War or Peace? (Internal Forces of the Revolution)

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Writings of Trotsky from 1917

War or Peace? (Internal Forces of the Revolution)

By
Leon Trotsky

20 March 2017

The WSWS is publishing new translations of Leon Trotskys writings from February-March 1917. In many cases, these articles are now in English for the first time.

This article was published in the Russian-language New York newspaper Novy mir (New World) on March 20 , 1917. It was published in Russian in Trotskys 1923 Voina i Revoliutsiia (War and Revolution), vol2, pp. 440-443. It appeared in English in Trotsky Speaks. Below is an original translation.

The main question, which now interests the governments and peoples of the entire world, is: What influence will the Russian Revolution have on the course of the war? Will it bring peace any closer? Or, on the contrary, will all the enthusiasm of the people awakened by the revolution be directed at further conduct of the war?

This is a major question. On its resolution, one way or another, hinges not only the fate of the war, but also the fate of the revolution itself.

In 1905, Miliukov, today’s wartime Minister of Foreign Affairs, called the Russo-Japanese War an adventure, and demanded that it be ended as soon as possible. The entire liberal and radical press wrote in the same vein. The strongest organizations of the industrialists called at that time—despite unprecedented defeats—for an immediate peace. How was this to be explained? They had hopes for domestic reforms. The establishment of a constitutional system; parliamentary control over the budget and the state economy in general; growth of the education system; and, in particular, the allotment of land to the peasants—were supposed to raise the economic level of the country, increase the well-being of the population and, consequently, create…

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