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John G. Wright

Trotsky’s New Book Reveals Stalin
as a Traitor to Bolshevism

(8 June 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 23, 8 June 1946, p. 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

(This is fourth in a series of articles in connection with the publication of Leon Trotsky’s biography of Stalin.) [1]

In writing this book it was Trotsky’s intention from the very outset to place the stress on the early or “preparatory period” of Stalin’s life. As the author explains in his introduction, the facts of Stalin’s more recent political activities “are known to every literate person.” For this reason, despite the fact that the latter portion remained uncompleted, the essential part of the biography as Trotsky conceived it is nevertheless available to the reader.

At every phase Trotsky analyzes the powerful forces that shaped Stalin’s personality preparing the future dictator. First, he describes Stalin’s childhood and adolescence; then his school years and stay at the theological seminary. Next, Stalin’s entry into the revolutionary movement, his role in the upsurge of the first revolution (1905) and the ensuing period of reaction (1907–12).

Trotsky outlines the resurgence of the Russian mass movement (1912–14) which was cut across by the First World War and the temporary ascendancy of reaction that swept Stalin, together with hundreds of others of his generation, into Czarist Siberian exile, from which the February 1917 revolution was to set them all free. All this and much more Trotsky succeeded in fully completing.

Treasure of Information

Thus despite its restricted scope this book is a veritable treasure trove of information about the three revolutions in Russia (1905, February 1917, October 1917), the ensuing Civil War; about the building of the Red Army and of the creation of a new state power; about the generations that accomplished this mighty labor and the younger generations on whose shoulders Stalin later rode into power.

Trotsky delineates how obscure Stalin’s role really was in the greatest revolutionary events of our era. At the same time, the book gives intimate glimpses of the leading personalities who really comprised the general staff of Bolshevism, headed by Lenin and Trotsky.

Its pages provide a lucid and brilliant exposition of the struggle for socialism, a cause to which the author devoted his entire conscious life. In addition section after section of this book graphically explains how the main instrument of the struggle for socialism was constructed.

Lenin’s Party

This instrument – the proletarian party – which Lenin began building at the close of the nineteenth century and which took definite shape in the first 17 years of the’ twentieth century, was indeed something new. In its day Bolshevism was as epoch-making an invention in the political field as, say, the discovery of atomic energy is in the field of scientific endeavor.

With the growth and development of Lenin’s party, a new type of political thinker and warrior arose for the first time among the ranks of the working class in the cities of the Czarist empire. Young men and women began to call themselves “professional revolutionists.” This means that the liberating struggle of the proletariat became their lifetime “trade” or occupation. Whatever other skills they attained – and these were many and varied – were subordinated to the development and perfection of this primary revolutionary skill or “profession.”

Stalin was one among many in Lenin’s great army of Bolshevism. He remained in its ranks only so long as Lenin remained alive, or in other words, only so long as he – Stalin – remained a subordinate figure. In the party of Lenin, a personality like Stalin’s could not and did not play any other role. Trotsky proves this to the hilt. In the pages of Stalin, Trotsky unfailingly juxtaposes the essence and spirit of Lenin’s party with every stage in the development of an individual who evolved into a polar opposite of a genuine Bolshevik leader and fighter.

Defends Bolshevism

Stalin did not begin as the full-fledged monster that now rules in the Kremlin. He rose to prominence gradually by betraying – step by step – the traditions, principles and program of Lenin’s party, by becoming transformed into its gravedigger. This is likewise proved to the hilt by Trotsky.

The biography is, in consequence, not merely a historical indictment of a modern despot, and of Stalinism, as a system of ideas and practices; it is at the same time a great historical defense and justification of Lenin, the Bolshevik system of ideas and the party of Bolshevism.

This is the basic content of Stalin. This is Trotsky’s basic design.

The capitalist reviewers without exception have reacted hostilely to the book.

In explaining the struggle for socialism and concurrently the character of the most important instrument in this struggle, Trotsky deals heavy blows to all contemporary slaveholders and despots, first and foremost the capitalist rulers of Wall Street and their government in Washington.

They not only hate this book, they fear it. For it conveys the most attractive, powerful and truthful ideas yet attained by mankind. On the granite foundation of these ideas, Lenin built his epoch-making party in Russia. Why can’t the far more advanced American workers follow in millions the path already blazed by their Russian brothers?

The answer is they can and they will – once they find their path to Leninism, which in our day is synonymous with Trotskyism.

Yes, the capitalist rulers and all their apologists have every reason to disparage and attack this book. We, who are the disciples of Lenin and Trotsky, on the contrary, recommend it most highly to every thinking worker, and in particular to the youth of this country who are searching for the revolutionary way out of the bloody blind-alley of imperialism.

* * *

Footnote by ETOL

1. See note in previous issue of The Militant.

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