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Fourth International, October 1946


A Documentary History of the Fourth International



From Fourth International, October 1946, Vol.7 No.10, p.312.
Transcribed, edited & formatted by Einde O’Callaghan in 2009 for ETOL.


The year 1929, which saw the crystallization of the Trotskyist movement on a world scale and on firm programmatic foundations, was likewise signalized by the outbreak of an internal struggle over the class character of the Soviet Union.

The event which precipitated this controversy in the Trotskyist ranks was the conflict between Moscow and Chiang Kai-shek over the disposition of the Chinese Eastern Railway.The imperialist bourgeoisie and its liberal choirboys, of course, backed Chiang. Their hue and cry about Soviet “imperialism” found reverberations among many workers and among the still scattered ranks of the Trotskyists.

Under the pressure of bourgeois public opinion elements professing adherence to Trotskyist ideas became hesitant about defending the USSR. Since some political justification had to be provided for this act of class desertion, attempts immediately ensued to revise the Marxist appraisal of the USSR.

The bellwether of this initial attempt at neo-revisionism was Hugo Urbahns, leader of the German oppositional group “Leninbund,” who advanced in 1929 the idea that the USSR really represented a new type of state – “neither capitalist nor proletarian.”

Trotsky unhesitatingly declared war against Urbahns and his co-thinkers. In September 1929 he wrote the first in a whole series of basic documents on the crucial question of the class nature of the USSR, because attempts to revise it were repeatedly made in Trotsky’s lifetime. Each time, beginning with Urbahns, Trotsky resolutely repulsed all those who simply played every possible variation on the theme originally scored by Urbahns in 1929.

Louzon, referred to in the text, was a French Syndicalist, at, the time one of the editors of La Révolution Prolétarienne, organ of the Syndicalist League of France.

An English translation of this celebrated document, tbe first installment of which appears below, was originally published in The Militant. It has been checked against the Russian original and revised by John G. Wright. – Ed.

The Defense of the Soviet Union and the Opposition – I

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Last updated on 11.2.2009