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Introduction to Ferdinand Lassalle’s speech to the jury (July 1905)

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses Leon Trotsky's introduction to one of the most famous of Social Democratic speeches, written but never delivered by Ferdinand Lassalle. Like Bernstein, Leon Trotsky admired the grand rhetoric of Lassalle's Speech to the Jury. With the power of historical analogy and his own mastery of the political pamphlet, Trotsky combines Marx's insight with Lassalle's passion to celebrate the prospect of permanent revolution both within Russia and throughout the capitalist world. When Trotsky delivered his own speech to the tsar's court in September 1906, defending his role in the short-lived St. Petersburg Soviet, he clearly modelled himself after Ferdinand Lassalle. In the summer of 1905, Trotsky was intent upon demonstrating the striking, almost uncanny parallel between the betrayal of the European revolutions and the behaviour of Russian liberals and democrats in 1905. His account of the two historical events makes one the mirror image of the other.

Keywords: Eduard Bernstein; European revolution; Ferdinand Lassalle; Leon Trotsky; Marx; Russian liberal; social democracy; Speech to the Jury



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