Leon Trotsky

A socialist vote for Biden

• See here for other articles debating the US election, Trump, etc. Trump’s defeat in the election is, as of now, likely. It is by no means certain. A lot can happen in the coming weeks. It is of fundamental importance to the US working class that he does not win. The US left is divided. Some see it as overriding principle not to back Biden — they tend to favour a vote for the Green Party presidential candidate, Howie Hawkins, who is a socialist. Others work within the very big tent around the Democratic Party for Biden’s election. But if Biden does not win, Trump will win. If by some freak...

80 years after a Stalinist agent murdered Trotsky

Leon Trotsky was murdered by a Stalinist agent 80 years ago. He was attacked with an ice-pick on 20 August 1940, and died in hospital the day after, 21 August 1940. Trotsky was one of the chief leaders of the Russian workers' revolution of October 1917, and the foremost leader of the revolutionary socialist resistance to the Stalinist reaction and counter-revolution which followed that revolution and eventually killed it. His legacy is still central to the fight for working-class socialism, and against Stalinism of all shades. Below are the tributes to Trotsky from the "heterodox" Trotskyist...

How the Bolsheviks governed

The 1917 October Russian revolution produced the world’s first workers’ state. But how did the Bolsheviks govern? Historian Lara Douds has mined state and party archives in Moscow to produce an excellent book, Inside Lenin's Government: Ideology, Power and Practice in the Early Soviet State (2018) on how the central apparatus operated. In the early period of Soviet power, the Council of People’s Commissars (Sovnarkom) rather than party bodies governed. Douds argues that “in no way could the party central committee be viewed as the effective government of the nascent Soviet regime. Instead, it...

Previously untranslated articles by Trotsky on antisemitism

Articles by Leon Trotsky on antisemitism and Jewish questions, translated into English by Stan Crooke. • The Decomposition of Zionism – And What Might Succeed It (1904) • The Tsar’s Footsoldiers at Work (1908) • The Tsar's Footsoldiers at Work (1909) • The Jewish Question in Romania (1913) • Under the Sign of the Beylis Affair (1913) • "Stalin never had qualms about using antisemitism" (1936) The 1909 "Tsar's Footsoldiers" has had a previous English translation, as chapter 12 of Trotsky's book 1905: online here. The 1913 article on Romania has had a previous English translation, appearing in...

"Stalin never had qualms about using antisemitism" (1936)

Above: Grigorii Zinoviev, one of the Jewish defendants in the 1936 Moscow show trial Extract from) Letter to Michael Puntervold (26/10/36) Translated by Stan Crooke from: Letter to Michael Puntervold (26/10/1936), International Institute of Social History (Amsterdam), inventory number 279. Puntervold was Trotsky’s lawyer during his exile in Norway. In the first half of the letter Trotsky discusses a recent Moscow show trial (19th-24th August), in which the defendants were accused of being Gestapo agents who were plotting to murder Stalin on Trotsky’s instructions. A number of the defendants...

The Jewish Question in Romania (1913)

Trotsky worked as a correspondent for a liberal paper in Kiev during the Balkan wars of 1913. In this article he demolished the liberal pretences of the Romanian monarchy by pointing to its oppression of the country's Jewish population. The ultimate and most authentic manifestation of Romania is to be found in its Jewish question. King Carol is proud of the fact that he has never deviated from the “strictly constitutional” path. The Romanian press enjoys a large degree of freedom, and from time to time it publishes quite fantastic “expressions” to describe the King, without suffering any...

The Tsar's Footsoldiers at Work (1909)

A follow-up article by Trotsky on the pogroms of 1905, further to the 1908 article also entitled The Tsar’s Footsoldiers at Work. Above: a 1905 cartoon denouncing the pogroms. The Soviet ended the October strike in those terrible dark days when the weeping of battered infants, the frenzied curses of mothers, the death-rattles of old men and the terrible cries of despair echoed to the skies the length and breadth of the country. A hundred of Russia’s cities and towns were transformed into hell on earth. The sun was blotted out by the smoke of conflagrations, flames consumed entire streets – and...

The Tsar’s Footsoldiers at Work (1908)

Above: members of the Jewish socialist organisation, the Bund, in Odessa, with comrades killed in 1905. This article by Trotsky dissects official reports giving information about anti-Jewish pogroms carried out by counter-revolutionaries especially in 1905. (“Materials Concerning the History of the Russian Counter-Revolution”, Volume One, “The Pogroms According to Official Statistics”, Saint Petersburg, 1908) This voluminous book, consisting of monotonous bureaucratic paperwork, makes a striking impression on the reader. We have in front of us a portrait of Tsarism in the period of the...

Marxists and “left governments”

“We are not a government party; we are the party of irreconcilable opposition… Our tasks... we realise not through the medium of bourgeois governments... but exclusively through the education of the masses through agitation, through explaining to the workers what they should defend and what they should overthrow. Such a “defence” cannot give immediate miraculous results. But we do not even pretend to be miracle workers. As things stand, we are a revolutionary minority. Our work must be directed so that the workers on whom we have influence should correctly appraise events, not permit...

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