The conclusion is obvious: 'The movement had begun from below irrespective of the Bolsheviks - to a certain extent against their will. Trotsky, moreover, declared in a speech at about that time: 'They accuse us of creating the mood of the masses; that is wrong, we only try to formulate it. Volume II, 7A. Still, it might be argued that though the Party was sleeping in February, and though it lagged behind the masses in July, it nevertheless has the October Revolution to its credit. Nothing could be further from the truth. From April to October, Lenin had to fight a constant battle to keep the Party leadership in tune with the masses: 'Even the victory of the insurrection in Petrograd was far from breaking everywhere the inertia of the waiting policy and the direct resistance of the right wing.
In Kiev, the committee, headed by Piatakov, which had been conducting a purely defensive policy, turned over the initiative in the long run - and also the power - to the Rada In a whole series of provincial cities, the Bolsheviks formed in October a bloc with the Compromisers "against the counter-revolution" In spite of the vast work that has been done in recent years towards concealing these facts Volume III, f. Early in October, Lenin could only impose his view by going over the head of his Central Committee: 'His letter to the Central Committee he not only sent to the Petrograd and Moscow Committees, but he also saw to it that copies fell into the hands of the more reliable Party workers of the district locals.
Volume III, And again: 'Lenin appealed to a Petrograd party conference to speak a firm word in favour of insurrection. Upon his initiative, the conference insistently requested the Central Committee to take all measures for the leadership of the inevitable insurrection of the workers, soldiers and peasants. Thus Lenin, aware that the glorious vanguard was again lagging behind the masses, tried desperately to preserve its prophetic role and, in so doing, had to break the very rules of democratic centralism he himself had formulated.
In short, the success of the revolution called for action against the 'highest circles of the party', who, from February to October, utterly failed to play the revolutionary role they ought to have taken in theory. The masses themselves made the revolution, with or even against the party - this much at least was clear to Trotsky the historian. But far from drawing the correct conclusion, Trotsky the theorist continued to argue that the masses are incapable of making a revolution without a leader.
To begin with he admits that 'Tugan-Baranovsky is right when he says that the February revolution was accomplished by workers and peasants - the latter in the person of the soldiers. It was solved most simply by the universal formula: nobody led the revolution, it happened of itself. Trotsky not only put the question very well but also gave a clear answer: the Revolution was the spontaneous expression of the will of the masses - not just in theory but in actual practice. Hence he quoted with approval Zavadsky's dictum that, spontaneous conception is still more out of place in sociology than in natural science.
Owing to the fact that none of the revolutionary leaders with a name was able to hang his label on the movement, it becomes not impersonal but merely nameless. We wish to say no more. Anonymity is precisely what characterizes a spontaneous movement, i.
Thus, after recalling that the 'Union of Officers of February 27', formed just after the revolution, tried to determine with a questionnaire who first led out the Volynsky Regiment, Trotsky explains: 'They received seven answers naming seven initiators of this decisive action. It is very likely, we may add, that a part of the initiative really did belong to several soldiers.
Why then will he not admit that the soldiers took more than 'part' of the initiative? Because Trotsky prefers another explanation: 'It is not impossible that the chief initiator fell in the street fighting carrying his name with him into oblivion. Another example quoted by Trotsky highlights the absurdity of this line of argument: 'On Friday, 24 February, nobody in the upper circles as yet expected a revolution Its conductor told everybody to get off: "The car isn't going any further" It was just such conductors who stopped the car of the monarchy and with practically the same words - This car does not go any further!
The conductor on the Liteiny boulevard was a conscious factor of history. It had been necessary to educate him in advance. Volume I, f. And a few lines further down he repeats the same refrain: 'Those nameless, austere statesmen of the factory and street did not fall out of the sky: they had to be educated. The Party as such played no role in these decisive days, but those who were the real actors, 'the conscious instruments of history', had needs to be educated, and by whom if not by the Party?
In short, the past actions of the Party justify its present inactivity. There are but two alternatives for Trotsky: either people have fallen out of the sky or else they must have been educated by the Party. The first hypothesis being absurd, the second is the only possible answer. But as the Jewish father said to his son: 'My boy, whenever there are two alternatives, choose the third. But Trotsky is not aware of this fact, and his History is so valuable precisely because he is honest, or stupid, enough to list the facts that contradict his every conclusion.
Forgetting what he has written on page , he notes that 'one of the factories carried this placard: "The Right to Life is Higher than the Rights of Private Property'. This slogan had not been suggested by the party. No one would wish to challenge his claim that 'the thought of the worker has become more scientific It should be added that other trends - anarcho-syndicalist, anarchist, social revolutionary - made their contribution too.
And as Trotsky himself admits when discussing working class thought, its development was chiefly due to 'the living experience of the masses'. But as soon as he himself turned Bolshevik theorist, he had perforce to dismiss the whole idea of workers' spontaneity. Thus while he says in Volume II, page 72, that the masses were complaining that 'even the Bolsheviks are dawdling and holding us back,' he goes on to say on page 'What they the German Spartacists lacked was a Bolshevik party.
The absurdity of his hypotheses - all due to the fact that he cannot admit the idea of a spontaneous revolution - becomes even clearer in the following passage: A careful study of the materials characterising the Party life during the war and the beginning of the revolution The cause of this backsliding is twofold: isolation from the masses and isolation from those abroad, that is primarily from Lenin. Thus while he had stressed the importance of soviets in , in January , when he gave a lecture to Swiss workers, he merely mentioned the soviets in passing. This did not prevent him, a few months later, to the dismay of the majority of the Party, from once again adopting the anarchist slogan: All power to the soviets!
Hence Trotsky's claim that 'the March leadership of Kamenev and Stalin lagged behind the gigantic historic tasks. However, Trotsky was quick to refute this line of reasoning when it was dished up to explain the failure of the White Guards. Thus he had this to say about the abortive Kornilov putsch: 'The sums of money set aside for organisation were, according to Vinberg, appropriated by the principal participants and squandered on dinner parties One of the secret contributors, who was to deliver to some officers a considerable sum of money, upon arrival at the designated place found the conspirators in such a state of inebriation that he could not deliver the goods.
Vinberg himself thinks that if it had not been for these truly vexatious "accidents", the plan might have been crowned with complete success. Is it not because every historic task mobilises the cadres that are adequate to it? Volume II, f. Now if every historical task indeed mobilizes the necessary cadres, it will do this for the revolution no less than for the counter-revolution. Hence Trotsky should not really blame the Bolshevik leaders for the failure of the Party to rise to its 'historic task'.
The reason Stalin and Kamenev found themselves at the head of the Party was because they were elected by the whole of that Party, and it is therefore the Party as such that is to blame and not X or Y. Again, if the presence or absence of Lenin explains the success or failure of the Party, the Party reduces to Lenin and becomes superfluous.
In the second case it is not the masses who cannot 'rise' to its historic task but the Party. This rupture between the Party and the masses is due to the Party's very nature: a small, closed group of professional revolutionaries, sure of being the repository of truth and incapable of adapting themselves to any independent initiative of the masses.
The soviets sprang up quite spontaneously in and did not figure in any party programme.
It was only in retrospect that they were analysed by various writers of the Left. Some of these - particularly the anarchists, the extreme left Social Revolutionaries and minority groups within the Social Democratic Party, were frankly in favour of the soviets - and so, in - was Leon Trotsky. Anton Pannekoek was another and his movement for workers' control was attacked by Lenin in 'Left-wing' Communism: An Infantile Disorder. Those in St Petersburg were convinced that 'only a party based on class conceptions can direct the political movement of the proletariat and preserve the purity of its intentions, whereas the workers' councils are so many heterogeneous and indecisive bodies'.
The workers' council may exist as a trade union or not at all. That the workers' councils 'impeded' this sort of development is a truism - they challenged the wisdom of the Party leaders in practice and not simply in theory.
This was more than our professional revolutionaries were prepared to swallow. In dealing with workers' organisations, the Bolsheviks had but one major concern: to strengthen their own organisation. Since the Party was the sole guardian of the proletariat and the revolution, any attempt by the workers to make a revolution without the Party must clearly be wrong or indeed impossible, as Trotsky argues in his History of the Russian Revolution.
When the workers disavow the Party in practice, the Party simply disavows the practice of the workers. As for the Socialist doctrine, it was constructed out of philosophical, historical and economic theories elaborated by educated members of the ruling class, by intellectuals. Thus Marx and Engels, the founders of modern scientific socialism, were bourgeois intellectuals. Now this claim that class political consciousness can only reach the working class from the outside, has been refuted in practice, and ought to cease being part of any socialist's stock of ideas.
The history of French trade unionism before in itself is sufficient proof that the workers can transcend what Lenin calls their 'trade union consciousness'. The Charter of Amiens adopted in makes this quite explicit: 'The CGT is affiliated to no political party, but is a union of class-conscious workers fighting for the abolition of wage-slaves and employers.
But this is only one aspect of our work. The trade unions also pave the way for the complete emancipation of the working class, which cannot be achieved except by expropriation of the capitalists.
To that end, they will call general strikes, so that those resisting capitalism on the wages front today may tomorrow take charge of production and distribution and so usher in a completely new era This text shows clearly that the working class can rise a great deal beyond the 'trade union consciousness', and precisely in a country where the influence of the Social Democrats was extremely tenuous. The fact that 'scientific socialism' was the creation of bourgeois intellectuals is undeniable, and, indeed, it bears the unmistakable marks of this: it is alien to the proletariat and perhaps it ought not to be quite so proud of this alienation as it obviously is.
However, in fairness to Trotsky, it must be said that, in , when Lenin wrote What is to be done? It is to be hoped that Trotsky's critique may one day be published in full, for it, better than anything else, would provide us with a critique of modern Trotskyism. Lenin's views were also challenged by Rosa Luxemburg, representing the far-left wing of- the German Social Democratic Movement. While she shared Lenin's disgust with the reformist and parliamentary German Social Democratic Party she also attacked his own centralism and his ideas of discipline.
In his 'One step forward and two steps back', Lenin glorified the educational effect of factory life which 'accustoms the proletariat to discipline and organisation'. What can the well-ordered docility of the former have in common with the aspirations of a class struggling for its total emancipation?
In fact, it was Lenin's own consciousness which failed to transcend the organisational level of the bourgeoisie. Socialism has made immense progress. However, in this, the initiative and conscious direction of the Social Democratic organisation played no more than an insignificant part. On the contrary, it is more than likely that such an apparatus would simply have increased the confusion of the local committees, stressing the gulf between the impetuous masses and the cautious attitude of the Social Democratic Party.
In fact, far from dismantling the fence, the Party eventually put the entire Russian proletariat behind it. Rosa Luxemburg's conclusions are no less relevant today than they were at the time they were written: 'Finally we saw the birth of a far more legitimate offspring of the historical process: the Russian workers' movement, which, for the first time, gave expression to the real will of the popular masses.