Leon Trotsky is known as a central leader of the Russian Revolution, founder of the Red Army, Marxist theoretician, brilliant orator, literary and social critic, and chief opponent of the Stalinist degeneration of the Soviet Union. But he himself thought that the most important part of his life's work was the role he played in building the Fourth International, the revolutionary succesor to the Stalinized Third International.
In September 1938, when the founding conference of the new International was held in France, trotsky was in exile in Mexico and could not attend. By then, however, he had made his main contribution to the conference in the form of articles and letters for the preconference discussion, and in stenographically recorded talks with comrades who visited him.
The full record of Trotsky's views on the founding of the Fourth International (much of it never printed until recently) is now available in two volumes: The Transitional Programme for Socialist Revolution (1974), where the main emphasis is on programmatic questions; and this collection of articles, letters and talks from the ten months preceding the founding conference, where internal political and organizational problems are prominently featured.
The 129 selections in this book also include assessments of the third Moscow trial, involving Bukharin, Rykov and other old Bolsheviks; the death of Trotsky's son at the hands of Soviet secret police agents in a Paris hospital; the kidnapping and murder in Paris of the young German refugee Rudolf Klement, who was in charge of the technical preparations for the Fourth International conference; the Communist Manifesto on its ninetieth anniversary; the Mexican government's expropriation of imperialist oil holdings; the class character of the Soviet Union; the fallacies of ultra-leftism; tactics in the struggle against war and fascism; freedom of the press; a look back at the Kronstadt rebellion of 1921; democratic centralism; intellectuals and the revolutionary party.