Leon Trotsky

The political journey to Trotskyism

Published on: Thu, 13/07/2017 - 10:36
Author

Bob Carnegie

I always had a strong underlying humanist bias. I tended not to view things not just from an ideological viewpoint, as was the rule in the SPA [Socialist Party of Australia, a “hardline” pro-USSR split-off from the Communist Party of Australia]. My moral break from authoritarian state-capitalism, or Stalinism, which still infects the Australian left and the Australian trade union movement to a much larger degree than people realise, took a long time. I would say it took from 1979, when I joined the SPA, to the final break in about 1994.

The last five years has been my great political growing

Why we need more Bolsheviks today

Published on: Mon, 03/07/2017 - 12:31
Author

Martin Thomas

Few except the most conservative deny the emancipatory grandeur of mass action in the October 1917 Russian revolution. Common, however, is the claim that there was too much “party” in the revolution — the Bolsheviks were too organised, too ruthless, too pushy, and that led to Stalinism. This article seeks to refute that claim.

October 1917 is often described as a “Bolshevik coup”, suggesting that the Bolsheviks took advantage of momentary excitement and disorder to seize an existing machine of power. In fact, in the weeks after 25 October 1917, the Bolshevik (and then Bolshevik/ Left SR

War and the revolution

Published on: Wed, 31/05/2017 - 10:27
Author

Leon Trotsky

Continuing a series of extracts from Leon Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution, this explains how the Provisional Government worked to keep Russia in the First World War.


On 23 March [1917] the United States entered the war. On that day Petrograd was burying the victims of the February revolution. Twenty-five days later — during which time the soviets had gained much experience and self-confidence — occurred the 1 May celebration (1 May according to the Western calendar, 18 April Russian calendar).

All the cities of Russia were drowned in meetings and demonstrations. Not only the

The origins of the Petrograd soviet

Published on: Wed, 22/03/2017 - 08:40
Author

Leon Trotsky

Continuing a series of extracts from Leon Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution. Here Trotsky describes the inception and initial political and social character of the Petrograd soviet. For most of 1917 the soviet backed the bourgeois Provisional Government.

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The organisation created on February 27 in the Tauride Palace, and called “Executive Committee of The Soviet of Workers’ Deputies”, had little in common with its name. The Soviet of Deputies of 1905, the originator of the [soviet] system, rose out of a general strike. It directly represented the masses

What is the “social strike”?

Published on: Wed, 08/03/2017 - 11:02
Author

Daniel Randall

Recent strikes by “gig economy” workers (e.g. Deliveroo) are profoundly significant. They explode the myth, peddled by some on both left and right, that so-called precarious workers can’t organise, and that the proliferation of those types of work is in the process of rendering labour organising historically redundant.

Some on the radical left confer a particular significance on these sort of strikes and have coupled them with the notion of “the social strike”. This idea, for instance by the group Plan C, has been put forward as a way to overcome the current weakness of organised labour as a

The paradox of February

Published on: Wed, 08/03/2017 - 07:24
Author

Leon Trotsky

Continuing a series of extracts from Leon Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution. On 2 March 1917 a Provisional Government is formed; it has the support of the Petrograd soviet. Trotsky explains why the February revolution ended with a transfer of power to the liberal bourgeoisie.

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If you look only backward to past ages, the transfer of power to the bourgeoisie seems sufficiently regular: in all past revolutions who fought on the barricades were workers, apprentices, in part students, and the soldiers came over to their aside. But afterwards the solid

On the eve of revolution: Trotsky in New York

Published on: Wed, 01/03/2017 - 11:37
Author

Paul Hampton

In October 1917 Leon Trotsky was a principal leader of the Russian revolution, leading workers to power and the establishment of their own state. Trotsky would become the Commissar for Foreign Affairs, responsible for taking Russia out of the First World War. Yet his year had begun in very different circumstances.

For ten weeks Trotsky lived in exile in New York. His time there is retold by Kenneth Ackerman.

Although the book is flawed in its political assessments and littered with silly mistakes, it nevertheless manages to capture more clearly than previous accounts the historical context

The revolution begins

Published on: Wed, 01/03/2017 - 11:23
Author

Leon Trotsky

Continuing a series of extracts from Leon Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution. Here Trotsky describes how the revolution begins.

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The 23rd of February was International Woman’s Day. The social-democratic circles had intended to mark this day in a general manner: by meetings, speeches, leaflets. It had not occurred to anyone that it might become the first day of the revolution. Not a single organisation called for strikes on that day. What is more, even a Bolshevik organisation, and a most militant one — the Vyborg borough committee, all workers — was opposing

The 1905 prologue

Published on: Wed, 15/02/2017 - 12:36
Author

Leon Trotsky

Continuing a series of extracts from Leon Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution. Here Trotsky explains how the 1905 revolution — a popular revolt against the Tsar — was a “dress rehearsal” for the events of 1917.

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The events of 1905 were a prologue to the two revolutions of 1917, that of February and that of October. In the prologue all the elements of the drama were included, but not carried through. The Russo-Japanese war had made Tsarism totter. Against the background of a mass movement the liberal bourgeoisie had frightened the monarchy with its opposition.

“The privilege of historic backwardness”

Published on: Wed, 08/02/2017 - 13:01
Author

Leon Trotsky

We begin a series of extracts from Leon Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution, telling the story of 1917. This extract explains Russia’s “combined and uneven” development how the country “skipped” historical “stages”.

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While the western barbarians settled in the ruins of Roman culture, where many an old stone lay ready as building material, the Slavs in the East found no inheritance upon their desolate plain: their predecessors had been on even a lower level of culture than they.

The western European peoples, soon finding their natural boundaries, created

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