You cannot tar Lenin and Trostky, or Marx for that matter with the a same brush as Stalin or Mao.
Lenin and Trotsky conducted a revolution and directed workers as their elected and accepted leaders with the authority of any leading state official and were able to give orders backed up witha death sentence if they were not carried out. That just 12 people died on the day of the revolution as a result of direct action is remarkable and even more so when it is discovered that half of those who died were due to the accidental discharge of weapons.
There were no gulags or execution sheds in Lenin's regime, but when invading armies came storming into the country to link arms with the rich landed peasants (The Kolchaks) and the czar's old generals and admirals, a desperate situation developed.
The armed force being directed against the revolution was such that defeat looked inevitable. A mark of the desperation lay in the fact that Lenin told Trotsky to organise the Red Army. Trotsky had no military experience and said so. Lenin replied if not you then who? Trotsky took the job with plenty of misgivings and began the tsak of organising what until recently had been a mutinous and disorganised mob.
Whilst Trotsky was busy with the army, other members of the Revolutionary Coucil were making plans to supply arms, to get factories making arms and to ensure food supplies. A resolution was passed forbiding the hoarding of food and the declaration was sent out to all factories and farms and in the cities it was accepted as a mark of the desperate situation. Of course the Kolchaks tried to get round this order thinking at best to simply get the best price for their grain, and at worst destroyed their crops with the intent of denying the Red Army food, in order to starve it and hasten defeat.
Desperate times require desperate measures and anyone caught destroying food in a country which was still starving deserved to lose their life. I am not a violent man and oppose the death penalty, but I would gladly have given the order to the firing squads. If you consider what the reaction would have been, if in 1985 when Ethiopia was seen by the world to be starving and it was discovered that land-owners were burning their crops rather than feed the needy, I think some of our liberal gentlemen and ladies who sniff at Lenin's determination would have gladly seen those destroying food shot on sight.
The measure worked, because it brought the hoarding largely to a halt and preserved the crops which might have been destroyed.
Even in the face of terrorism which was being encouraged by the white forces, Lenin generally opposed the death penalty, but said they should pass that judgement on any terrorist known to have planted bombs, but with the proviso that the death sentence would only be carried out in conjunction with further attacks.
Execution by firing squad carried out by the Reds pales against the bloodbath inflicted by the whites. Any red caught by the whites faced almost immediate death in the execution sheds, whereas if a rank and file soldier from the white side was caught he was often shown how wrong he had been to side with the class enemy. This was Lenin's method when faced by regiments sent by czarist General Kornilov to break up the revolution and arrest him prior to the October revolution. Kornilov realised that every regiment he sent was swelling the ranks of the revolution because of the common class appeals issued by Lenin's bolsheviks. Class appeal worked then and it worked later in that savage civil war sparked by outsiders. It worked well then, so why change?
When the naval fortress of Kronstadt insurrected against the revolution it was said that something must have gone seriously wrong for the heart of the revolution to turn against Lenin. The truth is, that Kronstadt had been emptied 3 times over, it's best bolshevik sailors being sent to strengthen the front against the whites. What remained at Kronstadt were untrained and undisciplined men and as Lenin predicted a high ranking czarist officer and his staff was behind it all.
Proclamations issued by the mutineers said they were in favour of the revolution but were now against Lenin and that they would only come out if he was deposed. This was little more than an opportunist attempt to decapitate the revolution of it's best leader so as to weaken resistance to the whites.
The fortress was surrounded by superior force and the the men inside were told they could lay down their arms and hand over their officers, or the revolution would shoot it's way in. Three days later the order was reluctantly given and after a short but bloody battle the fortress fell. An Admiral of the czar's navy was found to be at the centre of the trouble and he and his officers were shot for mutiny against the worker's state. The rank and file were shown how badly they had been misled and were dispersed to be incorporated into the ranks of the red army, where they learned to fight, some acquitting themselves in battle very well even.
See how prison mutinies are put down in some places and where they often espouse the most liberal views.