The Debate at the Eleventh Party Congress



On March 22, 1922, the Eleventh Congress of the Russian Communist Party opened in Moscow.


Class Nature Soviet Republic Military Affair Military Regulation Military Science 
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  1. 1.
    For a description of Trotsky’s position during this period, see Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Armed: Trotsky, 1879–1921 (New York and London: Oxford University Press, 1954), pp. 486-520.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Odinnatsatyi s’ezd Rossiiskoi Kommunisticheskoi Partii (bol’shevikov) 27 marta — 2 aprelia 1922 g.: Stenograficheskii otchet (Moscow: Izdatel’stvo otdeleniia TsK RKP, 1922), p. 260.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ibid., p. 261.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    L. Trotskii (Trotsky), Kak vooruzhalas’ revoliutsiia: na voennoi rabote (Moscow: Vysshii voennyi redaktsionnyi sovet, 1925), III, Book II, p. 242.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ibid., p. 243. The stress is Trotsky’s.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ibid., p. 244.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    “War is a trade for the ignorant, an art for the gifted, and a science for the genius.”Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Trotsky, op. cit., III, Book II, p. 244.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ibid., p. 248.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ibid., p. 249.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Ibid., pp. 249-250.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ibid., p. 254.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    As paraphrased by Trotsky, ibid., p. 257, Suvorov’s laws of war were: 1. Operate no other way than offensively. 2. In the approach — rapidity; in the attack — impetuosity, the cold weapon. 3. Not methodism, but a true view of war is required. 4. Full power to the supreme commander. 5. Do not fail to attack and fight in the field, that is, do not sit in fortified regions; confuse the enemy. 6. Do not waste time in sieges. An open assault is best of all. 7. Do not scatter forces for the occupation of points. It is better to bypass the enemy; he waits for his defeat. See, also, A. V. Suvorov, Nauka pobezhdat’ (Moscow: Voennow izdatel’stvo, 1940).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Frunze, Izbrannye proizvedeniia (Moscow: Voennoe izdatel’stvo, 1957), II, p. 92. Frunze had used similar apologetic language when he introduced the Ukrainian theses.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ibid., p. 94.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Ibid., p. 97.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    The quoted portions, as reproduced in F. Engel’s (Engels), Izbrannye voennye proizvedeniia (Moscow: Voennoe izdatel’stvo, 1957), pp. 635-636, and, in German, in M. W. Frunse (M. V. Frunze), Ausgewählte Schriften (East Berlin: Verlag des Ministeriums für Nationale Verteidigung, 1956), pp. 212-213, are as follows: Thus, the contemporary method of waging war contemplates the emancipation of the bourgeoisie and the peasantry: it is the military expression of that emancipation. The emancipation of the proletariat, in its turn, will have its special expression in military affairs and will create its special, new military method. Cela est clair. To a definite extent, even now one can forsee what the material bases of this new system of waging war will consist of. But exactly to the same extent that the simple seizure of political power by the contemporary French and German proletariats, which are indeterminate and are in part dragged along at the tail of other classes, in itself would be very far from the genuine emancipation of the working class, which consists of the destruction of all class contradictions, just so far will the method of waging war which would originally be employed by the anticipated revolution be from that method which will be employed by a genuinely emancipated proletariat. Napoleon’s remarkable innovations in military science can not be overcome by means of a miracle; to the same extent that the military science created by the revolution and by Napoleon was an inevitable result of new relationships engendered by the revolution, a new military science will be a necessary product of new social relationships. And just as the proletarian revolution in industry will by no means consist of the abolition of the steam engine but in an increase in its number — so there can be no discussion in military affairs about the decreasing of the mass character of armies and their mobility, but, on the contrary, about the raising of both to a still higher level.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Frunze, Izbrannye proizvedeniia, op. cit., II, p. 98.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Ibid., p. 99.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Frunze, Sobranie sochinenii (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo, 1929), I, p. 471. In contrast to the 1957 edition of the collected works, this 1929 edition has Frunze referring to his antagonist as “Lev Davidovich” and “Comrade Trotsky,” both of which are friendly terms of address.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Trotsky, op. cit., III, Book II, p. 258.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Ibid., p. 259.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Ibid., p. 260.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Ibid., p. 261.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    L. Trotskii (Trotsky), Itogi i perspektivy: Dvizhushchie sily revoliutsii (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo, 1919), p. 74.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Trotskii, Kak vooruzhalas’ revoliutsiia, op. cit., III, Book II, p. 262.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    The discussions on the advance into Poland are described in Edward Hallett Carr, The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917–1923 (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1953), m, pp. 209-212. See also the forthcoming study of the war in Poland by Serge Shewchuk.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Tukhachevskii’s program of offensive revolutionary war is detailed in his Voina klassov: stat’i 1919–1920 gg. (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo, 1921). The program was, essentially, the spreading of revolution by military action. Tukhachevskii said, at p. 51, “An offensive of the revolutionary army of the working class within a neighboring bourgeois state may itself overturn the power of the bourgeoisie and deliver the dictatorship of the proletariat into the hands of the working class.” If this did not occur alone and unaided, he advocated the rendering of assitance by military means. He also proposed, at pp. 139-150, the creation of an international general staff of the revolution. Tukhachevskii has been rehabilitated in the Soviet Union. His collected works were published in 1964. An essay from Voina klassov is included, but not the remarks quoted here.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Trotsky, op. cit., III, Book II, p. 264. The debate on the advantages of attacking first has been revived since the death of Stalin and during the period of the equipping of the Soviet Army with nuclear weapons. Post-Frunze developments seem to have vidicated Frunze’s original view. See Raymond L. Garthoff, Soviet Strategy in the Nuclear Age (New York: Praeger, 1958); H. S. Dinerstein, War and the Soviet Union (New York: Praeger, 1959); Thomas W. Wolfe, Soviet Strategy at the Crossroads (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1964); and my “A Soviet Attack Capability,” Military Review, XXXVI (December, 1956), pp. 41-44. All current discussions of the advantages of a first strike must bear in mind the differences between pre-emptive and preventive strikes. They should also consider the arguments about deterrence and other aspects of nuclear war which have been developed in a number of recent works.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Trotsky, Kak vooruzhalas’ revoliutsiia, op. cit., III, Book II, p. 265.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Ibid., p. 267.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Ibid., pp. 268-269.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    The comment of V. Antonov-Ovseenko, in “Stroitel’stvo Krasnoi armii v revoliutsii,” Tsentral’nyi Komitet Rossiiskoi Kommunisticheskoi Partii (Bol’shevikov), Za 5 let (Moscow: Krasnaia nov’, 1922), p. 185, was that Trotsky had demonstrated the “complete groundlessness and striking confusion of concept” of Frunze’s theses.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Frunze, Izbrannye proizvedeniia, op. cit., II, pp. 104-105.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1969

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MarylandUSA

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