Read The Prophet Unarmed: Trotsky 1921-29 by Isaac Deutscher Free Online
Book Title: The Prophet Unarmed: Trotsky 1921-29|
Date of issue: April 17th 1980
ISBN 13: 9780192810656
The author of the book: Isaac Deutscher
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 925 KB
Edition: Oxford University Press (NY)
Read full description of the books The Prophet Unarmed: Trotsky 1921-29:I came away with five things from the second volume of Isaac Deutscher’s incomparable Trotsky biography -- The Prophet Unarmed. Some of these thoughts are new to me, some of them are solidifications of ideas or opinions I already had, but they are what I leave this book with and, I think, worth sharing.
5. Stalin destroyed the promise of Engels, Marx and Lenin. He stained communism. And he provided capitalism with the ugliness it needed to vilify communism in the minds of their own, potentially dangerous, proletarian ranks. His need for power, the way he achieved it, his authoritarianism -- none of these things a feature of genuine communism -- all came to represent communism in the minds of the capitalist west. Stalin’s very existence was capitalism’s best propaganda tool against communism. And this man who was neither a Bolshevik nor a true Communist remains the best tool to this day (with neo-Stalinists Mao and Pol Pot a close second and third).
4. The U.S., England and their European lackeys should be ashamed of themselves -- as usual -- because it would have been vastly more difficult (if not impossible) for Stalin to have achieved power if it weren’t for their meddling in the earliest days of the Soviet Union. Arms and advisors sent to the White Guard during the Civil War, isolationist policies, boycotts, etc., etc., worsened already terrible conditions in post-Tsarist Russia, forcing the early Bolsheviks into compromising their principles to ensure survival, and once those principles were compromised the situation became easier and easier for Stalin to manipulate. While the west’s support of the counter-revolution failed in the short term, it certainly succeeded in condemning the Soviet Union to totalitarianism in the long term.
3. The methods, tactics and controls of Stalinism are not all that different from contemporary North America. Our right wing engages in fear mongering, disinformation, media manipulation, vilification of dissenters, purges, and claims to moral superiority and historical loyalty; they’re tactics are so commonplace as to be almost unnoticeable to everyday citizens. Worse still, our left is as apathetic and conciliatory as most of the Left Opposition that Trotsky tried in vain to rally in his day. Our liberals clamour on about how “nice and polite and correct” they are, about how “stupid and racist and misogynistic” the right is, but they’ve not learned the lesson that their “enlightenment” is a minority “enlightenment” that can only be turned into a majority “enlightenment” through hard work and a conscious effort to negate their tendency to condescension. History repeating itself. Again.
2. Trotsky was a great man. Some can be great revolutionaries. Some can be great thinkers. Some can be great leaders. Some can be great diplomats. Some can be great warriors. Some can be great writers. Some can be great winners. Some can be great losers. Some can live great lives. Some can die great deaths. But very few can be and do all of them in their lifetime. Trotsky was great at every single one. In the annals of socialism only Marx and Lenin can match him (although Engels and Che surely deserve honourable mentions). The hatchet to the brain was a great loss to us all.
1. Communism can’t succeed. Not because of any bullshit about the superiority of capitalism. Not because communism is “inherently evil” as ultra-capitalists would have us believe. Not even because it is “unworkable.” Communism can’t succeed because it hard fucking work. To be a communist, to create a communist society, everyone must be dedicated to selflessness, to hard work, to action, to trust, to reason, to each other. But most humans are too selfish, too apathetic, too untrusting, too unreasonable, too lazy to achieve the requirements of communism, and so communism must fail.
But I’ve a crappy lance, a skinny horse, and a world full of windmills, so I’ll keep fighting.
Read information about the authorIsaac Deutscher was a Polish-born Jewish Marxist writer, journalist and political activist who moved to the United Kingdom at the outbreak of World War II. He is best known as a biographer of Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin and as a commentator on Soviet affairs. His three-volume biography of Trotsky, in particular, was highly influential among the British New Left.
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