Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky were among the earliest and most influential leaders in the 1917 Russian Revolution. Most sources report that Lenin disliked Trotsky, but felt it necessary to work with him. Trotsky was one of the few people within the Communist Party known for standing up to Lenin. However, Trotsky was also known as Lenin's chief subordinate.
Bolsheviks and Mensheviks
Lenin and Trotsky both ascribed to the teachings of German Communists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. However, they often differed in their beliefs regarding how Marxist principles should be implemented. Lenin became the leader of the "Bolshevik" -- Russian for "majority" -- faction of the Communist Party while Trotsky was one of the leaders of the "Menshevik" or "minority" faction. Lenin and the Bolsheviks wanted the Communist Party to be led by a small, highly organized group who were loyal to the Party. Trotsky and the Mensheviks wanted the Communist Party to be larger, more inclusive and less centrally-organized.
Permanent Revolution or State Socialism
One of Trotsky's core beliefs was the concept of permanent revolution. Trotsky believed that the Communist Revolution should continue nonstop until the entire world was united in a worker's paradise. Lenin shared Trotsky's ideal of worldwide Communism, but believed it was more pragmatic to consolidate the victories in the Russian Revolution rather than actively spreading military revolution to other countries. Lenin believed that Russia's successful communist revolution would lead the working class and peasants in other countries to rise up in neighboring countries on their own.
Unions Among the Soviets
Lenin and Trotsky also differed in their approach to labor unions. Trotsky believed that the government of a true workers' movement had nothing to fear from labor unions. Lenin, in keeping with the Bolshevik ideal of vesting power in the hands of a small group of loyal Communists, believed that labor unions were unnecessary and potentially disruptive. In Lenin's view, control of industry and agricultural labor should be centralized and controlled by a dictatorial government.
Trotsky Vs. Stalin
Despite their differences, Lenin and Trotsky managed to have a working relationship throughout Lenin's lifetime. Many assumed that Trotsky would become the leader of the Communist Party after Lenin's death in 1924, but this wasn't to be. Trotsky had made many enemies within the Communist Party. His most notable enemy was another close associate of Lenin -- Josef Stalin. Stalin outmaneuvered Trotsky and became Lenin's successor. Soon after, Stalin exiled Trotsky and, in 1940, had him assassinated.
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