A series of polemics on Trotsky's role in the Communist movement, centering on repartee between Professor Krasso of the...


TROTSKY: The Great Debate Renewed

A series of polemics on Trotsky's role in the Communist movement, centering on repartee between Professor Krasso of the University of London and Fourth International Trotskyist leader Ernest Mandel, who both fail to go beyond traditional factional interpretations of Trotsky, repeating rather than renewing the debate ""that Stalin terminated so brutally."" Krasso implicitly defends Stalin by trying to rebut Trotsky on all major differences of policy and tactics separating the two, while Mandel's stance is marred by his overriding need to sanctify Trotsky as the apostolic successor of Lenin. The argumentation often regresses to pre-Deutscher levels of dogmatic assertion, as in Krasso's attempt to present Stalin as Lenin's legatee on the issue of socialism in one country: "". . . the expectation that successful revolutions were imminent in Europe was the voluntarist consequence of [Trotsky's] monism""; Lenin's anticipation of and active campaigning for such revolutions is simply ignored. Legitimate points of debate that remain unresolved, such as Trotsky's unsuccessful efforts to regenerate a viable International, are passed over by Krasso with metaphysical blitheness (""how lost and disoriented Trotsky was in the unfamiliar context of the West"") only to be outdone by Mandel's recitations of messianic faith (""the Fourth International is the only organization that embodies. . . living Leninism today""). The vituperative obloquy that characterized this debate in the past is replaced by a heavy crossfire of quote-slinging. This renders it all but incomprehensible except to those initiated into the hagiography and demonology associated with this period of Socialist history. Active guidance by an accessible introduction is required; not having received the introduction, we can only hope Krasso's efforts there transcend his contributions to the debate itself. The exchange, which also includes commentary by C. J. Arthur and Monty Johnstone, appeared in the British journal New Left Review four years ago.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 1971


Page Count: -

Publisher: New Critics Press-dist. by Dutton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1971