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Historic Documents

Biographical Essays & Summaries



"World history would indeed be very easy to make, if the struggle were taken up only on condition of infallibly favorable chances. It would, on the other hand, be a very mystical nature, if “accidents” played no part. These accidents themselves fall naturally into the general course of development and are compensated again by other accidents. But acceleration and delay are very dependent upon such “accidents,” which included the "accident" of the character of those who at first stand at the head of the movement"

- Marx 1871


"Our author substitutes mechanistic determinism for the dialectic conditioning of the historical process. Hence the cheap jibes about the role of individuals, good and bad. History is a process of the class struggle. But classes do not bring their full weight to bear automatically and simultaneously. In the process of struggle the classes create various organs which play an important and independent role and are subject to deformations. This also provides the basis for the role of personalities in history. There are naturally great objective causes which created the autocratic rule of Hitler but only dull-witted pedants of “determinism” could deny today the enormous historic role of Hitler. The arrival of Lenin in Petrograd on April 3, 1917 turned the Bolshevik party in time and enabled the party to lead the revolution to victory. Our sages might say that had Lenin died abroad at the beginning of 1917, the October revolution would have taken place “just the same.” But that is not so. Lenin represented one of the living elements of the historical process. He personified the experience and the perspicacity of the most active section of the proletariat. His timely appearance on the arena of the revolution was necessary in order to mobilize the vanguard and provide it with an opportunity to rally the working class and the peasant masses. Political leadership in the crucial moments of historical turns can become just as decisive a factor as is the role of the chief command during the critical moments of war. History is not an automatic process. Otherwise, why leaders? why parties? why programs? why theoretical struggles?"

- Trotsky 1940



Added 10/7/12; Sixtieth Birthday Speech by James P. Cannon. Transcribed from wire recording. Los Angelos, California March 4 1950. 


Added 10/7/12; "The decision to join the Trotskyist Camp" By James P. Cannon. Written May 27, 1959


Added 10/7/12; Malcolm X [Obituary] First Printed in Spartacist #4, May-June 1965.


Added 10/7/12; James P. Cannon Memorial Meeting, Speech made on August 27 1974 by Jim Robertson. First pruinted in Spartacist # 38-39, Summer 1986.


Added 10/7/12; Maurice Thorez: The Making of a Stalinist by John Sharpe. First printed in Workers Vanguard #85, 14 November 1975.


Added 10/7/12; Ten Years After Assassination: BOURGEOISIE CELEBRATES KINGS LIBERAL PACIFISM First printed in Workers Vanguard #207, 26 May 1978]


Added 10/7/12; The Test Jim [Robertson] Didn't Pass First Published in Bulletin of the External Tendency of the iSt No. 4, May 1985.


Added 10/7/12; The 'X' That Won't Go Away First printed as 1917 West #3, December 1992.


Added 10/7/12; Greetings to Clara Fraser's Memorial Meeting by Samuel Trachtenberg. April 19, 1998.