trotsky military theoryUncategorized
This combination corresponds to the international situation as a whole. The invention of improved armour by a future enemy was countered by strengthening one’s artillery, and vice versa. But this answer is purely formal. we are living in a revolutionary epoch, therefore (!) cit. From these conditions Solomin draws the conclusion that we have to ‘educate’ the Red Army in an ideology of offensive revolutionary war. The basic reason for these successive retreats is to be found in the continued capitalist encirclement, that is, the relative stability of the bourgeois regime. This fact contributed enormously to the rallying of public opinion not only among the workers and peasants but also among many elements of the bourgeois intelligentsia. Those fronts on which we stayed on the defensive and retreated were only sectors of our general ring-shaped front. Unfortunately, there are not a few simpletons of the offensive among our newly-appeared doctrinaires, who, under the flag of military doctrine, are trying to introduce into our military circulation those same one-sided ‘left’ tendencies which at the Third Communist Congress attained their culminating form as the theory of the offensive: inasmuch as (!) as in the best military thinking, extreme partisanship and scrupulously sober observation indeed go hand in hand. Here you have a ‘doctrine’ which is clear, simple and in accordance with reality. in Krasnaya Nov (Note by Trotsky)] the offensive was (and formally still remains to this day) the official doctrine of the French Republic. But such is the nature of our epoch. Which ones? For the text, see First Decrees of Soviet Power, edited by Yu. This question we posed and settled in the Russian Marxist press quite a while ago. 2 Forced into exile in Britain, he joined the NLR editorial committee. We built the army out of the human and technical material ready to hand, seeking always and everywhere to ensure domination by the proletarian vanguard in the organisation of the army, that is, in the army’s personnel, in its administration, in its consciousness and in its feelings. We possess an orientation which is international in scale and has great historical scope. Part Three. The Third Congress of the International called on the Communist Parties to prepare themselves thoroughly and perseveringly. There is a clear path from Trotsky’s First World chauvinism to the imperialism expressed in paternalistic terms by the neo-conservatives. During the first period of the revolution the Red troops generally shunned the offensive, preferring to fraternise and discuss. 1917 (24th October) 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? Nevertheless, the potent class dexterity of the world-ruling British bourgeoisie is proving inadequate – and more and more so as time goes by – to the present epoch of volcanic upheavals in the bourgeois regime. Before 1917, most Marxists believed that society would progress through a series of ordered stages. One can, however, and this is not infrequently done, give the concept of military doctrine a more concrete and restricted content, as meaning those fundamental principles of purely military affairs which regulate all aspects of military organisation, tactics and strategy. The parliamentary methods of personal combinations, bribery, rhetoric and fraud, and the colonial methods of bloody repression, hypocrisy and every form of vileness have entered equally into the rich arsenal of the ruling clique of the greatest of empires. But that is the purest Left-SRism! ], [Let me recall that this was written in 1905. That is unquestionable. The international orientation of the workers’ state. Manoeuvring is characteristic not of a revolutionary army but of civil war as such. Victor Suvorov has claimed that the purge was intended to replace Red Army officers with more competent generals for his future conquests. We certainly did not take any dogmatic ‘doctrine’ as our point of departure. Stalin's archives indeed contain a number of messages received during the 1920 and 1930s duly reporting the possible involvement of Tukhachevsky with the "German Nazi leadership". Fundamentally, Trotsky fell from power because his theory of Permanent Revolution and his consequent insistence on continued revolutionary agitation abroad would have cut off all technical aid from the Western world, and so made any attempt at industrial development more difficult in Russia. On the other hand, a comparison should be made between these same factors as they existed among the Reds and the Whites in our civil war. Trotsky met Vladimir Lenin in London in 1902, and Lenin had a great influence on him. The Red Army is the military expression of the proletarian dictatorship. And while the entire supply of keys inherited by Lloyd George, Churchill and the others is obviously no good for opening a way out of the revolutionary epoch, our Marxist key is predestined above all to serve this purpose. of Russian Poland must lead to the revolt of Galicia and Poznan. 902 (9 November). Every individual regiment, and the army as a whole, were living improvisations. 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. A quickening of military thought and a heightening of interest in theory is unquestionably to be observed in the Red Army. 9. That regiment attacks best which is able to defend itself. It is not difficult to imagine that the existence of a revolutionary regime in the nine [sic] provinces [Russian Poland was divided into ten provinces.] Or an open attack upon us by bourgeois states? These principles are perfect: but why have the editors conformed to old custom, why have they given the honour of their first page to a glorification of the offensive? the articulation of a crisis, the policies of the states (hegemony) and the class struggle. 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. At the end, three of five Soviet Marshals, 90% of all Red Army generals, 80% of Red Army colonels and 30,000 officers of lesser rank had been purged. In many countries the Communists have been obliged to carry out important strategic retreats, renouncing the immediate fulfilment of those fighting tasks which they had only recently set themselves. But in their concrete refraction these eternal truths assume a national character. And it is just here that the most confused muddling begins. Some doctrinaires depict the matter like this: it is necessary to establish the essence and purpose of the army, the task before it, and from this definition one then derives its organisation, strategy and tactics, and embodies these conclusions in its regulations. In the 20th century, Russia is the poorest and most backward country in Europe. The work of educating troops must, obviously, include the idea that retreat does not mean running away, that there are strategic retreats due to an endeavour either to preserve manpower intact, or to shorten the front, or to lure the enemy in deeper, all the more surely to crush him. An English translation of Tukhachevsky’s letter is included in John Erickson’s The Soviet High Command, pp.784-785. After analysing the experience of two outstanding moments of struggle on the French front, the newspaper says: ‘The offensive can impress only an adversary who has been bereft of his resources, or whose mediocrity is such as one never has the right to count on. Why, of course they must. The two men fought dramatically from time to time. But, regarding this ‘doctrine’, the proletarian state must say the same as was said by the last congress of the International regarding the revolutionary offensive of the worker masses in a bourgeois state (the doctrine of the offensive): only a traitor can renounce the offensive, but only a simpleton can reduce our entire strategy to the offensive. There are no conclusive facts about the real rationale behind the forged trial. But the role of the arms of France – that is, of an advanced country in relation to backward Europe – proved to be very limited and transient. 5: Marxism and Military Affairs 1921-1923 $ 24.95 $ 19.96. This was well understood by old Clausewitz: ‘Perhaps it would not be impossible to write a systematic theory of war, full of intelligence and substance; but the theories we presently possess are very different. 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’. Morally and politically, the bourgeois armies are disintegrating, or heading towards disintegration. We actually created the army out of that historical material which was ready to hand, unifying all this work from the standpoint of a workers’ state fighting to preserve, entrench and extend itself. 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. Manoeuvring promises victory if it keeps the initiative in our hands. National wars are waged (at all events, they used to be waged) by ponderous masses, with all the national-state resources of both sides brought into play. At the same time, Trotsky became chairman of the newly formed Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic and retained overall control of the military. In its aims, in the predominant class composition of its body of commanders and commissars, in its spirit and in its entire political morale, the Red Army differs radically from all the other armies in the world and stands in hostile opposition to them. And then, one could not answer these questions without examining the fundamental tasks, domestic and international, of the workers’ state. I strongly recommend the reader to re-read them: those writings are useful and instructive. Tukhachevsky thought it necessary to deepen his error by printing his letter at the end of his interesting little book The War of Classes. In the gigantic class struggle which is unfolding today, the role of armed intervention from without can have no more than concomitant, contributory, auxiliary significance. All these questions require an orientation on the planes of international policy, internal policy and military policy. Nevertheless, Trotsky eventually established a working relationship with the often prickly Vatsetis. How banal and lacking in content are what are taken to be the basic principles of the military art can be seen from the solemnly-quoted statement by Foch that the essence of modern war is: ‘to seek out the enemy’s armies in order to beat and destroy them; to adopt, with this sole end in view, the direction and tactics which may lead to it in the quickest and safest way.’ [Foch, The Principles of War, translated by Hilaire Belloc (1918), page 42.] Was the Red Army alone distinguished by capacity for manoeuvring? In the mid-1920s, Leon Trotsky was removed as Commissar of War, and his known supporters were expunged from the military. Why do they propound for us, in a prominent paragraph, this axiom: “He who attacks first makes an impression on his adversary by demonstrating that his will is superior”?’. To supply units properly with food; not to let foodstuffs go bad; to cook good cabbage soup; to teach how to exterminate lice and keep the body clean; to conduct training exercises properly, and to do this rather less indoors and rather more under the open sky; to prepare political discussions sensibly and concretely; to provide every Red Army man with a service book and see to it that the entries are correct; to teach how to clean rifles and grease boots; to teach how to shoot; to help the commanders to assimilate thoroughly the behests of the regulations concerning communications, reconnaissance, reports and security to learn and to teach how to adapt oneself to local conditions to wind one’s footcioths properly, so as to save one’s feet from getting rubbed raw; and, once again, to grease one’s boots – such is our programme for the winter and the spring that lie ahead. As early as 1904, he expounded this theory of the Permanent Revolution, which was confirmed in practice by the October Revolution. Clausewitz warned very well against this. 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. Erroneous to the point of absurdity is Solomin’ s assertion that an army has to be trained exclusively for a specific form of warfare – either defensive or offensive. Alas! General Mikhail Tukhachevsky was arrested on May 22, 1937 and charged, along with seven other Red Army commanders, with the creation of a "right-wing-Trotskyist" military conspiracy and espionage for Nazi Germany, based on confessions obtained from other arrested officers. All the authors, sad to say, were of the school of Borisov. A rifle with a bayonet is good for both defence and attack. The world situation is too complex. Comrade Varin remarks, in the journal Voyennaya Nauka i Revolyutsiya , that the mobility of our troops surpasses all historical precedents. According to them, as regards strategy, the Red Army differs in principle from all other armies, because in our epoch of positional immobility the basic features of the Red Army’s operations are capacity for manoeuvring and aggressiveness. But, on the whole, development has assumed a more protracted character. The regulations must teach how to fight, and not just coach for offensive operations. Whoever seriously propagates such a policy would do better to hang a millstone about his neck and then act in accordance with the subsequent instructions given in the Gospel. In late 1920, after the Bolsheviks won the Civil War and before the Eighth and Ninth Congress of Soviets, the Communist Party had a heated and increasingly acrimonious debate over the role of trade unions in the Soviet state. Instead, he infers that Trotsky was pointing to the need to supplement purely economic data with an investigation of related social and political developments. ‘The lessons of the past,’ we read, ‘have borne their fruits: the French army, returning to its traditions, henceforth does not permit the conduct of operations in accordance with any law but that of the offensive.’ The journal goes on: ‘This law, introduced soon afterward into the regulations governing our general tactics and the tactics peculiar to each arm, was to dominate the teaching given both to our marshals-under-instruction and to our commanders, through conferences, practical exercises on maps or on the ground, and, finally, through the procedure called les grandes manoeuvres.’, ’The result was,’ the journal continues, ‘a veritable infatuation with the famous law of the offensive, and anyone who ventured to propose an amendment in favour of the defensive would have niet with a very poor reception. Perhaps it will be Ludendorff’s Germany? After Brest we were compelled to wage uninterrupted war against the White-Guard armies and the foreign interventionist detachments. We shall in this way establish the preconditions both for better conduct of manoeuvring operations and, if need arises, for positional operations too. However, these raids, too, were taught us by Mamontov. France was, at the end of the 18th century, the richest and most civilised country on the Continent of Europe. This doctrine cTntains two elements: international-political and operational-strategic. It has not yet been replaced by a new one. Perhaps Solomin can at the same time name to us the universal brain he has in view? ?, p.19). The military doctrine of post-Bismarck Germany was incomparably more aggressive in essence, in line with the country’s policy, but was much more cautious in its strategic formulations. But to suppose that one can, on the basis of this statement of principle, create or ‘cultivate’ an effective ideology for the Red Army under existing conditions is to fail to understand either the Red Army or these conditions. Not for nothing has it been said of the British imperialists that they think in terms of centuries and continents. Our Party’s past has taught us through long and hard experience how to apply the methods of Marxism to the most complex combination of factors and forces during this historical epoch of sharp breaks. Least of all could it provide them in the sphere of military construction. But, after all, says Solomin (p.22), ‘it is impossible to educate, at one and the same time, in the spirit of the offensive and in the spirit of defence.’ Now this is sheer doctrinairism. Rogovin contrasts it with the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, where the inquest lasted about four years, despite brutal tortures. While they tack and veer with great skill, the British empiricists of the epoch of decline – whose finished expression is Lloyd George – will inescapably break their necks. Up to now we have coped successfully with the military tasks imposed upon us by the international and internal situation of Soviet Russia. What other ‘doctrine’ do you need? Routinists educated in this tradition would inevitably feel quite out of place under the conditions in which we carry on our military construction. So this army goes on living in a state of perplexity. ‘If the Russian proletariat, having temporarily obtained power, does not on its own initiative carry the revolution on to European soil, it will be compelled to do so by the forces of European feudal-bourgeois reaction. 2. Actually, such an approach to the question is scholastic and lifeless. 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 Development and Extension of Leon Trotsky's Theory of Permanent Revolution. the views we have formed, to carry out a complete (!)  In other words, Comrade Solomin wants to have, ready for mobilisation, along with a supply of army biscuits, also a supply of enthusiasm for the offensive. There are no grounds for us to doubt that superiority in strategic leadership was on our side. Marxism does not supply ready recipes. And we have no grounds whatsoever for altering the character and direction of our educational work in the army.in order to please muddleheads, even if they speak in the name of military doctrine. Staff in all countries ran in the late 1920s and early 1930s developed... 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Eternal truths assume a national character thinking, extreme partisanship and scrupulously sober indeed! This question we posed and settled in the late 1920s and early 1930s orientation and one has to have and! Living in a specific and comparatively stable geographical setting enemy ’ s letter is included in John Erickson s. Its Kings and feudal lords attack Poland this spring slicked up a bit conclusion the.
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