The Struggle for World Socialism

Thousands of people, especially the young, have taken to the streets across the world in opposition to the naked greed by the ruling elite, and growing impoverishment of the mass of people. The chasm between the obscenely rich ruling oligarchs and the majority of workers has been brought into sharp relief in the terrible pandemic.

Many, in all walks of life, are searching for a new way forward. Socialist change is in the air. Could this be the beginnings of the coming socialist revolution?

In this third book on the history of the work of the Socialist Party, Peter Taaffe outlines a Marxist and Trotskyist analysis of developments in the global capitalist system, including the political events that flow from them, from the financial crash of 2007-08 through to 2019.

Numerous examples of successful trade union and political class battles bring to life not only the kind of organisation and audacity that can win against the bosses now, but also help workers hone the kind of methods and organisation that can ultimately bring about fundamental socialist change.

In Defence of Trotskyism

In Defence of Trotskyism book cover

We’re very excited to announce the publications of In Defence of Trotskyism!

Sorry! This book is now sold out!

The cover price is £10, but you will get 20% off for bulk orders, and for reading groups.

Since the financial crisis of 2007-08, many different movements have developed against oppression, austerity, neoliberalism and capitalism – with mixed success. In a complicated situation, Marxists must take stock, analyse what is going on and why, and present a way forwards.

In 2018-19, a dispute broke out over exactly these questions within the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), the world socialist organisation which includes the Socialist Party in England and Wales.

‘In Defence of Trotskyism’ is a new book bringing together many of the key documents produced to defend a working-class, Trotskyist CWI; a process which culminated in the CWI’s re-foundation.

The focus of this debate included the questions of socialism and ‘identity politics’; the role of the trade unions and the working-class movement; the national question; and under what programme and how should Marxists organise internationally and domestically.

Internationalist in form and content, In Defence of Trotskyism collects contributions from across the world, bringing together the collective experience of working-class fighters to weigh on these important questions.

This book is much more than a record of an internal debate. It is a restatement of Marxist principles, and a living example of their application in today’s world. In Defence of Trotskyism will be invaluable to all those fighting for socialism.

Socialism: Utopian and Scientific resources

Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, back from the printers

We are very pleased to announce that Socialism: Utopian and Scientific is out now! To celebrate, we’ve prepared a couple of resources to be able to assist discussion groups in discussing this classic of Marxism.

You can order copies of Socialism: Utopian and Scientific here; if you want a number of copies for your discussion group just use the code ‘bulk’ at checkout to get 20% off.


Socialism, the podcast of the Socialist Party, invited Ben Robinson from Socialist Books onto the podcast this week. We discussed why we’re republishing Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, what the key themes are and it’s importance. Have a listen below, or search for Socialism on your usual podcast app; this is episode 18 of an excellent series, it’s well worth subscribing and listening in every week!

We’ve also prepared a list of questions to try and help discussion at your group. We’ve produced a handy pdf to print off, and will carry the questions in full below. Feel free to use as many or as few as you like, or discuss it on your own terms. These are here to spark discussions and help explore and understand the book.

If you are organising a discussion group, we’d love to hear your feedback! Email through any comments here, tag us in your instagram pics @socialistbookscwi, or share it with us on Facebook or twitter.

Discussion group questions

  • Why does Engels describe the early socialists Saint-Simon, Fourier and Owen as Utopian Socialists? What is their significance?
  • Saint-Simon, Fourier, Owen and Hegel were all contemporaries of the French revolution. Is this a coincidence, and if not why not?
  • What was Hegel’s ground-breaking philosophical contribution to Marxist thought? And why was it incomplete?
  • Why is modern materialism essentially dialectical in Engels words?
  • Engels discusses dialectics in contrast to vulgar, or metaphysical, thought. When discussing similar points, Trotsky draws the comparison between a motion picture and its relation to a still photograph. What point are both Trotsky and Engels illustrating? (Trotsky, ABC of materialist dialectics, 1939)
  • Can historical processes be successfully interpreted in a non-dialectical manner?
  • What is the essential driving force in the development of every class struggle throughout recorded history?
  • How does a commodity differ from the product of labour of an individual in the pre-capitalist era?
  • What does Engels mean when he writes: ‘but the bourgeoisie…could not transform these puny means of production into mighty productive forces without transforming them, at the same time, from the means of production of the individual into social means of production only workable by a collectivity of men’? (Section 3, Page 33)
  • Engels describes production becoming socialised, yet appropriation of surplus value remaining in the possession of the capitalist class. What does he mean by this, and what are the consequences?
  • What are the economic consequences of the ‘compulsory laws of competition’ (Section 3, Page 38) between rival capitalists and how do they manifest themselves? Is it possible for the capitalists in specific industries to neutralise these challenges by forming monopolies?
  • During economic crises ‘the mode of production is in rebellion against the mode of exchange’ according to Engels and Marx. (Section 3, Page 43-44). What does Engels mean by this and how does this clash manifest itself particularly in periods of crisis?
  • Capitalism, by its nature, draws into production and wage-labour increasing layers of society. What impact does this process of proletarianisation have? Why do Marxists argue that the working class has a central role to play in the socialist transformation of society?
  • In section 3, page 47, Engels talks about large parts of the productive forces being owned by the capitalist state and adds it is ‘not the solution of the conflict, but concealed within it are the technical conditions that form the elements of that solution.’ What does he mean?
  • With privatisation being the dominant strategy of capitalists internationally over the last 30 years, has Engels’ analysis been invalidated? Under what conditions can this process of privatisation be reversed?
  • What does Engels mean when he writes (Section 3, Page 50), ‘The first act by virtue of which the state really constitutes itself the representative of the whole of society – the taking possession of the means of production in the name of society – this is, at the same time its last independent act as a state’?
  • In the same paragraph, Engels criticises the idea of a ‘free state’, a formulation included in the 1870s draft programme of the German Social Democracy, which both he and Marx severely chastised. Why is the idea of a free people’s state an incorrect position for Marxists to hold? Does this only apply within a capitalist society? What about after capitalism is overthrown? (See Marx’s ‘Critique of the Gotha Programme’)

Socialist Books presents Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Socialist Books is very pleased to announce that our next upcoming title will be Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, by Friedrich Engels. It will be out on the 11 February 2019, and is available for pre-order here.

Can’t wait that long? Good news, our Kindle edition of Socialism: Utopian and Scientific is available now!

Socialism Utopian and Scientific cover
Socialism Utopian and Scientific cover

Socialism: Utopian and Scientific is an excellent overview of socialist ideas, written by Marx’s long-time co-thinker Engels. It explains how the motor forces of history, above all the class struggle, created the conditions for socialism, and the ideas which underpin it.

Engels looks at the utopian socialist forerunners and the key tenets of scientific socialism. Covering history, economics, philosophy, science and more, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific is an excellent guide to socialist thinking.

This edition contains a new introduction examining the re­emergence of utopian socialist ideas today. Extensive new footnotes will assist the new reader of Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, making it an essential read for those interested in socialism and Marxism.

Engels illustration by Sofia Wiking
Engels illustration by Sofia Wiking

Socialist ideas are best when shared and discussed! This is why we’re offering a 20% reading group discount on orders of four or more.
To take advantage of this, once you’ve placed the items in your basket, use the code ‘BULK’ and the discount will be applied. Get the reading group discount and free postage if you order before 11 February.

Socialist Books are also aiming to produce some notes and questions to encourage discussions – bookmark our website or sign up to our mailing list to be the first to hear about this and all the latest news from Socialist Books!

Xmas sale! Get 20% off before 17 December

This holiday season, give the gift of socialism!

Socialist Books is pleased to announce our christmas sale – get 20% off on any of our paperback titles before 17 December! Just use the code xmas2018 to get the discount at the checkout.

These titles include:

From Militant to the Socialist Party – normally £15, now £12!

From Militant to the Socialist Party product image
From Militant to the Socialist Party

The sequel to the Rise of Militant, From Militant to the Socialist Party covers the period from the Blairite takeover of Labour, through to the outbreak of the economic crisis. This is essential reading for those interested in how marxists organised and fought back during a period proclaimed ‘the end of history’ by capitalists.



Trotsky in 1917 – was £12.50, now £10!

Trotsky in 1917 paperback
Trotsky in 1917 paperback

Trotsky in 1917 is the most complete English-language collection of Leon Trotsky’s writings from the year of the revolution. It begins with Trotsky’s initial reaction to the revolution during his exile in New York, through to becoming head of the Petrograd Soviet and playing a decisive role in the October revolution, ending with the work of establishing and defending the world’s first workers’ state. This is essential reading for any socialist and anyone interested in one of the defining events of the twentieth century.

Lessons of October – was £5, now £4!


Lessons of October product imageLessons of October, by Leon Trotsky, was originally written as the introduction to the Russian-language introduction to Trotsky’s collected works from 1917. In it, Trotsky summarises the key points from the revolution, to further aid the developing communist movement internationally. He especially emphasises both the role of a clear sighted leadership, but also the Bolsheviks thoroughgoing democracy, as essential to achieving victory in October. For these reasons and more, it was slandered by Stalin and his co-thinkers, which indicated the dangerous road Stalinism would later go down.

Updated with new explanatory footnotes, and an introduction commemorating the recent centenary of the revolution, this edition of Lessons of October will shed light on both the events of 1917, and the following aftermath.

If you’d rather ebooks over paperbacks, you can check out our selection of Kindle titles here.

Happy reading, and we’re excited to have big news for you in the new year!

Election offer: Liverpool A City That Dared to Fight 50% off!

Buy it here before 4 May!

There are local elections ongoing across England throughout April and the start of May. A key battleground in these elections is the devastating scale of council cuts, and how they can be fought.

Liverpool A City That Dared to Fight is a record of the heroic struggle waged by socialists in Liverpool council against Thatcher’s austerity. Elected on a fighting stance, and building a united mass movement with the trade unions, Liverpool Council 1983-87 turned back the Prime Minister, winning extra funding and expanding council services.

The example of Liverpool Council still provokes discussion today. Find out how a fightback is possible, the role of socialists and the Militant newspaper, in a central battle of the 1980s. Pick up your copy of the Kindle edition today and get it for only £3.75 – 50% off our normal price.

Why not also check out some of our other great Kindle editions: The Rise of Militant, From Militant to the Socialist Party, Lessons of October and Trotsky in 1917.

Buy it here before 4 May!

Get Trotsky in 1917 and Lessons of October together for £15 – save £2.50!

Buy them both together here

Trotsky in 1917 is Trotsky’s first-hand account of the Russian revolution, collecting together many of his writings throughout the course of that year and translated into English for the first time.
Lessons of October, written in 1924, was originally written as the introduction to Trotsky’s collected works of 1917 – but then developed and published separately not only in Russian but translated and discussed widely throughout the Communist International.
These two titles together illustrate, in his own words, Trotsky’s role in the Russian revolution. They show clearly the central role Trotsky – together with Lenin – played in 1917, and the marxist ideas and programme that led the working class to victory.

Socialist Books has published both titles separately, but we would recommend reading them together – and to that end we’re offering a discount of over 15% if both are bought together here.

Activists with ideas discuss Lessons of October – March 18, London

Lessons of October ebook image
Lessons of October

Judy Beishon, author of the introduction to our edition of Lessons of October, is speaking at an Activists with Ideas event at Goldsmiths University on March 18. Hosted by Socialist Students and London Socialist Party, this event is open to everyone interested in socialist and marxist ideas.You can see full details on the Facebook event page.

If you have not yet got a copy, you can get the Kindle edition here, order a paperback edition here, or pick it up together with our latest release Trotsky in 1917 and save £2.50 when buying both together!

For more information on the Activists with Ideas event, see below:

“Crisis, austerity and environmental devastation. That is the future capitalism offers for billions of working class, young and poor people across the globe. We live in a world where eight men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people in the poorest half of humanity, said Oxfam a year ago. In the year since then, the world’s richest 1% took 82% of all the wealth generated. And for the vast majority of people this system can’t meet people’s basic needs for housing, health care, education and even food and water.

“But we are fighting back and socialism is popular!

“Bernie Sanders becoming the most popular politician in the US, Jeremy Corbyn increasing the Labour Party’s vote in the UK, Syriza (before its betrayal) receiving 36% of a Greek general election vote, the emergence of Podemos across Spain, Jean-Luc Mélenchon receiving seven million votes in France, among others. Across the world we have seen movements develop around politicians standing against austerity..

“But to implement an anti-austerity programme we need ideas to challenge the rotten capitalist system.

“Activist With Ideas is a series of meetings hosted by London Socialist Party and Socialist Students. We will be discussing the Socialist and Marxist ideas needed to provide emerging movements against austerity and capitalism with a programme that can change society.

“Our first meeting is on Leon Trotsky’s Lessons of October

“2017 saw the centenary of the Russian revolution, an important event for those struggling against capitalism everywhere. 1917 is the only example, so far, of workers taking, and holding, power. This publication is ideal reading. It is the first overview of how the revolution was won, written by one of the leading participants.

“Come and hear from Socialist Party Executive Committee member Judy Beishon, author of a new introduction to a new edition of the book produced by Socialist Books.”

Socialist Books in February

Trotsky in 1917 - available now!
Trotsky in 1917 – available now!

At the end of January, Socialist Books launched our latest publication, Trotsky in 1917. We’ve had a very successful launch so far with lots of enthusiastic take up.

Haven’t yet got your copy? Well, the bad news is that you’ve missed out on our pre-order discounts, but the good news is that there are still bargains to be had! You can pick up both Trotsky in 1917 and Lessons of October together for just £15; that’s a 15% discount if you buy both together.

Socialist Books will also be making an appearance at a few upcoming events. First up is the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition conference taking place in central London on 10 February. This election coalition involving the RMT trade union, the Socialist Party and others will be discussing the upcoming elections, endless council austerity and the role of Labour councillors, and the question of standing an anti-austerity challenge.

On the 24 February we’ll be at the Socialist Students conference in Birmingham. As they put it “This could be the year we see the end of tuition fees. It could be the year student debt becomes a thing of the past. Corbyn’s promise in May 2017 was that, should he be elected, fees would be history by the following September. This was a pledge which helped propel the electoral revolt which took May’s government to the brink of defeat on 8 June. But despite the Tories clinging to power, we still have the opportunity to make this policy real now.

“Britain’s weak, divided government is exceptionally vulnerable. The task facing all student campaigners is to help build a movement that can drive them from power: a movement that can force them to call a general election; a movement that will fight to see Corbyn’s policies implemented – and go further.

“Socialist Students is the largest organisation on the student left. We will be meeting on 24 February in Birmingham Student Guild to discuss how such a movement can be built. And we’ll be placing student struggle in its wider context.

“We’ll be looking at the situation facing those fighting back around the world – from the defiant protesters battling the racist billionaire Trump, to those braving vicious state repression to demand for self-determination in Catalonia. And we’ll be drawing lessons from history – in particular the revolutionary struggle that took place in France 50 years ago, in 1968.”

If you’re coming along to either of those events, say hi! Know of any other events that Socialist Books should be at? Let us know over on twitter or facebook. Know of any shops, libraries, book reviewers or anywhere else you think would be interested in our titles drop us an email.

We’ve got a few videos, articles and other projects in the works; check back here for more or subscribe to our mailing list to keep up to date with Socialist Books.

“Let us negotiate with Luxemburg, Liebknecht and Zetkin, not the representatives of the Kaiser” – Trotsky in 1917 excerpts

Today, 15 January, marks the 99th anniversary of the assassination of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, leading figures in the German revolutionary movement, killed in an attempt to behead the German revolution.

In our upcoming title, Trotsky in 1917, Trotsky frequently discusses the importance of the fight for socialism internationally. Below, we publish one of the many articles, speeches etc never before translated into English that are appearing for the first time in Trotsky in 1917. In this speech, Trotsky discusses the importance of international solidarity, the hope embodied by figures such as Liebknecht and Luxemburg, the progress of the peace talks – and the need to be prepared to defend the revolution if necessary.

Trotsky in 1917 will be back from the printers on 18 January. You can pre-order the paperback here, or the ebook here.

Indented text is the Izvestia journalists summary of Trotsky’s comments. Text between ‹› indicates an audience interjection. 

‘We will shed the last drop of our blood for peace and for the brotherhood of peoples’

Meeting held 8 December, published 9 December, Izvestia • First translation
This translation is from the minutes of the second Meeting of the Central Executive Committee, published in 1918
CW title: Speech on the Peace Negotiations at the Joint Meeting of the Sovnarkom, CEC, the Petrograd Soviet, the City Duma, and Professional and Workers’ Organisations in the Alexandrov Theatre
The Sovnarkom is an acronym of the Council of People’s Commissars. CEC stands for the Central Executive Committee (of the Soviets)

At the beginning of his speech, comrade Trotsky referred to two characteristic encounters he had had in 1914, after the present war had broken out. To Trotsky’s question about how long the war would last, the German deputy Molkenbur replied: “We think that military operations will not last more than two or three months. Vigorous pressure on Russia, two or three strong blows to France and we will achieve victory, after which the war will end.”

The same confidence in an early end to the war was expressed in an interview with cde Trotsky by a French socialist who thought that France, hurling back the Germans at the battle of the Marne, will move up to the Rhine and, at the same time, Russia with a vigorous offensive will threaten Berlin and at this the war will end.[1]

This is what cde Trotsky’s interlocutors thought and, indeed, anyone who dared to say at that time that the war could drag on for a year or even more was considered a madman. Obviously, those huge living forces, those colossal military resources that the European powers deployed on the arena of battle would guarantee that the war could not last long.

However, this is already the fourth year and humanity is not coming out of the infernal circle of war. Indeed, this war has shown how resilient human beings are, how much unspeakable suffering they can endure, but the war also shows the extent to which barbarism is still preserved in modern man. Technological progress never achieved such heights as at present, people have conquered space with the radiotelegraph, they effortlessly rise skyward without fear of the elements – and the same people crawl on their knees in filth, making their homes in trenches and there, through their peepholes, do their abominable business under orders from the ruling classes. Human beings – the rulers of nature – sit in these embrasures, and like in a prison cell scrutinise other humans through their peepholes as future prey.

This is how far man has fallen in this war. It is an insult to humanity, to its flesh, to its spirit, to its blood, when you consider that human beings, having passed through a long series of cultural stages – Christianity, absolutism, parliamentarism, imbibing the idea of socialism – are now, like pitiful slaves under the lash of the ruling classes, murdering each other. And if this should end with people again returning to their cattle stalls, picking up those pitiful crumbs that the bourgeoisie tosses to them, if this war finishes with the triumph of imperialism, then it wouldn’t have been worth humanity’s suffering and the colossal intellectual effort carried out over millennia. But this will not happen, it must not happen! ‹stormy applause›

At Zimmerwald were gathered the internationalists who were being mercilessly persecuted by the chauvinists of all countries.[2] We were a small handful, three dozen people. It seemed that the entire past of socialism had been submerged by a bloody wave of chauvinist blindness and that we were the last remnants of a great but now closed chapter. We have received a letter from cde Liebknecht, incarcerated in a fortress by the German tyrants.[3] He writes to us that we should not be worried that we are few, he is certain that our labours and efforts will not be in vain. It is possible to deal with a lone individual easily and with impunity, but in the hearts of the peoples a belief in revolutionary socialism will not be broken. In saying this, Karl Liebknecht is deceiving no-one, life ever more strongly and clearly bears out his hope.

Cde Trotsky in the name of the meeting declares: “Long live our friend, the staunch fighter for socialism, Karl Liebknecht!” ‹stormy applause. From the hall, voices ring out: We demand the freedom of Liebknecht and Fritz Adler!› Other internationalists, Fritz [Friedrich] Adler, Höglund, Rosa Luxemburg, etc, who domestic imperialist governments labelled as being in the pay of enemy states, were accused of treason and have been incarcerated in dungeons.[4]

The speaker eloquently points to a whole series of facts that their efforts, steadfastly raising the voice of protest against the oppression of the peoples by a small group of rapacious imperialists, have not gone unheeded. No methods, no coercion will succeed in erasing from the consciousness of the peoples the criminality of this war that brings only ruin and suffering.

Turning to the struggle for peace, initiated by us, the speaker says:

We can regret that events are not developing as rapidly as we would wish but ‘the earth nevertheless continues to go around’. There is no place for despair. In Russia, in young, uncultured, backward Russia, where the tyranny of tsarist government pressed down particularly hard, the banner of revolutionary struggle was unfurled sooner than in other countries. We were the first. But the same reasons that pushed our masses into struggle are present in all countries, independent of the national temperament of this or that nation. Sooner or later these reasons will tell. The fact that during the war we overthrew the tsar and the bourgeoisie, the fact that in a country of 180 million people what was, until recently, still a small group came to power – this fact has world-historical significance and will always be imprinted on the consciousness of the working masses of all countries.

Having risen up in the land of Europe’s gendarme (as the esteemed Nikolai Romanov was styled), the Russian people declare that they wish to speak with their brothers-in-arms in Germany, Austria, Turkey, etc, not in the language of arms but in the language of the international solidarity of the toilers of all countries.[5] This nation declared openly to the whole world that it does not need conquest, it will not encroach on others’ possessions and that it seeks only the brotherhood of peoples and the freedom of labour. This fact cannot be eliminated from the consciousness of the popular masses of all countries suffering under the yoke of the war. Sooner or later they will hear our voice and stretch out a helping hand.

But even if were to suppose that the enemies of the people conquered us and we perished, if the land of the conquerors crushed us, if we were reduced to dust, our memory would still pass from generation to generation and awaken our children to a new struggle. To be sure, our situation would have been much easier if the peoples of Europe had risen together with us, if we had to parley not with General Hoffmann and Count Czernin, but with Karl Liebknecht, Clara Zetkin and Rosa Luxemburg.[6] This has not happened and we cannot be blamed for that. Our brothers in Germany cannot blame us for negotiating with their sworn enemy, the Kaiser, behind their backs. We are talking to him as to an enemy – we do not soften our irreconcilable hostility to this tyrant.

The truce has brought a pause in hostilities, the roar of the guns is silenced. Everyone is anxiously waiting to hear with what voice the Soviet government will talk with the Hohenzollern and Hapsburg imperialists.[7] You must support us in this so that we should talk with them as with enemies of freedom, its suppressors, and not one atom of freedom is sacrificed to imperialism. Only then will the true meaning of our efforts and goals penetrate deeply into the consciousness of the German and Austrian people. If this third force – the voice of the working class – which must play a decisive role, does not awaken and does not exert a powerful influence, then peace will not be possible. But I think the Rubicon has been crossed and there will be no return to the past.

We have a growing confidence that the peace negotiations will become a powerful weapon in the hands of the people in the struggle for peace. But if we should be mistaken, if a deadly silence should continue to persist in Europe, if this silence gave Wilhelm the opportunity to attack and dictate terms, humiliating to the revolutionary dignity of our country, then I don’t know whether we could fight on under conditions of a ruined economy and general collapse, a consequence of the war and internal upheaval. I think that, yes we could! ‹stormy applause› For our life, for our revolutionary honour, we would fight to the last drop of blood. ‹new outburst of applause›

The tired and old would leave. But we would say that our honour is in danger, we would issue the call and create a mighty and powerful army with the revolutionary enthusiasm of the soldiers and Red Guards who would fight to the end. We have still not played our cards. Because, comrades, our enemies and the Allied imperialists must understand that we did not overthrow the tsar and the bourgeoisie to go down on our knees to the German Kaiser, to bow down to foreign militarism and to pray for peace.

If they propose conditions to us and to all countries contrary to the basis of our revolution, we would present these terms to the constituent assembly and say, make up your mind! If the constituent assembly accepts these terms then the Bolshevik Party would leave and say, find yourself another party that will sign these terms. We, the party of Bolsheviks, and I hope the Left SRs, would then call everyone to a holy war against the militarists of all countries.[8] stormy and prolonged applause›

If due to the economic collapse we cannot fight – if we have to renounce the struggle for our ideals, then we will say to our comrades abroad that the proletarian struggle is not over, it is only postponed, like in 1905 when, crushed by the tsar, we didn’t complete the struggle with tsarism we only postponed it. That is why we enter the peace negotiations without pessimistic or dark thoughts. However much the bourgeois press rages, and repeats over and over again that our negotiations will hurt the interests of democracy, we will not halt in our path because everything they attribute to us is lies and slander.

They call us traitors to the people of Britain and France because we are allegedly guilty for new forces bearing down on the Allies, transferred from the eastern front. But you know that the Russian delegation strongly insisted that the German general staff did not transfer soldiers from the Russian front to the west. General Hoffmann hotly objected and used every effort to reject this point, but we didn’t give in and a transfer of forces is not now being implemented.

Cde Trotsky shows two maps of the western front in September and October, from which it is clear that in the course of these two months there was a large transfer of forces from ours to the western front. But in these two months, the speaker says, we were not in power and peace negotiations were not then taking place….

We did not even cede to that point put forward by the Germans for the cessation of propaganda among the German troops. We replied that we had come to Brest to negotiate with the German generals about a cessation of military operations, but for the rest, in particular revolutionary propaganda, we will conduct negotiations without them. We are presently negotiating with German peasants and proletarians in uniform. There, among them, our real people’s diplomacy of the trenches is unfolding. ‹stormy applause›

Next, cde Trotsky moves to a characterisation of the attitude that bourgeois imperialist circles of all countries adopt, using a lackey press for the creation of an atmosphere of hatred and resentment towards the Russian revolution, towards the actions of the Soviet government and towards the toiling masses of the entire world, awakening to the struggle for the overthrow of capitalism and imperialism. Cde Trotsky makes public a series of documents showing that inside Russia there are representatives of foreign powers who are playing an active role in the organisation of counter-revolutionary rebellion.

From these documents it is clear, for example, how representatives of the American mission in Russia attempted, under cover of using the good offices of the Red Cross in Jassi, to take automobiles to the Don and transfer them to Kaledin’s bands.[9] These documents show that the threads of the affair lead to the American ambassador, Francis. This American ambassador, Sir Francis [sic] from the time of the insurrection was the most silent of all the diplomats. Evidently, he consistently and firmly held to the principle attributed to the diplomat Bismarck, that ‘silence is golden, speech is silver’. But Sir Francis must, at the end of the day, break his silence and give an explanation for the affair revealed by the documents that have been made public. Let us hear some of Sir Francis’s silver tongued eloquence! ‹laughter›

Let the representatives of foreign powers know that we are not so weak that they can attack us with impunity. We say this to everyone, in particular to the German and Austrian diplomats. If they think, as representatives of foreign powers, under cover of the Red Cross and using dirty money, they can support Kaledin then they are mistaken. From that moment when their role in helping the counter-revolution becomes clear, they will become for us private individuals and the heavy boot of the revolution will descend on them with all its force. ‹stormy applause›

The bourgeoisie is rich in gold and dollars that serve in their hands as weapons of oppression. We do not have these resources, but we are just as strong, relying on independent revolutionary strength. They have only gold, we have the sympathy of the masses and socialist principles. With these principles we will beat the enemy and, in a generalised proletarian struggle against all imperialists – not only the Germans, but against Messrs. Clemenceau, Lloyd George and the rest – we will win or perish![10] ‹stormy applause› Let everyone know that we will not succumb to the Anglo-American bourgeoisie, we will not surrender to the blandishments of the European exchanges. If necessary we will shed the last drop of our blood for our revolutionary dignity, for our honour, for peace and for the brotherhood of peoples. ‹stormy, prolonged, unremitting applause turning into a standing ovation›

[1]  See Trotsky on World War One, published by the Socialist Party, 2015.


[2]  Zimmerwald is a village in Switzerland where the first anti-war conference of socialist internationalists was held in 1915.


[3]  Liebknecht was a leading German revolutionary. Imprisoned for anti-war campaigning, he would be released by the onset of the German revolution, and later murdered by the reactionary forces.


[4]  Adler was the secretary of the Austrian Social Democratic party until 1916, when he was imprisoned for assassinating the Austrian Premier as an anti-war gesture. Later played a leading role in the Second International. Höglund was a Swedish revolutionary, imprisoned for anti-war campaigning and released in May 1917. Later helped to found the Communist Party of Sweden, but later rejoined the Social Democratic Party. Luxemburg was a leading German revolutionary, imprisoned for anti-war campaigning. She was later freed by the German revolution, in which she played a leading role, and was subsequently murdered by reactionary forces on the same day as Liebknecht.


[5]  Romanov is a reference to former Tsar Nicholas II.


[6]  Hoffmann was chief-of-staff of the German 8th Army. Czernin was foreign minister of the government of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Zetkin was an anti-war socialist in Germany, and a member of the Spartacist League together with Luxemburg and Liebknecht.


[7]  Hohenzollern and Hapsburg were the family names of the German and Austro-Hungarian emperors respectively. The German emperor, Wilhelm II, is later referred to in this article just as Wilhelm.


[8]  The Left SRs were the anti-war minority in the Social Revolutionary (SR) Party.


[9]  Kaledin, a Cossack cavalry general under the tsarist regime, was one of the first to organise an armed attack on the new Soviet hovernment. He killed himself in February 1918. Jassi is a town on the then Romanian/Russian border.


[10] Clemenceau and Lloyd George were, respectively, heads of government of France and Britain.

© Socialist Publications 2018