75 Years after the Murder of Trotsky: Fight for Revolutionary Leadership!

By Johannes Wiener, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 20 August 2015, www.thecommunists.net

75 years ago Leon Trotsky, one of the most important leaders of the revolutionary workers’ movement, was murdered by a Stalinist agent in Coyoacán, Mexico. We don’t want to simply rewrite his biographical data but focus on what his life and struggle means to us, revolutionary workers, today.

A revolutionary life

 

Leon Trotsky was not just a very important theoretician for Marxism (he elaborated the Marxist theory on the question of the Permanent Revolution, the tactics and strategy in relation to a degenerated workers’ state and many other key and vital subjects), he was also a brave revolutionary leader in practice. He is the personification of the Marxist principle that theory and practice must go hand-in-hand and complement one other. In 1896, when he was just 18 years old and first became a Marxist, he organized workers and participated in revolutionary underground work. He was imprisoned twice by the tsarist regime as well as once by the Kerensky government, and was ultimately exiled by the Stalinist traitors. Leon Trotsky served as the head of the Soviet of Petrograd during the Revolution of 1905 and during the October Revolution in 1917. In contrast to Stalin, Trotsky played a central role during the Bolshevik Revolution and the civil war. He organized the very successful red uprising in Petrograd in 1917 and was the founder and first leader of the Red Army. He was also an important figure in the Communist International (Comintern), founded in March 1919, and drafted the manifestos of its first four congresses.

The Revolutionary Struggle against Stalinism

 

When the bureaucracy of the Soviet Union, headed by Stalin, rose to power after the death of Lenin in January 1924, Trotsky was one of the first to oppose the counterrevolutionary degeneration which characterized the transition to the brutal Stalinist regime. The Stalinist bureaucracy exiled him and imprisoned many other consistent revolutionaries and long-time Bolshevik leaders because they were not able to defeat Trotsky and the other steadfast Bolshevik leaders with political arguments and the latter represented a real alternative to the Stalinist bureaucratic rule. Trotsky was deported by the Stalinists from the Soviet Union in early 1929, the workers’ state which he had founded together with Lenin.

The Fourth International

 

In exile Trotsky built up the International Left Opposition which tried to reform the Stalinist Comintern. However, after the defeat in Germany in 1933 (when the fascists took power in the country which had the strongest Communist Party outside the Soviet Union) he fought for the building of a new revolutionary international. The movement for the foundation of the Fourth International developed a new revolutionary program and, despite the Stalinist terror, the fascists, and the bourgeois “democrats,” this movement was able to create combat organizations in the most important countries. The Fourth International was, despite its relatively small size, such a significant threat to Stalinism that the latter was forced to use slander, violence, and open terror to combat it. Thousands of Trotskyist fighters were killed in the Gulags (the labor camps of the Soviet Union) and many in other countries were murdered or disappeared at the hands of Stalinist agents.

The cowardly execution of Leon Trotsky from behind while he was unarmed perfectly epitomizes the wicked degeneration of Stalinism. The Stalinists were unable to fight the International Left Opposition out in the open on a political level before the eyes of the oppressed and within the workers’ movement for the best ideas and revolutionary line, so they had to resort to the murder and slandering of the consistent revolutionary fighters, and to the falsification of their true positions.

What Can We Learn for Today?

 

Today we live in a situation which is somewhat comparable to both the first years of the International Left Opposition and the years of the First International of Marx and Engels. On the one hand, we stand on the shoulders of nearly 170 years of organized struggle for the socialist revolution. On the other hand, today’s authentic revolutionary forces are weaker than ever before. We need to undertake serious revolutionary work and bring revolutionary ideas to where they are needed: to the working class and oppressed masses. Trotsky was always oriented to the needs of the workers and oppressed, despite his own personal origins with which he broke. He was very critical of both intellectuals and petty bourgeois fair-weather revolutionaries. For him and the Fourth International, it was always vitally important not just what you say, but also what you do. It is told how once, during the Spanish civil war, Trotsky held a discussion with a leader of a Spanish left-wing organization. The leader of this organization talked at length about what needs to be done. Then Trotsky asked him: “How many comrades does your organization have in the battle?” The petty bourgeois leader answered in shock: “Fortunately no one!” Trotsky told him: “See, that is the problem!” We, today’s revolutionaries, also have to develop such an attitude. For the masses, not just fancy words are important but rather what you actually do, how you intervene in the class struggle, and whether you are able to lead and produce victories.

Trotsky was a consistent internationalist as he demonstrated during the First World War, when he opposed all imperialist camps. He always defended the rights of oppressed peoples and fought for their right to self-determination. He also developed the slogan for the United Socialist States of Europe which was adopted by the revolutionary Comintern in 1923. For him it was equally important to build an organization in his own country and fight there for socialist revolution and to simultaneously build a revolutionary organization internationally. Trotsky was the personification of the nationless revolutionary fighter who is hounded from one country to the other.

The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) proudly follows in Trotsky’s path. Our work is dedicated to the formation of a strong revolutionary international organization which is able to develop revolutionary theory, as well as to intervene in struggles of the masses and to serve the oppressed.

There is no hope for us under capitalism. This system incessantly and increasingly wrecks our living conditions, our environment, and our entire future. There is just one way forward for the workers and oppressed masses of our planet, and this is the revolutionary liberation struggle. Only a worldwide revolution which overthrows the rule of the rich and the bosses will be able to create a future worth living. There is no more beautiful meaning to life than to fight not just for yourself, but to dedicate your life, your power, and your mind to fight for all oppressed people. This dedication and devotion is the essence of the character of a revolutionary. Trotsky lived by these principles and died for them. We too have to live by them if we want to win the struggle and if we want to deserve to win it. We see that most leftists, especially in the rich countries, do not live by these principles but are continually corrupted by the small “pleasures” capitalism provides them. Real revolutionaries like Trotsky despise this.

Dedication to building the revolutionary organization and serving the oppressed goes hand-in-hand with flexible tactics. Flexible steel is the hardest to break and the same is applicable for any revolutionary organization worthy of the title. To dispel the existing illusions of the masses it is not sufficient to tell them the truth. They also need to learn from their own experience with and betrayals by their current non-revolutionary leaderships. Consistent revolutionaries assist the masses in breaking with such non-revolutionary leaderships, but without posing ultimatums.

Trotsky dedicated his life and all his energy to one goal: to liberate our class and all oppressed peoples from the rule of the exploiters. We have to learn from his dedication: he was not afraid of losing his livelihood, he was not afraid of going to prison, he didn’t break because of the pressure of the Stalinists, and he was – in the final analysis– not afraid to die for his beliefs. Trotsky is a martyr in the revolutionary struggle for liberation and stands out among a long array of revolutionary fighters who were killed by oppressors from Spartacus, to Thomas Münzer, Toussaint Louverture, Wolf Tone, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, Mustafa Suphi, Tạ Thu Thâu, Che Guevara and thousands and thousands of others.

We too are ready to sacrifice our best fighters if it is necessary in this struggle for the liberation of humanity. Capitalism can’t kill all of us! They were able to kill Trotsky, but they will never be able to kill his immortal ideas – ideas which will lead us to our liberation! They can kill a revolutionary, but they can’t kill the revolution!

 

Fight with the RCIT to build a strong genuine Trotskyist International Organization!

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About RCIT Britain

What the RCIT stands for Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT)is a revolutionary combat organisation fighting for the liberation of the working class and all oppressed. It has national sections in a number of countries. The working class is composed of all those (and their families) who are forced to sell their labor power as wage earners to the capitalists. The RCIT stands on the theory and practice of the revolutionary workers’ movement associated with the names of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Trotsky. Capitalism endangers our lives and the future of humanity. Unemployment, war, environmental disasters, hunger, and exploitation are all part of everyday life under capitalism as are the imperialistic oppression of nations, the national oppression of migrants, and the oppression of women, young people, and homosexuals. Therefore, we want to eliminate capitalism. The liberation of the working class and all oppressed is possible only in a classless society without exploitation and oppression. Such a society can only be established internationally. Therefore, the RCIT is fighting for a socialist revolution at home and around the world. This revolution must be carried out and lead by the working class, for only this class has the collective power to bring down the ruling class and build a socialist society. The revolution cannot proceed peacefully because a ruling class never has nor ever will voluntarily surrender its power. By necessity, therefore, the road to liberation includes armed rebellion and civil war against the capitalists. The RCIT is fighting for the establishment of workers’ and peasants’ republics, where the oppressed organize themselves in councils democratically elected in rank-and-file meetings in factories, neighbourhoods, and schools. These councils, in turn, elect and control the government and all other statue authorities, and always retain the right to recall them. Authentic socialism and communism have nothing to do with the so-called “socialism” that ruled in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and which continues to do so in China and Cuba, for example. In these countries, the proletariat was and is dominated and oppressed by a privileged party bureaucracy. Under capitalism, the RCIT supports all efforts to improve the living conditions of the workers and oppressed, while simultaneously striving to overthrow this system based on economic exploitation of the masses. Towards these ends, we work from within the trade unions where we advocate class struggle, socialism, and workers’ democracy. But trade unions and social democracy are controlled by a bureaucracy perniciously connected with the state and capital via status, high-paying jobs, and other privileges. Thus, the trade union bureaucracy is far from the interests and living conditions of its members, based as it is on the top, privileged layers of the working class – a labor aristocracy which has no real interest in replacing capitalism. Therefore, the true struggle for the liberation of the working class, the toppling of capitalism and the establishment of socialism, must be based on the broad mass of the proletariat rather than their “representative” from the upper trade union strata. We also fight for the expropriation of the big land owners as well as for the nationalisation of the land and its distribution to the poor and landless peasants. Towards this goal we struggle for the independent organisation of the rural workers. We support national liberation movements against oppression. We also support the anti-imperialist struggles of oppressed peoples against the great powers. Within these movements we advocate a revolutionary leadership as an alternative to nationalist or reformist forces. While the RCIT strives for unity of action with other organizations, we are acutely aware that the policies of social democrats and pseudo-revolutionary groups are dangerous, and ultimately represent an obstacle to the emancipation of the working class, peasants, and the otherwise oppressed. In wars between imperialist states we take a revolutionary defeatist position: we do not support either side, but rather advocate the transformation of the war into a civil war against the ruling class in each of the warring states. In wars between imperialist powers (or their stooges) and a semi-colonial countries we stand for the defeat of the former and the victory of the oppressed countries. As communists, we maintain that the struggle against national oppression and all types of social oppression (women, youth, sexual minorities etc.) must be lead by the working class, because only the latter is capable of fomenting a revolutionarily change in society . Therefore, we consistently support working class-based revolutionary movements of the socially oppressed, while opposing the leadership of petty-bourgeois forces (feminism, nationalism, Islamism, etc.), who ultimately dance to the tune of the capitalists, and strive to replace them with revolutionary communist leadership. Only with a revolutionary party fighting as its leadership can the working class be victorious in its struggle for liberation. The establishment of such a party and the execution of a successful revolution, as it was demonstrated by the Bolsheviks in Russia under Lenin and Trotsky remain the models for revolutionary parties and revolutions in the 21st century. For new, revolutionary workers' parties in all countries! For a 5th Workers International to be founded on a revolutionary program! Join the RCIT! No future without socialism! No socialism without revolution! No revolution without a revolutionary party!
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