There was a rise, there was a fall. Though a Stalinist secret agent, Raymond Mercader, drove a pickaxe through his brain, the theories of communism were remarkably not consigned to the scrapheap of history as had been assumed. Trotsky always managed a comeback of sorts, inspiring new generations of Marxists, while continuing to be echoed, albeit sometimes reluctantly, by the older guard.
Joseph Heath:…Consider Naomi Klein. She starts out No Logo by decrying the recent conversion of factory buildings in her Toronto neighbourhood into “loft living” condominiums. She makes it absolutely clear to the reader that her place is the real deal, a genuine factory loft, steeped in working-class authenticity, yet throbbing with urban street culture and a “rock-video aesthetic.” Now of course anyone who has a feel for how social class in this country works knows that, at the time Klein was writing, a genuine factory loft in the King-Spadina area was possibly the single most exclusive and desirable piece of real estate in Canada. … Only the most exclusive segment of the cultural elite could get access to them….
So, the pickaxe that did Trotsky in did not succeed in killing his ideas. And, a revival of the theories of Stalin’s most consistent opponent are seen by many today as a viable form of social and political organization. At first glance, neither the theme or the rhetoric seems particularly original. But, in an abstract and purely ideological sense the Trotskyist mystique of “victory in defeat”, the title of Isaac Deutscher’s closing chapter in his seminal biography of Trotsky, has long had some rational foundation.
… Her complaints about commercialization are nothing but an expression of this loss of distinction. What she fails to observe is that this distinction is precisely what drives the real estate market, what creates the value in these dwellings. People buy these lofts because they want a piece of Klein’s social status. Naturally, she is not amused. They are, after all, her inferiors—an inferiority that they demonstrate through their willingness to accept mass-produced, commercialized facsimiles of the “genuine” article….Read More:http://this.org/magazine/2002/11/01/the-rebel-sell/
Trotsky wrote with equal fire and conviction as an apostle of revolution ans as the critic of a revolution gone wrong, as a champion of the dictatorship of the proletariat and as the censor of a totalitarian bureaucracy established in its name. It is a natural that every variety of Marxist revolutionary, and some who are more revolutionary than Marxist , have found inspiration in his voluminous, often contradictory writings.
Whether Trotsky himself, if he were alive, would recognize as his ideological disciples such romantic Marxists as Che Guevara, or a Chavez and whether he would acknowledge all the victories for Trotskyism claimed by those giving lip service, is doubtful. But not really material. Clearly, it is not the strict canon of Trotskyist doctrine, if there is such a thing, that still can captivate the imagination, though only a very small minority have read his theoretical works.
…Klein claims these newcomers bring “a painful new self-consciousness” to the neighbourhood. But as the rest of her introduction demonstrates, she is also conscious—painfully so—of her surroundings. Her neighbourhood is one where “in the twenties and thirties Russian and Polish immigrants darted back and forth on these streets, ducking into delis to argue about Trotsky and the leadership of the international ladies’ garment workers’ union.” Emma Goldman, we are told, “the famed anarchist and labour organizer,” lived on her street! How exciting for Klein! What a tremendous source of distinction that must be. …Here we can see the forces driving competitive consumption in their purest and most unadulterated form….Read More:http://this.org/magazine/2002/11/01/the-rebel-sell/
Ted Grant: …In those years Trotsky conducted a struggle, against what he called ‘bureaucratic centrism’. – This was the time when Stalin and other leaders of the Russian revolution genuinely desired the victory of the revolution in other countries but, first with opportunist policies and then with the madness of ultra-leftism, with the insane theory of ‘social fascism’ – that the social democracy and fascism were not enemies but twins – prepared the way for the victory of Hitler in 1933. The path of the Comintern in the years to 1933 was one of oscillation from ultra-leftism to opportunism and back again. In a series of writings Trotsky dealt with the criminal policies of the Comintern and warned of the danger of Hitler and the consequences the victory of fascism would have for the German and world working class. He advocated the united front of the social democrats and communists in order to prevent the coming to power of Hitler….
….Yet the Comintern learnt nothing from the disastrous defeat in Germany and even claimed the coming to power of Hitler as a step towards the victory of the revolution! Even as late as February 1934, when the fascists conducted demonstrations against the liberal government of Daladier in France, the Communist Party actually demonstrated together with the fascists. Had they succeeded fascism could have come to power in France in 1934.Read More:http://www.marxists.org/archive/grant/1990/relevance.htm
There’s a movement – Slavoj Žižek comes to mind – about “reloading” Lenin. Do you think there’s a case to “reload” Trotsky as someone who should be read by a younger generation?
Tariq Ali: I think he certainly should be. Žižek can’t do it because he’s never read any Trotsky. What Žižek does brilliantly, which is quite funny: he shocks the bourgeoisie, he’s a contrarian in the real sense of the word. So he picks up Lenin, whom everyone hates, who is seen by the mainstream as a criminal and a murderer, and he picks him up and forces the reader to confront his ideas. But, in fact, someone should do a similar exercise for Trotsky as well, before too long. We’re thinking about it at Verso.
Hilary Mantel’s novel on Robespierre was very good, I thought. Decades ago Alan Brien wrote a less successful and less accomplished novel on Lenin. It didn’t work, but the intention was good.Read More:http://vulpeslibris.wordpress.com/2010/09/03/trotsky-past-present-future-an-interview-with-tariq-ali/
Michel Lequenne:All his life, even during the civil war, Trotsky read to relax. He was without doubt one of the most cultivated of the Bolshevik leaders (Annenkov, the great painter, a Left Social Revolutionary, who left the USSR in 1924, said in the 1950s that Trotsky was the only cultivated Bolshevik leader. This was unfair, at least to Lunacharsky). Like Lenin, Trotsky was at that time disturbed by the leftist and workerist drift on the art and literature front. The idea of a socialist, or proletarian art was for him a nonsense, not only impossible in the period of transition and in a country where even the working class was culturally backward, but quite simply because the proletariat could only realize itself by abolishing itself and a new art, a new culture could only exist in a classless society. What was possible and should be the intelligentsia’s objective, was a revolutionary art and literature, of which Trotsky gives two possible definitions corresponding, one might say, to two stages: “the works whose themes reflect the Revolution, and the works which are not connected with the Revolution in theme, but are thoroughly imbued with it, and are Colored by the new consciousness arising out of the Revolution”. Read More:http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article735