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About Leon Trotsky

Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) led the Bolshevik insurrection of 1917 and subsequently became Supreme Commander of the Red Army. Joseph Stalin, who took power of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in the late 1920's and ruthlessly suppressed his opponents, ordered Trotsky be killed by an assassin in 1940.

For all of Leon Trotsky's momentous accomplishments in his own life, much of his legacy has, largely for reasons over which he could have had no control following his murder in 1940, not assisted the advancement of humankind.

Leon Trotsky's flawed understanding of the Second World War

After 1939, Trotsky crudely transplanted Lenin's essentially correct analysis of the bloody inter-imperialist war, otherwise known as the First World War, to the Second World War. This analysis held that no capitalist nation fighting in the Second World War was any better than any other. Thus, Great Britain, the United States, Australia and New Zealand were no better than Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and imperial Japan. Therefore, the duty of communists in these countries was to oppose their own government's war. (In Australia, this policy was carried out by the group known as the "Balmain Trotskyists" led by Nick Origlass (1908-1996) and Laurie Short (1915-2009))

However, Trotsky drew a distinction between, on the one hand, the "inter-imperialist war", between the fascist states and the western capitalist allies and, on the other hand, the war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. He still saw the latter as a post-capitalist "workers' state" in spite of Stalin's tyranny and, hence, humanity had a stake in supporting the Soviet Union.

So, whilst opposing U.S, participation in the war, Trotskyists, particularly in the U.S., supported the provision of aid by the U.S. government to the Soviet Union. A number of U.S. Trotskyists actually served as merchant seamen on the convoys which sailed through the perilous icy, U-boat-infested northern Atlantic waters to deliver cargo to the Soviet port of Murmansk.

Whether or not military action, by the U.S. Navy or Air Force, in defence of the convoys against or German U-boats or bombers would have constituted participation in the "inter-imperialist war", was not explained as far as I can recall.

Leon Trotsky's dismissal of non-Marxist political leaders

In Trotsky's world view, the only political leaders likely to be of any enduring worth, were those who fully embraced his program for world socialist revolution. Those who were not were reactionary or, at best, vacillating "petty bourgeoisie". Thus, in the Trotskyist world view, there was no merit to be found in U.S. President Franklin Rooseveldt and, or if he had still been around, President John F. Kennedy (JFK), Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

Jim Garrison could have ended the Vietnam War far sooner than the 'anti-war' Movement

This 'line' was effectively carried out in the 1960's by those who wore the label 'Trotskyist'. JFK and Bobby Kennedy were dismissed by the far-left as no better than other capitalist politicians. They chose not to dispute the fraudulent Warren Commission, which held that the solitary gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, murdered JFK.

Jim Garrison's attempts to prosecute the murderers of JFK, as told in Oliver Stone's movie JFK (1991) would almost certainly have ended the bloody Vietnam War long before 1975 had he got assistance from just a few of the many thousands of activists participating in the protest movement. As an example, it would not have been far less likely that JFK's murderers would have then been able to murder Bobby Kennedy just as he was about to win the nomination for President of the United States at the Democratic Convention in 1968. The Vietnam War would have ended on the day of Bobby Kennedy's Presidential inauguration in January 1969, if not before.

Whatever may have been the motivations of the leaders of this protest movement, the practical outcome was the prolongation, and not the ending, of that war. The consequences for the people of Indo-China were far more tragic than they need have been.

Comments

The text below has been adapted from a post, made on 27 Oct, in response to John Quiggin's article Unnecessary Wars of 21 Oct 2016. (The paragraph commencing "Today, almost certainly ..." differs.)

Professor Quiggin wrote:

The same point is made by Newton in Hell-Bent: Australia’s leap into the Great War (recommended in comments a while ago by James Sinnamon.

Thank you, Professor Quiggin.

In 2014 - before July 2014 when "Hell-Bent" was published - I have deduced - Douglas Newton also published "The Darkest Days - the Truth Behind Britain's Rush to War, 1914". Other titles by Douglas Newton listed on DouglasNewton _dot_ net include: "Germany 1918 - from Days of Hope to Years of Horror" (2016), "British Policy and the Weimar Republic" (2016), "British Labour, European Socialism and the Struggle for Peace 1889-1914" (2016). (He seems very prolific in writing about topics which are of interest to me. I will be sure to make enquiries at my local bookshop and library.)

Anthony, your grandfather's experience seems similar to those of Ernest Hemingway in Italy in 1918 as described in his book "A farewell to Arms" (1929).

I disagree with what John B. wrote:

Churchill sent my father to Greece to become cannon fodder for the Germans. This manouvre was executed by Churchill on the pretext of trying to get the US to support the British.

... which appears to have become established wisdom. Had Churchill (for all his terrible faults) not sent Commonwealth forces to Greece, Hitler would have been able to launch his invasion of the Soviet Union some weeks earlier than 22 June 1941 and the German Army would have almost certainly defeated the Red Army before the 194/42 winter set in.

The consequences for humanity would have almost certainly been even more terrible than that which subsequently occurred. Eastern Europe, and much of Russia, would have been depopulated, with starvation, bullets and extermination camps, to create Lebensraum for the Aryan "master race."

Today, almost certainly, we would, at best, be living in a world divided up between the German Third Reich, the Empire of Japan and the United States. At worst, we would be living in a bi-polar world, split between Germany and Japan.

The terrible sacrifice made by Australians, New Zealanders, British and Greeks against the Italians and Germans in 1941 was clearly a sacrifice that was vastly preferable to the alternative.

So, whilst I agree with Professor Quiggin that the First World War was a stupid unnecessary slaughter, humanity truly had a stake in the outcome in the Second World.

The "Balmain Trotskyists", including Nick Origlass, Issy Weiner, Jim McLelland and Laurie Short, in accord with the views on held by Leon Trotsky, before his murder in August 1940, applied the template, through which they had correctly viewed the First World World War, to the Second World War.

As shown in "The Battle for Australia" (2013) by Bob Wurth, industrial action by trade union militants, as advocated by the "Balmain Trotskyists" on a number of occasions, hampered efforts to defend Australia. This included industrial action on the Darwin waterfront in January 1941 (p59, p107).

The contrary view, which applies the abovementioned Trotskyist paradigm, which I consider flawed, to the Second World War is to be found in "Australia's Pacific War" (2011) by Tom O'Lincoln.

The following has been posted as a comment in reeponse to "A Heroic Spanish Secret Agent Assassinated Trotsky - His Amazing Story" (23/6/18) | Russia Insider

This article is bizarre, confusing and self-contradictory. From the headline, Erin Blakemore evidently believes that Ramon Mercader is a hero. Mercador's murder, in August 1940, of Leon Trotsky, the man who led the insurrection of 1917 and who founded the Red Army, was 'heroic'.

Does Erin Blakemore also think that those who murdered or imprisoned, all of the Bolshevik Central Committee of October 1917, except for Stalin and two others, were heroic?

Does Erin Blakemore also think it was heroic for Stalin to have ignored warnings from Richard Sorge, the Communist in Germany's Tokyo embassy, that Nazi Germany was preparing to attack the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941?

Does she think that those who murdered the Red Army's best officers in the 1938 purges, as Hitler was preparing to attack the Soviet Union, were heroic?

On every geopolitical conflict of 2018 that I can think of, Russia Insider is a a very useful source to counter the disinformation from the global corporate newsmedia. However, Russia Insider's articles about the Russian Revolution and the events leading up to it, including the First World War, the supposed "war to end all wars" invariably take this side of the criminal rulers of Russia, who together with the rulers of all the other European powers, caused the needless deaths of 18 million people and against those in Russia, including Lenin and Trotsky, who tried to stop that war.