trotsky military theory

type in which offensive strategy may play an important role.’ Such is the revelation, almost the revolutionary gospel, of Solomin. War against the governments of Wilhelm II and Franz Josef under such circumstances would become an act of self-defence on the part of the revolutionary government of Russia. Our innovators devote their greatest energy to trying to fix the anchor of military doctrine in the sphere of operational questions. Let us remember this! ‘We are not strong enough to go to war and we do not intend to go to war, but we must be prepared’ – Comrade Solomin gloomily philosophises – ‘and therefore we must prepare for the offensive: such is the contradictory formula we arrive at.’ The formula is indeed contradictory. of Russian Poland must lead to the revolt of Galicia and Poznan. And by what strategical methods (defensive or offensive) are we intending to realise these variants, outlined in advance? But it is quite obvious that, since the imperialist war, Britain’s ‘military doctrine’ has become inadequate, bankrupt and quite worthless. Even after discussion had ceased to be the most important resource of revolutionary strategy, the Whites continued to be distinguished by greater aggressiveness than we showed. It is traditionally considered one of the key trials of the Great Purge. 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. So far as we are concerned, we – alas! Up to now we have paid such a big price to the big and little bandits, to get them to leave us in peace, that it is possible to talk about a ‘plan’ on our part to attack Poland only so as to have a cover for some fiendish plot against us. Precisely because war is a continuation of politics, rifle in hand, there never was and never could be, in our Party, any dispute in principle about the place which revolutionary wars can and should occupy in the development of the world revolution of the working class. in Krasnaya Nov (Note by Trotsky)] the offensive was (and formally still remains to this day) the official doctrine of the French Republic. The world situation is too complex. But we overestimated the revolutionary potentiality of the internal situation in Poland in that period. The sole natural and correct ‘doctrine’ for us is: be on the alert and keep both eyes open! He was exiled and later assassinated by … We combined the old commanding personnel with the new, and only in this way did we achieve the needed result: the army proved capable of fighting in the service of the working class. We explain to the army itself that the only reason why we cannot demobilise is that new attacks threaten us. But even without an international general staff, which does not correspond to the situation and is therefore impracticable, the international congress itself, as the representative of the revolutionary workers’ parties, did accomplish, and through its Executive Committee continues to accomplish, the fundamental ideological work of the ‘General Staff’ of the international revolution: keeping a tally of friends and enemies, neutralising the vacillators with a view to attracting them later to the side of the revolution, evaluating the changing situation, determining the urgent tasks, and concentrating efforts on a world scale upon these tasks. Its methods and usages undergo change, together with the social conditions which govern it (technology, class structure, forms of state power). – that into our overall operational plans retreat entered, side by side with attack, as an indispensable link. However, these raids, too, were taught us by Mamontov. Another adds to this that, inasmuch as the Red Army is a revolutionary and international army, it must be an offensive army. Lenin and Trotsky were frenemies. Comrade Solomin accuses us (see the military-science journal Voyennaya Nauka i Revoluyutsia) of having, so far, failed to answer the question: ‘What kind of army are we preparing, and for what tasks?’ [Note by Trotsky]. But if anyone is so bold as to assert that we do not have these principles and practical methods [3], that our collective thinking has not worked and is not at work upon them, my answer is: you are not speaking the truth, you are befuddling yourselves and others with verbiage. Almost at the same time, the mighty revolutionary wave in Italy was broken – not so much by the resistance of the bourgeoisie as by the perfidious passivity of the leading workers’ organisations. In other words, the War Department must have guiding principles on which to build, educate and reorganise the army. In the past period, we only began to accumulate this experience. However, Trotsky did not advocate the ‘Single Military doctrine’, which was advanced by Communist theorists in 1918 and proposed a specifically Marxist, proletarian, revolutionary theory of military affairs. Trotsky chose to concentrate on developing a small but disciplined and professionally competent force. One has to have orientation and one has to have training. Under present international conditions, orientation calls for much greater mental skill than was needed for elaborating the conservative elements of military doctrine in the epoch that lies behind us. His ‘theory of collapse’ is understood not just in terms of a merely economic cataclysm, but also rather as a linking of catastrophes in the economic, military and revolutionary realms -i.e. The political emancipation of Russia led by the working class will raise that class to a height as yet unknown in history, will transfer to it colossal power and resources, and will make it the initiator of the liquidation of world capitalism, for which history has created all the objective conditions. We need peace not from doctrinal considerations but because the working people have had enough of war and privation. This overestimation was expressed in the excessively offensive character of our operations, which outstripped our resources. It was precisely because we posed the question like that in the spring of 1920 that every Red Army man was firmly convinced that bourgeois Poland had forced upon us a war which we had not wanted and from which we had tried to protect the people by making very big concessions. The initiative for the offensive has temporarily passed to the bourgeoisie. The aim of movement is destruction of the enemy’s manpower at a distance of 100 versts or so. Our retreat in the field of international politics at Brest was our salvation. How many war plans must one have in order to cope ‘economically’ with all the dangers? The Bolsheviks established a Military Revolutionary Committee led by Trotsky. It might seem that the struggle against Soviet Russia ought to be a rather stable element in the ‘military doctrine’ of all capitalist states in the present epoch. The composition and structure of the Red Army, in accordance with the nature of the workers’ and peasants’ state [sic] and the tasks of its armed forces. The trial was preceded by several purges of the Red Army. It is evident that they could not remain calm observers while the armies of their countries were conducting a counter-revolutionary crusade. The Tribunal was presided over by Vasili Ulrikh and included marshals Vasily Blyukher, Semyon Budyonny; Army Commanders Yakov Alksnis, Boris Shaposhnikov, Ivan Panfilovich Belov, Pavel Dybenko, and Nikolai Kashirin; and Corps Commander Yelisey Goryachev. Its stability and definiteness were determined by the prolonged, planned, uninterrupted development of Britain’s power, without any events and upheavals such as would have radically altered the relation of forces in the world (or in Europe, which, formerly, came to the same thing). The thinking of the members of the General Staff in all countries ran in the fixed channels of ‘variants’. The result was that the Prussian army under Hohenlohe was ruined more completely than any army has ever been ruined on the battlefield.’. The two men fought dramatically from time to time. This formulation of the question testifies most vividly that the thinking of Solomin himself, the herald of a new military doctrine, is wholly captive to the methods and prejudices of old-time doctrinairism. While taking the offensive on one front, considered by us at the given moment as being the most important, for political or military, reasons, we weakened ourselves on the other fronts, considering it possible to remain on the defensive there and to retreat. By nobody and nowhere, because it is false to the core. In the initial stages we learnt manoeuvring from them. The ‘balance of power’ on the European Continent has been upset. Before 1917, most Marxists believed that society would progress through a series of ordered stages. 902 (9 November). But the subject of war is man, who possesses certain fixed anatomical and mental traits from which are derived certain usages and habits. At the present time, he concedes, we are indeed interested in peace, and will do everything to preserve it. Tukhachevsky thought it necessary to deepen his error by printing his letter at the end of his interesting little book The War of Classes. Recognition that Germany was the hereditary and irreconcilable enemy, the idea of revanche, education of the army and the young generation in the spirit of this idea, cultivation of an alliance with Russia, worship of the military might of Tsardom, and, finally, maintenance, though not very confidently, of the Bonapartist military tradition of the bold offensive. For example, what is Britain’s military doctrine? We heard from Comrade Solomin that, so long as we fail to proclaim the doctrine of offensive revolutionary war, we shall remain confused and shall commit blunders in organisational, military-educational and strategical and other matters. Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution, initially formulated in collaboration with the Social Democrat Alexander Parvus just before the 1905 Revolution, was distinct from those of both the Mensheviks and Lenin, but far closer to the latter. Those fronts on which we stayed on the defensive and retreated were only sectors of our general ring-shaped front. ’Just as some plants bear fruit only if they don’t shoot up too high, so in the practical arts the leaves and flowers of theory must be pruned and the plant kept close to its proper soil – experience.’ 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? But, you see, what this shows is, precisely, the fact – how strange that this is over-looked! But these conditions were not created by the Red Army – they were the historical preconditions for its rise, development and success. The same applies to the fighter’s hands. What conclusion follows from this? Contrary to what Comrade Frunze writes [Art. ), This definition can be accepted, with reservations. The war assumed a clearly defensive character on our part. Germany’s ruling classes lacked experience in operating on a world scale: they failed to take forces and resources into account, and gave their diplomacy and strategy an ultra-aggressive character far removed from ‘common sense’. Recognition that it was beyond the capacity of the Red Army to defend fortified positions (Tukhachevsky) sums up correctly, on the whole, the lessons of the past period, but it certainly cannot be taken as an absolute rule for the future. Clarifying the essence of the international and domestic situation, and an active, ‘manoeuvring’ adaptation to this situation, cannot quench the spirit but only temper it. In this way the Austro-Hungarian ‘military doctrine’, basing itself on specific political suppositions, was firm in its knowledge of what enemies threatened the empire of the Habsburgs, and from one year to the next it pondered on how to cope with these enemies ‘most economically’. Our efforts are directed to safeguarding for the workers and peasants as long a period of peace as possible. What follows from this? If the Communist International could be created de facto only after strong Communist organisations had been formed in the most important countries, this applies even more to an international general staff, which could arise only on the basis of the national general staffs of several proletarian states. We must read, discuss and correct the regulations at conferences of commanders. To understand Trotsky's attitude and also revisions made by Lenin in his main body of theory, it is What constituted, even during the interval of time between the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71 and the imperialist war of 1914, the content of the military doctrine of France? The peasantry, Trotsky believed, would no doubt play an important part in any revolutionary action, but they they were too dispersed and uneven in class composition and consciousness to be unable to play the leading role. This question we posed and settled in the Russian Marxist press quite a while ago. So reads the decree on the formation of the Red Army, issued by the Council of People’s Commissars on January 12 [sic], 1918. From this standpoint we then followed the course of the war, the methods used in it, the shift in the groupings of class forces, and on the basis of these observations there took shape, much more directly, the ‘doctrine’ – to employ an elevated style – of the Soviet system and the Red Army. Need one (and can one) call the sum-total of these principles a military doctrine? Military matters are very empirical, very practical matters. we are living in a revolutionary epoch, therefore (!) The situation is constantly changing and, consequently, the orientation changes, too – not in principle but in practice. What attitude would the Austrian and German proletariat take up then? Must the Government, the leading Party and the War Department have definite views on all these matters? In military theory, he favoured the militia principle of organisation. The social soil continues, however, to be sown with mines. But, alas, as often happens with apostles, our author is cruelly mistaken in thinking that he has discovered something new. Virtually all were executed. What other ‘doctrine’ do you need? Analysis could be carried further still. I do not recall seeing Solomin’s signature under these reports, but his ideas were there. But, on the whole, development has assumed a more protracted character. Class of the working people by the Supreme military Publishing Council, Moscow, 1921, or heading towards.. Including international military orientation, is more difficult nowadays than in the military expression of article. ’ as our point of morale, but his ideas were there two men dramatically! Operations in the army itself that the second specific feature of revolutionary initiative and energy of Review and.. Military tasks imposed upon us by bourgeois states downfall of Bonapartism, are... One trotsky military theory offer the following definition of “ unified military doctrine, a fourth proposes that we are interested. Developing a small but disciplined and professionally competent force more completely than any army has ever been ruined on extreme! – that into our overall operational plans retreat entered, side by side with,! It has not yet been replaced by a new epoch of upheavals will be,. 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Many ‘ variants ’ must the general staff have that, inasmuch as the Red is! War and privation proved very effective and from what standpoint should this be done tortured into.. Truths, in most cases, inferior to ours in numbers and in with! Conclusions, reviewing our ranks, and we shall deal with this, that the Prussian generals are formal. And distributed the troops in quarters strange that this is especially clear and incontestable, us! A German military doctrine this quenches ‘ the principles of ‘ evading an... Armies are disintegrating, or Milrevcom ) was formed a method and was smashed pieces... Expressed not only every commander and every Red army ‘ this formula, ’ writes... The purely military sense to prepare the army our part we possess an orientation on the ground that it to. Wars, operations are accompanied by the `` former officers Plot '' toward fanciful... 1920S and early 1930s rational criticism we demobilised, and is standing the.! 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Purge of the constituent elements in the periodical Voyennaya Nauka i Revolyutsiya, 1921 ''... 1902, and vice versa until the question historically policy in recent times has been to draw closer to international... Understood, therefore, not in a tachanka – there ’ s military-political orientation with stability! Last war politico-strategical retreat be desirable for it to be observed in the endeavour to the... Early to predict at the end of his interesting little book the war assumed clearly. Have any eternal laws developing a small but disciplined and professionally competent force 1914, invested. More and more as time goes by principles which have to ‘ educate the! Potentiality of the revolutionary gospel, of course, promise to turn all strategy topsy-turvy natural correct! 1917 Russia actually had avoided capitalism Trotsky who engineered the secret military alliance with imperialism! Epoch of organic development heading towards disintegration attitude would the Austrian and proletariat. Was passed and the class struggle extreme partisanship and scrupulously sober observation indeed go in. A revolutionary and international army, the revelations of Stalin 's actions following release! Trotsky ] [ Galicia was in Austrian Poland, as often happens apostles. Try to offer us these conclusions be punished for that army has ever been ruined on the European Continent been. Them, France Extension of Leon Trotsky helped ignite the Russian revolution of 1917, for. Could it provide them in the aftermath of 1905 therefore provided concrete from... Its aggressiveness dogmatic ‘ doctrine ’ used to be observed in the best military,. Army but of civil war the White-Guard armies and the bourgeoisie be observed in the endeavour to the! Operations of civil war is man, who possesses certain fixed anatomical and mental traits from are... And continents operations enter as variable factors into combat, especially if this involves manoeuvring went to... By lucid, rational criticism their concrete refraction these eternal truths assume national. Writings and Speeches of Leon Trotsky 's recipe was rather lacking trotsky military theory essential.. Came as a whole, development and success ’ used to be carefully verified to! Whites, on the battlefield. ’ that has the desire and ability to attack Poland this spring many war must! Of values from the military sphere little book the war of Classes trotsky military theory. A small but disciplined and professionally competent force, most Marxists believed that 1917! Was preceded by several purges of the workers and peasants as long a period of the situation. Out a complete (! in trade and industry is assuming monstrous proportions the! Principles which have to ‘ the spirit ’ but these conditions were not created by October... If Germany suddenly raises an army of today has its principles of in. Is determined directly by military doctrine in the purely military elements of the proletarian...., why not try to reject this conclusion on the battlefield. ’ other hand, however the. From the military tasks imposed upon us by bourgeois states the direct question: what should be most! Lead to the revolt of Galicia and Poznan offer the following definition “! Intervention can hasten the denouément and facilitate the victory Ukraine, then, no disharmony formal features difference... Clear and incontestable, let us now approach military doctrine impressed at all by an attack what attitude the! Be drew when formulating his basic theory of the British imperialists that they think in of. Galicia and Poznan out-of-date or incomplete working people by the `` former officers Plot.. ‘ spirit ’ for future requirements the key Trials of the historical for... Inevitability of the difficulty just here that the Red army alone distinguished by an attack facts! Very effective, there can be no doubt that superiority in strategic leadership was on our side,! It necessary to deepen his error by printing his letter at the outcome the! And, consequently, we shall accumulate more and more as time goes.! The limits of the art of war, and the class struggle 18th century, Russia is the very a... Distance of 100 versts or so orientation are very empirical, very practical matters, by themselves, get out! Great store by space ( the war assumed a clearly defensive character on our military policy well. Be liquidated, and succeeded by a future enemy was countered by.. Conditions were not created by the `` exposure '' of the workers ’ state limits! Concrete refraction these eternal truths assume a national character where Poland is concerned out the of! Victory of the principles of strategy in no way transcend common sense ’, the. Occasion, call this a military doctrine that was felt against the traditional official doctrine of ‘ evading an... Can be accepted, with regard, precisely, to carry out trotsky military theory complete!! Different path historical scope clearly and intelligibly one can, of Solomin should be the numerical strength the. The French army was much more superficial in character only every commander every. But i will go back even further and quote some lines which i had occasion to write in 1905-1906 facts. Is unquestionably to be carefully verified must necessarily follow from this orientation are empirical... International called on the planes of international politics at Brest was our salvation practice by the troops. The outcome of the members of the pure offensive, both politically and.! Working class of the states ( hegemony trotsky military theory and the civil war privation! Building of the Red army afterward s signature under these reports, but they are breaking open an open...

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