Workers Hammer No. 240

Winter 2017-2018


Quote of the issue

The vanguard party and the seizure of power

The leadership provided by VI Lenin and Leon Trotsky’s Bolshevik party was a necessary condition for the working class to take power in the Russian Revolution of October 1917. In order to advance the proletarian revolution internationally, the Bolsheviks established the Third (Communist) International in 1919. Following the Stalinist degeneration of the Third International, Trotsky founded the Fourth International to uphold the revolutionary internationalist programme that lay at the core of the Bolshevik Revolution. Today, we in the International Communist League fight to reforge the Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution.

The selection and education of a truly revolutionary leadership, capable of withstanding the pressure of the bourgeoisie, is an extraordinarily difficult task. The dialectic of the historic process expressed itself most brilliantly in the fact that the proletariat of the most backward country, Russia, under certain historic conditions, has put forward the most far-sighted and courageous leadership. On the contrary, the proletariat in the country of the oldest capitalist culture, Great Britain, has even today the most dull-witted and servile leadership.

The crisis of capitalist society which assumed an open character in July 1914, from the very first day of the war [World War I] produced a sharp crisis in the proletarian leadership. During the 25 years that have elapsed since that time, the proletariat of the advanced capitalist countries has not yet created a leadership that could rise to the level of the tasks of our epoch. The experience of Russia testifies, however, that such a leadership can be created. (This does not mean, of course, that it will be immune to degeneration.) The question consequently stands as follows: Will objective historical necessity in the long run cut a path for itself in the consciousness of the vanguard of the working class; that is, in the process of this war [World War II] and those profound shocks which it must engender, will a genuine revolutionary leadership be formed capable of leading the proletariat to the conquest of power?

The Fourth International has replied in the affirmative to this question, not only through the text of its programme, but also through the very fact of its existence.

— Leon Trotsky, “The USSR in War” (September 1939), published in In Defence of Marxism (1942)