Biographies

On 5 May it will be 200 years since the birth of Karl Marx. Around the world, the capitalist system is in crisis and the working class is moving into action to seize control of its destiny. In establishment circles, no longer do they snidely declare the death of Marx. On the contrary, there is fear and consternation in their ranks. There has, therefore, never been a more urgent time to study Marx’s ideas. We present here an introduction, by Alan Woods, to a new collection of articles on Marx's ideas.

As expected, the centenary of the October 1917 Revolution has been greeted with a cacophony of distortions and slanders, especially against Lenin and the Bolsheviks. Hundreds of newspaper articles, books as well as TV and radio documentaries, have been produced with this express purpose in mind, all of which talk of coups and the Bolsheviks being German agents.

To mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution, we present this original documentary celebrating the life and accomplishments of one of the revolution’s main leaders: Leon Trotsky.

Nikolai Markin was born in 1892 into a very poor family; when young his parents had been textile workers in one of the factories in Penza province but they subsequently moved to Vladikavkaz (now renamed Orjonikidze).
Nikolai's childhood was spent in harsh conditions and hardly having learnt to read and write he was forced out to work so as not to burden his parents for whom every piece of bread cost dear.

"For Dzerzhinsky the security of the revolution was the supreme law, and so he could find in his heart that unshakeable rigour without which a victorious struggle against counter-revolution would have been quite impossible."

One hundred years ago, Leon Trotsky, the great Russian revolutionary and leader of the October Revolution in 1917, left the Amherst concentration camp in Nova Scotia where he had been detained for almost a month. The story of the time that Trotsky spent in Canada, while not that well known, is a very interesting episode in Trotsky's road to revolutionary Russia, where he would aid the Russian working class in taking power later that year.

Ninety years ago, on 21st January 1924, Vladimir Lenin, the great Marxist and leader of the Russian Revolution, died from complications arising from an earlier assassin’s bullet. Ever since then there has been a sustained campaign to slander his name and distort his ideas, ranging from bourgeois historians and apologists to various reformists, liberals and assorted anarchists. Their task has been to discredit Lenin, Marxism and the Russian Revolution in the interests of the “democratic” rule of bankers and capitalists.

Today marks the anniversary of Leon Trotsky’s assassination. Struck down 78 years ago by an ice-pick to the head from a cowardly Stalinist assassin, he soon fell into a coma and died the following day, 21st August 1940. Here we republish an article from the anniversary in 2012, the fight for Trotsky's ideas remain as relevant as ever and we commemorate the life and ideas of this inspiring revolutionary, theoretician and leader.

The early symptoms of bureaucratic degeneration in Russia were already noted by Lenin in the last two years of his politically active life. He spent his last months fighting against these reactionary tendencies, leaving behind a vital heritage of struggle in his last letters and articles. The struggle of the anti-Stalinist Left Opposition, led by Trotsky after Lenin's death, really begins here.

Ted Sprague looks back at the period into which Lenin was born, the kind of society it was, and the key events that marked the young Lenin. He looks at the way Lenin discovered Marxism and made it his own, using it in later life to lead the Bolshevik party.

Sunday August 20th is the 66th anniversary of Trotsky's assassination by a Stalinist agent. On this occasion we republish Ted Grant's text Trotsky's Relevance Today, written in 1990.

Eighty years ago, on 21st January 1924, Vladimir Illyich Ulyanov, the leader of the Russian Soviet state and Communist International died after a prolonged illness. He was fifty-three years of age. His life covers years of profound upheaval, crisis and transformation - the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth century - crowned by the First World War and the Russian Revolution of 1917. He was without doubt the greatest revolutionary of his time, a giant of a man, whose actions changed the course of history in the 20th Century. [This article was originally written in 2004]

"Lenin was prepared for his struggle on an international scale not only by his profound knowledge of Marxism and his experience of the revolutionary party organization in Russia, but also by his intimate acquaintance with the workers’ movement throughout the world."

 

We republish here Trotsky's speech on the occasion of Frunze's death. It was published in lzvestlya on November 13, 1925. Trotsky was at the time the subject of a virulent witch hunt by the rising Stalinist bureaucracy. He had been forced to vacate his post as Commissar of War to Frunze, the choice of the Zinoviev-Kamenev-Stalin triumvirate. Frunze's polltlcal position was close to that of Zinoviev. Nontheless, Trotsky here pays tribute of all the great attributes of Bolshevism Incarnated In the person of Frunze.

We are reprinting on this 29th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution, Trotsky‘s brief sketch of the great Sverdlov, the incomparable Bolshevik organizer. It is well to acquaint our readers with this heroic figure, who epitomized the type of revolutionist who made possible the 1917 revolution and the subsequent victory over the counter-revolution.

"Lenin is no more, but Leninism endures. The immortal in Lenin, his doctrine, his work, his method, his example, lives in us, lives in the party that he founded, lives in the first workmen’s State whose head he was and which he guided."

Anatoly Lunacharsky's Revolutionary Silhouettes, based on the author's personal recollections, contain valuable information on the leaders of the Russian Revolution of 1917.