Trotsky Redux

A.M., a reader from abroad, suggests that while someone of my demographic may not know many Trotskyites, the sort of view Clive James is opposed to is more heavily represented in intellectual circles abroad. He cites as an example things like this Guardian column excoriating Communism's critics as hypocrites and arguing that "the particular form of society created by 20th-century communist parties will never be replicated. But there are lessons to be learned from its successes as well as its failures."

This may be so. Still, it seems to me to all the more clearly make the point that if you're going to start slamming Trotskyism as a major force in intellectual life you ought to find some examples of Trotskyites you're criticizing. It's also worth noting an ambiguity here in terms of people of leftish sympathies who say nice things about people who don't deserve praise. On the one hand, you might have someone who says he admires Trotsky but is actually admiring a false notion of what Trotsky stood for -- an imagined Russian democratic socialist purged unjustly by the villainous Stalin. On the other hand, you might have someone who admires the actual Trotsky -- a violent revolutionary and ardent advocate of dictatorial rule. Since most people's understanding of Russian history is pretty weak, I can see how a lot of people might be confused about the specific issues at hand in the Trotsky-Stalin dispute, which is different from saying a lot of people are advocates of the militarization of labor.