Fourth International - Impact

Impact

In uniting the large majority of Trotskyists in one organisation, the Fourth International created a tradition which has since been claimed by many Trotskyist organisations.

Echoing Marx's Communist Manifesto, the Transitional Programme ended with the declaration "Workers – men and women – of all countries, place yourselves under the banner of the Fourth International. It is the banner of your approaching victory!". It declared demands to be placed on capitalists, opposition to the bureaucracy in the Soviet Union, and support for workers' action against fascism. Most of the demands on capitalists remain unfulfilled. The collapse of the Soviet Union occurred, but through a social revolution leading to the restoration of capitalism, rather than the political revolution proposed by the Trotskyists. Many Trotskyist groups have been active in anti-fascist campaigns, but the Fourth International has never played a major role in the toppling of a regime.

Those groups which follow traditions that left the Fourth International in its early years argue that, despite initially correct positions, it had little impact. Lutte Ouvriere claims that it "did not survive the Second World War". Workers Liberty, which follows in the third camp tradition established by the Workers Party, holds that "Trotsky and everything he represented was defeated and – as we have to recognise in retrospect – defeated for a whole historical period."

Other groups point to a positive impact. The ICFI claim that "the Fourth International consisted mainly of cadres who remained true to their aims" and describes much of the Fourth International's early activity as "correct and principled". The reunified FI claim that "the Fourth International refused to compromise with capitalism either in its fascist or democratic variants." In its view, "many of the predictions made by Trotsky when he founded the Fourth International were proved wrong by history. But what was absolutely vindicated were his key political judgements."

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