The Death Agony of the Fourth International


Leon Trotsky founded the Fourth International to reorganise the world’s revolutionary forces in the struggle to bring the crisis of the late 1930s to a revolutionary conclusion.

But the Fourth International never became the mass party that was needed. This book examines the origins and nature of the collapse of the Fourth International, as a basis for understanding what is needed to build a genuinely revolutionary party of world socialist revolution.

First published in 1983 by Workers Power and the Irish Workers Group, this new edition contains a preface and appendices covering the analyses of those same tasks made in the decades since.

Forty five years ago, Leon Trotsky wrote that the crisis facing mankind was reducible to a crisis of proletarian leadership. The building of a party, an international revolutionary party, capable of leading the proletariat, was the only hope of averting, or bringing to a speedy revolutionary conclusion, the crisis that engulfed the entire world in the late 1930s. The new leadership was to be forged by the Fourth International.

But the Fourth International never became the leadership of the proletariat on a significant sclae. The war shattered its weak  structures. The fascists, the imperialist Allies and the Kremlin’s army of hired assassins murdered its finest cadres. The forces of the Fourth International remained marginal to the class struggle. Their banner, alas, was not taken up by millions. The problem of leadership remained unresolved, and capitalism gained a respite that, on a world scale, has lasted to this day. What is clear is that no Fourth International in the tradition of Leon Trotsky exists today.

In order to build an international revolutionary party, it is necessary to look clearly and carefully at the history of the Fourth International, to examine the orgins and nature of its political and organisational collapse. But this book is not simply a history of the FI. History is necessary as a guide to understanding; understanding is a guide to action. This book also deals wwith the tasks that face genuine Trotskyists in fulfilling the goal that Trotsky set his followers – to resolve the crisis of leadership by building a World Party of Socialist Revolution.