Statement to the Trotsky Museum Conference

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Message from Jeff Mackler, National Secretary, Socialist Action, U.S. fraternal section of the Fourth International (founded by Leon Trotsky), and from Barry Weisleder, Federal Secretary, Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste, in solidarity with the Fourth International in Canadian state.

Comrades and friends,

Please accept our deepest apologies for not being with you on this special weekend as we all join in the effort to preserve and expand the Leon Trotsky Institute and Museum.

We extend a loving embrace to Esteban Volkov, friend and comrade, and representative of the revolutionary tradition pioneered by his grandfather – a tradition that lives today everywhere human beings fight for freedom and dignity, against the ravages of the crisis-plagued world capitalist system.

Trotsky once said that his greatest contribution to humanity was ensuring the continuity of Marxism, of revolutionary socialism, after its degradation, betrayal and abandonment by the Joseph Stalin regime. His greatest achievement, Trotsky insisted, was the founding of the Fourth International.

True enough! Our movement would have faltered without Trotsky’s guidance, but we submit that his ideas would never have been lost.

We point to another contribution of Trotsky that rivals, if not exceeds, all others. There was a moment of truth in October 1917 that the world will never forget. It was in fact on October 11, the day that Lenin and the Bolshevik Party voted to prepare for an insurrection to challenge for power in the world’s largest country – inside the empire that was called a prison house of nations and oppressed peoples, conquered by Czarism. Russia was then the nation whose rulers insisted on sacrificing the people to pursue an imperialist war fought for the rich at the expense of the lives of the poor.

The sheer audacity of Lenin’s proposal shook the Bolshevik ranks to their core, leading most to regard Lenin’s direction as more a statement of intent than a deed that could be carried out immediately.

The stakes were high. Failure meant certain death and the annihilation of a party that had spent decades in preparation.

Trotsky was assigned by the Petrograd Soviet and his party to take charge. He was chosen by Lenin, still in hiding, because Trotsky was the single leader who, above all others, understood the enormity of the task and would not falter. Trotsky took this assignment seriously, as he did all others. He never questioned its necessity, or pondered the consequence of failure.

Indeed so ripe were the conditions for revolution and so prepared were the Bolshevik ranks that few believed that the deed had actually been done on October 25. “A one-day coup!” the bourgeoisie prattled, as they sipped their drinks in the fine cafe’s on the Nevsky Prospect and published their denunciations via their still roaring newspaper presses.

Nothing had really happened they insisted. Kerensky would soon return with troops from the front, and the Bolshevik scoundrels would be ousted in a matter of days.

But there were no troops to restore capitalist order. They had gone over to the side of the revolution, as had the urban working masses, the Navy, the Petrograd garrison, the mass of the peasantry – indeed all of the oppressed and exploited.

The revolution led by Lenin and Trotsky was achieved in a single day, but it was preceded by the theory and practice of Marx, Engels, and many other revolutionary fighters over the course of a lifetime.

More than three-quarters of a century of struggle crystallized in that one day. The earth shook and the working class and peasant masses came to power.

That precious moment when Lenin and Trotsky teamed up to lead in the seizure of power was perhaps humankind’s most sacred achievement. It was the first time that the people, the producers of social wealth, ruled in their own name, through their own institutions and in their own interests.

Trotsky, co-leader with Lenin, in that historic moment, resides in our hearts and minds today. Our collective effort in maintaining and improving the Museum and Institute is indispensable both to his legacy, and as a pledge to the future which must be cleansed of all oppression.

For this valiant effort, let us put aside differences. Let us preserve for all generations this precious ground and what Leon Trotsky contributed to humanity’s bright future. He was no harmless icon. Capitalists of the world beware! His followers are on the march!

We greet you comrades in unity and solidarity. Let us restore this Museum and Institute and strengthen the ideas that made Trotsky’s life an inspiration to us all.

-Jeff Mackler, Socialist Action, United States of America
-Barry Weisleder, Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste, Canadian state
August 19, 2010

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