The Third International after Lenin

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If there was anyone issue that captured the essence of the Stalin-Trotsky struggle in the 1920s, it was the fight over the theory of building socialism in one country. This theory, expressly disavowed in Lenin's lifetime, was first promulgated by Stalin and his supporters in 1924. Immediately it became the subject of tumultuous controversy in the Communist movement, with Trotsky championing the international extension of the revolution.

In The Third International After Lenin, Leon Trotsky subjects the theory of socialism in one country to a merciless criticism, levelling it an apologia for the interests of the newly privileged strata in the Soviet Union. His prediction that it would lead to a policy of seeking accommodation with world capitalism at the expense of furthering international revolution foreshadowed the present-day controversies over the policy of peaceful coexistence.

Written in the heat of the controversy, addressed to the delegates at an international Communist congress, this work by Trotsky was officially proscribed and vilified in the Soviet Union. But its publication abroad by dissident left Communists helped gather together the international left opposition to Stalin. This was the document around which the American Trotskyist movement was founded.

Leon Trotsky

Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) was one of the most influential Marxist revolutionaries and thinkers of the twentieth century. A key figure in the October Revolution of 1917 as part of the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, he served in important positions after the formation of the socialist republic and helped lead the Bolsheviks to victory in the Russian Civil War (1918-23).