The Military Writings of
Leon Trotsky

Volume 2, 1919

How the Revolution Armed


IV. Desertion and Tribunals

Established Soviet Deserters

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

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The fight against desertion is failing to deal with one particu larly baneful and evil form of avoidance of military duty: namely, those deserters who have hidden themselves in various Soviet jobs in which they still evidently consider themselves as ‘reserved’. These are all ‘indispensables’. Every institution and administration, every department has its ‘indispensables’. This applies to all departments without exception, including the War Department. While the most responsible political workers have been taken and sent to the front, Soviet bureaucrats are keeping back valuable, qualified military specialists in posts of secondary importance. Gunnery experts are ‘indispensable’ specialists in the co-operatives; without a cavalryman the book-keeping cannot get done; military engineers are ensuring that the graphic arts do not fail to flourish. Methods have been devised for reserving these ‘indispensables’. In case of need, these gentry move from one institution to another, until they find the place where they are most indispensable.

Some leaders of Soviet institutions have decided to stick up for the ‘indispensables’ on the grounds that they are good workers. As if good workers were not needed in the army!

Legalised Soviet desertion is a disgusting sore. The army is short of commanders, but the needed commanders, unlike ordinary deserters who hide in the forests, are seated in places of honour in Soviet institutions.

It is time to apply all the laws about deserters and those who shelter them to the legalised indispensables in Soviet institutions, and to those who have legalised them.

The hidden commanders will be chased out, to the front. An end will be put to established Soviet desertion.

June 28, 1919
En Route, No.55

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Last updated on: 19.12.2006