Leon Trotsky

In Defense of Marxism

A Letter to Chris Andrews [1]

First Published: Extract from Another Thought on Conscription, Fourth International, Vol.1 No.5, October 1940. Reprinted: Leon Trotsky, In Defense of Marxism, New York 1942.
Checked against: Leon Trotsky, In Defence of Marxism, London 1966, p.223.
All footnotes stem from the latter edition.

August 17, 1940

Dear Chris:

I very much enjoyed your appreciation of the anti-pacifist position accepted by the party. There are two great advantages to this position: first, it is revolutionary in its essence and based upon the whole character of our epoch, when all questions will be decided not only by arms of critics, but by critiques of arms; second, it is completely free of sectarianism. We do not oppose to events and to the feelings of the masses an abstract affirmation of our sanctity.

The poor Labor Action of August 12th writes: “In his fight against conscription we are with Lewis 100 per cent.” We are not with Lewis for even a single per cent, because Lewis tries to defend the Capitalist Fatherland with completely outdated means. The great majority of the workers understand or feel that these means (professional voluntary armament) are outdated from a military point of view and extremely dangerous from a class point of view. That is why the workers are for conscription. It is a very confused and contradictory form of adhering to the “arming of the proletariat.” We do not flatly reject this great historical change, as do the sectarians of all kinds. We say “Conscription? Yes. But made by our selves.” It is an excellent point of departure.

With best greetings, I am,
YOUR OLD MAN [Leon Trotsky]


1. This letter was written by Trotsky in English.

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Last updated on: 12.4.2007