In July 1917, Leon Trotsky joined the Bolshevik party. Trotsky assumed key roles in the events and policies concerning the Bolshevik Government, which included the Bolshevik Revolution, Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Civil War and views on Russia's economic policies. "Lenin and Trotsky arrived, by parallel routes... ".
1 and Lenin depended greatly on Trotsky within his last years. "Trotsky appeared to be the obvious successor". 2 However, Trotsky's role in the Leadership struggle changed this. On the 12th of October 1917 the Military Revolutionary Committee was established, lead by Trotsky, in order to plan a take over. "On the 12th October a Military Revolutionary Committee was established in the Petrograd Soviet.
This was run by Trotsky and was the means whereby the mechanics of the seizure of power were worked out and put into effect". 3 On the night of the 23rd the Military Revolutionary Committee directed Red Guards and other loyal units of soldiers to "Seize the key points of the city", 4 which was successful in securing Bolshevik power. As McCauley states, "The MRC, operations, masterminded by Trotsky, had carried the day". 5 Thus Trotsky's leadership of the MRC and the success of the revolution, earned Trotsky Lenin's respect and confidence as well as the appointment of minister for foreign affairs. As Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trotsky lead a delegation, into negotiations with Germany after an armistice was declared in December 1917.
Trotsky 'marched' out of negotiations, however, the immediate threat posed by German forces led the Bolsheviks to sign the treaty of Brest-Litovsk and agree to even harsher terms than what was first proposed. Christian states, "Trotsky who was the main negotiator at the peace talks, supported a strategy of 'no war, no peace'. "Lenin favoured signature of a peace treaty regardless of the terms it might involve". 6 Despite Trotsky's actions at negotiations, forcing the Bolshevik government to agree to even harsher terms, Lenin understood Trotsky's motivations as loyalty to the Bolshevik Government and allowed him to stay minister of foreign affairs. As the Civil War started, the Bolsheviks past a decree announcing the creation of the 'Red Army', which was the creation of Trotsky, which applied high methods of discipline. On April the 8th, Lenin made Trotsky minister for war.
Shortly after Trotsky introduced conscription and obtained the numbers to outmaneuver the whites, by 1920 the 'Red Army totalled, 3 million. Trotsky's disciplinary actions paid off with the red army being able to launch a counter-offensive, driving the enemy back. Gill argued, "The reason why the Bolsheviks were successful in the Civil War was... sustained by popular support and invigorated by the organisational genius of Trotsky, the Bolsheviks were able to defeat their opponents and drive them from Russia". 7 Thus, with Trotsky's other military success of the Bolshevik Revolution and the support from within the Army, Trotsky took on another major feature of his life, the Civil War and successfully created and lead the Red Army, into victory, as well as consolidating his power by being made Commissar for war. By the mid-1920's there were many debates about the countries economic problems. Trotsky proposed a reduction in War Communism, in order for market forces to function more effectively.
This policy was rejected at the time but was later establishes as the New Economic Policy. "Lenin's proposal marked the end of War Communism and the beginning of what the party began to call the New Economic Policy (NEP). It meant a partial return to indirect methods of mobilisation, and to 'state capitalism' " 8 In 1925 Trotsky campaigned for the abandonment of NEP stating that it was too slow, instead Trotsky proposed rapid expansion of socialism in the countryside, involving the high taxation of peasants, rapid industrial growth and an aggressive foreign policy. With his economic policies, "Trotsky became the clear number-two man behind Lenin". 9 When Lenin suffered a stroke in 1922, Trotsky was his obvious successor, but he was met with opposition by the installation of an informal Troika, made up of Zinovyev, Kane nev, and Stalin and a power struggle broke out.
Trotsky waited for a time to launch an attack on Stalin, by passing a vote of no confidence, this however backfired and Trotsky was accused of factionalism and opportunism. Trotsky then became ill leaving Stalin to dominate the 13th Party Congress in 1924. In 1925 Trotsky was removed as minister for war and in 1927 he was expelled from the party. In 1928 Trotsky was exiled and was assassinated in 1940. The Power Struggle between Stalin and Trotsky was one of Trotsky's major features in his life. He did not understand the ground rules of politics and this lead to his demise.
McCauley argues", Trotsky did not understand the ground rules of politics, that a power base has to be built up before an attack can be launched". 10 During the period 1917-1940, Trotsky was an active member of the Bolshevik party, taking on important roles in the Bolshevik revolution, Civil War and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk as well as economic policies. Trotsky played his biggest role in the power struggle that lead to his exile and death. 1 Christian - Power and Privilege - Longman Cheshire Pty Limited, 1994, p 181 2 ibid, p 238 3 Gill - Twentieth Century Russia - Thomas Nelson Australia, 1987, p 28 4 Christian p 189-90 5 McCauley 6 Gill p 47 7 ibid p 38 8 Christian p 223 9 Excel HSC - Modern History, p 186 10 McCauley.