Here is very astute description of Trotsky’s modus operandi in words of Lenin:
The old participants in the Marxist movement in Russia know Trotsky very well, and there is no need to discuss him for their benefit. But the younger generation of workers do not know him, and it is therefore necessary to discuss him, for he is typical of all the five groups abroad, which, in fact, are also vacillating between the liquidators and the Party.
In the days of the old Iskra (1901–03), these waverers, who flitted from the Economists to the Iskrists and back again, were dubbed “Tushino turncoats” (the name given in the Troublous Times in Rus to fighting men who went over from one camp to another).
When we speak of liquidationism we speak of a definite ideological trend, which grew up in the course of many years, stems from Menshevism and Economism in the twenty years’ history of Marxism, and is connected with the policy and ideology of a definite class—the liberal bourgeoisie.
The only ground the “Tushino turncoats” have for claiming that they stand above groups is that they “borrow” their ideas from one group one day and from another the next day. Trotsky was an ardent Iskrist in 1901–03, and Ryazanov described his role at the Congress of 1903 as “Lenin’s cudgel”. At the end of 1903, Trotsky was an ardent Menshevik, i. e., he deserted from the Iskrists to the Economists. He said that “between the old Iskra and the new lies a gulf”. In 1904–05, he deserted the Mensheviks and occupied a vacillating position, now co-operating with Martynov (the Economist), now proclaiming his absurdly Left “permanent revolution” theory. In 1906–07, he approached the Bolsheviks, and in the spring of 1907 he declared that he was in agreement with Rosa Luxemburg.
In the period of disintegration, after long “non-factional” vacillation, he again went to the right, and in August 1912, he entered into a bloc with the liquidators. He has now deserted them again, although in substance he reiterates their shoddy ideas.
Such types are characteristic of the flotsam of past historical formations, of the time when the mass, working-class movement in Russia was still dormant, and when every group had “ample room” in which to pose as a trend, group or faction, in short, as a “power”, negotiating amalgamation with others.
The younger generation of workers should know exactly whom they are dealing with, when individuals come before them with incredibly pretentious claims, unwilling absolutely to reckon with either the Party decisions, which since 1908 have defined and established our attitude towards liquidationism, or with the experience of the present-day working-class movement in Russia, which has actually brought about the unity of the majority on the basis of full recognition of the aforesaid decisions.