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Fourth International, May 1940


Why We Publish
Fourth International

A Statement by the National Committee
of the Socialist Workers Party


From Fourth International, Vol. I No. 1, May 1940, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


This is the first issue, Vol. 1 No. 1, of Fourth International, the new monthly theoretical organ of the Socialist Workers Party. Fourth International will defend the program, ideas and tradition which The New International can no longer represent. We owe our readers an explanation for changing the name of our official magazine.

The New International was the official theoretical organ of the Socialist Workers Party, American section of the Fourth International. The magazine had been in existence since 1934 and was published regularly with the exception of the period when the Fourth Internationalists of this country held membership in the Socialist Party. At all times The New International was the property of our organization. It voiced in its columns the official position of the Trotskyist movement, as a section of the International Communist Leagueand later as a section of the Fourth International. The policies of the magazine were determined by our National Committee. The editors and business staff of the magazine were appointed by and subject to the decisions of the Party. The New International was financed by the nickels and dimes and dollars of the worker members of the party and its sympathizers. Its deficits were paid by the party. The New International, as an integral part of the international Trotskyist movement and its American section, the Socialist Workers Party. By a breach of trust, morally and legally equivalent to a misappropriation of funds by a financial officer of a workers’ organization, Burnham, Shachtman and Abern, who held posts on The New International by party appointment, and who were trustees for the party in The New International Publishing Company, have usurped the name of the magazine and attempted to appropriate its mailing rights as their personal property.

These turncoats, defeated in the party convention after a free and democratic discussion in the party, have sought to revenge themselves on the proletarian majority of the party by stealing the name and the mailing rights of the magazine entrusted to their management, and attempting to cash in on its tradition. An issuenof The New International has appeared under the auspices of these ex-Trotskyists. A casual reading of the forged copy is sufficient to convince any reader that it is not The New International they have known, but a miserable counterfeit.

The old New International defended the program of the Fourth International; it was the chief medium for the publication of the theoretical contributions of Comrade Trotsky, and was honored throughout the world as the theoretical protagonist of the Marxism of our time, i.e., “Trotskyism.” The counterfeit New International, stolen in sneak-thief fashion from the party that owned it and paid for it, and published behind its back in the dark of night, has nothing in common with the traditions of its name and its past association.

Those who know the revolutionary traditions established by the magazine, those who appreciate its great work in the ideas of Marxism throughou the world cannot fail to be revolted by the publication of The New International under revisionist and anti-Trotskyist auspices. This feeling of revulsion must have been augmented by the appearance from the pen of Burnham under the heading Archives of the Revolution, of a foul attack on the Marxist doctrine and method and on the author of most of the rich material in Marxist theory which in the past appeared under this heading.

Thereis no doubt that by every political and moral right The New International belongs to the Socialist Workers Party as represented by its convention majority. There is likewise no doubt, competent attorneys have assured us, that all legal rights to the magazine, its name, its subscription lists and its second-class mailing rights belong entirely to the Socialist Workers Party, and that Burnham, Abern and Shachtman would stand in any litigation as betrayers of financial trust and common thieves. No class-conscious worker would censure us for taking legal action to protect our rights in this case. Obviously, we are dealing here, not with an ideological dispute but a case of petty-larceny. Nevertheless, we have decided to forego any legal action. We are washing our hands of The New International and launching a new magazine, Fourth International, for the following reasons:

  1. It is not worthwhile for us to spend time and effort in legal struggles over property rights which could only divert energies and resources from more serious and important activity.
  2. We do not want our irreconcilable political struggle against the turncoats to be obscured or confused by squabbles over a magazine’s name and property rights. Our aim is, in every respect, to distinguish ourselves from the ex-Trotskyists, and to eliminate every possible point of identification with them.
  3. The once-glorious name of The New International has been irretrievably sullied by its appearance for one issue under the auspices of these betrayers of its tradition. The program of the Fourth International, the great theoretical contributions of comrade Trotsky, the Marxist message of our party, cannot appear under its dirtied name. We want no deception, no confusion, no mixing of banners. We need a clean banner which will truly express what we stand for and at the same time sharply distinguish us from the prostituted New International. They stole it. They have already identified its name with their own treachery. Let them keep it, and let the whole world know it is henceforth their magazine, not ours.

Our magazine is Fourth International!

It alone is the theoretical organ of the Socialist Workers Party and of the Fourth International!

Fourth International will fill out all the unexpired subscriptions of The New International. The subscribers of The New International are entitled to get what they paid for – a theoretical organ of Bolshevism. We feel politically and morally responsible to give it to them by sending this magazine for the full time of the unexpired subscriptions.

We appeal to all readers who sympathize with the principles we stand for to help us maintain this magazine by subscriptions and contributions.

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Last updated on 26 February 2016