Akdeniz: Dünya devriminin yeni havzası!

The Mediterranean: new basin of world revolution!

البحر الأبيض: الحوض الجديد للثورة العالمية

مدیترانه: حوزه جدید انقلاب جهانی

Il Mediterraneo: nuovo bacino della rivoluzione mondiale!

Μεσόγειος: Νέα λεκάνη της παγκόσμιας επανάστασης!

Derya Sıpî: Deşta nû a şoreşa cihânê

Միջերկրական ծով: նոր ավազանում համաշխարհային հեղափոխության.

El Mediterráneo: Nueva cuenca de la revolución mundial!

La Méditerranée: nouveau bassin la révolution mondiale!

Mediterrâneo: bacia nova da revolução mundial!

Giants united – Lenin and Trotsky


Reply to José Capitán



For some years now, we at DIP (Revolutionary Workers Party) have been criticising the international Trotskyist movement for an ideological, organisational and political tendency to underestimate those aspects of Lenin’s Marxism which are peculiar to him. A corollary to this is that Trotskyists also depart from certain characteristics of Trotsky’s own Marxism since in his mature period, i.e. from mid-1917 on Trotsky became a Bolshevik and thus subscribed to some of the views of Lenin he had earlier criticised, primarily but not exclusively with respect to the revolutionary vanguard party. 

Our last contribution in this area was published in Turkish on our web site Gerçek (https://www.gercekgazetesi1.net/teori-tarih/lenin-yazilari-3-lenin-karsisinda-trotskiy-ve-trotskistler), as part of a series of articles in commemoration of Lenin on the centenary of his death, signed in our own name. Our comrade José Capitán from our sister party in Venezuela, Opción Obrera, wrote a rejoinder to this article (https://opcion-obrera.blogspot.com/2024/02/sobre-los-trotskistas.html), criticising, as far as we can see, two aspects: first, the loose use of the appellation “Trotskyists”, and, secondly the alternative that we, along with many others, propose of calling ourselves “revolutionary Marxists” rather than Trotskyists.

Internationalism has its ironies and these are amplified, along with opportunities, in the age of digital communication. Comrade José read our article in Turkish (obviously through digital translation), then translated our article into Spanish (https://opcion-obrera.blogspot.com/2024/02/los-escritos-de-lenin-trotsky-y-los.html), publishing it along with his critique of it in Spanish on the web site of his political group, Opción Obrera, and we are now answering this critique in English, to be published on our international web site RedMed. Obviously, for many of the readers of RedMed, who speak neither Spanish nor Turkish, it will not be very easy to understand the argumentation of either side.

But the irony does not stop there. Comrade José did have the possibility, thanks to new digital techniques, of translating our last article on this question from Turkish into Spanish, but missed a very important part of the debate. This was a DIP statement written on the 80th anniversary of Trotsky’s death at the hands of a Stalinist agent. Our article, the subject of Comrade José’s critique, does make a clear reference to this text, fundamental from DIP’s point of view, but naturally only to its original Turkish. Yet an English translation does exist (http://redmed.org/article/dip-statement-80th-anniversary-trotskys-assassination-return-trotsky-lenin), but as it was published back in 2020, Comrade José, who can read in English, could not have known this. That is a misfortune, since our latest article criticised by Comrade José, is really a footnote, an addendum to that statement. 

So to carry the debate forward, let us refer to that statement in its English version and thus deepen the comradely debate between us. Even the title of that statement (“DIP Statement on the 80th Anniversary of Trotsky’s Assassination: Return to Trotsky via Lenin”) shows our fundamental understanding that the two giants of world revolution in the 20th century, Lenin and Trotsky, have to be treated in unison, as one. Otherwise, the more one distances oneself from Lenin, the more one loses one’s Trotskyism as well. What the title insinuates is very clear within the body of the statement itself: the “Trotskyists” have not moved away only from Lenin; they have thereby distanced themselves from Trotsky. If you do not treat them as one, you move away from both, for in reality they are one. If you disregard this objective historic unity, you may be thinking you are distancing yourself from only one, but in practice you are moving away from both.

The fundamental reason why Lenin and Trotsky should be treated as one is explained very clearly in the introductory passages of the DIP statement. Having asserted that the Trotsky assassination was not aimed only at Trotsky’s mortal being, but “also on the continuity of Bolshevism and of the October revolution in Russia and internationally. It was thus an attempt at assassinating the heritage of Lenin, the greatest revolutionary of the 20th century”, the statement went on to explain the reason for this observation:

“For despite his immense contribution in his own right to Marxism, to the world revolution and to the emancipation of human kind as a revolutionary leader and as a Marxist theoretician, the fundamental importance of Trotsky and his major contribution to the communist movement, when considered on a world-historical scale, derives from the fact that he alone, from among his generation, fought to the end for the continuity of the Leninist heritage and the Bolshevik practice.”

This, we think, is a very well-balanced assessment of Trotsky’s historic significance as a revolutionary. It does bring out Trotsky’s “immense” contribution to Marxism, world revolution and revolutionary theory, but places his “major” contribution in fighting to the end, when others capitulated one after the other in the 1930s, “for the continuity of the Leninist heritage”. Those who do not accept this judgment as fair are, we think, in disagreement with Trotsky himself. This is what the “footnote”, as we call our latest article criticised by Comrade José, set out to show partially. Trotsky considers Lenin his “master” and thinks that what he does for the revolutionary continuity of the October revolution and of Bolshevism is the most important work of his life. This is what we showed, quoting Trotsky himself in that article. Those who think otherwise are doing injustice to Trotsky’s own historic project.

Of course, this is not where Comrade José and we disagree. He says at the very outset of his rejoinder that he is in agreement with us on the substance, but disagrees on the form. That disagreement on form relates to what are but the two sides of the same coin: the appellation “Trotskyists” and its alternative “revolutionary Marxist”.

Regarding the former, it is true that there are Trotskyists and Trotskyists. There are those who have battled all their lives in revolutionary fashion and those who have, as Comrade José reminds us, have even reneged on the fundamental plank of our communist programme, i.e, the dictatorship of the proletariat. But the attitude of disregarding the essential importance of Lenin’s Marxism and abandoning him to oblivion, we think, is common to most Trotskyists.  Let us be even clearer: many of those Trotskyists who have fought all their lives with a revolutionary spirit are also guilty of neglecting Lenin’s legacy and teachings. 

As for the appellation “revolutionary Marxist”, Comrade José’s protestation is, we believe, incorrect. Using the adjective “revolutionary” for Marxism, he says, implies that there may be a Marxism that is not revolutionary and thus ends up as a contradiction in terms. However, living practice is made up of contradictions. The fact that Marxism as a doctrine is by its very nature revolutionary through and through does not imply that all who are considered to be Marxists are revolutionary. It was Lenin who coined the term” revolutionary Marxism” as an antidote to the impostors. What he meant by this was that the broad public may see some large currents as Marxist (think of the revisionists and the opportunists of the Second International and later Kautsky and his like), but there are also Marxists who distinguish themselves from the impostors by proudly declaring they are revolutionary, while the others are reformists.

The substance of our argument is this: we need to study and own Lenin as much as, or even more than, we study Trotsky. “More than”? Well, it was Trotsky who said about Lenin “he was my master”! Does one study the master or the student more?