Bolshevik critique : soviets versus parliament
In 1920, as a polemic against Kautsky's Terrorism & Communism published a year before, Trotsky wrote a book with the same title. Kautsky opposed democracy and mass freedom to civil war and systematic use of violence. Trotsky on the other hand distinguishes between democracy as universal suffrage, and democracy as the mass of the people : to understand what is meant by "people", one has to go into a class analysis.
Before parliamentarianism as we've known it since the end of the 19th century, Trotsky explains, history provides us with examples of early conservative democracy: the agrarian democracy of the farmers in the New England town meeting and the Swiss self-government of the urban lower middle classes and of the rich peasantry (praised by Rousseau in The Social Contract, 1762). Then, as capital and labour became "the polar classes of society", bourgeois democracy developed as "the weapon of defence" against class antagonisms. Trotsky reminds the reader what civilized Western democracy has led to : a world war.
As for Russia, Trotsky justifies terror and coercion methods on the grounds that they are the only methods available if the proletariat is to defend itself against a far more terrorist and bloodthirsty counter-revolution. "When the civil war is over (..) by means of a systematically-applied labour service, and a centralized organization of distribution, the whole population of the country will be drawn into the general system of economic arrangement and self-government."
Knowing that Trotsky was at the same time advocating forced militarization of labour, in plain English hard labour for dozens of millions, one can only read those lines as ruler talk justifying his own power over the common people. Now we know that soviet democracy under Bolshevik rule was a sham, but that is not the point here. As far as we are concerned in this essay, Trotsky only targets democracy because of what it has become under capitalism: an "imperialist democracy". So, "(..) we repudiate democracy in the name of the concentrated power of the proletariat". He is interested in the forms taken by democracy (and claims Bolshevism will later achieve a superior form), not in the nature of democracy. It's the democratic principle we will have to address.