"Lessons Of October" (Trotsky): discussion points

Submitted by martin on 8 April, 2010 - 11:01

Discussion points on Lessons Of October

1. "An unalterable law that a party crisis is inevitable in the transition from preparatory revolutionary activity to the immediate struggle for power". Why?

2. "On April 4, the day after his arrival at Petrograd, Lenin came out decisively against the position of Pravda on the question of war and peace. He wrote: 'No support for the Provisional Government; the utter falsity of all its promises should be made clear, particularly of those relating to the renunciation of annexations. Exposure in place of the impermissible, illusion breeding ‘demand’ that this government, a government of capitalists, should cease to be an imperialist government'." Why not demand that a government cease to be imperialist? Isn't that what you do when you demand it releases its colonies?

3. Lenin opposed support for the Provisional Government, but also opposed (until near October) calls for its overthrow. Why isn't that contradictory?

4. Then at the time of the Kornilov revolt, the Bolsheviks bloc with Kerensky against Kornilov, but Lenin writes: "Even now we must not support Kerensky’s government. This is unprincipled. We may be asked: aren’t we going to fight against Kornilov? Of course we must! But this is not the same thing; there is a dividing line here..." What is the dividing line?

5. Any revolutionary plans must soberly estimate the strength of the established government. Trotsky argues that paradox is likely here. "So long as the slogan of insurrection was approached by the leaders of the German Communist Party mainly, if not solely, from an agitational standpoint, they simply ignored the question of the armed forces at the disposal of the enemy (Reichswehr, fascist detachments, police, etc.). It seemed to them that the constantly rising revolutionary flood tide would automatically solve the military question. But when the task stared them in the face, the very same comrades who had previously treated the armed forces of the enemy as if they were nonexistent, went immediately to the other extreme..." Why?

6. "During August and September 1923, several comrades advanced the proposal that we should proceed to the immediate creation of soviets in Germany. After a long and heated discussion this proposal was rejected, and rightly so". Why?

7. "Without a party, apart from a party, over the head of a party, or with a substitute for a party, the proletarian revolution cannot conquer. That is the principal lesson of the past decade..." But the bourgeois revolution can triumph without a pre-organised party. Why?