Wednesday, November 05, 2014

From October to Brest Litovsk, by Trotsky (continued)

Since I just listened to an earlier Russian history, my impression is that the Russian revolution is simply a repeat of the earlier episodes in Russian history where a disputed monarchy resulted in lots of princes appealing to the masses and then leading armies to stake their claim.  It was always "for the people", whether it be a leader from a thousand years ago or a modern leftist politician who spends his time on the golf course and hobnobbing with billionaires.  So the Proletariat leadership were all from the Bourgeoisie.  Since this work was written in 1919, Trotsky is still sticking clearly to the "for the people" text.  To do otherwise would not have been possible at that time.

There is some awkwardness to the "for the people" slogan that should be noted.  Trotsky proclaims that the Soviets were the only legitimate democratic institutions since they were most connected to the masses.  Of course democracy was never their intent, and the entire episode of this book is dedicated to the crushing of a more pluralistic system.  Trotsky gives us this little treat: "We issued our first decree, abolishing the death penalty ..."  Which sounds like one thing on the surface, but perhaps the real meaning was that they abolished the legal proceedings on the death penalty, thus, eliminating an annoyance regarding carrying the death penalty out.  We can ask the descendants of the Tsar if there is any doubt on this matter.  He whines a bit about the efforts of the Bolsheviks being sabotaged, as if that hadn't been exactly what the Bolsheviks were doing to the central government.  The "Bourgeois Press" is forever criticized for stating that the Bolsheviks were for armed overthrow, as if this wasn't what they were for.  So Trotsky continues: "In civil war, more than in any other, victory can be insured only by a determined and persistent course.  There must be no vacillation.  To engage in parleys is dangerous; merely to mark time is suicidal.  ...  And only by these means of aggressive charges can victory be achieved ..."  That probably gets closer to Trotsky's true sentiments.

As an American, I generally admire our procedure to independence.  We declared independence.  We fought the war.  When things finally settled down, we established the government in a more calm and thoughtful atmosphere.  The Russian revolution of 1917 was entirely to the opposite.  In the middle of a war with economic collapse, the Bolsheviks determined that their bloody minded course of action was the only one that was acceptable.  The part that I wonder about still is the manner in which the Bourgeois Bolshevik leadership managed to communicate with the peasants and persuade them to give them their souls.  Trotsky presents it as a spontaneous uprising, which I don't believe.  In the US, the education system along with much of the media and half the clergy are dedicated to feeding this propaganda to the masses.

And so I will conclude with this:  "The vigilance of the Red Guards was beyond all praise.  They stood on watch about small camp fires, rifle in hand, hours at a time.  The sight of these young armed workmen by the camp fires in the snow was the best symbol of the proletarian revolution."  What did they think they were fighting for?  And how did they come to believe it?  Trotsky provides us no answers to the most important questions.  According to my Google stats, there are a number of Russian and Ukrainian observers to this blog.  I am wondering if any of them might be able to provide anymore insight.

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