How did you guys arrive at Trotsky?

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  1. Lyev
    Lyev
    I was just wondering how everyone here arrived at the logical conclusion, if you like, of Trotskyism. When I first discovered communism, and this forum, my first instinct was to label myself 'Marxist-Leninist', but at the time I didn't really know what this entailed; I've decided Marxism-Leninism is not necessarily a good thing what with all these Stalinist/Maoist guys that have been running around on the board recently.

    I don't like the authoritarian aspects of these ideologies. I got into a discussion with one Marxist-Leninist who told me something like the ultimate aim of authoritarianism is, strangely, it's polar opposite, or something like that. It reminds of the rightist, army official guys that tell us the 'ultimate aim of war is peace'. I also hate how these people try to justify and actually obscure atrocities committed under Stalin and Mao; discrediting them to 'bourgeois sources'- I don't want to have to justify atrocities for the sake of 'anti-revisionism' and 'realism' and what is ultimately quite dogmatic. I don't believe we, collectively as Marxists, can further our causes by affiliating ourselves with such things.

    I also used to be anti-vanguardist, but I realise, if the concept of a vanguard is approached appropriately it could potentially work very nicely; I agree with Luxemburg on some things, and I agree with 'The masses are the decisive element, they are the rock on which the final victory of the revolution will be built.' but at the same time I think she had the tendency to rely on 'spontaneity' too much.

    What does everyone else think? I'm not trying cause argument or anything; this is just my reasoning behind why I've chosen Trotskyism, and will be staying with it, for the moment at least. Did you guys go through loads of different sects and thought processes to get where you are? Is there perhaps anything decisive you've read? I didn't feel as though necessarily I 'needed', per se, a Marxist sect, I don't like all this sectarianism on the left and on this forum, but, for me, Trotskyism just seems like the most rational, level-headed approach. Opinions?
  2. redarmyleader
    redarmyleader
    I have to admit that your post had me thinking for a bit and I really appreciate the fact that you posted it because it shows that you have actually thought about the questions you raised.

    Without giving my life story I can say that Trotskyism was shown to me in action as the only revolutionary perspective that could give you deep and fundemental understanding of society and show how power in the name of the proletariat and mass oppressed can actually be attained. I became aqauinted with Marxism when I was 16 through the Communist Manifesto, and with Trotskyism when I was 17 through fighting against racism by defending affirmative action and actively building the new civil rights movement. The Revolutionary Workers League (RWL), U.S. plays an important and active role in the militant, civil rights group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN).

    While I am a supporter of the RWL and have only ever been a supporter of the RWL [being black working-class kid from Detroit does not get the attention of most of the left, ironically] I took the decision to be a revolutionary seriously and looked at all the various organizations calling themselves revolutionaries but found them all to be lacking some fundamental features that revolutionary organizations serious about revolution should possess (can say more on that later).

    I think sectarinism is a terrible thing too, but one thing to consider is that a lot of people who say they want to help build a successful revolution don't actually mean, and show no real interest in the goal. In other words everyone who says they are on the sides of the workers just are not, and in fact do great harm to the movement of the oppressed.
  3. Mephisto
    I used to be a member of the Communist Party sometime ago, but I at this time, I was more a moral communist, than a revolutionary marxist.

    Two activists I knew from the Internet got me intact with trotskys writings (first A Revolution Betrayed and then Permanent Revolution). It were these books who deeply ugraded my understanding of marxist theory and, most important, it's dialectical method.
  4. A.R.Amistad
    A.R.Amistad
    Ah, I can remember the rainy, November day that I declared myself a communist in the fifth grade. You see, my dad was a member of the SP-USA, but he was never a real active member. He was in it for more of a moral reason than anything else. But I was in the car, coming home from school, when I was telling him about my day and what I had learned, which that particular day had been the "evils of communism." I had no clue of course, what it was, and when my Dad talked to me about what it really was, I saw my romantic and heroic-minded self right in it. Of course, I had to reconcile with the bourgeois teachings of my school in order to understand it. At first I was a sort of social democrat with Trotskyist sympathies. But as I started reading more and more about the history of the Spanish Civil War and other pivotal events, I learned more and more about the various ideologies. By seventh grade I was a pretty well developed communist, but I still had to come to terms with the Stalinist betrayal. I remember always asking myself "am I a bad person? Am I supporting Stalinism by being a communist?" I read about the Russian Revolution and how Stalin betrayed it. I joined the CP-USA hoping that I could reform it into a Trotskyist organization, but of course I learned about reality. Then I really started learning what it is all about. I met other communists and I read things like the Transitional Program, State and Revolution and the 18th Brumaire. It was this that led me to my current organization. Basically, an internal struggle with my traditional teachings at school and the socialist ideas I was learning made me realise that Stalinism was wrong and horrific, but that it was not "communism" as they tried to teach me in school. The more and more I looked at the world around me I realised that communism was what we needed. I wondered why such a great revolution as the Russian October Revolution turned out the way it did. And here I am today, a true Bolshevik......
  5. Tower of Bebel
    Tower of Bebel
    I read his biography of Stalin.
  6. redphilly
    redphilly
    I started out as a Maoist. My coming to the conclusions about the correctness of Trotskyism were influenced by my activism in anti-imperialist work in the 80s; in solidarity with the reviolutions in El Salvador and Nicaragua. I started to question the strategic perspectives of the FMLN and the FSLN. In particular, I came to see that the self-limiting strategy of the Sandinsitas in not expropriating the bourgeoisie was a huge mistake. It was in the early 80s that I started reading Socialist Action newspaper - though I did not join the organization for another 20+ years. The SA pamphlet written by Alan Benjamin /Dynamics of the Nicaraguan Revolution/ was essential. It didn't hurt that I was sharing a house at the time with a comrade who had been recently purged from the SWP by Barnes. He had something like 20 years worth of internal bulletins, books and pamphlets. It was in essence a post-graduate school in authentic marxism.
  7. redarmyleader
    redarmyleader
    I have to ask A.R. Amistad what gave you the idea that you could reform the CPUSA in the first place? What was your perspective and how did you attempt to approach this project?
  8. DecDoom
    When I first started to consider myself a communist, I also considered myself a Marxist-Leninist. To be honest, I had no idea what that meant, and didn't know much about the tendency itself (other than "it's anti-revisionist" and even then the justifications of Stalin didn't sit well with me). When I finally investigated Marxism-Leninism further, I didn't agree with what I saw. When I investigated the supposedly counter-revolutionary Trotskyism, I discovered I agreed with the basic tenets of the ideology.

    So, here we are!
  9. Crux
    Crux
    The politics of the main so called left parties initially made me an anarchist, having always had an interests in philosophy I got interested in marxism, but the stalinist parties didn't interests me, for obvious reasons. When I initially got into contact with the swedish CWI section I was still something of an anti-leninist as well, but, because they seemed to have the right ideas in regards to everyday struggle I deicided to join anyway. I was also kind of impressed by their internationalism, since my first encounter with the CWI was at a joint protest together with the Iranian exile left in support of workers struggle in Iran. Around this time I started reading up on Lenin, Trotsky and the russian revolution, got over my reflexive anti-leninism and eventually became a trotskyist. I haven't looked back since.
  10. ProgressiveThinker90
    ProgressiveThinker90
    I saw some people selling literature of the International Communist League. I quickly realized how false the idea of "Socialism in one country" is.
  11. ProgressiveThinker90
    ProgressiveThinker90
    Everyone who considers themselves a Trotskyist should take a look at this http://www.icl-fi.org/english/icldop/index.html
  12. blake 3:17
    blake 3:17
    Meeting really principled activists from both FI and IS traditions, becoming familiar with Trotsky's main ideas (Permanent Revolution, the analyses of bureaucracy, fascism and Stalinism, the transitional method) and reading both him (especially History of the Russian Revolution (such a kick ass read!)) and other Trotskyists, especially Michael Lowy, Ernest Mandel, and Isaac Deutscher. Trotsky's association with Surrealism has continued to seal the deal.
  13. vyborg
    vyborg
    by train
  14. chegitz guevara
    chegitz guevara
    Aside from my friend's sister, the first real commies I met that weren't totally stupid were Trots (the ones I met before them were News & Letters). And so I became a Trot for 18 years.
  15. Comrade Awesome
    Comrade Awesome
    I originally identified simply as a communist to avoid the labeling. Eventually I realised how badly Stalinism had perverted communism and was disillusioned that many communist currents support and defend it, even so called 'Marxist-Leninists'. Eventually I looked into Trotskyism and found it alines with my views, and it offers intrepretations and views of Marxism that I found myself agreeing with. I had found my label.
  16. A.R.Amistad
    A.R.Amistad
    You'll notice that even in a high school setting, no matter how much they want to villify the Russian Revolution, every textbook and every teacher has to at least concede the point that "Lenin and Trotsky were both talented theorists."
  17. The Ben G
    The Ben G
    Well, From the start I was a Staunch anti Stalinist. I wasoriginally an anarchist, but I realized that anarchism is riddled with flaws. Im still an anti State socialist (and ally myself with Anarchists), but I wouldn't consider myself a true anarchist anymore. But, I arrived at Trotsky when I saw the Stalimaos bad mouthing him all the time. I had known about him, but not much. So, I started to read his autobiography.
  18. Brad
    Brad
    I don't know if I really have "arrived at Trotsky", but I'm definitely willing to learn more about him. I'm starting to read "Revolution Betrayed".

    I started out as a stubborn Stalinist. I was drawn in by criticism of the bourgeois media. I was convinced that if they were willing to blame economic crises like the current one on workers, and to justify numerous atrocities in their Cold Warrior quest against "Communism", it wouldn't be a stretch for them to lie about the details of a revolution of workers. I was essentially an apologist jumping to the defense of an iron-fisted vanguard.

    I kept reading and got into Maoism. It seemed at the time to be a less dogmatic application of Marxism-Leninism according to the particular situation of China, and the attack on a bureaucrat class to address the issue of revisionism and the restoration of capitalism.

    Recently, I've forced myself to take a look at what I dismissed as "bourgeois propaganda", and found there are some things you just can't excuse on the pretext of safeguarding the revolution, as they betray Marxism to a bureaucratic elitism and replace one oppression with another.
    So, I reject Stalinism, and I'm disturbed by the Stalinist influence on Maoism, but for the moment at least appreciate anti-bureaucrat rhetoric such as Mao's "bombard the headquarters" comment.
    Having rejected Stalinism, though, and having had an appreciation for Gramsci for a while, I've started reading more about Left Communism.

    One quick thing:

    A major reservation I have about calling myself Trotskyist at this point is:

    The same bourgeois source that pushed me to reject Stalinism, a book I got from my Aunt a while back ("Gulag: A History" by Anne Applebaum) claims that the cruelties of the Gulags for which Stalin is often condemned began with Lenin. Anyone got any info on this?
  19. The Grey Blur
    The Grey Blur
    @ Brad - Lenin and the Bolsheviks were actually incredibly lenient towards their enemies in Russia at first. If you have read 'Ten Days That Shook The World' it describes how in Petrograd they allowed the bourgeois government of the municipal Duma (which was calling for the Bolsheviks to be massacred by the Tsarist armies!) to meet and propogate more or less freely. You should also read up about the "Philosopher's Steamer". During the Civil War obviously harsher measures had to be taken - the Bolsheviks were fighting something like 10 armies at the same time, most supported by the major imperialist powers! In a war situation internment etc do occur and can be necessary - look at the example of the Japanese in WW2-era USA for an example of how hypocritical these bourgeois critics are.

    Mao colluded with the 3rd international in allowing the Chinese working class to be massacred again & again by their alliances with the KMT. One of the first actions of the PLA on taking Peking was to shoot striking workers. Mao is to be despised, whatever pathetic rhetoric he came out with. Gramsci isn't really worth reading either (considering how he has repeatedly been distorted by Left Communists and Eurocommunists), stick to Marx, Engels, Lenin & Trotsky for the mean time.
  20. Brad
    Brad
    Quote Originally Posted by The Grey Blur
    @ Brad - Lenin and the Bolsheviks were actually incredibly lenient towards their enemies in Russia at first. If you have read 'Ten Days That Shook The World' it describes how in Petrograd they allowed the bourgeois government of the municipal Duma (which was calling for the Bolsheviks to be massacred by the Tsarist armies!) to meet and propogate more or less freely. You should also read up about the "Philosopher's Steamer". During the Civil War obviously harsher measures had to be taken - the Bolsheviks were fighting something like 10 armies at the same time, most supported by the major imperialist powers! In a war situation internment etc do occur and can be necessary - look at the example of the Japanese in WW2-era USA for an example of how hypocritical these bourgeois critics are.

    Mao colluded with the 3rd international in allowing the Chinese working class to be massacred again & again by their alliances with the KMT. One of the first actions of the PLA on taking Peking was to shoot striking workers. Mao is to be despised, whatever pathetic rhetoric he came out with. Gramsci isn't really worth reading either (considering how he has repeatedly been distorted by Left Communists and Eurocommunists), stick to Marx, Engels, Lenin & Trotsky for the mean time.
    Firstly:

    Of course the Japanese internment was unjust, to say the least, and of course the war situation made some actions of internment necessary. The bourgeois are hypocrites indeed. I don't know very much about this right now, so I'll have to reserve judgement.

    As for Mao, I am, of course, open to criticism of Maoism, but I think that it's a gross oversimplification and to say that nothing in Maoism has any merit whatsoever. That and, as skeptical as one can rightly be about alliances with the "national bourgeoisie", were they supposed to fight both the KMT and the Japanese head on? Doesn't seem realistic.

    I'm not familiar with that specific incident, but I do prefer a more balanced view of Mao---albeit not for the sake of rehabilitation of some 'great man' image, but because I do see differences between Maoism and Stalinism.

    One last thing:

    Maybe I'm misinterpreting you, but I don't appreciate being told what to "stick to" when I read Marxist theory. If I didn't mind that I wouldn't have turned my back on Stalinism. I'm wary of sectarianism, so sure I'll read Trotsky, but I will keep myself open to stuff you may not agree with.

    In any case though, thanks for responding and I'll certainly seek those books out.
  21. Chambered Word
    Chambered Word
    Quote Originally Posted by Brad
    The same bourgeois source that pushed me to reject Stalinism, a book I got from my Aunt a while back ("Gulag: A History" by Anne Applebaum) claims that the cruelties of the Gulags for which Stalin is often condemned began with Lenin. Anyone got any info on this?
    The camps had been there during the Tsarist regime, the difference being that Lenin didn't throw workers in there for striking (or throw loyal Bolsheviks in there on trumped-up charges, like Stalin).
  22. Brad
    Brad
    Quote Originally Posted by Comrade Lewis
    The camps had been there during the Tsarist regime, the difference being that Lenin didn't throw workers in there for striking (or throw loyal Bolsheviks in there on trumped-up charges, like Stalin).
    This is true from what I've read. Hmm and what about Social Democrats/those on the 'moderate' left, and Left Communists?
  23. Yawn
    Yawn
    well i started off with Leninism, but after reading some information about Leon Trotsky and his ideals, i felt that his branch of communism fit me the best. the "dictatorship of the proletariat" theory is what really got me hooked. Trotsky knew that once USSR had done its job with a revolution, that they should continue to help small countries.
  24. NewPartyTendency
    NewPartyTendency
    I think the USA helps out smaller dictatorships anyway, and it is turning state capitalist gov corps. Leon Trosky had more theories on top of Lenin. In my opinion, Troskyist tendencies are missing capitalist roaders (ideal reverse theory for China) from Mao even thou modern countries have stock markets. I'm thinking perment revolution campaign mode to help out the world.
  25. socialist_n_TN
    socialist_n_TN
    I was a baby left radical working class kid (Daddy was a union local president) in the late 60s and involved in the anti Vietnam war movement. I went to college for a couple of years and took a course in Russian History. One of Trotsky's books was an assignment and I loved it. I started studying and reading more on my own and finally decided that what LD described was what I was. That was 40+ years ago and I STILL consider myself a Trotskyist. I'll be reading the History in a couple of weeks. Again.
  26. Sentinel
    Sentinel
    I was raised in a stalinist home. With the collapse of the USSR my parents became disillusioned and quit their political activism (my mother retained her leftist sympathies and is today quite pleased of my becoming active and supports our cause). I had been sympathetic to leftist ideas as a kid as a natural consequence of my upbringing, but became apolitical as a teenager.

    When I was 18 i started working fulltime, and after a few years on the labour market I started to think about politics again. So, I started browsing the internet for information about communism around -03 or -04, found the Che-Lives site and Revleft, and started lurking here frequently.

    The arguments of some of the prominent ultra-left and anarchist posters back then attracted me; I had been looking for some kind of alternative to stalinism, the authoritarianism of which I found hard to justify on many levels. In particular the polemics of then-admins redstar2000 and LSD were to my liking. I joined the board as a member in -05 and started posting actively in -06.

    In -06 or -07 I also in real life joined the syndicalist union SAC. My membership in the SAC was largely a failure in the sense that there wasn't interest in joining a revolutionary union amongst my co-workers, and I was reluctant to starting a one-man war against the company where I work. This led to me not going to SAC meetings and eventually becoming totally inactive -- and disillusioned about syndicalism -- although I still paid my membership fees.

    In 2010, last year, the political climate of Sweden changed drastically as a racist party with fascist roots, the Sweden Democrats, entered the parliament. This got me to bitterly lament my inactivity, I felt that I needed to contribute to the fight against this threat, and against the capitalist society which ultimately caused it.

    At the same time I saw on youtube videos of debates between members of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (Socialist Justice Party, Swedish CWI) and the racists, which got me to read about RS and about trotskyism. I had of course talked to lots of trotskyists here over the years, but never really bothered to consider their arguments or ideology on a serious level, ignorant as I was.

    It should be noted here that I briefly also considered the left communists of the ICC, but found that their views were way too black and white on certain issues like the nationalism question etc. But it was already then trotskyism that attracted me the most.

    Doing research I found that there really wasn't anything undemocratic about the ideology nor the programmes of the main organisations whatsoever, quite the opposite. Finally I turned directly to RS and CWI members active on this site. I would like to thank especially Majakovskij and Q for answering my questions and helping me realise, that when taking distance to stalinism I had taken a step too far to the left.

    The reason I initially chose this organisation was that it's the easily most prominent and visible trotskyist organisation here. On december 14th 2010, the very day I turned 30 years of age, I met with a representant of the party and had a long discussion in a café in Stockholm. It resulted in me signing a membership card and the rest is history.
  27. Geiseric
    Geiseric
    I live next to some Irish immigrants who are far left politically, and their son gave me some trotsky and lenin to read and I never turned back. I was a socialist up to that point, but didn't have any idea or strategy to it.
  28. eric922
    eric922
    The first actual socialist I talked to was a Trotskyist and he gave me some his books to read, before then I was a democratic-socialist, but a real one, I legitimately thought we could use the capitalist state to build socialism gradually, but I've come to learn that it just isn't possible. Oh, and on a side note, does anyone know why I can't post new threads in this group?
  29. OHumanista
    OHumanista
    There wasn't much of an arriving for me as my dad is a Trot. So basically I heard about goold old Trotsky since I was born.
  30. A Marxist Historian
    A Marxist Historian
    How I became a Trot is kind of interesting actually. A long time ago.

    I was a college student who'd just been recruited to PL/SDS. As the only new recruit to our quite sizeable chapter that fall, about a hundred, I got elected chapter rep to the Regional Interim Committee and became the phone guy mobilizing everybody for our weekly demos and confrontations.

    I liked PL's style and general attitudes, but I wasn't too thrilled about this Stalin thing they were into, I'd heard all those bad things about Stalin. But I thought maybe they were all ruling class propaganda, so I asked the guy who recruited me what a good book by Stalin to read about the Russian Revolution would be. To compare with Trotsky's book naturally.

    He recommended a famous book by Stalin, called "Problems of Leninism" or something. So I checked it out of the library and started reading it.

    Almost immediately, I came across a passage where Stalin says you can't build socialism in one country! I knew enough already to tell that that was the big difference between Stalin and Trotsky as to ideas. So I asked the guy who recommended it to me, and he told me that was the wrong edition I read, the 1924 edition, and that Stalin later corrected that!

    I have never been able to take Stalin seriously as a Marxist ever since.

    Back then the Spartacists had a Revolutionary Marxist Caucus in PL/SDS. They were calling PL "Trotskyists with a Prefrontal Lobotomy," much to the amusement of the orthodox Maoists in PL/SDS, who were about to split out. So I joined the RMC too. I particularly liked their slogan of "labor strikes against the war," which made a lot more sense to me than the PL idea of a "campus worker-student alliance," in terms of fighting against the Vietnam War.

    PL/SDS basically fell apart, going down from 100 to 3 by the end of the school year. The RMC, including me, became the youth group of the Spartacist League. So that's how I became a Trotskyist.

    -M.H.-
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