Preface to the First Edition
The events of 1905 formed a majestic prologue to the revolutionary drama of 1917. For a number of years, when the reaction was triumphant, the year 1905 appeared to us as a completed whole, as
the Russian revolution.
Today it has lost that independent nature, without at the same time forfeiting any of its historical significance. The revolution of 1905 grew directly out of the Russo -- Japanese war, just asthe revolution of 1917 was the direct outcome of the great imperialist slaughter. In this way, both in itsorigins and in its development the prologue carried within it all the elements of the historical dramawhose witnesses and participants we are today. But in the prologue these elements appeared in acompressed, not as yet fully developed form. All the forces engaged in the struggle of 1905 are todayilluminated more clearly than before by the light cast back on them by the events of 1917. The RedOctober, as we used to call it even then, grew after twelve years into another, incomparably morepowerful and truly victorious October.Our great advantage in 1905 was the fact that even during this phase of revolutionary prologue, weMarxists were already armed with the scientific method of comprehending historical processes. Thisenabled us to understand those relations which the material process of history revealed only as a series of hints. The chaotic July strikes of 1903 in the south of Russia had sup plied us with material forconcluding that a general strike of the proletariat with its subsequent transformation into an armed risingwould become the fundamental form of the Russian revolution. The events of January 9, a vividconfirmation of this prognosis, demanded that the question of revolutionary power be raised in concretefashion. From that moment on, the question of the nature of the Russian revolution and its inner classdynamic became a burning issue among the Russian social democrats of that time.It was precisely in the interval between January
and the October strike of 1905 that those views whichcame to be called the theory of "permanent revolution were formed in the author's mind. This ratherhigh-flown expression defines the thought that the Russian revolution, although directly concerned withbourgeois aims, could not stop short at those aims; the revolution could not solve its immediate,bourgeois tasks except by putting the proletariat into power. And the proletariat, once having power in itshands, would not be able to remain confined within the bourgeois framework of the revolution. On thecontrary, precisely in order to guarantee its victory, the proletarian vanguard in the very earliest stages of its rule would have to make extremely deep inroads not only into feudal but also into bourgeois propertyrelations. While doing so it would enter into hostile conflict, not only with all those bourgeois groupswhich had supported it during the first stages of its revolutionary struggle, but also with the broad massesof the peasantry, with whose collaboration it -- the proletariat -- had come into power.The contradictions between a workers' government and an overwhelming majority of peasants in abackward country could be resolved only on an international scale, in the arena of a world proletarianrevolution. Having, by virtue of historical necessity, burst the narrow bourgeois-democratic confines of the Russian revolution, the victorious proletariat would be compelled also to burst its national and state
Leon Trotsky: 1905: Preface to the First Editionhttp://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/works/1905/pre.htm (1 of 6) [06/06/2002 13:41:26]