I put a comment on Youtube about the video:
I have watched many episodes of this series and have been impressed with the even handed tone and reliance on documentation and evidence. So…I was reluctant to click on this Lenin and Trotsky episode. I am one who has some acquaintance with these men and have read a number of works by both. I was afraid of a slanted anti-communist presentation. But, I finally watched this episode. Mostly very good.
One point – the difference between Lenin’s Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks was not about ‘violence.’ The difference is about the organizational structure a socialist party should have. The Mensheviks and most European moderate socialists wanted an open party with low key meetings and open membership at any time. Members could say just about anything they wanted about politics and openly disagree with other party members. The focus would be on winning parliamentary seats in elections and slowly pushing for modest reforms that really improve workers lives right now.
Lenin and the Bolsheviks wanted to form a shadow government that would have party members who were professional revolutionaries who joined the party and voted on the parties positions and then accepted the majorities ruling and said the same thing as everyone else in public. The Leninist wanted a party news organization that would publish a national newspaper that would be an organizing tool for the party and socialism. The Leninist was expected to be a organizer, a publicist, a street vendor of a revolutionary newspaper, and someone who followed orders, and knew how to give others orders. The Leninists did not want to be ‘Sunday Socialists.’
Moderate Socialists like the Mensheviks were quite capable of using violence and had no ideological problems using government police forces to fight workers and socialists when they are elected to parliament. The July Days in Petrograd 1917 featured Menshevik backed violence – against revolutionary workers and socialists. All political parties use violence when they have state power – some more, some less. The State is ultimately built on a system of violence and the threat of violence to enforce laws and rule the population. The Soviet state was no different. The vote in 1903 between the Mensheviks and Lenin’s Bolshevik’s was not about violence versus peaceful progress.
German Gold? Like a story from the Brothers Grimm many love to write about Lenin getting “German Gold.” I don’t think I’ve ever read anyone use the phrases “German money,” or “German funds.” Those phrases are not something one would find in a fairy-tale. Has anyone ever written about the American Revolution and said the Revolutionaries got “French Gold?” When Irish Nationalists and Socialists rose up against the UK in 1916 they got money and guns from Germany. Just like Lenin, perhaps. But the implication for many is that the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia was some kind of German destabilization trick that morphed out of control and became a historical fluke – an openly socialist state that aimed to eliminate capitalism.