Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Trotskyists on the Differences Between Trotsky and Stalin

Trotsky’s politics ‘differed sharply from Stalinism’. Or, more correctly, this is what Trotskyists tell us. The main difference between Trotsky and Stalin, of course, is that Stalin gained control of a huge state. Trotsky didn’t. So, in that sense, Trotsky couldn’t have failed to be different to Stalin.

Critics have argued, however, that if Trotsky had gained power instead of Stalin, he would have become like Stalin. Inversely, if Stalin hadn’t gained power like Trotsky, he would have ended up like Trotsky.

But there was one vital difference. Trotsky had one hell of a goatee beard whereas Stalin had one hell of a tash. Despite the profound difference between tash and beard, Trotskyists tell us that the ‘real and important’ difference was Trotsky’s opposition to ‘socialism in one country’. Some have argued that because Trotsky didn’t gain power in that ‘one country’ – Russia, that this was the (real) reason why he was keen to see socialism in more-than-one country (perhaps two or three). What mattered was that Trotsky could be in charge in one of these non-Russian countries.

In any case, because Russia was so damn big, Stalin wasn’t that keen on ruling more than one country. It seems that Trotsky, or the ‘vanguard of the working class’ (to give Trotsky his other name), did want power in more than one country. That’s why he gained power in no country.

The official reason for this (that is, the Trotskyist reason), was that Trotsky believed that socialism in one country would break with proletarian internationalism. And, as we all know, most ‘members’ of the working class are very internationalist in nature (especially football fans). The idea was meant to be that if the working class took over in, say, Luxembourg, then that would inspire the working class in Belgium to do the same. (Just as when Islamists take over a country, Islam is meant to spread to other countries - this didn’t work in the Israel-Palestine case.)

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