The following is an introduction by marxist.com editor Fred Weston to the new edition of The First Five Years of the Communist International from Wellred Books (buy it now!) Fred outlines some of the key debates and decisions taken in the first four congresses of the Communist International. This, we hope will serve to place the contribution of Trotsky into the context of the period.
This article explains the disagreements and political errors that marred the early years of the Communist Party of Italy (PCd’I). The Lyon Congress of 1926 was a culmination of the contradictory nature of the PCd’I which – compounded by the bureaucratic degeneration of the Third International – tragically contributed to the defeat of the Italian communists, alongside the rest of the workers' movement, at the hands of fascism.
Apologists for capitalism argue that it is the best, most-efficient system that could ever possibly exist. But the current period of crisis and chaos prove otherwise. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an economic collapse that threatens to throw society back to the 1930s, sending the world into a full-blown depression. Clearly, something is rotten at the heart of the system. The advocates of Keynesian ideas - or modern varieties like Modern Monetary Theory - cannot provide a real solution to this crisis. In his talk from this year's International Marxist University, Adam Booth, a leading activist of Socialist Appeal, explains why capitalism has failed, and what the way forward is for humanity.
We republish Leon Trotsky's 1938 pamphlet, Their Morals and Ours. Written while Trotsky was in exile in Mexico, the pamphlet answers critics of the Russian Revolution, who smeared the Bolsheviks as "amoral". Trotsky argues that morality is not fixed but reflects class interests in society. So-called common sense and "elementary moral precepts" against violence, for example, in reality serve the interests of the ruling class. Revolutionary morality – including the use of violence in class struggle – is determined by whatever advances the cause of the proletariat, and thus the liberation of humanity.
South Africa has now been a capitalist democracy for 26 years. The leaders of the former liberation movement call this “Freedom” or “Liberation”. But Lenin answered them long in advance when he said that:
“We are in favour of a democratic republic as the best form of state for the proletariat under capitalism. But we have no right to forget that wage slavery is the lot of people even under the most democratic bourgeois republic. Furthermore, every state is a ‘special force’ for the suppression of the oppressed class. Consequently, every state is not ‘free’ and not a ‘people’s state.’”
As the capitalist system lurches from one crisis to the next, old contradictions are re-emerging. Instability, polarisation and huge political shifts are taking place all over the world. As part of this process, unsolved national questions are erupting once more with renewed force around the globe - from Catalonia to Kurdistan to Ireland.
In 1988 Alan Woods interviewed Esteban Volkov (Leon Trotsky's grandson) in a room in the Trotsky Museum in Coyoacan, of which he is the curator. On the night of 24 May 1940, Esteban Volkov, then only 14 years old, was wounded in a brutal machine-gun attack by Stalinist supporters, from which the Trotsky family miraculously escaped alive. Sixty-six years after the murder of Leon Trotsky (20 August 2006), we republished this interview dealing with the various assassination attempts on Trotsky and his family.