Eighty-two years ago, on August 20, 1940, Leon Trotsky was assassinated by the Stalinist agent Ramon Mercader. Trotsky's assassination was the greatest political crime of the 20th century. Alongside Vladimir Lenin, Trotsky was the leader of the 1917 October revolution in Russia, which led to the establishment of the first workers’ state in history, and the preeminent strategist of world socialist revolution.
In 1923, Trotsky founded the Left Opposition to oppose the growth of a nationalist bureaucracy, headed by Joseph Stalin, as it usurped power in the Soviet Union. In 1933, following the coming to power of the Nazis in Germany, facilitated by the disastrous policies of the Comintern that Trotsky had opposed, Trotsky began to work toward the building of the Fourth International, which was founded in 1938 as the World Party of Socialist Revolution.
In a new period of revolutionary upheavals and imperialist wars, the political and historical principles and perspectives that Trotsky fought for are of immense relevance to workers today. They are embodied in the history and daily political work of the International Committee of the Fourth International and the World Socialist Web Site. In this exhibit, we are publishing a selection of major statements and essays about the enduring political significance of Leon Trotsky, and the investigation by the ICFI into his assassination, known as Security and the Fourth International.
This critical essay examines the political perspectives and strategy that underlay Trotsky’s struggle for world socialist revolution and his opposition to the nationalist opportunism of the Stalinist bureaucracy.
On the occasion of the eightieth anniversary of Trotsky’s assassination, the WSWS published this thorough appraisal of the work of the great theoretician and strategist of world socialist revolution during the final year of his life.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 saw the emergence of what the ICFI described as “The Post-Soviet School of Historical Falsification.” Its principal objective has been to discredit Leon Trotsky as a significant historical figure, to deny that Trotsky represented an alternative to Stalinism, or that his political legacy contains anything relevant in the present and valuable for the future. This book refutes these historical lies and provides an introduction into the life and political legacy of the great revolutionary.
Trotsky’s assassination was the most conscious attempt by Stalinism and world imperialism to decapitate the leadership of the international working class in the midst of the slaughter of World War II. And yet, for decades, the circumstances surrounding the assassination remained shrouded in secrecy. The massive scale of the Stalinist conspiracy against Trotsky was the subject of a carefully orchestrated cover-up.
In 1975, the International Committee of the Fourth International launched the first systematic investigation by the Trotskyist movement into the assassination, known as Security and the Fourth International. The investigation was met with bitter hostility and opposition from the Pabloite revisionists, who had abandoned the struggle for Trotsky’s program in 1953 and instead sought to liquidate the forces of the Fourth International into the Stalinist and social democratic parties as well as the national bourgeois liberation movements. Despite political and physical threats, including the assassination of Tom Henehan in 1977, the ICFI, and in particular the Workers’ League in the US, carried out an extensive investigation into the circumstances of Trotsky’s assassination.
This investigation not only presented indisputable evidence about the large-scale network of GPU informants and agents who worked to murder the head of the world socialist revolution. It also exposed the crimes of Stalinism against the working class and its revolutionary leadership, and the counter-revolutionary nature of Pabloite revisionism. The ICFI has continued this investigation to the present day and published significant new findings about the role of Sylvia Ageloff in Trotsky’s assassination in 2021.
In this two-part interview from October 2015, David North discusses the origins and findings of Security and the Fourth International, and the political significance of both Trotsky’s assassination and the ICFI’s investigation.
Tom Henehan, a member of the Political Committee of the Workers League, was murdered on 19 October 1977 after threats by leading Pabloites. The political assassination was aimed at intimidating the efforts of the Workers’ League to investigate the circumstances of Trotsky’s assassination, and block its struggle for Trotskyism in the American working class. This essay reviews the political lessons contained in Henehan’s life and struggle for the building of the International Committee of the Fourth International.
Harold Robins served was the captain of the guard in Coyoacan during the last year of Trotsky’s life and the first to respond to Trotsky’s anguished appeal for help after he had been struck with an ice pick by the Stalinist GPU assassin, Ramon Mercader, on August 20, 1940. This obituary discusses the historical period and political struggle that shaped Robins’s life, and his involvement in the ICFI’s Security and the Fourth International investigation.
Mark Zborowski was the most notorious and deadly agent of the Soviet secret police (the GPU) inside the Trotskyist movement in the 1930s. This obituary reviews the murderous career of this Stalinist agent.
In this 2015 open letter to the Pabloite Suzi Weissman, David North, the chairperson of the international editorial board WSWS and the ICFI, demanded that she retract her statements maligning the International Committee of the Fourth International, its investigation into Trotsky’s assassination, and the attorney Alan Gelfand.
In this webinar, David North and Eric London discuss the significance of new findings about the role of Sylvia Ageloff in the assassination of Leon Trotsky.
The voluminous writings by Trotsky on the method and theory of Marxism, perspective, program and history, remain central to the political orientation and education of revolutionaries today. We are presenting here only a small subsection of his most important writings on war, fascism, the lessons of the October revolution and the Marxist method.
Written just months after the outbreak of World War I in 1914, this pamphlet contains an unsurpassed analysis of the origins of imperialist war and the imperialist epoch.
In this work, Trotsky analyzes the struggle that unfolded within the Bolshevik Party from February 1917 through the October Revolution of 1917. This history shows that the fundamental instrument of proletarian revolution is the party.
In these essays, Trotsky examines the political and social origins of fascism and elaborates the strategical and tactical methods for the defense of the working class against this deadly menace. Among the topics covered by Trotsky is the use of the united front and the arming of the working class for self defense.
This work, written in response to the petty bourgeois opposition in the Socialist Workers’ Party around Max Shachtman and James Burnham in 1939-1940, addresses critical issues of Marxist method and perspective. In Defense of Marxism has played a seminal role in the political education of the cadre of the Fourth International ever since.