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Paul G. Stevens

Events on the International Scene

Indomitable Spirit of German Trotskyism

(5 April 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 14, 5 April 1948, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

This week No. 4 of the mimeographed journal Unser Weg, organ of the Fourth International in Germany, reached our desk. Published “somewhere in the former Reich,” the rich contents of this January 1948 number are testimony to the intense intellectual life of the German Trotskyists, who are rebuilding their organization against almost unbelievable material handicaps. Within its meagre 14 pages, Unser Weg manages to include an excellent analysis of Dollar Diplomacy, a rounded study of the Problems of the New Revolutionary Party in Germany, a keen criticism of the policy of the CP, SP and other parties toward the immediate questions confronting the German workers.

An especially inspiring example of the indomitable spirit of these Trotskyist fighters, who have gone through the hell of Hitler’s concentration camps and today operate under the very noses of Stalin’s murderous GPU, is an editorial entitled, Through Victory and Defeat – On To The Fourth International. We quote the editorial in full:

“For a number of years the political leaders of the capitalists have been announcing triumphantly the decline of the political labor movement. They blare their slogan about the bankruptcy of Marxism, and attempt to lend it the appearance of a reasoned argument. The capitalists succeeded in putting-up a barrier against the powerful proletarian mass movement following the first world war, which reached its peak with the victorious Russian Revolution. More than that, they succeeded in smashing the Marxist and Communist movement in the capitalist countries as an organized force; in unleashing a second, even vaster and more terrible world war; in concluding this war with an imperialist peace after stifling the beginnings of a mass movement for proletarian democracy.

“This successful capitalist reaction began with Italian fascism and was later extended by German Nazism. The most conscious banner-bearers of the idea of socialism were subjected, to the most brutal persecution. Many once devoted fighters in the working class struggle have gone astray in their aims and seek theft salvation in the enterprises of the reactionary victors as tools of a fraudulent imperialist democracy. Relatively extensive and deep knowledge, great courage and strong determination is required to uphold-the idea of irreconcilable class struggle in spite of all the defeats, catastrophes and betrayals.

“In this situation knowledge of the past history of social struggles, and of the labor movement especially, is particularly valuable.

“Looking into the past teaches us that the ruling classes celebrated many a victory over the toiling masses, but that after every reactionary triumph the workers have arisen more mightily and more powerfully than ever before. Every time the proletariat formed its ranks anew. Every time, on an historically higher basis.

“The defeats of the spontaneous movements of the machine-wreckers were followed by the revolutions of 1948. The lesson of the impossibility of these bourgeois democratic revolutions to go through to the end led to the creation of the First International. The crushing of the Paris Commune, which showed the inadequacy of the First International, was followed by the creation of the great German labor movement as the core of. the Second International. After the failure of the Russian social-revolutionary (Narodnik) movement, came the first uprising of the Russian proletariat in 1905. It showed that the period of revolutions was far. from ended.

“In this period the Russian proletariat developed new forms of struggle adapted to the new epoch of imperialism. These were: first, the Bolshevik party; second, the mass strike and third, the Soviets.

“This first big offensive of the Twentieth Century was beaten down by tile counter-revolution. The defeat and the failure of the parties of the Second International to absorb the lessons of 1905 led to their internal disintegration and to the first imperialist world war. But this war ended in the first successful proletarian revolution in Russia in 1917, which stirred into action the oppressed of the entire world.

“The defeats of the labor movement in the period between the two world wars led to the isolation and degeneration of the first workers’ state, to the victory of Fascism and to the Second World War. And out of this deep defeat there arises now, not merely as a further development, but as the highest development of the combat organization of Marxism – the Fourth International as the organizer of the proletarian world revolution. It is no longer a sum of national parties, but the world party of the victory of the proletariat.

“From this past we who fight under the Fourth International draw courage for the heavy tasks of the present, and our absolute certainty of victory in the future. The lessons of the past are the basis and the tools of our present activity. They give us the conviction that our cadres in the Fourth International are a link in the historic process of the struggle for socialism, which must in the end lead to the realization of the victory of the working class, in spite of all the defeats and betrayals. This victory will decide once and for all the alternative ‘Socialism or barbarism’ and smash all the fond hopes of the capitalists for the bankruptcy of Marxism.”

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