Lenin on Trotsky

Adam Rose adam at pmel.com
Thu Sep 26 05:24:14 MDT 1996

The general thrust and the particular examples Hugh gives
are quite correct.

I would however take issue with the implication in the following
paragraph :

> 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.

This is not entirely true.

Trotsky was right that the revolution would be a workers revolution,
Lenin wrong that it would a "democratic dictatorship".

Trotsky was right that the call for the insurrection should be issued
by the soviets, not the party. Lenin was wrong to think that the call
should be issued by the Bolshevik party.

Trotsky's understanding of the problems of Kautsky and the centrists
was better than Lenin's, until 1914 anyway.

Trotsky quite often understood the general tendencies of the struggle
better than Lenin. On the other hand, Lenin had a better grasp of the
concrete, which "link in the chain" had to be yanked at this moment
in time.

So Lenin was right that the Bolsheviks had no choice other than to
capitulate to the Germans. Trotsky's "neither war nor peace" was just
abstract nonsense.

[ He was also slightly harder, correctly, on the centrists, than Trotsky
was once he did understand the problem ].

HOWEVER, in historical terms, Trotsky's "correctness" was irrelevant.
As Trotsky wrote : "Without Trotsky, there would still have been
a revolution. Without Lenin, there would have been no Russian Revolution".
[ I quote from memory ].

This is correct. Without Lenin, there would have been no Bolshevik party,
and without Lenin, the party apparatus would not have shifted from
the "tired worn phrases" ie the idea that the Russian Revolution
would be a bourgeois revolution , to first the idea and then the
reality of workers insurrection.

Trotsky's most important contribution to the Marxist movement were in the
five years from 1935 to 1940, not in 1905, and not in 1917 - 1923.
In these years he performed the invaluable task of continuing the real,
living marxist tradition, "shouting over the heads of the 2nd and 3rd
Internationals." There was at this time, no one else other than him who
could perform this task.

Whatever mistakes he made, whatever problems there were with is legacy,
political or organsitional, whether they were due to the extreme objective
difficulties of the period or due to his personnal characteristics, his work
in these five years, 1935 - 1940,  meant that the living revolutionary
tradition was preserved and handed on to us.


Adam Rose


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