Splits and Fusions- an archive of Trotskyist publications in Britain

This is the post excerpt.


Welcome to Splits&Fusions.

Here we will showcase documents from the various tendencies of what can broadly be described as the Trotskyist movement in Britain (with a nod to Irish, US and other publications in the English language).

In most cases items will be presented without much in the way of editorial, beyond a brief (and hopefully factual) description of the group. Continue reading “Splits and Fusions- an archive of Trotskyist publications in Britain”

Trotskyist Organization of the United States

TruthThere does not appear ever to have been a British group of followers of the Hungarian Trotskyist Michel Varga (Balasz Nagy) but we do have a small collection of documents from the Trotskyist Organization of the United States.

The somewhat complex origins of the TOUS, in two factions expelled from the US SWP in the early 1970s are outlined here.

The group was an affiliate of the Vargaite International League for the Reconstruction of the Fourth International– later referring to itself as he Fourth International (rebuilt) or simply the Fourth International.

The ILRCFI split in 1984, expelling its leader who went on to form the Group of Opposition and Continuity of the Fourth International. The TOUS remained with the International League.

The TOUS produced a newspaper- The Truth– of which we have seven issues and a duplicated magazine The Fourth International of which we have five.

We also have a late 1980s Manifesto of this version of the Fourth International which must be a contender for most typos per square inch…

For good measure, in our VARGAITE ARCHIVE you will also find a couple of isues of their Swedish section’s paper Proletar Offensiv and a copy of International Young Guard- their youth paper…

The LSSP pamphlets

middleThe Ceylonese LSSP was, from the 1950s, one of the more significant sections of the Fourth International.

The role played by student members of the LSSP studying in Britain in the re-establishment of the British section is well known.

At this time, the LSSP published an extensive series of nicely produced English language pamphlets- mainly reprints of classic texts- and, presumably, these formed part of the political armoury of those Ceylonese students…

We have five of these pamphlets:

Last Words of Adolf Joffe

Trotsky- In Defence of Insurrection

Trotsky on Lenin

Trotsky- Whither Europe

Zimmerwald Manifesto

We also have fragments of a sixth pamphlet Trotsky- In the Middle Of The Road just the cover and a few pages but, intriguingly the name written on the inside cover is one E. Grant…

If any of our readers have any more from this series, please get in touch and help us compile a complete list.


The Revolutionary Communist Tendency / Party…

Why RCPLove them or hate them, the Revolutionary Communist Party were a significant component of the British far left of the 1980s.

Originating as a split from the Revolutionary Communist Group (Fight Racism Fight Imperialism), itself a split from the International Socialists, the Revolutionary Communist Tendency published 8 issues of a magazine Revolutionary Communist Papers before establishing the rather stylish tabloid paper The Next Step in 1979. TNS was, at first a 24 page theoretical review before becoming a weekly paper in 1985. The issues of TNS up to that point are consecutively numbered. From 1985 they are numbered 1 – 40-odd repeating each year.

The main preoccupations of the RCP were Ireland and anti-racism as reflected in their front organisations the Irish Freedom Movement, publishing Irish Freedom magazine, and Workers Against Racism

The RCT published a series of Revolutionary Communist Pamphlets whilst the RCP followed up with a number of books and pamphlets, often under the Junius Press imprint and a theoretical journal Confrontation (we will scan some copies of this in due course)


Thanks to James H for supplying several hundred copies of TNS.

If you can help with filling the gaps in our TNS collection, please get in touch. We would like to see more copies of Irish Freedom and, of course, Living Marxism magazine which was to become the RCPs flagship publication and which ran until 1997 at which time the RCP disbanded. The magazine, rebranded as LM, continued until 2000.


WIL and Red Youth…

RYThere is nothing quite so satisfying as solving a mystery.

For some while we have had copies of a duplicated bulletin “Red Youth” dating from 1985-6. As this paper shares its title with the earlier WSL / Socialist Youth League paper we assumed it was linked either to the Thornett-Lister Socialist Group (Socialist Viewpoint) or the ‘de-fused’ WSL of Matgamna and so we filed it under “WSL” alongside the earlier Red Youth.

Now it appears we were wrong on both counts and the paper was actually published by the Workers Internationalist League– more specifically the late period WIL around Dale A and based in Bradford.

This was the group which remained after the WIL split and then partially reformed to give rise to the RIL.

Graham S writes “The rump WIL was the half dozen or so people who remained after the Tendency for Political Clarification decamped and formed the RIL with those who had split earlier. The continuity WIL had no international affiliations and barely a dozen members left, I only came across two. Their main publication was Red Youth (basically centred on Bradford) which survived for about six or so copies, they produced one magazine format publication still called Workers International Review outlining their view of the history of the SLL/WSL and WiL after which they really just petered out, I last came across them at the LPYS summer camp in 86. I dont think they lasted much longer.”



The revolutionary socialist organisation Big Flame

SongBig Flame- was not a Trotskyist organisation or paper, but a local revolutionary socialist grouping based, at first, on Merseyside.

However, it worked with Trotskyists, gained memebrs from and lost members to, Trotskyist groups and shared many similar positions.

However, the best place to start to learn about BF is not here but at the excellent, and comprehensive Big Flame blog.

What we can add to their thematic discussion of the organisation is a substantial collection of issues of Big Flame newspaper.

Some of these were gleaned from the BF Blog and a few we scanned at the Sparrows Nest archive but the majority came from the collection of Barry Buitekant.

So, we have some fifty or more issues and it would be really good if we could get the others to complete the set…

Also we have a small collection of documents, bulletins, pamphlets which we would like to add to…




Charlie Van Gelderen in Italy

We interrupt our usual coverage to bring you some fascinating materials from the 1940s and the activities of Trotskyists in the armed forces…

First up this letter indicates the seriousness with which the intelligence services treated the possibility of Trotskyist agitation in the British army as it is suggested that none other than Kim Philby might want to consider keeping tabs on Charlie Van Gelderen, then serving in Italy…


The note on British – Italian Trotskyist relations referred to above is here.


Located and transcribed by Ted Crawford it runs for 14 pages.

Also, thanks to Keith S, we have a four page letter from Charlie in Italy to John and Janet Goffe dated October 1943. This is the original. And this is a transcript.