Saturday, November 07, 2009
The bespectacled fellow above is one Lev Bronstien, a. k. a. Leon Trotsky, born this day in Yanovka, Russia. Born into a well to do farmer's family, Lev was sent to Odessa at the age of nine to be educated, Odessa was unlike most Russian cities in that it was a bustling international port, and his education there was partially responsible for the older Trotsky's international outlook. This is really not the place to give too much a biography of Trotsky. There have been many of those written already, and the best one I read ran to three VERY long volumes, and I recommend it only if you really are dedicated to Trotskism. I place him in my pantheon of heroes for a couple of major reasons. One his was, until he bottled it, and was forced into exile, the only SANE opposition to that complete madman Stalin after the death of Lenin. The history of the 20th century might have been dramatically different if Trotsky had won that particular power struggle. Not that it would have been better, but it is hard to see how the history of the Soviet Union, and all those lost souls sent to the Gulag would have been worse with Trotsky in charge. That is one of those "what ifs" of history that we all love to indulge in, and that alternate history writers make their daily bread from. His reorganizing of the Red Army during the revolution made it into the fighting force that was eventually able to help destroy Hitler's Panzer divisions. Though by the time that happened, Trotsky had exited the stage. The other major contribution to political theory was his idea of Permanent Revolution which I wish I could explain in some simple, pithy, and informative sentence, but I am just not that intelligent. If I was I hopefully would not just be sitting on my ass writing simple "hero of the day" blog post just to pass the time of day. However, Trotsky did lose that battle for political supremacy with Stalin, and was eventually shipped out into exile. His first station of exile was Istanbul, Turkey, where the number of exiled White Russian officers put Trotsky's life in daily danger. After spending four years in Turkey, he then moved to France where after two years he was informed that he had wore out his welcome. Then it was off to Norway of all places, where after two years, the alleged influence of the Soviet Union, led to him being put on a freighter to Mexico. This was to be his final destination. He was welcomed with open arms in Mexico, and moved into a lovely house in Mexico City. It was in Mexico that the NKVD agent Ramon Mercader pluned the ice axe into Trotsky skull that finally accomplished Stalin's wish to have Trotsky becomed deceased. On Feburary 27th, 1940 Trotsky, feeling ill and exhausted wrote a letter which is now called Trotsky's Testament, I will cut and paste it below because it says all that needs to be said by a revolutionary facing mortality.
"In addition to the happiness of being a fighter for the cause of socialism, fate gave me the happiness of being her husband. During the almost forty years of our life together she remained an inexhaustible source of love, magnanimity, and tenderness. She underwent great sufferings, especially in the last period of our lives. But I find some comfort in the fact that she also knew days of happiness.
For forty-three years of my conscious life I have remained a revolutionist; for forty-two of them I have fought under the banner of Marxism. If I had to begin all over again I would of course try to avoid this or that mistake, but the main course of my life would remain unchanged. I shall die a proletarian revolutionist, a Marxist, a dialectical materialist and, consequently, an irreconcilable atheist. My faith in the communist future of mankind is not less ardent, indeed it is firmer today, than it was in the days of my youth.
Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."
February 27, 1940
So for all those years fighting for proles like myself, Leon Trotsky (November 7th, 1879- August 21st, 1940, at the age of 60 by ice axe to the head), you are my hero of the day.