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Section: Other Trotskyists

Scope and Content Notes:

Despite its small numbers—a peak combined membership of no more than 3,000 in all of its tendencies--the American Trotskyist movement suffered from factionalism and splits throughout its history. That was probably a function of the movement’s ideological heritage and structure. While Socialist and Social Democratic Parties in the US and elsewhere also experienced factional conflict, except in the years immediately following the Bolshevik Revolution, these did not generally produce organizational splits because the parties conceived of themselves as big tent electoral coalition parties, not unlike their bourgeois counterparts. The Trotskyists, in contrast, took from their Communist heritage Leninist notions of centralized and ideologically coherent parties that enforced correct line discipline on all members. But while the Communists had an institutional apparatus—the Comintern and its successors—to establish the terms and limits of orthodoxy, the Trotskyists had no such institutional counterpart. People who believed that establishing and adhering to a correct line was the sine qua non of worthwhile political activity thus had no alternative to splits when they decided that their parent organization had erred grievously in its ideological and strategic judgments.

The largest and most enduring American Trotskyist organization was the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). Other Trotskyist groups represented in the American Left Ephemera Collection include the Workers Party (followers of Max Shachtman), the Spartacist League (an offshoot of the Shachtmanites), and the Workers World Party (followers of ex-CP and ex-SWP member Sam Marcy).


Box 11
Folder 119 The New International, A Symposium on The New Europe, July, 1949
Folder 120 "The Communist Party at the Crossroads: Toward Democratic Socialism or Back to Stalinism", By H.W. Benson
Folder 121 "No More Three Mile Islands! Jobs For All! Fight the Bosses and Their Government", March 28, 1981
Folder 122 3 Worker's World Party Pamphlets Stating "People's Needs, Yes! Profits and War, No!"
Folder 123 Next- A Labor Party!, By Jack Ranger, December, 1948
Folder 124 What is Revolutionary Leadership?
Folder 125 The Fight to Implement Busing for Labor/Black Defense to Stop Racist Attacks and to Smash Fascist Threats, 1974
Folder 126 Fourth International, The American Empire, August, 1949

Box 14
Folder 72 The New International, A Monthly Organ of Revolutionary Marxism, December, 1934
Folder 73 The New International, A Monthly Organ of Revolutionary Marxism, October, 1935