Leon Trotsky
Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005

Astro-Rayological Interpretation & Charts
Iimages and Physiognomic Interpretations

to Volume 3 Table of Contents


Leon Trotsky—Russian Revolutionary

November 7, 1879, Yanovka, Russia, 10:09 PM, LMT. (Source: Sabian Symbols) and 23:11 PM (Dane Rudhyar’s rectification in American Astrology, July, 1938.) Died (assassinated), August 20, 1940, Mexico.

(Ascendant and Moon in Leo; Sun in Scorpio; Mercury in Sagittarius; Venus in Libra; Mars conjunct Pluto in Taurus with Neptune also in Taurus ; Jupiter in Pisces; Uranus in Virgo)

Trotsky was a Jewish intellectual with a powerful third and sixth rays—just like Carl Marx. A third ray soul is likely with a sixth ray personality. The first ray was also abundantly present through the Leo Ascendant and Moon, as well as through Scorpio, the ruling planet of which, Mars, was conjuncted to first ray Pluto.      

Trotsky, a thinking idealist, had for his priority world revolution, whereas Stalin (who grew to be Trotsky’s unforgiving adversary, was interested in the centralization and consolidation of the Soviet Union’s power—and of his own. In a way, Trotsky was the symbol of everything Stalin hated, and Stalin worked stealthy to undermine his adversary, banishing him Kazakhstan, exiling him from the Soviet Union, and finally having him murdered in Mexico (partially the effect of the Mars/Pluto conjunction with Pluto being one of the rulers {esoteric} of the house of death, the eighth.)

Perhaps, after all, it was Trotsky’s intellectual arrogance (Leo and ray three) which caused his downfall. Idealists and theoreticians are suitable for the beginnings of revolutions, but they rarely last long after the old regime has been overthrown.


Fascism is nothing but capitalist reaction.

The historic ascent of humanity, taken as a whole, may be summarized as a succession of victories of consciousness over blind forces - in nature, in society, in man himself.

There are no absolute rules of conduct, either in peace or war. Everything depends on circumstances.

In inner-party politics, these methods lead, as we shall yet see, to this: the party organization substitutes itself for the party, the central committee substitutes itself for the organization, and, finally, a “dictator” substitutes himself for the central committee.

Man will become immeasurably stronger, wiser, and subtler; his body will become more harmonious, his movements more rhythmic, his voice more musical. The forms of life will become dynamically dramatic. The average human type will rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx. And above these heights, new peaks will rise.
ATTRIBUTION: Leon Trotsky (1879–1940), Russian revolutionary. repr. In The Age of Permanent Revolution: A Trotsky Anthology, ch. 17 (1964). Literature and Revolution (1923).

The slanders poured down like Niagara. If you take into consideration the setting—the war and the revolution—and the character of the accused—revolutionary leaders of millions who were conducting their party to the sovereign power—you can say without exaggeration that July 1917 was the month of the most gigantic slander in world history.

From being a patriotic myth, the Russian people have become an awful reality.

In Stalin each [Soviet bureaucrat] easily finds himself. But Stalin also finds in each one a small part of his own spirit. Stalin is the personification of the bureaucracy. That is the substance of his political personality.

The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end.

Under all conditions well-organized violence seems to him the shortest distance between two points.

The historic ascent of humanity, taken as a whole, may be summarized as a succession of victories of consciousness over blind forces—in nature, in society, in man himself.

England is nothing but the last ward of the European madhouse, and quite possibly it will prove to be the ward for particularly violent cases. Life is not an easy matter.... You cannot live through it without falling into frustration and cynicism unless you have before you a great idea which raises you above personal misery, above weakness, above all kinds of perfidy and baseness.

The literary “fellow travelers” of the Revolution. Where force is necessary, there it must be applied boldly, decisively and completely. But one must know the limitations of force; one must know when to blend force with a manoeuver, a blow with an agreement.

The Federated Republic of Europe—the United States of Europe—that is what must be. National autonomy no longer suffices. Economic evolution demands the abolition of national frontiers. If Europe is to remain split into national groups, then Imperialism will recommence its work. Only a Federated Republic of Europe can give peace to the world.

The depth and strength of a human character are defined by its moral reserves. People reveal themselves completely only when they are thrown out of the customary conditions of their life, for only then do they have to fall back on their reserves.

In a serious struggle there is no worse cruelty than to be magnanimous at an inopportune time.

Old age is the most unexpected of all things that happen to a man.

You are pitiful isolated individuals; you are bankrupts; your role is played out. Go where you belong from now on—into the dustbin of history!

I feel here that this time they have succeeded. (1879 - 1940)

In a country where the sole employer is the State, opposition means death by slow starvation. The old principle: who does not work does not eat, has been replaced by a new one: who does not obey shall not eat. (1879 - 1940)

“You may not be interested in strategy, but strategy is interested in you.”

“The dialectic is neither fiction or mysticism, but a science of the forms of our thinking insofar as it is not limited to the daily problems of life but attempts to arrive at an understanding of more complicated and drawn-out processes. The dialectic and formal logic bear a relationship similar to that between higher and lower mathematics.” quote

“life is beautiful, enjoy it to the fullest.” quote

“The dialectic is not a magic master key for all questions. It does not replace concrete scientific analysis. But it directs this analysis along the correct road, securing it against sterile wanderings in the desert of subjectivism and scholasticism.” quote

“The fundamental flaw of vulgar thought lies in the fact that it wishes to content itself with motionless imprints of a reality which consists of eternal motion.” quote

“Dialectical materialism is not of course an eternal and immutable philosophy. To think otherwise is to contradict the spirit of the dialectic. Further development of scientific thought will undoubtedly create a more profound doctrine into which dialectical materialism will enter merely as structural material.” quote

“Dialectical thought is related to vulgar thinking in the same way that a motion picture is related to a still photograph. The motion picture does not outlaw the still photograph but combines a series of them according to the laws of motion.” quote

“Man will become immeasurably stronger, wiser, and subtler; his body will become more harmonious, his movements more rhythmic, his voice more musical. The forms of life will become dynamically dramatic. The average human type will rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx. And above these heights, new peaks will rise.” quote

“The permanent revolution, in the sense which Marx attached to this concept, means a revolution which makes no compromise with any single form of class rule, which does not stop at the democratic stage, which goes over to socialist measures and to war against reaction from without; that is, a revolution whose every successive stage is rooted in the preceding one and which can end only in complete liquidation.”

“As long as I breathe I hope. As long as I breathe I shall fight for the future, that radiant future, in which man, strong and beautiful, will become master of the drifting stream of his history and will direct it towards the boundless horizons of beauty, joy and happiness!” At the spectacle of blood and oppression which the 20th century had opened he exclaimed: “You - you are only the present.”

“But whatever may be the circumstances of my death, I shall die with unshaken faith in the Communist future. This faith in man and in his future gives me even now such power of resistance as cannot be given by any religion . . . I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the all 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.”

These are quotes from Trotsky’s writings on South Africa in 1935.

“We must accept decisively and without any reservation the complete and unconditional right of the blacks to independence . . . The proletarian revolutionaries must never forget the right of the oppressed nationalities to self-determination, including full separation, and the duty of the proletariat of the oppressing nation to defend this right with arms if necessary. . . “

Religions are illogical primitive ignorance. There is nothing as ridiculous and tragic as a religious government.

"It is necessary to help the masses in the process of the daily struggle to find the bridge between present demands and the socialist program of the revolution. This bridge should include a system of transitional demands, stemming from today's conditions and from today's consciousness of wide layers of the working class and unalterably leading to one final conclusion: the conquest of power by the proletariat" "If our generation happens to be too weak to establish Socialism over the earth, we will hand the spotless banner down to our children. The struggle which is in the offing transcends by far the importance of individuals, factions and parties. It is the struggle for the future of all mankind. It will be severe, it will be lengthy. Whoever seeks physical comfort and spiritual calm let him step aside. In time of reaction it is more convenient to lean on the bureaucracy than on the truth. But all those for whom the word ‘Socialism’ is not a hollow sound but the content of their moral life - forward! Neither threats nor persecutions nor violations can stop us! Be it even over out bleaching bones the future will triumph! We will blaze the trail for it. It will conquer! Under all the severe blows of fate, I shall be happy as in the best days of my youth; because, my friends, the highest human happiness is not the exploitation of the present but the preparation of the future.", I Stake My Life

"Life is beautiful. Let future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."
- Leon Trotsky, Trotsky's Testament


Born November 7, 1879
Kherson, Russian Empire
Died August 21, 1940
Mexico City, Mexico
Political party RSDLP, SDPS, CPSU
Spouse Aleksandra Sokolovskaya
Natalia Sedova
Profession Statesman, editor
Lev Davidovich Trotsky, also transliterated Leo, Lev, Trotskii, Trotski, Trotskij, Trockij and Trotzky) (November 7 [O.S. October 26] 1879 – August 21, 1940), born Lev Davidovich Bronstein, was a Ukrainian-born Bolshevik revolutionary and Marxist theorist. He was an influential politician in the early days of the Soviet Union, first as People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs and later as the founder and commander of the Red Army and People's Commissar of War. He was also among the first members of the Politburo.

Following the failed struggle of the Left Opposition (led by Trotsky) against the policies and rise of Joseph Stalin in the 1920s and the increasing bureaucratization of the Soviet Union, Trotsky was expelled from the Communist Party and deported from the Soviet Union in the Great Purge. At the head of the Fourth International, he continued in exile to oppose the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Soviet Union, and was eventually assassinated in Mexico by Ramón Mercader, a Soviet agent.[1] Trotsky's ideas form the basis of Trotskyism, a variation of Communist theory, which remains a major school of Marxist thought that is opposed to the theories of Stalinism and Maoism.

Childhood and family (1879-1896)
Trotsky was born in Yanovka, Kherson Province, Ukraine on November 7, 1879, in a small village 15 miles from the nearest post office. He was the fifth child of a wealthy but illiterate Jewish farmer, David Leontyevich Bronstein (or Bronshtein, 1847–1922) and Anna Bronstein (d. 1910). Trotsky was born Lev Davidovich Bronstein, named after an uncle who would, later that month, attempt to blow up the imperial railway carriage. Although the family was ethnically Jewish, it was not religious, and the languages spoken at home were Russian and Ukrainian instead of Yiddish. Bronstein's younger sister, Olga, married Lev Kamenev, a leading Bolshevik.

When Bronstein was nine, his father sent him to Odessa for education. He was enrolled in a historically German school, which became increasingly Russified during his years in Odessa due to the government's policy of Russification. Although he was a good student, even in his youth Bronstein was rebellious and he organized a protest against an unpopular teacher in 2nd grade. However, he didn't take an active part in politics or socialism until 1896, when he moved to Nikolayev (now Mykolaiv) for the final year of schooling.

Revolutionary activity and exile (1896-1902)
Bronstein became involved in revolutionary activities in 1896 after moving to Nikolayev. At first a narodnik (revolutionary populist), he was introduced to Marxism later that year and gradually became a Marxist. (In the beginning, Trotsky was opposed to Marxism. However during his periods of exile and imprisonment he became a follower of the Marxist school of thought.) Instead of pursuing a mathematics degree, Bronstein helped organize the South Russian Workers' Union in Nikolayev in early 1897. Using the name 'Lvov' [2], 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 Bronstein, were arrested and he spent the next two years in prison awaiting trial. Two months after Bronstein's arrest and imprisonment, the 1st Congress of the newly formed Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) was held and from that point on, Bronstein considered himself a member of the party. While in prison, he married a fellow Marxist, Aleksandra Sokolovskaya, and studied philosophy. In 1900 he was sentenced to four years in exile in Ust-Kut and Verkholensk (see map) in the Irkutsk region of Siberia, where his first two daughters, Nina Nevelson and Zinaida Volkova, were born.

It was in Siberia that Bronstein became aware of the differences within the party, which had been decimated by arrests in the last two years of the 19th century. Some social democrats known as "economists" were arguing that the party should concentrate 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, which was founded in 1900. Bronstein quickly sided with the Iskra position.

First emigration and second marriage (1902-1903)
Bronstein escaped from Siberia in the summer of 1902, having forged a passport in the name of Leon Trotsky. It is said he adopted the name of a jailer of the Odessa prison in which he had earlier been held[3], 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 penname Pero ("feather" or "pen" in Russian) Trotsky soon became one of the paper's leading authors.

Unbeknownst 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:[4]

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.
Due to Plekhanov's opposition, Trotsky did not become a full member of the editorial board, but from that point on he 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, wife. They had two children together, Leon Sedov (b. 1906) and Sergei Sedov (b. 1908). As Trotsky later explained,[5] 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.
However, 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 Sokolovskaya 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, with Trotsky and other Iskra editors in attendance. At first the Congress went as planned, with Iskra supporters handily defeating the few "economist" delegates at the Congress. 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. In the heat of the debate, Trotsky made a controversial statement to the effect that he and eleven other non-Bund Jewish delegates who had signed an anti-Bund statement

while working in the Russian party, regarded and still do regard themselves also as representatives of the Jewish proletariat.

As Trotsky explained two months later, his statement was just a tactical maneuver made on Lenin's request.[6]

Shortly thereafter, pro-Iskra delegates unexpectedly split in 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.

The two factions were in a state of flux in 1903-1904 with many members changing sides. 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 that point until 1917 he remained a self-described "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 (1905), 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. There he worked with both Bolsheviks like Central Committee member Leonid Krasin as well as the local Menshevik committee, which he pushed in a more radical direction. The latter, however, was betrayed by a secret police agent in May. Trotsky had to flee to rural Finland where 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.

Immediately prior to Trotsky's return to the capital, 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 with Khrustalyov-Nosar (Georgy Nosar, alias Pyotr Khrustalyov), a compromise figure, at its head 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 November 26, was elected its Chairman. On December 2, the Soviet issued a proclamation which included the following statement about the Tsarist government and its foreign debts:[7]

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 Czarist government when openly engaged in a war with the entire people.
The following day, December 3, the Soviet was surrounded by troops loyal to the government and the deputies were arrested.

Trotsky and other Soviet leaders were put on trial 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)
In January 1907, Trotsky escaped en route to deportation to Siberia and once again made his way to London, where he attended the 5th Congress of the RSDLP. In October 1907, he moved to Vienna where he frequently participated in the activities of the Austrian Social Democratic Party and, occasionally, of the German Social Democratic Party, for the next seven years.

It was in Vienna that Trotsky became close to Adolph Joffe, his friend for the next 20 years, who introduced Trotsky to psychoanalysis.[8] In October 1908 he started a bi-weekly Russian language Social Democratic paper aimed at Russian workers called Pravda ("The 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. When various Bolshevik and Menshevik factions (both the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks split multiple times after the failure of the 1905-1907 revolution) 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.

When the Bolsheviks started a new workers-oriented newspaper in St. Petersburg on April 22, 1912, they called it Pravda as well. In what appeared to be a minor development at the time, in April 1913 Trotsky was so upset by what he saw as a usurpation of 'his' newspaper's name that he wrote a letter to Nikolay Chkheidze, a Menshevik leader, bitterly denouncing Lenin and the Bolsheviks. Trotsky was able to suppress the contents of the letter in 1921 to avoid embarrassment, but once he started losing power in the early 1920s, the letter was made public by his opponents within the Communist Party in 1924 and 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",[9] 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.

While 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 August 3 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 WWI 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.

While 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.

with his daughter Nina in France, 1915Trotsky moved to France on November 19, 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 would, like Lenin, 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[10] for Trotsky's resolution to avoid a split among anti-war socialists.

In September 1916, Trotsky was deported from France to Spain for his anti-war activities. Spanish authorities wouldn't let him stay and he was deported to the United States on December 25, 1916. He arrived in New York City on January 13, 1917. 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.

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

Upon his return, Trotsky was in substantive agreement with the Bolshevik position, but he didn't join them right away. At the time, Russian social democrats were split in at least 6 groups and the Bolsheviks were waiting for the next party Congress to determine which factions they would 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 member of the first All-Russian Central Executive Committee ("VTsIK") from the Mezhraiontsy faction.

Trotsky was arrested on August 7, 1917 (New Style) after an unsuccessful pro-Bolshevik uprising in Petrograd, 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 October 8 (New Style). 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 given by Stalin in Pravda, November 6, 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 organisation 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 organised."
After the success of the uprising on November 7-8 (New Style), Trotsky led the efforts to repel a counter-attack by Cossaks 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 planted the seeds of the two Bolshevik leaders' mutual enmity, which lasted until 1926 and, in the end, did much to destroy them both.

After the Russian Revolution
Trotsky with troops at the Polish front, 1919
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 was the head of the Soviet delegation during the peace negotiations in Brest-Litovsk between December 22, 1917 and February 10, 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 (January 15, 1918) voluntary Red Army against Polish forces of Gen. Józef Dowbor-Musnicki in Belarus, White forces in the Don region, and newly independent Ukrainian forces as proof that the Red Army could successfully repel German forces, especially if propaganda and asymmetrical warfare were used. Left Communists didn't mind holding talks with the Germans as a means of exposing German imperial ambitions (territorial gains, reparations, etc) in hopes 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. Their opinion was shared by Left Socialist Revolutionaries, who were then the Bolsheviks' junior partners in a coalition government.

1918 Bolshevik propaganda poster depicting Trotsky as St. George slaying the reactionary dragon. The image of St. George and the dragon comes from the Moscow Coat of Arms.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, absent 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 needed to be able to survive and stay in power. Lenin didn't mind prolonging the negotiating process for maximum propaganda effect, but, from January 1918 on, he advocated signing a separate peace treaty if faced with a German ultimatum.

Trotsky's position during this period was in 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:[11]

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.
On the other hand, he agreed with the Left Communists that signing a separate peace treaty with an imperialist power would be a terrible moral and material blow to the Soviet government, negating all of its military and political successes in late 1917-early 1918, resurrecting the notion that the Bolsheviks were secretly allied with the German government, and causing an upsurge of internal resistance. In case of a German ultimatum, Trotsky argued, the best policy was to refuse to accept it, which had a good chance of being the last drop that would lead to an uprising within Germany or, at the very least, inspire German soldiers to refuse to obey their officers since any German offensive would be a naked grab for territories. As Trotsky wrote in 1925:[12]

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?

White Army propaganda poster. The caption reads, "Peace and Liberty in Sovdepiya".Throughout January and February of 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 February 10, 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 February 17. 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 or whether German soldiers would refuse to follow orders.

The German side resumed military operations on February 18. 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. At this point, in the evening of February 18, 1918, Trotsky and his supporters in the Bolshevik Central Committee abstained. Lenin's proposal was accepted 7-4 and the Soviet government sent a telegram to the German side accepting the final Brest-Litovsk peace terms.

The German side didn't respond for three days, continuing its offensive and encountering little resistance. When the response did arrive on February 21, the proposed terms were so harsh that even Lenin briefly thought that the Soviet government had no other choice but to fight. In the end, however, the Bolshevik Central Committee once again voted 7-4 on February 23, 1918, which paved the way to the signing of Treaty of Brest-Litovsk on March 3 and its ratification on March 15, 1918. Since he was so closely associated with the policy previously followed by the Soviet delegation at Brest-Litovsk, Trotsky submitted his resignation from his position as Commissar for Foreign Affairs in order to remove a potential obstacle to the new policy.

At the head of the Red Army (Spring 1918)
Trotsky with Lenin and soldiers in Petrograd in 1921The failure of the recently formed Red Army to resist the German offensive in February 1918 put its weaknesses on display: insufficient numbers, lack of knowledgeable officers, almost complete absence of coordination and subordination. Celebrated and feared Baltic Fleet sailors, one of the bastions of the new regime led by Pavel Dybenko, ignominiously 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 to create the Supreme Military Council, with former chief of the imperial General Staff Mikhail Bonch-Bruevich at its head, on March 4. However, 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 as well as on 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 March 13, 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 the commander-in-chief was abolished and from that point on, Trotsky was in full control of the Red Army, responsible only to the Communist Party leadership, their Left Socialist Revolutionary allies having 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.

Civil War (1918-1920)
Main article: Russian Civil War

Trotsky's managerial skills and his approach to building the Soviet military were soon put to a test. When the Czechoslovak Legions, then en route from European Russia to Vladivostok, rose against the Soviet government in May-June 1918, the Bolsheviks were suddenly faced 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 Soviet 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 1918, and an introduction of political commissars into the Red 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.

Facing military defeats in mid-1918, Trotsky introduced increasingly severe penalties for desertion, insubordination, and retreat. As he later wrote in his autobiography:[13]

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 Czar’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.
The train referred to in the quote above was Trotsky's personal armored train that he used during the Civil War to visit the most critical sections of the front. While there, he not only planned and supervised military operations, but also used his considerable oratorical talents to inspire Red Army soldiers and even deserters, often with considerable success. Trotsky made at least 36 trips to "hot spots" in 1918-1920 and his train became one of the symbols of the Red Army.

These reprisals included the death penalty for deserters and traitors, as well as using former officers' families as hostages against possible defections:[citation needed]

[...]I ordered you to establish the family status of former officers among command personnel and to inform each of them by signed receipt that treachery or treason will cause the arrest of their families and that, therefore, they are each taking upon themselves responsibility for their families. That order is still in force. Since then there have been a number of cases of treason by former officers, yet not in a single case, as far as I know, has the family of the traitor been arrested, as the registration of former officers has evidently not been carried out at all. Such a negligent approach to so important a matter is totally impermissible.[citation needed]
Trotsky also threatened to execute unit commanders and commissars whose units either deserted or retreated without permission.[citation needed] (Trotsky later argued that these threats were either taken out of context or were used to scare his subordinates into action and were not necessarily meant to be carried out.) Since Red Army commissars were often prominent Bolsheviks, it sometimes led to clashes between them and Trotsky.[citation needed]

Trotsky continued to insist that former officers should be used as military experts within the Red Army and, in the summer of 1918, was able to convince Lenin and the Bolshevik leadership not only to continue the policy in the face of mass defections, but also to give these experts more direct operational control of the military. In this he differed sharply from Stalin who was, from May through October 1918, the top commissar in the South of Russia. Stalin and his future defense minister, Kliment Voroshilov, went so far as to refuse to accept former general Andrei Snesarev who had been sent to them by Trotsky. Stalin's stubborn opposition to Trotsky's military policies foreshadowed a continuing acute conflict between the two Bolsheviks over the policies and direction of the Soviet Union, culminating 10 years later in Trotsky's expulsion from the Soviet Union (and then in his assassination).

In September 1918, the Soviet 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 the commander-in-chief was restored, filled by the commander of the Red Latvian Rifleman Ioakim Vatsetis (aka Jukums Vacietis), who had formerly led the Eastern Front against the Czechoslovak Legions. Vatsetis was put in charge of day to day operations of the Red Army while Trotsky was appointed 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 - early October 1918 when the latter refused to accept former imperial general Pavel Sytin, who had been appointed by Trotsky to command the Southern Front. As a result, Stalin was recalled from the South Front. Lenin and Yakov Sverdlov tried to get Trotsky and Stalin to mend fences, but their meeting was unsuccessful.

Throughout late 1918 and early 1919, Trotsky had to fend off a number of attacks on his 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 all of them successfully and was elected one of only five full members of the first Politburo after the Congress. However, as he later wrote:[14]

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.
It was not until the summer of 1919 that the dissatisfied had an opportunity to mount a serious challenge to Trotsky's leadership of the Red Army.

By mid-1919, the Red Army had successfully defeated the White Army's spring offensive in the East and was about to cross the Urals mountains and enter Siberia in pursuit of Admiral Alexander Kolchak's forces. However, at the same time the situation in the South, where General Anton Denikin's White Russian forces were advancing, was deteriorating rapidly. On June 6 commander-in-chief Vatsetis ordered the Eastern Front to stop the offensive so that he could use its forces in the South. 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, it would be possible to free up many more divisions for the Southern Front. Trotsky, who had had conflicts with the leadership of the Eastern Front earlier, including a temporary removal of Kamenev in May 1919, supported Vatsetis.

The conflict came to a head at the July 3-4 Central Committee meeting. After a heated exchange the majority supported Kamenev and Smilga against Vatsetis and Trotsky. Not only was Trotsky's plan rejected, but he was subjected to a barrage of criticism for various alleged shortcomings in his leadership style, much of it of a personal nature. Stalin used this opportunity to try to pressure Lenin[15] to dismiss Trotsky from his post. However, when, on July 5, Trotsky offered his resignation, the Politburo and the Orgburo of the Central Committee unanimously rejected it.

Nevertheless, a number of significant changes to the leadership of the Red Army were made after July 4. 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 July 8 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, after Smilga's (and Tukhachevsky's) famous defeat during the Miracle at the Vistula, Trotsky refused to use this opportunity to pay Smilga back, which earned him Smilga's friendship and subsequent support during the intra-Party battles of the 1920s.[16]

In the meantime, by October 1919 the Soviet government found itself in the worst crisis of the Civil War, with Denikin's troops approaching Tula and Moscow from the South and General Nikolay Yudenich's troops approaching Petrograd from the West. Lenin decided that, since it was more important to defend Moscow than Petrograd, the latter would have to be abandoned. Trotsky argued[17] 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 October 22 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 get its economy going again. Based on his experiences there, he proposed abandoning the policies of War Communism,[18] which included confiscating grain from peasants, and partially restoring the grain market. Lenin, however, was still committed to the system of War Communism at the time 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 the spring of 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.

In the meantime, in early 1920 Soviet-Polish tensions escalated to the point where they eventually led to the Polish-Soviet War. In the run-up to the war and during the hostilities, Trotsky argued[19] that the Red Army was exhausted and that the Soviet government should sign a peace treaty with Poland as soon as possible. He also didn't believe that the Red Army would find much support in Poland proper. Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders, however, thought that the Red Army's successes in the Russian Civil War and against the Poles meant that, as Lenin said later:[20]

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.
However, the Red Army offensive was stopped and 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 in favor of signing a peace treaty and this time was able to prevail.

Trade union debate (1920-1921)

Serrati and Trotsky.In late 1920, after the Bolshevik victory in the Civil War and in the period leading up to the Eighth and Ninth Congress of Soviets, the Communist Party found itself engaged in a heated and increasingly acrimonious discussion over the role of trade unions in the Soviet state. The discussion split the Party into numerous factions, with Lenin, Trotsky and Bukharin each having their "platforms" (factions), Bukharin eventually merging his faction 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 in this crucial debate was formed while he was heading a special commission on the Soviet transportation system, Tsektran. His appointment as head of this committee was made in order to rebuild a railroad system that lay in ruins after the Civil War. Being the Commisar of War and a revolutionary military leader, he felt there was a need to create a militarized "production atmosphere" by incorporating the trade unions directly into the State apparatus. His unyielding stance that in a worker's state the workers should have nothing to fear from the state, and that the State should have full control over the trade unions lead him to argue in the Ninth Party Congress 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."[citation needed]

Lenin sharply critiqued 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 ill afford. His frustration with Trotsky was capitalized on by Stalin and Zinoviev, who used their support for Lenin's position to improve their standing within the Bolshevik leadership at Trotsky's expense.

Disagreements were threatening 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. Zinoviev, who had supported Lenin, became a full member of the Politburo while Krestinsky lost his Politburo seat. 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 Party Congress, Trotsky had to rush to Petrograd to organize and direct the suppression of the Kronstadt Rebellion, the last major revolt against Bolshevik rule. Anarchist Emma Goldman has criticized Trotsky for his actions as Commissar for War and his role in the suppression of the Kronstadt Rebellion, and also arguing that he ordered unjustified incarcerations and executions of political opponents such as anarchists, which, in Goldman's view, makes Trotsky's allegiance to socialism and communism highly questionable.[1] Trotsky, however, frequently argued for revolutionary defensism, which states that revolutionists have a right to protect a revolution from counterrevolutionary violence. [2]

Fall from power (1922-1928)

Lenin's illness (1922-1923)
In late 1921 Lenin's health deteriorated and his periods of absence from Moscow became longer and longer, eventually leading to three strokes between May 26, 1922 and March 10, 1923, which resulted in paralysis, loss of speech and finally death on January 21, 1924. With Lenin increasingly sidelined throughout 1922, Stalin (elevated to the newly created position of the Central Committee General Secretary[21] earlier in the year), Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev [22] formed a troika (triumvirate) to ensure that Trotsky, publicly the number two man in the country at the time 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[23] in his capacity as General Secretary clearly played a role, but Trotsky and his supporters later concluded that a deeper, more fundamental reason was the process of slow bureaucratization of the Soviet regime once the extreme trials and tribulations of the Civil War were over: much of the Bolshevik elite wanted 'normalcy' while Trotsky was, personally and politically, a personification of a more 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[24]) and then, when Trotsky predictably refused, they tried to use it as an excuse to oust him.

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:[25]

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 that moment 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 September 11, 1922 Lenin proposed that Trotsky become his deputy at the Sovnarkom. The Politburo approved the proposal, but Trotsky "categorically refused".[26]

In the fall of 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 USSR. At that point, according to Trotsky's autobiography,[27] Lenin offered Trotsky an alliance against Soviet bureaucracy in general and Stalin in particular. The alliance proved effective on the issue of foreign trade [28], but it was complicated by Lenin's progressing illness. In January 1923 the strained 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 the third stroke that put an end to his political career, Lenin prepared a frontal assault on Stalin's "Great-Russian nationalistic campaign" against the Georgian Communist Party 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.[29]

At the XIIth Party Congress in April 1923, immediately 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.[30] 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.[31]

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 [32] published in Pravda on March 14, 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 they 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-summer 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. Then, in September-October 1923, the much anticipated Communist revolution in Germany ended in defeat.

On October 8, 1923 Trotsky sent a letter to the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission which attributed 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 October 15, 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, the two documents 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 November 7.

Throughout November, the troika tried to come up with a compromise formula that would placate, or at least temporarily neutralize, Trotsky and those who supported him. (Their task was made easier by the fact that Trotsky was sick in November and December 1923.) 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 December 5, 1923, the Politburo and the Central Control Commission unanimously adopted the group's final draft as its resolution.

On December 8, 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"[33] 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 which was held between January 16 and 18, 1924. Those who were opposed to the line of the Central Committee during the debate were thereafter referred to as members of the Left Opposition.

Since the troika controlled the Party apparatus through Stalin's Secretariat as well as Pravda through its editor Bukharin, it was able to direct the course of 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"[34] 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, of course, Trotsky had already been cut off from the decision making process.

Immediately after the end of the Conference, Trotsky left for a Caucasusian resort to recover from his prolonged illness. He was still en route there when he received the news of Lenin's death on January 21, 1924. He was about to come back 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 obviously groomed to take Trotsky's place, in his stead.

At the XIIIth Party Congress in May, Trotsky delivered a conciliatory speech:[35]

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, didn't 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 of the economy. That put them on a collision course 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.

Immediately after the XIIIth Congress (where Kamenev and Zinoviev helped Stalin defuse Lenin's Testament, which belatedly came to the surface), the troika, always an alliance of convenience, started showing signs of cracking up. Stalin began making poorly veiled accusations in Zinoviev's and Kamenev's address. However, in October 1924, Trotsky published The Lessons of October, an extensive summary of the events of the 1917 revolution. In the article, 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 once 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 January 6, 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[36] 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.[37] 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.[citation needed]

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 were becoming more and more extreme. At the XVth Party Conference in October 1926 Trotsky could barely speak due to 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 November 12. 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 (now in Kazakhstan) on January 31, 1928. He was expelled from the Soviet Union in February 1929, accompanied by his wife Natalia Sedova and his son Leon 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.

Last exile (1929-1940)
Trotsky reading The Militant.Trotsky was deported from the Soviet Union in February 1929. His first station in exile was at Büyükada off the coast of Istanbul, where he stayed 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 Daladier. He stayed first at Royan, then at Barbizon. He was not allowed to visit Paris. In 1935 it was implied to him that he was no longer welcome in France. After weighing alternatives, he moved to Norway, where he got permission from then Justice minister Trygve Lie to enter the country, Trotsky was a guest of Konrad Knudsen near Oslo. After two years, allegedly under influence from the Soviet Union, he was put under house arrest. After consultations with Norwegian officials, his transfer to Mexico on a freighter was arranged. Mexican President Lázaro Cárdenas welcomed him warmly, even arranging a special train to bring him to Mexico City from the port of Tampico.

In Mexico, he lived at one point at the home of the painter Diego Rivera, and at another at that of Rivera's wife & fellow painter, Frida Kahlo. 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 to the point where the bureaucracy converts itself into a capitalist class.

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 Coyoacan, with John Dewey as chairman[3]. The findings were published in the book Not Guilty.[38]

Fourth International
Main article: Fourth International.

James Cannon and Felix Morrow, with a bust of Trotsky.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, Trotsky 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.[39]
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 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, but it came to nothing anyway, as, when made aware of the deposition Trotsky intended to make, the committee refused to hear him, and he was denied a visa to enter the USA. On hearing about it, the Stalinists immediately accused Trotsky of being in the pay of the oil magnates and the FBI.[40]


Study where the attack on Leon Trotsky took place.Trotsky eventually quarreled with Rivera and in 1939 moved into his own residence in Coyoacán, a neighborhood in Mexico City. On May 24, 1940, he survived a raid on his home by Stalinist assassins under the leadership of GPU agent Iosif Romualdovich Grigulevich, Mexican Stalinist painter David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Vittorio Vidale. Later, on August 20, 1940, Trotsky was successfully attacked in his home by a Stalinist agent, Ramón Mercader, who drove the pick of an ice axe into Trotsky's skull.

The blow was poorly delivered, however, 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, shouting, "Do not kill him! This man has a story to tell."[41] Trotsky died the next day at a local hospital.

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.[citation needed]
's grave in Coyoacán, where his ashes are buried.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."[citation needed]

Trotsky's house in Coyoacán was preserved in much the same condition as it was on the day of the assassination and is now a museum run by a board of intellectuals, including his grandson Esteban Volkov. The current director of the museum is Dr. Carlos Ramirez Sandoval under whose supervision the museum has improved considerably after years of neglect. Trotsky's grave is located on its grounds.

Trotsky was never formally rehabilitated by the Soviet government, despite the Glasnost-era rehabilitation of most other Old Bolsheviks killed during the Great Purges. But under President Gorbachev, Trotsky was called in 1987 "a hero and martyr", his son Sergej Sedow, killed in 1937, was rehabilitated in 1988, Bucharin was rehabilitated in 1988 as well. Trotsky's books, forbidden till 1987, were published since 1989. Nonetheless, Trotsky was as well featured on a commemorative postage stamp in 1987.[4]

Contributions to theory
Main article: Trotskyism.

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, 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
Main article: 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".

Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) - Leon Trotski, pseudonym of Leib or Lev Davidovich Bronstein

Russian Jewish Revolutionary leader and Soviet politician, a close friend of Lenin. Trotsky's theory of 'permanent revolution' became unpopular after Stalin had gained power in the Soviet Union. Trotsky was assassinated by one of Stalin's agents. Although Trotsky later condemned the Red Terror, he was, perhaps, one of its first proponents.
"Things are not going well. The Greek soldiers landed on the shores of Crimea, according to the reports of Allied diplomats and newspapermen, were mounted on Crimean donkeys, but the donkeys were not able to arrive in time at the Perekop Isthmus. Things are not going well. Evidently even donkeys have begun to shake off the imperialistic harness." (from Trotsky's speech on April 1919)
Lev Davidovich Bronstein (Leon Trotsky) was born in Yanovka, Ukraine, as the son of an illiterate Jewish farmer. Trotsky's father, David Bronshtein, had bought land near the small town of Bobrinets, and eventually he became a substantial landowner. During the revolution he lost his estate, but Trotsky set him up as the manager of a flour mill near Moscow. Trotsky's mother, Anna, came from Odessa, where she had received a modest education. "We were not deprived, except of life's generosity and tenderness", Trotsky later said. His mother loved to read to her eight children and encouraged them to acquire a good education. She died in 1910. Only Lev, two sisters and a brother survived beyond childhood. After Trotsky was deported in 1929, his brother Alexander publicly disowned him, but he was shot in 1938. Liza, Trotsky's elder sister, died in 1924. Trotsky's younger sister Olga married an influential Bolshevik leader, Lev Kamenev, but she was shot in 1941. Her two young sons were shot in 1936.

After attending a Jewish primary school, Trotsky studied at a state school in Odessa. He was a very good student, who especially loved mathematics, but was expelled for a year when he fell foul of the French teacher. "I can hardly think of a single teacher whom I might remember with affection", he recalled.

Trotsky become an ardent disciple of Karl Marx already in his youth. In 1896 Trotsky joined the Social Democrats and two years later he was arrested as a Marxist and exiled to Siberia. Four years later he escaped and reached England by means of a forged passport that used the name of a jailer in Odessa's prison, Trotsky.

In London Trotsky met Lenin and other Russian Revolutionary thinkers and collaborated in publication their journal of Iskra (The Spark). When the party split in 1903, and Trotsky broke with Lenin, he gained position as a leader of the Menshevik wing of the Social Democratic party, as opposed to the Bolshevik one under Lenin, prophesying that Leninist theory would result in a one-man dictatorship. In the abortive 1905 revolution Trotsky organized the first revolutionary Soviet council in St. Petersburg and was appointed president of the Soviet. About this time he propounded the doctrine of 'permanent revolution,' which implied that revolution in one country must be followed by revolutions in other countries, eventually throughout the world. After the uprising ended he was again exiled to Siberia, and managed once more escape.

"Some time before the war the Austro-Hungarian government received a sharp note from St Petersburg, demanding that a stop be put to the activities of the Russian political emigrants in Vienna. The Minister of the Interior received the note and shook with laughter: 'Who do they think is going to start a revolution in Russia - perhaps that Herr Trotsky from the Café Central?'" (from Wit as a Weapon by Egon Larsen, 1980)
Trotsky worked then as journalist in Vienna, and become editor of Pravda (truth). With the outbreak of World War I he moved to Zürich in 1914 and then to Germany, where he was imprisoned for opposing the war. During World War I Trotsky led the internationalist wing of the Mensheviks. He denounced Russia's involvement in the war. In 1915 Trotsky moved to Paris, editing the socialist weekly Nashe Slovo, but he was expelled from France as a result of his pacifist propaganda. After a short stay in New York as the editor of Novy Mir, Trotsky returned to Russia in 1917. He joined the Bosheviks in St. Petersburg and established the magazine Vperied (Forward). Trotsky was arrested for a short time by Aleksandr Feodorovich Kerenski's provisional government, but after release he played a major role in the October Revolution.

At the conference in Brest-Litovsk in 1918 Trotsky was leader of the Russian delegate. From 1919 to 1927 he was a member of Politburo. Trotsky was made the Russian Civil War commissar for war (1918-25) and created in this post the Red army. For two and half years, as he explained in My Life, he lived in his heavy armored train with two engines, travelling from one front to another. The Red army grew from 800,000 to 3,000,000, and fought on sixteen fronts simultaneously. With his speeches Trotsky encouraged villagers, troops, his illiterate audience who was cut off from the vital news. "These spring months become the decisive months in the history of Europe. At the same time this spring will decide definitely the fate of the bourgeois and rich peasant, anti-Soviet Russia."

In 1921-22 the last remnants of non-Communist socialist parties, the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries, were abolished. In May 1922 Lenin suffered a stroke which left him partly paralyzed, in early 1923 another took away his speech and in January 1924 he died. After Lenin's death, among the aspiring successors, Stalin and Trotsky were the leading figures. In his writings Trotsky stressed the peculiarities of the Russian economic and social development. "The insignificance of the Russian cities, which more than anything else promoted the development of an Asian state, also made impossible a Reformation - that is, a replacement of the feudal-bureaucratic orthodoxy by some sort of modernized kind of Christianity adapted to the demands of a bourgeois society. The struggle against the state church did not go farther than the creation of peasant sects, the faction of the Old Believers being the most powerful among them." (from The History of the Russian Revolution, 1931-33) Russia, lacking the mature capitalist development, could go straight to a dictatorship of the proletariat, but Trotsky believed that it was impossible to build socialism in one country alone. In this he disagreed fatally with Stalin.

"The dictatorship of the Communist Party is maintained by recourse to every form of violence." (from Terrorism and Communism, 1924)
Although Lenin had rejected Stalin as his successor, Stalin strengthened his position. He inclined towards concentrating on the development of a Communist order in Russia, while Trotsky was dedicated to the belief that Russia should catalyze worldwide Communist revolution. Stalin believed that socialism in one country was possible. A schism broke out in Communist ranks. Trotsky's Left Opposition tried to mobilize the Moscow proletariat, but this failed due to the workers' indifference. The failure proved that he was no longer a charismatic mass leader. Trotsky's influence began to decline and Stalin removed him from the commissariat for war.

From 1925 to 1926 Trotsky held relatively minor administrative post, before he was ousted from the party by Stalin. In 1927 Trotsky was exiled to Alma Ata, in Kazakstan, where he devoted himself to writing his memoirs and bitter pamphlets. The 'combined opposition' of Trotsky, Grigory Zinoview, and Lev Kamenev was unsuccessful. In 1929 Trotsky was totally expelled from the Soviet Union. With this stroke Stalin became the sole and undisputable leader of the Communist Party, and therefore of the Soviet Union.

During the following years Trotsky lived in Turkey (1929-33), France (1933-35), Norway (1935-36), and finally found asylum in Mexico, where he was invited by the socialist artist Diego Rivera (1886-1957). On the death of his elder son Lev Sedov in 1934, Trotsky wrote: "Yagoda [head of the security organs] caused the premature death of one of my daughters, and drove the other to suicide. He arrested my two sons-in-law who simply disappeared without a trace. The GPU arrested my younger son, Sergei... and he then disappeared." In Mexico Trotsky continued his attack on Stalin's leadership and the 'degeneration' of the political system in the Soviet Union. Trotsky regarded the dictatorship he and Lenin had established as justified because it was exercised in the interest of the proletariat, and so it was quite different from Stalin's dictatorship, because the latter acted only in its own interests. In the United States Trotskyism enjoyed support of influential critics and intellectuals, some of whom were associated with the literary and political journal the Partisan Review.

Trotsky's Literature and Revolution (1924), a collection of articles, was his most important contribution to literature criticism. He had sympathy for Russian Futurism and praises Mayakovsky for placing his art at the service of the Revolution. According to Trotsky, "art, it is said, is not a mirror, but a hammer: it does not reflect, it shapes. But at present even the handling of a hammer is taught with the help of a mirror, a sensitive film which records all the movement... The deeper literature is, and the more it is imbued with the desire to shape life, the more significantly and dynamically will it be able to 'picture life..." Trotsky did not believe that it is possible to create genuine proletarian art at his time. In the 1920s the Bolshevik regime exercised a relatively tolerant cultural policy, and allowed experimentation, if it did nor criticize the Party or the Revolution. Trotsky did not reject Freud who was blacklisted in the Soviet Union. He showed some understanding of the Formalist school in its attempt to seek criteria for classification and valuation, but emphasized that the verbal art do not end with the word. "Artistic creation is always a complicated turning inside out of old forms, under the influence of new stimuli which originate outside art. In this large sense of the word, art is a handmaiden. It is not a disembodied element feeding on itself, but a function of social man indissolubly tied to his life and environment." Later Formalism became - in the hands of Stalinist censors - a swearword, which ended all kinds of experiments.

In 1938 Trotsky and his followers founded the Fourth International. During the Great Purge (1934-38), a wave of terror by which Stalin aimed at eliminating the opposition, Trotsky was accused of espionage. A supposed family friend, Jacques van den Dreschd, wounded Trotsky mortally on August 21, 1940 with an ice pick. "The vengeance of history is more terrible than the vengeance of the most powerful General Secretary." (from Stalin, 1946)


to all Astrological Interpretations by Michael D. Robbins
to other commentary and projects by Michael D. Robbins
to the University of the Seven Rays

to Makara.us home

Web www.makara.us
www.esotericastrologer.org www.netnews.org