A new anniversary of the murder of Leon Trotsky: the revolutionary who never stopped fighting

August 2 is the 79th anniversary of the murder of Leon Trotsky at the hands of Stalinist agent Ramon Mercader. It was the hand of Stalin holding the ice pick that sank into the revolutionary´s skull and still has remains of his blood, after a collector recently rescued it from the possession of a Mexican woman.

Trotsky never stopped fighting. Until the last moment, against the traitorous and fatal attack of a young murderer, he struggled and fought for his life, against Stalinist barbarism.

He was always armed, at times with his pen, his oratory, his lecturing of the vanguard and the new generations, made him a man just as or more dangerous than when he led the powerful Red Army, built out of the revolutionary militias and the rests of the Tsarist army, turning it into the effective tool that defeated no less than 14 counter-revolutionary armies.

Leon was aware, as he wrote in the first paragraphs of the Transitional Program, that: “Without a social revolution in the next historical period, human civilization is under threat of being devastated by a catastrophe.” The sentence was not an exaggeration, a year later one of the great massacres of the imperialist system began: World War II. More than ever, with the existence of humankind as a species at risk if we do not stop the destruction of this planet by multinational companies, this concept recovers all its meaning.

He dedicated his entire life to the revolution, when he led the Russian Revolution with Lenin and founded the III International at the peak of the revolutionary wave, or when he had to live in jail and exile, first at the hands of the Tsarist dictatorship, then pursued by Stalin’s terror. This was reflected by Cuban writer Leonardo Padura, author of the successful novel that recounts his life and murder “The man who loved dogs”, in an interview a few years ago [1]: “I think that in his will to continue the struggle even in the hardest times, I find the element of Trotsky that I most admire. I think that perseverance, even when he felt the most isolated, when he knew that he was politically defeated, he maintained his decision to continue fighting, to found a new international, to continue denouncing what was happening in the Soviet Union and in the relationship of the Soviet Union with international revolutionary movements, I think that is one of Trotsky´s most important contributions.”

Without Trotsky, modern Marxism should have to be reinvented

This period of his life and militancy was perhaps the most difficult, but it is the most important part of his legacy. It was a stage in which Trotsky was irreplaceable. With Lenin he had led the revolution, defeated the White Army and founded the III International, but the struggle that took him to the founding of the IV International was, as he claimed, the most important of his life.

Against those who thought that the founding of the IV International was pointless, with a handful of organizations and in the middle of the counter-revolutionary night of fascism and Stalinism, the foundation of the new organization was the conclusion of countless political battles, against the bureaucratic degeneration of the III International and the CPSU, for the regrouping of the revolutionary opposition and building a new international organization after Stalin’s betrayal of the German Revolution that allowed the rise and triumph of Nazism. The IV International summarized both the experience of these battles and the need to prepare a new headquarters of the revolution, for when the working class and the mass movement attacked again.

That is why that elderly revolutionary, isolated and exiled thousands of kilometres away in Mexico, was a strategic danger for the counter-revolutionary bureaucratic caste that, led by Stalin, had muzzled and betrayed the Russian and world revolution. Ending his life was not the decision of a maniac, but the cold calculation of the head of the world counter-revolution.

And that is why Trotsky’s battles are so important for the revolution in our times. He was able to maintain the red thread of Marx, Engels, Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin. At no time was he compromised with the bureaucratic clique, unlike others who abandoned the fight seeking a “possible policy.” Thus did revolutionaries like Kamanev, Zinoviev or Bukharin, who ended up executed. It is thanks to his struggle that today´s Marxism, which shows a different path from the monstrosities of the evil called “real socialism” and can face the challenge of leading the social revolution that humanity needs so much bad, has its stamp: it is Trotskyism.

Being a Trotskyst

As Trotsky taught us in his theory of the Permanent Revolution, being a Trotskyist is militating every day to build a revolutionary party, that is part of the working class as a priority and participates in every democratic struggle against capitalist oppression, it can lead these struggles until the end, destroy the multinational´s government and replace it with one of the workers and all the allied classes and social sectors exploited by capitalism. That maintains that capitalism is “savage” by nature and that being part of governments with parties that seek a “human capitalism” with the excuse of defeating the right means falling into a trap that will continue sinking us in hunger and misery.

That the struggle against the capitalist system is not a national struggle. Capitalism is a world system and therefore the victory of the revolution in one country is a huge lever for the fight against the imperialist system. And that is why, while we build a national revolutionary party, we must also build a worldwide tool, the International. Being a Trotskyist is the same as being an “internationalist.”

We are the current that is constantly developing the struggle of the working class and all the oppressed sectors. That believes that the constant mobilization of the working peoples will give us the necessary strength to defeat the imperialist capitalist system, and that is why being a Trotskyist means being a fighter without pause, an enemy of those who want to compromise or settle for winning only one struggle.

In order to win the leadership of the workers and defeat the rotten bureaucracy that leads it and handcuffs their energies, we must be the greatest promoters of workers’ democracy, and therefore of democracy also in the student and women’s movements, and in every fighting sector. Social fighters should democratically decide in assemblies what to do and respected combative leaders must be the most coherent in defending this principle. This regime based on the democracy of the rank-and-file is what we want to impose as a government when workers take over.

Finally, we want our party and International to bring together the best anti-capitalist fighters, in a broad democracy that discusses what to do and acts as a single fist when we must intervene in struggles and processes. That defends the principles built during the struggles of so many years and that despises sectarianism, self-proclamation and dogmatism.

Being a Trotskyist is, most of all, being optimistic: we believe in the struggles of the working class and the peoples because, as these struggles develop, we have the opportunity to fight for the leadership against the pro-capitalist currents and fight for the socialist revolution. Trotsky gave us an example of that optimism in his will, after having endured a long persecution, of losing his children in the struggle against Stalin and seeing so many old and beloved comrades fall, by writing at the end of his will: “Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to its fullest.”

Gustavo Gimenez

(1) Leonardo Padura, La Habana 2012 (2° part), interview by MST TV posted on Youtube.