L. Trotsky

Hail the Anniversary of the Russian
Bolshevik Revolution!

Fifteen Years

(October 1932)

Written: 13 October 1932.
Source: The Militant, Vol. V No. 46, 12 November 1932, p. 1.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2014. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.

The October revolution is finishing its fifteenth year. This simple figure gives evidence to the entire world of the gigantic force which exists in the proletarian state. No one, not even the most optimistic among us, foresaw such vitality. And that is not surprising; the optimism of such a prediction would have had to fear within it pessimism with regard to the international revolution.

The leaders and the masses saw in the October upheaval only the first stage of the world revolution. The thought of an independent building-up of Socialism in isolated Russia was, in the year 1917, neither defended nor sustained nor clearly formulated by anybody. In the following years, too, the economic construction was conceived by the entire party without exception as the substructure of a material basis under the dictatorship of the proletariat, as the preservation of the economic bond (smytchka) between city and country, and finally as the creation of points of support for the coining Socialist society which could only be built up on an international basis.

The ways of the world revolution have shown themselves to be immeasurably longer and more tortuous than we hoped and expected fifteen years ago. To the external difficulties, of which the historic role of reformism showed itself to be the most important, came the internal ones, above all, the policies of the epigones of Bolshevism, false in their foundation and fatal in their consequences. The bureaucracy of the first Workers’ State does everything decisive – unconsciously, but that is no excuse – to prevent the birth of a second Workers’ State. The knots tied by the bureaucracy must be untied or broken to give a free road to the revolution.

If the delay in the development has gone beyond the framework which we had sketched, still we have accurately estimated the fundamental moving forces and their laws. This also applies completely to the problem of the economic development of the Soviet Union. Modern productive forces will not let themselves be confined within national limits by any resolution or any exorcism. Autarchy is the ideal of Hitler, not of Marx nor of Lenin. Socialism and national separatism are mutually exclusive. Today as well as fifteen years ago, the program of a Socialist society in a single country is utopian and reactionary.

The economic successes of the Soviet Union are very [line of text missing here] traditions and its difficulties have taken on a threatening sharpness. Delays, interruptions and disproportions bear witness in the first instance to a wrong leadership. But that is not all. They recall that building up of a harmonious society is possible only through an uninterrupted experience extending over decades and not otherwise than on an international basis. The technical and cultural obstacles – the break between city and country, the difficulties of import and export trade – all prove that the October demands an international continuation. Internationalism is not a ritual convention but a question of life or death.

There will be no lack of jubilee speeches and articles. The majority of them will come from those who were, in October, the intransigent adversaries of the proletarian insurrection. We Bolshevik-Leninists will be called “counter-revolutionists” by these gentlemen. It is not the first time that history permits itself such jokes and we have nothing against it on that account. Even if it is with confusion and slowly, history does its work.

And we too, we will do ours!

Prinkipo, October 13, 1932


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Last updated on: 8 December 2014