Saturday, August 25, 2007

Remembering Leon Trotsky: Deutcher's Prophet Armed


While the Menchivics were arguing how to transfer Russia from feudal to capitalistic in nature, and the Second International was entering its recessionary crisis (plenty of different political & ideological reasons), a 25 year old foresaw, through his expertise in Historical Materialism and under the studies of Parvus that the seeds to establisk a Soviet is possible due to plenty of reasons. When the first Soviet (Workers Council) was built in 1905, Lenin and Julius Martove go "what is that". When the revolution ended, it ended with Trotsky's head up while the Tsarist army baffled that this young fellow was the transformer of a simple demonstration to the 2nd workers' revolutions and established the Second Workers' Council after the Paris Commune of 1871.

This piece is taken from Isaac Deutcher's Prophet Armed timeless masterpiece, that depicts the very end of the first Soviet (Second compared to Paris Commune), and how its organizer got arrested. The 1905 revolution was about to end with the Tsar's army entering the Soviet HQ, Trotsky at such a young age, 26, successfuly transformed a demonstration to a revolution and established the first Soviet in the history. The 21st Century Communists should learn from their history, and above all how the ideology is placed in the service of the Marxist Revolutionary. This is the second post about probably one of the most important figures/thinkers of Communism, and the saver of the Marxist doctrine from being misunderstood as Stalin's Mother Russia, I published the article last year, and thought it would be a good idea to republish it in the honor of a man who sacrificed everything for the sake of the Proletariat:

The Arrest

"From a balcony Trotsky shouted to the delegates: 'Comrades, offer no resistence. We declare beforehand that only an agent provocateur or a policeman will fire a shot here!" He instructed the delegates to break the locks of their revolvers befure surrendering them to the police. Then he resumed his chair at the Executive's conference.

A trade-union spokesman was just declaring his union's readiness ot join in the general strike, when a detachment of soldiers and police occupied the corridors. A police officer entered the room where the Executive was sitting and began to read a warrant of arrest. It was now only a question whether the Soviet would carry its own weakness and humilation with dignity. Resistence was ruled out. But should they surrender meekly, gloomy-faced, without a sign of defiance? Trotsky's pride and his sense of stage effect would not perit him to preside over so flat and disheartening a scene. But he could not afford any serious act of defiance, he could relieve the gloom of the situation only with humour. And so he turned the last scene of this spectacle into a witty burlesque of a bold performance. As the police officer, facing the Executive, began to read the warrant of arrest, Trostsky sharply interrupted him: "Please do not interfere with the speaker. If you wish to take the floor, you must give your name and I shall ask the meeting whether it wishes to list to you."

The perplexed officer, not knowing whether he was being mocke at or whether he should expect armed resistence, waited fo rthe trade-union delegate to end his speech. Then Trotsky gravely asked the Executive whether he should allow the officer to make a statement "for the sake of information". The officer read the warrant, and Trotsky proposed that the Executive should acknowledge it and take up the next item on it agenda. Another speaker rose.

"Excuse me", the police officer, disconcerted by this unheard of behavior, stammered and turned towards Trotsky, as if for help.

"Please do not interfere", Troskty sharply rebuked him. "You have had the floor; you have made your statement; we have acknowledged it. Does the meeting to have further dealings with the policeman?"


"Then, please, leave the hall."

The officer shuffled his feet, muttered a few words and left. Trotsky called upon the members of the Executive to destroy all documents and not to reveal their names to the police. From the hall below rose the clangour of broken revolver-locks-the delegates were carrying out Troskty's order.

The police officer re-entered, this time leading a platoon of soldiers. A member of the Executive rose to address the soldiers: The Tsar, he said, was at this very moment breaking the promise of the October Manifesto; and they, the soldiers, were allowing themselves to be used as his tools against the people. The officer, afraid of the effect of the words, hurriedly led the soldiers out into the corridor and shot the door behind them. "Even through closed doors", the speaker raised his vice, "the brotherly call of the workers will reach the soldiers."

At length, a strong detachment of police entered, and Trotsky declared the meeting of the Executive closed.

Thus after fifty days ended the epic of the first Soviet in history."

taken from Isaac Deutcher, Prophet Armed Trosky 1879 - 1921 ( Verso, 2003), p. 118 - 119


Dave Marlow said...

Fantastic post. I have always viewed Trotsky in a more sympathetic light than Lenin. He was victim to circumstance throughout the entire time leading up to the revolution and following Lenin's death. What a great story about the first Soviet. I ought to go pick up a biography on Trotsky.

Two quick comments:

(1) Trotsky himself was a Menshevik for some time leading up to the initial revolution, causing dissension between him and Lenin. It was only after the party demonstrated an inability to help lead the revolution (granted, the Bolsheviks' highly partisan nature didn't allow them much of an opportunity) that Trotsky begrudgingly left their platform.

(2) "in the honor of a man who sacrificed everything for the sake of the Proletariat:

Like I said, I feel much sympathy for Trotsky given the nature of the circumstances surrounding the formation of the Soviet Union. Much of his contributions to Marxist theory are clearly vital organs of the modern socialist movement. However, Trotsky's suppression of the Kronstadt rebellion is his largest blemish. Much of what was labeled "reactionary" and "petty-bourgeoisie" at the time was a matter of propaganda, and Trotsky's blatant suppression of the sailors (and workers) at Kronstadt is inexcusable.

MarxistFromLebanon said...

Dear Comrade Dave

It is always my pleasure to recieve wonderful visits from my fellow progressive activists and comrades...

I would like to reply on your two quick events...

Regarding the first notion, Leon Trotsky was tagged a Menshevic due to opposing Lenin in the Social Democratic Congress, whereby Lenin proposed that Axelrod, Vera Zusilich, and Potresov to be excluded from the Iskra editorial staff, keep in mind that Plekhanov and Axelrod, and Potresov opposed then the appointment of Trotsky as the Seventh member of the Iskra editorial... Trotsky and Lenin agreed on everything on that except, ironically, the ousting of the earlier three from the editorial because they were not productive. And hence, with that proposal failing to meet Lenin's purposes, the rest of the proposals passed perfectly and democratically with a Two Vote Difference for Lenin's favor, which included reform, upgrading Iskra and the Social Democrats, etc... even Trotsky voted to either side whenever the proposal provided was progressive... and hence Lenin's side became the Bolesheivics (Majority, due to votes), and the Menchevics, Plekhanov's side,became known as the Minority.

Now, Trotsky in specific, he didnt take sides, as he was not in good term with the sixth young editor and spearhead of the Menshevics: Julius Martov, plus he already despised Plekhanov's hegemony of not allowing new blood to be empowered. Rather, he was tagged a menshevic for opposing Lenin during the Congress to Oust the former three, but other than that, he was isolated, and only became active whenever there was a chance to unify the Bolseshevics and Menshevics as a single progressive organ (let us also not to forget his age then, below 25). Again, Isaac Deutcher clearly dwells on that issue in the Prophet Armed book, and on a briefer scale, Alan Woods and Ted Grant:

Eventually, I do believe that Lenin and Trotsky started to side with one another to the extent they became the backbone of opposing other Boleshevics, specially regarding the October Revolution when both were outvoted the first time on the issue of whether to trigger a second revolution against the reactionary politicians who harvested the February revolution for their own pockets.

Now regarding the Kronstadt, I read somewhere how the Soviet archives when opened under Putins second term cleared Trotsky from the accusations, but sadly cant find the blasted hard copy article... yet, there is this article

as well as in it is a link on what Trotsky wrote, in 1938, regarding the Kronstadt incident

Best Regard s
In Solidarity yours

Darko said...

Trotsky, is without a doubt a great Marxist, i believe that the communist revolution would had a better fate, if he took power after Lenin instead of Stalin.
The concept of Permanent Revolution always mesmerized me and I'm not even a communist.(Marx's idea at first)
MFL, i read in a previous post of urs you said "“leftists” opposed any form of Nationalism", that offends me, i consider myself a leftist and a nationalist at the same time, r u saying that that's impossible, and by the way, you cannot limit the left to only communists and anarchists.

And one last thing, i would like to read ur comments on the first article at my blog

MarxistFromLebanon said...

Darko, hehehehehe
You opened a blog finally, congrats :)

It was Trotsky himself who said: "Any form of Capitalism is Reactionary Capitalism", that is for the marxists: adopting Internationalism to the extreme case :)... we regard Nationalism as a form that divides the Proletariat my friend... no offence intended

Yalla will read your blog when I have time