Archive for the ‘John Podesta’ Category


John Podesta, the former Clinton Administration chief of staff who is spearheading President Barack Obama’s aggressive strategy of government-by-regulation, has also been helping United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with an even more ambitious job: setting the stage to radically transform the world’s economic, environmental and social agenda.

That effort—a colossal and sweeping form of global behavior modification–is supposed to get a new kick-start at a special U.N. summit of world leaders to be convened by Ban in New York City on September 25.

Its supporters hope that effort will end next year in a new international treaty that will bind all 193 U.N. members– including the U.S– to a still formless “universal sustainable development agenda” for the planet that will take effect in 2020.

“Developing a single, sustainable development agenda is critical,” says a report produced in May, 2013 by a 27-member “High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons” hand-picked by Ban to help focus the discussion and frame the effort required to make the huge and lengthy project a success.

The high-level panel report was chaired by British Prime Minister David Cameron and the presidents of Indonesia and Liberia. The sole American among the international luminaries, who spent nearly a year at their efforts and endorsed them through a process of consensus, was Podesta.

The question is, critical to what? And the answer, according to that panel, is pretty much everything, in what it called a series of “big, transformative shifts.”

Their report opens with the challenge to end “extreme poverty, in all its forms;” and declares, “We can be the first generation in human history to end hunger and ensure that every person achieves a basic standard of wellbeing. But it then adds: “ending extreme poverty is just the beginning, not the end.”

The new agenda is also intended to bring “a new sense of global partnership into national and international politics”; must cause the world to “act now to halt the alarming pace of climate change and environmental degradation;” and bring about a “rapid shift to sustainable patterns of consumption and production,” to name just a few things itemized in the document.

Moreover, it apparently also must spark a planetary psychological sea-change: “The new global partnership should encourage everyone to alter their worldview, profoundly and dramatically,” the report declares.

FCC “Survey” Straight From Podesta’s Fairness Doctrine Playbook – Podesta is the Soros Acting President


Last week, after Republicans in Congress attacked the program, the FCC announced it would be suspending a proposed pilot study in Columbia, South Carolina, that would have required television and radio stations to tell the government how they make editorial decisions in newsrooms.

“Any suggestion that the FCC intends to regulate the speech of news media or plans to put monitors in America’s newsrooms is false,” an FCC spokesman told reporters.

But that is not quite true, as The Washington Examiner’s Byron York reports today. Mignon Clyburn, an Obama-appointed FCC commissioner (and daughter of Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn), has long been a champion of using FCC commissioned studies on media ownership to push for new government regulations that would increase minority ownership. York writes:

From all appearances, Clyburn’s goal was more minority ownership — not a new Fairness Doctrine. In her July 2009 confirmation hearing, she said “the Fairness Doctrine should not be reinstated in any form, any way, shape or form.” She added that, “The FCC, I believe, is not in the business of censoring speech or content on the basis of political views and opinions.” But that did not mean she was not looking to change media content on the basis of her political views and opinions. She just advocated doing it by changing media ownership rather than overt Fairness Doctrine-style regulation.

York is dead right about Clyburn’s intent to use the FCC to promoter her own progressive political views and opinions. But Clyburn was not the first to advance such a plan and the power for the FCC to dictate such changes is the exact same source they used to institute the Fairness Doctrine in the first place.

In 2007, the Center for American Progress, then run by now-President Obama advisor John Podesta, produced a 40-page report detailing how the FCC could use existing statutory authority to weaken conservative voices on talk radio in favor of more progressive opinions. The CAP report read:

Ownership diversity is perhaps the single most important variable contributing to the structural imbalance based on the data. Quantitative analysis conducted by Free Press of all 10,506 licensed commercial radio stations reveals that stations owned by women, minorities, or local owners are statistically less likely to air conservative hosts or shows.

First, from a regulatory perspective, the Fairness Doctrine was never formally repealed. The FCC did announce in 1987 that it would no longer enforce certain regulations under the umbrella of the Fairness Doctrine, and in 1989 a circuit court upheld the FCC decision. The Supreme Court, however, has never overruled the cases that authorized the FCC’s enforcement of the Fairness Doctrine. Many legal experts argue that the FCC has the authority to enforce it again—thus it technically would not be considered repealed. … Thus, the public obligations inherent in the Fairness Doctrine are still in existence and operative, at least on paper.

CAP’s top policy recommendation for increasing minority ownership? Creating “local and national caps on the ownership of commercial radio stations,” tighter controls on radio licensing, and forcing commercial radio to pay fees “to support public broadcasting.”

One of CAP’s recommendations for stricter radio licensing is particularly applicable to Clyburn’s survey push. CAP recommended the FCC, “Require radio broadcast licensees to regularly show that they are operating on behalf of the public interest and provide public documentation and viewing of how they are meeting these obligations.”

Conservatives have every reason to believe Obama is out to silence them. Clyburn and the FCC are just implementing a plan Obama’s new advisor Podesta drew up years ago to do just that.



A tight-knit inner circle plays all politics, all the time, while Obama remains disengaged.
By John FundJohn Fund

The recent spate of Washington scandals has some liberals finally confessing in public what many of them have said privately for a long time. The Obama administration is arrogant, insular, prone to intimidation of adversaries, and slovenly when it comes to seeing that rules are followed. Indeed, the Obama White House is a strange place, and it’s good that its operational model is now likely to be finally dissected by the media.

Joe Klein of Time magazine laments Obama’s “unwillingness to concentrate.”

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post tars him as a President Passerby who “seems to want no control over the actions of his administration.” Milbank warns that “he’s creating a power vacuum in which lower officials behave as though anything goes.” Comedian Jon Stewart says Obama’s government lacks real “managerial competence” and that the president is either Nixonian if he knew about the scandals in advance or a Mr. Magoo–style incompetent if he didn’t.

Obama Smoking

But it was Chris Matthews of MSNBC who cut even deeper in his Hardball show on Wednesday. A former speechwriter for President Carter, he wondered if Obama “really doesn’t want to be responsible day-to-day for running” the government. He savaged the White House for using “weird, spooky language” about “the building leadership” that must approve the Benghazi talking points. “I don’t understand the model of this administration: weak chiefs of staff afraid of other people in the White House. Some undisclosed role for Valerie Jarrett. Unclear, a lot of floating power in the White House, but no clear line of authority. I’ve talked to people who’ve been chief of staff. They were never allowed to fire anybody, so they weren’t really chief of staff.” He concluded that President Obama “obviously likes giving speeches more than he does running the executive branch.”
So if Obama is not fully engaged, who does wield influence in the White House? A lot of Democrats know firsthand that Jarrett, a Chicago mentor to both Barack and Michelle Obama and now officially a senior White House adviser, has enormous influence. She is the only White House staffer in anyone’s memory, other than the chief of staff or national security adviser, to have an around-the-clock Secret Service detail of up to six agents. According to terrorism expert Richard Miniter’s recent book, Leading from Behind: “At the urging of Valerie Jarrett, President Barack Obama canceled the operation to kill Osama bin Laden on three separate occasions before finally approving” the mission for May 2, 2011. She was instrumental in overriding then–chief of staff Rahm Emanuel when he opposed the Obamacare push, and she was key in steamrolling the bill to passage in 2010. Obama may rue the day, as its chaotic implementation could become the biggest political liability Democrats will face in next year’s midterm elections.

A senior Republican congressional leader tells me that he had come to trust that he could detect the real lines of authority in any White House, since he’s worked for five presidents. “But this one baffles me,” he says. “I do know that when I ask Obama for something, there is often no answer. But when I ask Valerie Jarrett, there’s always an answer or something happens.”

Last month, Time broke new ground when it decided to throw the spotlight on Jarrett’s influence, which the press till then had not much covered: The magazine named her one of the “100 most influential people in the world.” Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, gushed about Jarrett in an accompanying essay: “Above all else, however, and beyond all doubt, Valerie Jarrett is loyal.”

No one doubts that President Obama has the White House management structure he wants; he has populated it with trusted aides such as Jarrett whose loyalty he can count on. But it’s increasingly clear that this structure — supported by functionaries who are often highly partisan and careless — hasn’t served the country well and hasn’t received sufficient scrutiny from the media. That’s why many liberals are openly expressing concern over the “mini-Politburo” at the White House — the small number of people who have centralized White House decision-making.

The Obama White House management team doesn’t share the bunker mentality of the Nixon White House (though there are similarities). Nor does it have the frat-house atmosphere of the early Clinton White House, or the “happy talk” air of unreality of the latter George W. Bush administration. But its “all politics, all the time” ethos demands scrutiny now that the scandals are mounting and its shortcomings are becoming all too clear.

— John Fund is national-affairs columnist for NRO.


George Soros – 15 Commandments for his puppet Barak Obama

July 9th, 2010 |  Author: The Meister                 

Soros’s answer to America’s transformation involve more regulation and more government intervention in the marketplace. Soros pours billions of dollars into the following and commands Obama to perform.
1.) Promoting the view that America is institutionally an oppressive nation
2.) Promoting the election of leftist political candidates throughout the United States
3.) Opposing virtually all post-9/11 national security measures enacted by U.S. government, particularly the Patriot Act
4.) Depicting American military actions as unjust, unwarranted, and immoral
5.) Promoting open borders, mass immigration, and a watering down of current immigration laws
6.) Promoting a dramatic expansion of social welfare programs funded by ever-escalating taxes
7.) Promoting social welfare benefits and amnesty for illegal aliens
8.) Defending suspected anti-American terrorists and their abetters
9.) Financing the recruitment and training of future activist leaders of the political Left
10.) Advocating America’s unilateral disarmament and/or a steep reduction in its military spending
11.) Opposing the death penalty in all circumstances
12.) Promoting socialized medicine in the United States
13.) Promoting the tenets of radical environmentalism, whose ultimate goal, as writer Michael Berliner has explained, is “not clean air and clean water, [but] rather … the demolition of technological/industrial civilization”
14.) Bringing American foreign policy under the control of the United Nations
15.) Promoting racial and ethnic preferences in academia and the business world alike
Financial Crisis
While the rest of the world financial markets were losing billions of dollars, Soros made billions of dollars for which he said, [he’s] “having a very good crisis.” Some people speculate that Soros was responsible for the crisis by removing his large sums of money from institutions and betting against currency valuations.

George Soros Goal for the United States;
Creating a monetary crisis by uncontrolled spending by the Government to devalue the dollar thereby creating an opportunity for Soros to buy cheap dollars and when recovery comes – cashing out with multiple trillions. Leaving the rest of us to pay for the loss.




Remember the Gulags when George Soros and Barak Obama want One World Order governed by the Elites

We prisoners had an unwritten rule, steal another man’s clothes and you’d get a hiding, steal a man’s bread and you’d die: The chilling testimony from the Gulags’ forgotten victims
The word Gulag is a actually an acronym, derived from the Russian for Main Camp Administration. Over the years, however, it has come to signify the whole Soviet slave labour camp system, a regime that reached its deadly peak under Josef Stalin’s despotic rule and saw millions of men and women transported to camps in Siberia and other outposts of the Red empire.

There, they had to endure sub-Arctic temperatures, undertake heavy labour at gunpoint and try to avoid starving to death. Between 1929 and 1953, the year of Stalin’s death, 18 million people passed through this Gulag system — many of them never to return.

Now a new book, Gulag Voices, edited by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anne Applebaum, tells the stories of some of the survivors; harrowing reminders, told in their own heart-rending

ALEXANDER DOLGUN was an American, born in the Bronx in 1926. But in 1933 his father moved the family to the Soviet Union to take a job at the Moscow Automotive Works. When the family tried to return home, Soviet bureaucrats stopped them. Alexander’s parents never left the Soviet Union again. He grew up and started work as a clerk at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. In 1948 he was arrested on suspicion of being a spy, with the violent interrogation he underwent in Moscow’s Lefortovo Prison marking the beginning of a gruelling eight years in the Gulag.

IT WAS 3am and Sidorov, my interrogator, was angrier than ever. He had been showing me the same photographs over and over again, face after face of strangers. But he didn’t believe what I was saying.

‘I’m giving you another chance. Point out the ones you know! Why do you deny you know them?’

After almost a month of surviving on less than an hour’s sleep a day and already experiencing hallucinations, my fear was that I was going out of my mind. ‘It’s no use,’ I said, ‘we’ve done this over and over. I don’t recognise anyone. Not one!’

His fist came in hard and caught me on the side of the face with enough force to spin me out of my chair and onto the floor. I was dizzy with the shock. ‘Liar, liar, liar!’ he barked furiously.

Suddenly, I felt as if my right shin had been cracked open. I sat up and grabbed it, almost screaming, just as the toe of his hard high boot landed on the other shin.

The pain was terrible; I felt sick and my stomach began to heave. Determined to avoid another blow, I clambered back to the chair, slowly composing myself.

‘I’ll try,’ I muttered.

The next night was even worse. This time Sidorov didn’t even wait for a denial, wading into me with both fists, yelling that if I did not tell him everything he would kill me with his bare hands.

I hit the wall hard after a punch, and went down on my knees. I must protect my shins, I thought, I must protect my shins. He picked me up and dragged me to the chair, screaming obscenities and slapping my cheeks hard. I held my eyes closed against the shattering pain of the lights in the room.

‘Are you going to identify this man?’ he asked, thrusting another photograph under my nose and with a sudden quiet in his voice.

I couldn’t trust my voice, so mouthed the words: ‘I can’t.’

The shock when his boot hit my shin on top of the first bruise made me gasp. The next kick made me yell out loud.

‘Please! I’ll tell you any name. Boris, Andrei, I don’t know. Anything. Only don’t kick me again.’

The fist lashed out again and my consciousness swam away.

KAZIMIERZ ZAROD was a young Polish civil servant and army reservist who, with many others, fled east from Poland’s capital Warsaw when the Nazis attacked on September 1, 1939. But when the Soviets invaded Poland on September 17, he was arrested. After interrogation, he was sent to a Siberian forestry camp, which he knew only as Labour Corrective Camp No 21.

AT 3AM each morning, an alarm was beaten out on a triangle. Dressing was unnecessary as we slept in our clothes.

Tumbling off the hard wooden shelf on which I slept, I joined the queue for the one water bucket, where I filled a small soup container and splashed my face with a few handfuls. Soap, a tiny scrap of which we were issued with once a month, we kept for the evenings when we returned filthy from work.

By 3.30am, we were supposed to be in the square to be counted. On snowy mornings, this could be a long, cold, agonising business. Assuming the right number of bodies were present, the foreman of each working party was then dispatched to collect the bread for the day.

How much bread you got depended on how much timber you had cut the day before, a tally that really could be the difference between life and death. Those who met 100 per cent of the punishing targets — a physical impossibility for most men — earned 900g of bread (about 2lb), while those returning only 50 per cent of their targets got 300g.

Made from rye which had not been thoroughly cleaned, this black bread was the source of Gulag life and carefully hoarded throughout the day. A little with the breakfast soup; a few bites during the short dinner break at midday; more with the soup in the evening to stave off the inevitable pangs of hunger after 12 hours of cutting and stacking logs.

If a prisoner stole clothes or tobacco and was discovered, he could expect a good beating from his fellow inmates. But the unwritten law of this camp was that anyone caught stealing another man’s bread earned a death sentence. An ‘accident’ was not difficult to arrange in the forest.

ELENA GLINKA, a 29-year-old engineering student, was arrested on false charges of treason, and spent six years in the Gulag. She was sent to one of the camps on the dreaded Kolyma Peninsula, where winter temperatures hover between -19C to -38C. Having disembarked at a small fishing village, she witnessed one of the mass rapes, nicknamed the ‘Kolyma tram’ because of the brutal manner in which they were carried out. As the youngest of the prisoners, Elena was ‘chosen’ for the exclusive use of the local miners’ Party boss — and thus spared the worst of an ordeal that still left her so traumatised she could write about it only in the third person.

‘WOMEN in Burgurchan!’ The news spread like wildfire and within an hour men began flocking to the town hall — first the locals, then men from farther afield, some on foot,

Cigarettes, bread, even lumps of cured salmon were tossed to the corralled women prisoners who, after two days at sea, swallowed the food without chewing.

Then bottles began to clink and the men, as if on command, retreated to one side to drink vodka with the guards. There were songs and toasts, but there was also a clear purpose to this debauch as, one by one, the women’s guards passed out, dead-drunk.

whooping and hollering, the men rushed the women and began to haul them into the building, twisting their arms, dragging them through the grass, brutally beating any who resisted. They knew their business; it was co-ordinated and confident. Benches were removed, planks nailed over the windows, kegs of water hauled in.

That done, whatever rags or blankets they had at hand — padded vests, bedrolls, mats — were spread out and the women thrown to the floor. A line of about 12 men formed by each woman and the Kolyma tram began.

When it was over, the dead women were dragged away by their feet; the survivors were doused with water from the buckets and revived. Then the lines formed up again.

LEV RAZGON was a Russian journalist whose marriage to the daughter of one of the founders of the Soviet secret police had helped him work his way to the heart of the Bolshevik elite in the 1930s. But in 1937, when Stalin’s Great Purge began, Razgon saw his extended family arrested one by one. They came for him and his wife Oksana in 1938. Oksana died in a transit prison. Razgon spent 18 years in the Gulag, where he became grimly fascinated by his jailers, the men and women who, one way or another, decided who lived and who died.

OUR transport had been walking for a week and as we finally neared our destination, Camp No 1 in Ustvymlag, my first camp boss was outside waiting for us. A tall man in a well-made overcoat with a blue NKVD [the Stalin-era forerunner of the KGB] cap and boots polished to an unbelievable shine, Senior Lieutenant Ivan Zaliva, surveyed us with a severe and condescending gaze — his hand placed firmly on the wooden butt of his Mauser pistol. Over the forthcoming months, I would learn that he was a man of astounding ignorance and rare stupidity, who stuck devotedly to his official instructions, regardless of the cost in human lives.

To curry favour with his superiors, he always bought the cheapest food, the poorest clothing and, after three days, always switched new arrivals — many of them weakened by months in prison and weeks in transit — to a diet that related to their output.

There were 517 of us in the Moscow transport when we arrived in August 1938. By spring, after some 20 to 30 had been transferred to other camps, only 27 remained. All the rest had died that first winter.

In November 1938, 270 nomadic Chinese had arrived, having inadvertently strayed over the invisible Russian border. Zaliva set them to hauling timber by hand — a job that none of us could endure for more than a week.

The Chinese, however, worked steadily and calmly day after day, and when they had finished their punishing days, returned to the barracks, which they kept scrupulously clean and where they spent their evenings repairing their ripped clothing.

By February 1939, just three months after their arrival, 269 of these Chinese had died. Only one remained alive, working in the kitchen.

HAVA VOLOVICH was a newspaper sub-editor who was arrested in 1937, aged 21, for being publicly critical of the damage done to Ukrainian peasants by the new collective system, which grouped together dozens of farms to make one giant super-farm. She remained in the Gulag for 16 years, where she became one of the tens of thousands of young prisoners to become pregnant and have a baby. Prison nurseries did exist, but malnutrition, restrictive breast-feeding schedules and astonishing cruelty often resulted in the child suffering an early death.

A number of men offered their ‘services’ — and I did not choose the best by any means. But the result of my choice was an angelic little girl with golden curls. I called her Eleanor.

There were three mothers in our barracks and we were given a tiny little room of our own. By night, we brushed from our babies the bedbugs that fell from the ceiling like sand. By day, we left them with any old woman who had been let off work, knowing these women would calmly help themselves to the food we left for the children.

Every night for a year, I stood at my child’s cot, picking off the bedbugs and praying, begging God to prolong my torment by 100 years if it meant I wouldn’t be parted from my daughter.

But God did not answer my prayer. Eleanor had barely started walking and had just uttered her first, heart-warming word — ‘Mama’ — when we were dressed in rags, despite the winter’s chill, bundled into a freight car and transferred to the ‘mother’s camp’.

Here, I was expected to work in the forest, felling trees as normal during the day — while my pudgy little angel with the golden curls, back at the camp’s infant shelter, soon turned into a pale ghost with blue shadows under her eyes and sores all over her lips.

I caught a chill on the bladder, terrible lumbago and shaved my hair off to avoid getting lice. My appearance could not have been more miserable and wretched. But in return for bribes of firewood, the guards let me see my daughter outside normal hours. But the things I saw!

I saw nurses shoving and kicking children out of bed before washing them in ice-cold water. I saw a nurse grab the nearest baby, tie back its arms and then cram spoonful after spoonful of hot porridge down its throat.

My little Eleanor began to fade faster. ‘Mama, want home,’ she cried one evening, her little body covered with mysterious bruises.

On the last day of her life, when I picked her up to breast-feed her, she stared wide-eyed into the distance, clawing and biting at my breast, begging to be put down.

In the evening, when I came back with my little bundle of firewood, her cot was empty. I found her lying naked in the morgue among the corpses of the adult prisoners. She had spent one year and four months in this world and died on March 3, 1944.

- Gulag Voices, edited by Anne Applebaum, is published by Yale University

Read more:


Swedish rout highlights European socialist crisis

The crash of Sweden’s long-ruling Social Democrats to their worst defeat since 1914 highlights the decline of socialist parties in much of Europe, drained by social change, economic crisis and the rise of new issues.

The re-election of a center-right Swedish government for the first time in modern history and the entry of a hard-right anti-immigrant party into parliament show how far the times have changed, even in social democracy’s north European heartland.

How the center-left should respond, and whether it can regain the ascendancy in Europe at a time when loyalties are shifting across the political spectrum, are now being fought out in internal party tussles in Britain and France in particular.

In Sweden as in Germany, France, Denmark or the Netherlands, the main party of the center-left has hemorrhaged votes in all directions — to the hard left, the ecologist Greens, the populist far right but also to mainstream conservatives.

“Social democracy comes across as a victim of the crisis, when it should appear as a refuge or a hope after years of neo-liberal excess,” French political scientist Laurent Bouvet wrote earlier this year.

Technological change and globalization have shrunk the traditional industrial working class and the trade unions, made jobs more precarious and thrown up new issues such as climate change, population aging, immigration, obesity and drugs.

The mainstream left is torn between trying to reconnect with a lost popular electorate and reaching out to an aspiring new class in the knowledge economy.

Swedish Social Democratic leader Mona Sahlin alienated some centrist supporters by agreeing to a formal coalition with the ex-communist Left party — a move that the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) continues to eschew.


In countries such as Britain, France and Germany, where the center-left was in government in the early 2000s, it is regarded by many voters as having been a zealous accomplice in financial deregulation and economic liberalism.

Rising income inequality gave a hollow ring to the left’s proclaimed ambition to redistribute wealth.

Now that most European countries are burdened with high deficits and debt mountains due to the financial crisis, the “big government” left is not seen as offering a credible answer to the question of where and how to shrink the state.

In many countries, public employees are the biggest bloc of socialist party members and constitute a brake on reform.

Socialists’ long-standing support for European unification, religious tolerance and integrating immigrants has made them vulnerable to right-wing populists like the Sweden Democrats, Geert Wilders’ Dutch Freedom Party or France’s National Front.

These dilemmas are the backdrop to the choice of a new leader by Britain’s opposition Labor Party this week, and of a presidential candidate by the French Socialist party next year.

In Britain, the choice is between sticking to the market-friendly New Labor ideology that marked Tony Blair’s decade in office from 1997, or shifting to the left to try to win back disenchanted working class and public sector voters.

“We need to become ‘effective state’ social democrats, not ‘big state’ social democrats,” Roger Liddle, one of the thinkers behind the New Labor project, said in a speech last week.

Former foreign secretary David Miliband embodies Blairite continuity, while his younger brother Ed, former cabinet minister Ed Balls and left-wing stalwart Diane Abbott offer varying degrees of the latter approach.


In France, the Socialists face a potential three-way choice between a social-liberal (International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn), an old-style socialist (current party leader Martine Aubry), and a left-populist (defeated 2007 presidential candidate Segolene Royal).

Aubry and Royal have vowed to reverse President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension reform, which pushes back the retirement age from 60 to 62 and makes many work until 67 for a full pension. Strauss-Kahn says retirement at 60 cannot be a “dogma” when people are living ever longer.

An ecologist list ran neck-and-neck with the French Socialist party in last year’s European Parliament elections, siphoning off so-called Bobo voters (the bohemian bourgeois), while ex-communists and Trotskyists split another 10 percent.

In Germany, the Greens are snapping at the heels of the opposition SPD in opinion polls and may get a chance to lead a regional state government for the first time next year.

But the SPD has also lost support to the hardline Left party among working class and elderly voters who felt betrayed by its reduction of unemployment benefits and extension of the retirement age while in government over the last decade.

Where socialists are still in office, in Spain, Portugal and Greece, they risk alienating their core electorate by having to implement austerity measures mandated by the IMF and the European Union in exchange for financial support.

Only Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has managed to retain his lead in opinion polls so far despite eye-watering spending cuts — perhaps because his conservative opponents made such a shambles of running public finances until last year.

Manifest Destiny

George Soros, Obama, and all their Socialist and Communistic friends Believe this

Manifest Destiny as is practiced today is a term used by the Progressives, Socialists, Elites and Communists that there is a widely held underlying belief among them , that they are the “chosen people,” had a divinely inspired mission to spread the fruits of their beliefs to the less fortunate and unwashed masses.
The idea of an almost religious Manifest Destiny is a common staple in the speeches and newspaper articles of the Progressives. Most of the exponents of Socialism were Democrats.

Critics see the Manifest Destiny rationale as a thinly veiled attempt to put an acceptable face on taking freedom from other peoples. Motives are often described as well-intentioned efforts to improve the lot of backward masses, but in truth the motivators were greed, power and control. The Manifest Destiny crowd are thinly disguised in wonderful names – such as Center for American Freedom.
The American people having derived their origin from many other nations, and the Declaration of National Independence being entirely based on the great principle of human equality and freedom, that we have, in reality, but little connection with anyone trying to take our freedom away. On the contrary, our national birth was the beginning of a new history, the formation and progress of an untried political system, which separates us from the past and connects us with the future as regards the entire development of the natural rights of man, in moral, political, and national life, we may confidently assume that our country is destined to be the great nation of futurity with individual freedom.

Trotskyism – Part 2

Learn about this oppressive method and the people in history behind it. Be ready to reject and refute it when Comrade George Soros, Comrade Barak Obama, Comrade Valerie Jarrett and Comrade John Podesta use the Coming Debt Crises to force this system upon you.

Trotskyism is the theory of Marxism as advocated by Leon Trotsky. Trotsky considered himself an orthodox Marxist and BolshevikLeninist, arguing for the establishment of a vanguard party. His politics differed sharply from Stalinism, most prominently in opposing Socialism in One Country, which he argued was a break with proletarian internationalism, and in his belief in an authentic dictatorship of the proletariat based on democratic principles, rather than an unaccountable bureaucracy.

Together with Lenin, Trotsky was co-leader of the Russian Revolution and the international Communist movement in 1917 and the following years. Today, numerous groups around the world continue to describe themselves as Trotskyist, although they have developed Trotsky’s ideas in different ways. In the English language, an advocate of Trotsky’s ideas is usually called a “Trotskyist” or, pejoratively, a “Trotskyite” or “Trot”.


American communist organizer James P. Cannon in his 1942 book History of American Trotskyism wrote that “Trotskyism is not a new movement, a new doctrine, but the restoration, the revival of genuine Marxism as it was expounded and practiced in the Russian revolution and in the early days of the Communist International.” However, Trotskyism can be distinguished from other Marxist theories by four key elements.

Theory of Permanent Revolution

In 1905, Trotsky formulated a theory that became known as the Trotskyist theory of Permanent Revolution. It may be considered one of the defining characteristics of Trotskyism. Until 1905, Marxism only claimed that a revolution in a European capitalist society would lead to a socialist one. According to the original theory it was impossible for such to occur in more backward countries such as early 20th century Russia. Russia in 1905 was widely considered to have not yet established a capitalist society, but was instead largely feudal with a small, weak and almost powerless capitalist class.

The theory of Permanent Revolution addressed the question of how such feudal regimes were to be overthrown, and how socialism could be established given the lack of economic prerequisites. Trotsky argued that in Russia only the working class could overthrow feudalism and win the support of the peasantry. Furthermore, he argued that the Russian working class would not stop there. They would win its own revolution against the weak capitalist class, establish a workers’ state in Russia, and appeal to the working class in the advanced capitalist countries around the world. As a result, the global working class would to come to Russia’s aid, and socialism could develop worldwide.

The capitalist or bourgeois-democratic revolution

Revolutions in Britain in the 17th Century and in France in 1789 abolished feudalism and established the basic requisites for the development of capitalism. Trotsky argued that these revolutions would not be repeated in Russia.

In Results and Prospects, written in 1906, Trotsky outlines his theory in detail, arguing: “History does not repeat itself. However much one may compare the Russian Revolution with the Great French Revolution, the former can never be transformed into a repetition of the latter.” In the French Revolution of 1789, France experienced what Marxists called a “bourgeois-democratic revolution” – a regime was established wherein the bourgeoisie, overthrew the existing French Feudalistic system. The bourgeoisie then moved towards establishing a regime of democratic parliamentary institutions. However, while democratic rights were extended to the bourgeoisie, they were not generally extended to a universal franchise. The freedom for workers to organize unions or to strike was not achieved without considerable struggle.

Trotsky argues, countries like Russia had no “enlightened, active” revolutionary bourgeoisie which could play the same role, and the working class constituted a very small minority. By the time of the European revolutions of 1848, “the bourgeoisie was already unable to play a comparable role. It did not want and was not able to undertake the revolutionary liquidation of the social system that stood in its path to power.”

Weakness of the capitalists

The theory of Permanent Revolution considers that in many countries, which are thought to have not yet completed their bourgeois-democratic revolution, the capitalist class oppose the creation of any revolutionary situation. They fear stirring the working class into fighting for its own revolutionary aspirations against their exploitation by capitalism. In Russia, the working class, although a small minority in a predominantly peasant based society, were organised in vast factories owned by the capitalist class, and into large working class districts. During the Russian Revolution of 1905, the capitalist class found it necessary to ally with reactionary elements such as the essentially feudal landlords and ultimately the existing Czarist Russian state forces. This was to protect their ownership of their property—factories, banks, etc.– from expropriation by the revolutionary working class.

Therefore, according to the theory of Permanent Revolution, the capitalist classes of economically-backward countries are weak and incapable of carrying through revolutionary change. As a result, they are linked to and rely on the feudal landowners in many ways. Thus, Trotsky argues, because a majority of the branches of industry in Russia were originated under the direct influence of government measures—sometimes with the help of Government subsidies—the capitalist class was again tied to the ruling elite. The capitalist class were subservient to European capital.
Instead, Trotsky argued, only the ‘proletariat’ or working class were capable of achieving the tasks of that ‘bourgeois’ revolution. In 1905, the working class in Russia, a generation brought together in vast factories from the relative isolation of peasant life, saw the result of its labour as a vast collective effort, and the only means of struggling against its oppression in terms of a collective effort also, forming workers councils (soviets), in the course of the revolution of that year. In 1906, Trotsky argued:

The factory system brings the proletariat to the foreground… The proletariat immediately found itself concentrated in tremendous masses, while between these masses and the autocracy there stood a capitalist bourgeoisie, very small in numbers, isolated from the ‘people’, half-foreign, without historical traditions, and inspired only by the greed for gain. – Trotsky, Results and Prospects[11]

The Putilov Factory, for instance, numbered 12,000 workers in 1900, and, according to Trotsky, 36,000 in July 1917.The theory of Permanent Revolution considers that the peasantry as a whole cannot take on this task, because it is dispersed in small holdings throughout the country, and forms a heterogeneous grouping, including the rich peasants who employ rural workers and aspire to landlordism as well as the poor peasants who aspire to own more land. Trotsky argues: “All historical experience… shows that the peasantry are absolutely incapable of taking up an independent political role.”

Trotskyists differ on the extent to which this is true today, but even the most orthodox tend to recognise in the late twentieth century a new development in the revolts of the rural poor, the self-organising struggles of the landless, and many other struggles which in some ways reflect the militant united organised struggles of the working class, and which to various degrees do not bear the marks of class divisions typical of the heroic peasant struggles of previous epochs. However, orthodox Trotskyists today still argue that the town and city based working class struggle is central to the task of a successful socialist revolution, linked to these struggles of the rural poor. They argue that the working class learns of necessity to conduct a collective struggle, for instance in trade unions, arising from its social conditions in the factories and workplaces, and that the collective consciousness it achieves as a result is an essential ingredient of the socialist reconstruction of society.

Although only a small minority in Russian society, the proletariat would lead a revolution to emancipate the peasantry and thus “secure the support of the peasantry” as part of that revolution, on whose support it will rely. But the working class, in order to improve their own conditions, will find it necessary to create a revolution of their own, which would accomplish both the bourgeois revolution and then establish a workers’ state.

International revolution

Yet, according to classical Marxism, revolution in peasant based countries, such as Russia, prepares the ground ultimately only for a development of capitalism since the liberated peasants become small owners, producers and traders which leads to the growth of commodity markets, from which a new capitalist class emerges. Only fully developed capitalist conditions prepare the basis for socialism.

Trotsky agreed that a new socialist state and economy in a country like Russia would not be able to hold out against the pressures of a hostile capitalist world, as well as the internal pressures of its backward economy. The revolution, Trotsky argued, must quickly spread to capitalist countries, bringing about a socialist revolution which must spread worldwide. This was the position, contrary to that of “Classical Marxism” which by that time had been further illuminated by active life, shared by Trotsky and Lenin and the Bolsheviks until 1924 when Stalin, who along with Kamenev in February 1917 had taken the Menshevik position of first the bourgeois revolution, only to be confronted by Lenin and his famous April Thesis on Lenin’s return to Russia, after the death of Lenin and seeking to consolidate his growing bureaucratic control of the Bolshevik Party began to put forward the slogan of “Socialism in one country”.

In this way the revolution is “permanent”, moving out of necessity first, from the bourgeois revolution to the workers’ revolution, and from there uninterruptedly to European and worldwide revolutions.

Origins of the term

An internationalist outlook of permanent revolution is found in the works of Karl Marx. The term “permanent revolution” is taken from a remark of Marx from his March 1850 Address: “it is our task”, Marx said,

to make the revolution permanent until all the more or less propertied classes have been driven from their ruling positions, until the proletariat has conquered state power and until the association of the proletarians has progressed sufficiently far – not only in one country but in all the leading countries of the world – that competition between the proletarians of these countries ceases and at least the decisive forces of production are concentrated in the hands of the workers. – Marx, Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League[16]

Trotskyism and the 1917 Russian Revolution

During his leadership of the Russian revolution of 1905, Trotsky argued that once it became clear that the Tsar’s army would not come out in support of the workers, it was necessary to retreat before the armed might of the state in as good an order as possible. In 1917, Trotsky was again elected chairman of the Petrograd soviet, but this time soon came to lead the Military Revolutionary Committee which had the allegiance of the Petrograd garrison, and carried through the October 1917 insurrection. Stalin wrote:

All practical work in connection with the organization of the uprising was done under the immediate direction of Comrade Trotsky, the President of the Petrograd Soviet. It can be stated with certainty that the Party is indebted primarily and principally to Comrade Trotsky for the rapid going over of the garrison to the side of the Soviet and the efficient manner in which the work of the Military Revolutionary Committee was organized. – Stalin, Pravda, November 6, 1918

As a result of his role in the Russian Revolution of 1917, the theory of Permanent Revolution was embraced by the young Soviet state until 1924.

The Russian revolution of 1917 was marked by two revolutions: the relatively spontaneous February 1917 revolution, and the 25 October 1917 seizure of power by the Bolsheviks, who had gained the leadership of the Petrograd soviet.

Before the February 1917 Russian revolution, Lenin had formulated a slogan calling for the ‘democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry’, but after the February revolution, through his April theses, Lenin instead called for “all power to the Soviets”. Lenin nevertheless continued to emphasize however (as did Trotsky also) the classical Marxist position that the peasantry formed a basis for the development of capitalism, not socialism.

But also before February 1917, Trotsky had not accepted the importance of a Bolshevik style organisation. Once the February 1917 Russian revolution had broken out Trotsky admitted the importance of a Bolshevik organisation, and joined the Bolsheviks in July 1917. Despite the fact that many, like Stalin, saw Trotsky’s role in the October 1917 Russian revolution as central, Trotsky says that without Lenin and the Bolshevik party the October revolution of 1917 would not have taken place.

As a result, since 1917, Trotskyism as a political theory is fully committed to a Leninist style of democratic centralist party organisation, which Trotskyists argue must not be confused with the party organisation as it later developed under Stalin. Trotsky had previously suggested that Lenin’s method of organisation would lead to a dictatorship, but it is important to emphasise that after 1917 orthodox Trotskyists argue that the loss of democracy in the Soviet Union was caused by the failure of the revolution to successfully spread internationally and the consequent wars, isolation and imperialist intervention, not the Bolshevik style of organisation.

Lenin’s outlook had always been that the Russian revolution would need to stimulate a Socialist revolution in western Europe in order that this European socialist society would then come to the aid of the Russian revolution and enable Russia to advance towards socialism. Lenin stated:

We have stressed in a good many written works, in all our public utterances, and in all our statements in the press that… the socialist revolution can triumph only on two conditions. First, if it is given timely support by a socialist revolution in one or several advanced countries. – Lenin, Speech at Tenth Congress of the RCP(B)

This outlook matched precisely Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution. Trotsky’s Permanent Revolution had foreseen that the working class would not stop at the bourgeois democratic stage of the revolution, but proceed towards a workers’ state, as happened in 1917. The Trotskyist Isaac Deutscher maintains that in 1917, Lenin changed his attitude to Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution and after the October revolution it was adopted by the Bolsheviks.

Lenin was met with initial disbelief in April 1917. Trotsky argues that:

up to the outbreak of the February revolution and for a time after Trotskyism did not mean the idea that it was impossible to build a socialist society within the national boundaries of Russia (which “possibility” was never expressed by anybody up to 1924 and hardly came into anybody’s head). Trotskyism meant the idea that the Russian proletariat might win the power in advance of the Western proletariat, and that in that case it could not confine itself within the limits of a democratic dictatorship but would be compelled to undertake the initial socialist measures. It is not surprising, then, that the April theses of Lenin were condemned as Trotskyist. – Leon Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution

The ‘legend of Trotskyism’

In The Stalin School of Falsification, Trotsky argues that what he calls the “legend of Trotskyism” was formulated by Zinoviev and Kamenev in collaboration with Stalin in 1924, in response to the criticisms Trotsky raised of Politburo policy. Orlando Figes argues that “The urge to silence Trotsky, and all criticism of the Politburo, was in itself a crucial factor in Stalin’s rise to power.”

During 1922–24, Lenin suffered a series of strokes and became increasingly incapacitated. Before his death in 1924, Lenin, while describing Trotsky as “distinguished not only by his exceptional abilities – personally he is, to be sure, the most able man in the present Central Committee”, and also maintaining that “his non-Bolshevik past should not be held against him”, criticized him for “showing excessive preoccupation with the purely administrative side of the work”, and also requested that Stalin be removed from his position of General Secretary, but his notes remained suppressed until 1956. Zinoviev and Kamenev broke with Stalin in 1925 and joined Trotsky in 1926 in what was known as the United Opposition.

In 1926, Stalin allied with Bukharin who then led the campaign against “Trotskyism”. In The Stalin School of Falsification, Trotsky quotes Bukharin’s 1918 pamphlet, From the Collapse of Czarism to the Fall of the Bourgeoisie, which was re-printed by the party publishing house, Proletari, in 1923. In this pamphlet, Bukharin explains and embraces Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution, writing: “The Russian proletariat is confronted more sharply than ever before with the problem of the international revolution … The grand total of relationships which have arisen in Europe leads to this inevitable conclusion. Thus, the permanent revolution in Russia is passing into the European proletarian revolution.” Yet it is common knowledge, Trotsky argues, that three years later, in 1926, “Bukharin was the chief and indeed the sole theoretician of the entire campaign against ‘Trotskyism’, summed up in the struggle against the theory of the permanent revolution.”

Trotsky wrote that the Left Opposition grew in influence throughout the 1920s, attempting to reform the Communist Party. But in 1927 Stalin declared “civil war” against them:

During the first ten years of its struggle, the Left Opposition did not abandon the program of ideological conquest of the party for that of conquest of power against the party. Its slogan was: reform, not revolution. The bureaucracy, however, even in those times, was ready for any revolution in order to defend itself against a democratic reform.

In 1927, when the struggle reached an especially bitter stage, Stalin declared at a session of the Central Committee, addressing himself to the Opposition: “Those cadres can be removed only by civil war!” What was a threat in Stalin’s words became, thanks to a series of defeats of the European proletariat, a historic fact. The road of reform was turned into a road of revolution. – Trotsky, Leon, Revolution Betrayed, p279, Pathfinder (1972)

Defeat of the European working class led to further isolation in Russia, and further suppression of the Opposition. Trotsky argued that the “so-called struggle against ‘Trotskyism’ grew out of the bureaucratic reaction against the October Revolution [of 1917]”. He responded to the one sided civil war with his Letter to the Bureau of Party History, (1927), contrasting what he claimed to be the falsification of history with the official history of just a few years before. He further accused Stalin of derailing the Chinese revolution, and causing the massacre of the Chinese workers:

In the year 1918, Stalin, at the very outset of his campaign against me, found it necessary, as we have already learned, to write the following words:

“All the work of practical organization of the insurrection was carried out under the direct leadership of the Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, comrade Trotsky…” (Stalin, Pravda, Nov. 6, 1918)

With full responsibility for my words, I am now compelled to say that the cruel massacre of the Chinese proletariat and the Chinese Revolution at its three most important turning points, the strengthening of the position of the trade union agents of British imperialism after the General Strike of 1926, and, finally, the general weakening of the position of the Communist International and the Soviet Union, the party owes principally and above all to Stalin. – Trotsky, Leon, The Stalin School of Falsification, p87, Pathfinder (1971)

Trotsky was sent into internal exile and his supporters were jailed. Victor Serge, for instance, first “spent six weeks in a cell” after a visit at midnight, then 85 days in an inner GPU cell, most of it in solitary confinement. He details the jailings of the Left Opposition. The Left Opposition, however, continued to work in secret within the Soviet Union. Trotsky was eventually exiled to Turkey. He moved from there to France, Norway, and finally to Mexico.

After 1928, the various Communist Parties throughout the world expelled Trotskyists from their ranks. Most Trotskyists defend the economic achievements of the planned economy in the Soviet Union during the 1920s and 1930s, despite the “misleadership” of the soviet bureaucracy, and what they claim to be the loss of democracy. Trotskyists claim that in 1928 inner party democracy, and indeed soviet democracy, which was at the foundation of Bolshevism,[33] had been destroyed within the various Communist Parties. Anyone who disagreed with the party line was labeled a Trotskyist and even a fascist.

In 1937, Stalin again unleashed what Trotskyists say was a political terror against their Left Opposition and many of the remaining ‘Old Bolsheviks‘ (those who had played key roles in the October Revolution in 1917), in the face of increased opposition, particularly in the army.

Degenerated workers’ state

Trotsky developed the theory that the Russian workers’ state had become a “degenerated workers’ state“. Capitalist rule had not been restored, and nationalised industry and economic planning, instituted under Lenin, were still in effect. However, Trotskyists claim that the state was controlled by a bureaucratic caste with interests hostile to those of the working class. Stalinism was a counter-revolutionary force.

Trotsky defended the Soviet Union against attack from foreign powers and against internal counter-revolution, but called for a political revolution within the USSR to bring about his version of socialist democracy: “The bureaucracy can be removed only by a revolutionary force”. He argued that if the working class did not take power away from the “Stalinist” bureaucracy, the bureaucracy would restore capitalism in order to enrich itself. In the view of many Trotskyists, this is exactly what has happened since the beginning of Glasnost and Perestroika in the USSR. Some argue that the adoption of market socialism by the People’s Republic of China has also led to capitalist counter-revolution. Many of Trotsky’s criticisms of Stalinism were described in his book, The Revolution Betrayed.

“Trotskyist” has been used by “Stalinists” to mean a traitor; in the Spanish Civil War, being called a “Trot,” “Trotskyist” or “Trotskyite” by the USSR-supported elements implied that the person was some sort of fascist spy or agent provocateur. For instance, George Orwell, a prominent Anti-Stalinist writer, wrote about this practice in his book Homage to Catalonia and in his essay Spilling the Spanish Beans. In his book Animal Farm, an allegory for the Russian Revolution, he represented Trotsky with the character “Snowball” and Stalin with the character “Napoleon“. Emmanuel Goldstein in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four has also been linked to Trotsky.

In 1937 Trotsky wrote:

To maintain itself, Stalinism is now forced to conduct a direct civil war against Bolshevism, under the name of “Trotskyism,” not only in the USSR but also in Spain. The old Bolshevik Party is dead, but Bolshevism is raising its head everywhere. To deduce Stalinism from Bolshevism or from Marxism is the same as to deduce, in a larger sense, counterrevolution from revolution. – Trotsky, Leon, Stalinism and Bolshevism 1937, in Living Marxism, No. 18, April 1990.

Stalin put out a general call for the assassination of Trotsky and he was finally killed with an ice axe in Mexico in 1940, by Ramon Mercader, a Spanish supporter of Stalin, under direct orders from the GPU.

Founding of the Fourth International

Trotsky founded the International Left Opposition in 1930. It was meant to be an opposition group within the Comintern, but anyone who joined, or was suspected of joining, the ILO, was immediately expelled from the Comintern. The ILO therefore concluded that opposing Stalinism from within the Communist organizations controlled by Stalin’s supporters had become impossible, so new organizations had to be formed. In 1933, the ILO was renamed the International Communist League (ICL), which formed the basis of the Fourth International, founded in Paris in 1938.

Trotsky said that only the Fourth International, basing itself on Lenin’s theory of the vanguard party, could lead the world revolution, and that it would need to be built in opposition to both the capitalists and the Stalinists.

Trotsky argued that the defeat of the German working class and the coming to power of Hitler in 1933 was due in part to the mistakes of the Third Period policy of the Communist International and that the subsequent failure of the Communist Parties to draw the correct lessons from those defeats showed that they were no longer capable of reform, and a new international organisation of the working class must be organised. The Transitional demand tactic had to be a key element.

At the time of the founding of the Fourth International in 1938 Trotskyism was a mass political current in Vietnam, Sri Lanka and slightly later Bolivia. There was also a substantial Trotskyist movement in China which included the founding father of the Chinese Communist movement, Chen Duxiu, amongst its number. Wherever Stalinists gained power, they made it a priority to hunt down Trotskyists and treated them as the worst of enemies.

The Fourth International suffered repression and disruption through the Second World War. Isolated from each other, and faced with political developments quite unlike those anticipated by Trotsky, some Trotskyist organizations decided that the Soviet Union no longer could be called a degenerated workers state and withdrew from the Fourth International. After 1945 Trotskyism was smashed as a mass movement in Vietnam and marginalised in a number of other countries.

The International Secretariat of the Fourth International organised an international conference in 1946, and then World Congresses in 1948 and 1951 to assess the expropriation of the capitalists in Eastern Europe and Yugoslavia, the threat of a Third World War, and the tasks for revolutionaries. The Eastern European Communist-led governments which came into being after World War II without a social revolution were described by a resolution of the 1948 congress as presiding over capitalist economies. By 1951, the Congress had concluded that they had become “deformed workers’ states.” As the Cold War intensified, the FI’s 1951 World Congress adopted theses by Michel Pablo that anticipated an international civil war. Pablo’s followers considered that the Communist Parties, insofar as they were placed under pressure by the real workers’ movement, could escape Stalin’s manipulations and follow a revolutionary orientation.

The 1951 Congress argued that Trotskyists should start to conduct systematic work inside those Communist Parties which were followed by the majority of the working class. However, the ISFI‘s view that the Soviet leadership was counter-revolutionary remained unchanged. The 1951 Congress argued that the Soviet Union took over these countries because of the military and political results of World War II, and instituted nationalized property relations only after its attempts at placating capitalism failed to protect those countries from the threat of incursion by the West.

Pablo began expelling large numbers of people who did not agree with his thesis and who did not want to dissolve their organizations within the Communist Parties. For instance, he expelled the majority of the French section and replaced its leadership. As a result, the opposition to Pablo eventually rose to the surface, with an open letter to Trotskyists of the world, by Socialist Workers Party leader James P. Cannon.

The Fourth International split in 1953 into two public factions. The International Committee of the Fourth International was established by several sections of the International as an alternative centre to the International Secretariat, in which they felt a revisionist faction led by Michel Pablo had taken power. From 1960, a number of ICFI sections started to reunify with the IS. After the 1963 reunification congress which established the reunified Fourth International, the French and British sections maintained the ICFI. Other groups took different paths and originated the present complex map of Trotskyist groupings.

Trotskyist movements

Latin America

Trotskyism has had some influence in some recent major social upheavals, particularly in Latin America.

The Bolivian Trotskyist party (Partido Obrero Revolucionario, POR) became a mass party in the period of the late 1940s and early 1950s, and together with other groups played a central role during and immediately after the period termed the Bolivian National Revolution.

In Brazil, as an officially recognised platform or faction of the PT until 1992, the Trotskyist Movimento Convergência Socialista (CS), which founded the United Socialist Workers’ Party (PSTU) in 1994, saw a number of its members elected to national, state and local legislative bodies during the 1980s.Today the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL) is described as Trotskyist. Its presidential candidate in the 2006 general elections, Heloísa Helena is termed a Trotskyist who was a member of the Workers Party of Brazil (PT), a legislative deputy in Alagoas and in 1999 was elected to the Federal Senate. Expelled from the PT in December 2003, she helped found PSOL, in which various Trotskyist groups play a prominent role.

During the 1980s in Argentina, the Trotskyist party founded in 1982 by Nahuel Moreno, MAS, (Movimiento al Socialismo, Movement Toward Socialism), claimed to be the “largest Trotskyist party” in the world, before it broke into a number of different fragments in the late 1980s, including the present-day MST, PTS, MAS, IS, PRS, FOS, etc. In 1989 in an electoral front with the Communist Party and Christian nationalists groups, called “Izquierda Unida” (united left), obtained 3,49% of the electorate, representing 580.944 voters. Today the Workers’ Party in Argentina has an electoral base in Salta Province in the far north, particularly in the city of Salta itself, and has become the third political force in the provinces of Tucuman, also in the north, and Santa Cruz, in the south.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez declared himself to be a Trotskyist during his swearing in of his cabinet two days before his own inauguration on 10 January 2007.Venezuelan Troskyist organizations do not regard Chávez as a Trotskyist, with some describing him as a bourgeois nationalist and other considering him an honest revolutionary leader who has made major mistakes because he lacks a Marxist analysis.


In Indochina during the 1930s, Vietnamese Trotskyism led by Ta Thu Thau was a significant current, particularly in Saigon.

In Sri Lanka, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) expelled its pro-Moscow wing in 1940, becoming a Trotskyist-led party. It was led by South Asia‘s pioneer Trotskyist, Philip Gunawardena and his colleague NM Perera. In 1942, following the escape of the leaders of the LSSP from a British prison, a unified Bolshevik-Leninist Party of India, Ceylon and Burma (BLPI) was established in India, bringing together the many Trotskyist groups in the subcontinent. The BLPI was active in the Quit India movement as well as the labour movement, capturing the second oldest union in India. Its high point was when it led the strikes which followed the Bombay Mutiny. After the war, the Sri Lanka section split into the Lanka Sama Samaja Party and the Bolshevik Samasamaja Party (BSP). The Indian section of the BLPI later fused with the Congress Socialist Party. In the general election of 1947 the LSSP became the main opposition party, winning 10 seats, the BSP winning a further 5. It joined the Trotskyist Fourth International after fusion with the BSP in 1950, and led a general strike (Hartal) in 1953.

In 1964 a section of the LSSP split to form the LSSP (Revolutionary) and joined the Fourth International after the LSSP proper was expelled. The LSSP (R) later split into factions led by Bala Tampoe and Edmund Samarakkody. The LSSP joined the coalition government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike, three of its members, NM Perera, Cholmondely Goonewardena and Anil Moonesinghe, becoming the first Trotskyist cabinet ministers in history.

In 1974 a secret faction of the LSSP, allied to the Militant Tendency in the UK emerged. In 1977 this faction was expelled and formed the Nava Sama Samaja Party, led by Vasudeva Nanayakkara.


In France, 10% of the electorate voted in 2002 for parties calling themselves Trotskyist.

In the UK in the 1980s, the entrist Militant tendency won three members of parliament and effective control of Liverpool City Council while in the Labour Party. Described as “Britain’s fifth most important political party” in 1986 it played a prominent role in the 1989–1991 mass anti-poll tax movement which was widely thought to have led to the downfall of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Almost all of the large far left parties in the UK are led by Trotskyists, including the Socialist Workers Party (Britain), the Socialist Party (England and Wales), Respect – The Unity Coalition and the Scottish Socialist Party.

The Socialist Party in Ireland was formed in 1990 by members who had been expelled by the Irish Labour Party’s leader Dick Spring. It has had a sizable amount of support in County Fingal and has an MEP, Joe Higgins, representing Dublin.

In Portugal‘s September 2009 parliamentary election, the Left Bloc won 558.062 votes, which translated into 9,82% of the expressed votes and the election of 16 (out of 230) deputies to the national parliament. Although founded by several leftist tendencies, it still expresses much of the Trotskyist thought upheld and developed by its current leader, Francisco Louçã.

Trotskyism today

There is a wide range of Trotskyist organisations around the world. These include but are not limited to:

The Fourth International

The Fourth International derives from the 1963 reunification of the two public factions into which Fourth International split in 1953: the International Secretariat of the Fourth International (ISFI) and the ICFI. It is often referred to as the United Secretariat of the Fourth International, the name of its leading committee before 2003. It is widely described as the largest contemporary Trotskyist organisation with sections and sympathizing organizations in over 50 countries. Its best known section has been the Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire of France, but today there are also sizeable and influential sections in Portugal, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Pakistan and several other countries.

In many countries its sections work within working-class parties and alliances, in which Trotskyists are a minority.

Committee for a Workers’ International

The Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) was founded in 1974 and now has sections in over 35 countries. Before 1997, most organisations affiliated to the CWI sought to build an entrist Marxist wing within the large social democratic parties. Since the early 1990s it has argued that most social democratic, as indeed socialist parties have moved so far to the right that there is little point trying to work within them. Instead the CWI has adopted a range of tactics, mostly seeking to build independent parties, but in some cases working within other broad working-class parties.

International Socialist Tendency

The International Socialist Tendency, led by the Socialist Workers Party, the largest Trotskyist group in Britain(SWP)

Internationalist Communist Union

In France, the LCR is rivalled by Lutte Ouvrière. That group is the French section of the Internationalist Communist Union (UCI). UCI has small sections in a handful of other countries. It focuses its activities, whether propaganda or intervention, within the industrial proletariat.

International Marxist Tendency

The founders of the Committee for a Marxist International (CMI) claim they were expelled from the CWI, when the CWI abandoned entryism. The CWI claims they left and no expulsions were carried out. Since 2006, it has been known as the International Marxist Tendency (IMT). CMI/IMT groups continue the policy of entering mainstream social democratic, communist or radical parties.

Currently, International Marxist Tendency (IMT) is headed by Alan Woods and Lal Khan.

Learn about this oppressive method and the people in history behind it. Be ready to reject and refute it when Comrade George Soros, Comrade Barak Obama, Comrade Valerie Jarrett and Comrade John Podesta use the Coming Debt Crises to force this system upon you.

Trotskyism Part 1 – Leon Trotsky

Learn about this oppressive method and the people in history behind it. Be ready to reject and refute it when Comrade George Soros, Comrade Barak Obama, Comrade Valerie Jarrett and Comrade John Podesta use the Coming Debt Crises to force this system upon you.

Leon Trotsky, born Lev Davidovich Bronstein was a Bolshevik revolutionary and Marxist theorist.

Trotsky’s ideas form the basis of Trotskyism, a term coined as early as 1905 by his opponents in order to separate it from Marxism. Trotsky’s ideas remain a major school of Marxist thought that is opposed to the theories of Stalinism. He was one of the few Soviet political figures who was never rehabilitated by the Soviet administration.

Revolutionary activity and exile (1896–1902)

Trotsky became involved in revolutionary activities in 1896 after moving to Nikolayev (now Mykolaiv). At first a narodnik (revolutionary populist), he was introduced to Marxism later that year and was originally opposed to it. But during periods of exile and imprisonment he gradually became a Marxist. Instead of pursuing a mathematics degree, Trotsky helped organize the South Russian Workers’ Union in Nikolayev in early 1897. Using the name ‘Lvov’, he wrote and printed leaflets and proclamations, distributed revolutionary pamphlets and popularized socialist ideas among industrial workers and revolutionary students.

In January 1898, over 200 members of the union, including Trotsky, were arrested, and he spent the next two years in prison awaiting trial. Two months after his imprisonment, the first Congress of the newly formed Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) was held, and from then on Trotsky considered himself a member of the party. While in prison, he married fellow Marxist Aleksandra Sokolovskaya. While serving his sentence he studied philosophy. In 1900 he was sentenced to four years in exile in Ust-Kut and Verkholensk in the Irkutsk region of Siberia, where his first two daughters, Nina Nevelson and Zinaida Volkova, were born.

In Siberia, Trotsky became aware of the differences within the party, which had been decimated by arrests in 1898 and 1899. Some social democrats known as “economists” argued that the party should focus on helping industrial workers improve their lot in life. Others argued that overthrowing the monarchy was more important and that a well organized and disciplined revolutionary party was essential. The latter were led by the London-based newspaper Iskra, or in English, Spark, which was founded in 1900. Trotsky quickly sided with the Iskra position.

First emigration and second marriage (1902–1903)

Trotsky escaped from Siberia in the summer of 1902. It is said he adopted the name of a jailer of the Odessa prison in which he had earlier been held, and this became his primary revolutionary pseudonym. Once abroad, he moved to London to join Georgy Plekhanov, Vladimir Lenin, Julius Martov and other editors of Iskra. Under the pen name Pero (“feather” or “pen” in Russian), Trotsky soon became one of the paper’s leading authors.

Unknown to Trotsky, the six editors of Iskra were evenly split between the “old guard” led by Plekhanov and the “new guard” led by Lenin and Martov. Not only were Plekhanov’s supporters older (in their 40s and 50s), but they had also spent the previous 20 years in European exile together. Members of the new guard were in their early 30s and had only recently come from Russia. Lenin, who was trying to establish a permanent majority against Plekhanov within Iskra, expected Trotsky, then 23, to side with the new guard and wrote in March 1903:

I suggest to all the members of the editorial board that they co-opt ‘Pero’ as a member of the board on the same basis as other members. We very much need a seventh member, both as a convenience in voting (six being an even number), and as an addition to our forces. ‘Pero’ has been contributing to every issue for several months now; he works in general most energetically for the Iskra; he gives lectures (in which he has been very successful). In the section of articles and notes on the events of the day, he will not only be very useful, but absolutely necessary. Unquestionably a man of rare abilities, he has conviction and energy, and he will go much farther.

Because of Plekhanov’s opposition, Trotsky did not become a full member of the board, but from then on participated in its meetings in an advisory capacity, which earned him Plekhanov’s enmity.

In late 1902, Trotsky met Natalia Sedova, who soon became his companion and, from 1903 until his death, his wife. They had two children together, Lev Sedov (b. 1906) and Sergei Sedov (b. 1908). As Trotsky later explained, after the 1917 revolution:

In order not to oblige my sons to change their name, I, for “citizenship” requirements, took on the name of my wife.

But the name change remained a technicality and he never used the name “Sedov” either privately or publicly. Natalia Sedova sometimes signed her name “Sedova-Trotskaya”. Trotsky and his first wife, Aleksandra Sokolovskaya, maintained a friendly relationship until she disappeared in 1935 during the Great Purges.

Split with Lenin (1903–1904)

In the meantime, after a period of secret police repression and internal confusion that followed the first party Congress in 1898, Iskra succeeded in convening the party’s 2nd congress in London in August 1903, Trotsky and other Iskra editors attended. The first congress went as planned, with Iskra supporters handily defeating the few “economist” delegates. Then the congress discussed the position of the Jewish Bund, which had co-founded the RSDLP in 1898 but wanted to remain autonomous within the party.

Shortly thereafter, pro-Iskra delegates unexpectedly split into two factions. Lenin and his supporters (known as Bolsheviks) argued for a smaller but highly organized party. Martov and his supporters (known as Mensheviks) argued for a larger and less disciplined party. In a surprise development, Trotsky and most of the Iskra editors supported Martov and the Mensheviks while Plekhanov supported Lenin and the Bolsheviks.

During 1903 and 1904, many members changed sides in the factions. Plekhanov soon parted ways with the Bolsheviks. Trotsky left the Mensheviks in September 1904 over their insistence on an alliance with Russian liberals and their opposition to a reconciliation with Lenin and the Bolsheviks. From then until 1917 he described himself as a “non-factional social democrat”.

Trotsky spent much of his time between 1904 and 1917 trying to reconcile different groups within the party, which resulted in many clashes with Lenin and other prominent party members. Trotsky later conceded he had been wrong in opposing Lenin on the issue of the party. During these years Trotsky began developing his theory of permanent revolution, which led to a close working relationship with Alexander Parvus in 1904–1907.

1905 revolution and trial (1905–1906)

After the events of Bloody Sunday, Trotsky secretly returned to Russia in February 1905. At first he wrote leaflets for an underground printing press in Kiev, but soon moved to the capital, Saint Petersburg, where he worked with both Bolsheviks, such as Central Committee member Leonid Krasin, and the local Menshevik committee, which he pushed in a more radical direction. The latter, however, were betrayed by a secret police agent in May, and Trotsky had to flee to rural Finland. There he worked on fleshing out his theory of permanent revolution until October, when a nationwide strike made it possible for him to return to St. Petersburg.

After returning to the capital, Trotsky and Parvus took over the newspaper Russian Gazette and increased its circulation to 500,000. Trotsky also co-founded Nachalo (“The Beginning”) with Parvus and the Mensheviks, which proved to be very successful.

Just before Trotsky’s return, the Mensheviks had independently come up with the same idea that Trotsky had—an elected non-party revolutionary organization representing the capital’s workers, the first Soviet (“Council”) of Workers. By the time of Trotsky’s arrival, the St. Petersburg Soviet was already functioning headed by Khrustalyov-Nosar (Georgy Nosar, alias Pyotr Khrustalyov), a compromise figure, and proved to be very popular with the workers in spite of the Bolsheviks’ original opposition. Trotsky joined the Soviet under the name “Yanovsky” (after the village he was born in, Yanovka) and was elected vice-Chairman. He did much of the actual work at the Soviet and, after Khrustalev-Nosar’s arrest on 26 November, was elected its chairman. On 2 December, the Soviet issued a proclamation which included the following statement about the Tsarist government and its foreign debts:

The autocracy never enjoyed the confidence of the people and was never granted any authority by the people. We have therefore decided not to allow the repayment of such loans as have been made by the Tsarist government when openly engaged in a war with the entire people.

The following day, the Soviet was surrounded by troops loyal to the government and the deputies were arrested.

Trotsky and other Soviet leaders were tried in 1906 on charges of supporting an armed rebellion. At the trial, Trotsky delivered some of the best speeches of his life and solidified his reputation as an effective public speaker, which he confirmed in 1917–1920. He was convicted and sentenced to deportation.

Second emigration (1907–1914)

En route to exile in Obdorsk, Siberia in January 1907, Trotsky escaped at Berezov and once again made his way to London, where he attended the 5th Congress of the RSDLP. In October, he moved to Vienna where he often took part in the activities of the Austrian Social Democratic Party and, occasionally, of the German Social Democratic Party, for seven years.

In Vienna, Trotsky became close to Adolph Joffe, his friend for the next 20 years, who introduced him to psychoanalysis. In October 1908 he started a bi-weekly Russian language social democratic paper aimed at Russian workers called Pravda (“Truth”), which he co-edited with Joffe, Matvey Skobelev and Victor Kopp and which was smuggled into Russia. The paper avoided factional politics and proved popular with Russian industrial workers. Both the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks split multiple times after the failure of the 1905–1907 revolution. When various Bolshevik and Menshevik factions tried to re-unite at the January 1910 RSDLP Central Committee meeting in Paris over Lenin’s objections, Trotsky’s Pravda was made a party-financed ‘central organ’. Lev Kamenev, Trotsky’s brother-in-law, was added to the editorial board from the Bolsheviks, but the unification attempts failed in August 1910 when Kamenev resigned from the board amid mutual recriminations. Trotsky continued publishing Pravda for another two years until it finally folded in April 1912.

The Bolsheviks started a new workers-oriented newspaper in St. Petersburg on 22 April 1912, and also called it Pravda. Trotsky was so upset by what he saw as a usurpation of his newspaper’s name that in April 1913 he wrote a letter to Nikolay Chkheidze, a Menshevik leader, bitterly denouncing Lenin and the Bolsheviks. Though he quickly got over the disagreement, the letter was intercepted by the police, and a copy was put into their archives. Shortly after Lenin’s death in 1924, the letter was pulled out of the archives and made public by his opponents within the Communist Party, and was used to paint him as Lenin’s enemy.

This was a period of heightened tension within the RSDLP and led to numerous frictions between Trotsky, the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. The most serious disagreement that Trotsky and the Mensheviks had with Lenin at the time was over the issue of “expropriations”,i.e., armed robberies of banks and other companies by Bolshevik groups to procure money for the Party, which had been banned by the 5th Congress, but continued by the Bolsheviks.

In January 1912, the majority of the Bolshevik faction led by Lenin and a few Mensheviks held a conference in Prague and expelled their opponents from the party. In response, Trotsky organized a “unification” conference of social democratic factions in Vienna in August 1912 (a.k.a. “The August Bloc”) and tried to re-unite the party. The attempt was generally unsuccessful.

In Vienna, Trotsky continuously published articles in radical Russian and Ukrainian newspapers like Kievskaya Mysl under a variety of pseudonyms, often “Antid Oto”. In September 1912, Kievskaya Mysl sent him to the Balkans as its war correspondent, where he covered the two Balkan Wars for the next year and became a close friend of Christian Rakovsky, later a leading Soviet politician and Trotsky’s ally in the Soviet Communist Party.

On 3 August 1914, at the outbreak of World War I which pitted Austria-Hungary against the Russian empire, Trotsky was forced to flee Vienna for neutral Switzerland to avoid arrest as a Russian émigré.

World War I (1914–1917)

The outbreak of World War I caused a sudden realignment within the RSDLP and other European social democratic parties over the issues of war, revolution, pacifism and internationalism. Within the RSDLP, Lenin, Trotsky and Martov advocated various internationalist anti-war positions, while Plekhanov and other social democrats (both Bolsheviks and Mensheviks) supported the Russian government to some extent.

In Switzerland, Trotsky briefly worked within the Swiss Socialist Party, prompting it to adopt an internationalist resolution, and wrote a book against the war, The War and the International. The thrust of the book was against the pro-war position taken by the European social democratic parties, primarily the German party.

Trotsky moved to France on 19 November 1914, as a war correspondent for the Kievskaya Mysl. In January 1915 he began editing (at first with Martov, who soon resigned as the paper moved to the left) Nashe Slovo (“Our Word”), an internationalist socialist newspaper, in Paris. He adopted the slogan of “peace without indemnities or annexations, peace without conquerors or conquered”, which didn’t go quite as far as Lenin, who advocated Russia’s defeat in the war and demanded a complete break with the Second International.

Trotsky attended the Zimmerwald Conference of anti-war socialists in September 1915 and advocated a middle course between those who, like Martov, would stay within the Second International at any cost and those who, like Lenin, would break with the Second International and form a Third International. The conference adopted the middle line proposed by Trotsky. At first opposed to it, in the end Lenin voted for Trotsky’s resolution to avoid a split among anti-war socialists.

On 31 March Trotsky was deported from France to Spain for his anti-war activities. Spanish authorities did not let him stay and he was deported to the United States on 25 December 1916. He arrived in New York City on 13 January 1917 where he stayed for nearly three months at 1522 Vyse Avenue in the Bronx (New York City). In New York, he wrote articles for the local Russian language socialist newspaper Novy Mir and the Yiddish language daily Der Forverts (The Forward) in translation and made speeches to Russian émigrés. He was officially earning some $15 a week.

Trotsky was living in New York City when the February Revolution of 1917 overthrew Tsar Nicholas II. He left New York on 27 March but his ship, the SS Kristianiafjord, was intercepted by British naval officials in Canada at Halifax, Nova Scotia and he spent a month detained at Amherst, Nova Scotia. After initial hesitation, the Russian foreign minister Pavel Milyukov was forced to demand that Trotsky be released, and the British government freed Trotsky on 29 April. He finally made his way back to Russia on 4 May.

Upon his return, Trotsky was in substantive agreement with the Bolshevik position, but did not join them right away. Russian social democrats were split into at least six groups and the Bolsheviks were waiting for the next party Congress to determine which factions to merge with. Trotsky temporarily joined the Mezhraiontsy, a regional social democratic organization in St. Petersburg, and became one of its leaders. At the First Congress of Soviets in June, he was elected a member of the first All-Russian Central Executive Committee (“VTsIK”) from the Mezhraiontsy faction.

After an unsuccessful pro-Bolshevik uprising in Petrograd, Trotsky was arrested on 7 August 1917, but was released 40 days later in the aftermath of the failed counter-revolutionary uprising by Lavr Kornilov. After the Bolsheviks gained a majority in the Petrograd Soviet, Trotsky was elected Chairman on 8 October. He sided with Lenin against Grigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev when the Bolshevik Central Committee discussed staging an armed uprising and he led the efforts to overthrow the Provisional Government headed by Aleksandr Kerensky.

The following summary of Trotsky’s role in 1917 was written by Stalin in Pravda, 10 November 1918. (Although this passage was quoted in Stalin’s book “The October Revolution” issued in 1934, it was expunged in Stalin’s Works released in 1949.)

All practical work in connection with the organization of the uprising was done under the immediate direction of Comrade Trotsky, the President of the Petrograd Soviet. It can be stated with certainty that the Party is indebted primarily and principally to Comrade Trotsky for the rapid going over of the garrison to the side of the Soviet and the efficient manner in which the work of the Military Revolutionary Committee was organized.

After the success of the uprising on 7–8 November, Trotsky led the efforts to repel a counter-attack by Cossacks under General Pyotr Krasnov and other troops still loyal to the overthrown Provisional Government at Gatchina. Allied with Lenin, he successfully defeated attempts by other Bolshevik Central Committee members (Zinoviev, Kamenev, Alexei Rykov, etc.) to share power with other socialist parties.

By the end of 1917, Trotsky was unquestionably the second man in the Bolshevik Party after Lenin, overshadowing the ambitious Zinoviev, who had been Lenin’s top lieutenant over the previous decade, but whose star appeared to be fading. This turnaround led to enmity between the two Bolshevik leaders which lasted until 1926 and did much to destroy them both.

After the Russian Revolution

Commissar for Foreign Affairs and Brest-Litovsk (1917–1918)

After the Bolsheviks came to power, Trotsky became the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs and published the secret treaties previously signed by the Triple Entente that detailed plans for post-war reallocation of colonies and redrawing state borders.

Trotsky led the Soviet delegation during the peace negotiations in Brest-Litovsk from 22 December 1917 to 10 February 1918. At that time the Soviet government was split on the issue. Left Communists, led by Nikolai Bukharin, continued to believe that there could be no peace between a Soviet republic and a capitalist country and that only a revolutionary war leading to a pan-European Soviet republic would bring a durable peace. They cited the successes of the newly formed (15 January 1918) voluntary Red Army against Polish forces of Gen. Józef Dowbor-Muśnicki in Belarus, White forces in the Don region, and newly independent Ukrainian forces as proof that the Red Army could repel German forces, especially if propaganda and asymmetrical warfare were used. They did not mind holding talks with the Germans as a means of exposing German imperial ambitions (territorial gains, reparations, etc.) in the hope of accelerating the hoped−for Soviet revolution in the West, but they were dead set against signing any peace treaty. In case of a German ultimatum, they advocated proclaiming a revolutionary war against Germany in order to inspire Russian and European workers to fight for socialism. This opinion was shared by Left Socialist Revolutionaries, who were then the Bolsheviks’ junior partners in a coalition government.

Lenin, who had earlier hoped for a speedy Soviet revolution in Germany and other parts of Europe, quickly decided that the imperial government of Germany was still firmly in control and that, without a strong Russian military, an armed conflict with Germany would lead to a collapse of the Soviet government in Russia. He agreed with the Left Communists that ultimately a pan-European Soviet revolution would solve all problems, but until then the Bolsheviks had to stay in power. Lenin did not mind prolonging the negotiating process for maximum propaganda effect, but, from January 1918 on, advocated signing a separate peace treaty if faced with a German ultimatum.

Trotsky’s position was between these two Bolshevik factions. Like Lenin, he admitted that the old Russian military, inherited from the monarchy and the Provisional Government and in advanced stages of decomposition, was unable to fight:

That we could no longer fight was perfectly clear to me and that the newly formed Red Guard and Red Army detachments were too small and poorly trained to resist the Germans.

But he agreed with the Left Communists that a separate peace treaty with an imperialist power would be a terrible morale and material blow to the Soviet government, negate all its military and political successes of 1917 and 1918, resurrect the notion that the Bolsheviks secretly allied with the German government, and cause an upsurge of internal resistance. He argued that any German ultimatum should be refused, and that this may well lead to an uprising in Germany, or at least inspire German soldiers to disobey their officers since any German offensive would be a naked grab for territories. He wrote in 1925:

We began peace negotiations in the hope of arousing the workmen’s party of Germany and Austria-Hungary as well as of the Entente countries. For this reason we were obliged to delay the negotiations as long as possible to give the European workman time to understand the main fact of the Soviet revolution itself and particularly its peace policy.
But there was the other question: Can the Germans still fight? Are they in a position to begin an attack on the revolution that will explain the cessation of the war? How can we find out the state of mind of the German soldiers, how to fathom it?

Throughout January and February 1918, Lenin’s position was supported by 7 members of the Bolshevik Central Committee and Bukharin’s by 4. Trotsky had 4 votes (his own, Felix Dzerzhinsky‘s, Nikolai Krestinsky‘s and Adolph Joffe‘s) and, since he held the balance of power, he was able to pursue his policy in Brest-Litovsk. When he could no longer delay the negotiations, he withdrew from the talks on 10 February 1918, refusing to sign on Germany’s harsh terms. After a brief hiatus, the Central Powers notified the Soviet government that they would no longer observe the truce after 17 February. At this point Lenin again argued that the Soviet government had done all it could to explain its position to Western workers and that it was time to accept the terms. Trotsky refused to support Lenin since he was waiting to see whether German workers would rebel and whether German soldiers would refuse to follow orders.

Germany resumed military operations on 18 February. Within a day, it became clear that the German army was capable of conducting offensive operations and that Red Army detachments, which were relatively small, poorly organized and poorly led, were no match for it. In the evening of 18 February 1918, Trotsky and his supporters in the committee abstained and Lenin’s proposal was accepted 7-4. The Soviet government sent a telegram to the German side accepting the final Brest-Litovsk peace terms.

Germany did not respond for three days, and continued its offensive encountering little resistance. The response arrived on 21 February but the proposed terms were so harsh that even Lenin briefly thought that the Soviet government had no choice but to fight. But in the end, the committee again voted 7-4 on 23 February 1918; the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed on 3 March and ratified on 15 March 1918. Since he was so closely associated with the policy previously followed by the Soviet delegation at Brest-Litovsk, Trotsky resigned from his position as Commissar for Foreign Affairs in order to remove a potential obstacle to the new policy.

Head of the Red Army (spring 1918)

The failure of the recently formed Red Army to resist the German offensive in February 1918 revealed its weaknesses: insufficient numbers, lack of knowledgeable officers, and near absence of coordination and subordination. Celebrated and feared Baltic Fleet sailors, one of the bastions of the new regime led by Pavel Dybenko, shamefully fled from the German army at Narva. The notion that the Soviet state could have an effective voluntary or militia type military was seriously undermined.

Trotsky was one of the first Bolshevik leaders to recognize the problem and he pushed for the formation of a military council of former Russian generals that would function as an advisory body. Lenin and the Bolshevik Central Committee agreed on 4 March to create the Supreme Military Council, headed by former chief of the imperial General Staff Mikhail Bonch-Bruevich. But the entire Bolshevik leadership of the Red Army, including People’s Commissar (defense minister) Nikolai Podvoisky and commander-in-chief Nikolai Krylenko, protested vigorously and eventually resigned.

They believed that the Red Army should consist only of dedicated revolutionaries, rely on propaganda and force, and have elected officers. They viewed former imperial officers and generals as potential traitors who should be kept out of the new military, much less put in charge of it. Their views continued to be popular with many Bolsheviks throughout most of the Russian Civil War and their supporters, including Podvoisky, who became one of Trotsky’s deputies, were a constant thorn in Trotsky’s side. The discontent with Trotsky’s policies of strict discipline, conscription and reliance on carefully supervised non-Communist military experts eventually led to the Military Opposition, which was active within the Communist Party in late 1918–1919.

On 13 March 1918, Trotsky’s resignation as Commissar for Foreign Affairs was officially accepted and he was appointed People’s Commissar of Army and Navy Affairs – in place of Podvoisky – and chairman of the Supreme Military Council. The post of commander-in-chief was abolished, and Trotsky gained full control of the Red Army, responsible only to the Communist Party leadership, whose Left Socialist Revolutionary allies had left the government over Brest-Litovsk. With the help of his faithful deputy Ephraim Sklyansky, Trotsky spent the rest of the Civil War transforming the Red Army from a ragtag network of small and fiercely independent detachments into a large and disciplined military machine, through forced conscription, party controlled blocking squads, compulsory obedience and officers chosen by the leadership instead of the rank and file. He defended these positions throughout his life.

Civil War (1918–1920)


Trotsky’s managerial and organization-building skills with the Soviet military were soon tested. In May–June 1918, the Czechoslovak Legions en route from European Russia to Vladivostok rose against the Soviet government. This left the Bolsheviks with the loss of most of the country’s territory, an increasingly well organized resistance by Russian anti-Communist forces (usually referred to as the White Army after their best known component) and widespread defection by the military experts that Trotsky relied on.

Trotsky and the government responded with a full-fledged mobilization, which increased the size of the Red Army from less than 300,000 in May 1918 to one million in October, and an introduction of political commissars into the army. The latter were responsible for ensuring the loyalty of military experts (who were mostly former officers in the imperial army) and co-signing their orders.

Trotsky claimed that the Red Army’s organization was built on the ideas of the October Revolution. As he later wrote in his autobiography:

An army cannot be built without reprisals. Masses of men cannot be led to death unless the army command has the death-penalty in its arsenal. So long as those malicious tailless apes that are so proud of their technical achievements—the animals that we call men—will build armies and wage wars, the command will always be obliged to place the soldiers between the possible death in the front and the inevitable one in the rear. And yet armies are not built on fear. The Tsar’s army fell to pieces not because of any lack of reprisals. In his attempt to save it by restoring the death-penalty, Kerensky only finished it. Upon the ashes of the great war, the Bolsheviks created a new army. These facts demand no explanation for any one who has even the slightest knowledge of the language of history. The strongest cement in the new army was the ideas of the October revolution, and the train supplied the front with this cement.

In dealing with deserters, Trotsky often appealed to them politically; arousing them with the ideas of the Revolution.

In the provinces of Kaluga, Voronezh, and Ryazan, tens of thousands of young peasants had failed to answer the first recruiting summons by the Soviets … The war commissariat of Ryazan succeeded in gathering in some fifteen thousand of such deserters. While passing through Ryazan, I decided to take a look at them. Some of our men tried to dissuade me. “Something might happen,” they warned me. But everything went off beautifully. The men were called out of their barracks. “Comrade-deserters – come to the meeting. Comrade Trotsky has come to speak to you.” They ran out excited, boisterous, as curious as schoolboys. I had imagined them much worse, and they had imagined me as more terrible. In a few minutes, I was surrounded by a huge crowd of unbridled, utterly undisciplined, but not at all hostile men. The “comrade-deserters” were looking at me with such curiosity that it seemed as if their eyes would pop out of their heads. I climbed on a table there in the yard, and spoke to them for about an hour and a half. It was a most responsive audience. I tried to raise them in their own eyes; concluding, I asked them to lift their hands in token of their loyalty to the revolution. The new ideas infected them before my very eyes. They were genuinely enthusiastic; they followed me to the automobile, devoured me with their eyes, not fearfully, as before, but rapturously, and shouted at the tops of their voices. They would hardly let me go. I learned afterward, with some pride, that one of the best ways to educate them was to remind them: “What did you promise Comrade Trotsky?” Later on, regiments of Ryazan “deserters” fought well at the fronts.

Given the lack of man power and the 16 invading foreign armies, Trotsky also insisted that former Tsarist officers should be used as military specialists within the Red Army, with a combination of Bolshevik political commissars to ensure the revolutionary nature of the Red Army. Lenin commented on this:

When Comrade Trotsky recently informed me that in our military department the officers are numbered in tens of thousands, I gained a concrete conception of what constitutes the secret of making proper use of our enemy … of how to build communism out of the bricks that the capitalists had gathered to use against us.

In September 1918, the government, facing continuous military difficulties, declared what amounted to martial law and reorganized the Red Army. The Supreme Military Council was abolished and the position of commander-in-chief was restored, filled by the commander of the Latvian Riflemen, Ioakim Vatsetis (a.k.a. Jukums Vācietis), who had formerly led the Eastern Front against the Czechoslovak Legions. Vatsetis was put in charge of day-to-day operations of the army while Trotsky became chairman of the newly formed Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic and retained overall control of the military. Trotsky and Vatsetis had clashed earlier in 1918 while Vatsetis and Trotsky’s adviser Mikhail Bonch-Bruevich were also on unfriendly terms. Nevertheless, Trotsky eventually established a working relationship with the often prickly Vatsetis.

The reorganization caused yet another conflict between Trotsky and Stalin in late September. Trotsky appointed former imperial general Pavel Sytin to command the Southern Front, but in early October 1918 Stalin refused to accept him and so he was recalled from the front. Lenin and Yakov Sverdlov tried to make Trotsky and Stalin reconcile, but their meeting was unsuccessful.


Throughout late 1918 and early 1919, there were a number of attacks on Trotsky’s leadership of the Red Army, including veiled accusations in newspaper articles inspired by Stalin and a direct attack by the Military Opposition at the VIIIth Party Congress in March 1919. On the surface, he weathered them successfully and was elected one of only five full members of the first Politburo after the Congress. But he later wrote:

It is no wonder that my military work created so many enemies for me. I did not look to the side, I elbowed away those who interfered with military success, or in the haste of the work trod on the toes of the unheeding and was too busy even to apologize. Some people remember such things. The dissatisfied and those whose feelings had been hurt found their way to Stalin or Zinoviev, for these two also nourished hurts.

In mid-1919 the dissatisfied had an opportunity to mount a serious challenge to Trotsky’s leadership, the Red Army grew from 800,000 to 3,000,000, and fought simultaneously on sixteen fronts.[19]. The Red Army had defeated the White Army’s spring offensive in the east and was about to cross the Ural Mountains and enter Siberia in pursuit of Admiral Alexander Kolchak‘s forces. But in the south, General Anton Denikin‘s White Russian forces advanced, and the situation deteriorated rapidly. On 6 June commander-in-chief Vatsetis ordered the Eastern Front to stop the offensive so that he could use its forces in the south. But the leadership of the Eastern Front, including its commander Sergei Kamenev (a colonel in the imperial army, not to be confused with the Politburo member Lev Kamenev), and Eastern Front Revolutionary Military Council members Ivar Smilga, Mikhail Lashevich and Sergei Gusev vigorously protested and wanted to keep emphasis on the Eastern Front. They insisted that it was vital to capture Siberia before the onset of winter and that once Kolchak’s forces were broken, many more divisions would be freed up for the Southern Front. Trotsky, who had earlier had conflicts with the leadership of the Eastern Front, including a temporary removal of Kamenev in May 1919, supported Vatsetis.

At the 3–4 July Central Committee meeting, after a heated exchange the majority supported Kamenev and Smilga against Vatsetis and Trotsky. Trotsky’s plan was rejected and he was much criticized for various alleged shortcomings in his leadership style, much of it of a personal nature. Stalin used this opportunity to pressure Lenin to dismiss Trotsky from his post. But when, on 5 July Trotsky offered his resignation, the Politburo and the Orgburo of the Central Committee unanimously rejected it.

Yet, a number of significant changes to the leadership of the Red Army were made. Trotsky was temporarily sent to the Southern Front, while the work in Moscow was informally coordinated by Smilga. Most members of the bloated Revolutionary Military Council who were not involved in its day to day operations, were relieved of their duties on 8 July while new members including Smilga were added. The same day, while Trotsky was already in the south, Vatsetis was suddenly arrested by the Cheka on suspicion of involvement in an anti-Soviet plot, and replaced by Sergei Kamenev.

After a few weeks in the south, Trotsky returned to Moscow and resumed control of the Red Army. A year later, Smilga and Tukhachevsky were defeated during the Battle of Warsaw, but Trotsky refused this opportunity to pay Smilga back, which earned him Smilga’s friendship and later support during the intra-Party battles of the 1920s.

By October 1919 the government was in the worst crisis of the Civil War: Denikin’s troops approached Tula and Moscow from the south, and General Nikolay Yudenich‘s troops approached Petrograd from the west. Lenin decided that since it was more important to defend Moscow, Petrograd would have to be abandoned. Trotsky argued that Petrograd needed to be defended, at least in part to prevent Estonia and Finland from intervening. In a rare reversal, Trotsky was supported by Stalin and Zinoviev and prevailed against Lenin in the Central Committee. He immediately went to Petrograd, whose leadership headed by Zinoviev he found demoralized, and organized its defense, sometimes personally stopping fleeing soldiers. By 22 October the Red Army was on the offensive and in early November Yudenich’s troops were driven back to Estonia, where they were disarmed and interned. Trotsky was awarded the Order of the Red Banner for his actions in Petrograd.


With the defeat of Denikin and Yudenich in late 1919, the Soviet government’s emphasis shifted to economic work and Trotsky spent the winter of 1919–1920 in the Urals region trying to re-start its economy. Based on his experiences there, he proposed abandoning the policies of War Communism,[23] which included confiscating grain from peasants, and partially restoring the grain market. But Lenin was still committed to War Communism and the proposal was rejected. Instead, Trotsky was put in charge of the country’s railroads (while retaining overall control of the Red Army), which he tried to militarize in the spirit of War Communism. It wasn’t until early 1921 that economic collapse and uprisings would force Lenin and the rest of the Bolshevik leadership to abandon War Communism in favor of the New Economic Policy.

Meanwhile, in early 1920 Soviet-Polish tensions eventually led to the Polish-Soviet War. In the run-up and during the war, Trotsky argued that the Red Army was exhausted and the Soviet government should sign a peace treaty with Poland as soon as possible. He also did not believe that the Red Army would find much support in Poland proper. Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders thought that the Red Army’s successes in the Russian Civil War and against the Poles meant that, as Lenin said later:

The defensive period of the war with worldwide imperialism was over, and we could, and had the obligation to, exploit the military situation to launch an offensive war.

But the Red Army offensive was turned back during the Battle of Warsaw in August 1920, in part because of Stalin’s failure to obey Trotsky’s orders in the run-up to the decisive engagements. Back in Moscow, Trotsky again argued for a peace treaty and this time prevailed.

Trade union debate (1920–1921)

In late 1920, after the Bolsheviks won the Civil War and before the Eighth and Ninth Congress of Soviets, the Communist Party had a heated and increasingly acrimonious debate over the role of trade unions in the Soviet state. The discussion split the party into many “platforms” (factions), including Lenin’s, Trotsky’s and Bukharin’s; Bukharin eventually merged his with Trotsky’s. Smaller, more radical factions like the Workers’ Opposition (headed by Alexander Shlyapnikov) and the Group of Democratic Centralism were particularly active.

Trotsky’s position formed while he led a special commission on the Soviet transportation system, Tsektran. He was appointed there to rebuild the rail system ruined by the Civil War. Being the Commissar of War and a revolutionary military leader, he saw a need to create a militarized “production atmosphere” by incorporating trade unions directly into the State apparatus. His unyielding stance was that in a worker’s state the workers should have nothing to fear from the state, and the State should fully control the unions. In the Ninth Party Congress he argued for “such a regime under which each worker feels himself to be a soldier of labor who cannot freely dispose of himself; if he is ordered transferred, he must execute that order; if he does not do so, he will be a deserter who should be punished. Who will execute this? The trade union. It will create a new regime. That is the militarization of the working class.”

Lenin sharply criticised Trotsky and accused him of “bureaucratically nagging the trade unions” and of staging “factional attacks”. His view did not focus on State control as much as the concern that a new relationship was needed between the State and the rank-and-file workers. He said, “Introduction of genuine labor discipline is conceived only if the whole mass of participants in productions take a conscious part in the fulfillment of these tasks. This cannot be achieved by bureaucratic methods and orders from above.” This was a debate that Lenin thought the party could not afford. His frustration with Trotsky was used by Stalin and Zinoviev with their support for Lenin’s position, to improve their standing within the Bolshevik leadership at Trotsky’s expense.

Disagreements threatened to get out of hand and many Bolsheviks, including Lenin, feared that the party would splinter. The Central Committee was split almost evenly between Lenin’s and Trotsky’s supporters, with all three Secretaries of the Central Committee (Krestinky, Yevgeny Preobrazhensky and Leonid Serebryakov) supporting Trotsky.

At a meeting of his faction at the Tenth Party Congress in March 1921, Lenin’s faction won a decisive victory and a number of Trotsky’s supporters (including all three secretaries of the Central Committee) lost their leadership positions. Krestinsky was replaced as a member of the Politburo by Zinoviev, who had supported Lenin. Krestinsky’s place in the secretariat was taken by Vyacheslav Molotov. The congress also adopted a secret resolution on “Party unity”, which banned factions within the Party except during pre-Congress discussions. The resolution was later published and used by Stalin against Trotsky and other opponents.

At the end of the Tenth Congress, after peace negotiations had failed, Trotsky gave the order for the suppression of the Kronstadt Rebellion, the last major revolt against Bolshevik rule.  Years later, anarchist Emma Goldman and others criticized Trotsky’s actions as Commissar for War for his role in the suppression of the rebellion, and argued that he ordered unjustified incarcerations and executions of political opponents such as anarchists, although Trotsky did not participate in the actual suppression. Some Trotskyists, most notably Abbie Bakan, have argued that the claim that the Kronstadt rebels were “counterrevolutionary” has been supported by evidence of White Army and French government support for the Kronstadt sailors’ March rebellion.. Other historians, most notably Paul Avrich, claimed the evidence did not point towards this conclusion, and that the Kronstadt Rebellion was spontaneous.

Lenin’s illness (1922–1923)

In late 1921 Lenin’s health deteriorated, he was absent from Moscow for even longer periods, and eventually had three strokes between 26 May 1922 and 10 March 1923, which caused paralysis, loss of speech and finally death on 21 January 1924. With Lenin increasingly sidelined throughout 1922, Stalin (elevated to the newly created position of the Central Committee General Secretary earlier in the year), Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev formed a troika (triumvirate) to ensure that Trotsky, publicly the number two man in the country and Lenin’s heir presumptive, would not succeed Lenin.

The rest of the recently expanded Politburo (Rykov, Mikhail Tomsky, Bukharin) was at first uncommitted, but eventually joined the troika. Stalin’s power of patronage in his capacity as General Secretary clearly played a role, but Trotsky and his supporters later concluded that a more fundamental reason was the process of slow bureaucratization of the Soviet regime once the extreme conditions of the Civil War were over: much of the Bolshevik elite wanted ‘normalcy’ while Trotsky was personally and politically personified as representing a turbulent revolutionary period that they would much rather leave behind.

Although the exact sequence of events is unclear, evidence suggests that at first the troika nominated Trotsky to head second rate government departments (e.g., Gokhran, the State Depository for Valuables) and then, when Trotsky predictably refused, tried using it as an excuse to oust him. At this time there was speculation about Trotsky’s health and whether or not he had epilepsy.

When, in mid-July 1922, Kamenev wrote a letter to the recovering Lenin to the effect that “(the Central Committee) is throwing or is ready to throw a good cannon overboard”, Lenin was shocked and responded:

Throwing Trotsky overboard – surely you are hinting at that, it is impossible to interpret it otherwise – is the height of stupidity. If you do not consider me already hopelessly foolish, how can you think of that????

From then until his final stroke, Lenin spent much of his time trying to devise a way to prevent a split within the Communist Party leadership, which was reflected in Lenin’s Testament. As part of this effort, on 11 September 1922 Lenin proposed that Trotsky become his deputy at the Council of People’s Commissars (Sovnarkom). The Politburo approved the proposal, but Trotsky “categorically refused”.

In late 1922, Lenin’s relationship with Stalin deteriorated over Stalin’s heavy-handed and chauvinistic handling of the issue of merging Soviet republics into one federal state, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). At that point, according to Trotsky’s autobiography, Lenin offered Trotsky an alliance against Soviet bureaucracy in general and Stalin in particular. The alliance proved effective on the issue of foreign trade, but it was complicated by Lenin’s progressing illness. In January 1923 the relationship between Lenin and Stalin completely broke down when Stalin rudely insulted Lenin’s wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya. At that point Lenin amended his Testament suggesting that Stalin should be replaced as the party’s General Secretary, although the thrust of his argument was somewhat weakened by the fact that he also mildly criticized other Bolshevik leaders, including Trotsky. In March 1923, days before his third stroke, Lenin prepared a frontal assault on Stalin’s “Great-Russian nationalistic campaign” against the Georgian Communist Party (the so-called Georgian Affair) and asked Trotsky to deliver the blow at the XIIth Party Congress. With Lenin no longer active, Trotsky did not raise the issue at the Congress.

At the XIIth Party Congress in April 1923, just after Lenin’s final stroke, the key Central Committee reports on organizational and nationalities questions were delivered by Stalin and not by Trotsky, while Zinoviev delivered the political report of the Central Committee, traditionally Lenin’s prerogative.[40] Stalin’s power of appointment had allowed him to gradually replace local party secretaries with loyal functionaries and thus control most regional delegations at the congress, which enabled him to pack the Central Committee with his supporters, mostly at the expense of Zinoviev and Kamenev’s backers.

At the congress, Trotsky made a speech about intra-party democracy, among other things, but avoided a direct confrontation with the troika. The delegates, most of whom were unaware of the divisions within the Politburo, gave Trotsky a standing ovation, which couldn’t help but upset the troika. The troika was further infuriated by Karl Radek‘s article Leon Trotsky — Organizer of Victory published in Pravda on 14 March 1923, which seemed to anoint Trotsky as Lenin’s successor.

The resolutions adopted by the XIIth Congress called, in general terms, for greater democracy within the Party, but were vague and remained unimplemented. In an important test of strength in mid-1923, the troika was able to neutralize Trotsky’s friend and supporter Christian Rakovsky by removing him from his post as head of the Ukrainian government (Sovnarkom) and sending him to London as Soviet ambassador. When regional Party secretaries in Ukraine protested against Rakovsky’s reassignment, they too were reassigned to various posts all over the Soviet Union.

Left opposition (1923–1924)

Starting in mid-1923, the Soviet economy ran into significant difficulties, which led to numerous strikes countrywide. Two secret groups within the Communist Party, “Workers’ Truth” and “Workers’ Group”, were uncovered and suppressed by the Soviet secret police.

On 8 October 1923 Trotsky sent a letter to the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission, attributing these difficulties to lack of intra-Party democracy. Trotsky wrote:

In the fiercest moment of War Communism, the system of appointment within the party did not have one tenth of the extent that it has now. Appointment of the secretaries of provincial committees is now the rule. That creates for the secretary a position essentially independent of the local organization. […] The bureaucratization of the party apparatus has developed to unheard-of proportions by means of the method of secretarial selection. There has been created a very broad stratum of party workers, entering into the apparatus of the government of the party, who completely renounce their own party opinion, at least the open expression of it, as though assuming that the secretarial hierarchy is the apparatus which creates party opinion and party decisions. Beneath this stratum, abstaining from their own opinions, there lays the broad mass of the party, before whom every decision stands in the form of a summons or a command.

Other senior communists who had similar concerns sent The Declaration of 46 to the Central Committee on 15 October in which they wrote:

…. we observe an ever progressing, barely disguised division of the party into a secretarial hierarchy and into “laymen”, into professional party functionaries, chosen from above, and the other party masses, who take no part in social life. […] free discussion within the party has virtually disappeared, party public opinion has been stifled. […] it is the secretarial hierarchy, the party hierarchy which to an ever greater degree chooses the delegates to the conferences and congresses, which to an ever greater degree are becoming the executive conferences of this hierarchy.

Although the text of these letters remained secret at the time, they had a significant effect on the Party leadership and prompted a partial retreat by the troika and its supporters on the issue of intra-Party democracy, notably in Zinoviev’s Pravda article published on 7 November. Throughout November, the troika tried to come up with a compromise to placate, or at least temporarily neutralize, Trotsky and his supporters. (Their task was made easier by the fact that Trotsky was sick in November and December.) The first draft of the resolution was rejected by Trotsky, which led to the formation of a special group consisting of Stalin, Trotsky and Kamenev, which was charged with drafting a mutually acceptable compromise. On 5 December, the Politburo and the Central Control Commission unanimously adopted the group’s final draft as its resolution.

On 8 December Trotsky published an open letter, in which he expounded on the recently adopted resolution’s ideas. The troika used his letter as an excuse to launch a campaign against Trotsky, accusing him of factionalism, setting “the youth against the fundamental generation of old revolutionary Bolsheviks” and other sins. Trotsky defended his position in a series of seven letters which were collected as The New Course in January 1924. The illusion of a “monolithic Bolshevik leadership” was thus shattered and a lively intra-Party discussion ensued, both in local Party organizations and in the pages of Pravda. The discussion lasted most of December and January until the XIIIth Party Conference of 16–18 January 1924. Those who opposed the Central Committee’s position in the debate were thereafter referred to as members of the Left Opposition.

Since the troika controlled the Party apparatus through Stalin’s Secretariat and Pravda through its editor Bukharin, it was able to direct the discussion and the process of delegate selection. Although Trotsky’s position prevailed within the Red Army and Moscow universities and received about half the votes in the Moscow Party organization, it was defeated elsewhere, and the Conference was packed with pro-troika delegates. In the end, only three delegates voted for Trotsky’s position and the Conference denounced “Trotskyism” as a “petty bourgeois deviation”. After the Conference, a number of Trotsky’s supporters, especially in the Red Army’s Political Directorate, were removed from leading positions or reassigned. Nonetheless, Trotsky kept all of his posts and the troika was careful to emphasize that the debate was limited to Trotsky’s “mistakes” and that removing Trotsky from the leadership was out of the question. In reality, Trotsky had already been cut off from the decision making process.

Immediately after the Conference, Trotsky left for a Caucasian resort to recover from his prolonged illness. On his way, he learned about Lenin’s death on 21 January 1924. He was about to return when a follow up telegram from Stalin arrived, giving an incorrect date of the scheduled funeral, which would have made it impossible for Trotsky to return in time. Many commentators speculated after the fact that Trotsky’s absence from Moscow in the days following Lenin’s death contributed to his eventual loss to Stalin, although Trotsky generally discounted the significance of his absence.

After Lenin’s death (1924)

There was little overt political disagreement within the Soviet leadership throughout most of 1924. On the surface, Trotsky remained the most prominent and popular Bolshevik leader, although his “mistakes” were often alluded to by troika partisans. Behind the scenes, he was completely cut off from the decision making process. Politburo meetings were pure formalities since all key decisions were made ahead of time by the troika and its supporters. Trotsky’s control over the military was undermined by reassigning his deputy, Ephraim Sklyansky, and appointing Mikhail Frunze, who was being groomed to take Trotsky’s place.

At the thirteenth Party Congress in May, Trotsky delivered a conciliatory speech:

None of us desires or is able to dispute the will of the Party. Clearly, the Party is always right…. We can only be right with and by the Party, for history has provided no other way of being in the right. The English have a saying, “My country, right or wrong”, whether it is in the right or in the wrong, it is my country. We have much better historical justification in saying whether it is right or wrong in certain individual concrete cases, it is my party…. And if the Party adopts a decision which one or other of us thinks unjust, he will say, just or unjust, it is my party, and I shall support the consequences of the decision to the end.

The attempt at reconciliation, however, did not stop troika supporters from taking potshots at him.

In the meantime, the Left Opposition, which had coagulated somewhat unexpectedly in late 1923 and lacked a definite platform aside from general dissatisfaction with the intra-Party “regime”, began to crystallize. It lost some less dedicated members to the harassment by the troika, but it also began formulating a program. Economically, the Left Opposition and its theoretician Yevgeny Preobrazhensky came out against further development of capitalist elements in the Soviet economy and in favor of faster industrialization. That put them at odds with Bukharin and Rykov, the “Right” group within the Party, who supported troika at the time. On the question of world revolution, Trotsky and Karl Radek saw a period of stability in Europe while Stalin and Zinoviev confidently predicted an “acceleration” of revolution in Western Europe in 1924. On the theoretical plane, Trotsky remained committed to the Bolshevik idea that the Soviet Union could not create a true socialist society in the absence of the world revolution, while Stalin gradually came up with a policy of building ‘Socialism in One Country‘. These ideological divisions provided much of the intellectual basis for the political divide between Trotsky and the Left Opposition on the one hand and Stalin and his allies on the other.

At the thirteenth Congress Kamenev and Zinoviev helped Stalin defuse Lenin’s Testament, which belatedly came to the surface. But just after the congress, the troika, always an alliance of convenience, showed signs of weakness. Stalin began making poorly veiled accusations about Zinoviev and Kamenev. Yet in October 1924, Trotsky published The Lessons of October, an extensive summary of the events of the 1917 revolution. In it, he described Zinoviev’s and Kamenev’s opposition to the Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917, something that the two would have preferred left unmentioned. This started a new round of intra-party struggle, which became known as the Literary Discussion, with Zinoviev and Kamenev again allied with Stalin against Trotsky. Their criticism of Trotsky was concentrated in three areas:

  • Trotsky’s disagreements and conflicts with Lenin and the Bolsheviks prior to 1917.
  • Trotsky’s alleged distortion of the events of 1917 in order to emphasize his role and diminish the roles played by other Bolsheviks.
  • Trotsky’s harsh treatment of his subordinates and other alleged mistakes during the Russian Civil War.

Trotsky was again sick and unable to respond while his opponents mobilized all of their resources to denounce him. They succeeded in damaging his military reputation so much that he was forced to resign as People’s Commissar of Army and Fleet Affairs and Chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council on 6 January 1925. Zinoviev demanded Trotsky’s expulsion from the Communist Party, but Stalin refused to go along and skillfully played the role of a moderate. Trotsky kept his Politburo seat, but was effectively put on probation.

A year in the wilderness (1925)

1925 was a difficult year for Trotsky. After the bruising Literary Discussion and losing his Red Army posts, he was effectively unemployed throughout the winter and spring. In May 1925, he was given three posts: chairman of the Concessions Committee, head of the electro-technical board, and chairman of the scientific-technical board of industry. Trotsky wrote in My Life[46] that he “was taking a rest from politics” and “naturally plunged into his new line of work up to my ears”, but some contemporary accounts paint a picture of a remote and distracted man.[47] Later in the year, Trotsky resigned his two technical positions (claiming Stalin-instigated interference and sabotage) and concentrated on his work in the Concessions Committee.

In one of the few political developments that affected Trotsky in 1925, the circumstances surrounding the controversy around Lenin’s Testament were described by American Marxist Max Eastman in his book Since Lenin Died (1925). The Soviet leadership denounced Eastman’s account and used party discipline to force Trotsky to write an article denying Eastman’s version of the events.

In the meantime, the troika finally broke up. Bukharin and Rykov sided with Stalin while Krupskaya and Soviet Commissar of Finance Grigory Sokolnikov aligned with Zinoviev and Kamenev. The struggle became open at the September 1925 meeting of the Central Committee and came to a head at the XIVth Party Congress in December 1925. With only the Leningrad Party organization behind them, Zinoviev and Kamenev, dubbed The New Opposition, were thoroughly defeated while Trotsky refused to get involved in the fight and didn’t speak at the Congress.

United Opposition (1926–1927)

During a lull in the intra-party fighting in the spring of 1926, Zinoviev, Kamenev and their supporters in the “New Opposition” gravitated closer to Trotsky’s supporters and the two groups soon formed an alliance, which also incorporated some smaller opposition groups within the Communist Party. The alliance became known as the “United Opposition”.

The United Opposition was repeatedly threatened with sanctions by the Stalinist leadership of the Communist Party and Trotsky had to agree to tactical retreats, mostly to preserve his alliance with Zinoviev and Kamenev. The opposition remained united against Stalin throughout 1926 and 1927, especially on the issue of the Chinese Revolution. The methods used by the Stalinists against the Opposition became more and more extreme. At the XVth Party Conference in October 1926 Trotsky could barely speak because of interruptions and catcalls, and at the end of the Conference he lost his Politburo seat. In 1927 Stalin started using the GPU (Soviet secret police) to infiltrate and discredit the opposition. Rank and file oppositionists were increasingly harassed, sometimes expelled from the Party and even arrested.

Defeat and exile (1927–1928)

In October 1927, Trotsky and Zinoviev were expelled from the Central Committee. When the United Opposition tried to organize independent demonstrations commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Bolshevik seizure of power in November 1927, the demonstrators were dispersed by force and Trotsky and Zinoviev were expelled from the Communist Party on 12 November. Their leading supporters, from Kamenev down, were expelled in December 1927 by the XVth Party Congress, which paved the way for mass expulsions of rank and file oppositionists as well as internal exile of opposition leaders in early 1928.

When the XVth Party Congress made Opposition views incompatible with membership in the Communist Party, Zinoviev, Kamenev and their supporters capitulated and renounced their alliance with the Left Opposition. Trotsky and most of his followers, on the other hand, refused to surrender and stayed the course.

Trotsky was exiled to Alma Ata in Kazakhstan on 31 January 1928. He was expelled from the Soviet Union to Turkey in February 1929, accompanied by his wife Natalia Sedova and his son Lev Sedov.

After Trotsky’s expulsion from the country, exiled Trotskyists began to waver and, between 1929 and 1934, most of the leading members of the Opposition surrendered to Stalin, “admitted their mistakes” and were reinstated in the Communist Party. Christian Rakovsky, who served as an inspiration for Trotsky between 1929 and 1934 while he was in Siberian exile, was the last prominent Trotskyist to capitulate. Almost all of them perished in the Great Purges just a few years later.

Exile (1929–1940)

Trotsky was deported from the Soviet Union in February 1929. His first station in exile was at Büyükada off the coast of Istanbul, Turkey where he stayed for the next four years. There were many former White Army officers in Istanbul, which put Trotsky’s life in danger, but a number of Trotsky’s European supporters volunteered to serve as bodyguards and assured his safety.

In 1933 Trotsky was offered asylum in France by Prime Minister Édouard Daladier. He stayed first at Royan, then at Barbizon. He was not allowed to visit Paris. In 1935 he was given to understand he was no longer welcome in France. After weighing alternatives, he moved to Norway. Having obtained permission from then-Justice Minister Trygve Lie to enter the country, Trotsky became a guest of Konrad Knudsen near Oslo. After two years – allegedly under influence from the Soviet Union – he was put under house arrest. His transfer to Mexico on a freighter was arranged after consultations with Norwegian officials. Mexican President Lázaro Cárdenas welcomed him warmly, even arranging for a special train to bring him to Mexico City from the port of Tampico.

Trotsky lived in the Coyoacán area of Mexico City at the home (The Blue House) of the painter Diego Rivera and Rivera’s wife and fellow painter, Frida Kahlo (with whom he had an affair). His final move was a few blocks away to a residence on Avenida Viena in May 1939, following a break with Rivera.

He remained a prolific writer in exile, penning several key works, including his History of the Russian Revolution (1930) and The Revolution Betrayed (1936), a critique of the Soviet Union under Stalinism. Trotsky argued that the Soviet state had become a “degenerated workers’ state” controlled by an undemocratic bureaucracy, which would eventually either be overthrown via a political revolution establishing workers’ democracy, or degenerate into a capitalist class.

While in Mexico, Trotsky also worked closely with James P. Cannon, Joseph Hansen, and Farrell Dobbs of the Socialist Workers Party of the United States, and other supporters.

Cannon, a long-time leading member of the American communist movement, had supported Trotsky in the struggle against Stalinism since he first read Trotsky’s criticisms of the Soviet Union in 1928. Trotsky’s critique of the Stalinist regime, though banned, was distributed to leaders of the Comintern. Among his other supporters was Chen Duxiu, founder of the Chinese Communist Party.

Moscow show trials

In August 1936, the first Moscow show trial of the so-called “Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center” was staged in front of an international audience. During the trial, Zinoviev, Kamenev and 14 other accused, most of them prominent Old Bolsheviks, confessed to having plotted with Trotsky to kill Stalin and other members of the Soviet leadership. The court found everybody guilty and sentenced the defendants to death, Trotsky in absentia. The second show trial of Karl Radek, Grigory Sokolnikov, Yuri Pyatakov and 14 others took place in January 1937, with even more alleged conspiracies and crimes linked to Trotsky. In April 1937, an independent “Commission of Inquiry” into the charges made against Trotsky and others at the “Moscow Trials” was held in Coyoacán, with John Dewey as chairman. The findings were published in the book Not Guilty.

Fourth International

At first Trotsky was opposed to the idea of establishing parallel Communist parties or a parallel international Communist organization that would compete with the Third International for fear of splitting the Communist movement. However, he changed his mind in mid-1933 after the Nazi takeover in Germany and the Comintern’s response to it, when he proclaimed that:

An organization which was not roused by the thunder of fascism and which submits docilely to such outrageous acts of the bureaucracy demonstrates thereby that it is dead and that nothing can ever revive it…. In all our subsequent work it is necessary to take as our point of departure the historical collapse of the official Communist International.

In 1938, Trotsky and his supporters founded the Fourth International, which was intended to be a revolutionary and internationalist alternative to the Stalinist Comintern.

Dies Committee

Towards the end of 1939 Trotsky agreed to go to the United States to appear as a witness before the Dies Committee of the House of Representatives, a forerunner of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Representative Martin Dies, chairman of the committee, demanded the suppression of the American Communist Party. Trotsky intended to use the forum to expose the NKVD‘s activities against him and his followers.

He made it clear that he also intended to argue against the suppression of the American Communist Party, and to use the committee as a platform for a call to transform the world war into a world revolution. Many of his supporters argued against his appearance. When the committee learned the nature of the testimony Trotsky intended to present, it refused to hear him, and he was denied a visa to enter the United States. On hearing about it, the Stalinists immediately accused Trotsky of being in the pay of the oil magnates and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Final months

After quarreling with Diego Rivera, Trotsky moved to his final residence on Avenida Viena. He was ill, suffering from high blood pressure, and feared that he would suffer a cerebral hemorrhage. He even prepared himself for the possibility of ending his life through suicide.

On 27 February 1940, Trotsky wrote a document known as “Trotsky’s Testament”, in which he expressed his final thoughts and feelings for posterity. After forcefully denying Stalin’s accusations that he had betrayed the working class, he thanked his friends, and above all his wife and dear companion, Natalia Sedova, for their loyal support:

In addition to the happiness of being a fighter for the cause of socialism, fate gave me the happiness of being her husband. During the almost forty years of our life together she remained an inexhaustible source of love, magnanimity, and tenderness. She underwent great sufferings, especially in the last period of our lives. But I find some comfort in the fact that she also knew days of happiness.
For forty-three years of my conscious life I have remained a revolutionist; for forty-two of them I have fought under the banner of Marxism. If I had to begin all over again I would of course try to avoid this or that mistake, but the main course of my life would remain unchanged. I shall die a proletarian revolutionist, a Marxist, a dialectical materialist, and, consequently, an irreconcilable atheist. My faith in the communist future of mankind is not less ardent, indeed it is firmer today, than it was in the days of my youth.
Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full.
On 24 May 1940, Trotsky survived a raid on his home by Stalinist assassins led by GPU agent Iosif Grigulevich, Mexican painter and Stalinist David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Vittorio Vidale. In this attack a young assistant and bodyguard of Trotsky, Robert Sheldon Harte, was abducted and later murdered.


On 20 August 1940, Trotsky was attacked in his home in Mexico with an ice axe by undercover NKVD agent Ramón Mercader.

The blow was poorly delivered and failed to kill Trotsky instantly, as Mercader had intended. Witnesses stated that Trotsky spat on Mercader and began struggling fiercely with him. Hearing the commotion, Trotsky’s bodyguards burst into the room and nearly killed Mercader, but Trotsky stopped them, laboriously stating that the assassin should be made to answer questions. Trotsky was taken to a hospital, operated on, and survived for more than a day, dying at the age of 60 on 21 August 1940 as a result of severe brain damage. Mercader later testified at his trial:

I laid my raincoat on the table in such a way as to be able to remove the ice axe which was in the pocket. I decided not to miss the wonderful opportunity that presented itself. The moment Trotsky began reading the article, he gave me my chance; I took out the ice axe from the raincoat, gripped it in my hand and, with my eyes closed, dealt him a terrible blow on the head.

According to James P. Cannon, the secretary of the Socialist Workers Party (USA), Trotsky’s last words were “I will not survive this attack. Stalin has finally accomplished the task he attempted unsuccessfully before.”

Contributions to theory

Trotsky considered himself a “Bolshevik-Leninist”, arguing for the establishment of a vanguard party. He considered himself an advocate of orthodox Marxism. His politics differed in many respects from those of Stalin or Mao Zedong, most importantly in his rejection of the theory of Socialism in One Country and his declaring the need for an international “permanent revolution“. Numerous Fourth Internationalist groups around the world continue to describe themselves as Trotskyist and see themselves as standing in this tradition, although they have different interpretations of the conclusions to be drawn from this. Supporters of the Fourth International echo Trotsky’s opposition to Stalinist totalitarianism, advocating political revolution, arguing that socialism cannot sustain itself without democracy.

Permanent Revolution

Permanent Revolution is the theory that the bourgeois democratic tasks in countries with delayed bourgeois democratic development can only be accomplished through the establishment of a workers’ state, and that the creation of a workers’ state would inevitably involve inroads against capitalist property. Thus, the accomplishment of bourgeois democratic tasks passes over into proletarian tasks.

Although most closely associated with Leon Trotsky, the call for Permanent Revolution is first found in the writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in March 1850, in the aftermath of the 1848 Revolution, in their Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League:

It is our interest and our task to make the revolution permanent until all the more or less propertied classes have been driven from their ruling positions, until the proletariat has conquered state power and until the association of the proletarians has progressed sufficiently far – not only in one country but in all the leading countries of the world – that competition between the proletarians of these countries ceases and at least the decisive forces of production are concentrated in the hands of the workers. … Their battle-cry must be: “The Permanent Revolution”.

Trotsky’s conception of Permanent Revolution is based on his understanding, drawing on the work of the founder of Russian Marxism Georgy Plekhanov, that in ‘backward’ countries the tasks of the Bourgeois Democratic Revolution could not be achieved by the bourgeoisie itself. This conception was first developed by Trotsky in collaboration with Alexander Parvus in late 1904–1905. The relevant articles were later collected in Trotsky’s books 1905 and in Permanent Revolution, which also contains his essay “Results and Prospects”.

According to Trotskyists, the October Revolution (which Trotsky directed) was the first example of a successful Permanent Revolution. The proletarian, socialist October Revolution took place precisely because the bourgeoisie, which took power in February, had not been able to solve any of the tasks of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. It had not given the land to the peasants (which the Bolsheviks did on 25 October), nor given freedom to the oppressed minority nations, nor emancipated Russia from foreign domination by ending the war which, at that point, was fought mainly to please the English and French creditors.

Trotskyists today argue that the state of the Third World shows that capitalism offers no way forward for underdeveloped countries, thus again proving the central tenet of the theory. In contrast, Stalinist policy in the former colonial countries has been characterized by the so-called Two-Stage Theory, which argues that the working class must fight for “progressive capitalism” along with the “progressive national bourgeoisie” before any attempts at socialism can be made.

The United Front

Trotsky was a central figure in the Comintern during its first four congresses. During this time he helped to generalise the strategy and tactics of the Bolsheviks to newly formed Communist parties across Europe and further afield. From 1921 onwards the united front, a method of uniting revolutionaries and reformists in common struggle while winning some of the workers to revolution, was the central strategy put forward by the Comintern.

After he was exiled and politically marginalised by Stalinism, Trotsky continued to argue for a united front against fascism in Germany and Spain. His articles on the united front represent an important part of his political legacy.