Leon Trotsky (Lev Davidovich Bronstein)

Leon Trotsky

Born: 1879. Died: 1940.


Leon Trotsky was born on October 26, 1879, son of a hard-working, thrifty, and well-to-do jewish farmer, in the southern part of Ukraine. The family valued education highly, and when Leon Trotsky was about nine years old they let him move to the city of Odessa, to stay with his 'uncle' and to go to school. This is where Leon Trotsky developed his nice manners and intellectual personality.

Leon was an exceptionally bright and capable student, and in 1896 he moved to Nicolayev to complete his secondary education and to study matematics. This is where Leon turned revolutionary. In 1897 he was instrumental in founding the South Russia Workers Union and in 1898 the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP). However, Leon was arrested for his political activities, put in prison, and in 1900 deported to Siberia. In 1902 he adopted the name Trotsky as he escaped, and met Lenin in London.

Trotsky then joined Vladimir Lenin on the staff of Iskra (The Spark), the Communist newspaper. Trotsky and Lenin, as intellectuals, had much respect for each other, however, in 1903 at the Second Congress of the RSDLP, the Bolsheviks were led by Lenin, while Trotsky was among the Menshevik leaders.

In 1905 Trotsky returned to Russia, where he participated actively in the first Russian Revolution, and in December that year he was elected President of the St Petersburg Soviet. However, Trotsky and several other members of the St. Petersburg Soviet were soon arrested, and after a trial they were deported to Western Siberia in January 1907.

That year Trotsky escaped Siberia, and at the Fifth Party Congress in London he met Stalin for the first time. For the next several years Trotsky was busy publishing several papers, among them Pravda.

In 1917, as the Tsar abdicated, Leon Trotsky went to Russia, and in August that year he became a member of the Central Committe of the Bolshevik Party, which had Lenin as its uncontested leader and visionary. In this capacity Trotsky became second in command after Lenin. In 1918 Trotsky was appointed People's Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs, and as such he managed the founding of the Red Army.

As Lenin became ill in 1922, and died two years later, Stalin gained the control of the Soviet Union. Stalin disliked and opposed Trotsky, and in 1927 he was expelled from the Excecutive Committe of Comintern. In 1928, Trotsky was banished to Alma Ata in Kazakhstan, and from there deported to Turkey in 1929.

Stalin and Trotsky represented opposite directions for communism. But while Trotsky used the mighty pen, Stalin implemented communist policies that were exceedingly costly both in lives, and in depriving the Soviet people from freedom.

Trotsky used his writings to oppose Stalin, and to establish an alternative direction for communism, and his followers became known as Trotskyists. While Stalin was struggling with practical problems in the Soviet Union, the Trotskyists were fighting for class equality between intellectuals and capitalists.

One of Trotsky's loyal sympathizers was Diego Rivera, the famous Mexican muralist, and Trotsky appears, together with Lenin, in two of Diego's murals. The first was the 'Communist Unity Panel' at the New Workers School in New York, and the second the 'Man, Controller of the Universe' mural in Mexico City.

Being a communist leader expelled from his homeland, Leon Trotsky had a hard time finding a country where he would be allowed to reside. He stayed temporarily in several countries, until he was allowed to come to Mexico in 1937, after Diego Rivera had used his influence to make this possible.

August 20th 1940 Leon Trotsky was attacked with an ice-axe in his office in Mexico City by one of Stalin's followers, and the following day Leon Trotsky died.

Major Books of Leon Trotsky

- The Defence of Terrorism: Terrorism and Communism, 1920
- Diary in Exile, 1935
- Fascism: What It Is and How to Fight It
- The History of the Russian Revolution (3 vols.), 1921-1933
- Lenin, 1924
- Literature and Revolution, 1923
- Military Writings
- My Life: An Attempt at an Autobiography, 1930
- The New Course, 1924
- The Permanent Revolution, 1930
- The Revolution Betrayed, 1937
- The Spanish Revolution 1931-39
- The Stalin School of Falsification, 1937
- The Third International After Lenin, 1928
- The Young Lenin

Major Articles of Leon Trotsky

- 1934, Nationalism and Economic Life, Foreign Affairs

Quotes from Leon Trotsky

- "Man will become immeasurably stronger, wiser, and subtler; his body will become more harmonized; his movements more rhythmic, his voice more musical. The forms of life will become dynamically dramatic. The average human type will rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx. And above this ridge new peaks will rise." (from "Literature and Revolution", 1925)

- "The nature of man himself is hidden in the deepest and darkest corner of the unconscious, of the elemental, of the sub-soil. Is it not self-evident that the greatest efforts of investigative thought and creative initiative will be in that direction?" (from "Literature and Revolution", 1925)

- "Technique is noticed most markedly in the case of those who have not mastered it." (from "Literature and Revolution", 1925)

- "There are no absolute rules of conduct, either in peace or war. Everything depends on circumstances." (from "My Life", 1930)

- "The fundamental premise of a revolution is that the existing social structure has become incapable of solving the urgent problems of development of the nation." (from "The History of the Russian Revolution", 1932)

- "The historic ascent of humanity, taken as a whole, may be summarized as a succession of victories of consciousness over blind forces-in nature, in society, in man himself." (from "The History of the Russian Revolution", 1932)

- "Insurrection, like war, is a continuation of politics with other instruments." (from "The History of the Russian Revolution", 1932)

- "The leader and prophet of this bourgeoisie [in India] is Gandhi. A fake leader and a false prophet!" (from a letter to the workers of India, 1939)

- "Whatever may be the circumstances of my death, I shall die with unshaken faith in the Communist future. The faith in man and in his future gives me even now such power of resistance as cannot be given by any religion." (from the last testament, 1940)

- "In a country where the sole employer is the State, opposition means death by slow starvation. The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced by a new one: who does not obey shall not eat." (from "The Road to Serfdom", F. A, Hayek)


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