Leon Trotsky Quotes

Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that happen to a man.

Leon Trotsky (Diary in Exile, 1959)

Generally speaking, art is an expression of man’s need for an harmonious and complete life, that is to say, his need for those major benefits of which a society of classes has deprived him. That is why a protest against reality, either conscious or unconscious, active or passive, optimistic or pessimistic, always forms part of a really creative piece of work. Every new tendency in art has begun with rebellion.

Leon Trotsky (Art and Politics in Our Epoch, 1938)

Not believing in force is the same as not believing in gravity. 

Leon Trotsky

Fascism is nothing but capitalist reaction. 

Leon Trotsky (The Struggle Against Fascism)

Nothing is more dangerous in politics, especially in a critical period, than to repeat general formulas without examining their social content.

Leon Trotsky (Whither France?, 1934)

Art must make its own way and by its own means.

Leon Trotsky (Community Policy Toward Art, 1923)

Life is not an easy matter... You cannot live through it without falling into frustration and cynicism unless you have before you a great idea which raises you above personal misery, above weakness, above all kinds of perfidy and baseness. 

Leon Trotsky (Diary in Exile, 1959)

The ancient philosopher said that strife is the father of all things. No new values can be created where a free conflict of ideas is impossible. To be sure, a revolutionary dictatorship means by its very essence strict limitations of freedom. But for that very reason epochs of revolution have never been directly favorable to cultural creation: they have only cleared the arena for it. The dictatorship of the proletariat opens a wider scope to human genius the more it ceases to be a dictatorship. The socialist culture will flourish only in proportion to the dying away of the state.

Leon Trotsky (Revolution Betrayed, 1936)

Abusive language and swearing are a legacy of slavery, humiliation, and disrespect for human dignity, one’s own and that of other people.

Leon Trotsky (The Struggle for Cultured Speech, 1923)

The depth and strength of a human character are defined by its moral reserves. People reveal themselves completely only when they are thrown out of the customary conditions of their life, for only then do they have to fall back on their reserves.

Leon Trotsky (Diary in Exile, 1959)

I know well enough, from my own experience, the historical ebb and flow. They are governed by their own laws. Mere impatience will not expedite their change.

Leon Trotsky (My Life - Foreword, 1930)

A sledgehammer breaks glass but forges steel.

Leon Trotsky (We Do Not Change Our Course, 1938)

The historic ascent of humanity, taken as a whole, may be summarized as a succession of victories of consciousness over blind forces - in nature, in society, in man himself. 

Leon Trotsky (The History of the Russian Revolution, 1930)

I felt the mechanics of power as an inescapable burden, rather than as a spiritual satisfaction.

Leon Trotsky (My Life - Chapter 45, 1930)

Where force is necessary, there it must be applied boldly, decisively and completely. But one must know the limitations of force; one must know when to blend force with a maneuver, a blow with an agreement.

Leon Trotsky (The Struggle Against Fascism)

Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full.

Leon Trotsky (Trotsky's Treatment, 1940)

Insurrection is an art, and like all arts has its own laws. 

Leon Trotsky

As long as I breathe I hope. As long as I breathe I shall fight for the future, that radiant future, in which man, strong and beautiful, will become master of the drifting stream of his history and will direct it towards the boundless horizons of beauty, joy and happiness!

Leon Trotsky (Quoted in The Prophet Armed: Trotsky, 1879 - 1921)

Ideas that enter the mind under fire remain there securely and for ever. 

Leon Trotsky (My Life, 1930)

The principle, the end justifies the means, naturally raise the question “and what justifies the end?” In practical life as in the historical movement the end and the means constantly change places. A machine under construction is an “end” of production only that upon entering the factory it may become the “means” Democracy in certain periods is the end of the class struggle only that later it may be transformed into its “means.”

Leon Trotsky (Their Morals and Ours, 1938)

If we had had more time for discussion we should probably have made a great many more mistakes.

Leon Trotsky (My Life, 1930)

The life of a revolutionary would be quite impossible without a certain amount of "fatalism."

Leon Trotsky (My Life - Foreword, 1930)

There are no absolute rules of conduct, either in peace or war. Everything depends on circumstances. 

Leon Trotsky (My Life, 1930)

Whatever may be the circumstances of my death I shall die with unshaken faith in the communist future. This faith in man and in his future gives me even now such power of resistance as cannot be given by any religion.

Leon Trotsky (Trotsky's Treatment, 1940)

The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end.
Variant: A means can be justified only by its end. But the end in its turn needs to be justified.

Leon Trotsky (Their Morals and Ours, 1938)

If the leaders seek only to preserve themselves, that is what they become; preserves, dried preserves.

Leon Trotsky (Some Questions on American Problems, 1940)

Leon Trotsky Biography

Born: November 7, 1879
Died: August 21, 1940

Leon Trotsky was a Russian politician and Marxist revolutionary and theorist. He is best known for his prominent role in the Russian revolution and other political events.

Notable Works

The Russian Revolution (1930)
My Life (1930)
Diary in Exile (1935-1936)
The Revolution Betrayed (1936)
Their Morals and Ours (1938)
Trotsky's Testament (1940)
In Defense of Marxism (1942)