Trotskyism is not Leninism Part I

Posted on March 24, 2014




 All that glitters is not gold. There is much glitter and sound in Trotsky’s phrases, but they are meaningless. —-Lenin


There has been a well planned strategy by the Trotskyists to show that Trotskyism is nothing but continuation of Leninism. Over the years there has emerged a well oiled veritable industry ably assisted by the liberal bourgeoisie portraying that Trotsky was the successor of Lenin (some even stating that actually Lenin was a Trotskyist) and Trotskyism to be synonym of Marxism Leninism, who was deceitfully ousted by the cunning non Leninist oriental despot Stalin, Trotskyism profess his disciples, is the Leninist answer to the Stalinist betrayal of socialist principles. What they conveniently gloss over is the vacillation of Trotsky and his supporters throughout the course of the Russian revolution from one faction to another, in its course plagiarising from the ideological stock-in-trade of one faction to another, his siding with the Menshevik, his hostility to Lenin and the Bolshevik party, and his struggles with Lenin and Bolsheviks after the October revolution. The emergence of internet and particularly the social media has given a fillip to the supporters of Trotsky, in churning ad nauseam this propaganda to deceit the young and uninformed, and then to led them astray from the road of Marxism-Leninism.

In this paper an attempt is being made to counter the false notion and show that Trotskyism and Leninism are not only mutually incompatible but also Trotskyism is nothing but a revisionist tendency having no compatibility with Marxism Leninism. Today, it is the prime task of all the Marxist-Leninists to not only oppose but to expose the lies, deceit and fabrication of Marxism-Leninist and falsification of history being perpetrated by the Trotskyites, in the guise of revolutionary phrase mongering and to lay bare the truly  reactionary, counter-revolutionary, petty-bourgeois ideology of Trotskyism.

So let us see, how both Lenin and Trotsky, since the 1903, when the second party congress took place, had adopted an opposite view, which lasted well after the success of the October revolution.

The Second Congress of RSDLP: Trotsky sides with Anti-Leninists

The Second congress Of the Russian Social-Democratic Party, was held in July/August 1903, first in Brussels, and then in London. It was attended by 43 delegates from 26 different organisations. Formally, the aim of the congress was to adopt a programme and rules. But the real purpose of the Congress was to unify all the trends and create one party in Russia. Trotsky attended it as delegate of Siberian Social-Democratic Workers’ Union.

A fierce controversy at the Congress arose around the first clause of the rule, on what the term “member of the party” means. According to Lenin “A member of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party is one who accepts its programme and who supports the Party both financially and by personal participation in one of the Party organisations.[i]. Whereas Martov’s formula was: “A member of the Party is one who recognizes its program, supports it by material means and renders it regular personal collaboration under work under the control and direction of one of the Party organisations”, which effectively meant  opening the doors of the party, as Plekhanov mentioned, to the opportunists, who just longed for such a position of being inside the Party but outside its organisation. It is clear that Martov’s articulation was an anti-working class outlook, which was vehemently opposed and criticised by Lenin.

Trotsky sided with Martov, whose amendment was adopted by 28 votes to 22 with 1 absentation. The formulation of Lenin, appeared to Trotsky of “totally abstract nature[ii]” and “This “centralist” solution does not seem to me to be the product of superior political wisdom.”[iii]

Again, when Lenin proposed that the editorial board of “Iskra” (which consisted of six members) should be replaced by three members. It was none other than Trotsky, who countered the proposal of a three person Editorial Board with a motion confirming the old editorial board in office. Not only he opposed the motion, but also instigated Martov to oppose the bill, though Martov had agreed to Lenin’s proposal before. But the motion confirming the old editorial board in office was defeated by a majority of 2 votes. Thus, Trotsky’s and other member’s sectarian behaviour caused the split in the RSDLP to be more evident. On the development of the events, Krupskaya wrote:

Although there were no differences among the overwhelming majority of the delegates on the question or the Bund’s place in the Party, on the question of the programme, and the acceptance of the Iskra line as their banner, a definite rift made itself felt half-way through the congress, which deepened towards the end. Strictly , speaking, no serious differences standing in the way of joint work or making such work impossible had vet come to light at the congress. They existed in a latent form, however, potentially, so to speak. Yet the congress was clearly divided. Many were inclined to blame Plekhanov’s tactlessness, Lenin’s “vehemence” and “ambition,” Pavlovich’s pinpricks, and the unfair treatment of Zasulich and Axelrod – and they sided with those who had a grievance. They missed the substance through looking at personalities. Trotsky was one of them. He became a fierce opponent of Lenin. And the substance was this – that the comrades grouped around Lenin were far more seriously committed to principles, which they wanted to see applied at all cost and pervading all the practical work. The other group had more of the man-in-the-street mentality, were given to compromise and concessions in principle, and had more regard for persons. (Krupskaya’s “Reminiscences of Lenin”,

Immediately after the Congress, Trotsky penned down a report for his group, titled Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. (Report of the Siberian Delegation, published in Geneva in 1903.

This is what he wrote, about the Bolshevik-Menshevik spilt.

At the Second Congress of Russian Social Democracy, this man, with all the energy and all the talent typical of him, acted as disorganizer. But to lay all the blame on him would be an inadmissible simplification of the problem. Behind Lenin, during the second period of the congress’s work, there was a new compact majority of hard Iskra-ists, opposed to the soft Iskra-ists. We as delegates of the Siberian Union, were among the soft ones. And now, after seriously weighing what we have done, we do not think we have blemished our revolutionary record. (Leon Trotsky, Report of the Siberian Delegation (1903), iberian.htm)

He further wrote:

If beforehand, during the “Economist” period, these comrades could not or would not link the particular industrial interests they served with the general tasks of class politics which they ignored, today, in the “political” period, they show themselves incapable of linking the tasks of revolutionary political struggle (which they basically recognize only formally) with immediate, daily demands, in particular, the limited demands of specific trades. If beforehand, in the period of “dilettantism”, they could not or would not link up in their consciousness the local detailed tasks with the need to create a central fighting apparatus common to the whole Party, now, at the height of “centralism” they make a complete abstraction, in their considerations and resolutions about this apparatus, of all the practical complexity and concrete character of the tasks the Party must carry out; tasks with which the organizational apparatus must conform, tasks which alone permit the existence of this apparatus. This is why, to go ahead a little, uni-linear “centralism”, that is the purely formal centralism put forward by Lenin, found its warmest supporters in certain ex-Economists. They were the ones who turned out to be the hardest Iskra-ists. (Trotsky, i.b.i.d)

How much Trotsky loathed Lenin and his idea of party, can be seen from the below paragraph, where he calls Lenin as “Robespierre[iv]

The “state of siege” on which Lenin insisted with such energy, requires “full powers”. The practice of organized distrust demands an iron hand. The system of Terror is crowned by a Robespierre. Comrade Lenin reviewed the members of the Party in his mind, and reached the conclusion that this iron hand could only be himself. And he was right. The hegemony of Social Democracy in the struggle for emancipation meant, according to the “state of siege”, the hegemony of Lenin over Social Democracy. This next step in the “struggle for power” lost its personal character, it appeared as the last link in the system. Lenin’s success was the success of the system. All the more disastrous it may turn out to be for the Party.

He further lays allegation on Lenin of creating Republic of Virtue and Terror

Comrade Lenin transformed the modest Council into an all powerful Committee of Public Safety, in order to take on himself the role of the Incorruptible. Everything which was in his way had to be swept aside. The perspective of the destruction of the Iskra-ist Montagne did not stop Comrade Lenin. It was simply a question of establishing, through the intermediary of the Council, and without resistance, a “Republic of Virtue and Terror”.

 The report is full of attack on Lenin and his position, Trotsky declares Lenin to be creator of bureaucratic centralism, the report is full of accusation about Lenin and how he has been instrumental in destroying the nascent party. So we see, this is how Trotsky starts his serious revolutionary life. After the Congress he joined the ranks of Mensheviks, only to split from them in 1904, after which he was to be associated with loose group of intellectuals with no political base. At the most he can be called as a journalist who styled himself to be a revolutionary, but in reality remained a factionalist and opportunist. In words of Tony Cliff, an ardent Trotskyite himself,

“…Trotsky was also not involved in party administration. But this was because he did not, in fact, belong to any real party. Between 1904, when he broke with the Mensheviks, and 1917, when he joined the Bolsheviks, he was associated only with a small loose group of writers.

Cliff, Tony “Lenin, Volume One: Building the Party”;

Trotsky continued his opposition towards Lenin and Bolsheviks, and boycotted Iskra and refused to contribute in it.

After the capitulation of Plekhanov to the Menshevik’s camp, Lenin resigned from the Editorial board of Iskra, and the paper then virtually became the Menshevik organ(from the 52nd issue it started to be called as ‘new’ Iskra inside the party). Trotsky started actively contributing to it and even wrote a pamphlet setting forth the Menshevik political line.

In 1904, Lenin published his famous treatise, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back(The Crisis in Our Party), Trotsky in reply wrote Our Political Tasks that he dedicated “… dear teacher Pavel Borisovich Axelrod”. Our Political Task constitutes one of Trotsky’s most vitriolic attack on Lenin and the philosophy of Bolshevik party. In the entire pamphlet, he repeatedly slanders the principle of Lenin and Bolshevism, here as Economist, there as Jacobinist, overall describing Bolsheviks as nothing but power hungry despots led by a “Evil-minded and morally repulsive suspiciousness”. Though when he had no other option but to join the Bolshevik party, he disowned this work, but continued to carry the discredited theory and anti-Leninism with him till the last.


Let us quote some of the passage from this pamphlet. In its Preface, Trotsky writes,

Up until the appearance of this opus [One Step Forward, Two Steps Back –editor], Comrade Lenin could say nothing worthwhile to defend his position, since the position adopted was altogether desperate. Having said that, we were not expecting such a poverty of thinking. My first reaction, after reading it, was to say: let us just carry on with the problems we have on the agenda. But on reflection – and the essential part of this reflection is explained above – I believed it was indispensable to make our position more explicit; it is impossible to leap over the aggravating state of consciousness in the Party. (

He further developed his attack upon Lenin; whom he described as Evil-mindedness and morally repulsive…Let us quote another paragraph from the arsenal of Trotsky describing the politics of Lenin:

’I know only two parties, that of the good citizens and that of the bad.’ This political aphorism is engraved on the heard of Maximilien Lenin and, in a gross way, sums up the political wisdom of the former Iskra. The practice of mistrust certainly was the basic trait of the Iskra team: the milieu in which they worked was that of the intelligentsia which showed its anti-proletarian nature in various ways. The old Iskra took it as its task not to enlighten the political consciousness of the intelligentsia, but to theoretically terrorise it. For the social democrats trained in this school, ‘orthodoxy’ is something very close to the absolute Truth of the Jacobins. Orthodox Truth ruled everywhere, even in the matter of co-option. Whoever challenged it was removed; whoever questioned it came under doubt.

Lenin’s speech to the Congress of the League provides the classic expression of his ‘Jacobin’ views in this respect. Lenin knows the absolute organisational Truth; he has a ‘plan’ and is trying to carry it out. The Party would be flourishing if he, Lenin, were not surrounded on all sides by intrigues and traps, as though everything was in league against him and his ‘plan.’ And Lenin reaches the conclusion that to make the work more efficient it is necessary to removethe troublesome elements and make them unable to harm the Party. In other words, it has become necessary, for the good of the Party, to institute a ‘state of siege’; at its head there had to be, as the Romans said, a dictator seditionis sedendae et rei gerundae causa (a dictator to put down sedition and govern affairs). But the regime of ‘terror’ was from the outset and impotent. The dictator seditionis sedendae could not subject the ‘disrupters,’ nor expel them, nor lock them up in the straightjacket of discipline. He was not able to intimidate the ‘backward elements’ who continued to take new positions. And all our Robespierre had left was to repeat his namesake’s pessimistic words. (

He also attacked Lenin’s principles of Party organisation, claiming it would lead to the establishment of dictatorship over the working class (i.e a dictatorship of an individual)

In the internal politics of the Party these methods lead, as we shall see below, to the Party organisation “substituting” itself for the Party, the Central Committee substituting itself for the Party organisation, and finally the dictator substituting himself for the Central Committee; on the other hand, this leads the committees to supply an “orientation” – and to change it – while “the people keep silent”; in “external” politics these methods are manifested in attempts to bring pressure to bear on other social organisations, by using the abstract strength of the class interests of the proletariat, and not the real strength of the proletariat conscious of its class interests. These “methods,” as adopted by us and the content of our Party work. All in all, these “methods” lead to the complete disappearance of questions of political tactics in Social Democracy.

Was not the same argument was churned by him while describing the Satan, “Stalinism”? In May 1904 Trotsky was excluded from the editorial board of ‘Iskra’ at Plekhanov’s insistence. Though, he continued to contribute to the Menshevik journal. He went to Munich where he met Alexander Helphand whose nom de plume was Parvus, who would have a major impact on his thinking. A word about Pravus would not be out of context. Pravus was a sympathiser of the Mensheviks, but he wanted to play the role of a judge, so desisted from openly expressing his loyalty. He published his own political journal “Aus der Weltpolitik” (‘World Politics’) and also wrote articles for Kautsky’s “Neue Zeit” (New Life) and the new “Iskra” — under the pen-name “Parvus”. Later on

“Theory of Permanent Revolution”: An Anti Marxist Formulation

The Theory of Permanent Revolution, is considered to be an outstanding contribution to Marxism, by his supporters. To be a Trotskyist is to accept this tenant. It is claimed that this theory is the continuation of the thinking of Marx, which was also accepted by Lenin. Hence Lenin, according to the Trotskyist, had been baptised in accepting Trotskyism.

But is this the truth? Let’s see…

When Trotsky visited Munich in 1905, he discussed the idea with him, The ‘theory’ of the permanent revolution in its essential is due to Parvus, who in a series of articles entitled ‘War and revolution’ argued that the national state, the birth of which corresponded to the needs of industrial capitalism, was henceforth superseded.[v]

Parvus wrote a preface to Trotsky’s book ‘Our Political Tasks’ in which he argued: ‘The Provisional Revolutionary Government of Russia will be a workers’ democratic government . . . As the Social Democratic Party is at the head of the revolutionary movement . . . this government will be social democratic . . . a coherent government with a social democratic majority.’[vi] And drew a conclusion, “In Russia only the workers can accomplish a revolutionary insurrection. . . The revolutionary provisional government will be a government of workers’ democracy.”

An idea that was to became a cornerstone to Trotsky’s thinking and continue to be the manna for all his supporters, who were saved from the rigours of concrete analysis.

Let us see what Lenin had to say on this, in Social-Democracy and the Provisional Revolutionary Government, he wrote:

He [Parvus] openly advocated (unfortunately, together with the windbag Trotsky in a foreword to the latter’s bombastic pamphlet Before the Ninth of January) the idea of the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship, the idea that it was the duty of Social-Democrats to take part in the provisional revolutionary government after the overthrow of the autocracy. Parvus is profoundly right in saying that the Social-Democrats must not fear to take bold strides forward, to deal joint “blows” at the enemy, shoulder to shoulder with the revolutionary bourgeois democrats, on the definite understanding, however (very appropriately brought to mind), that the organisations are not to be merged, that we march separately but strike together, that we do not conceal the diversity of interests, that we watch our ally as we would our enemy, etc.[vii]

He further declares,

Equally incorrect, for the same reason, are Parvus’ statements that “the revolutionary provisional government in Russia will be a government of working-class democracy”, that “if the Social-Democrats are at the head of the revolutionary movement of the Russian proletariat, this government will be a Social-Democratic government”, that the Social-Democratic provisional government “will be an integral government with a Social-Democratic majority”. This is impossible, unless we speak of fortuitous, transient episodes, and not of a revolutionary dictatorship that will be at all durable and capable of leaving its mark in history. This is impossible, because only a revolutionary dictatorship supported by the vast majority of the people can be at all durable (not absolutely, of course, but relatively). The Russian proletariat, however, is at present a minority of the population in Russia. It can become the great, overwhelming majority only if it combines with the mass of semi-proletarians, semi-proprietors, i.e., with the mass of the petty-bourgeois urban and rural poor. Such a composition of the social basis of the possible and desirable revolutionary-democratic dictatorship will, of course, affect the composition of the revolutionary government and inevitably lead to the participation, or even predominance, within it of the most heterogeneous representatives of revolutionary democracy.[viii]

On Trotsky’s position Lenin says:

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. To become great, to evoke 1789-93, not 1848-50, and to surpass those years, it must rouse the vast masses to active life, to heroic efforts, to “fundamental historic creativeness”; it must raise them out of frightful ignorance, unparalleled oppression, incredible backwardness, and abysmal dullness. The revolution is already raising them and will raise them completely; the government itself is facilitating   the process by its desperate resistance. But, of course, there can be no question of a mature political consciousness, of a Social-Democratic consciousness of these masses or their numerous “native” popular leaders or even “muzhik” leaders. They cannot become Social-Democrats at once without first passing a number of revolutionary tests, not only because of their ignorance (revolution, we repeat, enlightens with marvellous speed), but because their class position is not proletarian, because the objective logic of historical development confronts them at the present time with the tasks, not of a socialist, but of a democratic revolution.

Trotsky’s idea that the revolution will bring to power the proletariat and that such power would proceed to “socialist” change, made his position near to the Narodnik fantasy of immediate socialist revolution. Lenin sharply criticised this utopianism of Trotsky;

Finally, we wish to say that by making it the task of the provisional revolutionary government to achieve the minimum programme, the resolution thereby eliminates the absurd, semi-anarchist ideas that the maximum programme, the conquest of power for a socialist revolution, can be immediately achieved. The present degree of economic development in Russia (an objective condition) and the degree of class consciousness and organization of the broad masses of the proletariat (a subjective condition indissolubly connected with the objective condition) make the immediate, complete emancipation of the working class impossible. Only the most ignorant people can ignore the bourgeois character of the present democratic revolution; only the most naive optimists can forget how little as yet the masses of the workers are informed of the aims of socialism and of the methods of achieving it. And we are all convinced that the emancipation of the workers can only be brought about by the workers themselves; a socialist revolution is out of the question unless the masses become class-conscious, organized, trained and educated by open class struggle against the bourgeoisie. In answer to the anarchist objections that we are delaying the socialist revolution, we shall say: we are not delaying it, but taking the first step in its direction, using the only means that are possible along the only right path, namely, the path of a democratic republic.[ix]

Lenin called it an “absurdly Left “permanent revolution” theory.”[x]

We will be publishing a separate paper, where we will deal in detail the Theory of Permanent Revolution and its deviations from the ideology of Marxism Leninism.

“No Tsar, but a Workers’ Government”

In February 1905 Trotsky returned to Russia, and after few weeks moved to St. Perersburg, where he became leader of City’s Menshevik group.

After the event of 9th January, he wrote two articles, Up to the Ninth of January’, written before the Black Sunday massacre, in which he concluded that tsarism would be overthrown by a general strike and In ‘After the Petersburg Uprising: What Next?’ published on 20 January, he reiterated his argument that the principal actor was the proletariat.

Lenin said:

Trotskyism: “No tsar, but a workers’ government.” This is wrong. A petty bourgeoisie exists, and it cannot be dismissed. But it is in two parts. The poorer of the two is with the working class.[xi]

However, when faced with the sharp criticism of Lenin, Trotsky took a U turn and declared that this slogan was coined by Parvus and not by himself:

“But it may not be superfluous to add – O my critics! – that at no time and in no place did I ever write or utter or propose such a slogan as ‘No Tsar – but a workers’ government! At the basis of the main argument of my judges there lies, aside from everything else, a shameful factual error. The fact of the matter is that a proclamation entitled ‘No Tsar – but a workers’ government’ was written and published abroad in the summer of 1905 by Parvus. I had already been living illegally for a long time in Petersburg at that period, and had nothing at all to do with this leaflet either in ideas or in actions. I learned of it much later from polemical articles. I never had the occasion or opportunity to express myself on it. As for the proclamation I (as also, moreover, all my critics) neither saw it nor read it. [xii]

The Freelance Revolutionary

In the summer of 1907, following the Fifth Congress of the RSDLP, Trotsky moved to Berlin and allied with the Social Democratic Party of Germany. Here also he did not have ties with the radical wing but allied with the rightist faction. In words of his biographer, Isaac Deutscher

“Curiously enough, Trotsky’s closest ties were not with the radical wing of German socialism, led by Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebnicht and Franz Mehring, the future founders of the Communist Party, but with the men . . . who maintained the appearances of Marxist orthodoxy, but were in fact leading the party to its surrender to the imperialist ambitions of the Hohenzollern empire”. [xiii]

He contributed regularly to the SPd’s daily “Vorwarts” (Forward) and to its monthly ‘Neue Zeit’ (New Life), in which he reiterated his attacks on the “sectarianism” of the Bolsheviks expounding the Menshevik’s views putting “before the German comrades liberal views with a Marxist coating.[xiv]”.

He said, “It is an illusion” to imagine that Menshevism and Bolshevism “have struck deep roots in the depths of the proletariat”, to which Lenin replied:

This is a specimen of the resonant but empty phrases of which our Trotsky is a master. The roots of the divergence between the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks lie, not in the “depths of the proletariat”, but in theeconomic content of the Russian revolution. By ignoring this content, Martov and Trotsky have deprived themselves of the possibility of understanding the historical meaning of the inner Party struggle in Russia. The crux of the matter is not whether the theoretical formulations of the differences have penetrated “deeply” into this or that stratum of the proletariat, but the fact that the economic conditions of the Revolution of 1905 brought the proletariat into hostile relations with the liberal bourgeoisie—not only over the question of improving the conditions of daily life of the workers, but also over the agrarian question, over all the political questions of the revolution, etc. To speak of the struggle of trends in the Russian revolutions distributing labels such as “sectarianism”, “lack of culture”, etc., and not to say a word about the fundamental economic interests of the proletariat, of the liberal bourgeoisie and of the democratic peasantry, means stooping to the level of cheap journalists.[xv]

Further criticising the liberal view of Mensheviks (primarily Trotsky and Marov), Lenin says:

The tragicomedy of Menshevism lies in the fact that at the time of the revolution it had to accept theses which were incompatible with liberalism. If we support the struggle of the “peasantry” for the confiscation of the land, it means that we admit that victory is possible and economically and politically advantageous for the working class and the whole of the people. But the victory of the “peasantry” led by the proletariat in the struggle for the confiscation of the landed estates is precisely the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. (Let us recall what Marx said in 1848 about the need for a dictatorship in a revolution, and Mehring’s deserved ridicule of those who accused Marx of wishing to achieve democracy by setting up a dictatorship.[xvi]

Trotsky said:

…boycottist tendency runs through the whole history of Bolshevism—boycott of the trade unions, of the State Duma, of local self-government bodies, etc. …result of sectarian fear of being swamped by the masses, the radicalism of irreconcilable abstention”

That Lenin said is distortion of Bolshevism:

Trotsky distorts Bolshevism, because he has never been able to form any definite views on the role of the proletariat in the Russian bourgeois revolution.

From October 1908 Trotsky began editing a small paper called Pravda (Truth), that was started in 1905 by pro-Menshevik Ukrainian Social-Democratic League (“Spilika”). At end of 1908, the group abandoned the paper, which then became his personal journal. In Pravda, he advocated conciliationism; Lenin brilliantly explained what is meant by conciliationism in the following words:

Conciliationism is the totality of moods, strivings and views that are indissolubly hound up with the very essence of the historical task confronting the R.S.D.L.P. during the period of the counter-revolution of 1908–11.[xvii]

On Trotsky’s stand in Pravda, he further said:

That is why, during this period, a number of Social-Democrats, proceeding from essentially different premises, “lapsed” into conciliationism. Trotsky expressed conciliationism more consistently than anyone else. He was probably the only one who attempted to give the trend a theoretical foundation, namely: factions and factionism express the struggle of the intelligentsia “for influence over the immature proletariat”. The proletariat is maturing, and factionalism is perishing of itself. The root of the process of fusion of the factions is not the change in the relations between the classes, not the evolution of the fundamental ideas of the two principal factions, but the observance or otherwise of agreements concluded between all the “intellectual” factions. For a long time now, Trotsky—who at one moment has wavered more to the side of the Bolsheviks and at another more to that of the Mensheviks—has been persistently carrying on propaganda for an agreement (or compromise) between all and sundry factions.[xviii]

Lenin, called Trotsky’s Pravda as a tiny group with no consistent ideology not no impact on the broader strata of the working class.

Pravda represents a tiny group, which has not given an independent and consistent answer to any important fundamental question of the revolution and counter-revolution. We can call a trend only a definite sum of political ideas which have become well-defined in regard to all the most important questions of both the revolution (for we have moved away but little from it and are dependent on it in all respects) and the counter-revolution; ideas which, moreover, have proved their right to existence as a trend by being widely disseminated among broad strata of the working class.

Later Trotsky himself agreed that he was a concilationist.

My inner party stand was a concilationist one. . The great historical significance of Lenin’s policy was still unclear to me at that time, his policy of irreconcilable ideological demarcation and, when necessary split, for the purpose of welding and tempering the core of the truly revolutionary party.

By striving for unity at all-costs, I involuntarily and unavoidably idealised centrist tendencies in Menshsvism”

Then once again abandoning on his previous stand, now he started speaking about non-factionalism, we will not go into detail but skip several years and again quote from Lenin, who in May 1914, wrote another criticism of Trotsky’s “non-factional workers’ journal” titled Disruption of Unity Under Cover of Outcries for Unity. In this Lenin examines the ideas of Trotsky and calls his stand as: merely a patent to flit freely to and fro, from one group to another. Allow us to quote some long paragraphs from this article, to really understand the politics of this great ‘disciple’ of Lenin and architect of the Russian Revolution.

Trotsky calls his new journal “non-factional”. He puts this word in the top line in his advertisements; this word is stressed by him in every key, in the editorial articles of Borba itself, as well as in the liquidationist Severnaya Rabochaya Gazeta, which carried an article on Borba by Trotsky before the latter began publication.

What is this “non-factionalism”?

Trotsky’s “workers’ journal” is Trotsky’s journal for workers, as there is not a trace in it of either workers’ initiative, or any connection with working-class organisations. Desiring to write in a popular style, Trotsky, in his journal for workers, explains for the benefit of his readers the meaning of such foreign words as “territory”, “factor”, and so forth.

Very good. But why not also explain to the workers the meaning of the word “non-factionalism”? Is that word more intelligible than the words “territory” and “factor”?


For over two years, since 1912, there has been no factionalism among the organised Marxists in Russia, no disputes over tactics in united organisations, at united conferences and congresses. There is a complete break between the Party, which in January 1912 formally announced that the liquidators do not belong to it, and the liquidators. Trotsky often calls this state of affairs a “split”, and we shall deal with this appellation separately later on. But it remains an undoubted fact that the term “factionalism” deviates from the truth.

As we have said, this term is a repetition, an uncritical, unreasonable, senseless repetition of what was true yesterday, i. e., in the period that has already passed. When Trotsky talks to us about the “chaos of factional strife” (see No. 1, pp. 5, 6, and many others) we realise at once which period of the past his words echo.

For over two years, since 1912, there has been no factionalism among the organised Marxists in Russia, no disputes over tactics in united organisations, at united conferences and congresses. There is a complete break between the Party, which in January 1912 formally announced that the liquidators do not belong to it, and the liquidators. Trotsky often calls this state of affairs a “split”, and we shall deal with this appellation separately later on. But it remains an undoubted fact that the term “factionalism” deviates from the truth.

As we have said, this term is a repetition, an uncritical, unreasonable, senseless repetition of what was true yesterday, i. e., in the period that has already passed. When Trotsky talks to us about the “chaos of factional strife” (see No. 1, pp. 5, 6, and many others) we realise at once which period of the past his words echo.

On Split, Trotsky wrote, “Numerouss advanced workers, in a state of utter political bewilderment, themselves often become active agents of a split.”

To which Lenin said:

If our attitude towards liquidationism is wrong in theory, in principle, then Trotsky should say so straightforwardly, and state definitely, without equivocation, why he thinks it is wrong. But Trotsky has been evading this extremely important point for years.

If our attitude towards liquidationism has been proved wrong in practice, by the experience of the movement, then this experience should be analysed; but Trotsky fails to do this either. “Numerous advanced workers,” he admits, “become active agents of a split” (read: active agents of the Pravdist line, tactics, system and organisation).

It is the “utter political bewilderment” of these advanced workers, answers Trotsky.

Needless to say, this explanation is highly flattering to Trotsky, to all five groups abroad, and to the liquidators. Trotsky is very fond of using, with the learned air of the expert, pompous and high-sounding phrases to explain historical phenomena in a way that is flattering to Trotsky. Since “numerous advanced workers” become “active agents” of a political and Party line which does not conform to Trotsky’s line, Trotsky settles the question unhesitatingly, out of hand: these advanced workers are “in a state of utter political bewilderment”, whereas he, Trotsky, is evidently “in a state” of political firmness and clarity, and keeps to the right line!… And this very same Trotsky, beating his breast, fulminates against factionalism, parochialism, and the efforts of intellectuals to impose their will on the workers! (…underline ours)

Lenin, understood the vacillation of Trotsky from one faction to other, as early as 1910, when in the “The Historical Meaning of the Inner-Party Struggle in Russia”, he wrote:

Trotsky, on the other hand, represents only his own personal vacillations and nothing more. In 1903 he was a Menshevik; he abandoned Menshevism in 1904, returned to the Mensheviks in 1905 and merely flaunted ultra-revolutionary phrases; in 1906 he left them again; at the end of 1906 he advocated electoral agreements with the Cadets (i.e., he was in fact once more with the Mensheviks); and in the spring of 1907, at the London Congress, he said that he differed from Rosa Luxemburg on “individual shades of ideas rather than on political tendencies”. One day Trotsky plagiarises from the ideological stock-in-trade of one faction; the next day he plagiarises from that of another, and therefore declares himself to be standing above both factions. In theory Trotsky is on no point in agreement with either the liquidators or the otzovists, but in actual practice he is in entire agreement with both the Golosists and the Vperyodists.[xix]

A trait which he continued to have, even after joining the Bolsheviks on the eve of October Revolution.

To be continued…

We will continue with our analysis in the next part where we will start from the creation of August bloc and Trotsky’s role in the first Soviet Government.


[i] V. I.   Lenin, Account of the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P,

[ii] Leon Trotsky, Report of the Siberian Delegation (1903),


[iv] Robespierre was

[v] Kostas Mavrakis, ON TROTSKYISM, Problems of theory and history,


[vii] V. I.   Lenin, Social-Democracy and the Provisional Revolutionary Government,

[viii] V. I.   Lenin, Social-Democracy and the Provisional Revolutionary Government,

[ix] V.I. Lenin, Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution, Collected Works, Volume 9, Moscow 1962, pp. 28–9

[x] V. I. Lenin, Disruption of Unity Under Cover of Outcries for Unity


[xii] (L. Trotsky. “The Permanent Revolution”;

[xiii] I. Deutscher “The Prophet Armed Trotsky: 1879-1921”; London: 1970; p.162

[xiv] V. I. Lenin, The Historical Meaning of the Inner-Party Struggle in Russia,



[xvii] V. I.   Lenin, The New Faction of Conciliators, Or the Virtuous


[xix] V. I. Lenin, The Historical Meaning of the Inner-Party Struggle in Russia,