Explaining History


The afterlife of Leon Trotsky's politics 1940-1982

When Leon Trotsky was murdered by NKVD agent Ramon Mercader in 1940, his ideas lived on. The Trotskyist Fourth International and the American Socialist Workers Party in particular claimed (though this was disputed by his widow Natalia) to be the inheritors of his beliefs. Trotsky's critique of the USSR and its capitalist enemies stated that the Russian Revolution had effectively been killed in its infancy, and that instead a bureacratic state had replaced a revolutionary society. Some of Trotsky's former disciples eventually distanced themselves from his beliefs, embracing American conservatism and free market capitalism, most famously the recanting revolutionary James Burnham.

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