Like me you may be surprised that Leon Trotsky is in the news in the UK after the Labour Party’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson condemned infiltration and manipulation by Trotskyites who, unlike the Labour Party, are not committed to Democratic Socialism but “direct action” outside of “bourgeoisie Parliamentary politics.” This discussion probably says more about the time warp quality of Jeremy Corbyn’s Politics for like much about him it leaves the British electorate cold and looking the other way with embarrassment.
76 years ago Ramon Mercader aka Jacson plunged an ice-pick into Trotsky’s brain. Stalin succeeded in silencing his most vocal opponent by State Terrorism but the critique continues and lives. In 1927, Leon Trotsky, a leading Russian revolutionary, was expelled from the Communist party and exiled from Russia on Stalin’s orders. After spending time in Turkey, France and Norway, Trotsky and his wider family eventually settled in Mexico. Less than four years after arriving in Mexico, a Stalinist agent managed to infiltrate Trotsky’s inner circle and used his trusted position to assassinate him.
In the spring of 1935 the Norwegian government agreed to let the Trotsky household move near Oslo. It was there that he wrote The Revolution Betrayed, in which he again contrasted the ideals of 1917 with the tyranny Stalin had created. He was now formally condemned to death in Moscow and Soviet pressure prevailed on the Norwegian regime to put him under house arrest in 1936. In December that year the Mexican government offered Trotsky refuge and protection, which he gratefully accepted. He and Natalya sailed from Norway aboard an oil tanker and arrived in Mexico in January 1937.
The Trotskys lived in the Coyoacan area of Mexico City as guests at the Blue House, the home of the painters Diego Rivera and his wife Frida Kahlo. They were both cheerfully promiscuous and Frida took Trotsky to bed, to Natalya’s dismay. Trotsky depended for money on his publications, help from supporters and the fees he charged for interviews and for holding seminars for students. By May 1939 Trotsky and Rivera had had enough of each other and Trotsky and Natalya moved to a house close by on Avenida Viena. The years of exile, danger and uncertainty had weighed Trotsky down. Ill with high blood pressure and thinking about suicide, he looked back over his life. If he had it to live over again, he wrote, he would pursue the same course: ‘I shall die a proletarian revolutionist, a Marxist, a dialectical materialist and, consequently, an irreconcilable atheist.’
Trotsky was born Lev Davidovich Bronstein on 7 November 1879 in Yanovka, Ukraine, then part of Russia. His father was a prosperous Jewish farmer. Trotsky became involved in underground activities as a teenager. He was soon arrested, jailed and exiled to Siberia where he joined the Social Democratic Party. Eventually, he escaped Siberia and spent the majority of the next 15 years abroad, including a spell in London.
In 1903, the Social Democrats split. While Lenin assumed leadership of the ‘Bolshevik’ (majority) faction, Trotsky became a member of the ‘Menshevik’ (minority) faction and developed his theory of ‘permanent revolution’. After the outbreak of revolution in Petrograd in February 1917, he made his way back to Russia. Despite previous disagreements with Lenin, Trotsky joined the Bolsheviks and played a decisive role in the communist take-over of power in the same year.
His first post in the new government was as foreign commissar, where he found himself negotiating peace terms with Germany. He was then made War Commissar and in this capacity, built up the Red Army which prevailed against the White Russian forces in the civil war. Thus Trotsky played a crucial role in keeping the Bolshevik regime alive. He saw himself as Lenin’s heir-apparent, but his intellectual arrogance made him few friends, and his Jewish heritage may also have worked against him. When Lenin fell ill and died, Trotsky was easily outmaneuvered by Stalin. In 1927, he was thrown out of the party. Internal and then foreign exile followed, but Trotsky continued to write and to criticise Stalin.
Trotsky settled in Mexico in 1936. On 20 August 1940, an assassin called Ramon Mercader, acting on Stalin’s orders, stabbed Trotsky with an ice pick, fatally wounding him. He died the next day. Mercader was sent to prison for 20 years. When he was released in 1960 he travelled to Prague and on to Russia, where he was made a Hero of the Soviet Union.
Trotsky seemed to never lose his idealistic streak. Where Lenin and Stalin abused their power in Russia, Trotsky continued to push for a true government of the workers rather than one ruled by elite party members–which Russia quickly became. He said:
“Ideas that enter the mind under fire remain there securely and for ever.”
And they certainly remained with Trotsky until the end.
As for time warp Jeremy, he signed a Parliamentary motion calling for Trotsky’s rehabilitation. Like much else which has occupied the turgid mind of this perennial underachiever over the past 33 years this was meaningless gesture politics. Imagine the changes you could achieve if you were in Parliament for 33 yrs & for 13 of them our party was in government…oh? In fairness Jeremy has maintained a state of balance in putting matters in the hand of arch-Stalinist Seumas Milne who along with the Momentum entryist group (A private company owned by an unelectable Buy to Let millionaire and not affiliated to the Labour Party) believe in purges, media censorship and no elections as the Dear Leader becomes the Eternal Guide. One can only imagine their comradely conversations “Right Jeremy, today’s key message is: You’re all lying, Tom is talking bollocks, the PLP are idiots – let’s all come together. OK?”
This like so much else this has been a gift to the Tory Party who are ruthless, politically adept, radical, move fast and are more than happy to occupy the Centre Ground abandoned by Car Crash Corbyn. That is the centre ground where you actually win General Elections and are in a position to offer something more than rhetoric. The Militant faction expelled by Kinnock and Smith as they strove to make the Labour Party something more than a spectator to the Tories wrecking the country morphed into the equally hopelessly unelectable Socialist Party Like the unelectable Left today they walked wide eyed into every political trap set for them by Thatcher and today Car Crash Corbyn has become a Militant tribute act. Of course Jeremy Corbyn opposed expelling the Militant wreckers from the Labour Party in the first place.
Trotsky’s ally Lenin warned at length about the dangers of Infantile Leftists and the fundamentally reactionary nature of Trade Union bosses. Trotsky didn’t suffer fools gladly with his razor sharp intellect and his total ruthlessness founding both the Red Army and instigating the “Red Terror.”
I suspect if either were alive today they would brush aside a dilettante fumbler like Corbyn. But of course they are not alive, they are dead many years and the Communist experiment in Russia was a brutal and cruel failure as it has been in China, Albania, East Germany, Romania and all the other places which Jeremy never uttered a critical word about. Either way this is totally irrelevant to convincing the British Electorate today that Labour can be trusted and will improve their lives. What is to be done Comrade Corbyn and if somebody voted for Labour today what would they actually be voting for? What have your 80’s throwback politics done to convince the 102, mainly Conservative, constituencies in England and the 56 in Scotland Labour need to win to form a government and actually deliver to elect a Labour MP?
No wonder Car Crash Jeremy Corbyn’s greatest supporters are the Tory Party who he has voted with 273 times.
Leon Trotsky (Lev Davidovich Bronshtein) 7 November 1879, near Yelizavetgrad, Kherson, Russian Empire – 21 August 1940 (aged 60) (assassinated), Coyoacán, DF, Mexico
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