Alan Woods and Ted Grant - Lenin and Trotsky - what they really stood for
A detailed biography of Leon Trotsky (Lev Davidovich Bronshtein) that includes My friendship with him did not survive the test of the first important events To stop this happening Stalin established a close political relationship with. Leon Trotsky on Lenin: Leon Trotsky's essay on Vladimir Lenin is historically Marx and first entered into relations with the members of the local Marxist circle. The political position of Trotsky and its relation to the ideas of Lenin will be dealt .. in the previous period, not one of them stood up to the decisive test of events.
Krupskayahis comrade in the work of the St. Petersburg Union and his faithful companion during the remaining 26 years of his life and revolutionary struggle.
During his exile he finished his most important economic work, The Development of Capitalism in Russia, based on a comprehensive and systematic study of an enormous mass of statistical material Lenin returned to Russia from Geneva, and already, in his first article, appealed to the Bolsheviks, in view of the new situation, to increase the scope of their organisation and to bring into the party wider circles of workers, but to preserve their illegal apparatus in anticipation of the counter-revolutionary blows which were inevitable.
Tsarism began to counter-attack. The rising in Moscow at the end of Dec. The suppression of the Dec. The Liberal bourgeoisie came to the front.
The epoch of the first two Dumas began. At this time, Lenin formulated the principles of the revolutionary exploitation of parliamentary methods in immediate connection with the struggle of the masses and as a means of preparation for a fresh attack. Now in began the epoch of victorious counter-revolution, prosecutions, exile, executions and emigration.
In this dim epoch Lenin showed very vividly a combination of his two fundamental qualities—that of being an implacable revolutionary at bottom, while yet remaining a realist who made no mistakes in the choice of methods and means. At the same time, Lenin carried on an extensive campaign against the attempt to revise the theoretic basis of Marxism on which his whole policy was founded.
In he wrote a major treatise dealing with the fundamental questions of knowledge and directed against the essentially idealistic philosophy of MachAvenarius and their Russian followers, who tried to unite empiric criticism with Marxism.
On the basis of a deep and comprehensive study of science Lenin proved that the methods of dialectical materialism as formulated by Marx and Engels were entirely confirmed by the development of scientific thought in general and natural science in particular.
For many years he had followed closely the internal affairs of the most important capitalist States. His realistic imagination and political intuition often enabled him to reconstruct a complete picture from isolated phenomena. Lenin was always firmly opposed to the mechanical application of the methods of one country to another, and he investigated and decided questions concerning revolutionary movements, not only in their international interreactions, but also in their concrete national form.
The revolution of Feb.
Leon Trotsky - Wikipedia
His attempts to reach Russia met with the decided opposition of the British Government. He accordingly decided to exploit the antagonism of the belligerent countries and to reach Russia through Germany. On the night of April 4, on leaving the train, Lenin made a speech in the Finlyandsky station in Petrograd.
He repeated and developed the leading ideas it contained in the days which followed.
The overthrow of Tsarism, he said, was only the first stage in the revolution. The bourgeois revolution could no longer satisfy the masses.
The task of the proletariat was to arm, to strengthen the power of the Soviets, to rouse the country districts and to prepare for the conquest of supreme power in the name of the reconstruction of society on a Socialist basis. This far-reaching programme was not only unwelcome to those engaged in propagating patriotic Socialism, but even roused opposition among the Bolsheviks themselves.
He foresaw that the distrust of the bourgeoisie and of the Provisional Government would grow stronger daily, that the Bolshevik party would obtain a majority in the Soviets and that the supreme power would pass into their hands. The small daily Pravda became at once in his hands a powerful instrument for the overthrow of bourgeois society.
He worked between and trying to reconcile different groups within the party, which resulted in many clashes with Lenin and other prominent party members. Trotsky later maintained that he had been wrong in opposing Lenin on the issue of the party. During these years, Trotsky began developing his theory of permanent revolutionand developed a close working relationship with Alexander Parvus in — This single strike grew into a general strike and by 7 Januarythere werestrikers in Saint Petersburg.
The Palace Guard fired on the peaceful demonstration, resulting in the deaths of some 1, demonstrators. Sunday, 9 Januarybecame known as Bloody Sunday. There he worked with both Bolsheviks, such as Central Committee member Leonid Krasinand the local Menshevik committee, which he pushed in a more radical direction.
The latter, however, were betrayed by a secret police agent in May, and Trotsky had to flee to rural Finland.
Leon Trotsky on Lenin
There he worked on fleshing out his theory of permanent revolution. By the evening of 24 September, the workers at 50 other printing shops in Moscow were also on strike. On 2 Octoberthe typesetters in printing shops in Saint Petersburg decided to strike in support of the Moscow strikers.
On 7 Octoberthe railway workers of the Moscow—Kazan Railway went out on strike. Trotsky also co-founded, together with Parvus and Julius Martov and other Mensheviks, Nachalo "The Beginning"which also proved to be a very successful newspaper in the revolutionary atmosphere of Saint Petersburg in Khrustalyev-Nosar had been a compromise figure when elected as the head of the Saint Petersburg Soviet.
Khrustalev-Nosar was a lawyer that stood above the political factions contained in the Soviet. Khrustalev-Nosar became famous in his position as spokesman for the Saint Petersburg Soviet. He did much of the actual work at the Soviet and, after Khrustalev-Nosar's arrest on 26 Novemberwas elected its chairman. On 2 December, the Soviet issued a proclamation which included the following statement about the Tsarist government and its foreign debts: We have therefore decided not to allow the repayment of such loans as have been made by the Tsarist government when openly engaged in a war with the entire people.
The following day, the Soviet was surrounded by troops loyal to the government and the deputies were arrested. On 4 October he was convicted and sentenced to internal exile to Siberia. In October, he moved to ViennaAustria-Hungary. For the next seven years, he often took part in the activities of the Austrian Social Democratic Party and, occasionally, of the German Social Democratic Party.
It was smuggled into Russia. Both the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks split multiple times after the failure of the — revolution. Money was very scarce for publication of Pravda. Trotsky approached the Russian Central Committee to seek financial backing for the newspaper throughout Lenin agreed to the financing of Pravda, but required a Bolshevik be appointed as co-editor of the paper. Lev KamenevTrotsky's brother-in-law, was added to the editorial board from the Bolsheviks, but the unification attempts failed in August Kamenev resigned from the board amid mutual recriminations.
He made no attempt to deny that the revolution was bourgeois-democratic, certainly not that it was possible to build Socialism in Russia alone. Replying to Plekhanov's dark warnings of "the danger of restoration", Lenin explained: There can be no other guarantee in the full sense of the term. Without this condition, whichever other way the problem is solved municipalisation, division of the land, etc restoration will not only be possible but positively inevitable.
He tied the fate of the Russian revolution in an indissoluble link with that of the international Socialist revolution, without which it would inevitably succumb to internal reaction: It cannot do this unless there is a Socialist revolution in the West. Without this condition restoration is inevitable, whether we have municipalisation, or nationalisation, or division of the land; for under each and every form of possession and property the small proprietor will always be a bulwark of restoration.
After the complete victory of the democratic revolution the small proprietor will inevitably turn against the proletariat: Our democratic republic has no other reserve than the Socialist proletariat of the West. For the reader of Monty Johnstone's article can come to no other conclusion than that Lenin here is talking pure "Trotskyism". He denies the possibility, not only of "building Socialism" in Russia alone, but even of holding on to the gains of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, without the Socialist revolution in the West.TROTSKY The Mystery of the World Revolution
He "underestimates the role of the peasantry" by explaining that the small-property owners constitute a bulwark of restoration, and will inevitably turn against the workers, once the democratic revolution is completed. But no, Lenin did not take these ideas from Trotsky's books on permanent revolution, which he never read, and Trotsky himself was in prison during the Congress. The ideas expressed by Lenin were the ABCs of Marxism, the fundamental principles of proletarian internationalism and the class struggle, which he defended against the opportunist distortions of the "erudite" Marxist, Plekhanov.
This is not "Leninism", but "Trotskyism", writes Monty Johnstone in Call it what you will, gentlemen, for a Marxist, the essence of a thing is not changed merely by calling it by another name. In reply to the argument that the Social Democracy must not frighten away its "progressive" bourgeois allies, Lenin said: They do not see that the bourgeoisie is counter-revolutionary, that it is deliberately striving for a deal.
He sharply took Plekhanov to task for his cowardly repudiation of armed struggle.
These were the issues which separated the Bolshevik and Menshevik wings of Social-Democracy; not the organisational question, not "centralism", but reform or revolution, class collaborationism or reliance upon the revolutionary masses. Yet on all of this Monty Johnstone maintains a stubborn silence.
The reader may wonder why! We shall be charitable and attribute it to Comrade Johnstone's natural impatience to get on to the far more "interesting period" from At any rate, "thirteen or fourteen years" is a long time; who will miss a matter of five years or so?
The Period of Reaction The Stolypin reaction, which began increated immense difficulties for the revolutionary movement in Russia and provoked further disagreements in the ranks of the Social Democracy.
The legal activities of the Party were hamstrung by what Lenin called "the most reactionary election law in Europe". The illegal methods of work, the so-called underground became increasingly important to offset the restrictions imposed by the regime.
A section of the Menshevik wing of the Party, however, was inclined to meet the situation by increasingly accommodating itself to the demands of reaction, eschewing illegal work in favour of a comfortable parliamentary niche.
This was the basis of the so-called Liquidationist dispute which led to a fresh split in the Party. At the London Congress ofTrotsky for the first time had an opportunity of expounding his views on the revolution before the Party. His speech in the debate on the attitude to the bourgeois parties, for which he was given only fifteen minutes, was twice commented on by Lenin, who emphatically agreed with the views expressed by Trotsky, especially his call for a Left Bloc against the liberal bourgeoisie: Quite apart from the question of 'uninterrupted revolution', we have solidarity on fundamental points in the attitude towards the bourgeois parties.
But on the fundamental question of the tasks of the revolutionary movement, there was complete agreement. The differences between the positions of Lenin and Trotsky will be dealt with later. That these differences were regarded by Lenin as secondary was again revealed at the Congress when Trotsky moved an amendment to the resolution on the attitude towards the bourgeois parties.
Lenin spoke against the amendment on the grounds, not that it was wrong, but that it added nothing fundamental to the original: Do not run ahead of events.
His main concern was to hold the forces of Marxism together in a difficult period, to prevent a split which would have a demoralising effect on the movement. This was the essence of Trotsky's "conciliationism", which prevented him from joining the Bolsheviks at this period.
Commenting on this, Lenin wrote: Most consistently of all was conciliationism expressed by Trotsky, about the only one who tried to provide a theoretical foundation for that policy. Trotsky's mistake was to attach too much importance to the "centrist" semi-revolutionary currents in Menshevism.
He imagined that the unity of the Marxist movement would be brought about by the coming together of the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks and the purging of the party of the "right" and "left" extremes - i. He did not understand, as Lenin clearly did, that unity could only be achieved by first ruthlessly breaking with all opportunist currents; that preservation of the forces of Marxism in a period of revolutionary retreat did not mean an abstract, formal "unity" but the systematic education of the cadres in the methods, and perspectives of the movement.
The organisation flabbiness of the Mensheviks, and their political helplessness in the period of reaction was merely a reflection of their utter lack of perspective. On the other hand, Lenin's struggle for a "stable, centralised and disciplined Marxist party" flowed from the absolute necessity of educating and training a vanguard, untainted with the demoralisation and cynicism of the opportunists. Later, Trotsky understood his mistake and unreservedly admitted that Lenin had been right all along on this question.
Yet the Stalinists continue to paint in lurid colours the factional struggle between Lenin and Trotsky, dragging up all the polemical rejoinders, made in the heat of controversy in order to drive a wedge between the ideas of Lenin and Trotsky in general. Trotsky was mistaken, but his mistake was an honest one, the mistake of a revolutionary, with the interests of the revolution at heart. Not accidentally did Lenin refer to conciliationism as flowing "from the most varied motives" - i.
Lenin himself occasionally "erred" in his estimation of possible allies among the Mensheviks. In he offered a bloc to Plekhanov and the "pro-Party" Mensheviks. According to Lunacharsky, as late asLenin "dreamed of an alliance with Martov realising how valuable he could be.
But how incomparably superior are the mistakes of a dedicated revolutionary to the smug scribblings of the Pharisees who, half a century later, in the comfort of their studies, fight all the old battles over again - and always on the winning side.
The Bolsheviks and Lenin "The years between and form in his [Trotsky's] life a chapter singularly devoid of political achievement…Trotsky does not claim any practical revolutionary achievement to his credit.
In these years, however, Lenin, assisted by his followers, was forging his party, and men like Zinoviev and Kamenev, Bukharin and, later, Stalin were growing to a stature which enabled them to play leading parts within the party in The "leading part" played by Kamenev, Zinoviev and Stalin in will be dealt with in a later chapter. Suffice it just to recall that Kamenev and Zinoviev voted against the insurrection in Octoberand were denounced by Lenin as "strikebreakers" who should be expelled from the Party!
But let us first deal with the period under consideration. Deutscher's point about the "lack of political achievements" is quite true, but refers not only to Trotsky but to the whole revolutionary movement in the period of reaction.
How did things stand with the Bolsheviks at this time?
Leon Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution (part 1) | International Socialist Review
The onset of reaction produced a serious split in the leadership, in which Lenin found himself in a minority of one. The predominant mood among the Bolsheviks was ultra-left - a refusal to recognise that the revolution was in retreat. This tendency, the polar opposite of Menshevik liquidationism, manifested itself in ''Boycottism", i. Lenin's closest colleagues, Krassin, Bogdanov and Lunacharsky, broke away to the "left".
The latter two fell under the sway of philosophical mysticism, a further reflection of the mood of despair fostered by the reaction. The endless faction fights which rent the Social Democracy at this time provoked a reaction in the form of conciliationism, of which Trotsky became the main spokesman.
Conciliationism had its adherents in all the groups, the Bolsheviks included. InTrotsky succeeded in securing a meeting of the leaders of all the factions in an attempt to expel both liquidators and the "Boycotters" to keep the Party together: In the summer ofRosa Luxemburg wrote: Throughout the whole period - the whole of the famous "thirteen or fourteen years" - the prevailing view of the Party activists inside Russia was that the whole Bolshevik-Menshevik split was an unnecessary inconvenience, the product of the poisonous atmosphere of emigre squabbles.
The impression fostered by such people as Johnstone and Deutscher of a Bolshevik Party, united solidly behind the ideas of Lenin, marching steadfastly onwards to the October Revolution, is a mockery of history. Lenin himself, even from the earliest period, complains in his letters of the narrow outlook of the so-called "committee men", or Bolshevik agents in Russia.
His complaints become a steady stream of angry protests in the period of against the conduct of his own "supporters" in Russia. Maxim Gorky, who spent this period shuffling around the periphery of Bolshevism, bemoaned in his correspondence with Lenin the "squabbles among the generals" which were "repelling the workers" in Russia.
The attitude of the Bolshevik "committee men" to the controversies among the emigres is clearly expressed in a letter which was sent by a Bolshevik supporter in the Caucasus to comrades in Moscow: The attitude of the workers to the first bloc, as far as I know is favourable.
But in general the workers are beginning to look disdainfully at the emigration: That I think is for the best. This contemptuous attitude towards theory, towards the "emigre squabbles", the "storm in a tea cup" was widespread among Bolshevik activists, and provoked heated protests from Lenin, as in the letter, dated Aprilto Orjonikidze, Spandaryan and Stasova: It is a great mistake when people simply dismiss what goes on abroad and 'send it to hell.
The upsurge in the workers movement in Russia in gave fresh heart to the Marxists - and to conciliationist tendencies in the Party. The newly-founded Bolshevik paper Pravda reflected these moods. At the very time when Lenin was waging an all-out battle to separate, once and for all, the revolutionary wing of the Party from the opportunist, the very word 'liquidationism' disappeared from the pages of Pravda. Lenin's own articles were printed in a mutilated form, omitting all polemics against the liquidators; sometimes, they simply disappeared altogether.
Lenin's correspondence with Pravda graphically illustrates the state of affairs in Russia: In a letter, dated Octoberburning with indignation at the failure of Pravda to expose the liquidators, Lenin wrote: Pravda is carrying on now, at election time, like a sleepy old maid.
Pravda doesn't know how to fight. It does not attack, it does not persecute either the Cadet or the liquidator. In the elections ofsix Bolshevik deputies were elected from the workers' curiae. Lenin, from Poland, warned the six against falling under the influence of the Menshevik deputies: The six must come out with a very clear-cut protest, if they are being lorded over…" Instead the Bolshevik deputies formed a "united faction" with the "Siberians", which issued a joint proclamation - printed in Pravda - calling for the unity of all Social-Democrats and the merging of Pravda with the liquidationist journal Luch.
Together with Gorky, four of the Bolshevik deputies put their names forward as contributors to Luch. Lenin was furious; but his protests went unheeded.
In a final burst of exasperation Lenin wrote: We will not reply. They must be got rid of…We are exceedingly disturbed by the absence of news about the plan for reorganising the editorial board…Reorganisation, but better still, the complete expulsion of all the old timers, is extremely necessary. Things are now in a very bad way. The absence of a campaign for unity from below is stupid and despicable…Would you call such people editors? They are not men but pitiful dishrags and they are ruining the cause.
Truly, Lenin set about the task of the creation of a "stable, centralised and disciplined Marxist party" at this time. In order to build it, he was forced on more than one occasion to fight against the very apparatus he had struggled to build. The "Old Bolsheviks" in For a whole historical period - even more than "thirteen or fourteen years" - Lenin had attempted to educate a leadership, to instil into the cadres of Bolshevism the basic ideas, method and programme of Marxism.
Above all, he hammered home the need to keep the workers' movement free from the ideological contamination of bourgeois and petty bourgeois democracy. He emphasised repeatedly the absolute necessity of the movement retaining complete organisational independence from the parties of bourgeois democracy and from the opportunists who attempted to bring the movement under the wing of the bourgeoisie.
The absolute correctness of Lenin's stand was revealed inwhen the Mensheviks passed over to the camp of bourgeois democracy. What was the position of the "Old Bolsheviks" - of Kamenev, Zinoviev, Stalin and Lenin's other "faithful followers" in ? Every single one of them advocate support for the Kerensky Government, unity with the Mensheviks, that is, abandonment of the camp of Marxism for that of vulgar bourgeois democracy.
Of all the "Old Bolsheviks", whom Lenin had struggled to educate in the previous period, not one of them stood up to the decisive test of events. How was it possible for the leaders of the Bolshevik Party, the Party of Lenin, steeled in struggle, with a correct line from its inception into break at the decisive moment and go over to the side of opportunism?
From Monty Johnstone, the perplexed reader can expect no answer. Our "impartial", "scientific" historiographer knows of no such events!
The transition from February to October was evidently accomplished, quite painlessly, by the Bolsheviks "growing over" from the democratic revolution to the socialist: In glaring contradiction to everything Lenin had taught throughout the war, Pravda, which was under the editorship of Kamenev and Stalin, advocated the defence of the Bourgeois-democratic republic: This would not be a policy of peace, but a policy of slavery, which would be rejected with disgust by a free people.
Elsewhere Pravda editorials proclaimed: Our slogan is pressure on the Provisional Government with the aim of compelling it [!