Tag Archives: M.J. Olgin

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

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Harry Haywood: Trotsky’s Day in Court

The following examination of Trotskyism by the great African American Marxist-Leninist, Harry Haywood, is from “Trotsky’s Day in Court”, Chapter 6 of Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist (1978), which takes place while Harry Haywood is studying in Moscow at the KUTVA, The University of the Toilers of the East. For a more thorough Marxist-Leninist examination of Trotskyism, read M.J. Olgin’s outstanding 1935 book, Trotskyism: Counter-Revolution in Disguise, which is perhaps the best treatment of the subject:


Trotsky’s Day in Court

Apart from our academic courses, we received our first tutelage in Leninism and the history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the heat of the inner-party struggle then raging between Trotsky and the majority of the Central Committee led by Stalin. We KUTVA students were not simply bystanders, but were active participants in the struggle. Most students – and all of our group from the U.S. – were ardent supporters of Stalin and the Central Committee majority. 

It had not always been thus. Otto told me that in 1924, a year before he arrived, a majority of the students in the school had been supporters of Trotsky. Trotsky was making a play for the Party youth, in opposition to the older Bolshevik stalwarts. With his usual demagogy, he claimed that the old leadership was betraying the revolution and had embarked on a course of “Thermidorian reaction.” (1) In this situation, he said, the students and youth were “the Party’s truest barometer.” (2)

But by the time the Black American students arrived, the temporary attraction to Trotsky had been reversed. The issues involved in the struggle with Trotsky were discussed in the school. They involved the destiny of socialism in the Soviet Union. Which way were the Soviet people to go? What was to be the direction of their economic development? Was it possible to build a socialist economic system?  These questions were not only theoretical ones, but were issues of life and death. The economic life of the country would not stand still and wait while they were being debated.  

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