Lenin on Trotsky

Hugh Rodwell m-14970 at mailbox.swipnet.se
Thu Sep 26 02:23:26 MDT 1996

Jay M quotes a criticism by Lenin in 1903 regarding Trotsky's position on
party-building. It advocates a disciplined, exclusive party of dedicated
revolutionaries, a vanguard drawing masses into the struggle.

What Jay is incapable of realizing, because of his Stalinist training, is that

1) It was precisely on this point that Trotsky later concluded he had been
wrong. Trotsky realized that the centrists and the Mensheviks, despite
their numbers, lacked historical clout. They had volume but had the social
impact of huge sacks of feathers. Lenin didn't disagree with Trotsky about
the fundamentals of a Marxist analysis of Russian or international society,
he disagreed with him about party-building. As the cooperation between the
Bolsheviks and Trotsky as Chair of the Petrograd Soviet in 1905 showed,
there was no disagreement either about practical questions in managing a
revolutionary situation. As soon as Trotsky had corrected his mistaken
position on conciliation, there were no obstacles to a fusion between
Trotsky's supporters and the Bolsheviks.

2) If Lenin's criticisms of Trotsky were as damning as those grinding out
the litany of anti-Trotsky Lenin quotes claim, why was Lenin so *stupidly
inconsistent* as to accept fusion with Trotsky and work intimately with him
during 1917 and October and the civil war and the NEP? How come Lenin, who
was after all the *author* of all these *damning* quotes was less aware of
how serious they were at the time of revolution and civil war than Stalin
and his cronies decades later? If Lenin's opinion is so very important, why
suppress his collaboration with and support for Trotsky during the decisive
historical events of the Great Proletarian October Revolution and the years
following it?

3) If Lenin was too overworked during the revolution itself to notice that
his archenemy had weasled his way into partnership with him, was standing
by his side, was leading the creation of the Red Army defending October,
was reviving the railways and communications, was getting published in
millions of copies, had his picture hanging next to Lenin's everywhere in
the young workers' state, etc -- if this pressure numbed his critical
faculties so that only the sharper mind of Stalin years after the event
could correct Lenin's oversight, why was it that on 2 November 1917 Lenin
threatened to expel Zinoviev and Kamenev from the Bolshevik party for
conciliating with the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries regarding the
formation of a coalition government that might prejudice the Bolshevik
majority in the Soviet?

You can't have one Lenin without the other!

4) All this of course is totally incomprehensible to those trained in the
Stalinist school of party discipline. In that school any disagreement with
the top is a major offence. That's why Lenin's disagreements with Trotsky
are peddled with such fervour. Not analysed, just ground out like a Tibetan
prayer wheel. Trotsky disagreed with Lenin!! The temerity!

In this tradition, rocking the boat is forbidden to anyone but the Grand Master.

In the Marxist tradition, open and principled criticism is as necessary as
oxygen is for breathing. Outside the party, the openness of party members
is tempered by the need for discipline to produce unity in action. Inside,
it isn't.

There's an ironical little twist to the following quote:

>Later in the same article Lenin stated,
>"It would be extremely harmful to entertain any illusions on
>this score.  If that windbag Trotsky now writes (unfortunately,
>side by side with Parvus) that a Father Gapon could appear
>only once,' that 'there is no room for a second Gapon.\,' he does
>so simply because he is a windbag.  If there were no room in
>Russia for a second Gapon, there would be no room for a truly
>'great' consummated democratic revolution."

Perhaps Jay isn't aware that the revolutionary events of 1905 themselves
demonstrated that in fact Father Gapon appeared only once. And yet a truly
great proletarian and popular revolution took place.

It was "consummated", not as a "democratic" revolution, but as a
proletarian revolution, in 1917, led by Lenin and Trotsky in complete
agreement as to the class forces at work, the international and national
conjuncture, the party-to-party relations in the Soviets and
bourgeois-democratic institutions, and the steps that needed to be taken to
seize power and consolidate it.



PS Jay and Siddarth, perhaps you could add a line or two of your *own*
analysis and reflection when you next honour us with a cut-and-paste job
>from the Little Maoist's Book of Anti-Trotsky Lenin Quotes?

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