Preface to the thirtieth anniversary edition of The Heritage We Defend


Preface to the thirtieth anniversary edition of The Heritage We Defend

David North

21 June 2018

On August 5, Mehring Books will publish the thirtieth anniversary edition of The Heritage We Defend: A Contribution to the History of the Fourth International, written by David North. The book is available for preorder today on Mehring Books. We are publishing below North’s preface to the new edition.


The Heritage We Defend was published thirty years ago, in 1988, in the aftermath of the desertion of the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) of Britain from the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI). As the International Committee subsequently proved in numerous documents, the WRP’s renegacy was the outcome of its retreat, over a period spanning more than a decade, from the Trotskyist principles that it had once played a critical role in defending. [1] The WRP, founded in 1973, was the successor organization of the British Trotskyist movement, which, in 1953, had formed the International Committee in alliance with the American Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and the French Parti Communiste Internationaliste (PCI). Gerry Healy (1913–1989), the leader of the WRP, had signed the historic “Open Letter to the World Trotskyist Movement,” written by James P. Cannon (1890–1974), which denounced the Pablo-Mandel revisions of the program of the Fourth International. The “Open Letter,” issued in November 1953, articulated the foundational principles of the ICFI:

1. The death agony of the capitalist system threatens the destruction of civilization through worsening depressions, world wars and barbaric manifestations like fascism. The development of atomic weapons today…

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