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The Militant, 17 August 1946

Larissa Reed

44 Years in the Struggle to Free
Humanity from Capitalist Slavery

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 33, 17 August 1946, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Leon Trotsky, a great revolutionary Marxist, was born on a Ukranikn farm in 1879. For 44 years out of his life span of 61, he fought with ideas and deeds to free the working men and women of the world from capitalist slavery. In many books and pamphlets, and through his great gift as an orator, Trotsky taught the workers first of all how to think out and understand their problems. Then, each time through his own heroic example, he showed them how to carry out these ideas in action.

His ideas, as well as his capacity for action, represented a constant menace to all enemies of the working peoples. Because this rare combination of revolutionary thinker and doer was personified by Trotsky, he was one of the most hated and persecuted men in all history.

Trotsky was hounded by the Czar from the time he was a youngster of 17, when he began his revolutionary career in the workers’ circles of Nikolayev. In 1898 he was exiled to Siberia by the Czar. But soon after Trotsky escaped and went to London, where he met Lenin for the first time and became his collaborator. Trotsky was elected a delegate from the Siberian League to the Second Congress of the Russian party.

Exile and Emigre

During the 1905 revolution, Trotsky was elected Chairman of the First Petersburg Soviet of Workers’ Deputies. After the 1905 revolution was defeated he was arrested, together with the Soviet’s Executive Committee, and exiled for life to Obdorsk by the Czar. But again Trotsky succeeded in escaping. For the next ten years Trotsky lived as a emigre in France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. In Vienna he issued a popular labor newspaper, Pravda, which was circulated in Russia. Throughout the years of his exile, he never ceased writing, teaching, explaining and fighting for revolutionary socialism.

When the First World War broke out, Trotsky was among the first to explain its character and condemn it as an imperialist war. He adhered to his internationalist position, teaching the workers that their main enemy was their capitalist rulers at home. At that time, Trotsky, like Lenin, predicted that without a revolutionary victory of the working masses of the world,, new and more terrible wars would follow. Lenin’s and Trotsky’s predictions were borne out to the hilt when World War II followed in a generation.

For his revolutionary anti-war activities, Trotsky was. expelled from France and deported to Spain, then to the United States. After the 1917 February revolution broke out, Trotsky returned to Russia, where he from the first stood side by side with Lenin and the Bolshevik Party. After the July days he was arrested by the Kerensky government, but was freed through the mass pressure of the Petersburg workers. Thereafter he was elected Chairman of the Petersburg Soviet. In this capacity he organized and led the Petersburg insurrection of the Russian workers and soldiers which founded the first victorious workers’ state in history.

Commissar of War

Thereafter, as Commissar of War, Trotsky organized the Red Army to defend the life of the young Soviet Union. For four years he led the Red Army against the armies of 21 capitalist nations, sent to destroy the Revolution, and defeated them in battle.

By this time Trotsky was about 44 years of age, with a record of 27 years’ unbroken struggle behind him. But the most terrible, and most heroic years were still ahead of him. He watched with alarm the gradual rise of a bureaucracy within the Soviet Union, led by Stalin. He sounded a warning call that Stalin’s revisionist policy would inevitably lead to betrayal of the world working class. He predicted that this in turn would undermine the Soviet Union.

In 1923, while Lenin was on his death bed, Trotsky formed the Left Opposition within the Communist Party to fight against the abandonment of the internationalist program. When, under Stalin’s false policies, disasters followed in England in 1926, in China in 1925–27, Trotsky’s predictions were borne out in real life. In 1927, Stalin, determined to silence his Marxist opponent, expelled Trotsky from the Communist Party. Stalin suppressed Trotsky’s brilliant Criticism of the Draft Program of the Comintern, prepared by him for the Sixth Congress of the Comintern in 1928. In 1929 Trotsky was deported to Turkey.

From then on, Trotsky was hounded from one country to another; France in 1933, Norway in 1935, and finally he was granted refuge in Mexico in 1937. All this time Trotsky never ceased writing and speaking and building anew a Bolshevik party. When in 1933 Hitler came to power, aided by Stalin’s criminal policies, Trotsky declared the Third International was dead. History had proved it. He proclaimed the need for a Fourth International.

The Fourth International was founded in September 1938, with Trotsky as its guide and leader. Stalin’s persecutions against Trotsky mounted through the years. Trotsky’s children were murdered, one by one. A number of his secretaries were murdered. Inside the Soviet Union, Lenin and Trotsky’s co-workers were murdered in the frightful purges of 1936–38. Finally, on August 20, 1940, Trotsky himself was assassinated by Stalin’s hired killer in Mexico City.

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