June 25, 2008

Trotsky on Lenin

I'd mentioned a while back that I'd been reading Three Who Made a Revolution, Bertram D. Wolfe's masterful account of the lives of Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin, and their efforts to save their country (and humanity) by blowing both up. It's a wonderful work -- if one doesn't understand the tactical intelligence of Lenin, or the appeal of Trotsky, or the horror of Stalin, this is the book to read.

I might start writing about Qutb and his influence on al Qaeda again (I reread the book with that purpose vaguely in mind), because I think and have always thought that Qutb was far more influenced by Russian revolutionary thought than he was by the Qur'an. Or rather, there was nothing in his attitude toward the Qur'an to distinguish him from millions of other Muslims; what made him unique was the bait and switch he performed, trying to dress up a Leninist revolutionary, terrorist organization in Qur'anic clothing.

In any case, as a sort of preface, I thought it worth quoting Wolfe quoting Trotsky's critique of Lenin's conception of the professional revolutionary party during one of many breaks between the two men:

...he portrayed Lenin as a caricature Robespierre, talking socialism but modeling himself on the dictatorial bourgeois revolutionary, setting up a pseudo-Jacobin dictatorship over the masses, installing a committee of public safety over the Party, using the "guillotine" to eliminate those he could not control, forming local organizations on the Cartesian principle: "I am confirmed by the Central Committee, therefore I am." Lenin's celebrated centrism, he said, was in reality an "egocentralism" and one day it would lead to a state of affairs in which:
The organization of the Party takes the place of the Party itself; the Central Committee takes the place of the organization; and finally the dictator takes the place of the Central Committee...

Enter Stalin...

Posted by Ideofact at June 25, 2008 12:37 AM