Saturday, December 11, 2010

The makings of a response to Wetzel & Brinton (or, Were Lenin, Trotsky, and the Bolsheviks Really Just Evil Despots?)

Tenth Parthy Congress, March 1921, Trotsky argues for militarization of labor, "shake-up" in the trade unions on the part of the Soviet state, rejecting trade union autonomy from workers' state, and that Soviet dictatorship trumps democracy (See English translation of Trotsky's speech here).

Trotsky roundly denounced by Lenin, voted down by Tenth Party Congree in favor of Lenin's opposed proposal, Trotsky nearly loses seat on Central Committee.

Trotsky later says he was wrong & that Lenin was correct.

Exactly one year later, in a prepared speech for the Fourth World Congress of the Cominter (Nov 1922), Trotsky clarifies his position on the trade unions (stark contrast to his 1921 arguments):

"Naturally the legend spread by the reformists that Plans are afoot to subordinate the trade unions organizationally to the party must be unconditionally denounced and exposed. Trade unions embrace workers of different political shadings as well as non-party men, atheists as well as believers, whereas the party unites political co-thinkers on the basis of a definite program. The party has not and cannot have any instrumentalities and methods for subjecting the trade unions to itself from the outside.
The party can gain influence in the life of the trade unions only to the extent that its members work in the trade unions and carry out the party point of view there. The influence of party members in the trade unions naturally depends on their numerical strength and especially on the degree to which they are able to apply party principles correctly, consistently and expediently to the needs of the trade-union movement.
The party has the right and the duty to aim to conquer, along the road above outlined, the decisive influence in the trade-union organization. It can achieve this goal only provided the work of the Communists in the trade unions is wholly and exclusively harmonized with the principles of the party and is invariably conducted under its control." (
"The Revolution in Russia is now in its most critical stages. The near future will determine whether or not the Bolsheviki can maintain their supremacy. They represent the peasants, the workers, and the soldiers — the great bulk of the population. Their demand is the land to the peasants who till it and the tools to the workers who use them. This means real democracy, for which the Russian people alone are fighting in the present war . . . the Bolsheviki, the representatives and the only representatives of real democracy in Russia."

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