Workers Hammer No. 238

Spring 2017


Quote of the issue

For new October Revolutions!

For the first time in history, the October 1917 Russian Revolution swept away the rule of the capitalist exploiters and brought the working class to power, giving flesh and blood to the programme of revolutionary Marxism. In examining the lessons of the October Revolution, Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky stressed the crucial role of the revolutionary leadership embodied in Lenin’s Bolshevik party. As Trotsky described, political struggle within the Bolshevik leadership against pressures to accommodate to the bourgeois order enabled the party to lead the working class to power.

The fundamental controversial question around which everything else centered, was this: whether or not we should struggle for power; whether or not we should assume power. This alone is ample proof that we were not then dealing with a mere episodic difference of opinion but with two tendencies of the utmost principled significance. The first and principal tendency was proletarian and led to the road of world revolution. The other was “democratic,” i.e., petty bourgeois, and led, in the last analysis, to the subordination of proletarian policies to the requirements of bourgeois society in the process of reform. These two tendencies came into hostile conflict over every essential question that arose throughout the year 1917. It is precisely the revolutionary epoch — i.e., the epoch when the accumulated capital of the party is put in direct circulation — that must inevitably broach in action and reveal divergences of such a nature. These two tendencies, in greater or lesser degree, with more or less modification, will more than once manifest themselves during the revolutionary period in every country. If by Bolshevism — and we are stressing here its essential aspect — we understand such training, tempering, and organization of the proletarian vanguard as enables the latter to seize power, arms in hand; and if by social democracy we are to understand the acceptance of reformist oppositional activity within the framework of bourgeois society and an adaptation to its legality — i.e., the actual training of the masses to become imbued with the inviolability of the bourgeois state; then, indeed, it is absolutely clear that even within the Communist Party itself, which does not emerge full-fledged from the crucible of history, the struggle between social democratic tendencies and Bolshevism is bound to reveal itself in its most clear, open, and uncamouflaged form during the immediate revolutionary period when the question of power is posed point-blank.

— Leon Trotsky, Lessons of October (1924)