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Max Shachtman

Behind the Moscow Trial

$12.95

Writing in 1936, Shachtman thoroughly exposed Stalin’s first great frame-up trial at which the Soviet bureaucracy began the physical destruction of the entire Bolshevik old guard.

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Writing in 1936, Shachtman thoroughly exposed Stalin’s first great frame-up trial at which the Soviet bureaucracy began the physical destruction of the entire Bolshevik old guard.

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(1904-1972) was born in Warsaw, Poland in September 1904. His family emigrated to New York when he was eight months old. Shachtman’s father worked in the needle trades and the family settled in the Bronx within a few years of coming to the United States.

A member of the American Communist Party from the early 1920s, Shachtman gained prominence as a speaker and writer. In 1928, he, along with Martin Abern and James P. Cannon, were expelled from the Communist Party for their support for Leon Trotsky.

Over the course of the 1930s, he played an important role in the international Trotskyist movement, ultimately becoming editor of the US section’s theoretical journal. In 1936 he wrote Behind the Moscow Trials: The Greatest Frame-up in History.

In subsequent years he broke with the Trotskyist movement on both political and philosophical grounds. He rejected Trotsky’s insistence that despite the betrayals of Stalin, the Soviet Union remained a workers’ state that had to be defended from attack by world imperialism. He also expressed an agnostic attitude towards the Marxist philosophy of dialectical materialism. In 1940, after an extensive debate within the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), the American section of the Trotskyist movement, Shachtman was expelled from the SWP.

Afterwards, he evolved steadily to the right. Shachtman embraced the notion that the Soviet Union was a “bureaucratic collectivist” state dominated by a new ruling class. He became an advisor to the anti-communist American trade union bureaucracy and ultimately came to back the United States in the Cold War against the USSR.

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