“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

Pre-order Trotsky in 1917 today!

Our new publication, Trotsky in 1917, has gone to the presses and we’re expecting it back at the end of January. You can pre-order the Trotsky in 1917 paperback here, and the ebook version here.

These are all newly translated by Pete Dickenson, with the great majority appearing in English for the first time. Trotsky in 1917 is the most complete English-language collection of Leon Trotsky’s writings from the year of the Russian revolution.

The regular price is £12.50, but as a pre-order offer you can pick up your copy for just £10.

A number of these articles have been serialised in Socialism Today, the magazine of the Socialist Party. Below we’re publishing the contents of Trotsky in 1917, with links to those articles; but as you can see, this is a small minority of the overall book!

So have a read of the articles below, pre-order your copy of Trotsky in 1917 and get your hands on the full thing early next year!

Trotsky in 1917 contents – and publication dates

Trotsky in 1917
Trotsky in 1917

Introduction by Niall Mulholland i
Translators Introduction xiii

Part 1: From New York exile to the July days

03.03.17 Revolution in Russia 5
08.03.17 From whom and how to defend the revolution 7
14.03.17 An obliging divine providence 10
00.04.17 1905-1917 12
05.05.17 A prisoner of the British 16
05.05.17 First speech at the Petrograd Soviet 24
07.05.17 The betrayal of Skobelev and Tsereteli 26
07.05.17 No support for the Provisional Government 28
26.05.17 In defence of the Kronstadt sailors 30
31.05.17 From the Kronstadt sailors, soldiers and workers to the revolutionary people 31
04.06.17 Opposing the offensive 34
05.06.17 An appeal to the majority in the Soviet 36
07.06.17 The road to a disaster 43
09.06.17 War and peace 46
12.06.17 Statement of the Bolshevik fraction 52
15.06.17 On this road there is no way out 54
17.06.17 Pacifism in the service of imperialism 58
27.06.17 $10,000, ‘Verein’ and slanderers 64
28.06.17 Notes on the war 67
28.06.17 From words to deeds – on uniting the Internationalists 70
17.07.17 Unity in action needed immediately 74

Part 2: Fighting the counter-revolution

17.07.17 On the July days 81
25.07.17 The revolution is in danger 84
25.07.17 The surrender of a position 96
25.07.17 Defending the Bolsheviks 99
15.08.17 Shame! The work of republican justice 101
18.08.17 With blood and iron 105
20.08.17 The minister of justice undertakes the education of Trotsky 108
01.09.17 When will the cursed slaughter end? 110
08.09.17 Bring them to book! On the Kornilov coup 119

Part 3: The rising tide

18.09.17 The sabotage of the Kadet ministers 127
18.09.17 The revolution at a critical moment 133
22.09.17 Declaration of the Bolshevik fraction 138
25.09.17 First speech as chair of the Petrograd Soviet 140
25.09.17 Preparing for an attack by the counter-revolution 141
09.10.17 ‘Long live the direct and open struggle for revolutionary power’ 144
12.10.17 The time for words is over 146
17.10.17 The threat to Petrograd and the struggle for peace 150
18.10.17 Pogrom agitation 153
20.10.17 Statement about an ‘action’ 155
24.10.17 The Petrograd Soviet to the front 157
24.10.17 On the eve of revolution 160
25.10.17 The overthrow of the Provisional Government 163

Part 4: Consolidating power

29.10.17 Our hesitation has come to an end 171
29.10.17 Defending the revolution 174
08.11.17 The first tasks of the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs 176
12.11.17 ‘Down with the secret treaties and diplomatic intrigues’ 181
12.11.17 What do the secret treaties reveal? 183
13.11.17 Letter to the British ambassador on the arrest of Chicherin 185
14.11.17 The treachery of the Allies – Two documents 186
25.11.17 To all the people 189
27.11.17 The freedom of the press 191
02.12.17 The constituent assembly and the Kadet Party 194
02.12.17 To the workers and oppressed peoples of Europe bled white by the war 198
08.12.17 ‘We will shed the last drop of our blood for peace and for the brotherhood of peoples’ 201
14.12.17 On the progress in the peace negotiations 206
19.12.17 The peace talks at Brest-Litovsk 210
23.12.17 The French military mission: a source of lies and poisonous rumours 213

Appendices

Timeline 219
Key figures 235
Index 241

New ebook: Liverpool A City That Dared To Fight

Search the Kindle store, or find links to your relevant Kindle store here

The chronicle of the Liverpool City Council 1983-87 is now available on Kindle! The council said no to Thatcher’s vicious cuts, and taking a fighting stance won major improvements for working-class people. The strategy and stance of Liverpool Labour, and the Militant supporters within that, are essential reading today for all those looking to build an anti-austerity fightback today. After Corbyn’s election, the legacy of the Liverpool Council 1983-87 is often referenced, but the real lessons are rarely drawn out. What does a fighting Labour Party look like? Can councils stand up against central government dictats? Liverpool A City That Dared To Fight offers affirmative answers to both of these, and sets out a clear record of the struggles of the eighties.

Socialist Books is proud to publish this ebook edition, and we hope that in doing so we hope that we make those key lessons more readily available.

Liverpool A City That Dares to Fight joins our growing collection of titles on Kindle, which also include The Rise of Militant and its sequel From Militant to the Socialist Party, and Leon Trotsky’s Lessons of October. We hope to add more titles soon, in ebook and in paperback editions. Check back on our website, or fill in the form on the left to sign up to our mailing list to get occasional Socialist Books updates.

Socialist Books @ Socialism 2017!

Socialism 2017 is going to be an excellent weekend of socialist discussion and debate, taking place this weekend (11 & 12 November) at the Institute of Education in central London. You can find out full details over on the Socialism 2017 website.

Alongside our stall (and all the marxist classics from Left Books) running throughout the weekend, Socialist Books will be holding a few special events, Socialism 2017 offers and opening pre-orders for our upcoming publication, Trotsky in 1917!

From Militant to the Socialist Party

From Militant to the Socialist Party
From Militant to the Socialist Party

Before Socialism 2017 begins, we will be holding a special event with Peter Taaffe, author of From Militant to the Socialist Party. At 2pm on the Saturday, by the bookshop on the lower ground floor, we will hold a special event where Peter will discuss the book and be available for signings.

There is also a special Socialism 2017 offer on sales of From Militant to the Socialist Party; buy the book for £15, and choose from a copy of either of the following; The Masses Arise by Peter Taaffe; Socialism in the 21st century by Hannah Sell; Trotsky on World War One by Leon Trotsky for free!

Peter Taaffe will also be speaking in one of the Saturday Socialism 2017 sessions – What is the legacy of the 1917 October revolution? – and at the Saturday evening rally alongside US socialist Kshama Sawant, Ian Mearns MP, Juan Ignacio Ramos on the fight against austerity and capitalism in the Spanish state and more!

 

Lessons of October

Lessons of October
Lessons of October

At 5pm on the Saturday of Socialism 2017, following on from the first set of sessions, we will hold an event with Judy Beishon, author of the introduction to Socialist Books edition of Lessons of October. Trotsky wrote Lessons of October to draw out the main lessons of 1917, and how the Bolsheviks led the Russian revolution. Judy will introduce Lessons, and there will be a chance to discuss and ask questions about the book.

Lessons of October will be available for sale from Socialist Books stall at Socialism 2017 for only £5. But, if you’d like to pick up your copy, why not go all in…

Judy will also be speaking at Socialism 2017; on Sunday morning on Will there always be war in the Middle East? and on Sunday afternoon on Universal Basic Income and the gig economy – What can lift workers out of poverty?

 

Trotsky in 1917

Trotsky in 1917
Trotsky in 1917

Trotsky originally wrote Lessons of October as an introduction to his collected works from 1917. Socialist Books is proud to announce that our next title, Trotsky in 1917, will be the most complete English-language collection of Trotsky’s writings from that year. We will be opening pre-orders at Socialism 2017; and then more widely afterwards.

The cover price of Trotsky in 1917 will be £12.50 – however, for pre-orders we will be charging £10. Comrades will be able to order Trotsky in 1917 at the Socialist Books stall throughout the weekend, and we’re aiming to have the book with you by Christmas!

And as another Socialism 2017 special offer, for £12.50 you can pre-order Trotsky in 1917; and get a copy of Lessons of October at half price!

Want to get an introduction to Trotsky’s ideas? The Socialism 2017 session Lessons of October: are Trotsky’s ideas still relevant? might be for you! But the discussions throughout the weekend, the sessions, rallies and chats throughout the weekend are an excellent event for socialists. We hope to see you there!

New publication: Trotsky in 1917

Trotsky in 1917
Trotsky in 1917

On the centenary of the Russian revolution, Socialist Books is proud to present a sneak peek of our upcoming new publication – Trotsky in 1917. This will be the most complete English-language collection of Trotsky’s writings from the year of the Russian revolution, the great majority of which are translated for the first time.

We will have more details soon, and will be launching sales at Socialism 2017. In the meantime, below we are publishing a new translation of Trotsky’s speech to the Petrograd Soviet, given on 25 October (Julian calendar) 1917.

And if this whets your appetite, why not pick up a copy of Lessons of October, originally written by Trotsky as the introduction to his collected works of 1917 and recently reproduced by Socialist Books.


The overthrow of the Provisional Government

Speeches given 25 October, published 26 October, Rabochii Put No. 46

In the name of the Military Revolutionary Committee, I announce that the Provisional Government no longer exists. (Applause) Some ministers are under arrest. (‘Bravo!’) Others will be arrested in the coming days or hours. (Applause) The revolutionary garrison, which is at the disposal of the Military Revolutionary Committee, has dispersed the meeting of the Pre-parliament.[1] (Stormy applause. A cry: ‘Long live the Military Revolutionary Committee!’)

They said that an insurrection of the garrison at the present time would lead to a pogrom and drown the revolution in rivers of blood. So far it has been bloodless. We do not know of a single victim. In the history of the revolutionary movement I do not know of an example where such huge masses were involved and which passed off bloodlessly. The authority of the Provisional Government headed by Kerensky was dead, waiting to be swept away by the broom of history.

We must acknowledge the heroism and dedication of the Petrograd soldiers and workers. Here, we were up all night, and on the telephones followed how detachments of revolutionary soldiers and workers’ guards quietly went about their task. The inhabitants slept peacefully and didn’t know that during this time one power was being replaced by another. The stations, post, telegraph, the Petrograd telegram agency, and the state bank are occupied. (Stormy applause) The Winter Palace is not yet taken, but its fate will be decided in the course of the next few minutes. (Applause) The Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies is right to be proud of the soldiers and workers who it relies on, and who it led into battle to a glorious victory.

The nature of bourgeois and petit-bourgeois governments is to deceive the masses. For us now – for us, the Soviets of Soldiers’ Workers’ and Peasants’ Deputies – the test is posed, unprecedented in history, of the creation of a government which will have no other aim than the satisfaction of the needs of the soldiers, workers and peasants. The state must be the instrument of the masses in the struggle for their emancipation from all slavery.

The best forces of bourgeois science will understand that the conditions created by the Soviets of Soldiers’ Workers’ and Peasants’ Deputies will be the best for their work. It is imperative to establish control over production. The peasants, workers and soldiers must feel that the national economy is their economy. This is the basic principle of constructing power. The introduction of universal labour service is an urgent task of a genuine revolutionary government.

Next, comrade Trotsky says that on the agenda is a statement of the Military Revolutionary Committee and a statement on the tasks of the Soviet power. The speaker on the second item will be comrade Lenin. (Thunderous applause) Comrade Trotsky announces that political prisoners have been released and several of them are already carrying out the duties of revolutionary commissars. Comrade Trotsky says that comrade Zinoviev will also be a guest at today’s meeting of the Petrograd Soviet.[2]

During the night, telegrams about the real situation were sent in the name of the Petrograd Soviet to all Russia. Radio-telegrams have been sent to the serving army about the fall of the old government and the imminent formation of a new one. The first steps of the new government must be the following: an immediate truce on all fronts, the transfer of land to the peasants, the speediest convocation of a genuine, democratic Constituent Assembly. The whereabouts of the former minister-president, Kerensky, are unknown but we believe that they will soon be known.

To a question about the attitude of the front to the events, comrade Trotsky replies that we have only been able to send telegrams.

No reply has yet been received but we have heard many times here from representatives of the front who have reproached us for, so far, not taking decisive steps. With us now is Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, who due to a whole series of factors could not be among us until this moment.

Trotsky outlines the role of comrade Lenin in the history of the revolutionary movement in Russia and proclaims: “Long live Comrade Lenin, who is returning to us!”

One of the immediate tasks of the Military Revolutionary Committee is to send a delegation to the front to inform it about the revolution in Petrograd.[3] The Petrograd Soviet must designate commissars from its ranks to send to the fronts. The Military Revolutionary Committee and its members cannot make a report now because it is occupied all the time with urgent work. I can report that a telegram has just been received that troops are moving up to Petrograd from the front. The dispatch of commissars is vital, it would be criminal from our side not to send out revolutionary commissars to the whole country to tell the broad masses about the events. (Voice: “You are predetermining the will of the All-Russia Congress of Soviets.”) The will of the All-Russia Congress of Soviets was predetermined by the great fact of the insurrection of the Petrograd workers and soldiers that took place tonight. Now it remains only to consolidate our victory.

[1] The Pre-Parliament was a body with very little democratic legitimacy, that had been set up shortly beforehand by opponents of the Soviets.

[2] G. Zinoviev, a close associate of Lenin, had been with him in hiding until 25th October.

[3] This section is from a second speech made by Trotsky at the same meeting.

Translation © Socialist Publications, 2017

New publication: Lessons of October, by Leon Trotsky

Lessons of October cover
Lessons of October cover

Socialist Books is proud to announce that our second publication is Lessons of October, by Leon Trotsky. This book opens with “We met with success in the October revolution, but the October revolution has met with little success in our press” – on the centenary of the Russian revolution, Socialist Books argues that the importance of the Russian revolution has only grown. You can order Lessons of October here, and receive your copy when it is returned from the printers on 26 September.

This edition comes with a new introduction from Judy Beishon, a member of the Executive Committee of the Socialist Party (England and Wales) and a member of the International Executive Committee of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI).

About Lessons of October

The Russian revolution of 1917 removed the brutal tsarist dictatorship and saw workers and peasants take charge of their destiny. The impact was felt around the world, inspiring a wave of revolutionary movements throughout Europe and beyond.

While the new workers’ state successfully defended itself from the invading armies, bent on snuffing out workers’ rule, the western revolutionary movements tragically failed and Russia was left isolated.

In Lessons of October, Leon Trotsky – together with Lenin a leader of the revolution – sought to draw out why the Russian revolution had succeeded, while other revolutionary moments had been missed. In particular, Trotsky looks at the role of the Bolshevik party and offers an insightful and frank examination of the difficulties and successes of developing a political programme offering a way forwards in the midst of the tumultuous and fast-moving events of 1917.

Writing to aid the fight for international socialism, Lessons of October provoked a series of attacks from the developing bureaucracy around Stalin, whose past mistakes Trotsky was exploring. Lessons of October is essential reading to understand the real history of the Bolsheviks and the October revolution, as well as the first-hand experience vital for the fight for socialism today.

Lessons of October will be available from September 26 – pre-order it today to get free shipping!

Socialist Books at Socialism 2017!

Socialism 2017 will bring together working class fighters, trade unionists and youth and student activists, anti-cuts campaigners, those who want to find out about socialism and Marxism, and people who want to change the world, for a weekend of discussion and debate on the alternative to capitalist crisis.

Rally speakers will include From Militant to the Socialist Party author Peter Taaffe, Labour MP and Corbyn supporter Ian Mearns, US Socialist Alternative councillor Kshama Sawant, Irish TD Paul Murphy and many more throughout the weekend.
You can find out more about Socialism 2017, and book tickets, over on their website.
Socialist Books will have a stall open throughout the Socialism 2017 weekend, and there will be a chance to pick up our publications alongside a wide selection of books available from Left Books.

Socialist Books at the National Shop Stewards Network TUC rally

Socialist Books is happy to confirm that we’ll be at the National Shop Stewards Network TUC rally in Brighton on September 10. The rally will hear from:

Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell

Len McCluskey Unite General Secretary

Mark Serwotka PCS General Secretary

Steve Gillan POA General Secretary

Ronnie Draper BFAWU General Secretary

Sean Hoyle RMT President

Amy Murphy USDAW Southern Division NEC member

Len Hockey Secretary Unite Barts NHS Trust branch – currently on strike.

Chaired by Janice Godrich PCS National President

…and other workers in dispute! To find out more about the lobby, see the National Shop Stewards Network website here, and the facebook event here.

Be sure to stop by the Socialist Books stall, to pick up your copy of From Militant to the Socialist Party, pre-order our new publication Lessons of October, and more!

From Militant to the Socialist Party, out now!

From Militant to the Socialist Party arrived back from the printers on Friday 19 May. To mark the occasion, author Peter Taaffe spoke to Socialist Party members. There will be a London-wide launch on May 25, an excellent opportunity to hear from Peter and get your copy signed!

Below is a video and photographs from the event. All photographs from Mary Finch.

Peter Taaffe, author of From Militant to the Socialist Party. Photo Mary Finch
Peter Taaffe, author of From Militant to the Socialist Party. Photo Mary Finch
From Militant to the Socialist Party arrives back from the printers. Photo Mary Finch
From Militant to the Socialist Party arrives back from the printers. Photo Mary Finch
Signing From Militant to the Socialist Party. Photo Mary Finch.
Signing From Militant to the Socialist Party. Photo Mary Finch.
From Militant to the Socialist Party signing. Photo Mary Finch.
From Militant to the Socialist Party signing. Photo Mary Finch.

 

With a signed copy. Photo Mary Finch.
With a signed copy. Photo Mary Finch.

 

A few light refreshments to celebrate. Photo Mary Finch.
A few light refreshments to celebrate. Photo Mary Finch.
Livestreaming the launch - behind the scenes! Photo Mary Finch
Livestreaming the launch – behind the scenes! Photo Mary Finch
Checking out the photographs. Photo Mary Finch
Checking out the photographs. Photo Mary Finch
Perfect with a cup of tea! Photo Mary Finch.
Perfect with a cup of tea! Photo Mary Finch.
Author Peter Taaffe with From Militant to the Socialist Party. Photo Mary Finch.
Author Peter Taaffe with From Militant to the Socialist Party. Photo Mary Finch.

 

London launch – From Militant to the Socialist Party

Thursday 25 May – 7pm

From Militant to the Socialist Party
From Militant to the Socialist Party

Just two weeks before the general election a new book, From Militant to the Socialist Party, will be released. It tracks developments from the Blairite takeover of Labour to the first rumblings of the world economic crisis of 2007-08, and is the sequel to The Rise of Militant.
It is an extremely timely release with people heading to the polls in June. Only by clearly putting forward a radical anti-austerity programme will Jeremy Corbyn be able to lead Labour to victory in this election. His clear call for voters to elect a Labour Party that “is standing up for working people to improve the lives of all” was a good start.
Author Peter Taaffe will be speaking, and there will be a chance to ask questions, buy your copy and get it signed.

Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, 235 Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2H 8EP

Eventbrite page // Facebook event