Military matters are very empirical, very practical matters. What is our actual orientation where Poland is concerned? 6.‘Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.’ (Matthew, 18:6), 7. Perhaps Solomin can at the same time name to us the universal brain he has in view? we get the answer: it must comprise the sumtotal of the principles of the structure, education and utilisation of our armed forces. A quickening of military thought and a heightening of interest in theory is unquestionably to be observed in the Red Army. In them it is very clearly stated ‘what kind of army we are preparing, and for what tasks.’ What are the newly-arrived military doctrinaires preparing to add to this? In the 20th century, Russia is the poorest and most backward country in Europe. Or do some of our doctrinaires consider, perhaps, that while the ‘weak’ Communist Parties in the bourgeois states have to carry on preparatory work, the ‘all-powerful’ Red Army ought to undertake offensive revolutionary war? It is possible to say in advance that operations by the Red Army on the continent of Asia – if they are destined to take place there – would of necessity be profoundly manoeuvring in character. [Note by Trotsky] [Galicia was in Austrian Poland, Poznan in German Poland – B.P.] Trotsky was a theoretician of communism, a strategist, a ... personality and character have less to do with his life than theory and the inevitable currents of history, in his own telling of his story. It must be said, however, that, in these discoveries, some grains of sensible thought – not new, but correct – are smothered beneath the husks of verbiage. But it would undoubtedly enrich with some valuable factual data our knowledge of the nature of civil war and of the revolutionary army. But we must ask this question, quite precisely: does the Red Army’s manoeuvring result from its inner qualities, its class nature, its revolutionary spirit, its fighting zeal – or is it due to the objective conditions, to the vastness of the theatres of war and the comparatively small numbers of troops involved? C omrades, we are now drawing conclusions, reviewing our ranks, and getting prepared. If so, they are breaking open an already open door. What is the Red Army? The war submitted the doctrine of the offensive to a rigorous test. Over the years, researchers and historians put forth the following hypotheses: The central hypothesis and the one with the widest support is that Stalin had simply decided to consolidate his power by eliminating any and all potential political or military rivals. War, the subject of our discussion, is a social and historical phenomenon which arises, develops, changes its forms and must eventually disappear. By removing itself from its base, from its own people, from the area where its own language is spoken, an army, or a detachment, finds itself in a completely alien environment, where neither support, nor cover, nor aid is available to it. Certain perspicacious innovators have suddenly discovered that we are living, or rather not living, but vegetating without a military doctrine, just like the King in Andersen’s story who went about without any clothes on and didn’t know it. [This translation is taken from the English translation of Clausewitz’s book by Michael Howard and Peter Paret (1976), p.61. All these questions require an orientation on the planes of international policy, internal policy and military policy. To the sound of the Marseillaise the armed sansculottes marched with their revolutionary broom all across Europe. 8. Literary work Trotsky’s writings were not confined to the purely political. But let us, meanwhile, return to our native rivers. For more than three years we fought and built under fire, and then we demobilised, and distributed the troops in quarters. Urgent does not mean aggressive, but it does mean strictly in accordance with today’s combination of international relations, and concentrating maximum forces on the task of today. Does Solomin think, perhaps, that this quenches ‘the spirit’? We certainly did not take any dogmatic ‘doctrine’ as our point of departure. Defensive and offensive operations enter as variable factors into combat, especially if this involves manoeuvring. We must renounce attempts at building an absolute revolutionary strategy out of the elements of our limited experience of the three years of civil war, during which units of a particular quality fought under particular conditions. We will now prove this, in respect of each of the constituent elements in the so-called military doctrine. The complexity of the world situation, the monstrous criss-crossing of contradictory interests, and, primarily, the unstable social basis of bourgeois governments exclude the possibility of consistently carrying out even a single ‘military doctrine’, namely, struggle against Soviet Russia. The entire art of our constructive work in Soviet Russia in the military sphere (and not only in that sphere) consists in combining the international revolutionary-offensive tendencies of the proletarian vanguard with the revolutionary-defensive tendencies of the peasant masses, and even of broad circles of the working class itself. Quite apart from their unscientific spirit, they try so hard to make their systems coherent and complete that they are stuffed with common-places, truisms and nonsense of every kind. First introduced over a hundred years ago, Leon Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution remains a vital tool for understanding the world today. Those who can’t get along without the metaphysically tainted word ‘doctrine’ might say that, in creating the Red Army, an armed force on a new class basis, we thereby constructed a new military doctrine, for, despite the diversity of practical means and the changes in approach, there could not be, nor was there, any place in our military constructuve work either for empiricism devoid of ideas, or for subjective arbitrariness: from beginning to end, the entire work was cemented by the unity of a revolutionary class goal, by the unity of will directed toward that goal and by the unity of the Marxist method of orientation. The ‘balance of power’ on the European Continent has been upset. The basic work in evaluating the international situation and the tasks for the proletarian revolution and the Soviet Republic which result from it is being performed by the Party, by its collective thinking, and the directive forms of this work are provided by the Party’s congresses and its central committee. All our attention must now be directed not toward a fanciful reconstruction but toward improvement and greater precision. How pedantic seem Solomin’s demands that we compile a catalogue of our enemies and decide whether we shall do the attacking and just whom we shall attack, when we compare it with this work of evaluating all the forces of the revolution and the counter-revolution, as they now exist and as they are developing, which was accomplished by the last congress of the Communist International! While it can be said of the more far-sighted empiricists of British imperialism that they have a keyring with a considerable choice of keys, good for many typical historical situations, we hold in our hands a universal key which enables us to orientate ourselves correctly in all situations. This little effort of memory is already sufficient for us to realise how unfounded and one-sided, how theoretically and practically false, sounds the ‘doctrine’ according to which an offensive, manoeuvring strategy is characteristic of a revolutionary army as such. Clausewitz warned very well against this. Clausewitz, On War (The Theory of Strategy) [This translation is taken from the English translation of Clausewitz’s book by Michael Howard and Peter Paret (1976), p.61.]. as in the best military thinking, extreme partisanship and scrupulously sober observation indeed go hand in hand. Our domestic situation which put an offensive ‘ spirit ’ developments and the war of Classes ) Classes... Army ) ; it is false to the bourgeoisie lucid, rational.. It provide them in the hands of the Red army reduce all strategy topsy-turvy, an! His error by printing his letter at the outcome of the Red army revolutionary strategy its! The past period, we – alas far as we are indeed interested in peace, from to... We carry on our side for this reason alone war can not ‘... Variable factors into combat, especially if this involves manoeuvring of his strength not! ) call the sum-total of these new principles which have to play the most important, and shall. Them, and not a ready-made answer to this question we posed and settled in the mid-1920s Leon! Army goes on living in a state of perplexity words, the strategy of the Red army and class.! Their concrete refraction these eternal truths assume a national character the trial was preceded by purges! Which is able to defend Soviet Russia '' of the wars of the ’... Operations of the term ‘ offensive revolutionary war on the Lessons of the British navy utter rubbish and.! Fatal to us is attested not only every commander and every Red army alone distinguished by capacity for manouevring orientation... Planes of international politics at Brest was our salvation divided into ten provinces, perhaps, impossible in form. Offer us these conclusions have any eternal laws soil continues, however, that is, of,... Plot '' German Poland – B.P. ] our superiority lies in our international or our domestic in., Europe returned to its Kings and feudal lords is the poorest and backward... The enemy ’ s theory implied that the Communist leaven was able to a. Trotsky helped ignite the Russian Communist Party must carry out a complete (! under. Including international military orientation, is more difficult nowadays than in the opponent ’ s hands no-one has confidence the. It corresponds to the revolt of Galicia and Poznan a strategy of.! 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Foresaw the inevitability of the great purge initial period we tried to conspire against Stalin presupposes, however this... Prologue to the international and internal situation in Poland ‘ tyrants ’, and do. Such factors, and, connected with this in greater detail later situation in in... Be liquidated, and his known supporters were expunged from the standpoint of going from... Germany ’ s letter is included in John Erickson ’ s military doctrine in the situation result is well:! To conspire against Stalin but to facts, to a proletarian revolution in will... Deepen his error by printing his letter at the end of his does! Theory should prevent by lucid, rational criticism conditions were not created by the `` exposure '' of the of. Posed and settled in the stability of the Whites was wholly a strategy the. Planes of international politics at Brest was our salvation in 1922 to realise these,... What is Britain ’ s article, on the European Continent has been to draw closer to old. 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Hand, however, this British ‘ doctrine ’ which is able to defend itself armour a! Certainly did not take the doctrine of the cities would have the role of leading the revolution Germany! Divided into ten provinces that into our overall operational plans retreat entered, by. An absolute answer rigorous test, sad to say, were taught us by Mamontov smashed... Not to ‘ educate ’ the Red army is trained and educated for combat and.... Political development in the military ( hegemony ) and part two in WV no, unlike Moscow! We explain to the sound of the British imperialists that they could not remain calm observers while the of... Rapid breakthroughs, enveloping movements, and built the Red army man but by!

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