Trotsky and Stalin
A common theme among modern day Stalinists is their contempt for Leon Trotsky and contemporary trotskyists. One can often detect this animosity in their diction, where ‘Trot’ is a insult leveled against anyone critical of the 20th century Stalinist regimes.
Before we debunk the charges against Trotsky, it is important to first understand the history he and Stalin had.
Stalin was an early associate of Lenin. Although he played a minor role in the October Revolution, he was involved with the Bolsheviks since 1903. Trotsky, rather, had a strenuous relationship with the Bolsheviks early on, for a brief time allying himself with the Mensheviks but later describing himself as a ‘Social Democrat’ and Marxist without adjectives. By 1917, he had joined the Bolsheviks and was involved heavily in the Petrograd Soviet, to which he was elected president.
Lenin and Trotsky were behind the October Revolution including the storming of the Winter Palace. Stalin played a rather minor role, ascending to the leadership of the Pravda worker’s newspaper.
After the October Revolution, Trotsky was named People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs. His tenure as lead diplomat was marked by the painful legacy of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
There are a couple Stalinist and general misconceptions about the treaty that need to be cleared up.
First, there is the misconception that trotsky wanted to carry the revolution on ‘red bayonets’. This is summarily false. Trotsky was frank in his analysis of the situation, in which he tried to meet both ways between Lenin’s supporters, who wanted to bluntly accept the conditions of the treaty, and the Left Communists who felt that no such treaty was ascertainable with capitalist superpowers and that revolutionary war was inevitable. Trotsky said:
“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.”
He agreed that the conditions were harsh and that revolutionary war was inevitable against capitalist superpowers. He also posited that the point of the negotiations was to hopefully inspire revolution in the West, something that never came to fruition:
“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?”
Trotsky was not blood-thirsty, nor was he ready to concede so much to the capitalist powers of the West. Rather, when his position was unsupported, and Germany resumed its offensive in February, he abstained from the Central Committee vote and resigned from his position.
The Civil War
The experience of the February onslaught unleashed upon the poorly equipped Red Army revealed obvious flaws in the system. Trotsky, approached the situation from a rather conservative position, but one nonetheless based on material conditions.
The Bolsheviks increasingly felt that the Capitalist aggression would spill over into conflict. There was a movement to reorganize the Red Army to be a more robust fighting force to combat this future aggression. Trotsky, was at the forefront, although many of his policies are considered (and rightfully so) a bit reactionary.
Before 1918 the Red Army was run more or less on proletarian initiative. Soldiers elected their officers, and most training was based on strength in propaganda and centered on revolutionary elements. Trotsky felt this was insufficient against a disciplined and formidable foreign force. Therefore, he established the Supreme Military Council that usurped the power of elected officers and established a military committee, headed by a former Russian Imperial general.
This attracts obvious criticism from all sides of the Left, although Stalinists usually remain quiet here. Mostly because they have no problem with usurping soviet democracy to exact conservative policies. What is important to realize here is that, at least from a Marxian perspective, Trotsky is acting outside the norm. He is using the poor and volatile material conditions, to justify more strict and subordinate discipline.
At face value, this is non-Marxist and utterly incompatible with a proletarian dictatorship, based on the rule of the proletariat. It is, however, an effective way to win a Civil War fought against over a dozen foreign forces on 16 fronts. Under Trotsky’s leadership, the Red Army swelled in numbers and reformed on discipline and self-sacrifice that allowed it to go on and win a brutal Civil War against massive odds.
The legacy of Trotsky in the Civil War is the legacy of brazen and conservative action taken with the ends of preserving a worker’s state, hopefully justifying the means. Looking back, it is easy to see that there could have been alternative ways to reform the Red Army, build its strength, and not usurp soviet power. The primary problem here is that hindsight is always 20-20.
Trotsky may indeed be responsible for giving the Red Army the structure it needed for success; but at what cost he did so is yet to be determined. What is important to realize is that in Marxism, the proletariat, through organs of democratic control, should dominate all defense related endeavors It is shame this was not realized here, although it is still not a valid criticism coming from Stalinists.
After the Civil War, Trotsky remained the People’s Commissar of Military and Navy Affairs while Stalin worked his way up the Party ladder. Towards the end of Lenin’s life, Stalin was elected General Secretary of the Party; which at the time was not a supremely powerful position. In Lenin’s Final Testament, he famously denounces Stalin’s demeanor and recommends he be removed from his position. Unfortunately, his last request was never fulfilled.
In the wake of his death, a power struggle ensued in the Central Committee. Trotsky became a heavy critic of the of the growing bureaucracy:
“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…”
He was also very critical of the political repression and the ongoing troikas:
” …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…”
This criticism of the state apparatus led to conflict with other members of the Central Committee including Zinoviev, Kamanev, and Stalin. Trotsky was unafraid to expose the hypocrisy of these politburo members which necessitated that he be removed if they hoped to maintain their power.
The triumvirate denounced Trotsky’s disagreements with Lenin pre-October Revolution and criticized his perceived failures as commander of the Red Army during the Civil War. This ongoing public defamation became so serious that it led to Trotsky’s resignation as Commissar in 1925.
After a year as an unemployed statesman, Trotsky’s ideas once again gained foothold within the Party. This time, Kamenev and Zinoviev were aligned with Trotsky against Stalin’s bureaucracy. This United Opposition was short lived and its leaders (including Trotsky) were expelled from the Party in 1927. Trotsky was later expelled from the Soviet Union, out of his exile in modern day Kazakhstan, in February 1929.
It is quite obvious that Trotsky was not expelled for his “betrayal” of the Party or his “anti-leninist” positions. He was expelled in a power struggle with Stalin in which the existence of such a dissenter was not plausible if the bureacracy wished to remain in power. The dynamics of this intra-Party struggle should demonstrate to anyone, including Stalinists, that this was not the consensus disassociation from a counter-revolutionary, but a highly politicized and tactical maneuver from Stalin and other reactionaries within the state apparatus.
Moscow ‘Show Trials‘
In 1936, the first ‘trials’ against alleged “trostkyite” “terrorists” in Moscow had begun. 16 Bolsheviks were charged with ‘anti-soviet activities’ and with conspiring to kill Stalin and other members of the Politburo. All those charged, confessed to the allegations and were sentenced to death and the executed in a dark cellar of a secluded prison.
Stalinist’s would end the story there.
See! Zinoviev, Kamenev, and all the others accused confessed to their crimes! They had their day in court and their plot with Trotsky was exposed.
This is a common line from Stalinists, especially those cretins who reside online such as the Espresso Stalinist who happily proclaim the ‘legitimacy’ of these show trials.
The truth is much different.
Nikolai Yezhov was the senior officer of the NKVD, the Stalinist secret police. There is significant evidence both from Yezhov’s own accounts, as well as those of historians, that all forms of torture, deception, and intimidation were used in receiving confessions.
Before the show trials were even put on, both Zinoviev and Kamenev were interrogated by Yezhov and encouraged to confess to relations with Trotsky. At first, both were reluctant to do so and denied any involvement. Later, Yezhov implied that Kamenev’s son might be part of the investigation, leading to his execution. The pressure was simply too much, both agreed to confess before an audience of ‘anti-soviet activities’.
There were, however, conditions to this agreement. Both Zinoviev and Kamenev agreed to confess only on the condition that their families and themselves be spared an execution. Stalin gladly agreed, and then right after their confession before a show trial, ordered their execution.
There could have been more evidence for Stalin’s foul play and deviant betrayal if he had not had Yezhov himself killed in 1940 (who also, ‘surprisingly’, confessed to anti-soviet activities).
The importance of this all, is that the evidence used to convict Trotsky and the other members of the 16 supposed ‘co-conspirators’ was completely fabricated confessions and testimonial beaten out of the accused. There is still not an ounce of evidence that Trotsky ever collaborated to assassinate Kirov or Stalin; or that he was in correspondence with fascist leaders of Germany and Japan. This is complete and utter nonsense and I encourage any Stalinist who has documented evidence of any of these allegations to come forward with it.
All of these facts are conveniently left out when describing Trotsky’s history and his day in court. The only conclusion is that Stalin and the bureaucracy were murderers. More than that, they were reactionary, and counter-revolutionary traitors.
Following the Moscow Show Trials, Trotsky spent a significant amount of time traveling abroad and espousing his opposition to the Stalinist dictatorship that ruled the Soviet Union.
In 1939, Trotsky agreed to appear before Martin Dies, a member of the House Un-American Activities Committee that was intent on suppressing socialist and communists within the United States.
Stalinists and historical revisionists immediately call foul. So much so that cretins like the Espresso Stalinist imply that Trotsky was a fascist, collaborating with US authorities:
“Being an irreconcilable opponent not only of fascism but also of the present-day Comintern, I am at the same time decidedly against the suppression of either of them.” – Trotsky, Why I Agreed to Appear Before the Dies Committee, 1939.
What the Espresso Stalinist does not publish, is the context of this excerpt:
“Why did I agree to appear before the Dies Committee? Naturally not in order to facilitate the realization of Mr. Dies’s political aims, particularly the passing of federal laws against one or another extremist “party.” Being an irreconcilable opponent not only of fascism but also of the present-day Comintern, I am at the same time decidedly against the suppression of either of them. The outlawing of fascist groups would inevitably have a fictitious character: as reactionary organizations they can easily change color and adapt themselves to any kind of organizational form since the influential sections of the ruling class and of the governmental apparatus sympathize considerably with them and these sympathies inevitably increase during times of political crisis.”
Clearly, if the Espresso Stalinist has to purposefully take information out of context, how can you trust the sap? Not like you ever had much trust for a bloke who totes himself as the “Espresso Stalinist”.
Trotsky goes onto say:
“The workers must learn how to distinguish between their friends and their enemies according to their own judgment and not according to the hints of the police.”
In any case, it is obvious that there was no intent on behalf of Trotsky to collaborate with the fascists in the United States or to “sell out” the revolution. His intent was to use this platform to rally for world revolution, as well as expose the crimes of the NKVD and their counter-revolutionary paradigm. More important to realize, is the fact that Trotsky never appeared before the Committee. He only agreed to appear. Once the committee learned of his intent, they cancelled his appearance in fear of giving him a chance to legitimize his position.
A flowery picture for an all around moron.
There is one final Stalinist claim that really ‘takes-the-cake’ in the level of outright nonsense and unaccountable stupidity.
Trotsky collaborated with Nazis and other fascists to bring down Stalin.
I touched on it briefly above, but as I said before, there is not an ounce of evidence that any such collaboration took place. There is testimony from Radek, a tortured Bolshevik who made testimony to collaborations with Stalin and the fascist regimes; although, this testimony is widely discredited as having been the product of psychological torment.
Beyond hearsay, ‘he-said-she-said’ and the obvious assortment of “inferential evidence” (aka conflated correlations and paranoid conspiracies) there is not any solid allegations against Trotsky. There is, of course, a Stalinist explanation for this lack of hard evidence, which the Espresso Stalinist explains in quoting Stalinist “historian” Grover Furr:
“”Trotsky would not have conspired with either German or Japanese officials in writing. As we have discussed above, it was Bolshevik practice that such deeply secret matters should be communicated only orally. We cannot rule out the possibility that Trotsky himself could have met with German or Japanese representatives. But it seems most likely that he would have done so either chiefly or entirely through his son Leon Sedov. Sedov had the motive, means, and opportunity to be his father’s main contact with German and Japanese representatives after 1929 when Trotsky left the USSR” (Furr 161).”
In other words, a hunch. There is the “possibility” that Trotsky enlisting his crypto-fascist magic used his sleeper agent son to communicate with Nazi officials to in some way aid in the destruction of Stalin’s socialist utopia.
Grover Furr is a pathetic excuse for a Stalinist apologist and cretins like the Espresso Stalinist regurgitate this circumstantial garbage and pass it off as justification for murdering a man who was at most an influential political dissident.
I would hope one could believe the latter more than the former. Although the history of Stalinist ignorance and blind acceptance of propaganda is long; one still has to wonder if these poor souls are so deluded they themselves actually believe this drivel.
In conclusion, there is not a cent of evidence that Trotsky ever collaborated with Nazis, let alone even had contact with a single Nazi or fascist agent. Instead of collaborating with fascists, Trotsky was murdered at the behest of Stalin. There is no doubt about that but don’t look for any Stalinists to be crying foul at this last expression of Stalin’s indecency.
There is, however, concrete evidence that there were other Party collaborators with the Nazi regime.
See that? On the left is Joseph Stalin, General Secretary of the Communist Party. On the right is Joachim von Ribbentrop, foreign minister of Hitler’s Nazi Germany. What are they doing? They are signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. This pact essentially partitioned Poland between Stalin and the Nazis. The pact was signed in 1939 however there seems to be evidence that the two were engaged in diplomatic talks possibly years before the pact was signed, evidence being the German-Soviet Commercial Agreement of 1939.
So there it is folks. Stalinists want you to believe that the evil and manipulative Trotsky was plotting with the Nazis to overthrow Stalin.
And what do you see above you? A picture of fuckface himself cozying up to Nazi scum.
Inevitably, there will be cretins who develop all sorts of convoluted theories as to why Stalin collaborated with the Nazis. The world has no shortage of stupid people. The truth of the matter could not be more obvious, but it is up to the reader to decipher the facts.