From Fourth International, Vol.15 No.3, Summer 1954, p.75.
Transcription & mark-up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
FOURTEEN YEARS ago, on August 21, 1940, Leon Trotsky died from the blow of a pickaxe driven into his brain by one of Stalin’s hired assassins.
The murder of Trotsky was greeted with joy not only by the bureaucrats who usurped power in the Soviet Union, but by reactionaries everywhere. They viewed Trotsky quite correctly as the living symbol of Marxism, that great structure of scientific thought which has already vanquished capitalism in the field of serious economic, social and political theory. The silencing of Trotsky’s voice, they felt, would stay the working class a bit longer from establishing the new world order of socialism.
The removal of that great mind from the world scene amid the cataclysmic events of World War II undoubtedly had its effect. Rut the capitalists and the Stalinists did not understand that the silencing of Trotsky’s voice could not silence the voice of Trotskyism. The fact is that all the great questions for which Trotsky offered the only correct answer – the Marxist answer – remain to this day insistently facing mankind. Let us list the main ones:
- Can world economy achieve stability and deliver the abundance it is capable of producing? The capitalist sectors display only symptoms of advanced decay. Even the economy of the US, which emerged victor from the war, is mined throughout with the time-bombs of depression. Every worker who gives a thought to tomorrow is aware of that.
- Can war be finally crossed off as a possibility in modern civilization? The fact is that never before have the great powers prepared with such assiduity and thoroughness for war, a war this time that they themselves acknowledge can mean atomic annihilation and even the wiping out of all life on this planet.
- Can the threat of fascism be definitively liquidated? Right now in the United States we are faced with the rising menace of McCarthyism, the American form of fascism. This movement gives promise, if it succeeds in taking power, of putting into the shade the horrors of Hitler’s concentration camps and gas chambers.
- Can the colonial world with its mighty human resources be drawn in equal partnership into the modern industrial complex of the metropolitan centers? The colonial peoples have made heroic efforts to shake themselves loose from the despotic rulers, both foreign and domestic, who stand in their path, but every one of them remains under the ominous shadow of Western imperialism; and some of them have experienced one blood bath after another, either instigated or directly inflicted by capitalist empires.
- Can Stalinism, that reactionary throwback, be rooted out and workers’ democracy restored to the Soviet Union? Trotsky’s answer was: Yes – but not by imperialist intervention or by gradual evolution. In the absence of revolution, the bureaucracy remains entrenched, a giant obstacle to the working class in its search for the road to socialism. What the workers must and will do about it was indicated by the June uprising in East Germany last year – but the task is yet to be accomplished.
This brief list is sufficient to indicate that the major problems Trotsky dealt with still plague the world fourteen years after his death. Must we then say that without Trotsky they cannot be solved?
Trotsky would not agree with that. In his view, the solutions in main outline were achieved in Marxist theory. What remained to be done was to put the theory into practice. This means above all building a revolutionary socialist party that knows society can be saved only by transforming it and that has the will to achieve this end no matter what the obstacles.
It is true that great numbers of workers in the United States – as in the rest of the world – know little about Trotskyism, which is the correct name for living Marxism. It is equally tree that millions and hundreds of millions of these same workers, the world over, know the essence of Trotskyism in their blood and bones.
And in the course of the great class battles that lie ahead, these workers will come to know that their feelings have a theoretical counterpart whose name is Trotskyism and which can guide them to victory.
In his final remarks to the John Dewey Commission that established his innocence of the frame-up charges in the Moscow Trials, Trotsky spoke of his “faith in the clear, bright future of mankind,” his “faith in reason, in truth, in human solidarity,” and of the “revolutionary optimism which constitutes the fundamental element of my life.”
Today, on the fourteenth anniversary of Trotsky’s death, we proudly reassert the same faith and revolutionary optimism, and our determination to carry on the fight until the workers of the whole world can shout with one voice on that glorious day, “We’ve won!”
Last updated on: 31 March 2009