Against Trotskyism: A Reading Guide

“The entire edifice of Leninism at the present time is built on lies and falsification and bears within itself the poisonous elements of its own decay” – Leon Trotsky, letter to Chkheidze, 1913.

The question of Trotsky is not merely a historical question. Firstly and most importantly it is a question of political line. There are significant political reasons that Trotskyism has failed to ever lead a successful revolution. It is a fact that Trotsky, on the one hand, and Lenin and Stalin on the other, put forward two very different and opposing lines on almost every major question for the international communist movement. Rejected by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and by the Soviet people as well, Trotsky then turned bitterly to the organization of counter-revolution, both within the Soviet Union and internationally.

To help clearify these important points for the international communist movement, The Marxist-Leninist has put together this reading guide. It has been incorporated into the Marxist-Leninist Study Guide as well. The main texts here are (1) M.J. Olgin’s outstanding study of Trotskyism which deals well with the political differences between Bolshevism and Trotskyism, (2) an article by Nadezhda Krupskaya (the wife of Lenin) on Trotsky’s distortions of the history of the October Revolution, and (3) an eyewitness account by Harry Haywood, the great African American Communist leader, of Trotsky’s ideological defeat by Stalin. Many supplementary texts are provided as well. For more on the contributions of Stalin to the ICM, see Long Live the Universal Contributions of Comrade Joseph Stalin.

“It is the duty of the Party to bury Trotskyism as an ideological trend.” – Joseph Stalin

Beginning and Essential readings

Supplemental readings

21 responses to “Against Trotskyism: A Reading Guide

  1. Recently released to the internet is “Spain! The Unfinished Revolution,” the account of the International Brigade soldier and scholar of the Spanish Civil War Arthur Landis. Here is a megaupload link to the PDF file.

    [Link no longer functional]

    You can also found a recently posted old news article about the Dewey Commission from the journalist Carleton Beals. Search google for his “The Fewer Outsiders the Better” article.

    Readers might also be interested in the various articles written by Furr. As most of the claims of Trotskyists are indistinguishable from other anti-communists, they go a long way into refuting Trotskyist claims about the USSR and Stalin.

  2. Excellent compilation of materials to study Trotskyism thanks comrade

  3. Thank you for posting the link to M.J. Olgin’s book on Trotskyism. I think it is really the best single reading on topic.

    And it is easy to take the analysis presented – and to use that analysis to understand what the Trots advocate now.

  4. It is impossible to estimate the damage caused to the international communist movement by that perfidious caitiff called Trotsky. Well done on that useful collection comrades.

  5. Perhaps you should put up there Fidel’s speech to the closing session of the tricontinental in 1966, where he chides the Trotskyists thoroughly – as there are some thoroughly unscrupulous Trots who try and claim socialist Cuba for their own accord –

  6. Dear Comrades,
    please permit me to suggest that you include this book among your anti-Trot reading material.Soviet Policy and its Critics by JR Campbell.It is an extraodinary little book which shows how Trotsky’s writings as well as actions confused the left into unwittingly supporting fascism.I strongly recommend it.
    Keep up the excellent work.

  7. This is a great Anti- Trotsky Reading and Study guide Trotskyism must be smashed in all forms wherever it chooses to rear its sinister and ugly head.

    • Okay person with a very long name(no offence), I agree. How do we stop Trotskyism?

      However, Capitalism is a bigger problem but we shouldn’t ignore Trotskyism.

      “Hope for peace–prepare for war!”


  9. I have to ask what Trots have in their tendency to form factions and the ML’s view of factionalism and open discourse?

  10. Trotskyism is as much destructive and damaging as Capitalism is.
    It’s an ideology that’s created lot’s of division in Marxism just like Capitalism has creation lot’s of division in society.
    Therefore Trotskyism = Capitalism

  11. If Trotskyism is counter-revolutionary, what do people here at ML make of the bureaucratization of the Soviet Union? Was that not counter-revolutionary? What about the various communist parties around the world that deliberately suppressed working class militancy? I can understand not agreeing politically with Trotsky as far as organisation is concerned, but how can anybody still think that Stalin did any good for the revolution? Truly baffling…

  12. ****
    If Trotskyism is counter-revolutionary, what do people here at ML make of the bureaucratization of the Soviet Union?

    There is a tendency among people who recognize the mistakes of the Soviet Union or the Comintern to assume that, if Stalin was wrong, Trotsky was therefore right. This assumption of course doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. The Soviet Union made mistakes; but in fact Trotsky would have made far greater ones.

    An analysis of the 1930s in the Soviet Union which sees the problems as arising from bureaucracy is, I think, not very convincing. Actually, the Soviet Union made enormous strides in the 1930s in industrialization and even in living standards.

    The purges were not aimed at the old guard of the revolution. They were aimed at the opposition, in all its forms: The Trotskyists, the Zinovievites, and the old whites who had been reintegrated into society. There really was such an opposition, of course, and it really did plot a coup. The purges were certainly an overreaction to the threat in many respects, but they were an error of the left, not the right.

    Was that not counter-revolutionary? What about the various communist parties around the world that deliberately suppressed working class militancy?

    This is the most interesting point to me. What about the various communist parties who were not actually communist? Many Trotskyists seek a solution in “Stalinism.” But what about the many socialist parties which were not actually socialist? Do not these two phenomena look very, very similar?

    The Leninist explanation is that both the false socialist parties and the false communist parties are a result of revisionism, of the influence of bourgeois ideas on the workers movement.

    Trotskyists seek another explanation because they don’t quite understand revisionism. I think every Trotskyist should read Lenin’s Marxism and Revisionism.

    You can also read Harry Heywood’s Degeneration of the CPUSA to see how the Soviet Communist Party under Stalin fought against revisionism in the CPUSA, and how they stopped contributing to that battle after Stalin died.

    It may help you to see how the Comintern was not politically monolithic. Of course, nothing is politically monolithic, and any reasonably sizable organization has a political process and political struggle going on within it.

    I can understand not agreeing politically with Trotsky as far as organisation is concerned, but how can anybody still think that Stalin did any good for the revolution? Truly baffling…

    I don’t find it baffling at all.

    Mao considered that the Soviet Union under Stalin was the only real ally that China had.

    The Soviet Union bore the brunt of the war against Hitler, and in fact defeated Hitler and brought socialism to much of Eastern Europe.

    Soviet arms protected Cuba from U.S. invasion. When the Bay of Pigs was taking place, the gusanos kept urging Kennedy to send in U.S. troops in addition to the mercenaries. But Khrushchev announced that if a single marine landed in Cuba, “rockets will fly.”

    Soviet arms also made possible the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale. Although there is a powerful effort in the West to confuse the facts of this battle, in fact what occurred is this: Cuban troops in Angola, using Soviet made planes and tanks, inflicted a crushing defeat on the South African army, forcing them to the negotiating table. South Africa’s withdrawal from Angola, the liberation of Namibia, and multirace elections in South Africa were all to a large extent the products of this battle.

    All of these examples show how a STRONG, INDUSTRIALIZED Soviet Union contributed to world revolution in a way that the Soviet Union of 1929 never could have. One of the major points of contention between Stalin and Trotsky was in fact that Stalin insisted that the Soviet Union could carry out a program of socialist industrialization, while Trotsky insisted it could not.

    Imagine what would have happened if, in 1941, when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, it had been the same rural country it was in 1929. Hitler would have won the war. That is a contribution of course of millions of Soviet workers and peasants, but to the extent we can blame anything, good or bad, on a single person such as Stalin, it was a contribution of Stalin.

  13. I have dealt with the question of Trotskyism extensively in chapters 13 through 16 of the new book The ABC’s of Communism, Bolshevism 2011. Here I deal with the man and his real story in the historical context of the Bolshevik Revolution and the subsequent construction of Socialism in the USSR until his death in 1940. I think it will be useful in the ongoing war to combat Trotskyist mythology. In the USA the three most serious diseases confronted by Communists are Modern Revisionism, Trotskyism and Anarchism. Here it is because the pressure from the ruling capitalist classes is intense and these three erroneous doctrines are a kind of “Pandering” to the US rulers: “we are the good communists the others are bad communists.” These types don’t realize that as far as the caps are concerned there are no good communists and they will kill them all when they get the chance – if we don’t get them first.
    Revisioniosm in our country is dying as the FBI front party run by FBI special agent Sam Webb is dying and is kept alive only because the FBI does not want the extensive CPUSA real estate holdings to fall into the hands of the real communists. But Trotskyism is a serious disease. There are at least half a dozen of these outfits to be eliminated in the ranks of workers as time proceeds in whatever way that can be done (e.g. SWP, Spartacists, Workers World, ILO, News & Letters, PSL, etc.) All are dangerous because the pandering syndrome is attractive to petty bourgeois students. But the great danger lies in the infection of the worker’s unions and other organizations if allowed to grow unchecked. It’s time for a hard line here, whatever that turns out to be. But liquidation of the Troskyist disease should be a high priority.

  14. This textbook for cadre I mentioned (The ABC’s of Communism, Bolshevism 2011) is available free for downloading at .
    While you are at it you might want to take a look at a real world website devoted to the class struggle in South America. Soon all three books being referenced will also be available for free at the same website: .

  15. I’d be interested to hear an explanation of how Workers World Party and PSL are Trotskyist. I know, of course, that they have a Trotskyist history. But what in their present outlook makes them Trotskyists?

    Also, you left out one of the main Trotskyist organizations, the Cliffite ISO.

  16. Dear Professor: I have been to the meetings of both these outfits in Los Angeles and it is part and parcel of their entire presentation that Trotsky was right about everything and Stalin wrong about anything. Furthermore when you listen to their leaders talk they always start off with Sam Marcy did this and Sam Marcy did that. One can say that that is hardly worse than the so-called “communists” of the Gus Hall outright modern revisionist type and that may be true but it is merely true. (Granted the Hall modern revisionists with their terrible politics made the FBI takeover of the CPUSA easy as the two lines are indistinguishable but that is neither here nor there).
    Furthermore in their doctrinal papers they always refer to Trotsky as a great revolutionary when in fact he was and is the Anti-Christ of the international Marxist movement, if you will.
    You are right about the ISO – when I said ILO I mis-spoke. It should have been ISO.
    There is no substitute for understanding history and for that reason I explained the history of Trotsky et al in those chapters 13 through 16 of our book The ABC’s of Communism, Bolshevism 2012 ( That book has been explicitly rejected by the leaders of both WW and PSL as “Stalinist.”
    In short, Professor Toad, even if they were to try and back off of the term Trotskyist at this point in their attempt to gain credibility within the international communist movement, it would be just a ploy. At any rate, I have never seen them try to back off of the term Trotskyist. Have you?
    Comradely, Jason

  17. The ones I have had contact with — and there have been several — have been strongly anti-Trotsky.

    Both organizations are at least occasional participants in the International Communist Seminar in Brussels, Belgium. I think if they were really very Trotskyist, that would be very unlikely for them.

    I have seen footage of one Workers World Party member voicing support for Trotsky. That leads me to think that the rank and file may not have a uniformly strong understanding of Trotsky’s historical role.

    But leave aside for a moment the question of the evaluation of Trotsky, the revolutionary. Let’s consider instead Trotskyist ideology and the class basis of Trotskyism.

    Trotskyism internationally has historically represented splittism, and attacks on the socialist camp. Neither the WWP nor the PSL can be remotely accused of that sort of thing. Both of them support the DPRK, for instance, and Sam Marcy, from the beginning, differed from other Trotskyists on this point.

    This relates to one of Stalin’s main criticisms of Trotsky, namely that Trotskyism meant forceful attacks on all the world’s leading revolutionaries. In fact, Trotsky attacked not only Stalin, but also Lenin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Radek, and virtually every other important Bolshevik in the strongest possible terms.

    In contrast, to my understanding neither the WWP nor the PSL has launched any major public criticism of any leading world revolutionary in at least the last twenty years.

    Trotskyism has historically represented a blindness to the depth and danger of revisionism, which lead Trotsky and leads modern Trotskyists to favor unprincipled unity between revolutionaries and reformists. Neither the WWP nor the PSL is guilty of either of those things.

    That leaves the peasant question. It may be that one or the other of the parties underestimates the importance of work among the rural sectors in the U.S.: I don’t know enough about either of them to say. But neither of them, for instance, echoes Trotsky’s criticisms of the Maoist line for its overemphasis on peasants, or, like the ISO, declares that the Cuban revolution can’t be a real socialist revolution because its earliest supporters were mainly peasants.

    So… I am sure neither party is perfect, but it seems to me that both of them have largely, if not completely, shucked off their Trotskyist past.

  18. Dear Professor: Thank you for your perspective. Mine has been limited to those in Los Angeles with whom I have had contact. There is plenty of Trotskyism there that is for sure. There isn’t much left of WW in LA since most of them left to form PSL. But in both cases they have very little grasp of theory among members and apparently just hang onto whatever they have thought over the years which certainly includes the idea that Trotsky was good and Stalin bad – not that this constitutes much of a grasp of history let alone theory and they are not open to discussing anything with persons such as myself so I guess that pretty much leaves it up to observers. Frankly I don’t see any reason for either so-called “party” to exist if their were sincere people amongst them (other than the typical duped students who come and go like the seasons.) However that may be these matters cannot be finally resolved until the shooting starts and that is a ways away. Although, I didn’t think I would live to see the class struggle reach its contemporary position so maybe I will live to see the inevitable civil war.
    But, I did have time to research your website and found it quite illuminating and correct.
    I think I have said as much as needs to be said about the three curses, if you will, of the international working class movement (revisionism, Trotskyism, anarchism). I would be interested in your opinion of the work I have done in Chapters one through ten of the book at If you send me an e-mail address I would like to send you an elaborated version of the theoretical resolutions in those chapters prepared for my anthropological and archaeological colleagues entitled Karl Marx’s Second Magnum Opus, Archaeology and Primitive Communism. That is being published here in Norman, Oklahoma, where I have been working on a couple of books over the last five months but I would appreciate your input in the meantime.

  19. Although Interesting I am baffled by the Stalinism rampant on this site, and especially in this section. I have read the works you have posted (most of which I find to be, compared to Trotsky’s own writings, very dull and uncritically party (i.e. Stalin) line) and am not in any way convinced. Furthermore, I see the mention of critiques of Stalin begin shut down as revisionist or “counter-revolutionary.” I have read Lenin’s Marxism and Revisionism and I think it counter acts Marx when he said in the Manifesto, “do not set up any sectarian principles of their own by which to shape and mold the proletarian revolution.” The the tactics and understanding of the movement should be taken as it happens, not as if discovered by Marx at one period and applicable to all others. That is what is being suggested of here, and why Trotsky is called a revisionist.

    Trotsky was not a counter-revolutionary. Trotsky, although incorrect on the peasant question, did recognize the potential devastating effect of Stalin’s brutal rule. And I agree with you that Stalin’s purges were against all opposition, but not opposition to the Soviets for which they had belonged, but to the Stalinist faction of the Party. I find it creepy at best that you would in anyway support this kind of brutal repression, torture and mass murder even if in the guise of rooting out all opposition. Instead it was a way for Stalin himself to consolidate power and use it for his own purposes, not the people or the Soviets as originally intended.

    Stalin took the party from a revolutionary organization to a bureaucratic one. Although wrong on the peasant question, this is where Trotsky was correct. In his speech titled “On Lenin’s Final Struggle against Bureaucratization” He quotes Lenin saying, “Vladimir Ilyich writes about our state machine that it is neither more nor less than very similar to the Tsarist state machine, anointed, as they say, colored in the Soviet style, but if you examine it, it is the same old bureaucratic machine.” Trotsky hoped and saw as Lenin did that the Party itself could hold off this bureaucratization, and develop a new state machinery in coordination with the Soviets which would fed information for the formulation of the plan after the end of the NEP. Stalin on the other hand, saw the party itself as a means to promote his won interests and as a tool for the control of the bureaucracy.

    The Nomenklatura, created by the patrimonial system, first fostered by Lenin, criticized by Trotsky and solidified by Stalin, was to be a dragging force on the USSR’s economy, planning apparatus, progression and invention and is in contrary to the principle of WORKER control of the means of production, not the COMMISSAR control over the means of production. This new class, as described by dissents (which in realty was simply a subclass of the ruling class that was a result of Stalinism which ironically was centered in the CP) was able to enjoy luxurious things while workers and peasants stood in line for bread. This is not dissimilar to Inner-party members in Orwell’s “1984.”

    Let em say that I do agree with your critique of the modern movement. The SWP (which shook off their Trotskist past and rejected permanent revolution in the 1960 after the Cuban, Nicaraguan, Gernandan and other Latin American revolutions) is little less than a voice for the Cuban CP in America and is incredibly fetished with itself. The Workers World seems highly disorganized, but I am in Florida so maybe its geographical.

    The ISO has a great weekly newspaper and yearly conference and, mores than any I identify with them. However, they seem to me much more focused on Socialist Worker and their monthly rather than building revolution. That is why we need a united socialist conference, were we can all get together and hash out or differences but bring together a united party with a central leadership and a clear direction.

    Let me know what you think about that. I would love to hear your comments.

  20. Trotskyism is nothing but defeatist anarchy in disguise. Followers of Trotsky claim him to be champion of “worldwide revolution” theory, but this is basically a Marxist theory known from the time of Marx. What Trotsky has proposed can be called as “overnight worldwide revolution”.
    As per this theory, all revolutions around the whole world, at least in a continent should be started together otherwise the world imperialist force will gather against the revolution and will crush it, basically defeatist and in short incapable to understand that win of workers in one country means win in a single front. Common sense military strategy says that first accumulate the conquered area and then make a stronghold there and advance for next front. Instead, trotskism howling for starting war in all fronts together and basically meaning defeat at the end, that’s why defeatist anarchist.

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