Robert James [1*]

Natalia Trotsky and the Fourth International

(December 1972)

From International Socialism (1st series), No.53, December 1972, p.42.
Transcribed by Mike Pearn.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Natalia Trotsky and the Fourth International, Pluto Press 7.5p

The Russian question was a problem for Trotsky throughout his life in opposition and exile.

His own eloquent but widely varying characterisation of Russia as a workers’ state are ample testimony of the analytical problems involved for serious Marxists.

It is probably true to say that the unfortunate, if perhaps understandable, tenacity with which Trotsky clung to his definition has succeeded in disorienting the Fourth Internationalist movement he founded. It requires some fairly large assumptions to suggest with absolute confidence that had he lived he would have changed his mind. One thing is clear, however, he would not have allowed his thought to remain fixed in the categories of 1940. The varying adaptations to Stalinism of his fissiparous followers would be unthinkable for Trotsky.

What Trotsky would have said or done in the light of the unthought of post-1945 reality is unknowable. We do however know what his life-long comrade and companion Natalia thought and what she, inevitably, was forced to do. She rejected the theory of the “degenerated workers’ state” and in time she broke with the organisation that had itself so grievously degenerated from its birth in 1938.

Her reward for her dedication to the principles of revolutionary socialism as against the compromised these of the Fourth International was to be abused (abuse in no way mitigated by its sorrowful tone) for desertion.

In the few pages of this pamphlet a whole period of revolutionary experience is brought into sharp focus and the organisation found wanting.

The future is with Natalia whose genuine faith in communism, the working class and the logical steps she took flowing from that faith made her the genuine representative of the political heritage of Leon Trotsky.



1*. Robert James is a pseudonym used by Jim Higgins.


Last updated on 19.10.2006