The Red Army on a Peace Footing

Speeches, Articles, Reports

From a Speech at the Textile Workers’ Congress

October 10, 1922

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

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We are certainly not yet able to say that the most serious dangers are behind us, not to mention the most important difficulties in the economic sphere.

During these five years we have attempted much and experienced much, we have made many mistakes, but we have also learnt much. We have renounced none of our great revolutionary tasks, we have not lost a single grain of our revolutionary conviction and readiness to fight, but we have become more mature, we now appreciate the situation more profoundly, and we hope to commit fewer mistakes in the next five years. And we shall survive another and another five years, and after that yet another five years, and even then shall not see the end ... And if comrades, we have survived these five years which will have elapsed on November 7, then that is a victory for us: it was pre-ordained.

We have, of course, made mistakes in this period, chiefly in the field of elementary military defence. We tried to draw this conclusion at Genoa, when we proposed disarmament.

As you know, however, at Genoa those very governments which had persistently accused us of militarism refused to let this proposal be put on the agenda. They accused the Soviet Republic of militarism!

We drew the conclusion from this: we retained an army of 800,000 men. This is a large number for such a starving, cold, ruined country as ours, which is only beginning to recover – 800,000 men under arms. And we cannot do without them, since we have a shortage of men after the demobilising of all the older age-groups.

In the Ukraine and the Crimea we have carried out and are now carrying out a supplementary call-up of the class of 1901. This age-group was not called up in those areas at the normal time.

And what has happened? I was in the Crimea and I travelled through the Ukraine, and all the evidence, the facts and documents testify that the young men of the 1901 class supplementary call-up have responded to the summons 100 per cent; there has been no evasion. Their morale is excellent. There is no question of coercion or repression. We remember how the first conscription went, and appreciate the fact that the supplementary call-up of the 1901 age-group of the workers and peasants is taking place in the Ukraine and the Crimea, which rallied to the October revolution considerably later than Moscow, Petersburg and the central region, and is taking place willingly, with complete readiness. This means, first, that there has been a tremendous improvement in the political level of the peoples inhabiting our federation. Our entire policy unfolds before us as an immense object-lesson. They learn along with their power, they learn and they are learning. They know what our policy is, what our army is and what it is for. Secondly, this fact of voluntary and even cheerful reporting for duty on the part of the youth testifies that the relation between the working class and the peasant masses has improved even in those borderlands where the Soviet order is more backward than at the centre – and at the centre it is still far from perfect.

October 12, 1922, No.230

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Last updated on: 28.12.2006