80th anniversary of Trotsky’s assassination: The revolutionary ideas of a Marxist giant

On 21 August 1940, the revolutionary socialist Leon Trotsky died after being attacked by a Stalinist agent the previous day. Along with Lenin, Trotsky was the foremost leader of the October 1917 socialist revolution in Russia. With the advent of the Stalin-led counterrevolution in the Soviet Union, which also wrecked the international communist movement – the Third International (Comintern) – Trotsky set about reconstructing the forces of genuine Marxism. To mark the 80th anniversary of the attack that led to Trotsky’s death, the Committee for a Workers International (socialistworld.net) published an introduction written by Tony Saunois, Secretary of the CWI, to a new book on Trotsky’s ideas.

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the assassination of Leon Trotsky – co-leader with Lenin of the Russian revolution in October 1917 – by the Stalinist secret police NKVD agent, Ramon Mercader. For his brutal deed, Mercader was awarded the highest medal under Stalin’s murderous regime, the misnamed ‘Order of Lenin’. The Stalinists hoped that the assassination of Trotsky would also bury the ideas Trotsky defended. However you can kill a human being but not the revolutionary ideas the person advocated. Global capitalism has entered a new era of crisis and turmoil not seen since the 1930s. Against this background, an examination of the role and ideas of Leon Trotsky and their relevance to the struggles erupting today could not be more pertinent.

Representatives of capitalism and their agents on the right-wing of the workers’ movement have tried to dismiss Trotsky and his ideas as irrelevant. This is usually accompanied with a bucket full of distortion, slander and bile. Yet they have failed to bury his ideas. The ideas Trotsky stood for and the Marxist methods that he, along with Lenin, defended, are even more relevant today. In this era of profound capitalist crisis they are destined to win even greater support.

In this book we examine the relevance of the main ideas and methods developed by Trotsky and how they apply to today’s world. Like all of the great Marxist leaders – Marx, Engels and Lenin – Trotsky was not an abstract theoretician. He was a brilliant thinker but also an inspirational fighter and activist in the revolutionary movement who tested out his ideas and programme in the fires of revolution and counter revolution. Today’s revolutionaries can only aspire to emulate Trotsky’s immense sacrifice for the Marxist ideas he defended and his goal of building a new socialist world.

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Born on 7 November 1879, in Yanovka, Ukraine, Lev Davidovich Bronstein went to school in Odessa. He moved to Nikolayev to complete his education in 1896. Here the young Bronstein was rapidly drawn into underground socialist circles and introduced to Marxism. After Odessa, he returned to Nikolayev and was active in building the South Russian Workers’ Union.

First exile

In January 1898, after two years of committed political activity, Lev Bronstein was arrested for the first time and spent four and a half years in exile in Siberia enduring harsh conditions. This arrest and exile was to be one of many, firstly under the Czarist regime and then latterly under the regime of Joseph Stalin. During his first exile in Siberia, Bronstein married his first wife, Aleksandra Sokolovskaya, and had two daughters with her. By mutual consent, he escaped in 1902, leaving his wife and family behind, and using a false passport, adopting the name Leon Trotsky, which was the name he used for the rest of his life and was to become world famous.

In Paris, Trotsky met his second wife, Natalia Sedova, who was active in Lenin’s ‘Iskra group’, and had two sons with her, Lev and Sergei. Eventually making his way to London, Trotsky met Lenin for the first time and collaborated with him and others on the Iskra (The Spark) newspaper. This opened a period of intense ideological struggle and debate over ideas, methods and programme. Initially, the sharp political and theoretical divide that was to develop between the Bolsheviks (‘Majority’) and Mensheviks (‘minority’) inside the Russian Social Democratic Party (RSDP) were not fully clear. The extent and differences in programme and tactics took time to emerge. It was a struggle between the “hards” and the “softs”

Trotsky did not initially grasp the extent of the differences that developed between the hards and the softs – the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks, with Lenin at their head. Trotsky wrongly, like others at the time, attempted to facilitate the coming together of the two factions, which brought him into conflict with Lenin. The division between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks was not entirely clear for many, at the time, and some switched sides. Lenin and Trotsky were separated following the 1903 congress for a number of years. Trotsky in his autobiography, My Life, reveals his ingrained honesty in recognizing the mistake he made at this time. He had harbored the false hope that the Mensheviks under the hammer blow of events could be shifted to the left. But he also explains why this mistake was made and that when he “came to Lenin” the second time he did so with a full understanding of the issues and with total conviction. Others, who merely repeated the phrases of Lenin but without understanding them, were exposed during Lenin’s exiled absence from Russia, especially in early 1917, and after his death, when they capitulated to Stalin and his regime thereby proving themselves incapable of independent thought and action.

This honest appreciation of differences and a willingness to recognize a mistake was to be revealed in a series of debates and discussion which took place within the Bolsheviks and between Lenin and Trotsky during the 1917 revolution and after the Bolsheviks took power. Intense debates took place regarding tactics during the civil war, peace negotiations at Brest-Litovsk in 1918, the New Economic policy, the role of the trade unions during the period of ‘war communism’ and other vital questions. This refutes the false claims of the capitalist commentators and historians that Bolshevism and the Soviet regime, in the period following the revolution, were simply a by-word for “dictatorship” under Lenin, where no debate or dissent was tolerated. In fact, this dictatorial regime was later imposed by Stalin.

Having broken connections with both the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks following the 1903 congress, Trotsky found his way back to Russia in time for the 1905 revolution, and immediately threw himself into the struggle. He was elected as the Chairman of the Soviet (Council) of Workers’ Deputies. The forming of the Soviet was a decisive step by the Saint Petersburg city workers. These democratic organizations of the working class became the decisive organs of struggle, and the basis for the new workers’ state that was formed after the revolution in October 1917.

While Trotsky realized from the start the importance of the soviets, some of the leading Bolsheviks present in Russia did not recognize the crucial importance of this new form of workers’ organization. They saw this new organization as a threat to the party. It took Lenin’s arrival to correct this sectarian mistake.

Today, in some countries, the decline in the workforce in manufacturing industry, the absence of large factories and the growth of workers in the service and precarious sector means that the building of such organizations is more complicated for big sections of the modern working class. This element of a partial change in the composition of the modern working class in many countries is an issue that needs to be addressed by revolutionary socialists. However, on a global scale, the industrial working class in manufacturing industry remains the most potentially powerful force. At the same time, new layers of the working class in logistics, transport and other sectors, and big layers of proletarianized former sections of the middle class, are also beginning to adopt methods of struggle of the working class.

Revolutionary upsurges

It is important that Marxists do not have a fetish about the form of organization that can emerge during revolutionary upsurges. Trotsky recognized the crucial role of the soviets in Russia but in 1905 it was a new form of organization. He did not insist on an exact replica of the Russian soviet model in other revolutions. In regards to Germany, 1923, Trotsky recognized the crucial importance of the factory committees, for example. He advocated the formation of workers committees or “Juntas” in Spain in the 1930s.

Today it is important that revolutionary socialists recognize the crucial role of the organized working class in the trade unions and that a struggle takes place to transform them into combative fighting organizations. At the same time, new organizations of struggle can also develop in the work places and local communities. Revolutionary socialists need to be prepared for such developments and initiate specific proposals for them, where necessary.

The defeat of the 1905 revolution saw Trotsky arrested and thrown into exile, once again in Siberia. While incarcerated, he wrote one of his most important works, ‘Results and Prospects’, that was based, in part, on the experience of the 1905 revolution. Trotsky clarified the question of the character of the revolution in countries, such as pre-revolutionary Russia, where capitalism existed side by side with elements of feudalism and where the tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution – the development of industry, finding a solution to the land question, the unification of the nation and establishment of a bourgeois parliamentary system – was not yet completed. Within these countries and also internationally, there was a process of combined and uneven development. Within nations and between nations, a high level of development exists, alongside lack of development and backwardness. In countries like Brazil or India today, relatively sophisticated and developed sectors of the economy – technology and other spheres – co-exist with feudal conditions and even slavery.  Trotsky argued that the capitalist class, entwined with the feudal landlords and their system, were too weak to carry through these tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution and they were too terrified of the working class to allow it to do so. The bourgeoisie would, in fact, turn on the working class, as it did during the Chinese revolution in 1927.

Only the working class was able to do this, but having taken power it would immediately be in conflict with the capitalists and landlords and the revolutionary process would pass on to the socialist revolution  and the ending of capitalism and feudalism. For this to develop successfully, the revolution would need to rapidly link up with the international working class and carry through the socialist revolution in the industrialized capitalist countries. These ideas were confirmed later by the events of the revolution in Russia in October 1917. The ideas developed by Trotsky on this question helped Lenin to concretize his approach on the character of the revolution and which class was to lead it.

In his biography, My Life, Trotsky reveals his political honesty and integrity, once again, on this issue. He gives due weight to the role of Parvus, who helped Trotsky to return to Russia, and earlier assisted Trotsky to develop his ideas on the question of the Permanent Revolution. Trotsky recognizes Parvus as an important revolutionary Marxist, at this time, albeit with one weakness – “The desire to get rich,” as Trotsky put it. Later, Parvus was to abandon the revolutionary movement and became an arms dealer, trading with the Ottoman Empire.

Permanent revolution

The ideas developed by Trotsky regarding the Permanent Revolution are crucial for an understanding of the class struggle in the neo-colonial world of Asia, Africa and Latin America today. Today an even more favorable situation exists for the development of the socialist revolution in these countries than when Trotsky developed his ideas. The ruling classes in these countries still have not been able to fully complete the tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution. The working class, through carrying out the socialist revolution, has to achieve this historical mission. Today, however, in most of the neo-colonial world, the working class is much stronger and more developed than in pre-revolutionary Russia. This is reflected in the massive urbanization which has taken place and by the movement of people from the countryside to the cities. By 2014, for the first time, more than 50% of the global population lived in cities. In Latin America, in 2019, 80% of the population lived in cities. In Africa, although despite big differences between different countries, the urbanization of the continent rose from 14.7% in 1957 to over 50% in 2015. In Asia it is extremely varied but India now has approximately 35% of its population concentrated in major cities. In China the urbanization has exploded and is expected to reach 60% of the population by 2030. This makes the situation more favorable for the socialist revolution than in 1917.

The explosion of the urban population has also resulted in new features arising from it, which Marxists and the working class need to address. In many countries, this trend resulted in a relatively strong working class, with strengthened organizations both industrially and politically, and has the potential to play the leading role in the revolution due to its collective consciousness as a class. At the same time, it has also resulted in a massive development of the urban poor, who scrape by in miserable conditions as street traders, beggars etc. In some countries, this mass migration from the countryside to the cities resulted in some elements of the peasant or rural struggle being brought into the cities. This is reflected in the urban land occupations, for example in Brazil and other countries, and the building of favelas. This development has resulted in some on the Left looking towards the urban poor as the “revolutionary” class, as opposed to the working class, which they regard as “privileged” and part of an “elite”. An element of this incorrect perspective arose during the revolutionary situation under the rule of Hugo Chavez, in Venezuela, and also in the revolution in Tunisia which broke out nearly a decade ago. For Marxists it is important to defend the central role of the working class and to stress the need for the social movements and organizations of the urban poor to be linked to the organized working class.

Once again, in 1907, Trotsky managed to escape from his Siberian exile. The hazardous journey on a sledge across the ice of the frozen wilderness at the mercy of drunken traders is grippingly described in My Life. Here he depicts the “fragility of life”, which he precariously hung onto during this epic journey in the cause of his revolutionary ideas.

Trotsky briefly returned to London to attend the 1907 congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, which formally-speaking both the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks were still members of, at the time. From there, Trotsky lived in Vienna, Paris and Switzerland for the next period of his exile. The outbreak of the First World War, in 1914, saw the capitulation of the mass workers’ parties’ leadership throughout Europe to national chauvinism. These social democratic ‘leaders’ supported their respective national capitalist class. The tiny minority of revolutionary Marxists able to resist this pressure and to maintain a principled proletarian internationalist stance were few in number, and included Lenin and Trotsky. These forces managed to come together at an international conference in September 1915, in the Swiss village of Zimmerwald. In My Life, Trotsky comments the delegates fitted “into four stage coaches”. Even this conference was divided into two wings, a majority pacifist wing and the revolutionary wing, led by Lenin. With difficulty, they managed to agree on a common platform which Trotsky drafted.  This stand against the imperialist war saw Trotsky expelled from both France and Spain. Making his way to New York, Trotsky plunged into revolutionary work, editing a paper and addressing workers’ meetings.

It was in New York that Trotsky found himself during the outbreak of the Russian revolution in February 1917. Trotsky was eventually able to overcome obstacles and to return to Russia via Canada. Once again, this was a perilous undertaking for a revolutionary. While in Canada, Trotsky was arrested by the British and held in a concentration camp. There he met German prisoners of war, with whom he established a bond, based on his internationalism and the thirst for revolution that was developing in Germany. The outbreak of the February revolution was seen by Trotsky as confirmation of the ideas he had developed with the theory of the Permanent Revolution.

Back in revolutionary Russia

Eventually freed by the British, Trotsky arrived in Petrograd in May 1917. He was still not a member of the Bolsheviks. Lenin arrived back in Russia from his exile in April, and proclaimed his ‘April Thesis’. This clearly set out the character of the revolution and the need for the working class to take the power, giving no trust to the bourgeois provisional government that was established. It took a major struggle by Lenin inside the Bolsheviks to convince the party of the correctness of this position.

The ‘July Days’ – the month of the ‘great slander’, the coming out onto the streets of the working class in St. Petersburg and repression by the Kerensky’s Provisional Government against the Bolsheviks – saw Trotsky arrested and Lenin forced into hiding. It was during this period that Trotsky finally joined the Bolsheviks and was elected to the Central Committee reflecting his authority and standing despite not formally being a member of the Bolsheviks until this point. Released from prison in September, Trotsky was immediately elected chair of the Petrograd Soviet. He led the Military Revolutionary Committee, which was to play the crucial role in organizing the insurrection and bring the working class to power.

In the period following the October revolution (November in the old calendar under Tsarism), Trotsky played a crucial role in safeguarding the young workers’ state. The future success of the Russian revolution depended on the working class in the industrialized countries of Europe – Germany, Britain, France and elsewhere – casting off their own capitalist class and linking together with the Russian workers to begin building socialism. It was only after Lenin’s death in 1924 that Stalin was able to abandon the internationalism of Bolshevism and adopt the pernicious idea of “Socialism in one country” which Trotsky and the Left Opposition fought against from the beginning.

The delay in the international revolution meant that it was necessary for the Bolsheviks to take a series of emergency steps, to gain time, and hold onto power in Russia. Trotsky played a crucial role at this time, as Foreign Commissar for the Soviet government during the Brest Litovsk peace negotiations in 1918. He constructed the Red Army almost from nothing to combat the counter revolutionary ‘Whites’ and the twenty-one armies of imperialism sent to try and crush the revolution.

Trotsky’s role during the Brest Litovsk peace negotiations was one of the issues the Stalinists used later to try and discredit him. In a total distortion of reality, they began to circulate the false allegation in 1924 that “only Trotsky opposed signing the peace agreement with Germany” to end the war in 1917-1918. The truth is that the new Soviet government faced a very precarious situation. Soldiers were leaving the trenches and demanding an end to the war. The bourgeois provisional government had failed to deliver peace. On 26 October, the Congress of Soviets agreed on a resolution appealing for an end to the war and for peace. In December, negotiations began between the Soviet government and Germany. A crucial factor for Lenin and Trotsky was what effect the war had on the German army and the prospects for a German revolution. It was during these discussions that Lenin even raised the possibility of sacrificing the revolution in Russia if it would secure a successful revolution in Germany. The exact situation in the German army was an unknown factor and needed to be tested out over time. German imperialism was attempting to impose harsh conditions on the new Soviet government in any peace agreement. If these conditions were rejected, was the German army in a position to launch a new offensive aimed at destroying the Soviet government? Both Lenin and Trotsky were in agreement that it was impossible to continue the war on a revolutionary basis due to the state of the Russian army, which had all but collapsed. The crucial question was estimating the state of the German army. Trotsky advocated a delay in negotiations, to end the war, demobilize the army but not sign the peace agreement demanded by German imperialism. Should the German army advance and threaten Petrograd, Trotsky argued for backing down and signing the peace agreement. Lenin supported a position of delay but in the case of an ultimatum from Germany, he argued to sign the agreement demanded by Germany immediately. Nicholai Bukharin and other leading Bolsheviks argued for the conducting of a “revolutionary war”, which was bitterly opposed by Lenin and Trotsky. This was impossible given the situation which existed in the Russian army. However Bukharin’s position enjoyed widespread support within the Bolshevik party. The main debate was not between Lenin and Trotsky but against those arguing for a revolutionary war. At one party meeting, recounted by Trotsky in My Life, the supporters of a revolutionary war won 32 votes, Lenin’s position gained 15 votes and Trotsky’s position had 16 votes. In practice, it was Trotsky’s position that was eventually temporarily adopted by the Central Committee and party congress. As events unfolded, however, after some delay, Germany eventually did launch an attack and demanded even worse conditions for a peace agreement, vindicating Lenin’s position. Trotsky openly recognized Lenin had been correct at a meeting of the party leadership on 3 October 1918.

In contrast to this, Stalin went on to sign the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939 – a non-aggression pact between Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s’ Nazi regime. This was a pact with a fascist regime which had crushed the German workers’ organizations. One week after the pact was signed, Hitler invaded Poland. Two years later, Hitler ripped up the pact with Stalin and marched in the Soviet Union, taking the ruling bureaucracy by surprise. The purge of the military high command of the Soviet Army by Stalin had left it even less prepared to confront the invasion.

Red Army leader

The civil war meant the 1917 October revolution hung by a thread for some time. The Bolsheviks were reduced to holding only Petrograd and Moscow. Petrograd, the cradle of the revolution, was in danger of falling. The battle to recapture Kazan was a crucial turning point. Trotsky’s role in rebuilding the fifth army regiment and transforming it into a fighting unit was decisive. Even today, Trotsky’s achievement in building the Red Army to win the civil war and defeat the armies of imperialism is legendary. Trotsky’s writings on military affairs are still studied today in bourgeois military academies around the world. He wrote five volumes on military questions and the civil war.  For two and a half years during the civil war, except for short intervals, Trotsky more or less lived on the famous “Red Train”.  He traveled to war fronts together with a committed group of young Red Army fighters and staff. They would arrive at the front, raising the morale of the soldiers, dealing with all manner of problems, print and distribute leaflets, and make speeches, as well as taking part in the armed fighting against the Whites and invading imperialist forces. It was more than a train. As Trotsky explains in My Life:  “During the most strenuous years of the revolution, my own personal life was bound up inseparably with the life of that train. The train, on the other hand, was inseparably bound up with the life of the Red Army.” It linked the front with the base, solved urgent problems on the spot, and educated, appealed, supplied, rewarded and punished. In its different compartments the train included a secretariat, printing press, telegraph operators, radio station, an electric-power engine, a library, a garage and a bath! The carriages were so heavy they required two engines.

The year 1924 was a decisive turning point in Russia, marked by Lenin’s death, the advance of the political counter -revolution and the consolidation of the bureaucratic clique around the figure of Stalin. The isolation of the revolution, economic devastation caused by the civil war and imperialist intervention, and the loss of thousands of the most committed Bolsheviks in the conflicts, all laid the basis for the emergence of a political counter-revolution and the eventual formation of a ruthless bureaucratic regime. The adoption of the reactionary idea of “Socialism in one country” and the abandonment through it of the ideals and aspirations embedded in the October revolution, were the theoretical expression of this bureaucratic caste. Eventually the Communist International would be transformed from the ‘world party of the socialist revolution’ into the loyal border guard for the Stalinized Soviet Union.

Stalinist campaign against ‘Trotskyism’

For this process to be completed it was necessary to drive out and crush those who continued to defend the ideals of October, in particular, Leon Trotsky and his supporters. A campaign to denigrate Trotsky and “Trotskyism” was unleashed. One of the false accusations made against Trotsky in this period was that he “under-estimated the peasantry”, “ignored the peasantry”, or “did not notice the peasantry”. These allegations bore no relation to the political position adopted by Trotsky. In Russia, at the time, the size of the peasantry – comprising an overwhelming majority of the population – meant that this section of the population could not be ignored. In his writings on the Permanent Revolution, and elsewhere, Trotsky gave a detailed analysis of the peasantry and its different layers – the poor peasants, the middle layers and the richer peasant class. He clarified that the working class could establish an alliance, especially with the poorer sections of the peasantry. However, he also stressed that the leading and decisive role in such an alliance for the revolution had to be played by the working class. This is because of its position in society and the collective class consciousness it possesses, which is not present in the peasant class and which prevented peasants from playing an independent role.

Lenin was aware of the dangers of the bureaucratic degeneration of the new regime. Prior to his death, he proposed a pact with Trotsky to oppose Stalin and to fight growing bureaucratization. However, Lenin was struck down by a second stroke (the first one being suffered in 1923) before this could be enacted.

The ground was being prepared against Trotsky as early as 1923. A campaign against “Trotskyism” was underway and gained increasing momentum. Trotsky commented in My Life: “A regime was established that was nothing less than a dictatorship of the apparatus over the party. In other words the party was ceasing to be a party”.

By 1925, Trotsky resigned from his duties as People’s Commissary of War and was increasingly side-lined in his responsibilities by Stalin’s regime. The reactionary idea of Socialism in one country was having disastrous consequences. The best traditions of Bolshevism were trampled on by Stalin’s criminal policy during the Chinese revolution. The Chinese Communist Party, against its will, was compelled to join the bourgeois Kuomintang and submit to its military discipline. The creation of Soviets was forbidden. In April 1927, Stalin still defended the policy of coalition with Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang.  A few days later, Chiang Kai-shek drowned the Shanghai workers and the Communist Party in blood. This followed the defeats of the German revolution in 1923 and the general strike in Britain in 1926. The difficult international situation was aiding Stalin’s new regime to consolidate its position.

Stalin drove Trotsky into internal exile, to Alma Ata on the Chinese border, in 1927, which was as far away from Moscow as was possible. Yet even that was not enough, so desperate was Stalin to remove the “Trotskyist” challenge to his regime. Thousands of supporters of Trotsky and the Left Opposition were to be imprisoned and executed. Trotsky was banished from the Soviet Union in 1929. Driven into exile, once again, he settled initially in Turkey then in Norway. Applying for visas, country after country refused him. Even the left Labour MP George Lansbury in Britain did not take up his case. Eventually, the left populist government of Lazaro Cardenas in Mexico granted Trotsky and his wife, Natalia, shelter. Even this was not enough for Stalin. In acts of personal vindictiveness, Stalin ordered the murder of Trotsky’s son, Lev, who was active in the Left Opposition, and Sergei, who remained in the Soviet Union and was not even active in politics.

In Mexico, Trotsky continued his revolutionary work. In some ways, Trotsky regarded this as his most important work, as he aimed to rebuild the genuine Marxist movement.

The coming to power of Hitler in Germany, in 1933, and the fact that this disaster for the German and international workers’ movement failed to provoke a decisive reaction within the Comintern against the policies imposed by Stalin, which had resulted in this huge defeat, led Trotsky to conclude that reforming the Communist Parties was now impossible and that a new international had to be built. For this reason, he took the step of founding the 4th International. As part of this important step, Trotsky wrote the Transitional Programme, which is of crucial importance for Marxists as the global crisis unfolds today.  In 1936, Trotsky published his essential work on Stalinism, Revolution Betrayed, in which he analyzed the new phenomena of the Stalinist bureaucratic regime in the Soviet Union.

Trotsky’s ideas resonate

Between 1936-1938, Stalin unleashed his vicious show trials in the Soviet Union, particularly directed against the Left Opposition. Thousands of Left Oppositionists were rounded up, beaten and tortured. In Vorkuta, hundreds of young supporters of the Left Opposition went to their deaths defiantly and bravely singing the Internationale, refusing to abandon the ideas of the Left Opposition.

From Mexico, Trotsky painstakingly worked to defend his political theoretical case and to build a new international organization. He participated in the struggle that took place in the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) – then the party of the Fourth International in the USA – an important political battle that has many lessons for the building of a revolutionary party today. This dispute centered on the issue of the class character of the Soviet Union, on Marxist theory and regarding the crucial question of the orientation of the revolutionary party towards the organized working class. The legacy of this work is continued today in the struggles and activity of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI).

The year 2020 marks a year of historical change for capitalism and the class struggle. In this period of capitalism in crisis and turmoil, the ideas and methods defended by Trotsky will resonate in a way that they have not done in recent decades. A study of the essence of Trotsky’s ideas and methods is an essential political weapon for a new generation of revolutionary socialists who are fighting for a new socialist world, as the only future for humankind. To assist workers and young people with that struggle, the CWI is publishing this new collection of in-depth articles on crucial aspects of Trotsky’s ideas, as we commemorate the eightieth anniversary of the assassination of this great revolutionary.