In November 1989, David North, the national secretary of the Workers League, travelled to the Soviet Union on behalf of the International Committee of the Fourth International. Over two weeks, North met with trade unionists, students and socialist activists in Moscow and Leningrad, and delivered lectures on the history of the Trotskyist movement. The trip was part of the ICFI’s intervention in the USSR and eastern Europe amidst the historic political crisis of Stalinism, as it moved to dissolve the Soviet Union. The central thread of the intervention was the struggle to reestablish the historical and political links of the Soviet working class, and the workers in the Stalinist-ruled countries of Eastern Europe, to the proletarian internationalist foundations of the October Revolution.
The Moscow Historical Archival Institute invited David North to lecture on “The Future of Socialism: The Trotskyist Perspective.” Upon the conclusion of his lecture, students asked North to attend a seminar on “scientific communism” to further explain Trotsky’s views on Marxism and socialism.
The intervention by the ICFI in the Soviet Union marked a historical milestone in the history of the Trotskyist movement. For the first time in many decades, the program and principles of Trotskyism, and the genuine legacy of the October Revolution, were being brought into the Soviet working class. The ICFI also maintained a Russian-language Bulletin for two years, between 1989 and 1991. North spoke in Kiev again in 1991, while Nick Beams, the national secretary of the Australian Socialist Labor League, lectured in Kiev in 1990.
This work laid a powerful foundation for the establishment of a section of the IC in the former Soviet Union. It led to the initiation of the collaboration with Soviet historian Vadim Rogovin.
This lecture, delivered on November 23, 1989 in Moscow, was attended by teachers, students, trade union activists and members of the general public. North welcomed the discrediting of the crude Stalinist lie that Trotsky was an enemy of the Soviet Union and agent of Hitler, but pointed to the new lie that was being promoted: that there were no principled differences between Trotsky and Stalin.
In this lively and at times contentious discussion session with Soviet students, North spoke on the revolutionary perspective of the Trotskyist movement, Trotsky's analysis of Stalinism, and the impossibility of organizing society on a socialist basis within the confines of a single country.
In this interview, North replied to questions from a journalist representing a non-formal publication (i.e., one not approved by the Soviet state), including: 'What is your prognosis for the further development of Eastern Europe and the USSR? Do we have a chance for success? What are the perspectives of the international workers’ movement and the Fourth International?'
During his trip to the Soviet Union, North interviewed two Soviet youth, Ivan and Sergei, who are members of the Moscow Committee of New Socialists, a non-formal political organization.
On November 8, 1989, North interviewed a Soviet historian whose specialty is the activity of non-formal political movements.
North writes to a Soviet youth three months after his trip to the Soviet Union, reviewing the experience of the visit and the political significance of the rapid events that had taken place in the intervening time.