Item description for The Revolution Betrayed by Leon Trotsky...
This book by Leon Trotsky makes a profound analysis and evaluation of Stalinism and the Soviet burreacracy. It was written in 1936 before Trotsky was murdered in Mexico by Stalin's secret police. Trotsky's thinking prophesied the collapse of the Soviet Union 60 years before it happened. This collapse was instigated by the buffon and drunk Boris Yeltsin as his leadership has led to the 'new oligarchy' in Russia. Trotsky was a very important leader in the October Revolution and it is thought that Lenin wanted him to take the leadership rather than the tyrant Stalin. This book is very impotant reading to everyone interest in Marxist theory and the history of Russia. A Collector's Edition.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.1" Width: 6.1" Height: 0.9" Weight: 1.05 lbs.
Release Date Jun 15, 2007
Publisher Synergy International of the Americas, Ltd
ISBN 1934568244 ISBN13 9781934568248
Availability 89 units. Availability accurate as of Mar 29, 2017 03:37.
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Reviews - What do customers think about The Revolution Betrayed?
The Revolution Next Time Jun 30, 2008
The great Russian Bolshevik Leon Trotsky wore many hats in his revolutionary career. Organizer of revolutionary upheavals in 1905 and 1917 and military defender of the Soviet state in the early days. Withering political journalist and literary critic from the beginning of his career as a professional revolutionary. Soviet official in various capacities, depending on which way the political winds were blowing. Polemicist against Social Democratic revisionism and later the Stalinist degeneration of Leninism, the Bolshevik party and the Soviet state. Still later, in exile, he was the seemingly last independent defender of that Soviet state and the traditions of the Bolshevik party as Stalin turned the political landscape into a bloody battlefield in the late 1930's. Of all of these hats probably Trotsky's last struggles; to create a new international revolutionary party (the Fourth International)and trying to oust the Stalinist bureaucracy in Russia while at the same time defending the Soviet state, were the most important political battles of his life. That, in essence, is the purpose of his book the Revolution Betrayed under review here.
The question of the fate of the Soviet state at various points in the 20th century may seem a rather academic question at this time, especially since the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990's. At a practical level it is hard to fault that argument. But let me make a little point here. Until the Gorbachev-directed political thaw in the Soviet Union in the mid-1980's the possibilities of discussing Trotsky's book about what when wrong "back in the days" was either done clandestinely or not at all. I, however, remember being at a meeting during that period where a Russian émigré spoke about the then current situation in Russia. He mentioned, in passing, that he had recently read Trotsky's Revolution Betrayed and found that the arguments made by him in the mid-1930's about the nature of Soviet society, the state governmental apparatus and the Communist Party sounded like they could have been made in the mid-1980's. This, my friends, is why we still read this little work.
Obviously some of Trotsky's argument is historically obsolete, even assuming conditions of a future socialist revival. The specific problem of Russia as the first workers state having been created in a predominantly agrarian society, then isolated by world imperialism and not augmented by revolutions in the capitalist West that would have given Soviet officials the life line they needed to turn that society around will not be replicated in the 21st century. What is not obsolete in Trotsky's argument, and is germane today in the struggle to turn China around, are the questions of the purposes that a workers state are created for, the nature of economic policy and who will guide it, the role of pro-socialist political parties and how to allocate cultural resources so that the goal- and this is important- of a stateless society gets a fair chance at implementation. Thus Trotsky here, donning the enlightened Soviet official hat that he never really took off even in exile, provides textbook examples of what to do and not to do to push socialism forward even under conditions of isolation.
If I was asked today what part of this document still has relevance I would pick out that chapter that deals with the question of Soviet Thermidor. All great revolutions, and the Russian Revolution was a great revolution, have contained ebbs and flows during the revolutionary period and then after the consolidation of power by the new regime have fallen back, not to the ways of the old regime but back nevertheless. One would have thought in 1921, let's say, that once the question of the existence of the Soviet state was essentially settled then the push toward socialism, even in isolation and given the vast economic dislocations of World War I and the Civil War, would be headed forward. That was not the case and Trotsky does a great service by putting the reasons for that, political as well as personal in perspective, particularly the responses of the Soviet working class to the revolutionary defeats in Europe and Asia in the 1920's. That said, where does this book fit into your list of Trotsky readings. Not first, that place is taken by his three-volume History of the Russian Revolution- the high point. But sometime shortly after that you need to address the issues presented in this book to see what went wrong and why.
Worthwhile for the insights for people with open minds, and revolutionaries too Feb 23, 2008
I decided I wanted to explore Trotsky. I began by reading Isaac Duetscher's Prophet Armed, and then this book. In my distant past I read about the Revolution mainly through the eyes Anarchists (Emma Goldman among them), Rosa Luxembourg, and at Maknho (spelling?), and have also read a little Lenin (such as State and Revolution) for a political science college course, a long time ago. My guess and my rough experience is disciplined revolutionary elites must be filled with cadres who are focused and narrow and can bring great danger because they are eager to follow and very often do not reflect. A great movement is apt to commit acts as bad as many of the ones they fight. Revolutions and wars more often than not bring terrible things to and from all sides.
I sympathize with the 1917 Russian Revolution. The orders of the day, from the Czars to the Robber Barons were unjust, not free, not equal. For the majority of people, ordidnary people who worked for a living, racial and ethnic minorities (in particular ways) throughout the world, and women have not enjoyed freedom and democracy. This is more sharpley true if we go back to 1917, and examine the world as it was then. To be sure, freedom and democracy, declared as the foundations of many countries, were never more than formal or were facades, more a decoration than a reality anywhere. So imagine having a revolution for the lower class, the proletariat, and having it be Interantionalist and universal.
That is what happened in Russia, it was the first workers republic that existed for any longer than a few weeks or months. From this book and the earlier book, things did not happen well at all. These Revolutionaries had an opportunity and they took it, and this book tells the story very well of what then happened. I can gather from the whole of it that it was not quite the right place or time for it to be a good revolution. Trotsky's belief is that Socialism requires the abundance of production of the most productive Capitalist country's, so there is enough for the abundance to go around for everyone. It was also true that ounce this abundance and socialism was achieved, 'the State would begin to wilt away'. Classes are empowered by limited resources. People want to be on top where there is great need. When Socialism is achieved, authority, the police and strong armed methods of running things would not be needed because there was no one on top who had to be protected from the people below who had much less than they needed. (Just as Trotksy was proclaiming this wonderful world of human production and abundance, I immediately reflected about the limitations nature puts on us if we are not to destroy our world, but that is not a subject very many were thinking about in 1936. Back to the book Russia was not close in anyway to where such Socialism or the Revolution could succeed, and never by itself. However, it was the right place to have something different that can survive, being so huge and having the physcical attributes that buried Napoleon's army and would bury Hitler's as well. This gets to the core of Trotsky's theory of the Permanent Revolution. If the Revolution to succeed, or one that is worthy, It requires revolutions in at least some of the highest developed abundant Capitalist countries by the working class to achieve socialism, and aid poor Russia in it's development out of the pit and toward socialism.
Getting back to the beginning of the Revolution. Trotsky, the devoted Revolutionary, at this point was willing to commit some brutal acts, but not more brutal than most other welders of power under similar circmstances all over the world. It appears later, still as one of the major leaders, he fought hard and vocally for better things until he was driven out of power and into exile, and continued until he was assasinated 11 years later. I think this was in keeping with whom Trotsky the man was. He was reflective and critical, and he was for a revolution for the sake of all humanity. He was against Totalitarianism and reducing art and literature to be an instrument of Regime. he was insightful enough to recognize how a priveleged bureaucracy where industry was state owned,(but where there was a great lack of abundanceand a great amount for the priveleged to have to protect) became a ruthless ruling class.
One thing I recognized about the Revolution Betrayed is how it can in fact be taken more than one way. I can read between the lines how conservative supporters of the Capitalist ruling class could and did use Trotksy's very perceptive ideas for their own purposes. However Trotsky was a revolutionary Communist and he wrote in defense of Communists and the Communist revolution, and he was writing in favor of Communists such as his friend Lenin. Lenin was a very interesting man, whom I cannot judge because have not read enough of or about him. I do understand, to use an metaphor of this book, that Lenin was not like Stalin, he was not the Bonapartist face of a bureaucratic class sponsored totalitarian dictactorship. Whatever hope there is the honor and future of Communism, maybe springs from this book, which is a defense of the Communist Revolution and a comdemnation of Stalinism Totalitarianism by one of the great Communists. Maybe it stands like Atlas in keeping it from being obliterated.
In closing, I cannot descibe myself as a Trotskist or any other kind of -IST, I do appreciate the man, but I am not going to make him into an idol to be worshipped. I also realize he was a man of war, he had a tough side. This is a very educating and worthwhile book, and I look forward to reading some more of his books. One negative, I don't know if the translator is to blame, but his style of writing is sometimes a little difficult, and I found myself having to read carefully, sometimes rereading a confusing expressed phrase to understand what he was writing.
Trotsky and E.H. Carr Jan 29, 2007
If one wants to understand contemporary world politics then one ought to read this book.The Russian Revolution WAS and IS the most important event of the 20th century. Trotsky, the consumate Marxist, explains to us the whole story from the inside ---looking out. I might add that as a companion to Trotsky's works one should read the British historian E.H. Carr's History of the Russian Revolution. Carr was no Marxist but gives us as a view of the revolution from the outside--- looking in. ET Seattle
A revolutionary retrospective Jun 28, 2006
A reader of 'The Revolution Betrayed' will find invaluable insight into the 'intellectual response' of a leading Soviet politician. Trotsky was a very important contributor to the theoretical idiom which frames the 'conceptual creation' of the USSR. He had a part to play in many critical phases of the October Revolution and Civil War, organizing and propagandizing, enforcing harsh discipline and imposing his theoretical brand of Marxism on the Soviet State. His distinguished position in Lenin's party is beyond debate. Reading this text gives the reader a deeper analytical impression into the changes and transformations that occurred in the highest echelons of the Soviet bureaucracy, as Stalin began to accrue power. Indispensable reading for anybody with an interest in Russia history.
Revolutions revisited Jan 31, 2006
In my humble opinion, Trotsky's "Revolution Betrayed" is the best analysis of not only the Russian revolution, but revolutions in general. I have studied revolutions in the modern world quite extensively, and re-reading this book at this particular time in history was a true eye-opener - again. To be simplistic, revolutions do not provide lasting success when nothing is to be gained. Those who rise against existing power expect to be rewarded, not with poverty, but with a certain degree of wealth and privilege. If there is nothing to be distributed, then what is the use in fighting? Stalin unfortunately stepped in at the right place, at the right time. Not good for the outcome of that revolution, not good for socialism, but good for Stalin's kind of power.
A few years ago I visited Komsomolsk, Stalin's "Youth" city. It was decaying, a pitiful sight to behold. Buildings on ultra-wide neglected avenues in need of repair, high weeds everywhere, crime uncontrolled. Power gone bad?
Stalin and his compulsive bureaucracy were feared all over Europe. Blessed with clear early childhood memories that include the conversation of adults, I vividly remember my grandmother's fear of Stalin discussed with friends and family members. They witnessed the rise of this awful bureaucracy next door, word of the killings and the horrible brutality didn't just dribble out, it flowed out. I want to say that the Stalinist bureaucracy is unique, but all bureaucracies are designed to increase continuously and feed of themselves, and exist everywhere in the world. And people flock to them for employment, protection, security, in great masses, because bureaucracies deliver security. And if people do not fly into bureaucratic arms directly, they deal with them on a daily basis. There is no getting away from that apparatus of suffocation, nowhere.
Bureaucracy does not have to be bad, and Trotsky dwells on the need for leadership from within the workers, the suppressed, creating a bureaucracy that is just and fair. Is that ever possible? I believe that capitalism and bureaucracy are a contradiction, and unless corruption reigns, they cannot coexist. What comes next?
Trotsky's book raises more questions than it answers, but I am sure it was written for that purpose as well as enlightening the scholar of his interpretation of a betrayed revolution. And where do we go from here?