talkin’ bout’ a revolution

How does one explain the enduring legacy of Leon Trotsky? Was it the precient social and political prognosis? The understanding of the forces and dynamic of fascism? Do his admirer’s uphold Trotsky for what he was or for the ideas he stood for, or for those they imagine he stood for? Trotsky’s committed belief that the first portion of the twentieth century was “the last phase of our own culture.”

29 Mar 1924, Sukham-Kale, USSR --- Trotsky and Wife in Exile --- Image by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS Read More:

Pessimistically, capitalism was seen as the sole alternative to outright fascism, with the prospects for formal culture being bleak indeed. The rub with Trotsky was that art and culture hinged on bourgeois life, education and leisure as the necessary prerequisites of all culture. However, this seemed to inextricably entail the concept of rank and status and a form of individuation through consumer behavior, and an almost inevitable kitsch culture.So, there was contradictions to overcome, since both Trotsky and Breton had asserted that art should be revolutionary in its form as well as its politics.Trotsky has been glamorized by such celebrity pundits as Chrsitopher Hitchens as a kind of embodiment of defiance and dissent. Like Snowball in Orwell’s Animal Farm, you can put lipstick on a pig but…..

Ted Grant (1990):The coalition policies of the ’communists’ in Europe at the end of world war two were a shameful betrayal of all the ideas of Marx and Lenin on the struggle against capitalism. They saved capitalism in this period and gave the necessary breathing space to prepare the political conditions for the economic upswing. Now the collapse of Stalinism in Eastern Europe, or as the capitalists prefer to pretend, ’communism’ has given an apparent further breathing space to the capitalists, further reinforced by the crisis of Stalinism in Russia.

Diego Rivera mural. detail Leon Trotsky. 1935---Michel Lequenne:And, from that point of view, the most surprising thing is that he was drawn precisely to the essential authors of the time and analyses them with an insight they did not meet with from contemporary professional critics. Let’s look at this point in relation to Malraux and Céline, whose future course was already grasped by "the prophet". At a time when the critics all considered Malraux as a revolutionary writer, Trotsky saw right through him and exposed the substance of the future Gaullist minister. This "severity" (of a man without power but nonetheless equal to even stronger than that of the "dictator" of 1923) did not stop him admiring the novelist’s talent and hope for progress, which he found in La Condition Humaine, whose publication he recommended in the United States. As for Céline, Trotsky’s critique of "Journey to the End of the Night" was the best ever written. His admiration for this book is immense. He emphasises the "new thrill" it creates in literature. But he shows that, more than rebellion, this "novel of pessimism" is inspired by horror at life and world weariness. He exposes the contradictions of the man which were going to lead him to destruction. Read More:

But this crisis of Stalinism, which was predicted by the Marxists, is merely a forerunner of a crisis of capitalism in Western Europe and throughout the world. The next decade will be one of turmoil in the capitalist countries too. France 1968 was not an accident. It was a reflection of the inevitable movement of the working class under conditions of crisis….

---In a 1984 interview with the HC he said: "My real Jewishness wasn't in that God, but in the very strong cultural tradition - an international, left-wing, poetic, tolerant anarchism and argumentism I love. "The granny wisdom, the bohemian mysticism of Gershon Scholem or Martin Buber or Singer. Einstein and Freud and Marx and Marc Chagall and the pacifist Trotskyist groups are much more interesting and useful to this planet."---Read More:

…The Guardian, 22 June, showed the situation that has developed in America: “The average voter has woken up to the fact that his household income has not improved for 20 years”. Quoting a recent book, The Politics of Rich and Poor by Kevin Phillips, a strategist of the Republicans in 1968, The Guardian journalist comments: “Now that the figures are coming in, we can tell just how far the Reagan years swung the pendulum towards the plutocracy. In 1980 when Reagan was elected, the richest one per cent in the USA owned just eight per cent of the national wealth. By 1988 they had almost doubled their share to 14.9%. Read More:

Trotsky, Breton, Rivera. 1938---I want to stress the fact that Trotsky stated his support for creative freedom loud and clear in 1923. There was therefore no change of position when he insisted, in the 1938 Manifesto for an Independent Revolutionary Art, on proclaiming "total freedom for art", rejecting even the reservation proposed by André Breton of "except against the proletarian revolution".---Read More: image:

Politician, scholar, administrator, professional conspirator, writer, historian, social philosopher, distinguished literary critic, brilliant polemiscist;Trotsky was probably the closest the twentieth-century came to producing a universal genius. His mind was creative and constantly erupted with original ideas, gurgling with elan, and seemingly undisturbed by its own contradictions.

Repression never troubled Trotsky’s conscience. He slaughtered the anarchist sailors of the Kronstadt naval base in 1921 as ruthlessly as he had earlier slaughtered the White Guards. Though he excoriated Stalin’s personal tyranny for years, he believed as strongly as Stalin did, not only in the dictatorship of the proletariat, but in that of the Bolshevik party. So, underlying all the gauchiste chic that Trotsky seems to convey, th

is a subtext of decidely un-cool top-down dogmatism backed up by the force of the state.

Trotsky.---Trotsky was released "at the request of the British Embassy at Washington . . .acted on the request of the U.S. State Department, who were acting for someone else." Canadian officials "were instructed to inform the press that Trotsky was an American citizen travelling on an American passport; that his release was specially demanded by the Washington State Department." Moreover, writes MacLean, in Ottawa "Trotsky had, and continues to have, strong underground influence. There his power was so great that orders were issued that he must be given every consideration." The theme of MacLean's reporting is, quite evidently, that Trotsky had intimate relations with, and probably worked for, the German General Staff. While such relations have been established regarding Lenin — to the extent that Lenin was subsidized and his return to Russia facilitated by the Germans — it appears certain that Trotsky was similarly aided. The $10,000 Trotsky fund in New York was from German sources, and a recently declassified document in the U.S. State Department files reads as follows:...Read More: image: image:

It is such a tangled and labyrinthical mash of motives and subplots that defines Trotsky that makes ultimately, the fusion of his ideas with those of Leo Stauss, Neo-conservatism and imperialism seem plausible:

President Woodrow Wilson was the fairy godmother who provided Trotsky with a passport to return to Russia to “carry forward” the revolution. This American passport was accompanied by a Russian entry permit and a British transit visa. Jennings C. Wise, in Woodrow Wilson: Disciple of Revolution, makes the pertinent comment, “Historians must never forget that Woodrow Wilson, despite the efforts of the British police, made it possible for Leon Trotsky to enter Russia with an American passport.” …

…Consequently, by virtue of preferential treatment for Trotsky, when the S.S. Kristianiafjord left New York on March 26, 1917, Trotsky was aboard and holding a U.S. passport — and in company with other Trotskyire revolutionaries, Wall Street financiers, American Communists, and other interesting persons, few of whom had embarked for legitimate business. This mixed bag of passengers has been described by Lincoln Steffens, the American Communist:…

Christopher Hitchens:It is this, combined with the revolutionary credentials that he possessed, that helps explain the large footprint of Trotsky and Trotskyism among intellectuals. To start with a few American examples, Trotsky makes a magnetizing appearance in Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March. He caused Mary McCarthy to write one of her most penetrating essays (“My Confession”), about herd behavior in the radical smart set. Clement Greenberg partly founded his seminal article “Avant-Garde and Kitsch” on a passage from Trotsky’s Literature and Revolution. Norman Mailer acknowledges as his own political inspiration a Trotskisant maverick named Jean Malaquais. Shift the scene a little, and we have no difficulty deciphering the figure of Emmanuel Goldstein in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four, or in recognizing the secret “book within a book” in that novel (The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism), as a derivative of Trotsky’s Revolution Betrayed. Nearer the present time, the hero of Milan Kundera’s The Joke has only to write “Long Live Trotsky!” on a postcard in order to find out precisely how, why, and when a “joke” under communism has gone too far. Read More: image:

…The passenger list was long and mysterious. Trotsky was in the steerage with a group of revolutionaries; there was a Japanese revolutionist in my cabin. There were a lot of Dutch hurrying home from Java, the only innocent people aboard. The rest were war messengers, two from Wall Street to Germany….Read More:

The mystical element that ( G. Albert )Aurier referred to is the experiential power of Great Art, the golden fleece that both the artist and critic continually longed for throughout the theoretical undulations between high idealism and disillusioned indifference. Despite being grounded in a vastly different contextual framework, these sentiments bubbled to the surface in various manifestations, but always possessed strikingly similar flavors. Perhaps equally relevant to our own age, Leon Trotsky wrote in 1923,

“Our age cannot have a shy and portable mysticism, something like a pet dog that is carried along. . .Our age wields an ax. Our life, cruel, violent, and disturbed to its very bottom says: ‘I must have an artist of a single love. . .’ The new artist will need all the methods and processes evolved in the past, as well as a few supplementary ones, in order to grasp the new life. And this is not going to be artistic eclecticism, because the unity of art is created by an active world-attitude and active life-attitude.” Read More:

Is it possible an international web (:an be spun from these events? First there’s Trotsky, a Russian internationalist revolutionary with German connections who sparks assistance from two supposed supporters of Prince Lvov’s government in Russia (Aleinikoff and Wolf, Russians resident in New York). These two ignite the action of a liberal Canadian deputy postmaster general, who in turn intercedes with a prominent British Army major general on the Canadian military staff. These are all verifiable links.

In brief, allegiances may not always be what they are called, or appear. We can, however, surmise that Trotsky, Aleinikoff, Wolf, Coulter, and Gwatkin in acting for a common limited objective also had some common higher goal than national allegiance or political label. To emphasize, there is no absolute proof that this is so. It is, at the moment, only a logical supposition from the facts. A loyalty higher than that forged by a common immediate goal need have been no more than that of friendship, although that strains the imagination when we ponder such a polyglot combination. It may also have been promoted by other motives. The picture is yet incomplete. Read More:

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