This week saw the 80th anniversary of the founding conference of the Fourth International, on 3 September, 1938. To mark this historic event, we republish below a brief 2013 introduction to an article by Peter Taaffe on the Fourth International and the founding document of the conference, known as the ‘Transitional Programme’. This is followed by a link to the Peter Taaffe article and the Programme.
Marxists in the 1930s were compelled to draw far-reaching political conclusions following huge defeats of the working class. For example, in Germany 1933, Hitler came to power, crushing the organised working class movement. Later in the same decade, Franco’s fascist forces prevailed in the Spanish Civil War. Following the historic betrayals of the working class by the social democratic leaders of the Second International, and the Stalinist-dominated, ‘Third International’, the great Russian revolutionary leader and Marxist thinker, Leon Trotsky, concluded that a new international needed to be forged, as a tool for the working class to fight capitalism and to seize power.
Together with his co-fighters, Trotsky started the task of building the foundations of a new International. Under very difficult security conditions, delegates came together in Paris to launch the Fourth International, on 3 September 1938.
The founding document of the Fourth International, ‘The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International’, also known as the ‘Transitional Programme’, is still remarkably relevant and valuable for today’s struggles.
Peter Taaffe, General Secretary of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales), wrote an introduction to the Transitional Programme, in 2010, which together with the Programme, can be found here.
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