Memoirs of a Critical Communist

Towards a history of the Fourth International

by Livio Maitan

with a preface by Daniel Bensaïd

Translated by Gregor Benton

Edited and with an introduction by Penelope Duggan

RRP: £20, €24, $28; 456 pages, inc. b&w photos.
Pub. Resistance Books, IIRE and Merlin Press

Gregor Benton writes:

Livio Maitan helped inspire the growth of Italian Trotskyism. There was also a wave of Maoism in the 1960s and a debate ensued, to which Livio contributed his book on China, Party, Army, and Masses. I was deeply influenced by it, and I translated it for New Left Books. The book combined criticism of the Chinese Revolution with support. From it, I learned how to write engaged scholarship.

Livio could have shone at a leading university had he wanted, but instead he spent most of his life working on a shoestring. In 2002, he wrote this history of the Fourth International to go alongside his autobiography.

Translating this new book was a bittersweet experience. Through it, I was able to relive chapter by chapter my wild political youth and my middle age. Livio Maitan’s spirit lifts this story from a catalogue of false starts into a chronicle of heroism and optimism. He died before Black Lives Matter, Me Too, Corbynism, Gilets Jaunes, Extinction Rebellion  and other new struggles, but he paved the way for them.

This book shows the road to socialism remains open.


NOTE: This book out of stock at Resistance Books. It is available from the International Institute for Research and Education. Just follow this link >>>

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In Towards a history of the Fourth International, Livio Maitan relates his experience of being a revolutionary communist during the second half of the 20th Century. From his early commitment to communism in 1942 under fascism in Italy, Livio chose to be ‘against the current’ by rejecting both Stalinism and social democracy. Instead, he charted a course of democratic and revolutionary Marxism, which brought him to the ‘Trotskyist’ movement, participating on its international leadership. In 1947 he joined the Italian Trotskyist movement, of which he remained a leading member all his life. He was one of a small group of comrades who led the Fourth International during the difficult years of the 1950s and early 1960s. First elected in 1951, he remained a member of the International leadership until his death. From 1991, he was a leader of Rifondazione Comunista. Maitan died in Rome on 16 September 2004.

This book is an analysis of the major events of the second half of the 20th Century by a Marxist and a participant. In this book, Livio deals with the strategic and programmatic problems his generation faced as it sought to work towards a democratic socialist alternative.

Livio Maitan wrote a great many articles and several books, including Teoria e politica nel dopoguerra, Milan, 1959; Pci 1945-1969, Rome, 1969. Dinamica delle classi sociali in Italia, Rome, 1975, Destino di Trotsky, Milan, 1980, Il marxismo rivoluzionario di Antonio Gramsci, Milano, 1987; Il dilemma cinese, Rome, 1994; Dall’Urss alla Russia, Rome, 1996, Tempeste nell’economia mondiale, Rome, 1998, La strada percorsa, Bolsena, 2002.


Introduction to the English edition

Preface – History wrinkle-free


Chapter 1 – Dramatic battles of the 1930s and the early 1940s

Chapter 2 – A congress of redefinition and reconstruction and a contradictory phase (1948-1953)

Chapter 3 – From Stalin’s death to the rise of de Gaulle (1953-1958)

Chapter 4 – A tormented phase (1959-1961)

Chapter 5 – From reunification to the eve of 1968 (1962-1967)

Chapter 6 –Two crucial years: French May and the Czechoslovak crisis (1968-1969)

Chapter 7 – A further series of upheavals (1970-1973): Conflicts deepen and grow more acuteChapter 8 – The Tenth Congress (1974): An agitated preparatory phase

Chapter 9 – Taking stock of 30 years

Chapter 10 – From the revolution in Portugal to the end of the war in Vietnam (1974-1975)Chapter 11 – A new phase (1976-1978)

Chapter 12 – A crucial year: 1979

Chapter 13 – The Afghan civil war and the crisis of the bureaucratic regime in Poland (1980-1982)

Chapter 14 – Exacerbation of the conservative counter-offensive (1983-1984)

Chapter 15 – The Twelfth Congress (1985)

Chapter 16 – World upheavals and internal developments (1985-1991): Conservative counteroffensive, advent of Gorbachev, and Chinese Nep

Chapter 17 – ‘New World Order?’ (1991-1995), Dissolution of the USSR and capitalist restoration