What follows from this? [This translation is taken from the English translation of Clausewitz’s book by Michael Howard and Peter Paret (1976), p.61. The military doctrine of post-Bismarck Germany was incomparably more aggressive in essence, in line with the country’s policy, but was much more cautious in its strategic formulations. Analysis could be carried further still. ‘The old army was an instrument of class oppression of the working people by the bourgeoisie. Operations conducted in territory with a different national composition and more densely populated, with a higher ratio between the number of troops and the given territory, would undoubtedly make the war more positional in character and would, in any case, confine freedom to manoeuvre within incomparably narrower limits. However, these raids, too, were taught us by Mamontov. Flanks must be protected, means of communication and retreat must be secured, the blow must be struck at the enemy’s least defended point, etc. The heralds of the proletarian ‘military doctrine’ proposed to reduce the entire armed force of the Republic to individual composite detachments or regiments. The education of the commanders, the preparation of the individual fighter ... armament – all this (!) Trotsky’s theory implied that the relatively miniscule working class of the cities would have the role of leading the revolution. National wars are waged (at all events, they used to be waged) by ponderous masses, with all the national-state resources of both sides brought into play. Matters do not improve as we proceed. The advantage of our orientation is this, that it corresponds to the nature of the epoch and its relations. This little effort of memory is already sufficient for us to realise how unfounded and one-sided, how theoretically and practically false, sounds the ‘doctrine’ according to which an offensive, manoeuvring strategy is characteristic of a revolutionary army as such. In them it is very clearly stated ‘what kind of army we are preparing, and for what tasks.’ What are the newly-arrived military doctrinaires preparing to add to this? These principles are perfect: but why have the editors conformed to old custom, why have they given the honour of their first page to a glorification of the offensive? Why not try to deduce from this principle, which is in no way inferior to that propounded by Foch, just what sort of food is wanted, and how to cook it, and just when and by whom it should be swallowed; and, above all, how this food is to be procured. For, as the authors of these reports explain, it is not possible to prepare for future wars ‘in the dark’: it is not possible to determine either the strength of the army, or its establishments, or its disposition. It worked under the assumption that since ‘…the working class will be compelled by the very C omrades, we are now drawing conclusions, reviewing our ranks, and getting prepared. But to suppose that one can, on the basis of this statement of principle, create or ‘cultivate’ an effective ideology for the Red Army under existing conditions is to fail to understand either the Red Army or these conditions. Germany’s ruling classes lacked experience in operating on a world scale: they failed to take forces and resources into account, and gave their diplomacy and strategy an ultra-aggressive character far removed from ‘common sense’. In other words, the War Department must have guiding principles on which to build, educate and reorganise the army. The Communist vanguard is sufficiently assured of revolutionary initiative and aggressive spirit. As soon as our doctrinaires try to reach conclusions, they offer us either a feeble rehash of stale news or the most pernicious sort of ‘independent thinking’. Contrary to what Comrade Frunze writes [Art. Unfortunately, there are not a few simpletons of the offensive among our newly-appeared doctrinaires, who, under the flag of military doctrine, are trying to introduce into our military circulation those same one-sided ‘left’ tendencies which at the Third Communist Congress attained their culminating form as the theory of the offensive: inasmuch as (!) The crisis in trade and industry is assuming monstrous proportions. Characteristic of epigones, of mediocre army leaders and routinists is the striving to turn into a stable system a certain combination of actions which corresponds to specific conditions. Abrupt shifts in political development in the form of revolutionary explosions are wholly possible in the very near future. Almost at the same time, the mighty revolutionary wave in Italy was broken – not so much by the resistance of the bourgeoisie as by the perfidious passivity of the leading workers’ organisations. turn (in the building of the Red Army); it is necessary to reconsider all (!) It is incontestable that the Communist leaven was able to produce a superhuman exertion of strength in individual cases. The defects in our organisation, our backwardness and poverty, especially in the technical field, must not be erected by us into a credo; they must be eliminated by every means in our power, in an effort to approach, in this respect, the imperialist armies, which all deserve to be destroyed, but which are in some ways superior to ours: well-developed aviation, plentiful means of communication, well-trained and carefully-selected commanders, precision in calculating resources, correct mutual relations. Until the question is posed clearly and intelligibly one cannot but ‘evade’ answering it. To that my answer has been and still is: if anyone wants to call the sum-total of the Red Army’s principles and practical methods, a military doctrine, then, while not sharing this weakness for the faded galloons of old-time officialdom, I am not going to fight over it (this is my ‘evasion’). It is the unified set of teachings adopted by the army of a given state, which fix the form of construction of the country’s armed forces and the methods of training and leading the forces, on the basis of the views which prevail in the given state regarding the character of the military tasks which confront this state and the methods of performing these tasks which follow from the class essence of this state and the condition of its productive forces.’ (Krasnaya Nov, No.2, p.94, article by M.Frunze, Unified Military Doctrine and the Red Army. Recognition that it was beyond the capacity of the Red Army to defend fortified positions (Tukhachevsky) sums up correctly, on the whole, the lessons of the past period, but it certainly cannot be taken as an absolute rule for the future. In order to come closer to the correct way of formulating the question, let us, following what has been said earlier, divide the question itself into its component parts. 5. A war between feudal-bourgeois Germany and revolutionary Russia would lead inevitably to a proletarian revolution in Germany. However, after Soviet archives were opened to researchers after the fall of the Soviet Union, it became clear that Stalin actually concocted the fictitious plot by the most famous and important of his Soviet generals in order to get rid of them in a believable manner. Comrade Varin remarks, in the journal Voyennaya Nauka i Revolyutsiya , that the mobility of our troops surpasses all historical precedents. I do not recall seeing Solomin’s signature under these reports, but his ideas were there. But there is no disorder, no vacillation, no disharmony. It is proclaimed that the second specific feature of revolutionary strategy is its aggressiveness. Why do they propound for us, in a prominent paragraph, this axiom: “He who attacks first makes an impression on his adversary by demonstrating that his will is superior”?’. They cannot be fitted into a few General-Staff variants. This was well understood by old Clausewitz: ‘Perhaps it would not be impossible to write a systematic theory of war, full of intelligence and substance; but the theories we presently possess are very different. Reading Solomin’s article I was involuntarily reminded of the comic figure of that dogmatist of military doctrine, General Borisov of the General Staff. And if a strategical retreat is legitimate, then it is wrong to reduce all strategy to the offensive. The same applies to the fighter’s hands. And away with doctrinaire blinkers! Nevertheless, the potent class dexterity of the world-ruling British bourgeoisie is proving inadequate – and more and more so as time goes by – to the present epoch of volcanic upheavals in the bourgeois regime. After the Polish bourgeoisie had, in the spring of 1920, imposed a defensive war upon us, we tried to develop our defence into a revolutionary offensive. What Germany? According to the old view, the foundations of military science are eternal and common to all ages and peoples. Our class enemies are empiricists, that is, they operate from one case to the next, guided not by the analysis of historical development but by practical experience, routine, coup d’oeil and flair. Their troops were, in most cases, inferior to ours in numbers and in point of morale, but superior in military skill. What has been said so far applies not so much to the Red Army, to its structure and methods of operation, as to the political tasks set for the Red Army by the workers’ state. War against the governments of Wilhelm II and Franz Josef under such circumstances would become an act of self-defence on the part of the revolutionary government of Russia. Previously, the size of the Red Army officer corps was underestimated, and it was overlooked that most of those purged were merely expelled from the Party. We will now prove this, in respect of each of the constituent elements in the so-called military doctrine. ‘This (the development of the Russian revolution) immediately gives the events now unfolding an international character, and opens up a wide horizon. How should they be distributed? On the whole, however, our international policy, as a state in that period was predominantly a poltcy of defence and retreat (renouncing sovietisation of the Baltic states, our frequent offers to engage in peace negotiations, together with our readiness to make very big concessions, the ‘new’ economic policy, recognition of the debts, and so on). The experience of the struggle of British reaction against the Great French Revolution refined the methods of British imperialism, made it more flexible, armed it in a variety of ways, and, consequently, rendered it more secure against historical surprises. At the end, three of five Soviet Marshals, 90% of all Red Army generals, 80% of Red Army colonels and 30,000 officers of lesser rank had been purged. Was the Red Army alone distinguished by capacity for manoeuvring? It was possible to ensure enthusiasm and élan, and this we achieved, but it was not possible to create artificially the necessary routine, the automatic solidarity, the confidence of neighbouring units that there would be mutual support between them. Where and by whom has it been proved? Manoeuvring is characteristic not of a revolutionary army but of civil war as such. Our orientation proved to be more correct, more far-sighted and profound, than that of the mightiest of the imperialist powers, which sought, one alter the other or together, to bring us down, but burnt their fingers in the attempt. One cannot, therefore, consider capacity for manoeuvring a special manifestation of the revolutionary character of the Red Army. The peasant question confronts us with particular acuteness in the army. How pedantic seem Solomin’s demands that we compile a catalogue of our enemies and decide whether we shall do the attacking and just whom we shall attack, when we compare it with this work of evaluating all the forces of the revolution and the counter-revolution, as they now exist and as they are developing, which was accomplished by the last congress of the Communist International! In 1806 the Prussian generals were under the sway of this methodism’, and so on. And the army will not allow the Solomins to impose their organisational and strategical ramblings and thereby to introduce vacillation and disorder. We need peace not from doctrinal considerations but because the working people have had enough of war and privation. One of its sections has already passed the test of experience: another is now being tested, and is standing the test. If the Communist International could be created de facto only after strong Communist organisations had been formed in the most important countries, this applies even more to an international general staff, which could arise only on the basis of the national general staffs of several proletarian states. Historical analogies are very tempting. In the last analysis, however, victory was ensured by the enthusiasm and self-sacrifice of the working-class vanguard and the support given by the peasant masses. [Note by Trotsky], 3. This question we posed and settled in the Russian Marxist press quite a while ago. I could quote dozens of leading articles from the Party press, especially in the period of the imperialist war, which treat of revolutionary war by a workers’ state as something to be taken for granted. Of course it would be idle at this moment to determine the methods by which the Russian revolution will throw itself against old capitalist Europe. 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