What is the context?

Lenin’s and Trotsky’s commitment to world revolution


During the early days of the Soviet Union, Leon Trotsky served as the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs and later as the founder and leader of the Red Army as People’s Commissar of Military and Naval Affairs. He and Lenin agreed that the new socialist state in Russia would not be able to hold out against a hostile capitalist world, and that the socialist revolution therefore quickly had to spread worldwide.

Their commitment to world revolution - supporting the overthrow of capitalism through the organised action of the proletariat in countries where the conditions appeared to be right – was undoubtedly perceived as a serious threat by not only the Western powers but also by unstable governments in Central and Eastern Europe.


Cartoon Lenin

In March 1919, the Comintern, the organisation of the Communist International, was established under the control of Moscow. It provided support for a number of revolutions and uprisings between 1919-1923, particularly the Spartacist Revolution in Germany, the short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic, the equally short-lived Hungarian Revolution and the failed Communist uprisings in northern Italy and in Bulgaria. While none of these proved successful they further enhanced Western suspicions about Bolshevik intentions.

When Joseph Stalin took over control of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in the second half of the 1920s, he shifted the emphasis away from world revolution towards what he called “Socialism in one country.”