Lenin on Trotsky

detcom at sprynet.com detcom at sprynet.com
Wed Sep 25 00:27:23 MDT 1996

At the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P in 1903 Lenin had
this to say in respect to Trotsky's theoretical wisdom.
He stated:

To come to the main subject, I must say that Comrade Trotsky
has completely misunderstood Comrade Plikhanov's fundamental
idea, and his arguments have therefore evaded the gist of the matter.
He has spoken of intellectuals and workers, of the class point of view
and of the mass movement, but he has failed to notice a basic
question: does my formulation narrow or expand the concept of a
Party member?  If he had asked himself that question, he would
have easily have seen that my formulation narrows this concept,
while Martov's expands it, for  (to use Martov's own correct expression)
what distinguishes his concept is its 'elasticity.'  And in the period of
Party life that we are now passing through it is just this 'elasticity' that
undoubtedly opens the door to all elements of confusion, vacillation,
and opportunism.  To refute this simple and obvious conclusion it has
to be proved that there are no such elements; but it has not even
occurred to Comrade Trotsky to do that.  Nor can that be proved, for
everyone knows that such elements exist in plenty, and they are to be
found in the working class too....
     Comrade Trotsky completely misinterpreted the main idea of my
book, What Is To Be Done? when he spoke about the Party not being
a conspiratorial organization.  He forgot that in my book I propose a
number of various types of organizations, from the most secret and most
exclusive to comparatively broad and 'loose' organizations.  He forgot
that the Party must be only the vanguard, the leader of the vast masses
of the working class, the whole (or nearly the whole) of which works
'under the control and direction' of the Party organizations, but the
whole of which does not and should not belong to a 'party.'  Now let
us see what conclusions Comrade Trotsky arrives at in consequence
of his fundamental mistake.  He had told us here that if rank after rank
of workers were arrested, and all the workers were to declare that they
did not belong to the Party, our Party would be a strange one indeed!
Is it not the other way round?  Is it not Comrade Trotsky's argument
that is strange?  He regards as something sad that which a
revolutionary with any experience at all would only rejoice at.
If hundreds and thousands of workers who were arrested for taking
part in strikes and demonstrations did not prove to be members of
Party organizations, it would only show that we have good
organizations, and that we are fulfilling our task of keeping a more
or less limited circle of leaders secret and drawing the broadest
possible masses into the movement."

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