Workers Vanguard No. 1026

14 June 2013


Truth as a Revolutionary Weapon

(Quote of the Week)

In a polemic against the hypocritical “morality” of the bourgeoisie, which defends its rule through systematic violence and deception, Leon Trotsky upheld the proletarian morality of the Bolshevik Party that led the October Revolution of 1917. In light of the subsequent destruction of that party under the Stalinist bureaucracy, Trotsky reaffirmed the revolutionary integrity embodied by Lenin’s Bolsheviks as crucial to the struggle for a socialist order.

“All that arises is worthy of perishing,” says the dialectician Goethe. The perishing of the Bolshevik Party—an episode in world reaction—does not, however, disparage its worldwide historic significance. In the period of its revolutionary ascendance, that is, when it actually represented the proletarian vanguard, it was the most honest party in history. Wherever it could, of course, it deceived the class enemies; on the other hand it told the toilers the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Only thanks to this did it succeed in winning their trust to a degree never before achieved by any other party in the world.

The clerks of the ruling classes call the organizers of this party “amoralists.” In the eyes of conscious workers this accusation carries a complimentary character. It signifies: Lenin refused to recognize moral norms established by slave-owners for their slaves and never observed by the slave-owners themselves; he called upon the proletariat to extend the class struggle into the moral sphere too. Whoever fawns before precepts established by the enemy will never vanquish that enemy!

The “amoralism” of Lenin, that is, his rejection of supra-class morals, did not hinder him from remaining faithful to one and the same ideal throughout his whole life; from devoting his whole being to the cause of the oppressed; from displaying the highest conscientiousness in the sphere of ideas and the highest fearlessness in the sphere of action; from maintaining an attitude untainted by the least superiority to an “ordinary” worker, to a defenseless woman, to a child. Does it not seem that “amoralism” in the given case is only a pseudonym for higher human morality?

—Leon Trotsky, Their Morals and Ours (1938)