Trotsky's "analytical abilities": From personal experience

Louis R Godena louisgodena at
Thu Sep 12 21:50:08 MDT 1996

Vladimir Bilenkin does not like my answer to Jeff Booth's suggestion that I
use Trotsky for the "Crisis of Leninism"

>> Jeff,  I am not using Trotsky,  et al for an analysis of 1985-93 for the
>> same reasons I would not use Edward Bellamy's *Looking Backward* (1887) for
>> a course on the Reagan Administration.     Neither writer was especially
>> prescient in his analytical abilities and was,  in any case,  long dead
>> before the events to be studied occurred.

And gives me an opportunity to revise it:

>Busy as I am now, I'd like to tell about one of my own experiences
>with Trotsky's book, in hope that Louis will reconsider its exclusion
>from his book list.

I have taken the liberty of excising Vladimir's rambling account of his
article in the RCWP's newspaper and the response it received from some
Russian Communists.    While I congratulate Vladimir for his efforts,  I am
still at a loss as to how it bears the slightest relevance to the topic I am
proposing for "The Crisis of Leninism" Seminar.  If he goes back and
re-reads my post (part of which is quoted above),  he can readily see that I
was not criticizing Trotsky's ability to analyze,  only his ability as a
prophet,  soothsayer,  or as someone who could be depended upon to reliably
predict the future.    Trotsky was none of these.    I am interested in the
devolution of the Leninist party norm in the era of the 1980s and 90s.
This is not a Trotsky-Stalin debate,  and I don't wish it to become such.

Vladimir closes with a personal innuendo:

>Louis Godena is an educated Marxist.  But this is not enough.  Many
>were and are educated Marxists ...and also solid bourgeois philistines.
>But Louis is also and above all is a son of the American working class.

Thanks,  Vladimir.    I don't know if I'm a  "solid" anything.    I do think
that we as Marxists are better served by contemporary analysis of complex
problems that are thoughtful,  honest,  and above all,  represent "solid"
empirical and analytical methods.    When I read something,  I always ask
three questions:  a) what,  that is new,  does the author(s) have to say on
the subject?   b) does s/he have the story right?   c) what in the
author(s)'s methodology or approach can I use in my own work?    Is the mark
of a bourgeois philistine.    Perhaps.

A poor thing,   but my own.

Louis Godena

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