The Revolutionary Socialist League- British Section of the FI 1938 – 1944

BulletinThe Revolutionary Socialist League was first formed in early 1938 with the merger of the Marxist League and the Marxist Group.

Later that same year, a fusion brokered by the American Socialist Workers Party brought together the RSL with the Militant Group and the Revolutionary Socialist Party to form a new RSL.

The only significant grouping of British Trotskyists remaining outside this organisation was the Workers International League.

The RSL became the British section of the newly formed Fourth International claiming 170 members. They maintained the Militant Labour League for those members working within the Labour Party and continued publication of the Militant alongside the open paper Workers Fight.

Riven by factions and losing groups of members to the WIL, by the time the RSL and WIL fused to form the Revolutionary Communist Party in 1944 the RSL was reduced to a small rump.

Our holdings of RSL materials include the following:

7 issues of Workers Fight newspaper- V1 no5 appears to be the last of the ‘old series’ October 1938 and is followed by V1 no1 ‘new series’ November 1938 continuing to V2 No4 September 1939


As Mike P points out, “the four duplicated issues of Workers Fight with different colour front pages are not publications of the official RSL led by D D Harber and Starkey Jackson. They are in fact publications of the group that later renamed itself the RWL led by Bill Duncan and Hilda Lane.”

We have left these issues in the folder but also copied to the corresponding folder in our holdings for the RWL.

Two issues of the Bulletin of the British Section of the FI– a magazine issued by the war-time RSL

Pamphlets and Leaflets including the RSL printing of the Transitional Programme. According to Bornstein and Richardson it is not clear whether this document, which proved controversial, was published immediately or some time later by the RSL.

Two of the leaflets clearly illustrate the ‘defeatist’ positions of the RSL which put it at odds with the WIL.

The Enemy is in Our Own Country and Our Enemy British Capitalism

Within our Internal Documents folder you will find two RSL Internal Bulletins from 1939 and, from the period of the proposed fusion with the WIL, you will find resolutions proposed by the Militant Group (RSL faction) and the joint RSL-WIL fusion document.

Additionally- Socialist Platform published this compilation of RSL documents on the question of entry.


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