Leon Trotsky

The First Five Years of the Communist International

Volume 1

En Route [1]:
Thoughts on the Progress of
the Proletarian Revolution


ONCE UPON a time the church had a saying: “The light shineth from the East.” In our generation the revolution began in the East. From Russia it passed over into Hungary, from Hungary to Bavaria and, doubtless, it will march westward through Europe. This march of events is taking place contrary to prejudices, allegedly Marxist and rather widespread among broad circles of intellectuals, and not those of Russia alone.

The revolution through which we are now living is proletarian, and the proletariat is strongest in the old capitalist countries where it is much larger numerically, better organized, more class-conscious. It is seemingly in the nature of things to expect that the revolution in Europe ought to unfold approximately along the same paths a those of capitalist development: England – the first-born capitalist country, to be followed by France, to be followed by Germany, Austria and, finally, at the bottom of the list – Russia.

It may be said that in this erroneous conception lies the original sin of Menshevism, the theoretical ground for its entire future downfall. In accordance with this “Marxism,” adjusted to petty-bourgeois horizons, all the countries of Europe must, in inexorable succession, pass through two stages: the feudal-serf stage and the bourgeois. democratic stage, in order to reach socialism. According to Dan [2] and Potressov [3], Germany in 1910 was only beginning to consummate her bourgeois-democratic revolution, in order later to prepar on this foundation the socialist revolution. Just what these gentlemen meant by “socialist revolution” they could never explain. Incidentally, they did not even feel the need for such an explanation, inasmuch as the socialist revolution was relegated by them to the Hereafter. It is hardly surprising that they took it ... for a piece of Bolshevik insolence, when along the road of history they did meet up with the revolution. From the viewpoint of this flat and bare historical gradualism, nothing seemed so monstrous as the idea that the Russian revolution, upon attaining victory, could place the proletariat in power; that the victorious proletariat, even if it so desired, would be unable to keep the revolution within the framework of bourgeois democracy. Despite the fact that this historical prognosis was reached almost a decade and a half before the 1917 October Revolution, the Menslieviks, sincerely in their fashion, considered the conquest of political power by the proletariat to be an accident and an “adventure.” No less sincerely did they consider the Soviet regime to be a product of the backwardness and barbarousness of Russian conditions. The mechanism of bourgeois democracy was held by these egotistic ideologists of the semi-enlightened Babbitts to be the highest expression of human civilization. They counterposed the Constituent Assembly to the Soviets approximately in the manner that an automobile may be counterposed to a peasant cart.

However, the further course of events continued to unfold contrariwise to the “common-sense” and socially indispensable prejudices of an average middle-class vulgarian. First of all, despite the existence of the Constituent Assembly with all its democratic boons implicit in Weimar [4] there arose in Germany a party which is becoming stronger and stronger and which immediately siphoned off the most heroic elements among the proletariat – a party on whose banner is inscribed: “All Power to the Soviets.” No one takes note of the creative labors of the Scheidemannist Constituent Assembly, no one in the world is interested in it. The entire attention not only of the German people but of all mankind is fixed on the gigantic struggle between the ruling clique of the Constituent Assembly and the revolutionary proletariat, a struggle which immediately proved to be outside the framework of legalized Constituent “democracy.”

In Hungary and Bavaria this process has already gone beyond that. In these countries, in place of formal democracy, this belated imprint of yesterday which is being converted into a brake upon the tomorrow of revolution, has appeared a truly genuine democracy in the form of the rule of the victorious proletariat.

But while the march of events proceeds not at all in accordance with the itinerary of house-broken gradualists, who long pretended to be Marxists not only in public but also in private, this very march of revolutionary developments demands an explanation. The fact is that the revolution began and led to the victory of the proletariat in the most backward major country of Europe – Russia.

Hungary is unquestionably the more backward half of the former Austro-Hungarian monarchy, which as a whole, in the sense of capitalist and even cultural-political development, stood between Russia and Germany. Bavaria where, following Hungary, Soviet power has been established, represents with respect to capitalist development not the advanced but, on the contrary, a backward section of Germany. Thus the proletarian revolution after starting in the most backward country of Europe, keeps mounting upwards, rung by rung, toward countries more highly developed economically.

What is the explanation for this “incongruity”? The oldest capitalist country in Europe and the world is – England. Meanwhile England, especially during the last half-century, has been from the standpoint of the proletarian revolution the most conservative country. The consistent social-reformists, i.e., those who try to make both ends meet, hence drew all the conclusions they needed, asserting that it was precisely England that indicated to other countries the possible paths of political development and that in the future the entire European proletariat would renounce the program of the social revolution. For the Marxists, however, the “incongruity” between England’s capitalist development and her Socialist movement, as conditioned by a temporary combination of historical forces, did not contain anything disheartening. It was England’s early entry onto the path of capitalist development and world robbery that created a privileged position not only for her bourgeoisie but also for a section of her working class. England’s insular position spared her the direct burden of maintaining militarism on land. Her mighty naval militarism, although requiring huge expenditures, rested nevertheless on numerically small cadres of hirelings and did not require a transition to universal military service. The British bourgeoisie skillfully utilized these conditions in order to separate the top labor layer from the bottom strata, creating an aristocracy of “skilled” labor and instilling into it a trade union caste spirit. Flexible despite all its conservatism, the parliamentary machinery of Great Britain, the incessant rivalry between two historical parties – the Liberals and the Tories – a rivalry which at times assumed rather tense form although remaining quite hollow in content, invariably created when the need arose an artificial political safety-valve for the discontent of the working masses. This was supplemented by the fiendish dexterity of the ruling bourgeois clique in the business of spiritually crippling and bribing, quite “exquisitely” at times, the leaders of the working class. Thus thanks to England’s early capitalist development her bourgeoisie disposed of resources that enabled them systematically to counteract the proletarian revolution. Within the proletariat itself, or more correctly, within its upper layer, the same conditions gave shape to the most extreme conservative tendencies which manifested themselves in the course of decades prior to the World War ... While Marxism teaches that class relations arise in the process of production and that these relations correspond to a certain level of productive forces; while Marxism further teaches that all forms of ideology and, first and foremost, politics correspond to class relations, this does not at all mean that between politics, class groupings and production there exist simple mechanical relations, calculable by the four rules of arithmetic. On the contrary, the reciprocal relations are extremely complex. It is possible to interpret dialectically the course of a country’s development, including its revolutionary development, only by proceeding from the action, reaction and interaction of all the material and superstructural factors, national and world-wide alike, and not through superficial juxtapositions, or through formal analogies. England accomplished her bourgeois revolution in the 17th century; France – at the end of the 18th century. France was for a long time the most advanced, the most “cultured” country on the European continent. The French social-patriots still sincerely believed even at the beginning of this war that the entire fate of mankind rotated around Paris. But once again, just because of her early bourgeois civilization, France developed powerful conservative tendencies within her capitalism. The slow organic growth of capitalism did not mechanically destroy French handicrafts, but pulled them along, simply relegating them to different positions, assigning them a more and more subordinate role. The revolution, by selling the feudal estates at auction to the peasantry, created the French village, extremely viable, tenacious, stubborn and petty-bourgeois. The Great French Revolution of the 18th century, bourgeois both in its most extreme objectives as well as results, was at the same time profoundly national – in the sense that it rallied round itself the majority of the nation and, first and foremost, all of its creative classes. For a century and a quarter this revolution established the bond of common remembrances and traditions between a considerable section of the French working class and the left elements of bourgeois democracy. Jaurés [5] was the greatest and last representative of this conservative ideological bond. Under these conditions France’s political atmosphere couldn’t fail to infect broad layers of the French proletariat, especially the semi-handicraftsmen with petty-bourgeois illusions. Conversely, it was precisely the rich revolutionary past that gave the French proletariat an inclination to settle scores with the bourgeoisie on the barricades. The character of the class struggle, lacking clarity in theory, but extremely tense in practice, kept the French bourgeoisie constantly on guard and compelled it to go over early to the export of finance capital. While on the one hand seducing the popular masses, including the workers, by a dramatic display of anti-dynastic, anti-clerical, republican, radical and other tendencies, the French bourgeoisie, on the other hand, availed itself of the advantages accruing from its primogeniture and from its position of world usurer in order to check the growth of new and revolutionizing forms of industrialism within France herself. An analysis of the economic and political conditions of French evolution, and furthermore not only on a national but an international scale, can alone provide an explanation of why the French proletariat, split up after the heroic eruption of the Paris Commune into groups and sects, anarchist on the one wing, and “possibilist” [6] on the other, proved incapable of engaging in open revolutionary class action, of struggling directly for state power.

For Germany the period of vigorous capitalist flowering began after the victorious wars [7] of 1864-1866-1871. The soil of national uriity, drenched by the golden flood of French billions, became the bed of a glittering reign of boundless speculation, but also that of an unprecedented technical development. In contrast to the French proletariat, the working class of Germany grew at an extraordinary rate and expended most of its energies on gathering, fusing, organizing its own ranks. In its irresistible upsurge the working class of Germany got great satisfaction from adding up its automatically growing forces in the reports of parliamentary elections or in the statements of trade union treasuries. The victorious competition of Germany on the world market created conditions equally favorable for the growth of the trade unions as well as for the unquestionable improvement in the living standard of a section of the working class. In these circumstances the German Social Democracy became a living – and later on ever more moribund – incarnation of organizational fetishism. With its roots deeply intertwined in the national state and national industry, and in the process of adaptation to the entire complexity and entanglement of German social-political relations, which are a combination of modern capitalism and medieval barbarism, the German Social Democracy along with the trade unions under its leadership became in the end the most counterrevolutionary force in the political evolution of Europe. The danger of such a degeneration of the German Social Democracy had long ago been pointed out by Marxists, although we must admit that no one had foreseen how catastrophic would be the character of this process in the end. Only by throwing the dead weight of the old party off its back has the advanced German proletariat now been able to enter the road of open struggle for political power.

As regards the development of Austria-Hungary, it is impossible from the viewpoint of interest to us to say anything which would not likewise apply in a clearer form to the development of Russia. The belated development of Russian capitalism immediately imparted to it an extremely concentrated character. When in the ’forties of the last century Knopf [8] established English textile factories in the central Moscow area, and when the Belgians, the French and the Americans transplanted to the virginal Ukrainian and Novorussian steppes the huge metallurgical enterprises constructed in accordance with the latest word in European and American technology, they did not consult textbooks to learn whether they should wait until Russian handicraft developed into manufacture, while manufacture in its turn brought us to the large-scale factory. On this soil, i.e., on the soil of poorly digested economic textbooks, there once arose the famous but essentially puerile controversy [9] over whether Russian capitalism was “natural” or “artificial” in character. If one were to vulgarize Marx and look upon English capitalism not as the historical starting-moment of capitalist development but rather as the all-imperative stereotype, then Russian capitalism would appear as an artificial formation, implanted from without. But if we analyze capitalism in the spirit of Marx’s genuine teachings, that is, as an economic process which first evolved a typical national form and which then outgrew this national framework and evolved world ties; and which in order to bring the backward countries under its sway sees no need of returning to the tools and usages of its infant days, but employs instead the last word in technology, the last word in capitalist exploitation and political blackmail – if we analyze capitalism in this spirit, then the development of Russian capitalism with all its peculiarities will appear wholly “natural,” as an indispensable, component part of the world capitalist process.

This applies not alone to Russia. The railways which have cut across Australia were not the “natural” outgrowth of the living conditions either of the Australian aborigines or of the first generations of malefactors who were, beginning with the epoch of the French revolution, shipped off to Australia by the magnanimous English metropolises. The capitalist development of Australia is natural only from the standpoint of the historical process taken on a world scale. On a different scale, on a national, provincial scale it is, generally speaking, impossible to analyze a single one of the major social manifestations of our epoch.

Just because the Russian large-scale industry violated the “natural” order of succession of national economic development, by taking a gigantic economic leap over transitional epochs, it thereby prepared not only the possibility but the inevitability of the proletarian leap over the epoch of bourgeois democracy.

The ideologist of democracy, Jaurès, pictured democracy as the nation’s supreme tribunal ’ rising above the warring classes. However, inasmuch as the warring classes – the capitalist bourgeoisie and the proletariat – not only constitute the formal poles within the nation but are also its chief and decisive elements, what remain as the supreme tribunal, or more correctly the court of arbitration, are only the intermediate elements – the petty bourgeoisie, crowned with the democratic intelligentsia. In France, with her centuries-long history of handicrafts and of handicraft urban culture, with her struggles of city communes and, later, her revolutionary battles of bourgeois democracy, and, finally, with her conservatism of a petty-bourgeois variety, democratic ideology has until recently still rested on a certain historical soil. An ardent defender of the interests of the proletariat, and profoundly devoted to socialism, Jaurès, as the tribune of a democratic nation, came out against imperialism. Imperialism, however, has demonstrated quite convincingly that it is mightier than “the democratic nation” whose political will imperialism is so easily able to falsify by means of the parliamentary mechanism. In July 1914, the imperialist oligarchy, on its way to war, strode over the tribune’s corpse; while in March 1919, through the “supreme tribunal” of the democratic nation, it officially exonerated the murderer of Jaurés, thereby dealing a mortal blow to the last remaining democratic illusions of the French working class ...

In Russia these illusions from the outset did not have any kind of support beneath them. With the ponderous sluggishness of its meager development our country didn’t have time to create an urban handicraft culture. The citizenry of a provincial town like Okurov [10] is equipped for pogroms which once so greatly alarmed Gorki; but it is, without a doubt, unequipped for an independent democratic role. Just because England’s development had occurred “according to Marx,” the development of Russia according to this same Marx had to proceed in an entirely different way. Nurtured under the high pressure of foreign finance capital and aided by foreign technology, Russian capitalism in the course of a few decades gave form to a million-headed working class, which cut like a sharp wedge into the milieu of All-Russian political barbarism. Without the massive traditions of the past behind it, the Russian workers, in contrast to the Western European proletariat, took on not only traits of cultural backwardness and ignorance – which the semi-literate, indigenous, urban citizens never wearied of pointing out – but also traits of mobility, initiative, and receptivity to the most extreme conclusions deriving from their class position. If Russia’s economic backwardness conditioned the spasmodic, “catastrophic” development of capitalism, which immediately acquired the most concentrated character in Europe, then the same universal backwardness of the country under the spasmodic, “catastrophic” development of the Russian proletariat permitted the latter to become – of course only for a segment of a certain historical period – the most irreconcilable, the most self-sacrificing bearer of the idea of social revolution in Europe and throughout the world.


Capitalist production in its “natural” evolution is constantly expanding reproduction. Technology keeps rising, the amount of material boom keeps growing, the mass of the population becomes proletarianized. Expanded capitalist production deepens capitalist contradictions. The proletariat grows numerically, constitutes an everlarger proportion of the country’s population, becomes organized and educated, and thus forms an ever-growing power. But this does not at all mean to say that its class enemy – the bourgeoisie – remains at a standstill. On the contrary, expanded capitalist production presupposes a simultaneous growth of the economic and political might of the big bourgeoisie. It not only accumulates colossal riches but also concentrates in its hands the state apparatus of administration, which it subordinates to its aims. With an ever-perfected art it accomplishes its aims through ruthless cruelty alternating with democratic opportunism. Imperialist capitalism is able to utilize more proficiently the forms of democracy in proportion as the economic dependence of petty-bourgeois layers of the population upon big capital becomes more cruel and insurmountable. From this economic dependence the bourgeoisie is able, by means of universal suffrage, to derive – political dependence.

A mechanical conception of the social revolution reduces the historical process to an uninterrupted numerical growth and a steadily mounting organizational strength of the proletariat until, comprising “the overwhelming majority of the population,” the proletariat without a battle, or virtually without a fight, takes into its own hands the machinery of bourgeois economy and the state, like a fruit ripe for plucking. In reality, however, the growth of the proletariat’s productive role parallels the growth of the bourgeoisie’s might. As the proletariat becomes organizationally fused and politically educated the bourgeoisie is in its turn impelled to perfect its apparatus of rule and to arouse against the proletariat ever-newer layers of the population, including the so-called new third estate, i.e., the professional intellectuals who play a most prominent role in the mechanics of capitalist economy. Both enemies gain in strength simultaneously.

The more powerful a country is capitalistically – all other conditions being equal – the greater is the inertia of “peaceful” class relations; all the more powerful must be the impulse necessary to drive both of the hostile classes – the proletariat and the bourgeoisie – out of the state of relative equilibrium and to transform the class struggle into open civil war. Once it has flared, the civil war – all other conditions being equal – will be the more bitter ahd stubborn, the higher the country’s attained level of capitalist development; the stronger and more organized both of the enemies are; the greater the amount of material and ideological resources at the disposal of both.

The conceptions of proletarian revolution which prevailed in the Second International did not in reality transgress the framework of self-sufficient national capitalism. England, Germany, France, Russia were regarded as independent worlds moving in one and the same orbit towards socialism, and located along the different stages of this path. The hour of the coming of socialism strikes when capitalism attains its utmost limits of maturity and thereby the bourgeoisie is compelled to surrender its place to the proletariat, as the builder of socialism. This nationally-limited conception of capitalist development provides the theoretical and psychological grounds of social-patriotism: “Socialists” of each country deem themselves dutybound to defend the national state as the natural and self-sufficient foundation of socialist development.

But this conception is false to the core and profoundly reactionary. By becoming worldwide, capitalist development thereby snapped those threads which in the past epoch bound the fate of the social revolution with the fate of one or another more highly developed capitalist country. The closer capitalism knit together the countries of the whole world into a single complex organism, all the more inexorably did social revolution, not only in the sense of its common destiny but also in the sense of its place and time of origin, fall into dependence upon the development of imperialism as a world factor, and primarily in dependence upon those military conflicts which imperialism must inevitably provoke and which, in their turn, must shake the equilibrium of the capitalist system to its roots.

The great imperialist war is that frightful instrument by means of which history has disrupted the “organic,” “evolutionary,” “peaceful” character of capitalist development. Growing out of capitalist development as a whole, and at the same time appearing before the national consciousness of each individual capitalist country as an external factor, imperialism acts as if to discount the difference in levels attained by the development of the respective capitalist countries. At one and the same time, they were all drawn into the imperialist war [1*] their productive foundations, their class relations were shaken simultaneously. Given this condition the first countries to be driven out of the state of unstable capitalist equilibrium were those whose internal social energy was weakest, i.e., precisely those countries youngest in terms of capitalist development.

Here an analogy virtually imposes itself – the analogy between the inception of imperialist war and the inception of civil war. Two years before the great world slaughter, the Balkan war erupted. Basically, the selfsame forces and tendencies operated in the Balkans as throughout the rest of Europe. These forces were inexorably leading capitalist mankind to a bloody catastrophe. But in the great imperialist countries there likewise operated a mighty inertia of resistance both in domestic as well as foreign relations. Imperialism found it easier to push the Balkans into war precisely because on this peninsula there are smaller weaker states, with a much lower level of capitalist and cultural development – and consequently with less of the inertia of “peaceful” development.

The Balkan war – which arose as a consequence of subterranean earthquakes, not of Balkan but of European imperialism, as the direct forerunner of the world conflict – attained, however, an independent significance for a certain period. Its course and its immediate outcome were conditioned by the resources and forces available on the Balkan peninsula. Hence the comparatively brief duration of the Balkan war. A few months sufficed to measure the national capitalist forces on the poverty-stricken peninsula. With an earlier start the Balkan war found an easier solution. The World War started later precisely because each of the belligerents kept glancing fearfully down into the abyss toward which it was being dragged by unbridled class interests. Germany’s extraordinarily augmented power, counterposed to the ancient power of Great Britain, constituted, as is well known, the historical mainspring of the war but this same power long kept the enemies from an open break. When the war did break out, however, the power of both camps conditioned the prolonged and bitter character of the conflict.

The imperialist war, in its turn, pushed the proletariat along the path of civil war. And here we observe an analogous order: Countries with a younger capitalist culture are the first to enter the path of civil war inasmuch as the unstable equilibrium of class forces is most easily disrupted precisely in these countries.

Such are the general reasons for a phenomenon which seems inexplicable at first sight, namely, that in contradistinction to the direction of capitalist development from West to East, the proletarian revolution unfolds from East to West. But since we are dealing with a most complex process, it is quite in the nature of things that upon these indicated basic causes there arise countless secondary causes, some of which tend to reinforce and aggravate the action of the chief factors while others tend to weaken this action.

In the development of Russian capitalism the leading role was played by European finance and industrial capital, particularly and especially that of – France. [11] I have already underscored that the French bourgeoisie in developing its usurious imperialism was guided not only by economic but also by political considerations. Fearful of the growth of the French proletariat in size and power, the French bourgeoisie preferred to export its capital and to reap profits from Russian industrial enterprises; the task of curbing the Russian workers was therewith unloaded on the Russian Czar. In this way the economic might of the French bourgeoisie also rested directly on the labor of the Russian proletariat. This created a certain positive force in favor of the French bourgeoisie in its co-relations with the French proletariat and, conversely, this same fact engendered a certain incremental social force advantageous to the Russian proletariat in its relations with the Russian (but not the world) bourgeoisie. What has just been said applies essentially to all old capitalist countries exporting capital. The social might of the English bourgeoisie rests on the exploitation not only of the English proletariat but also of the colonial toiling masses. Not only does this make the bourgeoisie richer and socially stronger, but this also secures it the possibility of a much wider arena for political maneuvers, both through rather far-reaching concessions to its native proletariat as well as through exerting pressure on it by means of the colonies (import of raw materials and labor forces, transfer of industrial enterprises into the colonies, formation of colonial troops, etc., etc.).

In view of the foregoing reciprocal relations, our October Revolution was an uprising not only against the Russian bourgeoisie but also against English and French capitalism; and this, furthermore, not only in a general historical sense – as the beginning of the European revolution – but in the most direct and immediate sense. In expropriating the capitalists and refusing to pay Czarist state debts, the Russian proletariat thereby dealt the cruelest blow to the social power of the European bourgeoisie. This alone suffices to explain why the counter-revolutionary intervention of the Entente imperialists was inevitable. On the other hand, this same intervention was rendered possible only because the Russian proletariat found itself placed by history in a position which compelled the Russian workers to accomplish their revolution before it could be accomplished by their older and much stronger European brothers. Hence flow those supreme difficulties which the Russian proletariat is compelled to overcome upon taking power.

The Social-Democratic philistines have sought to conclude from this, that there was no need of going out into the streets in October. Unquestionably it would have been far more “economical” for us to have begun our revolution after the English, the French and the German revolutions. But, in the first place, history does not at all offer a free choice in this connection to the revolutionary class and nobody has yet proved that the Russian proletariat is assured a revolution “economical” in character. Second, the very question of revolutionary “economy” of forces has to be reviewed not on a national but on a world scale. Precisely because of the entire preceding development, the task of initiating the revolution, as we have already seen, was not placed on an old proletariat with mighty political and trade union organizations, with massive traditions of parliamentarianism and trade unionism, but upon the young proletariat of a backward country. History took the line of least resistance. The revolutionary epoch burst in through the most weakly barricaded door. Those extraordinary and truly superhuman difficulties which thereupon fell upon the Russian proletariat have prepared, have hastened and have to a certain degree made easier the revolutionary work that lies still ahead for the Western European proletariat.

In our analysis there is not an atom of “messianism.” The revolutionary “primogeniture” of the Russian proletariat is only temporary. The mightier the opportunist conservatism among the summits of the German, French or English proletariat, all the more grandiose will be the power generated for their revolutionary onslaught by the proletariat of these countries, a power which the proletariat is already generating today in Germany. The dictatorship of the Russian working class will be able to finally intrench itself and to develop into a genuine, all-sided socialist construction only from the hour when the European working class frees us from the economic yoke and especially the military yoke of the European bourgeoisie, and, having overthrown the latter, comes to our assistance with its organization and its technology. Concurrently, the leading revolutionary role will pass over to the working class with the greater economic and organizational power. If today the center of the Third International lies in Moscow – and of this we are profoundly convinced – then on the morrow this center will shift westward: to Berlin, to Paris, to London. However joyously the Russian proletariat has greeted the representatives of the world working class within the Kremlin walls, it will with an even greater joy send its representatives to the Second Congress of the Communist International in one of the Western European capitals. For a World Communist Congress in Berlin or Paris would signify the complete triumph of the proletarian revolution in Europe and consequently throughout the world.

First published in Izvestia, Nos.90 and 92, April 29-May 1, 1919.

Trotsky’s Footnote

1*. Here are some theses one might propose for a Kautskyan dissertation:

“Russia intervened prematurely in the imperialist war. She ought to have remained on the sidelines and devoted her energies to developing her productive forces on the basis of national capitalism. This would have provided an opportunity for the social relations to mature for the social revolution. The proletariat might have arrived to power within the framework of democracy.”

And so on and so forth.

At the beginning of the revolution Kautsky served as a Commissioner under Hohenzollern’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. It is too bad that Kautsky did not serve as a Commissioner under the Lord God Jehovah when the latter was pre-determining the paths of capitalist development – L.T.


1. This article was written by Trotsky while en route to the Southern front where Denikin had launched his offensive (May-August 1919). Many of Trotsky’s writings in this period bear the tide En Route. They, together with innumerable other documents, orders to the various armies, etc., were written in the famous train. This train was organized on August 7, 1918 at night, and the next morning it departed for Svyazhsk on the Czechoslovak front. The following information concerning it was compiled by Trotsky’s secretariat during the Civil War: “Already in 1918 the train represented a mobile apparatus of administration. It was equipped with its own printing plant, telegraph, radio, electric power station, library, garage and bath. This train which steeled all wills and brought victory with it would appear in the most critical moments at the key sectors of the various fronts. During Yudenich’s October offensive (1919) the train was sent to Petrograd. Out of its personnel was formed a detachment which manned the armored train named after Lenin, and another detachment which was incorporated in the Red Army in the region of Ligovo. For its participation in these battles the train received the order of the Red Banner. In the course of the Civil War the train fulfilled 36 missions, covering a total distance of 97,629 versts.” (Leon Trotsky, How the Revolution Armed Itself, Vol.II, Book I, p.463.) – Page 74.

2. Dan was one of the outstanding Menshevik leaders. The reference here is to the way in which the Mensheviks evaluated the campaign conducted by the German Social Democracy in 1909-10 against the three-class electoral system of Prussia, one of the remnants of the feudal-Junker rule.

3. Potressov – a prominent Menshevik who was really just a bourgeois liberal. Virtually throughout his Social-Democratic career Potressov was to be found in the Right Wing of Menshevism. At the time Trotsky wrote this article Potressov had left the political arena. He never returned to it.

4. Owing to the turbulent revolutionary ferment in Berlin, it was deemed most expedient to convene the Constituent Assembly, elected at the beginning of 1918, in the provincial city of Weimar in Thuringia.

5. Jaurès – one of the most prominent leaders of the pre-1914 Second International and a great orator. At the outset cf his career he was simply a French radical. He entered the labor movement in 1890, founding the newspaper l’Humanité. After the Dreyfus affair, Jaurès was instrumental in forming a political bloc between the Radicals and the Socialists to support Millerand when the latter entered the bourgeois government. By the middle ’nineties Jaurès began to play a major role in the Second International, supporting on almost all questions the reformist wing. As a sincere opponent of war, Jaurès conducted in the pre-1914 days a bitter campaign against war which resulted in his death. When the fumes of war filled the air in July 1914, Jaurès was assassinated by a French nationalist.

6. “Possibilists” – French opportunists of 1882-90 who tried to combine Proudhonism and Marxism, and who held that the tactics of the Social Democracy should be confined within the framework of what is “possible” in capitalist society. Hence the name – possibilists. The leader of this tendency was Brousse.

7. The wars of 1864, 1866, and 1871 were waged by Prussia against the main enemies of the unification of the German empire who were Denmark, Austria and France respectively. These brilliant diplomatic and military campaigns were conducted by Bismarck, the leader of Prussian Junkerdom, who had the active support of the industrial bourgeoisie. The seizure of industrial regions (Alsace-Lorraine, Silesia), the extortion of war indemnities and the creation of the national state gave a mighty impetus to the tempestuous industrialization of Germany.

8. Knopf was the head of a large English textile firm who built in Russia a number of textile factories whose technical equipment was far superior to the then existing Russian factories.

9. The reference here is to the controversy between the Populists (Narodniks) and the Marxists in Russia in 1880-90. The former maintained that capitalism in Russia came not as a result of the country’s economic development but as an alien and artificial hybrid doomed to perish swiftly. So far as the internal conditions for capitalist development were concerned, the Russian Populists denied their existence, especially the domestic market. “For the development of capitalism in Russia there are none such.” The violent tempo of industrial development during the ’nineties dealt a death blow to the Narodnik theory.

10. The Little Town of Okurov is the title of a story by Gorki in which he describes a god-forsaken provincial town and its dull-witted citizenry, mired in the morass of day-to-day existence. The types depicted here by Gorki are all extremely negative, even revolting.

11. In the sphere of industry French capital was invested primarily in Donbas coal and in heavy metallurgy. French finance capital was exported to Russia chiefly in the form of loans to the Czarist government.

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