Book Review: Trotsky On Lenin

On Lenin. By L. Trotsky. (Harrap £1.75.)

These notes were collected and published in an English translation in 1925. With the increased interest in Marxist thought the works have now been retranslated and issued. They cover the first period in London in 1902, the October seizure of power by the Bolsheviks in 1917, and the last stage to the New Economic Policy and Lenin’s demise. The book is well worth perusal as an expression of the time.

Some illuminating admissions are made by the author. Writing of the spring of 1918, Trotsky says:

“It was only in Petersburgh and Moscow that the revolution had been really carried through. In the majority of the provincial cities the October Revolution was carried over the telegraph poles.
In other words, most of the Russian population did not really know what was happening.”

Trotsky also quotes from Lenin’s Thesis on Peace of January 1918: “For its success, Socialism in Russia needs at best a few months.” Was this not a slip of the pen? asks Trotsky and answers No! Lenin repeatedly in speeches to the Council of Peoples Commissars in 1918 said that in half a year we will have Socialism and would become one of the most powerful states.

No wonder the poor ill-fated Zinoviev, Lenin’s whipping boy at the Comintern, ran round prophesying the doom of Capitalism throughout Europe before the year was out.

Trotsky’s polemic against H. G. Wells (who interviewed Lenin in Moscow in 1921) is included. Undoubtedly Lenin was right. Wells was an unspeakable petty-bourgeois philistine, but, in his criticism of Lenin, he had a definite point. Wells insisted to Lenin that for the success of Socialism it is necessary to change the mentality of a whole people.

In his panegyrics on Lenin’s birthday and at his death, Trotsky contributed as much as Stalin, or anyone else, to building up the Lenin leadership legend, necessitated by the backwardness of the Russian masses.

Trotsky’s fulsome adulation of Lenin’s ruthless physical extermination of political opponents culminated with a Stalinist terrorist ice-pick in our author’s brain.


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