Trotsky On The Platform In Petrograd
(From a Russian paper, by unknown author)
Trotsky, always Trotsky.
Since I had seen him the last time, he has been advanced in rank: he has become the chairman of the Petrograd Soviet. He has succeeded Tchcheidze, the wise, sober leader who has lost the confidence of the revolutionary masses. He holds the place of Lenin, the recognized leader of the left wing of Social-Democracy, whose absence from the capital is due to external, accidental causes.
It seems to me that Trotsky has become more nervous, more gloomy, and more restrained. Something like a freezing chill emanates from his deep and restless eyes; a cool, determined, ironical smile plays around his mobile Jewish lips, and there is a chill in his well-balanced, clear-cut words which he throws into his audience with a peculiar calmness.
He seems almost lonesome on the platform. Only a small group of followers applaud. The others protest against his words or cast angry, restless glances at him. He is in a hostile gathering. He is a stranger. Is he not also a stranger to those who applaud him and in whose name he speaks from this platform?
Calm and composed he looks at Ms adversaries, and you feel it is a peculiar joy for him to see the rage, the fear, the excitement his words provoke. He is a Mephisto who throws words like bombs to create a war of brothers at the bedside of their sick mother.
He knows in advance which words will have the greatest effect, which would provoke the most bitter resentment. And the more extreme, the more painful his words are, the firmer and stronger is his voice, the slower his speech, the more challenging his tone. He speaks a sentence, then he stops to wait till the storm is over, then he repeats his assertion, with sharper intonation and with more disdain in his tone. Only his eyes become more nervous, and a peculiar disquieting fire is blazing in them.
This time he does not speak; he reads a written declaration. He reads it with pauses, sometimes accentuating the words, sometimes passing over them quickly, but all the time he is aware of the effect and waits for a response.
His voice is the voice of a prophet, a preacher:
"Petrograd is in danger! The Revolution is in danger! The people are in danger!" . . .
He is a stranger on the platform, and yet—electric currents flow from him to his surroundings, creating sincere though primitive enthusiasm on one side, on the other anger and spite. He opens vast perspectives before the naive faithful masses:
“Long live an immediate, honest, democratic peace!
“All power to the Workmen's Councils! All the land to the people!“