Although living in New York City when the Czar was overthrown in 1917, Trotsky returned to Russia (after arrest by the British in Canada). Joining the Bolsheviks, Trotsky became the “People’s Commissar” and took a strong hand in the new Communist state’s foreign policy. There was great opposition to the Bolshevik takeover by Mensheviks, Socialist Revolutionaries, Czarists, and Western countries. Trotsky built up the “Red Army,” from 800,000 to 3,000,000, turning them into a well-disciplined and efficient fighting force, which fought and won a protracted civil war against the more numerous, but totally non-unified, sixteen factions and foreign troops of the “White Army,” including the United States.
The Communists “translated their revolutionary faith into practical instruments of power.” They nationalized banks and industry, requisitioned the food sources from the peasants, and used terror to annihilate resistance and consolidate centralized government. The Central Committee of the “Soviet Union” fought among themselves over strategies of control and expansion.