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You are here: The Platypus Affiliated Society/To topple the Stalinist bureaucracy: Reconsidering Leon Trotsky’s The Revolution Betrayed

To topple the Stalinist bureaucracy: Reconsidering Leon Trotsky’s The Revolution Betrayed

Jason Dawsey

Platypus Review 112 | December 2018

In his still unrivalled 1930 History of the Russian Revolution, Leon Trotsky celebrated the type of Marxist revolutionaries who, under Vladimir Lenin’s leadership, carried out the October 1917 insurrection in Petrograd. “Bolshevism created the type of authentic revolutionist,” he recalled, “who subordinates to historic goals irreconcilable with contemporary society the conditions of his personal existence, his ideas, and his moral judgments. The necessary distance from bourgeois ideology was kept in the party by a vigilant irreconcilability whose inspirer was Lenin.”[1] Due to Lenin’s radical intransigence towards capitalist society, the “Bolshevik Party created not only a political but a moral medium of its own, independent of bourgeois social opinion and implacably opposed to it.”[2]  The shared disposition of “vigilant irreconcilability” enabled the astonishing comradeship between Trotsky and Lenin from 1917 forward that shook the world. After Lenin’s death in 1924 and Stalin’s consolidation of power three years later, the disastrous counterrevolutionary turn in the USSR forced Trotsky to adopt this stance to the homeland of Red October.

This essay is a brief reconsideration of The Revolution Betrayed, the 1936 book where Trotsky laid out, in the greatest detail, a revolutionary position against the Stalinist bureaucracy.[3] The last monograph he completed, the text is not only a signature work of the later Trotsky; it is also an absolutely vital work in the history of Marxist thought. In what follows, I want to revisit some of the key arguments concerning the kind of anti-Stalin revolution Trotsky envisioned.

The recent centenary of the beginning of the Russian Civil War, one of the important conflicts of the twentieth century, and the passing in September 2018 of the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Fourth International at Alfred Rosmer’s home outside of Paris provide occasion to examine Trotsky’s life and thought. As youth in Europe, North America, and China gravitate again toward Marxism alongside the ongoing “rediscovery of Karl Marx” in the scholarly world, the question must be asked whether Lenin, Trotsky, and the Bolshevik Revolution will receive a hearing in this moment of possible reconstitution for the Left.[4] Regrettably, it is reasonable to think they may not.

If we feel estranged from the revolutionary movements, parties, and unions that Trotsky took for granted, the lack of connection to them reflects on us, not on him. Careful scrutiny of his works and his political biography will not overcome this estrangement – our epoch is far too different from and more fundamentally counterrevolutionary than Trotsky’s – but will deepen our understanding of it. Perhaps intensive study of Trotsky’s oeuvre will also aid the contemporary Left in developing a historical consciousness of the Bolshevik Revolution, a consciousness similar to what the left-wing radicals of that time had of the Great French Revolution, 1848, the Paris Commune, and 1905, a historical outlook he had already imagined in his superb Results and Prospects (1906).[5]

Here I stress how Trotsky responded forcefully to the revolution’s precipitous degeneration. For those who know Trotsky’s writings and are versed in the history of Trotskyism, this essay does not promise any new findings. It is unabashedly “unoriginal” in that sense. Yet if it even prompts a few to pursue Trotsky’s oeuvre, I will judge it a success.

After the expulsion of Trotsky and his supporters in the Left Opposition from the Communist Party by Stalin in November 1927, following eighteen months of protracted struggle in alliance with Gregori Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev, he and his wife, Natalia Sedova, were deported to Alma Ata, in Kazakhstan, for a year. Then Stalin made the move to expel them from the Soviet Union. Their arrival in Istanbul in February 1929 began more than a decade of traversing a “planet without a visa,” to recall Trotsky’s own felicitous phrase.[6] For the first four years of his exile, all of it spent in Turkey, Trotsky hewed, though, to a stunningly cautious position regarding the Stalin regime.  Concerned about ensuring the survival of the workers’ state from internal and external enemies, Trotsky did not call for its overthrow. Rather, he stated, emphatically, that “our course is one of internal reform.”[7] The next month he reaffirmed this view, stating “radical reform of the party and of the revolution” is the goal of the Left Opposition.[8] These assertions reflected his sincere conviction that Stalin, while the “gravedigger of the revolution” as he denounced him in 1927, could be removed from power by working within the party. He thought similarly about the Stalinized Third or Communist International (Comintern), founded in Moscow in 1919 to coordinate revolutionary struggles around the world.  Even the recent debacle in China had not changed his mind. When the Comintern pressured the Communist Party of China to subordinate itself to Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists, Chiang took advantage of the situation and slaughtered thousands of communists in 1927.[9]   Clinging to this view in 1931, Trotsky wrote, “we declare that we are a faction of the party, a faction of the Comintern.”[10] A Soviet Thermidor, a disastrous reversal of revolutionary gains made possible by Stalin’s struggle against the Opposition, might still be stopped. He did not deviate from this view even as he watched from afar Stalin and his cohort take elements of the Opposition’s platform (industrialization, collectivization of agriculture) and implement them with horrendous brutality.

It took the triumph of Adolf Hitler in German politics in 1933 to compel Trotsky to alter his belief in the possibility of reform in the USSR.  The “social fascism” doctrine enforced by the Comintern during its “Third Period,” whereby Social Democrats were regarded as the greater threat to the workers’ movement than the Nazis, received the throttling from him it deserved.  He knew “the coming to power of the National Socialists would mean first of all the extermination of the flower of the German proletariat, the destruction of its organizations, the eradication of its belief in itself and in its future.”[11] In response, Trotsky implored the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) to form a united front with the reformist SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany), each keeping its own organizations, platforms, banners, etc. When Hitler did crush the mighty German Left in a matter of months, with scarcely a fight, Trotsky saw this world-historical catastrophe as definitive proof of the need for a fundamental rethinking of his perspective about how to remove Stalin and transform the Comintern.

This rethinking bore early fruit in “The Class Nature of the Soviet State,” published in October 1933 after he relocated to France. There Trotsky previewed many of the arguments, developed over the previous months, he would offer in greater depth three years later.[12]  While the essay is a rebuttal to Marxist critics, such as Hugo Urbahns, who declared the USSR a state-capitalist system, its relevance for us is how Trotsky seizes on a bold new political path for the opponents of the Stalin dictatorship.  Removing the bureaucracy through inner-party reform no longer appeared feasible to him. All party congresses since the Twelfth Congress of the Russian Communist Party in 1923, when Trotsky first asserted his criticisms of the petrification of party life, had been nothing but “bureaucratic parades” (WLT, 118). Constitutional measures, he recognized, could not succeed either.  The grip Stalin exerted on the Party and the Soviet state and, through the Comintern, over communist parties around the world meant that revolution was now necessary. If a new Marxist party came to wield power in Moscow, Trotsky imagined, “it would shuffle and purge the bureaucracy and place it under the control of the masses; it would transform all the administrative practices and inaugurate a series of capital reforms in the management of economy; but in no case would it have to undertake an overturn in the property relations, i.e., a new social revolution” (115). Although “the bureaucracy can be compelled to yield power into the hands of the proletarian vanguard only by force,” he elaborated, this would have more of a “police character” than anything resembling a civil war” (118). Trotsky finally took the steps pressing on him for years. He reiterated his demand for the formation of a new, fourth International, first made a few months earlier, and called for a new revolutionary party in the Soviet Union. This would be a party led by “Bolshevik-Leninists,” who would seek to win over the majority of the proletariat (120-122). This new orientation, marked by a “critical irreconcilability” toward “bureaucratic centrism,” shifted almost verbatim from the description of Lenin’s hostility to capitalism mentioned at the outset of this piece, formed the basis for the much lengthier critique in The Revolution Betrayed (122).

The Revolution Betrayed is a book so stamped by its own immediate historicity. Trotsky wrote it in the first half of 1936 in a tiny village northwest of Oslo, where he and Natalia rented two rooms in Wexhall, a villa owned by the Norwegian socialist journalist, Konrad Knudsen.[13]  In these beautiful surroundings, where he had lived officially since June 1935 as a guest of the ruling Labor Party, Trotsky distilled three years of strenuous, incisive political and theoretical reorientation. The work also reviewed the two decades that had passed since the Bolshevik Revolution with an eye to the latter’s degeneration. The Revolution Betrayed thus combines history, socio-economic analysis, disquisitions on Marxist theory, and political program with a subtlety that few besides Trotsky could manage, then or now. One can interpret the entire book as an elaboration and radicalization of Trotsky’s vital 1927 denunciation of Stalin as the “gravedigger” of the October Revolution.

For our purposes, then, two connected passages from the text demand immediate attention. The first is Trotsky’s pronouncement that “the old Bolshevik Party is dead, and no force will resurrect it” (TRB, 76).  In the second, he claimed: “The October Revolution has been betrayed by the ruling stratum, but not yet overthrown” (190). For Trotsky, the articulation of a critique of Stalinism grounded in Marxist theory merged with the conception of a “second supplementary revolution” against “bureaucratic absolutism” to salvage the accomplishments of 1917 (218). Theory and practice were always firmly linked with him.

Before moving to the discussion of this second revolution, some brief comments are in order about Trotsky’s notion of the Soviet bureaucracy. At the level of theory, The Revolution Betrayed is a great achievement in depicting Stalinism as a social system from a revolutionary Marxist standpoint.[14] The scathing, often mocking references to Stalin himself, Vyacheslav Molotov, Kliment Voroshilov, and Genrikh Yagoda do not flow out of personal rancor alone. This was not at all the story of the rivalry for power endemic to ruling classes. Rather, Stalin, Trotsky believed at this point, was the “personification of the bureaucracy” (209). Therefore, he sought to clarify for class-conscious workers and radical intellectuals what exactly was the Kremlin-directed administrative order and why it had to be brought down. His use of phrases like “privileged and commanding strata,” “uncontrolled caste alien to socialism,” and “ruling clique” is not a lapse into hairsplitting (15, 192, 206). On the contrary, the search for a precise lexicon of categorization indicates that the Soviet bureaucracy was not a ruling class in the traditional Marxist sense.

Undoubtedly, Trotsky’s was a traditional Marxism, which took forms of property and class relations as constitutive. Keeping this in mind, Trotsky’s essential argument against comrades who defined Stalinism as a form of state capitalism or some other form of ruling class was that no special forms of property could be associated with its predominance. On the contrary, the parasitic Soviet bureaucracy was “recruited, supplemented and renewed in the manner of an administrative hierarchy, independently of any special property relations of its own. The individual bureaucrat cannot transmit to his heirs his rights in the exploitation of the state apparatus. The bureaucracy enjoys its privileges under the form of an abuse of power” (186). Neither possessing stocks and bonds nor factories and farms, this caste depended on the expropriations of capitalists and landlords carried out during the Revolution and Civil War. Its ascent over Soviet society came about due to the decimation of the working class in the 1918-21 period and the subsequent isolation of the Bolshevik Revolution. This group administered a nation with socialized means of production, yet still marred by backwardness and stunted productive forces enduring in a menacing and chaotic international environment. Trotsky put this discrepancy at the heart of Soviet society under Stalin bluntly, so no one could miss it: “the basis of all relations is the contrast between a low level of productive forces, low even from a capitalist standpoint, and forms of property that are Socialist in principles. The new social relations are raising up the culture. But the inadequate culture is dragging the social forms down” (164). Taking advantage of this social reality, Stalin and his subordinates elevated themselves over the workers and peasants, hollowed out the party, transformed Marxism into the crude dogma of Marxism-Leninism, deployed the secret police at the first sign of dissent, and enjoyed a privileged and comfortable existence at the expense of everyone else. For Trotsky, it was this monstrous betrayal of the October Revolution that now required a “second supplementary revolution.” “No devil,” he said, “ever yet voluntarily cut off his own claws” (217).

In the third volume of his masterful biography of Trotsky, Isaac Deutscher detected a “pessimism, real and apparent, underlying The Revolution Betrayed.”[15]  Indeed, in the previous few years, the immense difficulties and many dead-ends building revolutionary organizations outside of the Stalinist and social-democratic parties Trotsky had encountered make Deutscher’s claim understandable.  Simone Weil, A.J. Muste, and Maria Reese were just some of those who passed in and out of the Trotskyist fold in the 1930s. Although he is often castigated as an ultra-sectarian, Trotsky worked tirelessly, and often in vain, not least in France, to prevent unnecessary splits among his supporters. According to Jean van Heijenoort, his longtime aide, this work in Western Europe took on more significance as Trotsky’s contacts with the dwindling Oppositionists in the Soviet Union dissipated in the spring of 1933.[16] Certainly, then, Deutscher’s recognition that The Revolution Betrayed exhibited a major shift in Trotsky’s perspective – that Thermidor had already happened in the USSR and a second world war loomed – cannot be overlooked.[17]

Nonetheless, The Revolution Betrayed showcased a continued confidence in the revolutionary potential of the European working classes. Some of this flowed from the militancy, deepened by years of struggle, ingrained in Trotsky. One of his finest traits, that militancy did and still does account for much of his appeal to leftists. It must be remembered as well that Trotsky went so far as to define Marxism as “saturated with the optimism of progress” and urged Marxists to remember “there is not the slightest scientific ground for setting any limit in advance to our technical, productive, and cultural possibilities” (35). Such progressivism sounds archaic to contemporary Marxist ears, trained by the history of the Show Trials, the Second World War, the Holocaust, and the atom bomb, but we should respond to it neither with condemnation nor smugness.

Trotsky’s incredible confidence flowed in fact from the impressive displays of militancy in Western Europe, in the waves of strikes and sit-ins that first gripped aircraft and auto factories in France in the spring of 1936 and echoed in Belgium.  That June, he told Victor Serge, the Left Oppositionist who had recently been expelled from the USSR after years of internal exile, he saw the “birth pangs of the French Revolution” in the hundreds of thousands of striking workers and thought Leon Blum and other figures in the Popular Front government in France “must be trembling before the advancing revolution.”[18]  Having followed the course of the Spanish Left since the end of the Primo de Rivera dictatorship in 1930 and the creation of the Second Republic the next year, he grew deeply frustrated with his erstwhile supporter, Andrés Nin, and with the POUM (Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification) for their coziness with the Popular Front government that came to power in Madrid in February 1936.  Only a few months before his exchange with Serge, Trotsky still believed, however, that in Spain “the profound ferment in the masses and the continual violent explosions demonstrate that the workers of town and country, as well as the poor peasants, deceived over and over again, are continually directing all their forces toward a revolutionary solution.”[19] This defiant, though not unfounded, optimism about proletarian radicalism led Trotsky in The Revolution Betrayed to determine that “the problems of the Soviet Union are now being decided on the Spanish Peninsula, in France, in Belgium” (218).

Whether an upswing in working-class revolutionism sparked an insurrection in the Soviet Union or not, the immediate question for Trotsky is how would such a revolution transpire? It would draw on, mobilize, and channel the tremendous anger against the bureaucracy built up in the workers, the “healthy plebeian hatred” of the peasants, and the discontent of young people (215). While Victor Serge thought a general strike, the tested method of insurrection in the Revolution of 1905, could bring the Stalin dictatorship down, Trotsky said little in print about the actual toppling of the bureaucracy.[20]  The lack of specifics likely reflected a wish to protect supporters still holding out in the Soviet Union. Perhaps what is most telling is what he did say in comments warning against terrorism. Among the youth, he feared that “the more impatient, hot-blooded, unbalanced, injured in their interest and feelings, are turning their thoughts in the direction of terrorist revenge” (125). Remaining steadfast to the Marxist critique of the assassinations perpetrated by Russian Populists, he equated individual terror with despair and reckless impatience with mass, working-class action. Terrorist acts would only serve as pretexts for even greater repression (216).  Otherwise, Trotsky did speak, rather vaguely, of acting rapidly and resolutely against the dictatorship to minimize bloodshed (217). Of course he naturally maintained that it was “the task of the Soviet section of the Fourth International,” an International still to be created, to lead the way in the overthrow (217). If this shows how shaky the ground Trotsky occupied in advancing these prognostications, one must not ignore how quickly he admitted the small and desperate condition of the Left Opposition (217). Yet the same had been true for the Bolsheviks during the First World War – and they made a revolution.

Trotsky chose to focus on what would take place after Stalin’s ouster.  This revolution he deemed inevitable, Trotsky made absolutely clear, would not alter property relations. Nationalized means of production, transportation, and communication would not change hands. Neither would the state’s monopoly on trade, the currency, and finance. “It is not a question this time,” Trotsky explained, “of changing the economic foundations of society, of replacing certain forms of property with other forms.  History has known elsewhere not only social revolutions which substituted the bourgeois for the feudal regime, but also political revolutions which, without destroying the economic foundations of society, swept out an old ruling upper crust (1830 and 1848 in France, February 1917 in Russia, etc.)” (217).  Terminating the “humiliating subjection to a caste of usurpers” would therefore have more in common with the era of bourgeois revolution than with 1917-23, the classic phase of Marxist revolutionism (215).  Vouchsafing the gains of the October Revolution for the toiling masses – state ownership and control over the country’s fields, forests, rivers, oil reserves, factories, mines, shipyards, railroads, utilities, banks, currency, and trade – Trotsky understood as the principal task for revolutionaries.  If it sounds at moments like he is greatly understating how radical the overthrow of the Stalinist caste would be, Trotsky did not deny that there would be significant transformation, only that the latter would not exceed the bounds of political revolution (217).

Instead of revolutionary measures targeting property relations, then, a post-Stalin Soviet government would implement an array of reforms. While Trotsky cautioned that “the program of the new revolution depends to a great extent upon the moment when it breaks out, upon the level which the country has then attained, and to a great degree upon the international situation,” he did identify certain essential aspects in the closing chapter of The Revolution Betrayed (218).  In the sphere of political institutions are where these proposals are the most startling – and vital for the present-day Left.

Trotsky adumbrated many of them with the language of “restoration” and “resurrection.” These would be political and social freedoms recreated once “soviet democracy” supplanted “bureaucratic autocracy” (218). What he included under the former reads like a riposte to anti-communists and Stalinists alike who shared a common identification of the bureaucracy with Marxism itself. A cynical interpretation might see Trotsky’s statement that “it is no longer a question of the ‘danger’ as it was twelve or thirteen years ago of a second party, but of its historic necessity as the sole power capable of further advancing the cause of the October Revolution” as saying the only new party allowed would be a Trotskyist party! (127) The Revolution Betrayed’s final pages preempt such cynicism. The proletariat was far from homogeneous. Differences over how to “go toward Socialism, with what tempo” should be able to find expression in different parties (202). To be sure, future free elections would be contests between “Soviet parties,” excluding organizations setting out to restore capitalism. A rejuvenated Communist Party would benefit most from this overturn (218).  Put simply, the dictatorship of the proletariat would not disappear but would encompass a far more diverse range of Socialist opinions, factions, and parties.

In some ways, this aspect of the “second supplementary revolution” was actually restorative.  By this, I mean that it recalled the short-lived Bolshevik-Left Social Revolutionary coalition government of the November 1917-March 1918 period. It also reconnected to the cooperation between Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, Left SRs and anarchists in soviets and factory committees in the immediate aftermath of the revolution.[21]

Trotsky called, too, for freedom of criticism, freedom of assembly, and a press free from the dictates of the government (218, 198). These old civic freedoms, already promised in Stalin’s fraud of a constitution, could be realized. Although both failed, Ernest Mandel, one of the most dedicated and thoughtful Trotskyists of the post-1945 period, argued that the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and the Prague Spring of 1968-69 demonstrated “what such a political revolution would be like.”[22]  While the degree to which these two events dovetailed with Trotsky’s vision is debatable, Mandel’s statement reminds us that the history of anti-Stalinism in Eastern Europe must not be divorced from The Revolution Betrayed.

What of the working class? Trade unions would find new life again, Trotsky contended (218). Piecework, one of the bureaucracy’s worst measures, would be liquidated (180). Trotsky also hinted of a seven-hour day for workers (61). With the remnants of Stalinism removed, the Soviet Union would deserve once more the moniker of a “workers’ state”

If we also take earlier, less programmatic sections of the book into account here, we see Trotsky opening other liberating possibilities for human beings in the USSR. Planning, so central to his conception of political economy, would continue, but with far greater mass participation combined with a realistic assessment and verification of proposals for their soundness (51). He also opposed thinking ready to embrace any sort of non-bureaucratic utopia. Bolshevik-Leninists could not dispense with bureaucracy altogether. Bureaucratic administration must have limits placed on it politically so that it would serve society, not raise itself over it (85).  Stalin’s ultra-reactionary policies on family and abortion, which had done so much to stymie the emancipation of Soviet women, would be abolished. “The genuinely socialist family, from which society will remove the daily vexation of unbearable and humiliating cares, will have no need of any regimentation, and the very idea of laws about abortion and divorce will sound no better within its walls than the recollection of houses of prostitution or human sacrifices,” Trotsky wrote (119). In science and the arts, the removal of censorship and state interference in research would permit a new flowering of discovery and creativity (146). Youth, in whom he placed so much hope, “will receive the opportunity to breathe freely, criticize, make mistakes, and grow up” (218).

Foreign policy would divert back to revolutionary internationalism. The Fourth International, Trotsky’s comments indicated, would reassume “the obligation to come to the help of liberative movements in other countries” the Soviet Union upheld before the predominance of the doctrine of “socialism in one country.”(146) Reclaiming the best of the legacy of Marx, Engels, Rosa Luxemburg, and Lenin, Trotsky, in The Revolution Betrayed, restored world revolution to its old place at the top of the political agenda for the Left.[23]

Trotsky wrapped up the book and mailed it to the publishers in the first week of August 1936, right before he heard news of the Trial of the Sixteen, among them Zinoviev and Kamenev. The physical elimination of a generation of revolutionaries was to follow. In a quickly added postscript, he maintained that the new work’s “indication of the historic logic of this ‘terrorist’ trial, and its advance exposure of the fact that its mystery is deliberate mystification, is so much the more significant” (3). The force of its argument, thus, did not depend on the monstrosity of the 1936-38 Show Trials to make a revolutionary Marxist case against Stalinism. Subsequently, he would once more modify his critique of Stalinism, giving much more prominence to Stalin the individual and hangman.

That fall, Norwegian authorities placed him under house arrest. Forced to relocate one final time, to Mexico, Trotsky would be assailed with every calumny the Stalin regime could unleash. During the Show Trials, the Soviet Union became the most dangerous place in the world for independent-minded Marxists, Trotskyists or otherwise, a truly incredible thing to say given the records of the Mussolini and Hitler dictatorships. As the world drifted toward “midnight in the century,” Trotsky championed his critique of Stalinism and his call for the Fourth International.[24]   He did so as Stalin’s agents closed in on his comrades and his family. What he left behind from these very dark years is a still unsurpassed Marxist analysis of the Stalinist bureaucracy and the vision of a very different Soviet Union from the one familiar to most of us. May works, like The Revolution Betrayed, inform a renascent historical consciousness on the Left when a new project of general human emancipation takes shape.| P

[1] Leon Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution, trans. Max Eastman (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2008), 739.  The Eastman translation first appeared as three volumes with the University of Michigan Press in 1932.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Leon Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed, trans. Max Eastman (Mineola: Dover, 2004). The Eastman translation first appeared in the United States with Doubleday, Doran & Company in 1937. All references here are to the Dover edition.

[4] Marcello Musto, “The Rediscovery of Karl Marx,” International Review of Social History 52, no. 3 (2007): 477-498.

[5] Leon Trotsky, Results and Prospects, in Trotsky, The Permanent Revolution & Results and Prospects, rev. ed., trans. John G. Wright and Brian Pearce (Seattle: Red Letter Press, 2010), Ch. 3.

[6] Leon Trotsky, My Life: Attempt at an Autobiography (Mineola: Dover, 2007), Ch. XLV. The book first appeared with C. Schribner’s Sons in 1930.

[7] Leon Trotsky, “Deportation from the Soviet Union,” in Writings of Leon Trotsky 1929, ed. George Breitman and Sarah Lovell, trans. George Saunders (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1975), 29.

[8] Leon Trotsky, “What is the Immediate Aim of Exiling Trotsky?” trans. Iain Fraser, in ibid., 60.

[9] For Trotsky’s extensive writings on the Chinese Left, see Leon Trotsky on China, ed. Les Evans and Russell Block (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1976).

[10] Leon Trotsky, “More on Soviets and the ‘Balkanization’ Argument,” in Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution 1931-39, ed. Naomi Allen and George Breitman (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1973), 195.

[11] Leon Trotsky, “Germany, the Key to the International Situation,” trans. Morris Lewitt, in The Struggle against Fascism in Germany, ed. George Breitman and Merry Maisel (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1971), 144.

[12] Leon Trotsky, “The Class Nature of the Soviet State,” in Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1933-34, ed. George Breitman and Bev Scott (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1972).

[13] See the fascinating detail about this period of the Trotsky’s life in Oddvar Høidal, Trotsky in Norway: Exile, 1935-1937 (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2013).

[14] For a detailed analysis, see Thomas Twiss, Trotsky and the Problem of Soviet Bureaucracy (Leiden: Brill, 2014).

[15] Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Outcast: Trotsky 1929-1940 (London: Verso, 2003), 258. The book was originally published in 1963.

[16] Jean van Heijenoort, With Trotsky in Exile: From Prinkipo to Coyoácan (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978), 38.

[17] Deutscher, The Prophet Outcast, 258-261.

[18] Leon Trotsky to Victor Serge, June 9, 1936, in The Serge-Trotsky Papers, ed. David Cotterill, trans. Maria Enzenberger (London: Pluto Press, 1994), 70.

[19] Leon Trotsky, “Tasks of the Fourth International in Spain,” in The Spanish Revolution, 259.

[20] Victor Serge, Russia Twenty Years After, ed. Susan Weissman, trans. Max Schachtman (Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press, 1996), 285. Serge’s book, which tracks the main arguments of The Revolution Betrayed very closely, first appeared with Hillman-Curl in 1937.

[21] For more on this, see Alexander Rabinowitch’s excellent The Bolsheviks in Power: The First Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008).

[22] Ernest Mandel, Trotsky: A Study in the Dynamic of His Thought (London: New Left Books, 1979), 87.

[23] This aspect of Trotsky’s thinking was taken up quite fruitfully by C.L.R. James in his World Revolution, 1917-1936: The Rise and Fall of the Communist International, ed. Christian Høgsbjerg (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017). The book originally appeared in 1937.

[24] The phrase is from Victor Serge’s superb 1939 novel about Left Oppositionists and other dissidents deported for their opposition to Stalin, Midnight in the Century, trans. Richard Greeman (New York: New York Review Books, 2015).