Strategy for Revolution in 21st Century - Readers Discussion Board
Stratey for Revolution in 21st Century >Home Page

Writings of Leon Trotsky

Writings of Leon Trotsky
(Coordinator Comment)

Leon Trotsky is best known today as the hero of many left sectarian organizations that work simultaneously against capitalism and against established communist parties around the world. He is revered above all for having dared to oppose Stalin's domination of the international communist movement in the 1930's.

As the commander of the Red Army of the newly revolutionary Soviet Union, he led the successful defense against invasion by the imperialist powers.

But his military heroism also translated into support for a socialist culture of war. This is stated clearly in his 1920 book, Terrorism or Communism: A Reply to Karl Kautsky, in particular, Chapter 8, entitled The Soviet Government and Industry. Trotsky argues here for "compulsory labor service" and the "militarization of labor."

Trotsky bases his argument in these chapters on a view of human nature in which people are considered to be innately lazy.

As a logical consequence of his view of human nature, Trotsky believes that people must be forced to work, using compulsion "from the gentle to the extremely severe:" "History is bringing us, along the whole line, to our fundamental problemóthe organization of labor on new social foundations. The organization of labor is in its essence the organization of the new society: every historical form of society is in its foundation a form of organization of labor. While every previous form of society was an organization of labor in the interests of a minority, which organized its State apparatus for the oppression of the overwhelming majority of the workers, we are making the first attempt in world-history to organize labor in the interests of the laboring majority itself. This, however, does not exclude the element of compulsion in all its forms, both the most gentle and the extremely severe. The element of State compulsion not only does not disappear from the historical arena, but on the contrary will still play, for a considerable period, an extremely prominent part."

Hence, Trotsky comes to the conclusion that socialism needs to employ the "militarization of labor: "The introduction of compulsory labor service is unthinkable without the application, to a greater or less degree, of the methods of militarization of labor."

Trotsky explains further: "Why do we speak of militarization? Of course, this is only an analogy - but an analogy very rich in content. No social organization except the army has ever considered itself justified in subordinating citizens to itself in such a measure, and to control them by its will on all sides to such a degree, as the State of the proletarian dictatorship considers itself justified in doing, and does. Only the armyójust because in its way it used to decide questions of the life or death of nations, States, and ruling classesówas endowed with powers of demanding from each and all complete submission to its problems, aims, regulations, and orders."

What Trotsky describes is indeed the culture of war, based on violence and authoritarianism.

Although Trotsky is known today for his opposition to Stalin, it was Trotsky's methods of the militarization of labor that were adopted by Stalin and that led the Soviet Union down the road of the culture of war to its ultimate collapse.

Visitor Comments

To add your own comments in this box, send them with title "sfr comment on Trotsky" to the following email:

game administrator Jun. 13 2019,18:22
Readers' comments are invited on this topic.