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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Some military specialists have approached me with representations about the insulting expressions attributed by bourgeois newspapers to the chairman of the Petrograd Soviet regarding participation by former generals in the work of creating the workers’ and peasants’ army. I have not met with the expressions in question in official reports in the Soviet press and I consider it most probable that what lies behind this incident is a malicious newspaper intrigue aimed at disrupting the work of the Soviet power for ensuring the country’s defensive capacity.

In any case, I think it necessary to set out here the following propositions, which have been fully approved by the Central Executive Committee, that is, by the supreme organ of authority in our country:

  1. We need a real armed force, constructed on the basis of military science. Active and systematic participation in all our work by military specialists is therefore a matter of vital necessity. The military specialists must be ensured the possibility of devoting their efforts conscientiously and honestly to the task of creating the army.
  2. We need a Soviet army, that is, a military organism of a kind that conforms to the nature of the workers’ and peasants’ power. It is the fundamental task of the institution of commissars for military affairs to ensure this conformity.
  3. The working classes, which hold power in the Soviet Republic, have the right to demand of the military specialists, whatever political views the latter may hold, a loyal attitude toward the regime within the framework of which they are doing their work. Any abuse of the trust shown by the Soviet power must be met with stern punishment. At the same time, the workers and peasants must behave with complete respect towards those specialists, military and other, who are devoting their efforts to increasing the economic and military strength of our exhausted and temporarily weakened country.

For my own part, I think it necessary to add that those former generals who work conscientiously in the difficult and unfavorable conditions of today, even if they are of a conservative turn of mind, deserve incomparably more respect from the working class than pseudo-socialists who engage in intrigue in various holes and corners and, with impotent spite, look forward to the fall of the workers’ and peasants’ power.

April 23, 1918

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Last updated on: 15.12.2006