This week on Uncommon Knowledge, journalist Christopher Hitchens, sometime Trotskyist, and historian Robert Service, author of a forthcoming biography on Trotsky, discuss the man himself: Lev Davidovitch Bronstein, aka Leon Trotsky.
Second only to Lenin, Trotsky led the October revolution. Outmaneuvered by Stalin, he was exiled in 1929. For more than a decade, Trotsky devoted himself to producing essays and books in which he argued that, if only he and not Stalin had captured control of the country, the Soviet Union would have become the workers’ paradise the revolution had promised. In 1940, in his home in Mexico City, Trotsky was assassinated by an agent of the Stalin’s secret police who rammed an ice pick into his skull.
Trotsky led the Red Army that won the civil war, and he laid down many of the intellectual precepts of Communism that still had an impact as late as the nineteen-sixties. He was one of a half dozen of the most important Marxist revolutionaries.