From the October Revolution to the Second World War

The first key point in the history of the parties and movements following Marx took place in 1917 with the October Revolution; it was followed, in 1919, by the founding of the Third (explicitly Communist) International in Moscow. These two events manifested the split between left-wing forces at the international level and resulted in the development of two main competing currents.

Numerous other theoretical approaches and attempts at political organisation have been conducted and they should neither be overlooked nor side-lined. In fact, during the 1920s and 1930s, Marxism continued to diversify in both theoretical and political terms. Moreover, Marxist thought became anchored more than ever before in institutions undertaking research and education.

Above all, however, this period is characterised by failed revolutions and revolts, such as those that took place in Germany, Hungary and Finland, later in Italy, in China during the 1920s and, latterly, in Spain. Moreover, a fatal development occurred during this time: the interwar period was the first in which the theory of emancipatory social progress (which was already partially dogmatic) developed into a legitimising ideology for an oppressive, dominant regime.

Russland und international

The Third International (Comintern)

In 1919, on Lenin’s initiative, the Third International was founded in Moscow as a revolutionary alternative to the “opportunism” of the Second International.


By the late 1920s, Stalin, who had been general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s (CPSU) Central Committee since 1922, was finally able to assert his authority against his party rivals.

Workers’ Opposition

Around 1920, Workers’ Opposition formed within the Bolshevistic CPSU. This organisation was a left-wing current that Lenin fought against as a “deviation”.

Left-wing opposition and the Fourth International (Trotskyism)

Leon Trotsky viewed the Soviet aim to build socialism in one country – a policy that had been promoted by the leadership of the CPSU since 1924 – as a fatal deviation from the internationalist policies of the Bolsheviks.

“Right-wing” opposition

The communistic opposition and, in the words of its opponents the right-wing opposition’, supported a united front of the workers’ movement against the rise of fascism in a similar manner to Trotskyism. However, it differed in its view of the Soviet Union: whereas the Trotskyists and their precursors were early critics of Stalinisation, the “right-wing” continued to work within the Stalinised parties for several years until they were expelled from them between 1928 and 1929.


West- und Mitteleuropa

Councilism (from the 1920s)

In the 1920s, a councilist current developed on the left-wing margins of Dutch and German communism. Councilism was inspired by the councilist movements that had existed during the Russian and German revolutions in 1917 and 1919; they had very little theoretical background.

Bordigism (from the 1920s)

This line is named after Amadeo Bordiga, the first chair of the Italian Communist Party, which was established in 1921.

Antonio Gramsci and the Gramsci “lines”

As part of the factional fighting that occurred between the Italian communists in the 1920s, Antonio Gramsci was not only a counterparty to Bordiga, he also won out against him.

Left-wing socialism

This term generally refers to independent positions that emerged during the interwar period and that are located between social democracy and communism. At the time, left-wing socialist groups were organised internationally at the “London office”.

The left-wing socialist and left-wing communist milieu in 1930s South Western Europe

During the 1930s, numerous Marxist groups in Spain and France rejected Stalinism and the “class collaborationist” policy of the popular front. Moreover, although they supported revolution and class struggle, they kept a certain distance from Trotskyism.


Asien/Latein- und Nordamerika


This current within Japanese Marxism is named after Kazuo Fukumoto, the theorist and politician. In the early 1920s, Fukumoto was in contact with and was influenced by Georg Lukács and Karl Korsch.

The Koza current versus the Rono current

During the 1930s, an intellectual current developed in Japan known as “Koza” (“lectures faction”). It was based on official guidelines drawn up by the Comintern and remained close to the Japanese Communist Party.


During the 1920s and early 1930s, the Peruvian journalist and Marxist theorist José Carlos Mariátegui searched for effective, independent social revolutionary opportunities whilst rejecting abstract schemas and ensuring their applicability to the specific historical and social conditions in Latin America.

Marxist pan-Africanism

Pan-Africanism is a political movement that aspires to develop international solidarity between Africans and descendants of Africans.

„Third Camp“

This term refers to a current that has been active since the beginning of the Second World War, primarily within North American Trotskyism.