Civil War after 1917 1917

That Lenin arrived in Petersburg and had come out against the war and against the Provisional Government at workers’ meetings, I learned from American newspapers at Amherst, a concentration camp for German prisoners in Canada. The interned German sailors began to take an immediate interest in Lenin, whose name they had come across for the first time in the news dispatches. These were all men avidly waiting for the war to end; it would open for them the gates of this prison camp. They listened with utmost attention to every voice raised against the war. Up to this time they had known of Liebknecht. But they had been told time and again that Liebknecht was a paid agent of the Entente. Now they learned of Lenin. They learned from me of Zimmerwald and Kienthal. Lenin’s anti-war speeches won many of them over to Liebknecht.

Lenin is no more. We have lost Lenin. The dark laws that govern the work of the arteries have destroyed his life. Medicine has proved itself powerless to accomplish what was passionately hoped for, what millions of human hearts demanded.

"In the most communist of circles a need has arisen to oppose old practices by new forms, new symbols, not merely in the domain of state life, where this has largely been done, but in the domain of the family."

"As long as woman is chained to her housework, the care of the family, the cooking and sewing, all her chances of participation in social and political life are cut down in the extreme."

"We must remember that different parts of the human consciousness do not change and develop simultaneously and on parallel lines. There is a certain economy in the process. Human psychology is very conservative by nature, and the change due to the demands and the push of life affects in the first place those parts of the mind which are directly concerned in the case."

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

"Every worker had a vague idea that inside those grey greatcoats, soldiers’ hearts were beating in time with his own wishes. The task of the proletariat for 1917 was to draw the army into a revolutionary front against the tsar, the landlords, the bourgeoisie and the war."

“Where there’s a will there’s a way. We have the will to world revolution, therefore we must find the way to reach the masses of the exploited and the enslaved women, whether the historical conditions make it easy or difficult.”

"The only difference between Russia and other countries in this respect is that our laws do not sanctify hypocrisy and the debasement of the woman and her child, but openly and in the name of the government declare systematic war on all hypocrisy and all debasement."

The capitalist world enters a period of industrial upswing. Booms alternate with depressions – an organic law of capitalist society. The current boom nowise indicates the establishment of equilibrium in the class structure. A crisis frequently helps the growth of anarchist and reformist moods among the workers. The boom will help fuse the working masses.

Comrades, the internal causation and lawfulness of historical development was formulated for the first time by Marxist theory. The theory of Marxism, as Marx himself wrote in the introduction to his work Critique of Political Economy, established approximately the following proposition with regard to revolution: No social system departs from the arena until it has developed the productive forces to the maximum degree attainable under the given system; and no new social system appears on the scene unless the economic premises necessary for it have already been prepared by the old social system. This truth, which is basic for revolutionary policy, unquestionably retains all its meaning as a guide for us to this very moment. But more than once has Marxism been understood mechanically, unilaterally and therefore erroneously. Wrong conclusions may likewise be drawn from the foregoing proposition.

"This transition is a difficult one, because it involves the remoulding of the most deep-rooted, inveterate, hidebound and rigid “order” (indecency and barbarity would be nearer the truth). But the transition has been started, the thing has been set in motion, we have taken the new path."

"Not a single bourgeois state, not even the most progressive, republican democratic state, has brought about complete equality of rights. But the Soviet Republic of Russia promptly wiped out, without any exception, every trace of inequality in the legal status of women, and secured her complete equality in its laws."

"The proletariat cannot achieve complete freedom, unless it achieves complete freedom for women."

"A congress is not a parlor where women display their charm, as we read in novels. A congress is a battlefield in which we fight for the knowledge we need for revolutionary action."

"Soviet Russia puts our demands for women in a new light. Under the proletarian dictatorship those demands are not objects of struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. They are part of the structure of communist society. That indicates to women in other countries the decisive importance of the winning of power by the proletariat."

"Down with the liars who are talking of freedom and equality for all, while there is an oppressed sex, while there are oppressor classes, while there is private ownership of capital, of shares, while there are the well-fed with their surplus of bread who keep the hungry in bondage. Not freedom for all, not equality for all, but a fight against the oppressors and exploiters"

"She was the sword, she was the fire, of the revolution. Rosa Luxemburg will remain one of the greatest figures in the history of international Socialism."

"The real emancipation of women, real communism, will begin only where and when an all-out struggle begins (led by the proletariat wielding the state power) against this petty housekeeping, or rather when its wholesale transformation into a large-scale socialist economy begins."

This book was written by Leon Trotsky at the height of the Russian Civil War. While it is a polemical response to German social-democrat Karl Kautsky, it is also represents the Bolshevik defense of the extraordinary means the young workers’ republic had to take in order to defend itself from the almost two dozen armies that were on its soil trying to turn back the revolution. We have kept true to the form of the style of English used in this edition of the book, making only some spelling corrections and, of course, using the contemporary title, Terrorism or Communism.