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Trotskyism Explained

Trotskyism is the Marxist ideology based on the theory of permanent revolution first expounded by Leon Trotsky, the Russian communist leader who believed in the idea of a global proletarian revolution. One of the more radical beliefs of Trotsky was that working class should hold more significance than revolutionary class because of their unity and heavy influence and contribution to the economic and social structures that ideal socialism demanded.

He believed that because all national economic development was affected by the laws of the world market, a revolution depended on revolutions in other countries for permanent success, a position that put him at odds with Joseph Stalin’s “socialism in one country.” He considered himself to be an orthodox Marxist Leninist, arguing for the establishment of a vanguard party which would use any means necessary to impose socialism. Trotsky advocated what he called "permanent revolution" rather than building the Soviet Union as an industrialized military state capable of withstanding the forces of international capitalism. Permanent revolution is the strategy of a revolutionary class pursuing its own interests independently and without compromise or alliance with opposing sections of society.

This stands as explanation of how socialist revolutions could occur in societies that had not achieved advanced capitalism. He believed that the socialist state could not hold out against the pressures of a hostile capitalist world unless other revolutions quickly took hold in other countries as well. He therefore opposed Stalin's policy of building up the Soviet Union as a bulwark against capitalism and urged that more of its resources be used to foment Marxist Leninist revolutions throughout the world.

How did Trotskyism originate?

The feud where Trotsky called the Soviet Union a degenerated worker state and the Bolshevik party calling him a counter-revolutionary probably originated from a strategically difference in the 1920s the Bolshevik Party wanted entrenchment, while Trotsky wanted to spread the revolution to all of Europe.During and after the Russian revolution, Leon Trotsky grew increasingly powerful within the Bolshevik party eventually becoming the commander of Red Army in early 1920s the belief in a global revolution of Trotsky versus the belief of nationalistic socialism of Stalin tore the Bolshevik party.

Rifts with Stalinism

After his exile in 1929, Trotskyists continued to attack the soviet bureaucracy as “bonapartist”. In the 1930s they advocated a united front with trade unions against fascism. After Trotsky’s murder in 1940, Trotskyism became a generic term for various revolutionary doctrines that opposed the soviet form of communism. Trotsky inspired followers around the world and they still survive to this day on the fringes of British politics. Epigones of Trotskyism often criticise socialism in the USSR.


Trotsky remains a central figure of the twentieth century, intellectually, politically, and as a revolutionary despite being criticised by communists that uphold for a methodology which is neither metaphysical nor idealist, but rather materialist, dialectical and historical.

Author : Risika Singh

Co - Authors : Uddheshya Agrawal & Aadi Sardesai

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