Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The “If only” school

Its tough being a Commie because the most famous instantiation of your philosophy, the Soviet Union, produced the Show Trials, Gulag, and Berlin Wall. You’re not going to win any popularity contests that way.

Consequently, the Red strategy is to argue that Stalin’s Russia was a distortion of Marxist-Leninism. “If only,” they say, “Trotsky had been in charge, then we would have seen the humane face of Communism.” The thuggish Stalin had the sophisticated Trotsky killed so the true teaching was never implemented.

Robert Service and Christopher Hitchens look into this claim on Uncommon Knowledge. Service argues that Trotsky would have been more aggressive than Stalin in pushing Communism globally. For Trotsky, the Cold War would have heated up as he would have disposed of the proxies and just invaded the countries directly. The topic is an interesting one because it bears upon the question of whether Communism should be taken seriously as an option today. And Chavez seems to be persuading many Latin Americans that it is viable as they “lurch to the left.”

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