History,  Trots

Trotsky: A hero?

Last night  I attended a public meeting hosted by the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty “celebrating” the life of Leon Trotsky. I did not count the amount of people in the room where the meeting was held, but I would guess that about fifty people thought that it worthwhile to celebrate his life in such a manner.

Jill Mountford, on behalf of Workers’ Liberty, commenced the discussion for the panel. She was emphatic: Trotsky was not just “a hero of the working class,” he was also “a hero of his time” and even “a hero of our time.”

Personally, I prefer the view espoused by Ralph Raico of the Ludwig von Mises Institute (Emphasis added):

The fact is that Trotsky used his talents to take power in order to impose his willful dream — the abolition of the market, private property, and the bourgeoisie. His actions brought untold misery and death to his country….

He was a champion of thought-control, prison camps, and the firing squad for his opponents, and of forced labor for ordinary, nonbrilliant working people. He openly defended chattel slavery — which, even in our century, must surely put him into a quite select company.

He was an intellectual who never asked himself such a simple question as: “What reason do I have to believe that the economic condition of workers under socialism will be better than under capitalism?” To the last, he never permitted himself to glimpse the possibility that the bloody, bureaucratic tyranny over which Stalin presided might never have come into existence but for his own efforts.

A hero? Well, no thank you — I’ll find my own heroes somewhere else. A titan of the 20th century? In a sense, yes. At least Leon Trotsky shares with the other “titans” of our century this characteristic: it would have been better if he had never been born.