Two Letters on Building the Fourth International

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With the publication of two letters written by Trotsky in 1929 we continue the documentation of internal problems in connection with the building of the Fourth International (This series began in our May issue).

The July 12, 1929 letter further clarifies Trotsky’s rejection of an “all-inclusive” organization, especially the proposals made at the time by Souvarine in France among others-to collaborate with the Right Wing tendency in the Communist movement. This tendency was represented in Germany by the Brandler-Thalheimer group. In Russia, by Bukharin and Rykov. In the US, by the Lovestoneites.

Brandler and Thalheimer had been in the official leadership of the German Communist Party up to the debacle of 1923 when they were supplanted by the Maslow-Fischer group which had ultra-leftist tendencies. Since 1929 both groups had been expelled from the official movement (headed by Thälmann) – In the beginning the Maslow-Fischer group (then known as the Volkswille group) drew closer to the Trotskyists, only to break off at a later period.

The newspaper Arbeiter-Zeitung, referred to in the text, was the Vienna organ of the Austro-Marxists, the Austrian variety of opportunism in the Second International. Wels was one of the prominent leaders of the German Socialist Party and the German trade unions.

The August 6, 1929 letter relates to the struggle in France to launch a regular publication. This was one of the key problems of the early period, especially acute in the case of France and Spain.

Semard and Monmousseau, referred to in the text, were prominent Stalinist leaders of the French CF.