QUASI-TROTSKYISM: Joe asks "what does it mean to be a "quasi-Trotskyist?"" in the comments. Here's a go at an explanation. There are a number of things one can be impressed by when reading generally from Trotsky's works:

1. In a general intellectual sense, he was a lot more complete in his analyses than a lot of his fellow Bolsheviks--he anticipates counterarguments as they arise, and what he writes has comparatively little filler (you can doze for fifty or more pages at a time even in Lenin's most significant writings, by way of comparison, and not miss anything).

2. He has, quite seriously, a well-developed rhetorical style, which includes the (always admirable) ability to effectively belittle his opposition. There is no greater put-down than his line in Terrorism or Communism "As for us, we were never concerned with the Kantian-priestly and vegetarian-Quaker prattle about the “sacredness of human life.”" He's wrong about that, of course, but you have to admire a man who can put together a good phrase.

3. He had the good fortune of being totally right about Hitler and Stalin, and there was no more constant critic of both.

4. He opposed, from the very beginning, terrorism as a means of acheiving political ends, since it always gives the lie to anyone who presumes to speak for the people. To wit:

" If it is enough to arm oneself with a pistol in order to achieve one's goal, why the efforts of the class struggle? If a thimbleful of gunpowder and a little chunk of lead is enough to shoot the enemy through the neck, what need is there for a class organisation? If it makes sense to terrify highly placed personages with the roar of explosions, where is the need for the party? Why meetings, mass agitation and elections if one can so easily take aim at the ministerial bench from the gallery of parliament?"

There are more than a few bad things, though:

1. Terrorism or Communism is a particularly vile work, which essentially argues that the state should have the right to dispose of labor as it wants, and should have the right to treat the enemy in the Civil War in whatever manner it wants.

2. Wanting to keep War Communism and avoid the NEP, and generally opposing measures to ease life for Russian farmers.

3. Kronstadt and various other dubiously moral adventures.

4. His materialist accounts of history, morality, etc.

On balance, what I conceive of when I say quasi-Trotskyist is something like the following: highly thorough-going, unwilling to equivocate in the face of wrong, with a slight preference for democratic authoritarianism in some circumstances. Obviously, this is problematic for a number of reasons, but all the words sort of randomly thrown together in my profile are there for a reason: 'deontologist Christian' rejects Trotsky's amoralism and his, erm, occasionally questionable views of what constitutes acceptable attitudes one may have about other groups of people. The 'Third-Way Democrat' hopefully implies something more like a positive political agenda, but also that (unlike Trotsky) I try to draw my inspiration from Right as well as Left. He's an awfully interesting figure to spend some time with.

Also, I'm using 'Trotskyist' at least partly in the 'anti-Stalinist' sense, since that label applies to many more people I have fewer problems with (e.g. Irving Howe, Mary McCarthy).

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