If it sounds at moments like he is greatly understating how radical the overthrow of the Stalinist caste would be, Trotsky did not deny that there would be significant transformation, only that the latter would not exceed the bounds of political revolution Instead of revolutionary measures targeting property relations, then, a post-Stalin Soviet government would implement an array of reforms. In the sphere of political institutions are where these proposals are the most startling — and vital for the present-day Left.
The Revolution Betrayed : Leon Trotsky :
What he included under the former reads like a riposte to anti-communists and Stalinists alike who shared a common identification of the bureaucracy with Marxism itself. The proletariat was far from homogeneous. A rejuvenated Communist Party would benefit most from this overturn Put simply, the dictatorship of the proletariat would not disappear but would encompass a far more diverse range of Socialist opinions, factions, and parties. By this, I mean that it recalled the short-lived Bolshevik-Left Social Revolutionary coalition government of the November March period.
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It also reconnected to the cooperation between Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, Left SRs and anarchists in soviets and factory committees in the immediate aftermath of the revolution. Trotsky called, too, for freedom of criticism, freedom of assembly, and a press free from the dictates of the government , What of the working class? Trade unions would find new life again, Trotsky contended Trotsky also hinted of a seven-hour day for workers If we also take earlier, less programmatic sections of the book into account here, we see Trotsky opening other liberating possibilities for human beings in the USSR.
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Planning, so central to his conception of political economy, would continue, but with far greater mass participation combined with a realistic assessment and verification of proposals for their soundness He also opposed thinking ready to embrace any sort of non-bureaucratic utopia. Bolshevik-Leninists could not dispense with bureaucracy altogether.
Bureaucratic administration must have limits placed on it politically so that it would serve society, not raise itself over it In science and the arts, the removal of censorship and state interference in research would permit a new flowering of discovery and creativity Foreign policy would divert back to revolutionary internationalism. Trotsky wrapped up the book and mailed it to the publishers in the first week of August , right before he heard news of the Trial of the Sixteen, among them Zinoviev and Kamenev.
The physical elimination of a generation of revolutionaries was to follow.
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The force of its argument, thus, did not depend on the monstrosity of the Show Trials to make a revolutionary Marxist case against Stalinism. Subsequently, he would once more modify his critique of Stalinism, giving much more prominence to Stalin the individual and hangman. That fall, Norwegian authorities placed him under house arrest.
Forced to relocate one final time, to Mexico, Trotsky would be assailed with every calumny the Stalin regime could unleash. During the Show Trials, the Soviet Union became the most dangerous place in the world for independent-minded Marxists, Trotskyists or otherwise, a truly incredible thing to say given the records of the Mussolini and Hitler dictatorships. What he left behind from these very dark years is a still unsurpassed Marxist analysis of the Stalinist bureaucracy and the vision of a very different Soviet Union from the one familiar to most of us.
May works, like The Revolution Betrayed , inform a renascent historical consciousness on the Left when a new project of general human emancipation takes shape.
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Max Eastman Chicago: Haymarket Books, , The Eastman translation first appeared as three volumes with the University of Michigan Press in Max Eastman Mineola: Dover, All references here are to the Dover edition. John G. The book first appeared with C. George Breitman and Sarah Lovell, trans. Iain Fraser, in ibid. The book was originally published in David Cotterill, trans. Maria Enzenberger London: Pluto Press, , Susan Weissman, trans.
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