This thesis examines three aspects of Leon Trotsky (1879-1940). Chapter One analyses Trotsky’s most famous, and most written about, ‘theory of permanent revolution’. Defining theory as explanation, it is argued that one cannot talk of a specific ‘theory of permanent revolution’. Trotsky introduced laws of uneven and combined development, and it was these that acted as the explanation of the component parts of ‘permanent revolution’ - (i) the Russian proletariat could seize power before the Russian bourgeoisie; (ii) that once in command the Russian proletariat would introduce socialist measures; (iii) that world revolution would be necessary for full socialism to be constructed. This does not mean that the notion of ‘permanent revolution’ has to be abandoned. It can be retained, but as a political programme. Chapter Two presents a survey of post-Gorbachev Soviet interpretations of Leon Trotsky. The extent to which contemporary Soviet writings both remain within, and move away from, Stalinist historiography is illustrated. Four possible explanations for recent Soviet writings on Trotsky are examined: (i) as a product of glasnost applied to historical study; (ii) as a precursor to Trotsky’s rehabilitation in the CPSU; (iii) as part and parcel of perestroika’s attack on Stalinism and as an ideologial heritage upon which Gorbachev can draw; (iv) upon suppositions of harmlessness. Trotsky’s philosophy is the subject matter of Chapter Three. It is argued that Trotsky’s explicit philosophical writings fail, as exemplified by his attempt to illustrate the supremacy of dialectics over formal logic. Moreover, Trotsky utilized different methodological approaches at various times. Thus, the researcher attempting to locate Trotsky’s underlying philosophical assumptions is left in a maze of possible confusions.
Last updated: 15.2.2005