The Fourth International (FI) is a revolutionary socialist international organization consisting of followers of Leon Trotsky, also known as Trotskyists, whose declared goal is the overthrowing of global capitalism and the establishment of world socialism via international revolution. The Fourth International was established in France in 1938, as Trotsky and his supporters, having been expelled from the Soviet Union, considered the Third International or Comintern as effectively puppets of Stalinism and thus incapable of leading the international working class to political power. Thus, Trotskyists founded their own competing Fourth International.
|Preceded by||Comintern (not legal predecessor)|
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In the present day, there is no longer a single, centralized cohesive Fourth International. Throughout most of its existence and history, the Fourth International was hunted by agents of the NKVD, subjected to political repression by countries such as France and the United States, and rejected by supporters of the Soviet Union as "illegitimate pretenders". The Fourth International struggled to maintain contact under these conditions of crackdowns and repression during World War II due to the fact that subsequent proletarian uprisings were often under the influence of Soviet-aligned Stalinists and militant nationalist groups, leading to defeats for the Fourth International and the Trotskyists, who subsequently never managed to obtain meaningful influence.
Despite this, many parts of the world, including Latin America, Europe and Asia, continue to have large Trotskyist groupings who are attracted to its anti-Stalinist positions and its defense of proletarian internationalism. Several of these groups carry the label "Fourth Internationalist" either in their organization's name, important political position documents, or both. In line with Trotskyist theory and thought, the Fourth International tended to view the Comintern as a degenerated workers' state. However, although it regarded its own ideas as more advanced and thus superior to those of the Third International, it did not actively push for the Comintern's destruction. The current incarnation of the Fourth International does not operate as a cohesive entity in the manner of its predecessors.
The Fourth International suffered a major split in 1940 and an even more significant schism in 1953. A partial reunification of the schismatic factions occurred in 1963, but the organization never recovered sufficiently, and it failed to re-emerge as a single transnational grouping. The response of Trotskyists to such a situation has been in the form of forming multiple Internationals across the world, with some divided over which particular organization represents the true legacy and political continuity of the historical Fourth International.