Leon Trotsky

The Third International
After Lenin

The Draft Program of the
Communist International:
A Criticism of Fundamentals


Written: 1928.
First Published: In English in 1929, The Militant.
Source: The Third International After Lenin 1929, New York.
Translated: 1st version unknown translator in Russia, US edition, Max Shachtman.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Sally Ryan, 1997, subsequent HTML updating by David Walters, 2003.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2002, 2003. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

Leon Trotsky wrote the two documents that comprise The Third International After Lenin cominternin 1928, while involuntarily exiled in Alma Ata. The documents were meant to be used for discussion at the Sixth World Congress of the Communist International. Trotsky’s work – a sharp criticism against the opposing program supporting “socialism in one country” – was never distributed to or discussed by the main body at the Congress. The parts of it made available to a committee, but then recalled, were smuggled out of the country by James Cannon, a delegate and founding member of the Communist Party in the United States.

Cannon – subsequently expelled from the CP – and his supporters formed a Trotskyist organization Communist League and first published his smuggled sections in their newspaper, The Militant. Shortly thereafter, it was published in book form. In the introduction to the first edition, (1929) Cannon wrote, “The publication of this masterpiece of Bolshevik literature, written by the foremost living leader of world communism at the height of his powers, is a revolutionary event of great importance ...”.

The on-line version of The Third International After Lenin – “The Draft Program of the Communist International: A Criticism of Fundamentals” and Trotsky’s letter What Now – has been divided into fourteen sections of approximately equal length.


I. The Program of the International Revolution
or a Program of Socialism in One Country?

Part 1
1. The General Structure of the Program
2. The United States and Europe
3. The Slogan of the Soviet United States of Europe
4. The Criterion of Internationalism

Part 2
5. The Theoretical Tradition of the Party
6. Where is the “Social Democratic Deviation”?
7. The Dependence of the USSR on World Economy

Part 3
8. The Contradiction Between the Productive Forces and the National Boundaries as the Cause of the Reactionary Utopian Theory of “Socialism in One Country”
9. The Question Can Be Solved Only on the Arena of World Revolution
10. The Theory of Socialism in One Country as a Series of Social Patriotic Blunders

II. Strategy and Tactics in the Imperialist Epoch

Part 1
1. The Complete Bankruptcy of the Central Chapter of the Draft Program
2. The Fundamental Peculiarities Inherent in the Strategy of the Revolutionary Epoch and the Role of the Party
3. The Third Congress and the Question of the Permanence of the Revolutionary Process According to Lenin and According to Bukharin
4. The German Events of 1923 and the Lessons of October

Part 2
5. The Basic Strategical Mistake of the Fifth Congress
6. The “Democratic-Pacifist Era” and Fascism
7. The Right Leaven of Ultra-Left Policy

Part 3
8. The Period of Right-Centrist Down-Sliding
9. The Maneuverist Character of Revolutionary Strategy
10. The Strategy of Civil War

Part 4
11. The Question of the Internal Party Regime
12. The Causes of the Defeat of the Opposition and Its Perspectives

III. Summary and Perspectives of the Chinese Revolution:
Its Lessons for the Countries of the Orient
and for the Whole of the Comintern

Part 1
1. On the Nature of the Colonial Bourgeoisie
2. The Stages of the Chinese Revolution

Part 2
3. Democratic Dictatorship or a Dictatorship of the Proletariat?
4. Adventurism as the Product of Opportunism
5. Soviets and Revolution

Part 3
6. The Question of the Character of the Coming Chinese Revolution
7. On the Reactionary Idea of “Two-Class Workers’ and Peasants’ Parties” for the Orient
8. The Advantages Secured from the Peasants’ International Must be Probed

IV. What Now?

Part 1
1. The Aim of This Letter
2. Why Has No Congress of the Comintern Been Convoked for More Than Four Years?

Part 2
3. The Policy of 1923-1927
4. Radicalization of the Masses and Questions of Leadership

Part 3
5. How the Current Swing Toward the Left in the CPSU was Prepared
6. One Step Forward, Half a Step Backward

Part 4
7. A Maneuver or a New Course?
8. The Social Basis of the Present Crisis
9. The Party Crisis

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Last updated on: 29.1.2007