The Military Writings of
Leon Trotsky

Volume 1, 1918

How the Revolution Armed



Transcribed and HTML markup for the Trotsky Internet Archive by David Walters

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Adopted at the session of the All-Russia Central Executive
Committee of the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers
and Peasants’ Deputies, April 22, 1918.

One of the basic tasks of socialism is to free mankind from militarism and from the barbarity of bloody clashes between peoples. The goal of socialism is universal disarmament, permanent peace and fraternal co-operation between all the peoples inhabiting the earth.

This goal will be achieved when power in all the strongest capitalist countries has passed into the hands of the working class, which will wrest the means of production from the exploiters and turn them over to all working people for common use, and will establish a Communist system as the unshakable foundation of the solidarity of all mankind.

At present it is in Russia alone that state power is held by the workers. In all the other countries the imperialist bourgeoisie is in power. Its policy is aimed at suppressing the communist revolution and enslaving all weak peoples. The Russian Soviet Republic, surrounded on all sides by enemies, has to create its own powerful army, under the protection of which the communist transformation of the country’s social order will be accomplished.

The Workers’ and Peasants’ Government of the Republic deems it its immediate task to enroll all citizens for compulsory labor and military service. This work is meeting with stubborn resistance on the part of the bourgeoisie, which refuses to renounce its economic privileges and is trying, through conspiracies, uprisings and traitorous deals with foreign imperialists, to recover state power.

To arm the bourgeoisie would be tantamount to generating constant strife within the army, thereby paralyzing its strength in the fight against external foes. The parasitic and exploiter elements who do not want to assume the same rights and duties as others cannot be given access to arms. The Workers’ and Peasants’ Government will find ways of making the bourgeoisie share, in some form or other, the burden of defending the Republic, upon which the crimes of the propertied classes have brought such heavy trials and calamities. But in the immediate transition period military training and the bearing of arms must be restricted to workers and peasants who do not exploit the labor of others.

Citizens between 18 and 40 years of age who have undergone a course of compulsory military training will be registered as liable for military service. At the first call of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government they will have to take up arms and reinforce the cadres of the Red Army, which consists of the most devoted and selfless fighters for the freedom and independence of the Russian Soviet Republic and for the international socialist revolution.

  1. Military training is compulsory for male citizens of the Russian Soviet Federative Republic of the following age-groups: (i) the school age, the lower limit of which will be decided by the People’s Commissariat of Education; ii) the preparatory age, from 16 to 18; and (iii) the call-up age, from 18 to 40.

    Female citizens will be given training, with their consent, on the same footing as the males.

    Note: Persons whose religious convictions forbid the use of arms will be liable for training only for duties which do not involve the use of arms.
  2. Training of persons of the preparatory and call-up ages is entrusted to the People’s Commissariat for Military Affairs, and that of the school-age category to the People’s Commissariat for Education, with the closest co-operation of the People’s Commissariat for Military Affairs.
  3. Military training is compulsory for workers employed in factories and workshops, on farms and in villages, and for peasants who do not exploit the labor of others.
  4. In the localities, compulsory military training is organized by the respective district, province, uyezd and volost military commissariats.
  5. Trainees receive no form of compensation for the time spent in compulsory training: training is to be organised, so far as possible, in such a way as not to divert the trainees from their normal regular occupations.
  6. Training is to be carried on continuously for a period of eight weeks, with a minimum of 12 hours a week. The periods for training for special arms and the procedure for refresher call-ups will be determined in a special regulation.
  7. Persons who have already undergone training in the regular army may be exempted from compulsory training on passing an appropriate test. They will then be issued with the appropriate certificates, as persons who have undergone a course of compulsory training.
  8. Instruction shall be given by trained instructors in accordance with a programme approved by the People’s Commissariat for Military Affairs.
  9. Persons who evade compulsory military training, or who show negligence in performing their duties in connection with universal training will be prosecuted.

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Last updated on: 15.12.2006