‘Trotsky in 1917’ – New collection of Trotsky’s writings from year of the Russian revolution

Socialist Books new book, ‘Trotsky in 1917’, will be published at the end of January 2018 (for more information and to order see: http://www.socialistbooks.co.uk/pre-order-trotsky-1917-today/). The collection of  Leon Trotsky’s writings and speeches are all newly translated by Pete Dickenson, with the great majority appearing in English for the first time.

Trotsky, together with Lenin, was a leading figure in the revolution, chairing the Petrograd Soviet and playing a key role during October, and the building of the new soviet power. These articles, essays, speeches and resolutions give a keen insight and feel for the revolution and one of its key leaders. This collection is an essential reference for any who want to understand the 1917 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 (CWI England & Wales). Trotsky in 1917 is the most complete English-language collection of Leon Trotsky’s writings from the year of the Russian revolution.

Below we publish excerpts from the book’s Introduction by Niall Mulholland.


The latest telegrams from London say that Tsar Nicholas wants to abdicate in favour of his son. With this arrangement, reaction and liberalism want to save the monarchy and the dynasty. Too late! Too late! The crimes are too great, the suffering too enormous – and the people’s rage is on too great a scale! Too late for the servants of the monarchy, too late for the liberal suppressors! The avalanche of revolution has been set in motion – no human force can stop it (Leon Trotsky, Revolution in Russia, 3 March 1917)

The year 2017 marks the centenary of events in Russia of world-historic significance, from the February revolution that overthrew tsarist rule to the October socialist revolution that swept away capitalism and landlordism.

The toiling masses, with the Bolsheviks to the fore, won and held state power for the first time in history. The revolution ushered in the rule of soviets (mass councils of workers, peasants and soldiers) and the enactment of far-reaching social and economic changes, including land to the peasants, self-determination for oppressed nationalities, nationalisation of industries, unprecedented rights for women and minorities, and also a flowering of culture, arts and sciences. October became a beacon for working class people everywhere, sparking revolutions and revolutionary movements across Europe.

Along with Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky was the foremost leader of the revolution. Trotsky was also the revolution’s historian. This new collection of Trotsky’s writings and speeches from the year 1917, most of which are translated into English for the first time, is a very welcome addition to his other writings on the revolution.

Permanent revolution

Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution – developed in the aftermath of the 1905 revolution, in which he played a key role – guided his actions in 1917, and was later published by the Bolsheviks and the Communist International as a theoretical explanation of the Russian revolution. Trotsky explained that the democratic tasks of the revolution in underdeveloped countries, such as Russia, could only be achieved by the working class taking power as part of the socialist revolution. Trotsky alludes to the theory of permanent revolution many times during the tumultuous events of 1917, anticipating the October revolution:

General European development has long ago put the question of the social revolution on the agenda. All these circumstances have taken from the liberal Russian bourgeoisie the last remnants of self-belief and trust in the people.

…If the revolution gives to the Russian peasants the land belonging to the tsar and the landowners, the peasants will use all their might to protect their property against the monarchist counter-revolution [1905-1917, April]

Growing opposition to the unrelenting carnage of the first world war, as Trotsky pointed out, acted as the trigger for revolution:

The war has turned Europe into a powder keg of social revolution. Into this powder keg the Russian proletariat is now throwing a lighted torch [From whom and how to defend the revolution, 8 March]

Like Lenin, Trotsky advocated a class policy to defeat imperialist war and the ruling classes of each nation:

The Internationalists call on the working masses of all countries to wage an uncompromising struggle against the war and the imperialist governments. “The main enemy of the people is in its own country!” said the revolutionary leader of the German proletariat Karl Liebknecht. The more resolutely, firmly, boldly, the working class in each country begins the fight against its own bourgeoisie, against its military plans and diplomatic tricks, the sooner the hour of peace will appear [When will the cursed slaughter end? 1 September]

All of Trotsky’s dazzling writing skills are on show in this collection – biting satire, telling phrases, sharp polemic – as he records, often in intervals of just days, the momentous events and the role of individuals, political parties and classes.

Trotsky’s political and personal courage, his complete opposition to capitalist rule, and his implacable faith in the ability of the working class to bring about a social revolution, are running themes throughout the book:

After all the shocks of the war, after 50 years of education in socialist culture, after all the people have been through – what other conditions could be more favourable for social revolution? [The betrayal of Skobelev and Tsereteli, 7 May)….

[From Intoduction to Trotsky in 1917 by Niall Mulholland]

For more information and to order Trotsky in 1917: http://www.socialistbooks.co.uk/pre-order-trotsky-1917-today/

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