MIA: History: ETOL: Documents: FI: 1938-1949: 1948 2nd Congress of the FI

Opening Address Delivered at Second World Congress of Fourth International


Written: December 1948 and January 1949.
First Published: 1948
Source: Fourth International, New York, Volume IX, No. 6, August 1948, , pages 142-143.
Transcribed/HTML Markup: Daniel Gaido and David Walters, November, 2005
Public Domain: Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line 2005. You can freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Marxists Internet Archive as your source, include the url to this work, and note the transcribers & proofreaders above.

After declaring the Congress in session by order of the International Executive Committee and International Secretariat, and greeting the delegates, the International Secretary spoke as follows:


Today, two years after the April 1946 Conference, there are assembled in this hall the representatives of 22 sections and organizations of the International, who have come from Europe, North America, South America, Africa and Asia. This assemblage, which has been achieved under the terrible conditions prevailing throughout the world since the end of the second imperialist war, and especially in face of the enormous difficulties confronting our international movement on every side, is in itself a remarkable feat. The reality and the vitality of our movement find their most striking demonstration in the holding of this Congress.

We have here the most representative international gathering that has ever been called together by our international movement since its founding. In a magnificent spirit of revolutionary internationalism, the organizations of our International have overcome tremendous difficulties to send their representatives here.

This Congress has come together at an especially critical moment in the international situation. The present period is marked by an acute sharpening of the antagonism between the two main world powers—the United States and the Soviet Union—and by the advanced polarization of the social antagonisms. And this raises again, in the event of defeat of the world socialist revolution, the specter of fascism and atomic war, that is, the decomposition of capitalist society into the most appalling barbarism. This Congress, Moreover, has come together at a critical moment for the development and future of our movement, which is feeling the pressure of the heavily fraught objective situation. We will have to oppose the tendencies, expressed within our ranks, which would revise our program and liquidate our movement. We will also have to give clear and positive answers to the problems and questions which, in this unprecedentedly complex situation, are quite justifiably being posed by the members of our international movement.

In meeting this twofold task—defense of our program and our movement against revisionist and liquidationist attacks, and the outlining of clear perspectives and concrete tasks which will assure the further development of our movement—let us recall that our Congress is meeting on the 100th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto and the founding of that scientific socialism which enabled the working-class movement to build its revolutionary activity on the rock of Marxist theory, of which we today are the sole continuators.

The death agony of capitalism has reached its final stage, and threatens all humanity with destruction and barbarism. The socialist solution becomes more imperative than ever.

The world proletariat and the exploited masses in the capitalist countries, the colonies and the semi-colonies have already given and continue to give proof of their profound determination to have done with this system which, by its contradictions, has brought humanity to the brink of destruction and threatens to wipe out all the progress hitherto achieved. The crisis of humanity takes concrete form in the crisis of the revolutionary Readerships of the workers’ movement. The role of the Fourth International is to work out the solution to this problem. We are firmly convinced that we shall accomplish this task. For the entire political and theoretical heritage of revolutionary Marxism, coming down to us through the work and teachings of Marx and Engels, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, Lenin and Trotsky, lives and takes action in our international movement.

For these reasons, the role of this Congress is one of profoundest importance. And we open the Congress with fullest confidence in its success.

Now, as our sessions are about to commence, our thoughts turn toward the innumerable members of our International who, both during and after the second imperialist war, have paid with their lives for their devotion to the cause of the international proletariat.

Our thoughts turn to our irreplaceable teacher, Leon Trotsky, and to our other leading comrades, Leon Lesoil, Widelin, W. Held, Peters, Marcel Hic, Pouliopoulos, Blasco, Chen Chi-chang, Ta Thu Than, and their many comrades in struggle. And I ask you to honor their imperishable memory by standing for a moment of silence.

Our Congress also sends its warmest greetings to Comrade Natalia Trotsky, to Comrade Cannon, and to the imprisoned Trotskyist comrades in Greece, India, the Viet Nam, Bolivia, China and elsewhere; to the Trotskyist in the USSR, in Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Germany and Austria; to all the members of our International; and to the colonial peoples and the workers of the entire world. Wherever they are now struggling for their national and social emancipation.

Comrades, our Congress is now opened.


Last updated on 11.19.2005