Max Shachtman


Genesis of Trotskyism


The International Left Opposition

The International Left Opposition has been constituted in every important country. It stands today formally outside of the official Communist parties, not as a matter of choice but of compulsion. In every case, its ranks are made up chiefly of Communist militants whose defense of the foundations of Leninism brought about their expulsion from the party.

The crisis in the Communist International has divided it into three camps: the Right wing opposition (Brandler, Lovestone, Roy); the bureaucratic Centrist faction of Stalin; and the Left Opposition group of the Bolshevik-Leninists. The fundamental standpoint upon which the first two are united despite other differences, is the reactionary, nationalist theory of socialism in one country. This marks the main dividing line between us and the combined Right wing and Center. The Left Opposition, in opposition to this theory, defends the Marxian conception of the permanent revolution, that is, of the uninterrupted development of the world revolution which, starting in one country, can be maintained only by its extension on an international scale.

The Left Opposition was and remains the irreconcilable opponent of the international social democracy, the principal defender of bourgeois democracy. The Right wing is a bridge from the Communist movement to the social democracy. In the United States, Germany and Czechoslovakia, sections or the whole of the Right opposition have already passed over into the camp of the social democracy. What remains of this faction has no stable basis and no right to a separate existence. It vacillates constantly between social democracy and capitulation to Stalinism, with which it has no fundamental differences. The Centrist faction supports the social democracy from the “Left.” By its opportunism, at one stage, and ultra Leftism at another, it has enabled the social democratic leaders to retain their control over millions of workers.

At every stage of its struggles as a distinctive grouping, the Left Opposition has defended the fundamental principles which its spokesmen and leaders incorporated into the Russian revolution and the Communist International in the early days of their existence. These principles, worked out theoretically by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, and tested through and through by decades of struggles, wars and revolutions, are the primary weapons of the world proletariat in its historic fight to emancipate itself and the whole of humanity. These principles have been undermined, distorted and violated by the ruling regime in the Soviet Union and the Communist International. In doing this, it has led the Communist movement, and consequently the working class, from one defeat to another, until the fatherland of the working class, the Soviet republic, is endangered and the organized revolutionary movement is in the throes of its severest crisis.

The Left Opposition, in its struggle for the regeneration of the Communist movement, is fighting for the present and the future of the whole working class!

January 1933


Last updated on 9.4.2005