Revolutionary Workers League (Oehlerite)

Revolutionary Workers League (Oehlerite)

The Revolutionary Workers League (RWL) was a radical left group in the United States. It was led by Hugo Oehler and published "The Fighting Worker" newspaper.

The group's origins lay in the Trotskyist Communist League of America. This group became the Workers Party of the United States in 1934 after a fusion with the American Workers Party, and later entered the Socialist Party of America as part of Trotsky's French Turn. Oehler objected to this entrism as a tactic, believing that it would lead to the group becoming influenced by reformism, although once the group had entered, he argued that it should not leave, as this would be unprincipled. As a result, he formed an opposition tendency and split from the Workers Party in November 1935 to form the RWL.

Initially a significant size, the RWL also attracted Tom Stamm and unionist Sidney Lens. Intending to keep the group free of reformism, Oehler expelled several small groupings, the first being the Marxist Workers' League in 1936, which soon rejoined the Workers Party of the United States, while later groupings included another Marxist Workers League, the Leninist League, which held that Trotsky was an agent of Stalin, and the Revolutionary Communist Vanguard.

In 1937, the group renounced Trotskyism, but while Oehler concluded that Trotsky had split with Marxism in 1934, Stamm held that Trotsky had degenerated in 1928, and the two split. Oehler retained the majority of the group, but Stamm set up a rival organisation of the same name.

In the Spanish Civil War, the RWL supported only the POUM, although Max Shachtman and Trotsky claimed that the group opposed all military action against the fascists. Both Oehler and Russel Blackwell travelled to Spain and were involved in the events of July 1937 that saw the POUM repressed. On returning to the USA Oehler wrote an account of his experiences in Spain entitled Spain At The barricades. The group also came to see the Soviet Union as a kind of state capitalist society, in contrast to Trotsky's description of it as a degenerated workers' state.

With the declaration of the Trotskyist Fourth International, the RWL instead founded the Provisional International Contact Commission for the New Communist (Fourth) International. Besides themselves, this included the Leninist League (UK) and the Revolutionary Communist Organisation (Austria), both groups close to Oehler.

The outbreak of World War II saw a severe decline in the group. Its youth section, the "Young Workers League" appears to have been wound up in about 1940, the international disbanded in 1946, and "The Fighting Worker" ceased publication in 1947, although an attempt at a relaunch was made in 1950.

References

* [http://www.marxmail.org/archives/July99/who_was_georg_scheuer.htm Who was Georg Scheuer; what was the Revolutionary Workers League?]
* [http://www.marxists.org/archive/shachtma/1938/12/footnote.htm Footnote for Historians] , Max Shachtman
* [http://www.ilab.org/services/catalogues.php?membernr=1435&catnr=36&pg=14&br= International League of Antiquarian Booksellers]
* [http://www.marxfaq.org/history/etol/research/hi.htm Hoover Institution holdings]


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Revolutionary Workers League — may refer to:*Revolutionary Workers League/Ligue Ouvrière Révolutionnaire, a Canadian Trotskyist group *Revolutionary Workers League (New Zealand) *Revolutionary Workers League (Oehlerite), an U.S. group that existed in the 1930s, founded by Hugo …   Wikipedia

  • Marxist Workers' League — The Marxist Workers League can refer to: The Marxist Workers League (Finland); a Trotskyist group associated with the Co ordinating Committee for the Refoundation of the Fourth International, formerly a member of the International Workers… …   Wikipedia

  • Leninist League — can refer to:*Leninist League (UK), an Oehlerite group. *Leninist League (US), a communist group which split from the Revolutionary Workers League (Oehlerite).ee also*Marxist Leninist League …   Wikipedia

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