Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History, Vol. 5 No. 2


Trotskyist Serials Bibliography

Wolfgang and Petra Lubitz (eds),
Trotskyist Serials Bibliography,
KG Saur, Munich, 1993, pp. 475, DM 198

THIS book forms a sequel to the Trotsky bibliography edited by Lubitz and brought out by the same publisher, and together they form an indispensable research tool for academics. With a diligence little short of amazing he has collected together some 1926 different journals, carefully listing the places where they can be consulted, a real testimony to the lively ferment of ideas animating the Trotskyist movement. This second volume is also interesting because, based as it is largely upon libraries in Europe and the USA, it shows just how limited is the contact of European Trotskyists with their co-thinkers in the rest of the world, for all the talk of internationalism and Fourth Internationals. Despite the existence of quite large groups in Japan only their English language publications are cited at all, and not even all of these, for the Gakushu series edited in California by Larry Moyes, a major source for understanding the development of the Kuroda group and its offshoots, does not appear. And apart from Mexico, there is practically nothing from South America, because ‘it proved impossible to obtain suitable data for bibliographical record within reasonable time’ (p. xix, n22). Since Latin America has some of the largest as well as the most influential Trotskyist organisations in the world, this is a real loss, and limits the value of this catalogue considerably.

It also suffers from a lack of focus at times. For example, the series Documents on the History of the Fourth International (p. 76, no. 0447) was issued in runs of no more than 40 copies purely for discussion among those who were undertaking the preparatory research for Against the Stream and War and the International. The items in it were run off to help work out the basic methodology of these books, and were in no way intended for public consumption, so their place among so many real journals is an anomalous one. And such information as that Spartacist circulates in editions of 8,500 copies (p. 274, no. 1640) should be told to the marines, if not to the students, who appear to be its mass readership.

Since the official ‘Fourth Internationals’ have studiously avoided mentioning our existence, readers of this magazine will be gratified to see the entry for Revolutionary History, though whether those whose corns have been trodden on by it would agree that it is a ‘non-partisan journal’ is a different matter (p. 232, no. 1375).

Amazing to relate, bibliographers seem to be fired by an almost Messianic sense of mission. In this case the compiler appears to believe that he has established proprietorial rights over the publications of the Trotskyist movement, deluding himself into thinking that he has every right to bombard those who lead busy enough lives already with incessant correspondence about them. Lubitz’s remarks about the ‘ignorance, stubbornness and idleness’ of some of those thus vexed (p. xxi) are no doubt aimed at such as John Archer and myself, who refused our cooperation on account of Lubitz’s objectionable habit of identifying the pseudonyms of living revolutionaries without so much as a by-your-leave, which he continues to do in this collection. Irritating as it may seem, Lubitz should realise that he is, after all, dealing with a living movement, however much it may look like a case of museum exhibits to him.

Al Richardson

Updated by ETOL: 20.9.2011