Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Leon Trotsky, born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein

Soviet Russian Leader of 1917 Revolution, Assassinated, Communist Theorist, Agitator

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

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

"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."

"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."

"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."

"Learning carries within itself certain dangers because out of necessity one has to learn from one's enemies."

"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."

"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!"

"The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end."

"In our eyes, individual terror is inadmissible precisely because it belittles the role of the masses in their own consciousness, reconciles them to their own powerlessness, and turns their eyes and hopes toward a great avenger and liberator who someday will come and accomplish his mission."

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

"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. I have grown accustomed to viewing the historical perspective not from the stand point of my personal fate. To understand the causal sequence of events and to find somewhere in the sequence one's own place – that is the first duty of a revolutionary. And at the same time, it is the greatest personal satisfaction possible for a man who does not limit his tasks to the present day."

"Life is beautiful, enjoy it to the fullest."

"Everything is relative in this world, where change alone endures."

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

"Dialectical thinking is related to vulgar thinking in the same way that a motion picture is related to a still photograph. The motion picture does not outlaw the still photograph but combines a series of them according to the laws of motion. Dialectics does not deny the syllogism, but teaches us to combine syllogisms in such a way as to bring our understanding closer to the eternally changing reality."

"Under all conditions well-organized violence seems to him the shortest distance between two points."