Trotsky was perhaps the brightest, and certainly the most readable, of the old Bolsheviks. However, unlike Bukharin and several other former comrades, he has never been formally rehabilitated, perhaps because he was never tried, but simply murdered at the behest of Stalin. According to an article that just appeared in The Moscow News, at least a part of the Russian left is now considering a “reconciliation” between the two. It quotes Darya Mitina, one of the leaders of the Russian Communist Youth and a former State Duma deputy to the effect that,
It is my dream to once see a memorial in a quiet part of Moscow, depicting Trotsky and Stalin sitting across from each other.
That would certainly justify a famous remark by Karl Marx,
History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.
The proponents of such a “rehabilitation” would do well to actually read Trotsky, starting, perhaps, with “The Stalin School of Falsification.” Sometimes he could be remarkably prophetic. Here’s what he had to say about the historical fate of Communism in “In Defense of Marxism,” a collection of his letters and articles published shortly after he was murdered by Stalin in 1940.
If, however, it is conceded that the present war (WWII) will provoke not revolution but a decline of the proletariat, then there remains another alternative: the further decay of monopoly capitalism, its further fusion with the state and the replacement of democracy wherever it still remained by a totalitarian regime. The inability of the proletariat to take into its hands the leadership of society could actually lead under these conditions to the growth of a new exploiting class from the Bonapartist fascist bureaucracy. This would be, according to all indications, a regime of decline, signalizing the eclipse of civilisation.
Then it would be necessary in retrospect to establish that in its fundamental traits the present USSR was the precursor of a new exploiting regime on an international scale.
If (this) prognosis proves to be correct, then, of course, the bureaucracy will become a new exploiting class. However onerous this perspective may be, if the world proletariat should actually prove incapable of fulfilling the mission placed upon it by the course of development, nothing else would remain except only to recognize that the socialist program, based on the internal contradictions of capitalist society, ended as a Utopia.
“Ended in a Utopia” could be said of many revolutions, and Stalin was not unique. Revolutionary euphoria is a perfect vehicle to power for unscrupulous leaders who care more about personal aggrandizement than noble ideals. You say you want a revolution? Be careful who you pick to lead it.