Trotskyism as anti-communist propaganda
Louis R Godena
louisgodena at ids.net
Sat Sep 14 09:06:20 MDT 1996
It is difficult in the extreme to define what, exactly, Trotskyism, is.
It has been subject to diverse interpretations, its adherents divided up
into a galaxy of minute warring sects, the core of its creed spead out into
many different, even contradictory, directions. The history of the
Fourth International itself is a modern paradigm of tragedy into farce,
replicated again and again whenever two or more supporters of Leon Trotsky
are gathered in His name.
Trotsky took the theory of "permanent revolution" from Marx and that of
"uneven development" from Lenin and adapted them, theoretically, to the
political world of the 1920s and 30s. He was the most articulate opponent
of the Stalinist dictum of "socialism in one country", itself an attempt to
defend the October Revolution from a voracious and seemingly omnipotent
world imperialism. He was a bitter critic of the Comintern, especially
its policy on fascism and social democracy, and correctly predicted that it
would become solely a vehicle for advancing Soviet foreign policy.
But by the time Stalin gave the Third International its second class funeral
in 1944, Trotsky already lay dead and the movement he founded seemed poised
to descend into the noisy irrelevance (save for a brief period in the 1960s)
of failed politics. "Trotskyism" itself, however, would never quite die
until its counterpart and nemisis, the spectre of Stalinism, was safely
seen off by the bourgeoisie.
And that is the whole point. Anti-Stalinism is the one solid plank of
Trotsky's program that survived his death, that breathed life again and
again into a movement that had never held state power anywhere, had never
come close to doing so, and whose chief adherents could attract no more
than an insignificant fringe of the workers' movement: Trotskyism, for
all intents and purposes, is a fading movement of petty-bourgeois
intellectuals, drawing sustenance--at least until the other day--solely
>from its role as a vehicle for anti-Stalinism and, finally, anti-communism.
Trotsky, from the time he was kicked out of the Soviet Union until August,
1940, was fed and watered by the bourgeosie. His first paycheck in
England came from the offices of Lord Beaverbrook's Daily Mail. Over the
following years, the bulk of his money was earned from enterprises owned by
Luce, Myers, and David Warner. He was, in that sense, the literary
equivalent of Chiang Kai Shek (also known as "Cash My Check") He was a
favorite of John Dewey. He was seen by the New York papers (for which he
wrote) as a "useful antidote" to the "stampede" of American intellectuals
("fellow travellers") who were flocking, in the midst of a bitter
depression, to the "new society" of Stalin's Russia. Trotsky was,
apparently, never taken seroiusly as a revolutionary by the western
Trotsky, in short, became the "useful idiot" of western anti-communism.
Many of his ponderings, such as those on the "new class", would become
shibboleths in the writings of the most virulently fascist east European
expatriates like Milovan Djilas and Karl Solcek, themselves wholly owned
subsidiaries of western intelligence agencies. There was a lethal side,
practically speaking, to the Trotskyist critique; many of its former
adherents, like Adam Malik in Indonesia, soaked themselves in the blood of
thousands of murdered "Stalinists" during the various anti-communist coups
of the 1950s and 60s. And we have seen the shameless (though, by this
time, much enfeebled) "support" rendered the likes of Lech Walesa, the
Afghan Mujadaheen, and Hamas by western "communists" travelling under the
banner of Leon Trotsky.
The fall of Soviet Communism has put paid to the accounts of many.
Trotsky himself comes at quite a discount. He is no longer feted in the
pages of the New York Review of Books, as he was in the 1960s. Now he
gets the "bum's rush" from Richard Pipes, Robert Conquest, and Georg
Urban, people who not so long ago featured his writings prominently in
their anti-communist diatribes. He will soon be ignored altogether.
Now it remains only for the none-too-bright subalterns, the followers of
Trotsky, Stalin, etc., gathered in tiny impecunious sects worldwide, to
fight the final skirmish in the name of dead icons who long ago ceased to
Let us, at least, put aside this foolishness and move forward.
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