Thursday, August 06, 2009

Hot to Trotsky

Just finished an account of Trotsky's last days in Mexico - leading up to his assassination by a Stalinist agent. The book is inappropriately titled "Stalin's Nemesis" (Stalin's Nemesis: The Exile and Murder of Leon Trotsky
by Bertrand M. Patenaude). Surely Stalin was Trotsky's nemesis? He wrested control of the party from him after Lenin's death, he banished him, wrote him out of the history of the Revolution, and eventually killed him. Anyway it's a diverting story with a potted history of Trotsky thrown in for the ignorant like myself. He had many admirable traits but he was inflexibly doctrinaire about Marxism. Stalin tailored it to suit his lust for power, but Trotsky was unbending in his adherence to dialectical materialism and his belief in the global nature of Marxism. He praised the Soviet invasion of Finland because it was spreading the revolution - when all reasonable people saw it as a land grab by Stalin. A lot of the book is taken up with descriptions of the elaborate security precautions taken by Trotsky to avoid assassination. In the end he was murdered by a friend of a friend who got close to him despite a dodgy French accent and a curious past - sloppy. Despite his lengthy marriage to Natalia he had an eye for a well-turned ankle. He had no qualms about bedding Frieda Kahlo despite Diego Rivera being his host and he had a go at her sister as well - but was rebuffed.