Toward a History of the Fourth International   |  ETOL Home Page


The Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line seeks to archive the collected literary output of the world’s Trotskyist groups, parties and tendencies. This particular sub-archive, Toward A History Of The Fourth International will attempt to focus specifically on the development, internationally, of the descendents of the International Left Opposition. Included will be documents from the various debates and polemics that developed inside the various international currents of the Fourth International and those that descended from it over the decades since.

The basic time line of the organization of this archive will follow most of the major developments of the Fourth International. Thus, while the Fourth International split in 1953 into the International Secretariat and the competing International Committee there was a partial reunification in 1963. We will attempt to document this split and reunification through the various internal discussions and letters over the 10 year period, focusing primarily on major “Line” documents of the various groups and major figures.

Since the reunification of the IS and most of the IC occurred in 1963, it is obvious that other currents arose that rejected the reunification. The 1963 reunification was based primarily between on agreement on the development of the Cuban Revolution between the IS and the US Socialist Workers Party and it’s supporters within the IC. Within a few years, others, such as the current in Argentina organized around Nahuel Moreno, also rejoined the the new “United Secretariat of the Fourth International”, or, as it became known to it’s supporters and detractors alike, the USFI.

Those that rejected the reunification continued on with the “International Committee” name. Among those that continued to reject the reunification was the British Socialist Labour League and the French Internationalist Communist Party. In addition, the IC developed other sections (originally as minority factions of the larger ones) in many other countries, as well.

We hope to explore all these nuances and differences via the letters and documents of all parties concerned. In addition, we will document the development of some of the smaller splits that occurred during this period and many of the subsequent developments of international Trotskyist currents that have grown since into currents that rival any of the pre-existing tendencies of the Fourth International since reunification in 1963. While these currents rejected the formality of the imprimatur of “Fourth International” many became substantial in size and influential international currents regardless of their name. Included in this list are the International Socialist Tendency, the Committee for a Workers International and Committee for a Marxist International.

Users of the Toward A History Of The Fourth International Archive should be aware that many of the documents presented below exist outside the initial directories of the ETOL. Many reside in the various Marxist writers archives on the Marxists Internet Archive and not all are linked back to this sub-directory.

Table of Contents:

Two complete sets of documents, some of them overlapping in content but also providing material not seen elseware on the Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line were produced by the US Socialist Workers Party in their Education for Socialists bulletins titled Toward a History of the Fourth International and by the British Socialist Labour League in a set of 7 volumes titled Trotskyism vs Revisionism. We also include a link to a document from the International Communist Union, associated with Lutte Ouevrire of France a group that abstained from joining the Fourth International in 1938. The links are as follows:

Toward a History of the Fourth International

Trotskyism vs Revisionism

Trotsky's aims in founding the Fourth International

Documents of the 1923 Opposition—(The beginning of the Left Opposition)
International Preconference—(Paris, February 1933)
International Preconference: The Declaration Of Four: On the Necessity and Principles of a New International— (1933) E. Bauer, J. Schwab, P.J. Schmidt and H. Sneevliet
The War and the Fourth International—Draft Thesis Adopted by the International Secretariat of the International Communist League, 1934.
International Bulletins 1940-1945— Published by the Socialist Workers Party for the Fourth International
International Information Bulletins 1946-1950— Published by SWP for the Fourth International
International Information Bulletins 1951-1969— Published by the SWP for Fourth International
International Information Bulletins 1970-1976— Published by the SWP for Fourth International. Currently processing
International Internal Discussion Bulletins 1972-1976— Published by the SWP for Fourth International. Currently processing
Leninist-Trotskyist Faction (and Tendency) Correspondence 1972-1977 — Correspondence, documents and statements by members of the USFI’s LTF membership and leadership internationally. Currently processing
Founding Conference of the Fourth International—Périgny, France, September 1938. Published in English by the Socialist Workers Party, U.S. Section of the Fourth International, January, 1939
The split in the Socialist Workers Party between the the majority (Leon Trotsky, James Cannon) and the minority factions (Max Shachtman, James Burnhman) —1939-1940
First (Emergency) Conference of the Fourth International—New York, May 1940
Documents by and about the Shachtmanite Tendency Workers Party (1940-1949) - Independent Socialist League (1949-1959) - Dissolution into the Socialist Party
The Fourth International During World War II
The Second Conference of the Fourth International—Belgium, April 1946
Second World Congress of the Fourth International—Paris, April 1948. Complete set of resolutions, documents and articles on this Congress
Yugoslavia & the Tito-Stalin Split—1948
The 3rd World Congress of the Fourth International—Paris, April 1951. Documents and Resolutions
The Split Between the International Committee and the International Secretariat—1953. (James Cannon, Gerry Healy and Pierre Lambert on the one side and Pablo, Pierre Frank and Ernest Mandel on the other)
Documents of the International Secretariat—1953-1963
Documents of the International Committee—1953-1963
Documents by the rump International Committee—Gerry Healy and Pierre Lambert, 1963-1971
Documents by the United Secretariat—1963-1985, led by Ernest Mandel, Joseph Hansen, Pierre Rousset, Livio Maitan
Trotskyism and the Cuban Revolution: A Documentary History—1933-2006, Major sub-index on Trotskism and its relationship with the Cuban Revolution spanning 5 decades
Documents of the International Committee (1971-1985)—led by Gerry Healy, Cliff Slaughter and Michael Banda
Documents of the Organizing Committee for the Reconstruction of the Fourth International (OCRFI) (1971-1979)—led by Guillermo Lora, Pierre Lambert and Stephane Just
Documents of the Parity Committee/International Committee (1979-1981)—led by Nahuel Moreno, Pierre Lambert and Stephane Just
Documents of the International Workers League (1981-1987)—led by Nahuel Moreno
Documents of the Fourth International (International Committee for Reconstruction) (1981-1996)
Documents of the International Socialist Tendency—led by Tony Cliff
Documents of the Committee for a Workers International—led by Ted Grant, Alan Woods and Peter Taaffe
Trotskyism and Armed Struggle —Special Section dealing with the issue of Latin American Trotskyism and it’s participation in Guevarist inspired insurection