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.
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
Introduction by Niall Mulholland i
Translators Introduction xiii
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
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. (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.
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. 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.
 The Pre-Parliament was a body with very little democratic legitimacy, that had been set up shortly beforehand by opponents of the Soviets.
 G. Zinoviev, a close associate of Lenin, had been with him in hiding until 25th October.
 This section is from a second speech made by Trotsky at the same meeting.
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
From Militant to the Socialist Party covers 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. In the aftermath of the collapse of the Stalinist regimes, capitalism’s representatives proclaimed ‘the end of history’. But the struggles of workers and young people continued. From the Liverpool Dockers’ strike to the mass movements against the invasion of Iraq, this book records the fightback and highlights the lessons of these movements for today.
As Blair and New Labour implemented neo-liberal policies, the fight for working-class political representation was, and is, a fundamental battle charted out here. As right-wing trade union leaders preached partnership with the bosses, trade union militants showed that a fighting strategy was possible.
This book is not written from the point of view of the sidelines, but by an active participant. From Militant to the Socialist Party offers unique insight into how Marxists organised and the programme and strategy put forward at key stages of the struggle. The crucial discussions and debate among socialists as to the best way forward are explored, to provide key lessons for those who want to build support for socialist ideas today.
About the Author
Peter Taaffe is the former editor of Militant newspaper, and is the general secretary of the Socialist Party. He was a founding member of the Committee for a Workers’ International, which now organises in over 40 countries, on every continent. As well as playing an active role in the struggles charted in this book, Peter is the author of several other books, including the Rise of Militant, Liverpool a City that Dared to Fight, Cuba: Socialism and Democracy, and Marxism in Today’s World.