The name Leon Trotsky hardly needs added comment from this writer. After Marx, Engels and Lenin, and in his case it is just slightly after, Trotsky is our heroic leader of the international communist movement. I would argue, and have in the past, that if one were looking for a model of what a human being would be like in our communist future Leon Trotsky, warts and all, is the closest approximation that the bourgeois age has produced. No bad, right?
Note: For this 70th anniversary memorial I have decided to post articles written by Trotsky in the 1930s, the period of great defeats for the international working class with the rise of fascism and the disorientations of Stalinism beating down on it. This was a time when political clarity, above all, was necessary. Trotsky, as a simple review of his biographical sketch will demonstrate, wore many hats in his forty years of conscious political life: political propagandist and theoretician; revolutionary working class parliamentary leader; razor-sharp journalist ( I, for one, would not have wanted to cross swords with him. I would still be bleeding); organizer of the great October Bolshevik revolution of 1917; organizer of the heroic and victorious Red Army in the civil war against the Whites in the aftermath of that revolution; seemingly tireless Soviet official; literary and culture critic: leader of the Russian Left Opposition in the 1920s; and, hounded and exiled leader of the International Left Opposition in the 1930s.
I have decided to concentrate on some of his writings from the 1930s for another reason as well. Why, with such a resume to choose from? Because, when the deal went down Leon Trotsky’s work in the 1930s, when he could have taken a political dive, I believe was the most important of his long career. He, virtually alone of the original Bolshevik leadership (at least of that part that still wanted to fight for international revolution), had the capacity to think and lead. He harnessed himself to the hard, uphill work of that period (step back, step way back, if you think we are “tilting at windmills” now). In that sense the vile Stalinist assassination in 1940, when Trotsky could still project years of political work ahead, is not among the least of Stalin’s crimes against the international working class. Had Trotsky lived another ten years or so, while he could not have “sucked” revolutions out of the ground, he could have stabilized a disoriented post-World War communist movement and we would probably have a far greater living communist movement today. Thanks for what you did do though, Comrade Trotsky.