policy of proletarian revolution at a time when other socialist trends advocated a transition to a "bourgeois" (capitalist) regime to replace the essentially feudal Romanov state.

State Duma
It was during this year that Trotsky developed the 'Theory of Permanent Revolution' (see below), as it later became known
In 1905, Trotsky quotes from a postscript to a book by Milyukov, 'The elections to the second State Duma, published no later than May 1907:
'Those who reproach the Kadets with failure to protest at that time, by organising meetings, against the 'revolutionary illusions' of Trotskyism, and the relapse into Blanquism, simply do not understand… the mood of the democratic public at meetings during that period.' – 'The elections to the second state Duma' by Pavel Milyukov
Milyukov suggests that the mood of the "democratic public" was in support of Trotsky's policy of the overthrow of the Romanov regime alongside a workers' revolution to overthrow the capitalist owners of industry, support for strike action and the establishment of democratically elected workers' councils or "soviets".

The Theory of Permanent Revolution - I

In 1905, Trotsky formulated a theory that became known as the 'Theory of Permanent Revolution'.
It is one of the defining characteristics of Trotskyism.
Until 1905, Marxism only claimed that a revolution in a European capitalist society would lead to a socialist one.
Feudal Russia
According to the original theory it was impossible for such to occur in more backward countries such as early 20th century Russia.
Russia in 1905 was widely considered to have not yet established a capitalist society, but was instead largely feudal with a small, weak and almost powerless capitalist class.
The Theory of Permanent Revolution addressed the question of how such feudal regimes were to be overthrown, and how socialism could be established given the lack of economic prerequisites.
Trotsky argued that in Russia only the working class could overthrow feudalism, and win the support of the peasantry;furthermore, he argued that the Russian working class would not stop there.
They would win its own revolution against the weak capitalist class, establish a workers' state in Russia, and appeal to the working class in the advanced capitalist countries around the world. As a result, the global working class would come to Russia's aid, and socialism could develop worldwide.

The Capitalist or Bourgeois-Democratic Revolution

Revolutions in Britain in the 17th century and in France in 1789 abolished feudalism and established the basic requisites for the development of capitalism.
Trotsky argued that these revolutions would not be repeated in Russia.
In 'Results and Prospects', written in 1906, Trotsky outlines his theory in detail, arguing: "History does not repeat itself. However much one may compare the Russian Revolution with the Great French Revolution, the former can never be transformed into a repetition of the latter."

Painting Inspired by the 1789 French Revolution
The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Son - David
In the French Revolution of 1789, France experienced what Marxists called a "bourgeois-democratic revolution" – a regime was established wherein the bourgeoisie overthrew the existing French feudalistic system.
The bourgeoisie then moved towards establishing a regime of democratic parliamentary institutions, however, while democratic rights were extended to the bourgeoisie, they were not generally extended to a universal franchise.
The freedom for workers to organise unions or to strike was not achieved without considerable struggle.
Trotsky argues that countries like Russia had no "enlightened, active" revolutionary bourgeoisie which could play the same role, and the working class constituted a very small minority.
By the time of the European revolutions of 1848, "the bourgeoisie was already unable to play a comparable role. It did not want and was not able to undertake the revolutionary liquidation of the social system that stood in its path to power."

Theory of Permanent Revolution - II

The Theory of Permanent Revolution considers that in many countries which are thought under Trotskyism to have not yet completed a bourgeois-democratic revolution, the capitalist class opposes the creation of any revolutionary situation.
They fear stirring the working class into fighting for its own revolutionary aspirations against their exploitation by capitalism.
In Russia, the working class, although a small minority in a predominantly peasant based society, were organised in vast factories owned by the capitalist class, and into large working class districts.

Russian Revolution of 1905
During the Russian Revolution of 1905, the capitalist class found it necessary to ally with reactionary elements such as the essentially feudal landlords, and ultimately the existing Czarist Russian state forces.
This was to protect their ownership of their property—factories, banks, etc.—from expropriation by the revolutionary working class.
Therefore, according to the Theory of Permanent Revolution, the capitalist classes of economically backward countries are weak, and incapable of carrying through revolutionary change.
As a result, they are linked to and rely on the feudal landowners in many ways.
Thus, Trotsky argues, because a majority of the branches of industry in Russia were originated under the direct influence of government measures—sometimes with the help of government subsidies—the capitalist class was again tied to the ruling elite.
The capitalist class were subservient to European capital.

The Role of the Proletariat

Trotsky argued, only the 'proletariat' or 'working class' were capable of achieving the tasks of that 'bourgeois' revolution.

Russian Industrial Workers
In 1905, the working class in Russia, a generation brought together in vast factories from the relative isolation of peasant life, saw the result of its labour as a vast collective effort, and the only means of struggling against its oppression in terms of a collective effort also, forming workers councils (soviets), in the course of the revolution of that year.
In 1906, Trotsky argued:
'The factory system brings the proletariat to the foreground... The proletariat immediately found itself concentrated in tremendous masses, while between these masses and the autocracy there stood a capitalist bourgeoisie, very small in numbers, isolated from the 'people', half-foreign, without historical traditions, and inspired only by the greed for gain.' – Trotsky, 'Results and Prospects'

Putilov Factory
The Putilov Factory, for instance, numbered 12,000 workers in 1900, and, according to Trotsky, 36,000 in July 1917.
The Theory of Permanent Revolution considers that the peasantry as a whole cannot take on this task, because it is dispersed in small holdings throughout the country, and forms a heterogeneous grouping, including the rich peasants who employ rural workers, and aspire to landlordism, as well as the poor peasants who aspire to own more land.
Trotsky argues: "All historical experience... shows that the peasantry are absolutely incapable of taking up an independent political role."
Trotskyists differ on the extent to which this is true today, but even the most orthodox tend to recognise in the late twentieth century a new development in the revolts of the rural poor, the self-organising struggles of the landless, and many other struggles which in some ways reflect the militant united organised struggles of the working class, and which to various degrees do not bear the marks of class divisions typical of the heroic peasant struggles of previous epochs.
However, orthodox Trotskyists  still argue that the town and city based working class struggle is central to the task of a successful socialist revolution, linked to these struggles of the rural poor. They argue that the working class learns of necessity to conduct a collective struggle, for instance in trade unions, arising from its social conditions in the factories and workplaces, and that the collective consciousness it achieves as a result is an essential ingredient of the socialist reconstruction of society.
Although only a small minority in Russian society, the proletariat, would lead a revolution to emancipate the peasantry and thus "secure the support of the peasantry" as part of that revolution, on whose support it will rely, but the working class, in order to improve their own conditions, will find it necessary to create a revolution of their own, which would accomplish both the bourgeois revolution and then establish a workers' state.

International Revolution

Russia - A Peasant Based Country
Ilya Repin 'Volga Barge Haulers' - 1873
According to classical Marxism, revolution in peasant-based countries, such as Russia, prepares the ground ultimately only for a development of capitalism, since the liberated peasants become small owners, producers and traders, which leads to the growth of commodity markets, from which a new capitalist class emerges.
Only fully developed capitalist conditions prepare the basis for socialism.
Trotsky agreed that a new socialist state and economy in a country like Russia would not be able to hold out against the pressures of a hostile capitalist world, as well as the internal pressures of its backward economy.
The revolution, Trotsky argued, must quickly spread to capitalist countries, bringing about a socialist revolution which must spread worldwide.
In this way the revolution is "permanent", moving out of necessity first, from the bourgeois revolution to the workers’ revolution, and from there uninterruptedly to European and worldwide revolutions.

Лев Бори́сович Ка́менев
 Lev Borisovich Kamenev
This was the position, contrary to that of "Classical Marxism" which by that time had been further illuminated by active life, shared by Trotsky and Lenin, and the Bolsheviks, until 1924 when Joseph Stalin, who along with Kamenev in February 1917 had taken the Menshevik position of first the bourgeois revolution, only to be confronted by Lenin and his famous 'April Thesis' on Lenin's return to Russia, after the death of Lenin and seeking to consolidate his growing bureaucratic control of the Bolshevik Party began to put forward the slogan of "Socialism in one country".

Лев Бори́сович Ка́менев - Lev Borisovich Kamenev (18 July [O.S. 6 July] 1883 – 25 August 1936), born Rozenfeld (Russian: Ро́зенфельд), was a Jewish Bolshevik revolutionary, and a prominent Soviet politician. He served briefly as the first head of state of Soviet Russia in 1917, and from 1923-24 the acting Premier in the last year of Vladimir Lenin's life.
Under the leadership of Joseph Stalin Kamenev fell out of favor and, following a show trial, was executed.

An internationalist outlook of permanent revolution is found in the works of Karl Marx.
The term "permanent revolution" is taken from a remark of Marx from his March 1850 Address: "it is our task", Marx said,
'To make the revolution permanent until all the more or less propertied classes have been driven from their ruling positions, until the proletariat has conquered state power and until the association of the proletarians has progressed sufficiently far – not only in one country but in all the leading countries of the world – that competition between the proletarians of these countries ceases and at least the decisive forces of production are concentrated in the hands of the workers'. – Karl Marx, Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League.

Trotskyism and the 1917 Russian Revolution

 Russian revolution of 1905
During his leadership of the Russian revolution of 1905, Trotsky argued that once it became clear that the Tsar's army would not come out in support of the workers, it was necessary to retreat before the armed might of the state in as good an order as possible.

In 1917, Trotsky was again elected chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, but this time soon came to lead the Military Revolutionary Committee which had the allegiance of the Petrograd garrison, and carried through the October 1917 insurrection.
Stalin wrote:
'All practical work in connection with the organization of the uprising was done under the immediate direction of Comrade Trotsky, the President of the Petrograd Soviet. It can be stated with certainty that the Party is indebted primarily and principally to Comrade Trotsky for the rapid going over of the garrison to the side of the Soviet and the efficient manner in which the work of the Military Revolutionary Committee was organized.' – Stalin, Pravda, November 6, 1918
As a result of his role in the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Theory of Permanent Revolution was embraced by the young Soviet state until 1924.
The Russian revolution of 1917 was marked by two revolutions: the relatively spontaneous February 1917 revolution, and the 25 October 1917 seizure of power by the Bolsheviks, who had gained the leadership of the Petrograd soviet.
Before the February 1917 Russian revolution, Lenin had formulated a slogan calling for the 'democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry', but after the February revolution, through his April theses, Lenin instead called for "all power to the Soviets".
Lenin nevertheless continued to emphasise, (as did Trotsky also), the classical Marxist position that the peasantry formed a basis for the development of capitalism, not socialism.
But also before February 1917, Trotsky had not accepted the importance of a Bolshevik style organisation.
Once the February 1917 Russian Revolution had broken out Trotsky admitted the importance of a Bolshevik organisation, and joined the Bolsheviks in July 1917.
Despite the fact that many, like Stalin, saw Trotsky's role in the October 1917 Russian Revolution as central, Trotsky says that without Lenin, and the Bolshevik party, the October revolution of 1917 would not have taken place.
As a result, since 1917, Trotskyism, as a political theory, is fully committed to a Leninist style of democratic centralist party organisation, which Trotskyists argue must not be confused with the party organisation, as it later developed under Stalin.
Trotsky had previously suggested that Lenin's method of organisation would lead to a dictatorship, but it is important to emphasise that after 1917 orthodox Trotskyists argue that the loss of democracy in the Soviet Union was caused by the failure of the revolution to successfully spread internationally, and the consequent wars, isolation and imperialist intervention, and not the Bolshevik style of organisation.
Lenin's outlook had always been that the Russian Revolution would need to stimulate a Socialist revolution in western Europe in order that this European socialist society would then come to the aid of the Russian revolution and enable Russia to advance towards socialism.
Lenin stated:
'We have stressed in a good many written works, in all our public utterances, and in all our statements in the press that… the socialist revolution can triumph only on two conditions. First, if it is given timely support by a socialist revolution in one or several advanced countries.' – Lenin, Speech at Tenth Congress of the RCP(B)
This outlook matched precisely Trotsky's Theory of Permanent Revolution.
Trotsky's Permanent Revolution had foreseen that the working class would not stop at the bourgeois democratic stage of the revolution, but proceed towards a workers' state, as happened in 1917.
In 1917, Lenin changed his attitude to Trotsky's Theory of Permanent Revolution and after the October revolution it was adopted by the Bolsheviks.
Lenin was met with initial disbelief in April 1917.
Trotsky argues that:
'Up to the outbreak of the February revolution and for a time after Trotskyism did not mean the idea that it was impossible to build a socialist society within the national boundaries of Russia (which "possibility" was never expressed by anybody up to 1924 and hardly came into anybody’s head).
Trotskyism meant the idea that the Russian proletariat might win the power in advance of the Western proletariat, and that in that case it could not confine itself within the limits of a democratic dictatorship but would be compelled to undertake the initial socialist measures.
It is not surprising, then, that the 'April Theses' of Lenin were condemned as Trotskyist.' – Leon Trotsky, 'History of the Russian Revolution'

The 'Legend of Trotskyism'

In 'The Stalin School of Falsification', Trotsky argues that what he calls the "legend of Trotskyism" was formulated by Grigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev, in collaboration with Stalin in 1924, in response to the criticisms Trotsky raised of Politburo policy.
The urge to silence Trotsky, and all criticism of the Politburo, was in itself a crucial factor in Stalin's rise to power.
During 1922–24, Lenin suffered a series of strokes and became increasingly incapacitated. Before his death in 1924, Lenin, while describing Trotsky as "distinguished not only by his exceptional abilities – personally he is, to be sure, the most able man in the present Central Committee", and also maintaining that "his non-Bolshevik past should not be held against him", criticized him for "showing excessive preoccupation with the purely administrative side of the work", and also requested that Stalin be removed from his position of General Secretary, but his notes remained suppressed until 1956.
Zinoviev and Kamenev broke with Stalin in 1925, and joined Trotsky in 1926, in what was known as the United Opposition.
In 1926, Stalin allied with Nikolai Bukharin, who then led the campaign against "Trotskyism".
In 'The Stalin School of Falsification', Trotsky quotes Bukharin's 1918 pamphlet, 'From the Collapse of Czarism to the Fall of the Bourgeoisie', which was re-printed by the party publishing house, 'Proletari', in 1923.
In this pamphlet, Bukharin explains and embraces Trotsky's 'Theory of Permanent Revolution', writing:
"The Russian proletariat is confronted more sharply than ever before with the problem of the international revolution … The grand total of relationships which have arisen in Europe leads to this inevitable conclusion. Thus, the permanent revolution in Russia is passing into the European proletarian revolution." Yet it is common knowledge, Trotsky argues, that three years later, in 1926, "Bukharin was the chief and indeed the sole theoretician of the entire campaign against 'Trotskyism', summed up in the struggle against the theory of the permanent revolution."
Trotsky wrote that the Left Opposition grew in influence throughout the 1920s, attempting to reform the Communist Party, but in 1927 Stalin declared "civil war" against them:
During the first ten years of its struggle, the Left Opposition did not abandon the program of ideological conquest of the party for that of conquest of power against the party.
Its slogan was: reform, not revolution.
The bureaucracy, however, even in those times, was ready for any revolution in order to defend itself against a democratic reform.
In 1927, when the struggle reached an especially bitter stage, Stalin declared at a session of the Central Committee, addressing himself to the Opposition:
Those cadres can be removed only by civil war !
What was a threat in Stalin’s words became, thanks to a series of defeats of the European proletariat, a historic fact.
The road of reform was turned into a road of revolution.
Defeat of the European working class led to further isolation in Russia, and further suppression of the Opposition.
Trotsky argued that the "so-called struggle against 'Trotskyism' grew out of the bureaucratic reaction against the October Revolution [of 1917]".
He responded to the one sided civil war with his' Letter to the Bureau of Party History', (1927), contrasting what he claimed to be the falsification of history with the official history of just a few years before.
'In the year 1918, Stalin, at the very outset of his campaign against me, found it necessary, as we have already learned, to write the following words:
“All the work of practical organization of the insurrection was carried out under the direct leadership of the Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, comrade Trotsky…” (Stalin, Pravda, Nov. 6, 1918)
With full responsibility for my words, I am now compelled to say that the cruel massacre of the Chinese proletariat and the Chinese Revolution at its three most important turning points, the strengthening of the position of the trade union agents of British imperialism after the General Strike of 1926, and, finally, the general weakening of the position of the Communist International and the Soviet Union, the party owes principally and above all to Stalin'. – Trotsky, Leon, 'The Stalin School of Falsification', p87.
Trotsky was sent into internal exile, and his supporters were jailed.
Victor Serge, for instance, first "spent six weeks in a cell" after a visit at midnight, then 85 days in an inner GPU cell, most of it in solitary confinement.
He details the jailings of the Left Opposition.
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.
After 1928, the various Communist Parties throughout the world expelled Trotskyists from their ranks.
Most Trotskyists defend the economic achievements of the planned economy in the Soviet Union during the 1920s and 1930s, despite the "misleadership" of the soviet bureaucracy, and what they claim to be the loss of democracy.
Trotskyists claim that in 1928 inner party democracy, and indeed soviet democracy, which was at the foundation of Bolshevism, had been destroyed within the various Communist Parties. Anyone who disagreed with the party line was labeled a Trotskyist and even a fascist.
In 1937, Stalin again unleashed what Trotskyists say was a political terror against their Left Opposition, and many of the remaining 'Old Bolsheviks' (those who had played key roles in the October Revolution in 1917), in the face of increased opposition, particularly in the army.

Trotskyism vs. Stalinism

Trotskyists argue that the "Stalinist USSR" was not socialist (and not communist), but a bureaucratised degenerated workers' state — that is, a non-capitalist state in which exploitation is controlled by a ruling caste which, although not owning the means of production and not constituting a social class in its own right, accrued benefits and privileges at the expense of the working class.
After Lenin’s death (21 January 1924), Trotsky ideologically battled the influence of Stalin, who formed ruling blocs within the Russian Communist Party (with Grigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev, then with Nikolai Bukharin, and then by himself) and so determined soviet government policy from 1924 onwards.
The ruling blocs continually denied Stalin’s opponents the right to organise as an opposition faction within the Party — thus, the re-instatement of democratic centralism and free speech within the Communist Party were key arguments of Trotsky’s Left Opposition, and the later Joint Opposition.
In the course of instituting government policy, Stalin promoted the doctrine of 'Socialism in One Country' (adopted 1925), wherein the USSR would establish socialism upon Russia’s economic foundations (and support socialist revolutions elsewhere).
Conversely, Trotsky held that socialism in one country would economically constrain the industrial development of the USSR, and thus required assistance from the new socialist countries that had arisen in the developed world, which was essential for maintaining Soviet democracy, in 1924 much undermined by civil war and counter-revolution.
Furthermore, Trotsky’s Theory of Permanent Revolution proposed that socialist revolutions in underdeveloped countries would go further towards dismantling feudal régimes, and establish socialist democracies that would not pass through a capitalist stage of development and government, hence, revolutionary workers should politically ally with peasant political organisations, but not with capitalist political parties.
In contrast, Stalin and allies proposed that alliances with capitalist political parties were essential to realising a revolution where Communists were too few.
Stalin’s policy of mixed-ideology political alliances, became Comintern policy.

Founding of the Fourth International

Trotsky founded the International Left Opposition in 1930.
It was meant to be an opposition group within the Comintern, but anyone who joined, or was suspected of joining, the ILO, was immediately expelled from the Comintern.
The ILO therefore concluded that opposing Stalinism from within the Communist organizations controlled by Stalin's supporters had become impossible, so new organizations had to be formed.
In 1933, the ILO was renamed the International Communist League (ICL), which formed the basis of the Fourth International, founded in Paris in 1938.
Trotsky said that only the Fourth International, basing itself on Lenin's theory of the vanguard party, could lead the world revolution, and that it would need to be built in opposition to both the capitalists and the Stalinists.
Trotsky argued that the defeat of the German working class and the coming to power of Hitler in 1933 was due in part to the mistakes of the Third Period policy of the Communist International and that the subsequent failure of the Communist Parties to draw the correct lessons from those defeats showed that they were no longer capable of reform, and a new international organisation of the working class must be organised.
The Transitional demand tactic had to be a key element.
At the time of the founding of the Fourth International in 1938 Trotskyism was a mass political current in Vietnam, Sri Lanka and slightly later Bolivia.
There was also a substantial Trotskyist movement in China which included the founding father of the Chinese Communist movement, Chen Duxiu, amongst its number.
Wherever Stalinists gained power, they made it a priority to hunt down Trotskyists and treated them as the worst of enemies.
The Fourth International suffered repression and disruption through the Second World War. Isolated from each other, and faced with political developments quite unlike those anticipated by Trotsky, some Trotskyist organizations decided that the Soviet Union no longer could be called a degenerated workers state and withdrew from the Fourth International.
After 1945 Trotskyism was smashed as a mass movement in Vietnam and marginalised in a number of other countries.
The International Secretariat of the Fourth International (ISFI) organised an international conference in 1946, and then World Congresses in 1948 and 1951 to assess the expropriation of the capitalists in Eastern Europe and Yugoslavia, the threat of a Third World War, and the tasks for revolutionaries.
The Eastern European Communist-led governments which came into being after World War II without a social revolution were described by a resolution of the 1948 congress as presiding over capitalist economies.
By 1951, the Congress had concluded that they had become "deformed workers' states."
As the Cold War intensified, the ISFI's 1951 World Congress adopted theses by Michel Pablo that anticipated an international civil war.
Pablo's followers considered that the Communist Parties, insofar as they were placed under pressure by the real workers' movement, could escape Stalin's manipulations and follow a revolutionary orientation.
The 1951 Congress argued that Trotskyists should start to conduct systematic work inside those Communist Parties which were followed by the majority of the working class.
However, the ISFI's view that the Soviet leadership was counter-revolutionary remained unchanged.
The 1951 Congress argued that the Soviet Union took over these countries because of the military and political results of World War II, and instituted nationalized property relations only after its attempts at placating capitalism failed to protect those countries from the threat of incursion by the West.
Pablo began expelling large numbers of people who did not agree with his thesis and who did not want to dissolve their organizations within the Communist Parties.
For instance, he expelled the majority of the French section and replaced its leadership.
As a result, the opposition to Pablo eventually rose to the surface, with an open letter to Trotskyists of the world, by Socialist Workers Party leader James P. Cannon.
The Fourth International split in 1953 into two public factions.
The International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) was established by several sections of the International as an alternative centre to the International Secretariat, in which they felt a revisionist faction led by Michel Pablo had taken power.
From 1960, a number of ICFI sections started to reunify with the IS.
After the 1963 reunification congress, the French and British sections maintained the ICFI. Other groups took different paths and originated the present complex map of Trotskyist groupings.