The Defence of Terrorism (Terrorism and Communism): A Reply to Karl Kautsky

By L. Trotsky | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION OF THE REPORT

Comrades, the arguments of the Menshevik orators, particularly of Abramovich, reflect first of all their complete detachment from life and its problems. An observer stands on the bank of a river which he has to swim over, and deliberates on the qualities of the water and on the strength of the current. He has to swim over: that is his task! But our Kautskian stands first on one foot and then on the other. "We do not deny," he says, "the necessity of swimming over, but at the same time, as realists, we see the danger--and not only one, but several: the current is swift, there are submerged stones, people are tired, etc., etc. But when they tell you that we deny the very necessity of swimming over, that is not true--no, not under any circumstances. Twenty-three years ago we did not deny the necessity of swimming over. . . ."

And on this is built all, from beginning to end. First, say the Mensheviks, we do not deny, and never did deny, the necessity of self- defence: consequently we do not repudiate the army. Secondly, we do not repudiate in principle general labour service. But, after all, where is there anyone in the world, with the exception of small religious sects, who denies self-defence "in principle"! Nevertheless, the matter does not move one step forward as a result of your abstract admission. When it came to a real struggle, and to the creation of a real army against the real enemies of the working class, what did you do then? You opposed, you sabotaged--while not repudiating self- defence in principle. You said and wrote in your papers: "Down with the civil war!" at the time when we were surrounded by White Guards, and the knife was at our throat. Now you, approving our victorious self-defence after the event, transfer your critical gaze to new problems, and attempt to teach us. "In general, we do not repudiate the principle of general labour service," you say, "but . . . without legal compulsion." Yet in these very words there is a monstrous internal contradicton! The idea of "obligatory service" itself includes the element of compulsion. A man is obliged, he is bound to do something. If he does not do it, obviously he will suffer compulsion, a penalty. Here we approach the question of what penalty. Abramovich says: "Economic pressure, yes; but not legal compulsion." Comrade Holtzman, the representative of the Metal Workers' Union, excellently demon-

-154-

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The Defence of Terrorism (Terrorism and Communism): A Reply to Karl Kautsky
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Publishers' Note *
  • Preface i
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 7
  • Terrorism and Communism A Reply to Karl Kautsky 13
  • Conclusion of the Report 154
  • In Place of an Epilogue 174
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