[Book] Lenin and Trotsky - What they really stood for

A Note from the Authors

The present work is a reply to the material on Trotsky by Monty Johnstone published in the Young Communist League journal Cogito (no. 5). That work raised a whole series of historical and ideological questions which are of fundamental importance to every active member of the labour movement today. Such issues as the theory of the permanent revolution and the history of the Bolshevik Party cannot be dealt with in a few lines. To reduce them to an affair of a few paragraphs would inevitably lead to errors and misrepresentations. We have no need, then, to apologise for the length of the present document.

We have tried to deal with the main theoretical issues raised in the Cogito article. In so doing, it was necessary to follow the arguments in the sequence in which they appear in that work, though this frequently cut across both the logical and the theoretical questions involved and the historical context in which they arose. A certain amount of repetition was therefore unavoidable, although, generally speaking, those issues which recur are dealt with differently in different sections. Thus, different aspects of the theory of permanent revolution make their appearance in the section on the history of Bolshevism, and on “Socialism in One Country”, as well as under its proper heading. On this and other questions considerations of style have been sacrificed for the sake of political clarity.

Likewise in relation to quotations. We have avoided quoting isolated phrases, which can he easily manipulated and distorted. Most of the passages quoted are reproduced in full in order to convey accurately the meaning intended by their authors. This does not make for easy reading, but is a necessary safeguard against falsification.

Monty Johnstone’s declared intention is to produce a work on Trotsky in three parts. Part One – dealing with the “ideas of Trotsky” – has already appeared. Parts Two – “Trotsky and the International Labour Movement” – and Three – “Trotskyist policies Today” – have yet to see the light of day. For our part, we welcome this challenge and are quite prepared to answer Comrade Johnstone’s arguments, point by point We have therefore refrained here from anticipating Comrade Johnstone’s future writings by developing arguments on, for example the Chinese Revolution or Popular Frontism. We have touched upon these questions only as examples and illustrations of the questions under discussion. In a future work we will deal with all these questions in a detailed manner.

The present work contains a great deal of material from the writings of Lenin. We have included extracts from many works which will be unfamiliar to most members of the Young Communist League and the labour movement generally, as they are difficult or impossible to obtain. Unless otherwise stated, quotations from Lenin come from the English Collected Works in forty-two volumes, the publication of which has recently been completed. It is necessary to point out, however, that this edition itself is far from complete. The Russian edition of collected works runs into fifty-four volumes, and contains much material, including a whole series of important letters to Trotsky written shortly before Lenin’s death, which has been left out of the English edition. As a supplement to the present work, a further pamphlet is under preparation which will make this and other relevant material available to the English reader.[1]


Alan Woods
Ted Grant
October 1969


[1] Lenin's Suppressed Letters by Alan Woods has been included in this volume as Appendix B.

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