Trotsky’s Challenge

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Published Nov 2016
ISBN: 9789004217256

The ‘Literary Discussion’ of 1924 and the Fight for the Bolshevik Revolution

Translated, Annotated, and Introduced by Frederick C. Corney, The College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA

In Trotsky’s Challenge: The ‘Literary Discussion’ of 1924 and the Fight for the Bolshevik Revolution, Frederick C. Corney examines the political polemic surrounding the publication of Trotsky’s The Lessons of October. Trotsky’s analysis ran counter to the efforts of Bolshevik leaders to fashion the narrative of October as a foundation event in which the Bolshevik Party, under the clear-sighted leadership of Lenin, played a major role in bringing about a radical socialist revolution in Russia. Corney has translated into English the major contributions to this polemic, annotated them, and written an extensive contextualising introduction, examining the polemic for its impact not only on the figure of Trotsky, but also on the changing political culture of the 1920s and 1930s.

Biographical note

Frederick C. Corney, Ph.D. (1997), is Associate Professor of History at The College of William & Mary. He has published a monograph, Telling October: Memory and the Making of the Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1927 (Cornell, 2004), articles, and book and movie reviews on Russia and historical memory.


All interested in the history of Marxism and Leninism, Russian Revolutionary history, early Soviet Russia, cultural history, and especially in the figure of Leon Trotsky and the early Bolshevik leaders.

Table of contents



Introduction: Anatomy of a Polemic

Document 1: ‘The Lessons of October’ (14 October 1924), L. Trotsky

Document 2: ‘Who Carried Out the October Revolution? (On the “History” of October in L. Trotsky’s book 1917’ (30 October 1924), I. Stepanov

Document 3: ‘How the History of October Must Not Be Written (on L. Trotsky’s book 1917)’ (2 November 1924), N. Bukharin

Document 4: ‘The Komsomol and October (on Comrade Trotsky’s “The Lessons of October”)’ (12 November 1924), Central, Moscow, and Leningrad Committees of Komsomol

Document 5: ‘On the Intolerable Distortion of Historical Facts (Concerning Comrade Trotsky’s article “The Uprising”)’ (15 November 1924), D. Lebed’

Document 6: ‘How Should the History of October be Approached? (Comrade Trotsky’s “The Lessons of October”)’ (19 November 1924), G. Sokol’nikov

Document 7: ‘On Comrade Trotsky’s ‘The Lessons of October’’ (25 November 1924), N. Babakhan

Document 8: ‘Trotskyism or Leninism? Report by Comrade L.B. Kamenev’ (26 November 1924), L. Kamenev

Document 9: ‘Trotskyism or Leninism’ (26 November 1924), I. Stalin

Document 10: ‘Our Differences’ (November 1924), L. Trotsky

Document 11: ‘Bolshevism or Trotskyism (Where the Trotskyist Line is Leading)’ (30 November 1924), G. Zinoviev

Document 12: ‘An Unsuccessful Depiction of the “German October” (Comrade Trotsky’s “The Lessons of October”)’ (30 November 1924), O. Kuusinen

Document 13: ‘On the Lessons of Trotskyism (L. Trotsky’s book About Lenin)’ (9 December 1924), V. Molotov

Document 14: The Chkheidze Controversy (9 December 1924)

Document 15: ‘The Question of the Lessons of October’ (16 December 1924), N. Krupskaia

Document 16: ‘The October Revolution and the Tactics of Russian Communists’ (17 December 1924), I. Stalin

Document 17: ‘“The Lessons of October” and the Bulgarian Communist Party’ (20 December 1924), V. Kolarov

Document 18: ‘Letter to Comrades’ (21 December 1924), Leopol’d Averbakh, et al.

Document 19: ‘The Autobiography of Trotskyism (instead of an afterword)’ (22 December 1924), G. Safarov

Document 20: ‘The Theory of Permanent Revolution’ (28 December 1924), N. Bukharin

Document 21: ‘To All the Members of the Central Committee Who Are Enemies of Trotskyism’ (1924), N. Bukharin

Document 22: ‘The New Discussion’ (28 December 1924), A. Rykov

Document 23: ‘Not Every Effort is Successful’ (1925), A. Andreev

Document 24: ‘Letter to the Plenum of the CC RKP(b)’ (15 January 1925), L. Trotsky

Document 25: ‘Plenum of the CC RKP(b) and TsKK regarding the Speech of Comrade Trotsky’ (17 January 1925)

Document 26: ‘Mistakes in “The Lessons of October” by Comrade Trotsky’ (January 1925), S.A. Piontkovskii

Document 27: ‘Lenin, Conspiratoriality, October’ (1925), E. Kviring

Document 28: ‘The Ideological Foundations of Trotskyism’ (1925), B. Kun

Document 29: ‘“The Lessons of October” and Trotskyism’ (1925), A. Bubnov

Document 30: ‘The Struggle for the Party’ (January 1925), S. Kanatchikov

Appendix A: Introduction to ‘The Lessons of the Revolution’ (28 December 1924), Paul Levi

Appendix B: ‘The Lessons of the October Experiment’ (1925), Karl Kautsky