Click on title to link to the Leon Trotsky Internet Archive's essay by Leon Trotsky, "Stalinism And Bolshevism".
A few weeks ago I was reading a small article in the local newspaper about a widely viewed televised contest in Russia to name the historically most popular figures in that country. Since the capitalist restoration in the early 1990’s I do not pay as much attention to Russia as I used to in the old days when defense of the Soviet Union was a live and pressing issue. I do pay attention to the egregious military maneuvers that the Russian Army throws against the various national liberation struggles of peoples imprisoned within its borders(and call for their self-determination) like Chechnya and Dagestan . That is a proper lead in to one of the surprising results of this contest. Holding down the number three position in this popularity contest is none other than the first Commissar of Nationalities in the first Soviet government and later sole dictator of the Soviet Union, Joseph V. Stalin. Number one was not so startling-Alexander Nevsky-in the nationalist scheme of things. Number two was- Stolypin, the butcher of the Revolution of 1905 and a so-called agrarian 'reformer' of the old school.
But back to the Stalin pick. This is curious. Stalin, more than any other leader in the post-Lenin period, almost single-handedly tried to erase the memory of the Russian revolution’s socialist potential from the minds of the Russian people. And in the process did an incredible amount of harm, that we are still paying for today when we could use a little such talk, to besmirch the central ideas of modern socialism-central planning and workers government- in the international workers movement. One can only speculate how bad things are in Russia for the average citizen when the name Stalin makes anyone’s popularity list. But here is another thought. For better or worst, and I think in the long haul for the better, maybe some people there are trying to make a statement that with all its problems the old Soviet system might have had something to commend it. That is an argument that the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, an arch-opponent of Mr. Stalin, might have appreciated in his long struggle to keep the fight against the Stalinist bureaucracy and the defense of the Soviet state separate. What do you think?