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The Militant, 17 March 1945

Pioneer Paragraphs

Leon Trotsky

What Defense of the USSR
Signifies for Trotskyists


From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 11, 17 March 1945, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Unconditional defense of the USSR signifies, namely, that our policy is not determined by the deeds, maneuvers or crimes of the Kremlin bureaucracy but only by our conception of the interests of the Soviet state and world revolution ...

How and why could the interests of maintaining the nationalized property be in “conflict” with the interests of the world revolution? Tacitly you infer that the Kremlin’s (not our) policy of defense can come into conflict with the interests of the world revolution. Of course! At every step! In every respect! However our policy of defense is not conditioned by the Kremlin’s policy. This is the first misunderstanding. But, you ask, if there is not a conflict why the necessity of subordination? Here is the second misunderstanding. We must subordinate the defense of the USSR to the world revolution insofar as we subordinate a part to a whole.

In 1918 in the polemics with Bukharin, who insisted upon a revolutionary war against Germany, Lenin answered approximately:

“If there should be a revolution in Germany now, then it would be our duty to go to war even at the risk of losing. Germany’s revolution is more important than ours and we should if necessary sacrifice the Soviet power in Russia (for a while) in order to help establish it in Germany.”

A strike in Chicago at this time could be unreasonable in and of itself, but if it is a matter of helping a general strike on the national scale, the Chicago workers should subordinate their interests to the interests of their class and call a strike. If the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics is involved in the war on the side of Germany, the German revolution could certainly menace the immediate interests of the defense of the USSR. Would we advise the German workers not to act? The Comintern would surely give them such advice, but not we. We will say: “We must subordinate the interests of the defense of the Soviet Union to the interests of the world revolution.”

(From In Defense of Marxism, by Leon Trotsky, Pioneer Publishers, 1942; 240 pp., cloth $2. paper $1.50. Order from Pioneer Publishers, 116 University Place, N.Y. 3, N.Y.)

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