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Leon Trotsky (around 1929)

The Trotzkyism is one of Trotsky outgoing direction of Marxism and a political struggle term that Josef Stalin defamation and political persecution opponent used.


Trotskyism deviates in particular from the line of orthodox Marxism-Leninism given by Josef Stalin , especially with regard to revolutionary theory and party theory. An essential component is the theory of the "permanent revolution" , that is: the socialist revolution as a worldwide, permanent process under the leadership of workers' councils . Trotsky's contradicting leading role in the violent suppression of council movements during the Russian civil war - such as the Makhnovshchina in Ukraine or the Kronstadt sailors - is either denied by representatives of Trotskyism or justified as alleged actions against the “ counterrevolution ”.

According to his own understanding, Trotsky represented the original, internationally oriented Leninian teachings of the Russian October Revolution in contrast to the later distortion by Stalinism ( socialism in one country ). He defined the term in the 1920s as "the correct application of Marxism to the new stage in the development of the October Revolution and our party."

In contrast to Stalin's thesis of a possible “socialism in one country”, Leon Trotsky stood for consistent internationalism . According to his theory of permanent revolution, socialism as a society in transition to communism can only function on an international level, which is why the whole world must be liberated from capitalism through a revolution . The starting point for Trotskyism is, above all, the study The Revolution Betrayed by Trotsky in 1936 . What is the Soviet Union and where is it going? In it he worked out an analysis of the bureaucratization of the countries, often referred to as degenerate workers' states, in which a proletarian revolution had taken place. Trotskyists, like many other Marxist currents, see themselves as representatives of Leninism .

One method used by Trotskyist movements, among others, is that of “ entryism ”, open or covert cooperation in parties and organizations. The aim can be to spread one's own ideology, to gain members, to change the course of the organization, not to be completely isolated from political events in times of marginalization or the prohibition of revolutionary organizations or to have legal political work opportunities.

Before 1917, “Trotskyism” as a political term was used primarily within the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party to characterize Trotsky's views. For Stalin, the term functioned after 1923 as a “model case for all forms of left opposition in the communist movement and the Soviet Union”, and then from the mid-1930s onwards, mainly in the political debate with the so-called left opposition within the III. International to be used as a combat and propaganda term. Deviants from the party line of the CPSU were often referred to as Trotskyists , for example in the Moscow trials from 1936 to 1938, in which, among other things, former members of the Central Committee were convicted. Leon Trotsky and his followers, however, referred to themselves as Bolshevik Leninists to emphasize their attachment to the political line of the Bolsheviks under Lenin.


The term "Trotskyism" refers to the communist revolutionary Leon Trotsky, a member of the Central Committee of the Russian Revolution , People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs (Foreign Minister) and War Commissioner (War Minister) on the side of the Bolsheviks in the civil war after the overthrow of the Kerensky bourgeois government . According to Trotsky himself, however, the origin of the term "Trotskyism" can be dated earlier, for example it was first used in 1905 by the then Russian Foreign Minister Milkujow. After Lenin's death , ideological clashes developed between the left opposition around Trotsky and the supporters of Stalinism over the future path. In this context, the term “Trotskyism” was used by the ruling triumvirate , Stalin , Zinoviev and Kamenev , to combat political opponents. Karl Radek gave the testimony in 1927:

“I was present at the conversation with Kamenev where LB” [Kamenev is meant] “said that he would openly explain to the plenary session of the Central Committee how they, that is, Kamenev and Zinoviev, decided together with Stalin, the old disagreements between LD [meaning Trotsky] and Lenin to keep comrades Trotsky away from the leadership of the party after Lenin's death. Moreover, I have repeatedly heard Zinoviev and Kamenev tell the story of how they 'invented' Trotskyism as a contemporary slogan.
K. Radek
December 25, 1927 "

With regard to the “invention” of Trotskyism, Trotsky himself wrote in 1932 in “Lenin's Suppressed Testament”:

“Similar written testimonies were given by Preobrashinsky , Pyatakov , Rakovsky and Yeltsin . Pyatakov, the current director of the State Bank, summed up Zinoviev's testimony in the following words:
"'Trotskyism' was invented to replace real differences of opinion with fictitious differences, that is, to use past differences that had no effect on the present, but which were artificially revived for the specific purpose mentioned above."

In 1925, Zinoviev also boasted to Rakovsky of his successful tactics against Trotsky and only regretted having 'used this capital poorly and wasted it'. "

From 1926 it came then within the CPSU, the III. International and the parties united in it repeatedly to purge of "deviants", often referred to as "Trotskyists", from the ruling "general line" of the CPSU. Some of the supporters of the Left Opposition were removed from the party, others were exiled and others went into exile .

After the party expulsions and the shock of the National Socialists taking power in Germany, the Fourth International was founded in 1938 , which saw itself as a Marxist global organization. The substantive basis was supplemented by works by Leon Trotsky.

In 1953, the Fourth International was split into two wings, Pabloites and Orthodox Trotskyists , some of which reunited in 1963. Splinters of this split partly founded their own international organizations or partly claim the title IV. International .

Ruling discourses in “ real socialism ” described Trotskyism as “a petty-bourgeois movement” that is hostile to Marxism-Leninism, the international communist movement and the world socialist system - especially the Soviet Union.

Some Trotskyists have opened up ideologically and in some respects separated themselves from orthodox Marxism. After the student movements of the 1960s and 1970s, Trotskyists also faced the so-called “new questions” about ecology , patriarchy and women's oppression and the like.

Organizations and parties

Some of the Trotskyist organizations today claim to be in the unbroken tradition of the Fourth International which, in their view, was either uninterrupted or the subject of re-establishment. Some of them have a lot in common and overlap very much in their orientation, and the number of members differs greatly. However, certain tendencies that see themselves as Trotskyist argue that the Fourth International no longer exists, and they do not seek reconstruction either. Others are of the opinion that the designation “Fourth International” is discredited to such an extent that a “Fifth International” must be founded. Important distinguishing features are the relationship to social democracy and to (ex-) Stalinism .

In German-speaking countries

Sections of the reunited Fourth International

Sections of the Fourth International (International Committee)

Sections of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalists)

Sections of the Committee for a Workers' International

Sections of the League for the Fifth International

Members of the International Socialist Tendency

  • Marx21 - Germany
  • Left turn - Austria

Sections of the International Marxist Tendency

  • The spark - in Germany, Austria and Switzerland

Other organizations

Disbanded Trotskyist organizations and parties



Web links

Commons : Trotskyism  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Trotskyism  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Trotsky: The Falsification of the History of the Russian Revolution , Book Publishing and Distribution Wolfgang Dröge, Dortmund 1977, ISBN 3-88191-002-6 , p. 68.
  2. ^ Pierre Séverac: "Trotskyism", in: Critical Dictionary of Marxism , Vol. 7, Argument-Verlag, 1997, ISBN 3-88619-067-6 .
  3. ^ Leon Trotsky: Mein Leben , Berlin 1930, p. 273.
  4. a b Trotsky: “Lenin's suppressed testament”, quoted from: [1] (English text, own translation).
  5. ^ Trotsky: Stalin Eine Biographie , 2nd edition, Arbeiterpresse Verlag, Essen 2006, ISBN 3-88634-078-3 , p. 446.
  6. Small Political Dictionary , Dietz Verlag Berlin, 3rd revised edition 1978, p. 901.
  7. International Socialist Organization founded