I’ve been wanting to do a comprehensive comparison of Trotsky’s theories and views held by him, to the theoretical contributions of Lenin and the views held by him. I’m also going to be occasionally referring to Stalin’s role and what his views were but because of time constraints I’ll be focusing on Lenin and Trotsky.
So in the end we’ll hopefully come to a clearer understanding of where Trotsky, Lenin and Stalin fit in the Russian revolution and the fight for socialism in general.
Basically my motivation for this is that there is this seemingly endless debate between Trotskyists and Marxist-Leninists. Trotskyists claiming that Lenin agreed with Trotsky’s theories, that Trotsky was the co-leader of the revolution and the rightful successor of Lenin and that Stalin betrayed the revolution and that Stalin and Lenin were politically radically different. I completely reject all of that and I’ll give you the reasons why.
In my view Trotsky was just a semi-menshevik opportunist who wormed his way into the party by pretending to have changed his ways and accepted Leninism in late 1917, he had no special role in the revolution but never the less fought well for a brief period of time just like many anarchists, Left-Socialist Revolutionaries and many other non-bolsheviks did until he then once again began waging war against Leninism and the Bolshevik party. Stalin was actually the true follower of Lenin in theory and practice and Lenin actually didn’t really agree with any of Trotsky’s “original” theories and instead the theoretical views and policies put forward by Stalin much more closely reflected Lenin’s views and most of all were in line with Leninism.
Obviously I’m going to have to back up what I’ve said with evidence.
I’ve divided this into multiple sections based on theories and important historical events. There wont be nitpicking here, all of these are major events or major theoretical issues.
I could have taken a more polemical approach and only focused on the most juicy details but I decided I wanted to cover as much as I can so that I won’t have to respond to Trotskyists bringing up something I left out. Also I apologize in advance that this is going to contain a lot of quotations and some of them quite lengthy but in order to truly make my case and not to leave any room for interpretation or speculation I just had to include them.
We’ll start with history of the Party:
The Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party and the two factions(Mensheviks and Bolsheviks)(1903-1904)
The revolution of 1905
Party Struggles of 1908-1917 (“Otzovism”, “Liquidationism” And The “August Bloc”)
The preparation to October and the October Revolution(1917)
The Foreign Interventionist Civil War(1918-1920)
The New Economic Policy(NEP) and The Trade Union Debate(1920-1921)
Then we’ll go over theoretical issues:
“Socialism In One Country”
Lenin’s Testament & misc.
And then we’ll have a conclusion.
Anyway let’s get on with it. As I said we begin with history:
1. Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party and the two factions (Mensheviks and Bolsheviks)(1903-1904)
The Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party(RSDLP) was founded in 1883. Lenin moved to St. Petersburg in 1893 and became a prominent figure in the party. At this time he had been waging struggle against Narodism and other non-marxist socialist tendencies. The RSDLP had a marxist program although revisionist factions would arise in it. I’m not going to go into all of them because many of them don’t have much to do with the question at hand.
Stalin joins the RSDLP in August 1898 at the age of 20. He hears about the Menshevik Bolshevik split in 1903. He manages to escape from Siberia where he was held in detention suspected of running a Revolutionary newspaper in Tifilis, and joins the Bolshevik faction of Lenin in 1904.
At this time Trotsky had just joined the editorial board of Iskra, a newspaper founded by Lenin. When the split happens he repays Lenin by siding with the Mensheviks.
The pre-split Iskra managed by Lenin is known as the “Old Iskra” and the post-split Iskra managed by Plekhanov who had at this point become a revisionist Menshevik is known as the “New Iskra”. In short the “Old Iskra” was an organ of revolutionary Marxism while the “New Iskra” was an organ of Menshevik opportunism.
Lenin argues for a smaller, well disciplined revolutionary vanguard party while the Mensheviks argue for a large less organized and less disciplined party. Stalin joins the Bolsheviks immediately but Trotsky joins the Mensheviks. Eventually Trotsky changes his position when the Mensheviks wish to openly ally with Russian liberals (Cadets) and instead chooses to refer to himself as a “non-factionalist”. In fact he was a Menshevik and even later in a faction of Left-Mensheviks called “The RSDLP(internationalists)” which opposed the Bolsheviks. He also went back and forth supporting the Mensheviks or some other non-Bolshevik group.
“Trotsky, however, possesses no ideological and political definiteness, for his patent for “non-factionalism”, as we shall soon see in greater detail, is merely a patent to flit freely to and fro, from one group to another.”
“Trotsky’s “non-factionalism” is, actually, splitting tactics”
“Under cover of “non-factionalism” Trotsky is championing the interests of a group abroad which particularly lacks definite principles, and has no basis in the working-class movement in Russia”
” Trotsky was an ardent Iskrist in 1901—03, and Ryazanov described his role at the Congress of 1903 as “Lenin’s cudgel”. At the end of 1903, Trotsky was an ardent Menshevik, i. e., he deserted from the Iskrists to the Economists. He said that “between the old Iskra and the new lies a gulf”. In 1904—05, he deserted the Mensheviks and occupied a vacillating position, now co-operating with Martynov . . . In 1906—07, he approached the Bolsheviks, and in the spring of 1907 he declared that he was in agreement with Rosa Luxemburg.”
(Disruption of Unity Under Cover of Outcries for Unity – V.I. Lenin)
2. The Revolution Of 1905
Supporters of Trotskyism often speak of Trotsky’s pivotal role in the 1905 revolution because he was the chairman of the Petersburg Menshevik soviet at the time.
At the time Lenin and Bolsheviks were organizing uprisings in Moscow and the Caucasus which Trotsky and the Mensheviks condemned.
“While Trotsky made theatrical speeches in Petersburg, the Bolsheviks organised the uprising in Moscow and the Caucasus, the two most important revolutionary events of the 1905 Revolution. The Mensheviks, including Trotsky, condemned the Moscow uprising and bitterly attacked the Bolsheviks at the time.” [Stalin: Slander and Truth (C. Allen), A review of Isaac Deutscher’s Biography of Stalin]
“Mr. Deutscher writes:”The Soviet (the St. Petersburg Soviet led by the Menshevik Trotsky ~ C. A.) called on the country to stop paying taxes to the Tsar.” This he calls the great “revolutionary heroism” of Trotsky. It may surprise Mr. Deutscher that even the Cadets in their Viborg Manifesto called on the people not to pay taxes to the Tsar. But the real revolutionaries were the Bolsheviks who organised the military uprising in Moscow. They were attacked from all sides, and not least by Trotsky.”
(C. Allen, Stalin: Slander and Truth, A review of Isaac Deutscher’s Biography of Stalin)
3. Party Struggles of 1908-1917 (“Otzovism”, “Liquidationism” And The “August Bloc”)
After the failure of the 1905 revolution the Bolshevik and Menshevik factions continue to separate. Eventually they emerge as fully separate parties, the RSDLP(B) and the RSDLP(M).
The Bolsheviks lead by Lenin hold a congress in Prague in 1912 and expelled the Mensheviks from their group. In response to this Trotsky and his followers, the Jewish bund and other Menshevik groups hold a congress in Vienna and attack Lenin’s actions as illegal. They join together to form the infamous “August Bloc”.
There were two main trends opposed to Bolshevism and Leninism at the time. Otzovism and Liquidationism.
The Otzovists were a group who wanted to boycott the Russian state Duma and abandon all legal work in the RSDLP.
The Liquidationists on the other hand wanted to ‘liquidate’ the underground party apparatus and only focus on the legal means of struggle. Obviously both of these tendencies were opportunist to the core.
These two joined together with the Trotskyists and the erroneous Jewish Labor Bund to form the “August Bloc” which claimed to be preserving party unity by working together with all the various splitter factions against Leninism.
Allow me to quote Lenin in his article “The Break-Up of the “August” Bloc”:
“All who are interested in the working-class movement and Marxism in Russia know that a bloc of the liquidators, Trotsky, the Letts, the Bundists and the Caucasians was formed in August 1912. “
“The August bloc—as we said at the time, in August 1912—turned out to be a mere screen for the liquidators. “
“The liquidators do have their own physiognomy, a liberal, not a Marxist one “
“Trotsky, however, has never had any “physiognomy” at all; the only thing he does have is a habit of changing sides, of skipping from the liberals to the Marxists and back again, of mouthing scraps of catchwords and bombastic parrot phrases. “
“Trotsky assures us that he is in favour of combining immediate demands with ultimate aims, but there is not a word as to his attitude towards the liquidator method of effecting this “combination”!
Actually, under cover of high-sounding, empty, and obscure phrases that confuse the non-class-conscious workers, Trotsky is defending the liquidators by passing over in silence the question of the “underground”, by asserting that there is no liberal-labour policy in Russia, and the like.”
“And these near-Party people, who are unable to unite on their own “August” platform, try to deceive the workers with their shouts about “unity”! Vain efforts!
Unity means recognising the “old” and combating those who repudiate it. Unity means rallying the majority of the workers in Russia about decisions which have long been known, and which condemn liquidationism. Unity means that members of the Duma must work in harmony with the will of the majority of the workers, which the six workers’ deputies are doing.
But the liquidators and Trotsky, the Seven and Trotsky, who tore up their own August bloc, who flouted all the decisions of the Party and dissociated themselves from the “underground” as well as from the organised workers, are the worst splitters. Fortunately, the workers have already realised this, and all class-conscious workers are creating their own real unity against the liquidator disruptors of unity.”
And in his Article “From the Camp of the Stolypin “Labour”” Published in 1911 right before the formation of the August bloc. This is what Lenin had to say about Stalin’s work against the “conciliators” who later formed the August bloc:
“The correspondence of Comrade K. (Koba, and older pseudonym used by Stalin) deserves the profound attention of all who treasure our party. A better exposure of the Golos policy (and of Golos diplomacy), a better refutation of the views and hopes of our conciliators and compromisers it is hard to imagine.”
And now Lenin himself on the conciliators:
“Compare this fact with the methods employed by people like Trotsky, who shout about “agreement” and about their hostility to the liquidators. We know these methods only too well; these people shout at the top of their voices that they are “neither Bolsheviks nor Mensheviks, but revolutionary Social-Democrats”; they zealously vow and swear that they are foes of liquidationism”
Clearly Trotsky and his followers were not such ardent foes of liquidationism after all since they joined forces with them in the August Bloc.
“Henceit is clear that Trotsky and the “Trotskyites and conciliators” like him are more pernicious than any liquidator; the convinced liquidators state their views bluntly, and it is easy for the workers to detect where they are wrong, whereas the Trotskys deceive the workers,cover up the evil, and make it impossible to expose the evil and to remedy it. Whoever supports Trotsky’s puny group supports a policy of lying and of deceiving the workers, a policy of shielding the liquidators. Full freedom of action for Potresov and Co. in Russia, and the shielding of their deeds by “revolutionary” phrase-mongering abroad—there you have the essence of the policy of “Trotskyism””
“At present Trotsky, together with Bundists like Mr. Lieber (an extreme liquidator, who publicly defended Mr. Potresov in his lectures and who now, in order to hush up the fact, is stirring up squabbles and conflicts), together with Letts like Schwartz,and so on, is concocting just such an “agreement” with the Golos group. Let nobody be deceived on this score: their agreement will be an agreement to shield the liquidators.”
And of course the formation of the August Bloc proved Lenin’s assessment to be completely correct.
This is what Lenin wrote pertaining to Trotsky’s actions in the 1911 Central Committee meeting:
“At the Plenary Meeting Judas Trotsky made a big show of fighting liquidationism and otzovism. He vowed and swore that he was true to the Party.
He was given a subsidy.
After the Meeting the Central Committee grew weaker, the Vperyod group grew stronger and acquired funds. The liquidators strengthened their position and in Nasha Zarya spat in the face of the illegal Party, before Stolypin’s very eyes. Judas expelled the representative of the Central Committee from Pravda and began to write liquidationist articles in Vorwärts. In defiance of the direct decision of the School Commission appointed by the Plenary Meeting to the effect that no Party lecturer may go to the Vperyod factional school, Judas Trotsky did go and discussed a plan for a conference with the Vperyod group. This plan has now been published by the Vperyod group in a leaflet. And it is this Judas who beats his breast and loudly professes his loyalty to the Party, claiming that he did not grovel before the Vperyod group and the liquidators. Such is Judas Trotsky’s blush of shame.” (Judas Trotsky’s Blush of Shame, Lenin)
4. Preparation To October and The October Revolution
During the February revolution Trotsky was living in New York. He arrived back in Russia in May and joined the Mezharaiontsy, a centrist conciliationist faction claiming to be between Bolshevism and Menshevism. After a failed uprising in Petrograd he was taken in jail. He was released 40 days later, after the so-called ‘Kornilov affair’.
The Bolsheviks gained the majority in the Petrograd soviet at which time Trotsky, ideologically defeated and without a substantial group of his own decided it was time to join the Bolsheviks. He was allowed into the party by the 6th Party Congress, presided over by J.V. Stalin on behalf of V.I. Lenin who was underground. To me its very doubtful he suddenly changed all of his positions to coincide with Bolshevism within this short period considering this is what he had said just two months earlier:
“I cannot be called a Bolshevik… We must not be demanded to recognise Bolshevism.” (Leon Trotsky, Mezhrayontsi conference, May 1917, quoted in Lenin, Miscellany IV, Russ. ed., 1925, p. 303.)
What mysterious revelation did he have within this short prison term?
Later Trotsky was again elected the Chairman of the Petrograd-soviet but not however elected to the practical center of the revolution about to come.
Much like in the case of the 1905 revolution Trotskyists claim that Trotsky played some kind of special pivotal role. Some even go as far as to say he was the “co-leader” of the revolution. Heck, some of them like Isaac Deutscher even say he was the sole leader.
In reality he was just the Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet and under the direct leadership of the Central Committee and the Revolutionary Military Committee.
C. Allen explains this quite well in response to Deutscher’s book about Stalin:
“All the time Deutscher tries to belittle Stalin’s role in the October Revolution: “In the days of the upheaval Stalin was not among its main actors” (p. 166).
According to Deutscher, not only was Stalin not prominent in the October uprising, but he goes on to slander the whole of the Party: “This was the result of the ineffectiveness of the Central Committee” (p. 167).
If the Central Committee of the Bolsheviks showed such “ineffectiveness”, who, then, led the insurrection? Mr. Deutscher knows only one person: Trotsky. “Trotsky, who as President of the Soviet, dominated all its activity…. Trotsky—all the threads of the insurrection were now in his hands” (p. 161).
Even Lenin’s role is mocked at. “In the light of the actual rising his (Lenin’s, ~C. A.) first sketch looks like a somewhat naive essay in adventure” (p. 158).
Now let us look at some facts. Trotsky himself joined the Bolsheviks in July 1917. What happened to the Party up to that date, to the Party that led successfully the October Revolution? During the first imperialist war, between July 1915 and December 1916, the Party organised 480 strikes in Petrograd alone, with 500,000 participants. On February 14, 1917, the Bolsheviks organised the stay-in strike at the Putilov Works, with 30,000 participants. During January and February 1917 the Bolsheviks led 575,000 strikers. In Petrograd, early in 1917, there were no less than fifteen sub-district committees of the Party.
Who led all this work and built the committees and cells? People like Stalin, Sverdlov, Kalinin, Molotov and others, whilst Trotsky was a regular visitor to New York cafes and a constant contributor to Menshevik papers…
It is important to note that Lenin had the following to say about Trotsky in February 1917:
“Trotsky arrived, and this scoundrel at once came to an understanding with the Right-wing of Novy Mir against the Left Zimmerwaldians! Just so! That is just like Trotsky! He is always equal to himself—twists, swindles, poses as a Left, helps the Right, so long as he can.” (Lenin to Inessa Armand, Labour Monthly, September 1949).
…Deutscher’s picture that Trotsky solely led the insurrection can now be considered ludicrous. In a highly organised and centralised Party like the Bolsheviks, Trotsky, whatever he did during October, could only carry out the wishes and orders from the Central Committee of the Party.”
Allen correctly points out the important role of Stalin, Kalinin, Sverdlov and others.
The people elected to leadership of the Petrograd Revolutionary Military Committee were the following:
Pavel Lazimir, Joseph Stalin , Andrei Bubnov, Moisei Uritsky, Yakov Sverdlov and Felix Dzerzhinsky. No Trotsky.
This is what Lenin had to say to Alexandra Kollontai referring to the same instance as in his letter to Armand:
“What a swine this Trotsky is—Left phrases, and a bloc with the Right against the Zimmerwald Left!! He ought to be exposed (by you) if only in a brief letter to Sotsial-Demokrat!”
“One of the great weapons in organising the insurrection was Pravda, led and edited by Stalin. The paper gave the Party message to hundreds of thousands of workers, and led the masses. In the beginning of 1917 there were 23,600 members in the Party. By August 1917 there were 200,000. The Central Committee and Pravda played the key role in mobilizing the militant workers and soldiers into the Bolshevik Party. Trotsky had nothing to do with that.
On the eve of the Insurrection the C.C. of the Bolsheviks elected the first political bureau to lead the Revolution composed of Lenin, Stalin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Trotsky, Sokolnikov, and Bubnov. A Military Revolutionary Committee was elected on October 29 to direct the insurrection, and it was composed of Stalin, Sverdlov, Bubnov, Dzherzhinsky, and Uritsky. Trotsky as chairman of the Petrograd Soviet did, and spoke, what the Military Revolutionary Committee and the Political Bureau decided.
Let it be borne in mind that when the first Soviet Government was formed, Trotsky was assigned to the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs and not to any of the Defence Commissariats. On the other hand we find Stalin, at the side of Lenin, directing the orders to General Dukhonin, the Chief of Staff of Kerensky, and ordering the general’s dismissal. Stalin is the only Commissar at the time, who in addition to being a Commissar of a special department (Nationalities) was assigned many responsible positions, either at the front, or in organising a Party Congress, or putting matters right in the Ukraine or Georgia. From these assignments Lenin learned of his great military abilities.
This is the reason for Stalin’s outstanding role during the Civil War. Deutscher, as usual, distorts completely his role, and attributes victories of Stalin to Trotsky. Thus the famous Tsaritsyn victory is ascribed to Trotsky! Stalin, though not Commissar of War, was given by Lenin and the Soviet Government plenary powers to take decisions without consulting with Trotsky, the then Commissar of War.”
Trotsky had no ‘special’ role in the uprising which was even sufficiently pointed out by Stalin at the time:
“I am far from denying Trotsky’s undoubtedly important role in the uprising. I must say, however, that Trotsky did not play any special role in the October uprising, nor could he do so; being chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, he merely carried out the will of the appropriate Party bodies, which directed every step that Trotsky took…the true facts, wholly and fully confirm what I say.
Let us take the minutes of the next meeting of the Central Committee, the one held on October 16 (29), 1917…The question of the uprising was discussed from the purely practical-organisational aspect. Lenin’s resolution on the uprising was adopted by a majority of 20 against 2, three abstaining. A practical centre was elected for the organisational leadership of the uprising. Who was elected to this centre? The following five: Sverdlov, Stalin, Dzerzhinsky, Bubnov, Uritsky. The functions of the practical centre: to direct all the practical organs of the uprising in conformity with the directives of the Central Committee. Thus, as you see, something “terrible” happened at this meeting of the Central Committee, i.e., “strange to relate,” the “inspirer,” the “chief figure,” the “sole leader” of the uprising, Trotsky, was not elected to the practical centre, which was called upon to direct the uprising. How is this to be reconciled with the current opinion about Trotsky’s special role?…This talk about Trotsky’s special role is a legend that is being spread by obliging “Party” gossips.” (Trotskyism Or Leninism? by J.V. Stalin)
“On the instructions of the Central Committee of the Party, a Revolutionary Military Committee of the Petrograd Soviet was set up. This body became the legally functioning headquarters of the uprising… On October 16 an enlarged meeting of the Central Committee of the Party was held. This meeting elected a Party Centre, headed by Comrade Stalin, to direct the uprising. This Party Centre was the leading core of the Revolutionary Military Committee of the Petrograd Soviet and had practical direction of the whole uprising.”
~History of The Communist Party of The Soviet Union(Bolsheviks)
“The meeting fully welcomes and fully supports the resolution of the Central Committee and calls upon all organisations and on workers and soldiers to make all-round, energetic preparations for an armed uprising and to support the centre set up for that purpose by the Central Committee”
(Lenin, Meeting of the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.) October 16 (29), 1917)
5. Foreign Interventionist Civil War
It is often claimed by Trotskyists that Trotsky played some incredible role in the civil war. That he was in this way the leader of the revolution. Let’s examine.
It cannot be denied that Trotsky’s role was important or that in general he was in agreement with Lenin in terms of military issues but he was hardly perfect. In fact he made quite considerable mistakes and despite generally being more in agreement with Lenin on this issue then perhaps any other issue, they still had significant disagreements.
One of the main blunders of Trotsky which also caused him to fall out of favor was his inability to deal with the white generals Kolchak and Dennikin who were defeated despite of him.
Stalin explains this very concisely:
“Among these legends must be included also the very widespread story that Trotsky was the “sole” or “chief organiser” of the victories on the fronts of the civil war. I must declare, comrades, in the interest of truth, that this version is quite out of accord with the facts. I am far from denying that Trotsky played an important role in the civil war. But I must emphatically declare that the high honour of being the organiser of our victories belongs not to individuals, but to the great collective body of advanced workers in our country, the Russian Communist Party.
Perhaps it will not be out of place to quote a few examples. You know that Kolchak and Denikin were regarded as the principal enemies of the Soviet Republic. You know that our country breathed freely only after those enemies were defeated. Well, history shows that both those enemies, i.e., Kolchak and Denikin, were routed by our troops in spite of Trotsky’s plans.
Judge for yourselves.
…Our troops are advancing against Kolchak and are operating near Ufa. A meeting of the Central Committee is held. Trotsky proposes that the advance be halted…The Central Committee disagrees with Trotsky…The Central Committee rejects Trotsky’s plan. Trotsky hands in his resignation. The Central Committee refuses to accept it. Commander-in-Chief Vatsetis, who supported Trotsky’s plan, resigns. His place is taken by a new Commander-in-Chief, Kamenev. From that moment Trotsky ceases to take a direct part in the affairs of the Eastern Front
The offensive against Denikin is not proceeding successfully…Trotsky is summoned from the Southern Front to attend a meeting of the Central Committee. The Central Committee regards the situation as alarming and decides to send new military leaders to the Southern Front and to withdraw Trotsky…Trotsky ceases to take a direct part in the affairs of the Southern Front…
Let anybody try to refute these facts.” (Trotskyism Or Leninism? by J.V. Stalin)
This should be enough to dispel any ideas about Trotsky’s infallibility in military matters. However we don’t need to dwell on this further, as military strategy is not our main concern.
Lastly I want to discuss the question of the Brest-Litovsk Peace. Unlike disagreement purely in matters of military strategy this is a major political and theoretical issue.
Lenin argued that the Soviet State simply had to sign a peace-treaty with Germany in order to survive. The Soviet State had no army to fight with and was war weary. They simply couldn’t fight against Germany, it was not reasonable to risk the revolution. The Russian bourgeois on the other hand would have liked nothing better then an all out war between the Soviet Union and Germany
The left-communists led by Bukharin refused to accept these facts and advocated for a “revolutionary war”.
Trotsky realized that the red army wasn’t able to fight but refused to accept peace with Imperial Germany. He was convinced the German worker’s would rebel and therefore was prepared to risk the Soviet republic advocating for a slogan of “no war – no peace”.
Lenin’s position received 7 votes, Bukharin and Trotsky both received 4. The negotiations were delayed as long as possible but eventually a peace had to be signed although Lenin had argued for an immediate peace. On 18 February 1918 the German army launched a renewed attack on the Soviets. Following his erroneous policy of “no war – no peace” Trotsky refused to accept peace and yet observed a unilateral and complete seize fire against the German advance. However the peace had to be signed.
“I wrote that if we refuse to sign the proposed peace, “very heavy defeats will compel Russia to conclude a still more unfavourable separate peace”. Things have turned out still worse, for our army, which is retreating and demobilising, is refusing to fight at all.”
(Lenin, “Strange And Monstrous”)
“The bitter truth has now revealed itself with such terrible clarity that it is impossible not to see it. The entire bourgeoisie in Russia is rejoicing and gloating over the arrival of the Germans. Only those who are blind or intoxicated by phrases can close their eyes to the fact that the policy of a revolutionary war (without an army …) brings grist to the mill of our bourgeoisie. In Dvinsk, Russian officers are already going about wearing their shoulder-straps.
In Rezhitsa, the bourgeoisie exultantly welcomed the Germans. In Petrograd, on Nevsky Prospekt, and in bourgeois newspapers (Rech, Dyelo Naroda, Novy Luch, etc.), they are licking their lips with delight at the impending overthrow of Soviet power by the Germans.
Let everyone know: he who is against an immediate, even though extremely onerous peace, is endangering Soviet power”
(Lenin, Peace or War?)
Although Trotsky didn’t outright admit it, he was actually willing to sacrifice the Soviet Union for the sake of the German revolution like the Left-Communists did:
“In the interests of the world revolution, we consider it expedient to accept the possibility of losing Soviet power” (Lenin quoting the Left-Communists resolution in his article “Strange And Monstrous”)
Trotsky refused to obey orders, refused to sign the treaty and was forced to resign as Comissar For Foreign Affairs.
6. The ‘New Economic Policy'(NEP) and the Trade Union debate
At the end of the foreign interventionist civil war it became necessary to determine the best way to quickly revitalize the national economy which was completely devastated by war. Two views emerged:
1. Lenin’s view, arguing for what he called the The New Economic Policy (NEP) which meant moving away from strict war-communism which existed during the civil war and ending the complete grain expropriation by the state and introducing a partial grain market as well as developing foreign trade, attracting foreign investment and using economic incentives to revive the ruined economy, end the grain and goods famine and simultaneously while the small peasant production was revitalizing move towards state-capitalism with large modern production. Lenin realized that backwardness and small production were the biggest obstacles to socialism and that state capitalism would be the necessary intermediary step for Russia to survive and develop socialism.
“Socialism is inconceivable without large-scale capitalist engineering based on the latest discoveries of modern science. It is inconceivable without planned state organisation which keeps tens of millions of people to the strictest observance of a unified standard in production and distribution. We Marxists have always spoken of this, and it is not worth while wasting two seconds talking to people who do not understand even this (anarchists and a good half of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries).”
(Lenin, The Tax In Kind (The Significance Of The New Policy And Its Conditions))
“Try to substitute for the Junker-capitalist state, for the landowner-capitalist state, a revolutionary-democratic state, i.e., a state which in a revolutionary way abolishes all privileges and does not fear to introduce the fullest democracy in a revolutionary way. You will find that, given a really revolutionary-democratic state, state-monopoly capitalism inevitably and unavoidably implies a step . . . towards socialism. . . .
“For socialism is merely the next step forward from state-capitalist monopoly. . . .
“State-monopoly capitalism is a complete material preparation for socialism, the threshold of socialism, a rung on the ladder of history between which and the rung called socialism there are no intermediate rungs”
(Lenin, The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It)
2. The Trotskyist view arguing for preserving of war-communism in time of peace and in some instances even tightening it’s control
“Early in 1920, Lenin came out firmly against my proposal. It was rejected in the Central Committee by a vote of eleven to four…I demanded that the “war” methods be applied properly and with system”
(Trotsky, My Life, Chapter XXXVIII)
The question of NEP gave rise to another debate, a debate about the role of the trade unions. Here also Lenin and Trotsky were at odds. Trotsky held on to his support of “war-communism” and as a result of that proposed that military methods of organizing should be used in peace times as well and in civilian institutions, the trade unions. Trotsky was in charge of the Transport Worker’s Union Tsektran.
“The principles of war communism approved by the ninth congress were the basis of my work in the organization of transport. The trade-union of railway men was closely bound to the administrative machinery of the department. The methods of military discipline were extended to the entire transport system. I brought the military administration, the strongest and best disciplined at that time, into close connection with the transport administration”
(Trotsky, My Life, Chapter XXXVIII)
Trotsky’s view was that methods of coercion should be emphasized in trade union work and a military-like discipline maintained. Trade unions should be swallowed by the state:
“In the system of war communism in which all the resources are, at least in principle, nationalized and distributed by government order, I saw no independent role for trades-unions.”
Trotsky goes as far as to call Lenin a Kautskyite-Menshevike. This is certainly very classy coming from a long time Menshevike like Trotsky himself. Note that the tone is not exactly conciliatory despite how much Trotsky afterwards tried to whitewash the issue.
“The bare contrasting of military methods (orders, punishment) with trade-union methods (explanation, propaganda, independent activity) is a manifestation of Kautskian-Menshevik-Socialist-Revolutionary prejudices. . . . The very contrasting of labour organisations with military organisation in a workers’ state is shameful surrender to Kautskyism.”
(Trotsky, “The Role And The Tasks Of The Trade Unions”)
Trotsky had a whole host of erroneous views on the subject. Lenin made short work of him:
“My principal material is Comrade Trotsky’s pamphlet, The Role and Tasks of the Trade Unions. When I compare it with the theses he submitted to the Central Committee, and go over it very carefully, I am amazed at the number of theoretical mistakes and glaring blunders it contains. How could anyone starting a big Party discussion on this question produce such a sorry excuse for a carefully thought out statement? Let me go over the main points which, I think, contain the original fundamental theoretical errors.
Trade unions are not just historically necessary; they are historically inevitable as an organisation of the industrial proletariat, and, under the dictatorship of the proletariat, embrace nearly the whole of it. This is basic, but Comrade Trotsky keeps forgetting it; he neither appreciates it nor makes it his point of departure”
(Lenin, The Trade Unions, The Present Situation And Trotsky’s Mistakes)
“Trotsky quotes the perfectly clear statements of Lozovsky and Tomsky, who were to be his “whipping boys” and an excuse for an exercise in polemics. It turns out that there is, after all, no clash of principle, and the choice of Tomsky and Lozovsky, who wrote what Trotsky himself quotes, was an unfortunate one indeed. However hard we may look, we shall not find here any serious divergence of principle. In general, Comrade Trotsky’s great mistake, his mistake of principle, lies in the fact that by raising the question of “principle” at this time he is dragging back the Party and the Soviet power. We have, thank heaven, done with principles and have gone on to practical business. We chatted about principles—rather more than we should have—at the Smolny. Today, three years later, we have decrees on all points of the production problem, and on many of its components; but such is the sad fate of our decrees: they are signed, and then we ourselves forget about them and fail to carry them out. Meanwhile, arguments about principles and differences of principle are invented.”
(Lenin, Once Again On The Trade Unions, – The Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Buhkarin)
“Let me say this again: the actual differences do not lie where Comrade Trotsky sees them but in the question of how to approach the mass, win it over, and keep in touch with it. I must say that had we made a detailed, even if small-scale, study of our own experience and practices, we should have managed to avoid the hundreds of quite unnecessary “differences” and errors of principle in which Comrade Trotsky’s pamphlet abounds. ”
Once again Trotsky demonstrates his disregard for the peasantry
“While betraying this lack of thoughtfulness, Comrade Trotsky falls into error himself. He seems to say that in a workers’ state it is not the business of the trade unions to stand up for the material and spiritual interests of the working class. That is a mistake. Comrade Trotsky speaks of a “workers’ state”. May I say that this is an abstraction. It was natural for us to write about a workers’ state in 1917; but it is now a patent error to say: “Since this is a workers’ state without any bourgeoisie, against whom then is the working class to be protected, and for what purpose?” The whole point is that it is not quite a workers’ state. That is where Comrade Trotsky makes one of his main mistakes. We have got down from general principles to practical discussion and decrees, and here we are being dragged back and prevented from tackling the business at hand. This will not do. For one thing, ours is not actually a workers’ state but a workers’ and peasants’ state. And a lot depends on that. (Bukharin: “What kind of state? A workers’ and peasants’ state?”) Comrade Bukharin back there may well shout “What kind of state? A workers’ and peasants’ state?” I shall not stop to answer him. Anyone who has a mind to should recall the recent Congress of Soviets,and that will be answer enough. ”
“And so if we are to raise this question of priority and equalisation we must first of all give it some careful thought, but that is just what we fail to find in Comrade Trotsky’s work; the further he goes in revising his original theses, the more mistakes he makes. Here is what we find in his latest theses:
“The equalisation line should be pursued in the sphere of consumption, that is, the conditions of the working people’s existence as individuals. In the sphere of production, the principle of priority will long remain decisive for us”. . . (thesis 41, p. 31 of Trotsky’s pamphlet).
This is a real theoretical muddle.”
“If we analysed the current political situation, we might say that we were going through a transition period within a transition period. The whole of the dictatorship of the proletariat is a transition period, but we now have, you might say, a heap of new transition periods: the demobilisation of the army, the end of the war, the possibility of having a much longer breathing space in peace than before, and a more solid transition from the war front to the labour front. This—and this alone—is causing a change in the attitude of the proletarian class to the peasant class. What kind of change is it? Now this calls for a close examination, but nothing of the sort follows from your theses. Until we have taken this close look, we must learn to wait. The people are overweary, considerable stocks that had to be used for certain priority industries have been so used; the proletariat’s attitude to the peasantry is undergoing a change. The war weariness is terrible, and the needs have increased, but production has increased insufficiently or not at all. On the other hand, as I said in my report to the Eighth Congress of Soviets, our application of coercion was correct and successful whenever we had been able to back it up from the start with persuasion. I must say that Trotsky and Bukharin have entirely failed to take account of this very important consideration. ”
(Lenin, The Trade Unions, The Present Situation And Trotsky’s Mistakes)
The rest of the party wanted to move on with peaceful construction and reorganize the trade-unions, introduce more democratic methods and abolish military methods. Trotsky opposed this.
Trotsky came up with a series of confused slogans to support his mistaken view and was rightfully exposed by Lenin.
“Workers’ democracy is free from fetishes”, Comrade Trotsky writes in his theses, which are the “fruit of collective work”. “Its sole consideration is the revolutionary interest” (thesis 23).
Comrade Trotsky’s theses have landed him in a mess. That part of them which is correct is not new and, what is more, turns against him. That which is new is all wrong.”
Will any serious-minded person who is not blinded by the factional egotism of Tsektran
…will anyone in his right mind say that such a pronouncement on the trade union issue by such a prominent leader as Trotsky does promote the revolutionary interest?
Can it be denied that, even if Trotsky’s “new tasks and methods” were as sound as they are in fact unsound (of which later), his very approach would be damaging to himself, the Party, the trade union movement, the training of millions of trade union members and the Republic?”
“Comrade Tomsky appeared before the Political Bureau in high dudgeon and, fully supported by Comrade Rudzutak, the most even-tempered of men, began to relate that at the Conference Comrade Trotsky had talked about “shaking up” the trade unions and that he, Tomsky, had opposed this—when that happened, I decided there and then that policy (i.e., the Party’s trade union policy) lay at the root of the controversy, and that Comrade Trotsky, with his “shake-up” policy against Comrade Tomsky, was entirely in the wrong.”
“This shows that the water transport workers, far from being censured, are deemed to be right in every essential. Yet none of the C.C. members who had signed the common platform of January 14, 1921 (except Kamenev) voted for the resolution[…]Among those who signed it was Lozovsky, a member of the trade union commission but not of the Central Committee. The others were Tomsky, Kalinin, Rudzutak, Zinoviev, Stalin, Lenin, Kamenev, Petrovsky and Artyom Sergeyev.)
This resolution was carried against the C.C. members listed above, that is, against our group, for we would have voted against allowing the old Tsektran to continue temporarily. Because we were sure to win, Trotsky was forced to vote for Bukharin’s resolution, as otherwise our resolution would have been carried.”
Trotsky claimed there was a deep disagreement about principles at play which justified his splitting activities
“There being deep and basic disagreements on principle—we may well be asked—do they not serve as vindication for the sharpest and most factional pronouncements? Is it possible to vindicate such a thing as a split, provided there is need to drive home some entirely new idea?
I believe it is, provided of course the disagreements are truly very deep and there is no other way to rectify a wrong trend in the policy of the Party or of the working class.
But the whole point is that there are no such disagreements. Comrade Trotsky has tried to point them out, and failed. A tentative or conciliatory approach had been possible—and necessary—before the publication of his pamphlet (December 25) (“such an approach is ruled out even in the case of disagreements and vague new tasks”); but after its publication we had to say: Comrade Trotsky is essentially wrong on all his new points”
Trotsky continues with his phrase mongering. In order to justify his military type methods in civilian organizations Trotsky said “We once had a war atmosphere. . . . We must now have a production atmosphere”
Once again Lenin exposed this for the nonsense it was:
“Trotsky’s “production atmosphere” is even wider of the mark, and Zinoviev had good reason to laugh at it. This made Trotsky very angry”
“Comrade Trotsky’s “production atmosphere” has essentially the same meaning as production propaganda, but such expressions must be avoided when production propaganda is addressed to the workers at large. The term is an example of how not to carry it on among the masses.”
In a strange turn of events, possibly out of desperation Trotsky accuses Lenin of simply politicizing the issue.
“It is strange that we should have to return to such elementary questions, but we are unfortunately forced to do so by Trotsky and Bukharin. They have both reproached me for “switching “ the issue, or for taking a “political” approach, while theirs is an “economic” one.”
“This is a glaring theoretical error. I said again in my speech that politics is a concentrated expression of economics, because I had earlier heard my “political” approach rebuked in a manner which is inconsistent and inadmissible for a Marxist. Politics must take precedence over economics.”
“I could not help smiling, therefore, when I read Comrade Trotsky’s objection in his speech of December 30: “In his summing-up at the Eighth Congress of Soviets of the debate on the situation, Comrade Lenin said we ought to have less politics and more economics, but when he got to the trade union question he laid emphasis on the political aspect of the matter” (p. 65). Comrade Trotsky thought these words were “very much to the point”. Actually, however, they reveal a terrible confusion of ideas, a truly hopeless “ideological confusion”. Of course, I have always said, and will continue to say, that we need more economics and less politics, but if we are to have this we must clearly be rid of political dangers and political mistakes. Comrade Trotsky’s political mistakes, aggravated by Comrade Bukharin, distract our Party’s attention from economic tasks and “production” work, and, unfortunately, make us waste time on correcting them ”
“Comrade Kamenev informed me of Comrade Trotsky’s announcement, during the discussion in the Zamoskvorechye District of Moscow on January 23, that he was withdrawing his platform and joining up with the Bukharin group on a new platform. Unfortunately, I heard nothing of this from Comrade Trotsky either on January 23 or 24, when he spoke against me in the Communist group of the Miners’ Congress. I don’t know whether this is due to another change in Comrade Trotsky’s platform and intentions, or to some other reason. In any case, his January 23 announcement shows that the Party, without so much as mustering all its forces, and with only Petrograd, Moscow and a minority of the provincial towns going on record, has corrected Comrade Trotsky’s mistake promptly and with determination.”
(Lenin, Once Again On The Trade Unions, – The Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Bukharin)
Although the defeated Trotsky claims he later came to his senses:
“Lenin shaped the first and very guarded theses on the change to the New Economic Policy. I subscribed to them at once. For me, they were merely a renewal of the proposals which I had introduced a year before. The dispute about the trade-unions instantly lost all significance. At the congress, Lenin took no part in that dispute, and left Zinoviev to amuse himself”
Oh, so Lenin simply allowed Zinoviev to “amuse himself”. The trade union dispute immediately lost all significance? I see, so Lenin himself must also have been merely joking when he wrote this too:
“The issue was bluntly and properly stated by Comrade Zinoviev in his very first speech on December 30, 1920, when he said that it was “Comrade Trotsky’s immoderate adherents” who had brought about a split. Perhaps that is why Comrade Bukharin abusively described Comrade Zinoviev’s speech as “a lot of hot air”? But every Party member who reads the verbatim report of the December 30, 1920 discussion will see that that is not true. He will find that it is Comrade Zinoviev who quotes and operates with the facts, and that it is Trotsky and Bukharin who indulge most in intellectualist verbosity minus the facts.”
(Lenin, Once Again On The Trade Unions, – The Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Bukharin)
It is true that Trotsky was eventually forced to abandon his old position but he didn’t seem too keen to do so unlike he would have us believe. In his letter dated November 30 Trotsky said:
“the Central Political Administration of Water Transport . . . cannot possibly be dissolved within the next two or three months.”
Clearly he didn’t want it to be dissolved.
Yet six days later he himself voted in favor of dissolving it. Now why would he do that? He did so to quietly move from his old position because he was defeated and wanted a compromise rather then complete defeat. He was one of the 8 who voted for abolishing the Central Political Administration of water and rail transport while the other 7 insisted that this was not enough and that the entire composition of the Tsektran (the Transport Worker’s Union lead by Trotsky) had to be changed. Trotsky thus chose the lesser of two evils.
Conclusion of history
We have now dealt with the history of Lenin and Trotsky, Lenin and his unending struggle against Trotsky to be exact. Of course I’ve only scratched the surface and focused on only the most important issues and events.
Now we will go through the various Trotskyist theories and how they compare with Leninism. I’m not going to engage in a prolonged refutation of these theories here because of time constraints, I will only demonstrate that they’re anti-Leninist and make some short remarks here and there.
1. Permanent Revolution
Here Trotsky makes his anti-Leninist view which is hostile to the peasantry clear. In one of his most celebrated works on the “Theory” of Permanent Revolution.
“it would enter into hostile conflict, not only with all those bourgeois groups which had supported it during the first stages of its revolutionary struggle, but also with the broad masses of the Peasantry, with whose collaboration it – the proletariat – had come into power.” (Preface to 1905 – Trotsky)
For some reason this ended up not happening. How can this be? Of course there were elements of the peasantry which switched sides but by en large the poor peasantry was an ally of the proletariat while the kulaks were it’s enemy. The key component thus became the middle peasantry and with carefully planned policy the Bolsheviks were able to win it to their side isolating the kulak while Trotsky wanted to treat as equally bad and thus making his own prediction come true by making the middle peasants hostile to the revolution with his anti-peasant political line and handing the kulak a powerful ally.
Again more of the same
“the proletariat can neither calculate on the ignorance and prejudices of the peasantry, as did the lords of the bourgeois regime, nor presume that the customary ignorance and passivity of the peasantry will be maintained in the period of the revolution.”(Preface to 1905 – Trotsky)
Trotsky even launches an attack directed personally to Lenin
“The wretched squabbling systematically provoked by Lenin, that old hand at the game, that professional exploiter of all that is backward in the Russian labour movement, seems like a senseless obsession”
(“Letter to Chkheidze April 1913” – Trotsky)
Lenin shows that Trotsky is advocating the Menshevik view and that the Mensheviks are clearly wrong.
“While fighting Narodism as a wrong doctrine of socialism, the Mensheviks, in a doctrinaire fashion, overlooked the historically real and progressive historical content of Narodism as a theory of the mass petty-bourgeois struggle of democratic capitalism against liberal-landlord capitalism, of “American” capitalism against “Prussian” capitalism. Hence their monstrous, idiotic, renegade idea (which has also thoroughly permeated The Social Movement) that the peasant movement is reactionary” (Letter to I. I. Skvortsov-Stepanov – V.I. Lenin)
Lenin unlike Trotsky understood that mass support was needed
“The greater the extent and scope of historic events, the greater the number of people that take part in them and the more profound the change we desire to bring about, the more necessary is it to rouse interest in these events, to rouse a conscientious attitude towards them and to convince millions and tens of millions of the people of the necessity for them.”(Eighth All-Russia Congress of Soviets, Part II – V.I. Lenin)
On the “theory” of Permanent Revolution itself
“At the end of 1903, Trotsky was an ardent Menshevik, i.e., he deserted from the Iskrists to the Economists. He said that ‘between the old Iskra and the new lies a gulf’. In 1904-05, he deserted the Mensheviks and occupied a vacillating position, now co-operating with Martynov (the Economist), now proclaiming his absurdly Left ‘permanent revolution’ theory.”
(Disruption of Unity Under Cover of Outcries for Unity – V.I. Lenin)
“To bring clarity into the alignment of classes in the impending revolution is the main task of a revolutionary party. This task is being shirked by the Organising Committee, which within Russia remains a faithful ally to Nashe Dyelo, and abroad utters meaningless “Left” phrases. This task is being wrongly tackled in Nashe Slovo by Trotsky, who is repeating his “original” 1905 theory and refuses to give some thought to the reason why, in the course of ten years, life has been bypassing this “splendid” theory.”
*(The words “left”, “original” and “splendid” are used ironically)
Again Lenin makes it absolutely clear that Trotsky’s “original” theory is an incorrect and a semi-menshevik theory.
“From the Bolsheviks Trotsky’s original theory has borrowed their call for a decisive proletarian revolutionary struggle and for the conquest of political power by the proletariat, while from the Mensheviks it has borrowed “repudiation” of the peasantry’s role.”
“Trotsky is in fact helping the liberal-labour politicians in Russia, who by “repudiation” of the role of the peasantry understand a refusal to raise up the peasants for the revolution!”
(On the Two Lines in the Revolution – V.I. – Lenin)
We can now conclude that Trotskyism is utterly hostile to Leninism on this question. Trotskyism with it’s “theory” of Permanent Revolution neglects the revolutionary role of the peasantry and is hostile to it. As a continuation of this subject we will now deal with the ‘Theory of Socialism in One Country’ which was first suggested and elaborated by Lenin and later further developed and further implimented be Stalin.
2. “Socialism In One Country”
Lenin advocates Socialism in Russia despite what other countries are doing.
“I know that there are, of course, sages who think they are very clever and even call themselves Socialists, who assert that power should not have been seized until the revolution had broken out in all countries. They do not suspect that by speaking in this way they are deserting the revolution and going over to the side of the bourgeoisie. To wait until the toiling classes bring about a revolution on an international scale means that everybody should stand stock-still in expectation. That is nonsense.”
(Speech delivered at a joint meeting of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and the Moscow Soviet, 14th May 1918 – V.I. Lenin)
Contrast this debate between Trotsky and Lenin with the later debate between Stalin and the
“New Opposition” of Zinoviev and Kamenev who of course when defeated joined with Trotsky again.
“Thus, according to Zinoviev, to recognise the possibility of completely building socialism in one country means adopting the point of view of national narrow-mindedness, while to deny such a possibility means adopting the point of view of internationalism.
But if that is true, is it at all worth while fighting for victory over the capitalist elements in our economy?
Does it not follow from this that such a victory is impossible?
Capitulation to the capitalist elements in our economy—that is what the inherent logic of Zinoviev’s line of argument leads us to.”
Stalin was arguing the clear Leninist line while Zinoviev leading the “New opposition” before joining with Trotsky’s “Left Opposition” was arguing the eroneous permanentist capitalationist line.
“Complete and final victory on a world scale cannot be achieved in Russia alone; it can be achieved only when the proletariat is victorious in at least all the advanced countries, or, at all events, in some of the largest of the advanced countries. Only then shall we be able to say with absolute confidence that the cause of the proletariat has triumphed, that our first objective—the overthrow of capitalism—has been achieved.”
i.e. Lenin was perfectly aware as Stalin was that although Socialism could be built in one country only when the revolution became global and strong enough to defeat capitalism internationally they could consider it to be the final and complete victory of socialism.
“We have achieved this objective in one country, and this confronts us with a second task. Since Soviet power has been established, since the bourgeoisie has been overthrown in one country, the second task is to wage the struggle on a world scale, on a different plane, the struggle of the proletarian state surrounded by capitalist states.
This situation is an entirely novel and difficult one.
On the other hand, since the rule of the bourgeoisie has been overthrown, the main task is to organise the development of the country.”
(The Achievements and Difficulties of the Soviet Government – V.I. Lenin)
He makes this point clear here also, denying the victory of Socialism in a single country is a bourgeois lie, yet the final victory is a global victory of Socialism.
“…when we are told that the victory of socialism is possible only on a world scale, we regard this merely as an attempt, a particularly hopeless attempt, on the part of the bourgeoisie and its voluntary and involuntary supporters to distort the irrefutable truth. The ‘final’ victory of socialism in a single country is of course impossible.”
(Speech to the Third All-Russia Congress of Soviets, 1918 – V.I. Lenin)
Lenin makes it clear that Socialism is in his view perfectly possible in one country while arguing against Trotsky on his slogan “for the United States Of Europe”
“A United States of the World (not of Europe alone) is the state form of the unification and freedom of nations which we associate with socialism—about the total disappearance of the state, including the democratic. As a separate slogan, however, the slogan of a United States of the World would hardly be a correct one, first, because it merges with socialism; second, because it may be wrongly interpreted to mean that the victory of socialism in a single country is impossible”(On the Slogan for a United States of Europe – V.I. Lenin)
“Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism. Hence, the victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in one capitalist country alone. After expropriating the capitalists and organising their own socialist production, the victorious proletariat of that country will arise against the rest of the world—the capitalist world”
“free union of nations in socialism is impossible without a more or less prolonged and stubborn struggle of the socialist republics against the backward states.”
Again Lenin makes this absolutely clear
“‘The development of capitalism proceeds extremely unevenly in the various countries. It cannot be otherwise under the commodity production system. From this, it follows irrefutably that Socialism cannot achieve victory simultaneously in all countries. It will achieve victory first in one or several countries, while the others will remain bourgeois or pre-bourgeois for some time.’”
(The Military Programme of the Proletarian Revolution: I – V.I. Lenin)
The worker peasant alliance (so despised by the Trotskyists)and co-operatives lay the necessary foundations for future socialist construction in a single country
“As a matter of fact, the political power of the Soviet over all large-scale means of production, the power in the state in the hands of the proletariat, the alliance of this proletariat with the many millions of small and very small peasants, the assured leadership of the peasantry by the proletariat, etc, …is not this all that is necessary in order from the co-operatives – from the co-operatives alone, which we formerly treated as huckstering, and which, from a certain aspect, we have the right to treat as such now, under the new economic policy – is not this all that is necessary in order to build a complete socialist society? This is not yet the building of socialist society but it is all that is necessary and sufficient for this building.”
(“On Cooperation,” 1923 – V.I. Lenin)
During several years of construction NEP Russia will become Socialist Russia
“Socialism is no longer a matter of the distant future, or an abstract picture, or an icon. We still retain our old bad opinion of icons. We have dragged socialism into everyday life, and here we must find our way. This is the task of our day, the task of our epoch. Permit me to conclude by expressing the conviction that, difficult as this task may be, new as it may be compared with our previous task, and no matter how many difficulties it may entail, we shall all—not in one day, but in the course of several years—all of us together fulfil it whatever happens so that NEP Russia will become socialist Russia” (Speech At A Plenary Session Of
The Moscow Soviet November 20, 1922 – V.I. Lenin)
3. Democratic Centralism
Through his political life Trotsky has opposed the Leninist form of organization. Sometimes overtly and sometimes covertly.
Here are examples of overt opposition to the Party of a Leninist type.
“The entire edifice of Leninism at the present time is built on lies and falsification and bears within itself the poisonous elements of its own decay”
(“Letter to Chkheidze April 1913” – Trotsky)
Although Trotskyists nowadays consider this to be proof of Trotsky’s genius since they believe Stalin to fit this description perfectly it actually demonstrates the opposite. Here he is calling Lenin a dictator. Trotsky opposed the Leninist type of party and it’s leaders whether they be Lenin or Stalin.
“In the internal politics of the Party these methods lead, as we shall see below, to the Party organisation “substituting” itself for the Party, the Central Committee substituting itself for the Party organisation, and finally the dictator substituting himself for the Central Committee“(Our Political Tasks – Trotsky)
Of course later Trotsky pretended to have changed his mind but the facts reveal this not to be the case. Trotskyists themselves further try to distort the fact of the matter. Take a look at this paragraph from an article on Trotsky.net for example, it is referring to the Bolshevik/Menshevik split on organization and the issue of the editorial board of Iskra.
“The so-called “soft” tendency represented by Martov emerged as a minority and after the Conference refused to abide by its decisions or to take part in the Central Committee or the Editorial Board. All Lenin’s efforts to find a compromise solution after the Congress failed because of the opposition of the minority. Plekhanov, who at the Congress had supported Lenin, proved incapable of standing up to the pressures of his old comrades and friends. In the end, in early 1904, Lenin found that he had to organise “majority Committees” (Bolsheviks) to salvage something from the wreckage of the Congress. The split in the party had become an accomplished fact.
Initially Trotsky had supported the minority against Lenin. This has led to the false account that Trotsky was a “Menshevik”. However, at the Second Congress, Bolshevism and Menshevism had not yet emerged as clearly defined political tendencies. Only a year later, in 1904, did political differences begin to emerge between the two tendencies, and these differences had nothing whatsoever to do with the question of “centralism” or “no centralism””(“In Memory of Leon Trotsky”)
Indeed that particular incident was not about organization, the split about organization actually began earlier. Also how is it an argument in Trotsky’s favor that the issue for which Trotsky left was not party discipline and organization but over the war and Menshevik’s support of the liberals? In other words, how is it relevant to mention that the incident was not over organization when its clear that Trotsky was not opposed to the Mensheviks on organization and split with them over that issue?
As our Trotskyist points out Trotsky supported Menshevism i.e. The Martov group against democratic centralism, limiting the membership of the party to devoted revolutionaries and reducing the number of people in the editorial board of Iskra.
This is Lenin in One Step Forward, Two Steps Back – The Crisis In Our Party (Written: Feb. 1904)
“The accusations are levelled against “the system of autocratic and bureaucratic government of the Party”, against “bureaucratic centralism”, which, as distinct from “genuinely Social-Democratic centralism””
“What is the implication of “autocracy” in the Party, about which the dissatisfied “editors” clamour? Autocracy means the supreme, uncontrolled, non-accountable, non-elective rule of one individual. We know very well from the literature of the “minority” that by autocrat they mean me, and no one else“
“You are a bureaucrat because you were appointed by the Congress not in accordance with my wishes, but against them; you are a formalist because you take your stand on the formal decisions of the Congress, and not on my consent; you are acting in a grossly mechanical way because you cite the “mechanical” majority at the Party Congress and pay no heed to my wish to be co-opted; you are an autocrat because you refuse to hand over the power to the old snug little band who insist on their circle “continuity” all the more because they do not like the explicit disapproval of this circle spirit by the Congress.”
“As soon as the political differences emerged, Trotsky broke with the Mensheviks…”
I’d venture to call the above mentioned issue of democratic centralism a political difference.
“…and remained formally independent from both factions until 1917.”
heavy emphasis on the word formal since as I have already demonstrated time and time again he was in the August Bloc, the RSDLP(I) and so on.
The Issue Of The So-called “Lenin’s Testament”
Despite numerous people already sufficiently dealing with this the issue keeps coming up. The issue of the so-called “Lenin’s Testament”.There are several aspects to cover:
1) Why was it “held secret?”
This is a question often presented by Trotskyists who imply that the text contained such crushing criticism against the evil stalinist bureaucracy that it was suppressed. Although one should remember that it wasn’t Stalin alone who rallied against Trotsky’s faction, it was everyone. Zinoviev who later switched sides even wanted Trotsky to be expelled from the party as early as 1925.
The answer to this question is simple. It was not published because it was not meant to be published. That’s it. No mystery. Lenin had issued this letter to the Central Committee and it was not meant to be published.
2) What exactly was said in this “Testament”
Unlike many people seem to think it didn’t contain much criticism of Stalin. In it Lenin was mostly concerned with avoiding a split in the party which he knew to be inevitable.
He criticized Tomsky, Bukharin, Zinoviev and Kamenev too but I don’t have to go into that here.
He criticized Trotsky saying:
“he has displayed excessive self-assurance and shown excessive preoccupation with the purely administrative side of the work. “
This obviously after Trotsky had been corrected or forced to reject his incorrect views on all the previous issues. Lenin clearly anticipated a split but didn’t indicate that he believed Trotsky would actually return to his old theories after Lenin was dead.
Lenin’s criticism of Stalin was actually not more substantial but actually very much less so. Lenin expressed that Stalin was too rude. That this was an issue that otherwise wouldn’t be of importance but in this time when a split was possible it was of importance. Also that he being the General secretary a post of immense prestige and authority he could because of his rudeness escalate the situation.
“Comrade Stalin, having become Secretary-General, has unlimited authority concentrated in his hands, and I am not sure whether he will always be capable of using that authority with sufficient caution.”
Unlimited here being a figure of speech and authority referring to not legistlative power but influence and prestige.
“Stalin is too rude and this defect, although quite tolerable in our midst and in dealing among us Communists, becomes intolerable in a Secretary-General. That is why I suggest that the comrades think about a way of removing Stalin from that post”
Trotskyists often make an awful lot of this quote but Stalin himself had wished to resign from his position in 1924, 1925, 1927 and 1952. Every time his request was denied. Even Trotsky had opposed that Stalin leave his post. This should also be understood in the context of the looming split.
“It is said that in that “will” Comrade Lenin suggested to the congress that in view of Stalin’s “rudeness” it should consider the question of putting another comrade in Stalin’s place as General Secretary. That is quite true. Yes, comrades, I am rude to those who grossly and perfidiously wreck and split the Party. I have never concealed this and do not conceal it now. Perhaps some mildness is needed in the treatment of splitters, but I am a bad hand at that. At the very first meeting of the plenum of the Central Committee after the Thirteenth Congress I asked the plenum of the Central Committee to release me from my duties as General Secretary. The congress itself discussed this question. It was discussed by each delegation separately, and all the delegations unanimously, including Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoviev, obliged Stalin to remain at his post.”
[The Trotskyist Opposition Before And Now – J.V. Stalin]
“safeguards against a split and from the standpoint of what I wrote above about the relationship between Stalin and Trotsky it is not a [minor] detail, but it is a detail which can assume decisive importance.” – Lenin
Lenin was completely right about the significance of the conflict between Stalin and the Central Committee one hand and Trotsky on the other although Stalin’s rudeness ended up having not much to do with it.
In fact this issue of rudeness may have it’s roots elsewhere. Stalin had called Lenin at Gorki and when his wife had answered Stalin had insulted her because she was always answering the phone and apparently listening to the conversations and telling about them to Zinoviev and Kamenev. Kruptskaya had also allowed Lenin to dictate a letter to her which Stalin considered to be too risky for his health. This argument was originally a personal matter between Stalin and Lenin’s wife Krupskaya who didn’t get along well. Its worth mentioning she was also part of the group led by Zinoviev at the time.
Despite it being a private matter and Kruptskaya having told Stalin she would forget it Lenin later learned of the incident.
“Dear Comrade Stalin:
You have been so rude as to summon my wife to the telephone and use bad language. Although she had told you that she was prepared to forget this, the fact nevertheless became known through her to Zinoviev and Kamenev.”
“I ask you, therefore, to think it over whether you are prepared to withdraw what you have said and to make your apologies, or whether you prefer that relations between us should be broken off.
Respectfully yours, Lenin”
(Letter to Comrade Stalin, 1923 – V.I. Lenin)
Although this was a completely personal matter Zinoviev later disgrafully brought it up publicly in a joint Plenum of the CC and the CCC in 1926 to attack Stalin. This was at a time when he had switched from the Central Committee’s side to Trotsky’s side once again. Lenin’s sister Maria wrote to the Plenum to respond to Zinoviev that Stalin had indeed made an apology and that was the end of it.
This question and the way it played out says much more about the character of the Zinovievite-Trotskyite opposition who resorted to usign this as a political weapon then that of the character if Stalin’s and also the criticism in Lenin’s Testament of Trotsky and particularly of Zinoviev and Kamenev were far graver then the criticism of Stalin as being rude especially when you consider that the criticism of Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin and the rest were general and the criticism of Stalin was only in context of the threat of a split.
“I shall not go on to characterise the personal qualities of the other members of the Central Committee. I shall merely remind you that the October episode with Zinoviev and Kamenev was, of course, not accidental, but that they can be blamed for it personally as little as Trotsky can be blamed for his non-Bolshevism.”
[“Last Testament”Letters to the Congress – V.I. Lenin]
The Georgian Affair
Also the criticism of Dzerzhinsky and Georgians Stalin and Orjonikidze as impartial in the question of Georgia is not actually nearly as serious because once again its very context sensitive and not a general criticism of Stalin or the others being untrustworthy like Kamenev, Zinoviev and Trotsky were unlike Trotsky tries to claim in his autobiography.
“That affair is now under “prosecution” at the hands of Stalin and Dzerzhinsky and I cannot rely on their impartiality”
“exemplary punishment must be inflicted on Comrade Orjonikidze (I say this all the more regretfully as I am one of his personal friends and have worked with him abroad)“
(Letters to the Congress – V.I. Lenin)
“A lack of “impartiality” – does not this imply, indeed, that same lack of loyalty?”
My Life – Trotsky
He asserts that although Lenin calls Zinoviev and Kamenev schemers and him a non-bolshevik he also implied that Stalin was just as trustworthy because he as a Georgian was impartial in the question of Georgia. Needless to say this is a very weak argument. Stalin, Orjonikidze and Dzerzhinsky were severely mistaken and according to Lenin inadvertantly pursued a Russian nationalist campaign when they fought against the socialist-nationalist Mensheviks who were in control of Georgia and refused to join or cooperate with the other Soviet Republics. They were mistaken, but this has nothing to do with loyalty.
One last word on an interesting term I heard from a Trotskyist. I heard him referring to “Stalinist quotation mongering”. I assume that is exactly what I’m doing. Instead of an actual refutation of anything Trotskyists attempt to make light of the issues quoted. They try to make it seem like what Lenin actually said doesn’t really matter. How am I to demonstrate beyond any doubt what Lenin actually said without quoting him?
I used to think quoting the people you’re referring to or responsing to was the correct thing to do to make sure you’re not distorting what they say. Apparently Trotskyists don’t agree. While reading Trotsky’s autobiography I did notice that Trotsky is a bit less strict when it comes to quotations. He doesn’t bother to offer any sources or quotations for half the things he says, he instead writes lines like “Lenin had once expressed his moral confidence in me” and “Lenin felt as if a weight had been lifted from his chest”. Of course he can write as many syrupy tales about Lenin and himself (something that Stalin never bothered to do) but unless he can prove what he is saying, its all empty talk.
“The reason why Trotsky avoids facts and concrete references is because they relentlessly refute all his angry outcries and pompous phrases.“
I also noticed that while Stalin always considered himself merely one of the many pupils of the Great Lenin, Trotsky talks of himself and Lenin as equals and even in a tone that suggests that Lenin the old man constantly needed guidance from the infallable Trotsky. Trotskyists seem to share this view point (I refer you to Isaac Deutscher and some of the people at “In Defence Of Marxism”)
This is just my opinion but I think the reason Trotskyists don’t like quotations is because they don’t like to hear the truth and they(including Trotsky) don’t like to back up their tall tales.
I also find this accusation of quotation mongering extremely funny, because although generally Trotskyists don’t quote Lenin’s works, almost in every debate where this issue comes up they will quote Lenin’s testament. Out of the mass of material and theory Lenin wrote they have this one document that they think proves their point and they quote it constantly. They’re the worst kinds of quotation mongerers because they only quote one or two lines (which I’ve already dealt with) without even truly understanding what it is they’re quoting, because as I’ve demonstrated the “Testament” actually doesn’t support their view at all.
We can safely conclude that Trotskyism is a revisionist distortion of Marxism that runs counter to Leninism and serves counter revolution with it’s adventurism, left-deviationism and right-deviationism. Trotsky himself was an opportunist that switched sides and as Lenin put it:
“Trotsky has never yet held a firm opinion on any important question of Marxism.” – Lenin
Trotsky fought Lenin tooth and nail for decades, back stabbing and slandering him and only decided to temporarily pretend to have forgotten his old revisionist theories and changed his ways on the eve of the Bolshevik revolution. Of course later he acted like he was Lenin’s biggest supporter when he only agreed with Lenin on one important issue, the organization of the military.
He acted like Stalin and the other Bolsheviks were all opportunist who played up to Lenin when he was the one doing it. This is a fact demonstrated by his complete reversal of his positions and opinions right before October and the fact he returned to his old tricks covertly in Lenin’s life time and overtly after Lenin’s death.
He goes as far as to claim that everyone else disagreed with Lenin more but were afraid to speak out, particularly Stalin. That is, he implies that he was Lenin’s most vocal opponent simply because he was the most principled and courageous. Therefore the most vocal and outspoken anti-Leninist is the best student of Leninism?
“when I disagreed with Lenin, I mentioned it aloud, and, when I thought it necessary, even appealed to the party”
Of course this doesn’t in anyway prove that Stalin actually secretly opposed Leninism like is implied nor does it change the fact that Trotsky did oppose Leninism publicly. He tries to fool people with this unfalsifiable hypothesis of Stalin’s secret disagreements with Leninism.
“they disagreed with Lenin, which happened much more often than in my case, usually … kept silent about it“
He also tries to argue that this is all a mistake and a distortion. That really he didn’t disagree with Lenin on anything substantial but what has been presented against him are merely “polemical expressions”
“organization of an historical and literary nature was established for the sole purpose of distorting the history of our mutual relations. It has been done chiefly by painting a picture of a constant struggle between two “principles,” by isolating from the past the moments when we disagreed, by making a great deal out of individual polemical expressions ” – Trotsky
I don’t see what Trotsky means by this. Obviously a picture of constant decades long struggle between principles is going to emerge because its the truth. I don’t need to repeat myself, I covered both historical and theoretical aspects so you could accurately see that the struggle was both constant and over issues of great practical and theoretical importance.
It is true Lenin used polemical flair but that doesn’t mean when he calls Trotsky “a Judas” he doesn’t mean what he says. Was Kautsky also not in disagreement with Lenin but only a victim of polemical expressions when Lenin called him a “Renegade” to marxism in his book “The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky”?
The evidence is there, excuses are useless. I’m not going to go into everything Trotsky said which isn’t even particularly substantial. He doesn’t even most of the time deny what he is accused of but tries to dismiss it as non-important or that the matter has been exaggerated.
“my stand at that time was one of “under – appreciation of the peasantry,” and one almost hostile toward the New Economic Policy.”
He disagreed with Leninism organizationally, theoretically and in practice, on war, on peace, on the question of national-self determination, on new economic policy, on trade unionism, on tactics, on the role of the peasantry, on the question of permanent revolution etc. etc
His theories are all in contradiction with Leninism and are not in line with material reality.
I’m not going to go deeply into what modern Trotskyists believe or why I think they even advocate Trotskyism but I’m going to mention one thing:
Its not really about theory or a more profound understanding of Lenin or Marx, Trotskyism simply spreads the same lies as the bourgeoisie does about Lenin, the Soviet Union and Stalin and therefore its more palettable to gullible and idealistic people with a poor understanding of Marxism.
The Break-Up of the “August” Bloc – V.I. Lenin
“From the Camp of the Stolypin “Labour” Party – Dedicated to Our “Conciliators” and Advocates of “Agreement” – V.I. Lenin
Judas Trotsky’s Blush of Shame (1911) – V.I. Lenin
V.I. Lenin To Inessa Armand (1917)
Lenin to Alexandra Kollontai (Feb. 17. 1917)
The “Zimmerwald Left”
Trotskyism Or Leninism? – J.V. Stalin
History of The Communist Party of The Soviet Union(Bolsheviks)
Meeting of the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.) October 16 (29), 1917
The Revolutionary Military Committee
Stalin: Slander and Truth – C. Allen
Peace or war? – V.I. Lenin
Position of the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P. (Bolsheviks) on the Question of the Separate And Annexationist Peace – V.I. Lenin
Strange And Monstrous – V.I. Lenin
The Social-Democractic Deviation In Our Party – J.V. Stalin
‘Preface’ to ‘The Year 1905’ – Trotsky (1922)
[The Tax In Kind (The Significance Of The New Policy And Its Conditions) – V.I. Lenin]
[The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It – V.I. Lenin]
(The Trade Unions, The Present Situation And Trotsky’s Mistakes – V.I. Lenin)
(Once Again On The Trade Unions, – The Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Buhkarin – V.I. Lenin)
Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty
(Preface to 1905 – Trotsky)
(Eighth All-Russia Congress of Soviets, Part II – V.I. Lenin)
(Letter to I. I. Skvortsov-Stepanov – V.I. Lenin)
(Eighth All-Russia Congress of Soviets, Part II – V.I. Lenin)
(On the Two Lines in the Revolution – V.I. – Lenin)
(Disruption of Unity Under Cover of Outcries for Unity – V.I. Lenin)
“Letter to Chkheidze April 1913” – Trotsky
(The Military Programme of the Proletarian Revolution: I – V.I. Lenin)
(Speech to the Third All-Russia Congress of Soviets, 1918 – V.I. Lenin)
(The Achievements and Difficulties of the Soviet Government – V.I. Lenin)
(Speech At A Plenary Session Of
The Moscow Soviet November 20, 1922 – V.I. Lenin)
(“In Memory of Leon Trotsky”)
Lenin, Miscellany, IV Russian edition
[“Last Testament”Letters to the Congress – V.I. Lenin]
(Letter to Comrade Stalin, 1923)
One thought on “Trotsky VS. Lenin”
Very well written article comrade.