An Estimate of Trotsky

An Estimate of Trotsky

TROTSKY’S DIARY IN Exile: 1935. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 1958

The general habit of considering Stalinism and present-day Communism as identical with, or at least as a continuation of revolutionary Marxism, has also led to an increasing misunderstanding of the personalities of the great revolutionary figures; Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. Just as their theories are seen as related to those of Stalin and Khrushchev, the picture of the “revolutionary fanatic” is applied to them as it is to the vengeful killer Stalin and to the opportunistic conservative Khrushchev. This distortion is a real loss for the present and the future. In whatever way one may disagree with Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, there can be no doubt that as persons they represent a flowering of Western humanity.

They were men with an uncompromising sense of truth, penetrating to the very essence of reality, and never taken in by the deceptive surface; of an unquenchable courage and integrity; of deep concern and devotion to man and his future; unselfish and with little vanity or lust for power. They were always stimulating, always alive, always themselves, and whatever they touched became alive. They represented the Western tradition in its best features: its faith in reason and in the progress of man. Their errors and mistakes are the very ones which also follow from Western thinking: rationalism and the Western overestimation of the efficacy of force which underlies the great middle-class revolutions of the last few centuries.