We are pleased to announce the publication of two new pamphlets produced by Socialist Appeal: The Communist Manifesto, the classic by Karl Marx and Frederik Engels, with an introduction by Leon Trotsky; and the Programme to the International, an important analyses of the history of Marxist ideas by Ted Grant. Both are available to purchase for only £1
We are pleased to announce the publication of two new pamphlets, produced by Socialist Appeal: The Communist Manifesto, the classic by Karl Marx and Frederik Engels, with an introduction by Leon Trotsky; and the Programme to the International, an important analyses of the history of Marxist ideas by Ted Grant. Below are introductions to both pamphlets, along with links for purchasing either. Both are available to buy for only £1
On Trotsky’s 1937 Introduction
Leon Trotsky’s introduction to the Communist Manifesto, written in 1937 on the 90th anniversary of the Manifesto’s publication, is a potent reminder of the power of Marxist ideas long after they were first committed to paper. Today’s world demonstrates how relevant they continue to remain.
This introduction was the introduction to the first edition of the Manifesto published in Afrikaans. Trotsky’s perspective for world revolution and the Fourth International, given at the end of the introduction, we can see with the wisdom of hindsight was cut across by the outcome of the Second World War. While leading to a wave of revolutionary movements, the period differed in character significantly to the period following the end of the First World War, due to the strengthened position of Stalinism among other factors. Trotsky never lived to further develop this perspective, and the post-war leaders of the Fourth proved unable to adjust to a new objective situation, ultimately shipwrecking the International.
Meanwhile Trotsky’s criticism of ‘socialism in one country’, as championed by the Stalinists, has been vindicated by the collapse of the USSR under the weight of its own bureaucracy, leading to the catastrophe of capitalist restoration. These elements within the introduction to the Manifesto, seemingly less relevant in 2014, reflect the Marxist method and a principle running throughout Trotsky’s writing that is just as relevant today as it always has been: the principle of proletarian internationalism. Today these methods, ideas and traditions are upheld by the International Marxist Tendency, which in Britain produces the newspaper Socialist Appeal.
In this introduction Trotsky highlights the correctness of the Marxist method and proves it by developing and updating some of the points raised by Marx and Engels in the Manifesto. Those wishing to make a study of Marxism will do no better than starting with the Communist Manifesto, and using Trotsky’s introduction and the ‘points of discussion’ at the beginning of each chapter, as study guides. It is the role of Marxists today to continue in the tradition of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky by understanding, spreading and applying the ideas and method of Marxism.
Introduction to Programme of the International
The Programme of the International, written by Ted Grant in 1970, was the founding document of the Marxist current that was to become today’s International Marxist Tendency. Those who read this document will obtain a much clearer understanding of the origins and real heritage of genuine, internationalist Marxism.
Ted Grant manages to pack into a relatively short document the incredibly rich history of our international movement founded by Marx and Engels, with its peaks and troughs, its successes and failures. He does this, in the clear language distinctive to him, by bringing out the essential features of this long story.
The real essence of revolutionary internationalism, based upon the method of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, is the understanding of the need for a principled revolutionary tendency that can unite the working class against their exploiters the world over. This internationalism was summed up in Lenin when he said that he was prepared to sacrifice the Russian revolution for a successful revolution in Germany, in the very heart of Europe. But in this statement is contained also the problem of revolution and internationalism – the tremendous pressures and sacrifices imposed on the movement by worldwide capitalism.
In this document we learn about the necessity for Marxists to constantly reaffirm the principles of revolutionary working class politics, and to withstand those pressures which have led to the degeneration of past internationals. Marxism means the determination to tell the truth even when it is difficult to do so. This is not for the sake of self-righteousness, but is based on the understanding of our task, namely to prepare the working class for coming to power internationally and doing away with class society, with its features of national and ethnic divisions and oppression. As Ted Grant explains, a tendency that does not base itself on clear principles and the long view of history, but instead empirically zig-zags from one ephemeral trend to another, can never rise to the tasks posed by history and bring about the emancipation of the working class.
With these ideas in mind, readers should compare what is said about the sectarian degeneration of the Fourth International after Trotsky’s death with the problems of sectarianism today. The organisations Ted Grant describes have, in Britain at least, faded into oblivion thanks to their false policies, methods and perspectives. That in itself is an important lesson for Marxists now. We have a responsibility to maintain the clean banner of Marxism and tell the working class the truth. Only on this basis, will it be possible to construct an international, with its necessary subordination of the particular to the general.
Readers will learn much also about the Marxist position on key events in the 20th Century, such as the Chinese revolution, guerrilarism, the expansion of Stalinism into the ‘Eastern Bloc’ and the nature of imperialism in retreat.
As well as the history of the internationals, from Marx to today, and the lessons contained in the errors of opportunism, sectarianism and those looking for substitutes for the movement of the working class, what one takes from Programme of the International is the senses of perspective and patience for which Ted Grant was noted.
He withstood the difficulties of building an organisation from scratch in the 1950s, something which only bore fruit organisationally speaking in the late 1970s when the Militant tendency grew rapidly to become the biggest left group in Britain. And the perspectives with which he ends the document – that a mass revolutionary tendency will not be built by Marxists in isolation, but by patiently anticipating the mass movement of the working class and working to find an echo for our ideas within that movement. That is the aim of the International Marxist Tendency today, to lay the basis for mass Marxist organisations on a world scale. To do so, we must build our forces now and educate ourselves in the traditions and real interests of the working class. Only on that basis can the ideas of Marxist internationalism become those of the mass labour movement.