Tony Cliff

Trotsky: The Sword of the Revolution 1917-1923

11. War Communism at an impasse

THE IMPACT of the civil war on the economy was drastic. With the extreme scarcity of resources the Soviet government had to impose the strictest centralised control over every aspect of the economy. Industry was transformed into a supply organisation of the Red Army.

The civil war tore apart the Russian economy. The main industrial regions of northern and central Russia remained under Soviet rule throughout the civil war, but the factories in these regions and the railway system depended on sources of raw materials and fuel that were often cut off for long periods. The engineering industry of Petrograd, Briansk, Tula and other towns needed coal from the Donets Basin and iron from the Urals and the Ukraine. The Urals region was lost from summer 1918 until summer 1919, when Kolchak was driven back into Siberia. The Donets Basin was completely cut off from the German occupation of the Ukraine in spring 1918 until the retreat of Denikin’s army in the latter months of 1919 (with the exception of a brief period early in 1919 when part of it was held by the Soviets). Baku oil was lost from the time the Turks occupied Baku in summer 1918 until the Red Army entered it in spring 1920. The secondary oil source in Grozny in the North Caucasus was cut off by Denikin.

The textile mills of Moscow and the ring of factory towns around it depended on cotton from Turkestan, but Turkestan was also cut off, first as a result of the Czechoslovak troops’ onslaught on the Volga in the summer of 1918, and later, until the latter part of 1919, by Kolchak’s advance. By that time the peasants of Turkestan had largely given up planting cotton, substituting crops that would give them something to eat.

The foreign blockade dealt another serious blow to Soviet Russia’s industry [1]:



















(in million pud, where one pud = 16.4 kg = 36 lb)

A shortage of raw materials, fuel and food combined to bring a disastrous fall in industrial productivity. Starvation or semi-starvation gravely affected workers’ efficiency. According to approximate calculations, the gross product per Russian worker changed as follows [2]:

Productivity per worker
(in stable rubles)















Absenteeism reached unprecedented levels. It was sometimes as high as 60 per cent, and commonly exceeded 30 per cent. [3] The average rate of absenteeism before the war had been about 10 per cent. In 1920 absenteeism in the best ‘shock’ plants increased threefold. In the Sormovsky plant it reached 36 per cent in July; in August it dropped to 32 per cent. At the Briansk plant it was 40 per cent during the winter months and rose to 48.5 per cent in June and to 50 per cent in August. At the Tver plant it was 44 per cent during July and August. [4]

The physical exhaustion of workers brought about by undernourishment was a major cause of the decline of labour productivity. [5] Workers were so wretchedly fed that it was not uncommon for them to faint at the workbench. It was an act of heroism to work at all. The labour front demanded no less fortitude than the military front.

Large-scale industry had suffered a catastrophic decline. By 1917 the destruction of war had already reduced production to 77 per cent of the level in 1913. This fell in the following year to 35 per cent, then to 26 per cent in 1919 and 18 per cent in 1920. [6] After the army had taken its share of the shrinking industrial output, little remained for the peasantry. The economic connection between industry and agriculture, between town and country, was therefore broken.

The collapse of industry and the violent suppression of commercial relations between town and country meant that the exchange of grain and industrial goods that took place was not a real exchange. While the better-off peasantry supplied the majority of the grain, the poor peasantry got the industrial goods. As Kritzman said: ‘The state exchange of products was.., not so much an exchange between industry and agriculture, as an exchange of industrial products against the services that the poor peasants gave in the extraction of products from the farms of the well-to-do layers of the village’. [7]

Hunger, epidemics and cold

Hunger stalked the towns. One result was a massive fight of the population to the countryside. The urban population, and particularly the number of industrial workers, declined sharply between 1917 and 1920. By the autumn of 1920 the population of forty provincial capitals had declined since 1917 by 33 per cent, from 6,400,000 to 4,300,000, and the population of fifty other large towns by 16 per cent, from 1,517,000 to 1,271,000. The larger the city the greater the decline. The population of Petrograd fell from 2,400,000 in 1917 to 574,000 by August 1920.

In the footsteps of hunger came epidemics, above all typhus. The following is the number of typhus victims in European Russia each year, in thousands:

















So in two years more than five million people fell ill with typhus. [8]

Deaths from typhus alone in the years 1918-20 numbered 1.6 million, while typhoid, dysentery and cholera claimed another 700,000. [9] All told, the number of premature deaths is estimated
for the period 1 January 1918 to 1 July 1920 at seven million, that is, 7 per cent of the total population. [10]

This estimate does not cover the peripheral areas of Russia such as Siberia and the south-east. If these were included the number of premature deaths must have been more than nine million. This far surpasses the number of those who died fighting during the civil war, which is estimated at about 350,000.

Trotsky: Proponent of the New Economic Policy

From the end of 1919 Trotsky devoted only minimal attention to military affairs. Instead he became absorbed in the problems of the economy. In February 1920 it became clear to him that War Communism had exhausted itself, that agriculture, and with it everything else, had arrived at a blind alley. He spent the winter months of 1919-20 in the Urals directing economic work. In February 1920 he sent a memorandum to the central committee:

The present policy of the requisition of food products ... is lowering agricultural production, bringing about the atomisation of the industrial proletariat and threatens to disorganise completely the economic life of the country.

As a fundamental practical measure Trotsky proposed:

To replace the requisitioning of the surpluses by a levy proportionate to the quantity of production (a sort of progressive income tax) and set up in such a manner that it is nevertheless more profitable to increase the acreage sown or to cultivate it better. [11]

Lenin came out firmly against Trotsky’s proposal and it was rejected in the central committee by eleven votes to four. [12] These facts were stated by Trotsky without challenge at the Tenth Party Congress. [13]

Lenin continued to oppose any move to replace requisitioning of grain by a tax in kind. In the summer of 1920, when he read a remark by Varga, inspired by the experience of the Hungarian revolution, that ‘requisitions do not lead to the goal since they bring in their train a decrease of production’, he put two question marks beside it. [14] A few months later, beside a statement in Bukharin’s The Economics of the Transition Period that coercion of the peasantry was not to be regarded as ‘pure constraint’, since it ‘lies on the path of general economic development’, Lenin wrote ‘very good’. [15]

As late as December 1920 Lenin still supported compulsory requisitioning. As he said to the Eighth Congress of the soviets on 22 December 1920: ‘In a country of small peasants our chief and basic task is to be able to resort to state compulsion in order to raise the level of peasant farming.’ [16]

It was indeed very late in the day – one year after Trotsky – that Lenin came to the conclusion that War Communism had entered a cul-de-sac. On 8 February 1921, in a politburo discussion on the agrarian question, Lenin wrote the draft of a thesis which stated:

  1. Satisfy the wish of the non-party peasants for the substitution of a tax in kind for the surplus appropriation system (the confiscation of surplus grain stocks).
  2. Reduce the size of this tax as compared with last year’s appropriation rate.
  3. Approve the principle of making the tax commensurate with the farmer’s effort, reducing the rate for those making greater effort.
  4. Give the farmer more leeway in using his after-tax surpluses in local trade, provided his tax is promptly paid up in full. [17]

Thus it is clear how false was the Stalinist myth that Trotsky was the enemy of the peasants in opposition to Lenin, the father of the New Economic Policy (NEP).

Trotsky’s bold foresight condemned Min to political solitude. At the Ninth Congress of the party, meeting in March 1920, one month after he had written the above memorandum, he did not put forward his suggestion that grain requisitioning be replaced by a tax in kind and free trade in grain be allowed. Indeed he did not even hint at it. On the contrary, as a disciplined Bolshevik, he appeared at the congress as the government’s chief policy-maker and expounded a plan for the next phase of War Communism.

Labour armies

With the end of the civil war in sight, Trotsky posed the question: what was to be done with the soldiers? General demobilisation, he thought, would add to the decay of the economy. Keeping the soldiers idle was a waste. So he adopted the idea of labour armies.

On 10 January 1920 Matiiasevich, commander-in-chief of the Third Army, and Gaevsky, a member of the military revolutionary council of the Third Army, sent a memorandum to Lenin and Trotsky suggesting that armies not needed for military activity should be transformed into labour armies.

With the aim in mind of achieving the swiftest possible re-establishment and organisation of the economy throughout the Urals and in the Ekaterinburg, Cheliabinsk and Tobolsk guberniias, the military revolutionary council of the Third Army recommends that:

All the effectives and resources of the Third Red Army be applied to the re-establishment of transport and the organisation of the economy in the above-named areas.

The Third Red Army of the eastern front be renamed the First Revolutionary Labour Army of the RSFSR ...

The main task of the Revolutionary Labour Army is the restoration of the national economy in the shortest possible time by means of the wide utilisation of mass operations and by means of putting into effect a general labour mobilisation. [18]

Lenin replied to the message two days later: ‘I fully support your recommendation. I welcome the initiative. I will submit the question to the Council of People’s Commissars.’ [19] The council set up a commission to put it into practice.

On 15 January 1920 Trotsky issued an ‘Order-Memorandum about the Third Red Army – First Revolutionary Labour Army’:

Conscious of its duty ... the Third [Red] Army does not want to waste its time. During the weeks and months of the breathing-spell, however long this may be, it will use its forces and means to revive the economy of the country. While retaining its military strength ... it will transform itself into a revolutionary labour army ...

The hungry workers of Petrograd, Moscow, Ivanovo-Voznesensk, the Urals and all other industrial centres and regions need food. The main task of the First Revolutionary Anny is to collect, in a planned way, all surplus supplies of grain, meat, fats and fodder in the regions where it is stationed, to keep precise record of the foodstuffs collected, to assemble those materials energetically and rapidly, at railway yards and stations, and to load them on the wagons. Industry needs fuel. A very important task for the Revolutionary Red Army is to hew and saw timber, and to transport it to the railway yards and stations ...

Spring is coming – the time for work in the fields. Our exhausted factories are as yet producing few new agricultural implements. However, the peasants have many old implements, which are in need of repair. The Revolutionary Labour Army will make available its workshops and its smithies, fitters and joiners to carry out repairs of agricultural implements and machinery.

When work begins in the fields, the Red infantrymen and cavalrymen will show that they know how to use a plough to hoe the Soviet land.

Trotsky goes on to say:

A deserter from work, like a deserter from battle, is contemptible and dishonourable. Both are to be punished severely ...

Soldiers of the Third Army, now the First Labour Army! Your initiative is of general significance. [20]

On 3 February 1920 Trotsky announced that in order to restore the ruined sectors of the south-eastern railway on the Moscow-Kazan-Ekaterinburg line, the Second Army was being transformed into the Railway Labour Army.

The Fifth Army was to build the railways for the transport of oil from Grozny. The Ukrainian Labour Army began work, its main task the production of coal in the Donbas. The Seventh Army, defending the approaches to Petrograd, was assigned the task of digging peat. [21] A Caucasus Labour Army was created in April, based on Stavropol gubernia and the Kuban and Terek regions, its objective the creation of food bases and the speeding up of oil supplies.

The whole idea of the labour armies was to stand the militia system on its head: instead of bringing the army nearer to the workers as producers, it turned the soldiers into producers. The actual results of the labour armies were poor. This, and not the ideological arguments against the concept of labour armies, led to their early demise. But from the labour armies it was only a step to a policy of general labour militarisation.

The militarisation of all labour

This policy, which in Stalinist legend is the policy of Trotsky, and Trotsky alone, was in fact the policy of the party as a whole at the time. It is true that a number of prominent Bolshevik leaders opposed the militarisation of labour – Rykov, Miliutin, Nogin, and above all Tomsky – but both Lenin and Trotsky on 12 January 1920 urged the Bolshevik leaders of the trade unions to accept the militarisation of labour. The theses of the central committee for the Ninth Congress (March 1920), drafted by Trotsky, were entitled On Mobilising the Industrial Proletariat, on Labour Service, on Militarising the Economy and on the Utilisation of Army Units for Economic Needs. They stated:

In the transitional stage of development, in a society burdened by the heritage of a very difficult past, going over to planned and organised social labour is unthinkable without measures of compulsion directed both at the parasitic elements and the backward elements of the peasantry and of the working class itself. The instrument of state compulsion is its armed force. Hence, the element of militarising of labour, to some extent, and in some form, is unavoidably inherent in the transitional economy based on universal labour service ...

Militarisation of labour signifies ... that economic questions ... must become in the minds of working people and in the practices of state institutions identified with military questions ...

The realisation of labour service must be based in principle upon the fulfilment of the same organisational tasks as involved in the establishment of Soviet power and the creation of the Red Army ... Insofar as the army possesses the most important experience of mass Soviet organisation of this type, its methods and mode of working must (with all necessary modifications) be transferred to the sphere of labour organisation. [22]

The trade unions were to adopt ‘the same rights in relation to their members as have been previously exercised only by military organisations.’ [23] They were ‘to distribute, to group, to transfer separate groups and separate categories of workers and individual proletarians to the place where they are needed by the state, by socialism.’ [24]

In his report for the central committee to the Ninth Congress Trotsky stated:

Militarisation is unthinkable without the militarisation of the trade unions as such, without the establishment of a regime in which every worker feels himself a soldier of labour, who cannot dispose of himself freely; if the order is given to transfer him, he must carry it out; if he does not carry it out, he will be a deserter who is punished. Who looks after this? The trade unions. It creates the new regime. This is the militarisation of the working class. [25]

In a report on 25 February 1920 to the Yekaterinburg membership of the party, Trotsky emphasised the compulsory element in the militarisation of labour:

The party elements in the trade unions must explain the radical differences between a ‘trade union’ policy, which bargains and quarrels with the state, demanding concessions from it and eventually urging workers to go on strike, and a Communist policy, which proceeds from the fact that our state is a workers’ state, which knows no other interests than those of the working people. Hence the trade unions must teach the workers not to haggle and fight with their own state in difficult times, but by common effort to help it get on the broad path of economic development. [26]

The Ninth Congress fully approved Trotsky’s report with its call for the general militarisation of labour. This fact, in itself, gives the lie to the Stalinist legend that Trotsky alone was responsible for the militarisation policy. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is true that Trotsky was enthusiastic about the policy. But so was Lenin. Thus, for instance, Lenin told the Third All-Russian Congress of Economic Councils on 27 January 1920: order to utilise our apparatus with the greatest possible despatch we must create a labour army ... In launching this slogan we declare that we must strain all the live forces of the workers and peasants to the utmost and demand that they give us every help in this matter. And then, by creating a labour army, by the harnessing of all the forces of the workers and peasants, we shall accomplish our main task. [27]

In a speech on 2 February Lenin reiterated that the economy must be reconstructed

by military methods with absolute ruthlessness and by the suppression of all other interests. We must at all costs create labour armies, organise ourselves like an army, reduce, even close down a whole number of institutions... in the next few months ... When the all-Russia central executive committee endorses all the measures connected with labour conscription and the labour armies, when it has succeeded in instilling these ideas in the broad mass of the population and demands that they be put into practice by local officials – we are absolutely convinced that then we shall be able to cope with [the] most difficult tasks. [28]

Thus we see that for Lenin during the civil war, and especially in the latter part of it, the militarisation of labour, and the incorporation of the trade unions, their subordination to the state, were of vital and immediate importance.

It is also worth noting that Stalin himself served as chairman of the Ukrainian Council of the Labour Army.

Pravda, edited by Bukharin, was full of articles supporting the militarisation of labour and the labour armies. Thus, on 18 December 1919, Bukharin wrote that ‘the model [for running the economy] is given to us by the army’. On 20 February 1920 he argued strongly the virtues of the labour armies. Throughout March Pravda was full of articles advocating the militarisation of labour. On 1 and 2 April Bukharin again defended this.

There was a difference between Trotsky’s attitude to the question of the militarisation of labour and that of Lenin: Trotsky attempted to theorise and generalise the idea, whereas Lenin merely thought it a necessity in the circumstances. In his report to the Third All-Russia Congress of Economic Councils in January 1920, Trotsky posed the question: ‘Why do we speak of militarisation?’ He answers:

No social organisation except the army has ever considered itself justified in subjecting citizens to itself to such a degree, and controlling them by its will in every aspect, as the state of the proletarian dictatorship considers itself justified in doing, and does. Only the army – just because it used to decide, in its own way, questions of the life or death of nations, states and ruling classes – was endowed with the power to demand from each and everyone complete submission to its tasks, purposes, regulations and orders. And it achieved this the more completely the more the tasks of military organisation coincided with the requirements of social development. [29]

Trotsky goes on to depict the militarisation of labour as crucial to socialism in general:

... militarisation of labour ... is the inevitable method of organising and disciplining labour power in the period of transition from capitalism to socialism. [30]

Labour service is compulsory, but this does not mean at all that it is coercion of the working class. If labour service were to encounter opposition from the majority of the working people, it would be shipwrecked, and with it the whole Soviet order. Militarisation of labour when the working people are against it is Arakcheevism. [1*] Militarisation of labour by the will of the working people themselves is socialist dictatorship. [31]

Trotsky’s argument was based on his idea that there was no real difference between compulsory and voluntary labour. At the Third Congress of Trade Unions (9 April 1920) when he argued the case for the militarisation of labour, he met with criticism from the Menshevik Abramovich, who argued that the militarisation of labour would lower productivity, since higher productivity could be obtained only with free labour. Trotsky denied there was any real difference between voluntary and compulsory labour:

Let the very few representatives of the Mensheviks at this congress explain to us what they mean by free, non- compulsory labour, if not the market of labour-power. History has known slave labour. History has known serf labour. History has known the regulated labour of the medieval craft guilds. Throughout the world there now prevails hired labour, which the yellow journalists of all countries oppose, as the highest possible form of liberty, to Soviet ‘slavery’. We, on the other hand, oppose capitalist slavery by socially-regulated labour on the basis of an economic plan, obligatory for the whole people and consequently compulsory for each worker in the country. Without this we cannot even dream of a transition to socialism ...

If it were true that compulsory labour is unproductive always and under every condition, as the Menshevik resolution says, all our constructive work would be doomed to failure. [32]

Trotsky was right when he stated that men must work in order not to starve. In this sense all labour is compulsory. But to draw from this the conclusion that the form of compulsion is of little significance is nonsense. Under slavery or serfdom the compulsion is direct, open, legal. Under capitalism it is indirect and purely economic; the wage-earner is legally free. Marx stressed the progressive implications of this freedom. And this freedom makes the labour of the wage-earner far more productive than that of the slave or the serf. Thus Marx wrote:

This is one of the circumstances that makes production by slave labour such a costly process. The labourer here is, to use-a striking expression of the ancients, distinguishable only as instrumentum vocale, from an animal as instrumentum semi vocale, and from an implement as instrumentum mutum. But he himself takes care to let both beast and implement feel that he is none of them, but is a man. He convinces himself with immense satisfaction that he is a different being, by treating the one unmercifully and damaging the other con amore. Hence the principle, universally applied in this method of production, only to employ the rudest and heaviest implements and such as are difficult to damage owing to their sheer clumsiness. In the slave states bordering on the Gulf of Mexico down to the date of the civil war, ploughs constructed on old Chinese models, which turned up the soil like a hog or a mole, instead of making furrows, were alone to be found. [33]

It was taken for granted by all Marxists that socialism would not increase compulsion in labour compared to capitalism, but on the contrary would lighten it.

Trotsky’s error lay not only, or mainly, in the fact that forced, militarised labour is not very productive, but that it is tyrannical and incompatible with working-class self-emancipation, in other words with socialism. Socialism would not only lighten compulsion in the labour field, but would transform its nature, and lead ultimately to its complete abolition.


Between the spring and autumn of 1920 Trotsky had an opportunity to put his scheme of militarisation of labour into practice. The transport system faced a terrible crisis. Of 70,000 versts of railways in European Russia, only 15,000 versts had remained undamaged, and 57 per cent of all locomotives were out of order. [34] In the winter of 1919-20 the condition of the railways was so catastrophic that the economy was threatened with complete breakdown. On 30 January 1920 the Council of Labour and Defence issued a decree declaring all railway workers mobilised for labour service, and a week later a further decree conferred wide disciplinary powers on the railway administration. Neither decree made any mention of the trade unions. [35]

On 1 February 1920 Lenin wrote to Trotsky:

The situation with regard to railway transport is quite catastrophic. Grain supplies no longer get through. Genuine emergency measures are required to save the position. For a period of two months (February-March), measures of the following kind must be put into force (as well as devising other measures too of a comparable kind):

  1. The individual bread ration is to be reduced for those not engaged on transport work; and increased for those engaged on it.

    Even if thousands more perish the country will be saved.
  2. Three-quarters of the senior party workers from all departments, except the Commissariats of Supply and of Military Affairs, are to be drafted to railway transport and maintenance work for these two months ...
  3. Within a 30-50 verst wide zone along each side of the railway lines military law is to be introduced for the purpose of conscripting labour for clearing the tracks ... [36]

The politburo asked Trotsky to take over the People’s Commissariat of Transport Communication. Trotsky, in a telegraph to Lenin, explained that he was virtually unfamiliar with the administrative machinery of this commissariat. [37] Despite this, on 23 March Trotsky was appointed by VTsIK as temporary people’s commissar of transport communications. The Ninth Party Congress passed a resolution declaring that improvement of transport was one of the most crucial tasks. Immediately after the congress a transport commission was established, composed of representatives of the People’s Commissariat of Communication (Narkomput) and of the Supreme Council of National Economy (VSNKh). Trotsky was appointed its president.

On 22 May this commission issued its famous ‘Order Number 1042’ on the repair of locomotives. [38] The order was a detailed plan for the restoration of the locomotive rolling stock to its pre-war standard by the end of 1924. Standardisation was the key to ‘Order 1042’: individual parts were to be reduced to a minimum assortment, guaranteeing long production runs and interchange- ability. [39] Practically at once the transport system began to recover from its paralysis.

On 17 August 1920 a decision was taken by the People’s Commissariat of Transport Communication to merge the railway and water transportation by fusing the central bodies of the railway and water-transport unions into a joint Central Transport Committee (Tsektran) under the chairmanship of Trotsky. [40]

A state of emergency was declared in transport, and labour was mobilised. The decision to carry out these steps was taken by the central committee on 28 August 1920, supported by Lenin, Zinoviev and Stalin (against the protest of the trade union leader Tomsky).

By 22 December Trotsky could report to the Eighth All- Russian Congress of Soviets that the original five-year plan could be fulfilled in three and a half years. [41] By this time a plan for wagons had been added to the locomotive plan: Order Number 1157.

The party leaders were euphoric about Trotsky’s success in improving rail transport. Thus on 27 May 1921, one year after the publication of Order 1042, Dzerzhinsky wrote: ‘Orders 1042 and 1157 ... were the first and brilliant experience in planned economy ...’ [42]

The trade union debate

Trotsky, carried away by his success, declared at a meeting of party delegates on the eve of the All-Russian Trade Union Conference on 2 November 1920 that a ‘shake-up’ in other trade unions, similar to that taken on the railways, was necessary:

We have built and rebuilt Soviet state economic organs, smashed them, and then rebuilt them once again, carefully selecting and checking the various workers and their various posts. It is quite obvious that it is necessary now to set about the reorganisation of the unions, that is to say, first of all, to pick the directing personnel of the unions. [43]

This went too far for Lenin, who openly dissociated himself from Trotsky. It also evoked immediate protest from Tomsky, chairman of the all-Russian central council of trade unions and a member of the central committee of the party.

On 8 November Tomsky decided to raise the whole issue at a meeting of the central committee, and he attacked Tsektran. He was supported by Lenin, who blamed Tsektran for having alienated the trade union Communists. Lenin at once drafted a sharp criticism of Tsektran for adoption by the Communist fraction of the All-Russian Trade Union Conference, which was still in session. [44]

The same day, 8 November, Lenin and Trotsky presented alternative drafts on trade union policy. Next day the central committee, by a majority of ten votes to four, adopted a resolution modelled on Lenin’s draft:

It is necessary to wage a most energetic and systematic struggle in order to eradicate the degeneration of centralisation and of militarised forms of work into bureaucracy, self-conceit, and petty officialdom and interference with the trade unions. Healthy forms of militarisation of labour will be crowned with success only if the party, the soviets, and the trade unions succeed in explaining the necessity of these methods, if the country is to be saved, to the widest masses of the workers ...

On the substantial point it prescribed that Tsektran should participate in the Central Council of Trade Unions on the same footing as the central bodies of other major unions, and decided to appoint a committee to draw fresh general instructions for the trade unions. [45] A commission was also set up by the central committee under the chairmanship of Zinoviev, charged with the duty of working out means for the wider application of democratic practice in the unions, and for the encouragement of their participation in the control of production.

The resolutions were a rebuff to Trotsky. It was decided to disband the political departments in transport and to stop the practice of appointing officials from above, who should instead be democratically elected to their posts.

These events were followed by a split within Tsektran, and on 7 December the central committee returned to the dispute in an atmosphere of increasing bitterness. Lenin, Zinoviev, Tomsky and Stalin urged the immediate abolition of Tsektran. By a vote of eight to seven the central committee refused to adopt this drastic course and accepted instead a compromise resolution proposed by Bukharin. This advocated the immediate abolition of the political directorates, but proposed to leave Tsektran in place until February. A new Tsektran would then be elected at the Congress of Railway and Water Transport Workers. [46]

Trotsky’s most vocal critic was Zinoviev. In the pages of Petrogradskaia Pravda, which he edited, there were vitriolic attacks on Tsektran with its ‘police methods of dragooning the workers from above with the help of specialists’. Zinoviev largely succeeded in describing Tsektran as the brainchild of Trotsky alone, overlooking the fact that Tsektran had been set up by the central committee. He accused Trotsky of wanting to incorporate the unions into the state. But that was no more than the resolution of the Ninth Party Congress had in fact declared:

Being a proletarian dictatorship ... there can be no possibility of any opposition between the trade unions and the organs of Soviet power.

... any opposition between the trade unions, as the economic organisation of the working class, and the soviets, as its political organisation, is completely absurd.

... the trade unions must be gradually converted into auxiliary organs of the proletarian state, and not -.he other way around. [47]

Now – between December 1920 and March 1921 – a bitter debate on the trade union issue took place. The central committee was so divided on the question that eight separate platforms were advanced. The discussion spread throughout the party. In the four months leading up to the Tenth Party Congress, on 8 March 1921, the debate raged in party meetings and in the party press. Throughout January 1921 Pravda carried almost daily articles by supporters of one platform or another. Before the congress met, the principal documents were published by order of the central committee in a volume edited by Zinoviev. The party also published two issues of a special discussion sheet in order to provide a forum for a detailed exchange of views. Pravda published the platform of one of the contenders, the newly formed Workers’ Opposition, while a pamphlet by Alexandra Kollontai putting the case for the Workers’ Opposition was printed in 250,000 copies. Since coming to power the Bolsheviks had never been divided by so sharp a controversy,

In the end three platforms were presented to the congress. On one side were Trotsky, Bukharin, Andreev, Dzerzhinsky, Krestinsky, Preobrazhensky, Rakovsky and Serebriakov – eight members of the central committee. On the other side was the Workers’ Opposition, whose main leaders were Shliapnikov and Kollontai. In between was the Platform of the Ten – Lenin, Zinoviev, Tomsky, Rudzutak, Kalinin, Kamenev, Lozovsky, Petrovsky, Artem and Stalin.

The views of Trotsky and Bukharin

Basically the Trotsky-Bukharin group reacted to the economic collapse by arguing that army methods should be transferred from the war front to the factories and trade union organisations in order to tighten discipline. They wanted the complete ‘statification’ of the trade unions.

Trotsky argued that, in practice, the statification of the trade unions had already gone quite far and should be pushed to its conclusion. Secondly, the gradual transference of economic administration to the trade unions, promised by the party programme, presupposed ‘the planned transformation of the unions into apparatuses of the workers’ state’. This should be implemented consistently. He argued that his policy was only a continuation of the Lenin-Trotsky policy of earlier months and years.

Defending the rights of party leadership against the Workers’ Opposition’s demands for democracy, Trotsky employed an argument destined to haunt him in later years:

The Workers’ Opposition has come out with dangerous slogans, making a fetish of the principles of democracy. They seem to have placed the workers’ right to elect their representatives above the party, as though the party did not have the right to defend its dictatorship even if that a dictatorship were to clash for a time with the passing moods of the workers’ democracy ... What is indispensable is the awareness, so to speak, of the revolutionary historical birthright of the party, which is obliged to maintain its dictatorship in spite of the temporary wavering in the spontaneous moods of the masses, in spite of the temporary vacillation even in the working classes. This awareness is for us the indispensable unifying element. It is not on the formal principle of workers’ democracy that the dictatorship is based at any given moment, though the workers’ democracy is, of course, the only method by whose health the masses are increasingly drawn into political life. [48]

The Workers’ Opposition

This group included, besides Kollontai, a considerable number of workers’ leaders, of whom Shliapnikov, originally an engineer and the first commissar of labour, I.K. Lutovinov and S. Medvedev, leaders of the metalworkers’ union, were the most prominent.

The Workers’ Opposition demanded that the management of industry should be in the hands of the trade unions. The transition to the new system should begin from the lowest industrial unit and extend upwards. At the factory level, the factory committee should regain the dominant position it had had at the beginning of the revolution. An All-Russia Producer Congress should be convened to elect the central management for the entire national economy. National congresses of separate trade unions should similarly elect managements for the various sectors of the economy.

Finally, the Workers’ Opposition proposed a radical egalitarian revision of wages policies. Money wages were to be progressively replaced by rewards in kind; the basic food ration was to be made available to workers without payment. The same was to apply to meals in factory canteens, essential travel facilities and for education and leisure, lodging, lighting, and so on.

The Platform of the Ten

Lenin’s attitude to the trade unions changed much more quickly than Trotsky’s. The end of the civil war meant for him the end of talk about the ‘statification’ of the trade unions and about ‘militarisation of labour’. In a speech on 30 December 1920 he came out strongly against Trotsky’s position. The speech was published in a pamphlet with the title The trade unions, the present situation and Trotsky’s mistakes. In Lenin’s view the trade unions held a unique position. On the one hand, as their members made up the bulk of industrial workers, they were organisations of the ruling class – a class using state compulsion. On the other, they were not, and should not be, state bodies, organs of compulsion:

the trade unions, which take in all industrial workers, are an organisation of the ruling, dominant, governing class, which has now set up a dictatorship and is exercising coercion through the state. But it is not a state organisation; nor is it one designed for coercion, but for education. It is an organisation designed to draw in and to train; it is, in fact, a school: a school of administration, a school of economic management, a school of communication ... we have here a complex arrangement of cogwheels which cannot be a simple one; for the dictatorship of the proletariat cannot be exercised by a mass proletarian organisation. It cannot work without a number of ‘transmission belts’ running from the vanguard to the mass of the advanced class, and from the latter to the mass of the working people. In Russia, this mass is a peasant one. [49]

With the end of the civil war, trade union policy had to change radically, said Lenin. Compulsion, justified in war time, was wrong now.

Where did Glavpolitput [the main political section of the People’s Commissariat for Rail Transport] and Tsektran err? Certainly not in their use of coercion. That goes to their credit. Their mistake was that they failed to switch to normal trade union work at the right time; and without conflict ... they failed to adapt themselves to the trade unions and help them by meeting them on an equal footing. Heroism, zeal, etc, are the positive side of military experience; red tape and arrogance are the negative side of the experience of the worst military types. Trotsky’s theses, whatever his intentions, do not tend to play up the best, but the worst in military experience. [50]

Trotsky insisted that the militarisation of labour was essential for socialist reorganisation of the economy. Against this Lenin argued that militarisation could not be regarded as a permanent feature of socialist labour policy.

In his speech to the Tenth Congress Lenin said that it would be a grave mistake to assume an identity between the state – even a workers’ state – and the trade unions. The unions had to defend the workers from their own state:

Trotsky seems to say that in a workers’ state it is not the business of the trade unions to stand up for the material and spiritual interests of the working class. That is a mistake. Comrade Trotsky speaks of a ‘workers’ state’. May I say that this is an abstraction ... it is ... a patent error to say: ‘Since this is a workers’ state without any bourgeoisie, against whom then is the working class to be protected, and for what purposes?’ Ours is a workers’ state with a bureaucratic twist to it.

We now have a state under which it is the business of the massively organised proletariat to protect itself, while we, for our part, must use these workers’ organisations to protect the workers from their state, and to get them to protect our state. [51]

A balance must be struck, Lenin argued, between the role of the unions in production and their role in defending their members’ rights to consumption. They should not be turned into appendages of the state. They should retain a measure of autonomy, so as to be able to speak for the workers, if need be against the state.

At the same time as Lenin was fighting Trotsky on one front, both he and Trotsky were fighting much harder against the Workers’ Opposition. He accused them of syndicalism, an approach that differed radically from Communism. Throughout the trade union debate both Lenin and Trotsky made it clear that the differences between them were far smaller than what separated them from the Workers’ Opposition. At the height of the trade union debate, Trotsky told a meeting of the party fraction in the Miners’ Congress, on 26 January 1921:

Comrade Shliapnikov in speaking here – perhaps I express his thought a little crudely – said: ‘Don’t believe in this disagreement between Trotsky and Lenin. They will unite just the same and the struggle will be waged only against us!’ He says: ‘Don’t believe’. I don’t know what this means about believing or not believing. Of course, we may unite. We may dispute in deciding any very important question but the controversy only pushes our thoughts in the direction of ‘unification’. [52]

Lenin too, speaking at the Tenth Congress, said that the differences between himself and Trotsky were minimal compared with their differences with the Workers’ Opposition. [53]

The chief defect of the Workers’ Opposition programme was that it lacked any concrete proposals for ending the economic impasse. Its declaration of confidence in the proletariat, when the latter was so demoralised, was no substitute for a realistic programme of action. Its demand for the immediate satisfaction of workers’ needs, for equal wages for all, for free food, clothing, and such like, was totally unrealistic in a situation of general economic collapse. With the proletariat demoralised and alienated from the party, it was absurd to suggest that the immediate objective of this heterogeneous group should be the administration of industry. To talk about an All-Russian Congress of Producers when most of the producers were individualistic peasants, estranged from the dictatorship of the proletariat, was wishful thinking. (The concept of a ‘producer’ is, in any case, anti-Marxist – it amalgamates proletarian with petty-bourgeois elements, thus deviating from a class analysis).

In substance, the policy the Workers’ Opposition advocated could be summed up in one phrase: the unionisation of the state, while Trotsky was arguing for the statification of the unions. If the proletariat is small and weak the unionisation of the state is a utopian fancy. In terms of positive policies, the Workers’ Opposition had little to offer.

The conclusion of the trade union debate

The debate on the trade unions ended with an overwhelming victory for the Platform of the Ten at the Tenth Party Congress. This congress was unique in the way its delegates were elected. On 3 January 1921 the Petrograd party organisation, led by Zinoviev, issued an appeal to all party organisations. It called for elections to the forthcoming Tenth Congress on the basis of the various platforms on the trade union question. This provoked protests from the Moscow organisation and from Trotsky. On 12 January the central committee, by eight votes to seven, approved the election of delegates to the congress by platform – for the first time in the history of Bolshevism. At the Tenth Congress itself, Lenin’s motion was accepted by an overwhelming majority: 336 votes for, against 50 for Trotsky’s motion and only 18 for the Workers’ Opposition.

Basically the trade union debate was an expression of the profound unease in the party due to the economic paralysis that ruled the country at the end of War Communism. The economy was in a total impasse. The Bolshevik regime, having emerged triumphant from the civil war, was losing its support even among the workers. The Workers’ Opposition reflected this popular discontent.

Three years after the trade union debate Trotsky could justifiably write:

the discussion in no wise revolved around the trade unions, nor even workers’ democracy: what was expressed in these disputes was a profound uneasiness in the party, caused by the excessive prolonging of the economic regime of war communism. The entire economic organism of the country was in a vice. The discussions on the role of the trade unions and on workers’ democracy covered up the search for a new economic road. [54]

Many years later Trotsky stated: ‘We wished to have a change, and the discussion began on an absolutely secondary and false point.’ [55]

How can we explain Trotsky’s stand on the trade unions?

Trotsky’s position in the trade union debate was a demonstration of substitutionism. The decline of the working class as a result of the civil war, combined with the efforts of the Red Army to hold Russian society together in the chaos of war, counter-revolution and famine, led inevitably to the rise of substitutionism. The traditions formed during the long and demanding years of the civil war were not easy for Trotsky to throw away. He considered that the only effective administration in the country was that of the Red Army.

Because under War Communism labour policy had boiled down to recruiting workers for the war effort and sending them where they were most urgently needed, and because the trade unions had been the instrument through which this policy was carried out, Trotsky naturally looked at the role of the trade unions through the same spectacles as during the civil war. During the civil war the government had had no alternative but to use workers as if they were soldiers; the mobilisation of labour had been unavoidable. But Trotsky raised the expediency of the civil war into a principle, turning a bitter necessity into an ideological virtue.

The sad thing is that the Bolshevik leaders again and again made a virtue out of necessity. Lenin and Trotsky argued that the labour armies were an indispensable feature of socialism. Similarly Bukharin extolled the runaway inflation and devaluation of money as a precursor of a true communist economy without money. [56] The series of war measures – egalitarianism, a result of general destitution – as well as the suppression of the market and the strengthening of militarisation in the economy and society, were described as measures of the direct transition to real communism.

Making a virtue out of necessity is in general a by-product of the extreme contradiction between the expected and the actual, when it is too painful to look reality in the face, when one is forced to do things that are in contrast to one’s own beliefs and actions hitherto.

The state was in a void. The end of the civil war saw the proletariat completely atomised and demoralised, the peasantry in rebellion against the state, the party itself exhausted and under threat of fragmentation. It looked as if the only stable force was the army, the police and the state bureaucracy. These were the conditions for the rise of Trotsky’s substitutionism – by which the military superstructure would attempt to shape the proletarian economic and social base. The militarisation of labour and statification of the trade unions were the children of this tragic situation.

An added factor encouraging Trotsky’s stand on the trade unions was his inclination to too high a level of abstraction. The underlying assumption was that the workers could have no interest distinguishable from that of the Soviet state as a whole, and therefore needed no protection by independent trade unions. The fact that this state was under pressure from non-proletarian social forces, above all the peasantry, and suffered from bureaucratic deformations, he overlooked.

Above all Trotsky suffered from too much concentration on the administrative side of things, as Lenin would later point out in his Testament, where he wrote that Trotsky ‘is personally perhaps the most capable man in the present CC, but he has developed excessive self-assurance and shown excessive pre-occupation with the purely administrative side of the work’. [57] Trotsky later, in his book The Stalin School of Falsification, commented on Lenin’s words: ‘I think that these words quite correctly characterised the root of that controversy [on the trade unions]’. [58]

The bitter trade union debate, following the sharp controversy on the military front, led to the undermining of Trotsky’s popularity among many of the party cadres. Hence we find that in the elections to the central committee at the Tenth Congress Trotsky comes in tenth place out of 25. The list of those elected, with votes cast for each, was: Lenin 479, Radek 475, Tomsky 472, Kalinin 470, Rudzutak 467, Stalin 458, Rykov 458, Kamenev 457, Molotov 453, Trotsky 452. The high vote for Tomsky and Rudzutak is to be explained by their stand in the trade union debate at the congress. [59]

The new central committee elected by the congress reflected the ascendancy of many who were to be Stalin’s supporters in future faction fights. Among the newly elected members were a number whose names were already closely associated with Stalin – Komarov, Molotov, Mikhailov, Iaroslavsky, Ordzhonikidze, Petrovsky, Frunze, Voroshilov and Tuntul. Among the new candidate members were Chubar, Kirov, Kuibyshev and Gusev, all known supporters of Stalin.

Of the old members of the central committee, the three secretaries friendly with Trotsky – Krestinsky, Preobrazhensky and Serebriakov – were not re-elected; neither was Andreev, who had backed the wrong side in the trade union dispute, nor I.N. Smirnov. Both were close to Trotsky. No doubt Trotsky’s popularity among the mass of the workers was also damaged by his stand on the trade union issue; they saw in it an effort to restrict their freedom.

The discussion on the role of the trade unions proved irrelevant in practice to the search for new economic policies. Trotsky predicted at the congress that the victorious resolution would not ‘survive to the Eleventh Congress’. [60] He was proved correct. As long as the party and state continued the policy of War Communism there were no measures other than administrative ones to try to get the economy out of its impasse. But these measures, whether the extreme ones advocated by Trotsky or the less stringent ones suggested by Lenin, proved incapable of breaking the vicious circle of War Communism.

Even if the discussion on the trade unions proved irrelevant to further development, it nevertheless demonstrated Lenin’s sensitivity to the mood of the proletariat. Trotsky admitted his own error in the trade union debate a few years later:

The working masses, who had gone through three years of civil war, were more and more disinclined to submit to the ways of military rule. With his unerring political instinct, Lenin sensed that the critical moment had arrived. Whereas I was trying to get an ever more intensive effort from the trade unions, taking my stand on purely economic considerations on the basis of War Communism, Lenin, guided by political considerations, was moving towards an easing of the military pressure. [61]

Mass disaffection

Disaffection was particularly widespread amongst the peasantry. So long as the civil war continued, the peasants on the whole tolerated the Bolshevik regime as the lesser evil compared with White restoration. However resentful they were of the grain requisitions, they were far more fearful of the return of the former landowners. Armed peasants often confronted the grain collection detachments, but the scale of the opposition was not such as to threaten the regime. Now that the civil war had ended, however, waves of peasant uprisings swept rural Russia. The most serious outbreaks occurred in Tambov province, the Middle Volga area, the Ukraine, Northern Caucasus and Western Siberia.

By early 1921 some two and a half million men, nearly half the total strength of the Red Army and the majority of them peasants, had been demobilised in a situation of social unrest that threatened the very existence of the state. In February 1921 alone the Cheka, the new state police, reported 118 separate peasant uprisings in various parts of the country. [62] The fiercest uprising occurred in Tambov province and was led by A.S. Antonov, a former Social Revolutionary. At its height the Antonov movement involved some 50,000 peasants. It took the capable Red commander Mikhail Tukhachevsky more than a year to overpower this rebellion.

Disaffection spread to the urban proletariat, many of whose members returned to the countryside for good, while others went foraging for food again and again in the villages. The rural disturbances became contagious and led to industrial agitation and military unrest.

In February 1921 an open breach occurred between the Bolshevik regime and its principal mainstay, the working class. Since the onset of winter, unusually severe even by Muscovite standards, cold and hunger, combined with the undiminished rigours of War Communism, had produced a highly charged atmosphere in the large towns. This was particularly true of Moscow and Petrograd, where only a spark was needed to set off an explosion.

This spark was provided on 22 January when the government announced that the already meagre bread ration for the cities was to be cut by one-third. Severe though it was, the reduction was apparently unavoidable. Heavy snows and shortages of fuel had held up food trains from Siberia and the Northern Caucasus, where surpluses had been gathered to feed the hungry towns of the centre and the north. During the first ten days of February the disruption of railway links became so great that not a single carload of grain reached the empty warehouses of Moscow. [63] In early February more than 60 of the largest Petrograd factories were forced to close for lack of fuel. Meanwhile, the food supply had all but vanished. [64]

The executive committee of the Petrograd soviet, chaired by Zinoviev, proclaimed martial law throughout the city. An 11 pm curfew was imposed, and gatherings in the streets were forbidden at any time. [65] Strikes spread throughout the Petrograd district. As Serge remembers: ‘...bevery day in Smolny the only talk was of factory incidents, strikes, and booing at party agitators. This was in November and December of 1920’. [66]

On 28 February the strike wave reached the giant Putilov metal works with its 6000 workers, a formidable body even though only a sixth of what it had been during the First World War. [67] Menshevik agitators received a sympathetic hearing at workers’ meetings, and their leaflets and manifestos went into many eager hands. [68]

Initially the resolutions passed at factory meetings dealt overwhelmingly with familiar economic issues: regular distribution of rations, the issue of shoes and warm clothing, the removal of roadblocks, permission to make foraging trips into the countryside and to trade freely with the villagers, the elimination of privileged rations for special categories of workers, and so on. But political demands came increasingly to the front – demands for the restoration of political and civil rights. [69]

This turmoil was accompanied by a flare-up of anti-semitic feelings. The Jewish inhabitants of Petrograd were apprehensive, and some left the city, fearing a pogrom if the government collapsed and the mobs had the freedom of the streets. [70]

After a week, however, Zinoviev gained control of the situation and checked the unrest. Force and propaganda alone were not enough to restore order in Petrograd. Of equal importance was a series of concessions sufficiently large to take the edge off the opposition movement. As an immediate step, extra rations were distributed to soldiers and factory workers. On 27 February Zinoviev also announced a number of additional concessions to the workers’ most pressing demands. Henceforward they would be permitted to leave the city in order to look for food. To facilitate this he even promised to schedule extra passenger trains into the surrounding countryside. But most important of all, he revealed for the first time that plans were under way to abandon the forcible seizure of grain from the peasants in favour of a tax in kind, that a New Economic Policy was to replace War Communism.

By 2 or 3 March nearly every striking factory was back at work.

Kronstadt takes up arms

These strikes in Petrograd aroused the sailors of neighbouring Kronstadt to armed insurrection.

In July 1917 the island fortress of Kronstadt had earned Trotsky’s accolade as ‘the pride and glory of the revolution’. However, the Kronstadters had changed considerably since then. Being out of the battle area of the civil war, Kronstadt had been emptied of its original sailors, who were mobilised to the most difficult fronts and replaced by a new intake. The bulk of the Kronstadt sailors in 1921 were not those of 1917. By 1921, according to official figures, more than three-quarters of the sailors were of peasant origin, a substantially higher proportion than in 1917, when industrial workers from the Petrograd area had made up a sizeable part of the fleet. [71] In addition, three-quarters of the garrison were natives of the Ukraine, some of who had served with the anti-Bolshevik forces in the south before joining the Soviet navy. [72] This was why they were particularly influenced by the mood of the people in the rural areas.

The widespread unrest affected even party members among the sailors. In January 1921 alone some 5000 Baltic seamen left the Communist Party. Between August 1920 and March 1921 the Kronstadt party organisation lost half its 4,000 members. [73] The main reason was War Communism. The Kronstadters charged the government alone with responsibility for all the ills afflicting the country. They neglected the effects of the chaos and destruction of the civil war itself, the inescapable ravages of contending armies, the allied intervention and blockade, the unavoidable scarcity of fuel and raw materials, or the difficulties of feeding the hungry and healing the sick in a situation of famine and epidemic. All the suffering and hardship was laid at the door of the Bolshevik regime.

A degree of anti-semitic feeling was mixed with hatred of the Communist Party. The worst venom was directed at Trotsky and Zinoviev. Prejudice against Jews was widespread among the Baltic sailors, many of who came from the Ukraine and western borderlands, regions of traditionally virulent anti-semitism in Russia. For men of this peasant and working-class background the Jews had been the customary scapegoat in times of hardship and distress. For instance when Vershinin, a member of Kronstadt’s revolutionary committee, came out on the ice on 8 March to parley with a Soviet detachment, he appealed: ‘Enough of your “hurrahs”, and join us to beat the Jews. It is their cursed domination that we workers and peasants have had to endure.’ [74]

The Communist Party almost disintegrated in Kronstadt during the fortnight of the rebellion (1-17 March 1921). Trotsky estimated that 30 per cent of the Kronstadt Communists participated actively in the revolt, while 40 per cent took a ‘neutral position’. [75] As has been mentioned, party membership in Kronstadt declined from 4,000 in August 1920 to 2,000 in March 1921, and some 500 members and 300 candidates now resigned from the party, while the remainder were badly demoralised. [76]

The slogan of the Kronstadt rising, ‘Soviets without Communists’, sounds very democratic. Actually it was immediately seized upon not only by the Social Revolutionaries but also by the bourgeois liberals. The Kadet leader, Professor Miliukov, understood that to free the soviets from the leadership of the Bolsheviks would have meant to demolish the soviets themselves in a short time. The Kronstadt uprising had objectively a counter-revolutionary character. That this was so became clear from the fact that the most severe opponents of the uprising were the adherents of the Workers’ Opposition: they volunteered practically to a man and woman to participate in the assault on Kronstadt.

Trotsky himself did not participate in the suppression of Kronstadt. When the rebellion broke out he was away in the Urals. From there he went directly to Moscow for the Tenth Congress of the party. He did not go to Kronstadt because at the time he was involved in the debate on the trade union question. One of his bitterest opponents in this debate was Zinoviev, who headed the Petrograd committee – in whose hands lay the political work in Kronstadt. Thus the anarchists’ story of Trotsky’s role in suppressing the Kronstadt rebellion is pure myth.

‘The Kronstadt events’, Lenin said, ‘were like a flash of lightning which threw more glare upon reality than anything else.’ [77]

The peasants’ Brest-Litovsk

The Tenth Party Congress met on 8 March 1921 in the shadow of the Kronstadt uprising. There was clear evidence that the party was losing its grip on the people. Some idea of the alarm this caused can be seen in the fact that, on receiving the news about Kronstadt, the congress interrupted its debates and sent most of the delegates off to participate in the storming of the fortress. At no other time during the civil war had there been comparable panic. [78]

The first lesson the Bolshevik leaders drew from the peasant uprisings, from the disaffection of a broad section of the proletariat, even in Petrograd, and above all from Kronstadt, was the need to end the compulsory requisitioning of grain. This was a retreat in face of massive petty-bourgeois pressure. War Communism ended and the New Economic Policy was launched.

Three years earlier, in March 1918, the Bolsheviks had made a similar retreat on the international front when they signed the treaty of Brest-Litovsk, in order to obtain a ‘breathing space’. Now, on 15 March 1921, the Tenth Congress of the party adopted what one delegate, Riazanov, called a ‘Peasant Brest’. [79]


1*. Count Arakcheev, the war minister to Tsar Alexander II, set up military settlements of peasants, who, while carrying on agricultural work, were organised on military lines and subject to military discipline.


1. Kritzman, page 80.

2. Kritzman, page 293.

3. K. Leites, Recent Economic Development in Russia (Oxford 1922), pages 152 and 199.

4. J. Bunyan, The Origin of Forced Labor in the Soviet State, 1917-1921 (Baltimore 1967), pages 173-4.

5. V. Brügmann, Die russischen Gewerksschaften in Revolution und Bürgerkrieg 1917-1919 (Frankfurt-am-Main 1972), page 151.

6. Kritzman, page 252.

7. Kritzman, page 276.

8. Kritzman, page 287.

9. F. Lorimer, The Population of the Soviet Union (Geneva 1948), page 41.

10. Kritzman, page 288.

11. Trotsky, The New Course (New York 1943), page 63; Trotsky, Sochineniia, volume 17, book 2, pages 543-4.

12. Trotsky, My Life, page 564.

13. Desiatii sezd RKP(b) (Moscow 1921), pages 191-2.

14. Leninskii sbornik, volume 7, page 363.

15. Leninskii sbornik, volume 35, page 175.

16. Lenin, Works, volume 31, page 505.

17. Lenin, Works, volume 32, page 133.

18. Trotsky Papers, volume 2, pages 3-7.

19. Trotsky Papers, volume 2, page 9.

20. Trotsky, Sochineniia, volume 15, pages 269-71.

21. Trotsky, Sochineniia, volume 15, pages 5-6.

22. Trotsky, Sochineniia, volume 15, pages 111-2.

23. Trotsky, Sochineniia, volume 15, page 133.

24. Trotsky, Sochineniia, volume 15, page 181.

25. Desiatii sezd RKP(b), page 101.

26. Trotsky, Sochineniia, volume 15, page 287; Trotsky, HRA, volume 3, page 83.

27. Lenin, Works, volume 30, page 312.

28. Lenin, Works, volume 30, pages 332-4.

29. Trotsky, HRA, volume 3, page 107.

30. Trotsky, HRA, volume 3, page 109.

31. Trotsky, HRA, volume 3, page 113.

32. Trotsky, Terrorism and Communism, pages 140-2.

33. Marx, Capital, volume 1 (London 1954), page 191.

34. Kritzman, page 283.

35. Sobranie uzakonenii (1920), number 8, article 52, and number 10, article 64.

36. Trotsky Papers, volume 2, page 23.

37. Trotsky Papers, volume 2, page 115.

38. Trotsky, Sochineniia, volume 15, pages 345-7.

39. Trotsky, Sochineniia, volume 15, pages 347-8, 359, 399 and 445.

40. Trotsky, Sochineniia, volume 15, pages 385-6.

41. Trotsky, Sochineniia, volume 15, pages 452-85.

42. Quoted in Trotsky, The New Course, page 80.

43. Desiatii sezd RKP(b), page 372.

44. Lenin, Works, volume 31, pages 374-5.

45. Otchety o deiatelnosti tsentralnogo komiteta RKP(b) (Moscow 1921), pages 47-8.

46. Otchety o deiatelnosti tsentralnogo komiteta RKP(b), pages 47-9.

47. KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh, volume 1, pages 490-1.

48. Desiatii sezd RKP(b), pages 350-1.

49. Lenin, Works, volume 32, pages 20-1.

50. Lenin, Works, volume 32, page 37.

51. Lenin, Works, volume 32, page 50.

52. Trotsky, Concluding Speech to the Second All-Russian Congress of Miners, 26 January 1921, in Trotsky, Stalin School, page 31.

53. Lenin, Works, volume 32, page 204.

54. Trotsky, The New Course, page 32.

55. The Case of Leon Trotsky, page 408.

56. See N. Bukharin, Dengi v spokhe proletarskoi diktatury (Moscow 1920).

57. Lenin, Works, volume 36, page 595.

58. Trotsky, Stalin School, page 29.

59. Desiatii sezd RKP(b), page 221.

60. Desiatii sezd RKP(b), page 214.

61. Trotsky, My Life, pages 465-6.

62. S. Singleton, The Tambov Revolt, 1920-1921, in Slavic Review (September 1966).

63. P. Avrich, Kronstadt 1921 (New York 1974), page 35.

64. Avrich, page 37

65. Avrich, page 39.

66. Serge, Memoirs of a Revolutionary (London 1963), page 123.

67. Avrich, page 42.

68. Avrich, page 45.

69. Avrich, page 42.

70. Avrich, pages 46-7.

71. Avrich, pages 89-90.

72. Avrich, page 93.

73. Avrich, page 69.

74. Avrich, pages 179-80.

75. Desiatii sezd RKP(b), page 253.

76. Avrich, page 184.

77. Lenin, Works, volume 32, page 279.

78. Trotsky, Revolution Betrayed, page 96.

79. Odinnadtsatii sezd RKP(b) (Moscow 1936), page 468.

Last updated on 28 July 2009