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The role of trotsky in the russian revolution

Trotsky on the Russian Revolution Source: Brian Reid Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive 2008. You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. THE political struggle has a logic the role of trotsky in the russian revolution its own. A man may be an adept at walking the tight-rope.

He may strain every nerve in doing so, and be entirely successful in avoiding a fall either to one side of the arena or the other. But in the class struggle man cannot walk the tight rope. The more he tries, the more obvious it becomes that he is on one side and not the other. Something like this has happened to Trotsky in his History of the Russian Revolution. From the introduction onwards, when we learn Vol. I, page 16 that social-democratic i.

This makes his book of great value to those reformist leaders, particularly in the I. Trotsky quotes without a tremor the secret police report on the Bolsheviks just before the war. For a very good reason. During these same years Trotsky was bitterly fighting the Bolshevik policy and working frenziedly for the liquidation of their organisation.

This bitter fight went on from 1903 to 1913, in which latter year his attitude was well summed up in his own letter to the Menshevik leader, Chkheidze April, 1913: Lenin has made Pravda the implement of sectarian intrigue and unprincipled corruption. Lenin has the role of trotsky in the russian revolution play systematically at hide-and-seek with his readers, talking of unity from below and making a split above, representing conceptions of the class struggle in terms of sect and faction.

In short, the whole structure of Leninism to-day is built up on lies and distortions, and contains the poisonous seed of its own decay. It is essential to understand this. They hide from the workers—just as Trotsky does in his History—that the fighters have been schooled and inspired by the relentless fight of the German Communists in previous years.

So again when Trotsky comes to the revolution of March, 1917. It was expressed in the existence of no less than 15 sub-district committees, with live connections in scores of factories, and numerous illegal leaflets which called the strikes referred to Fleer: What are the facts?

The first strikes at some factories on February 23 may or may not have been started by members of the Bolshevik Party. But neither these nor the other strikes would have played the part they did but for the immense work of the Bolsheviks in the preparatory period—the 480 strikes at Petrograd with 500,000 participators between July, 1915, and December, 1916: And the immediate response came, not from the women textile workers as Trotsky alleges, but from one of the Bolshevik strongholds—the giant Putilov Works, 30,000 strong, where a stay-in strike on February 18 was countered with a threat of a general lockout on February 20.

The workers at mass meetings in the shops on February 21 refused to surrender, the state controlled management closed down the works on February 22, and 80,000 workers of Petrograd poured into the streets the next day in support of the Putilov Works.

The next day they were 200,000. Only much further on in the book pp. At long last, very cautiously, we learn in one sentence p. Of course, Trotsky makes great play with the wavering and confusion in the Bolshevik leadership, during the first month after the March Revolution, singling out Stalin in particular. These waverings have never been concealed by the Bolshevik Party.

It is amusing, however, to see Trotsky attacking Stalin for his shortlived advocacy in March, 1917, of a union of Bolsheviks and internationalist Mensheviks p.

  • Trotsky was a crucial figure for almost the entirety of the revolution;
  • Half a page, with a declaration of his own, favouring fusion, quoted from Pravda, is, he thinks, quite enough Vol;
  • Thus Trotsky played a crucial role in keeping the Bolshevik regime alive;
  • By 1921, the civil war had been won and it was assumed that Trotsky would be the logical successor to Lenin who by now was suffering from ill-health.

And in the present volume itself. Trotsky gives every kind of psychological explanation of Menshevism except that of bourgeois elements in the ranks of the proletariat pp. Trotsky actually declares, in black and white p. The lordly Trotsky, as ever, knows only leaders: One curious detail of this policy of never representing the Party as something vertebrate, alive, fighting and radiating energy: Trotsky even contrives to suggest that the enormous growth of the Party in membership and influence, from 12,000 in March to 240,000 in September, was something spontaneous.

If the phrase had occurred once or twice there would have been no special meaning in it, but repeated so persistently, and in the light of all that goes before, its special meaning is unmistakable. Trotsky implies that the Bolsheviks were not a fighting organisation, alive at every point from Lenin to the remotest cell, which battled for its new members and won them from the enemy, but a revolutionary shadow which the enlightened workers at a certain stage coinciding, so it happens, with the time when Trotsky at last came in were good enough to clothe in flesh and blood.

The history of the Bolshevik Party, in other words, began in 1917. The truth is the very opposite, as every factory in Leningrad could tell: The measures which the Kerensky Government took against the militant workers, on that occasion, opened a new and decisive the role of trotsky in the russian revolution in the history of the Revolution.

Again and again this theme recurs, like a haunting refrain. The masses did feel that the Party was irresolute p. The Bolsheviks were caught up by the movement and dragged into it p. The workers and soldiers had not yet acquired the conviction that they ought to come out only upon the summons of the Party and under its leadership. The experiences of February and April had taught them rather the opposite p. From their mighty mass movement the political axis had been torn out p. The political contradictions involved in this tangle of sham analysis are innumerable.

Experience in other lands the German Communists in 1923, for exampleteaches that, if a revolutionary party at critical times lags behind the masses for a few weeks, let alone months, it forfeits their confidence for years to come. On the contrary, he suddenly makes a somersault and announces, in imitation of Lenin p.

The difference between the Bolshevik Party and the Trotskyist understanding of the masses was never clearer, by the way, than on this point. The front and the provinces needed time to make their own inferences from the adventure of the offensive.

Role in Soviet government

The Petrograd workers and soldiers had to test the situation with their own experience. Whereas Lenin—while agreeing that the situation in any case was not ripe for an insurrection—points out that the main point is quite a different one: Then it was possible peacefully, without civil war, for then there were not the systematic acts of violence against the people, introduced after July 4.

After July 4, the transference of power to the Soviets became impossible without civil war, since power from July 4-5 passed to the military Bonapartist clique, supported by the Cadets and Black Hundreds. On the contrary, Trotsky makes it quite clear in another connection that he does not agree with this estimate of July 4. That Lenin had already most inconveniently replied in advance to this very point—the Tsar was also in power after the crushing of the Bolshevik—led insurrection of December, 1905, but it took him two general elections before he felt strong enough to re-establish the full dictatorship—is of course of no consequence to Trotsky.

Why is it of consequence to us, however?

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Lenin said that, owing to lack of organisation and class consciousness among the workers and peasants, which the Mensheviks made worse, the Soviet power was surrendering its authority to the capitalists Works, Vol. XX, Part i, p. That is quite natural. Why should Trotsky blur over this fact? Because it confirmed the Bolshevik conception which Trotsky had fought against for years. Half a page, with a declaration of his own, favouring fusion, quoted from Pravda, is, he thinks, quite enough Vol.

For a simple reason revealed in the Review of the Lenin Institute No. Moreover, as late as the end of June, Trotsky was still paternally reproving in strangely familiar terms! Trotsky hides the facts about his own hankering after some bridge between opportunism and revolution—right up to the point when opportunism called in military dictatorship against the masses—for exactly the same reason that he does all in his power to belittle and discredit the revolutionary party, up to the moment he vouchsafed to confer his adherence upon it.

To many people it may seem strange that one who played a not inconsiderable part in one stage of the revolution—from 1917 to 1923, should descend to counter-revolution. But the history of every revolution knows such cases.