Trotsky, and other Reds In Name Only

The Old Man in Mexico with some American comrades.

Something about our finding and killing bin Laden in his home after all these years got me to thinking about Leon Trotsky.

Yeah, I know — not the same thing at all. We’re not the USSR, and President Obama isn’t Stalin. And people knew Trotsky was in Mexico, and he wasn’t killed by Spetznaz commandos (and I think it would kind of anachronistic if he had been).

But still, it made me think of him. The mind sometimes makes strange leaps.

Trotsky wasn’t far from my mind because a while back, I started reading a recent biography about his Mexico years. I had been attracted to it by a review in the WSJ, and asked for it and got it for my birthday or something last year. I had been really curious about the story of a top icon of the Russian Revolution living south of our border, and largely supported by American Trotskyists.

But after the first few chapters, and reading all about the soap opera with Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and ALL the propaganda from Moscow and from Trotsky himself over the show trials and so forth, I got bogged down.

And the thing that wore me down the most, that frankly bored me to tears, was all the long-distance ideological arm-wrestling. You know how I have little patience with ideologues. There were all these titanic arguments going back and forth between the Trotskyites and the Stalinists about who was the REAL commie, each side working so hard to delegitimize the other (with the stakes being life or death for Trotsky), essentially accusing each other of being RINOs — Reds In Name Only.

And I just couldn’t care about any of them. I mean, talk about pointless. Trotsky was as ruthless as they come, while Stalin was one of the great monsters of the century. And it was pathetic that leftists in this country would actually take up the cudgels to defend or make excuses for either of them. The arguments over doctrine — stupid, irrelevant points of doctrine argued heatedly among people who, ironically given what they believed in, were on the wrong side of history — were particularly tedious.

At some point, I need to get back to the book and see how the guy with the ice ax got in and did the deed. But I haven’t been able to make myself do so yet…

12 thoughts on “Trotsky, and other Reds In Name Only

  1. Brad

    Thought somebody would find that one interesting. I mean, maybe you don’t care about Trotsky, and I don’t blame you, but I thought somebody would riff on the RINO thing.

    In case it wasn’t clear enough, I find the ideological wrangling in our political parties today — all that RINO nonsense, or the purging of Joe Lieberman from among the Democrats — as equally pointless and absurd. Just not as, you know, deadly…

  2. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    I believe Joe lost a primary–he didn’t get “purged,” comrade.

  3. bud

    Seriously, comparing Leon Trotsky to the situation with Joe Lieberman is pretty far fetched. Democrats in CT voted for someone other than Joe Lieberman to represent their party in the 2006 Senate race. They did so for entirely logical and pragmatic policy reasons. Lieberman had abandoned party principal by supporting a disasterous and illegal war which Democrats had come to oppose. That’s what a democracy is all about.

  4. Brad

    No, it isn’t — far-fetched, that is. It’s about ideologues casting out those who fail to toe the line on everything. And that is, as I said, “equally pointless and absurd. Just not as, you know, deadly…”

  5. Brad

    It kinda funny in a way — y’all don’t object to my play on RINO, but just let me cite an instance in which Dems do the same thing…

  6. bud

    Since when are voters “ideologues”? It was Joe Lieberman who quit the party AFTER a fair and impartial nominating process picked another candidate. Joe Lieberman is the bad guy here, not the Democratic voters of Connecticut. He was the one who engaged in partisan politics by running as an independent. Yes that’s right, Joe Lieberman played partisan politics. Without that partisan thinking he would have swallowed his pride and supported Ned Lamont even though he disagreed with him on a particular issue. Read the dictionary and see just exactly what a partisan is. A partisan supports a particular brand of ideology at the expense of all else. And that’s exactly what Joe Lieberman did.

  7. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    I take the Harpootlian view on the RINO epithet–let the Republicans sort that one out for themselves. Republicans can say who gets to be Republican.

    Far be it from me to say what someone may call him/herself, especially in arenas I have no dog in, like sports and Republican politics.

    So why did the already shrunken news window of The State today have to lead with a “story” on sports figures statues—and jumped further into the emaciated A section. It’s becoming a NINO–Newspaper In Name Only.

  8. bud

    NINO. That’s hilarious. Kathryn as I’m sure you’ve noticed The State has had irrelevant stories prominately on it’s front page for several years now. The statue story, as small as it is, probably would not rank among the top 25 irrelevant “news” stories featured on the front page of The State. My own personal favorite was the story about the high school kids (either Irmo or Lexington) who started a tradition of eating breakfast at a local restaraunt every day before class.

  9. Brad

    Since always, Bud. Voters who vote a straight ticket are ideologues… or they buy so completely into the “people like me” vs. “people like them” paradigm that they vote that way in the assumption they are helping the cause of people like them … which is not the same as ideology.

    And Bud, you’re really twisting logic with regard to the term “partisan” when you insist that people who insist on party loyalty are NOT partisan, but people who will split with their party on a point of conscience ARE partisan.

    It’s one thing to choose to use an esoteric sense of a word, but you’re not doing that. Yes, “partisan” can refer to more than party. It can refer to the adherence to a person or group of persons to the point that you always take their part, without a “party” being involved.

    It does NOT mean sticking to what you believe, regardless of what the crowd thinks. You can call that a lot of things — stubborn, for instance — but “partisan” really has no meaning used that way.

    Here, by the way, is the Mirriam-Webster definition:
    “Definition of PARTISAN

    : a firm adherent to a party, faction, cause, or person; especially : one exhibiting blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning allegiance
    a : a member of a body of detached light troops making forays and harassing an enemy
    b : a member of a guerrilla band operating within enemy lines”

    As you see, it’s about MEMBERSHIP in the group. When your ideas take you outside that group, you are being anything but partisan.

    Yeah, I get it that you think consistent opposition to cutting and running from Iraq constituted “blind, unreasoning” adherence to a “cause,” but the preponderance of factors in this case point to the person holding that position being an apostate from the group in question.

    And if you do not accept that, please tell me what word you’d like me to use in the future for what you know good and well I mean when I say “partisan.” Because I grow tired of every time I use it, you saying, “This isn’t partisan, THAT’S partisan.”

    Seriously, you pick the word for blind adherence to the group and its dictates, and if I can do so without confusing everybody else who has not been a party (note that this is a different sense of “party”) to this debate, I’ll try to use it.

  10. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    Wait a second–here you go again, Brad! Just because I happen to sincerely believe in what the Democratic Party stands for, or at least believe it is more right than the Republican Party, and therefore vote for all Democrats doesn’t make me an ideologue. I do actually know who I’m voting for and the ramifications of the various positions–I just consistently agree with the (credible) Democrats. I did vote for Leighton Lord, based on personal knowledge and belief, and did not vote for Alvin Greene.
    Staking out the middle doesn’t make you more virtuous at all. Thinking things through after reasonable inquiry does (or does not).

    For example, I attended the University of South Carolina instead of Clemson because I studied English, which was and is a superior program at USC, and because I wanted to live in a city instead of another small town. I did not choose my school based on whether I was a “Gamecock” or a “Tiger.”

    I didn’t choose the family politics, either– Dad was until the past ten years or so, Republican, and Mom fairly apolitical. The Republican Party policies probably benefit me more personally as a wealthier person with a very conservative lifestyle. I just don’t believe they are just or will create the kind of society and community I want to live in.

  11. bud

    partisan” can refer to more than party. It can refer to the adherence to a person or group of persons to the point that you always take their part, without a “party” being involved.

    And also adherence to a particular cause no matter how illogical, irrational, dangerous or unpopular that cause is. And that was exactly what Joe Lieberman did. Partisanship means much more than adherence to political party doctrine. At least you’re willing to acknowledge that much. Hope springs eternal.

  12. bud

    I’ll call a truce on the whole definition of what a partisan is. Since it’s Brad’s blog I’ll accept his defintion for the purpose of participating here.

    But I still find it offensive to brand the people who voted for Ned Lamont ideologues. Sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand. And that’s where I draw mine.

Comments are closed.