eBook The Prophet Armed: Trotsky 1879-1921 PDF/EPUB æ ↠ construyamos.co ↠

Few political figures of the twentieth century have aroused as much controversy as the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky Trotsky’s extraordinary life and extensive writings have left an indelible mark on revolutionary conscience; and yet there was at one time a danger that his name would disappear altogether from history Isaac Deutscher’s magisterial three volume biography was the first major publication to counter the powerful Stalinist propaganda machine and in this definitive work Trotsky emerges in his real stature as the most heroic and ultimately tragic character of the Russian revolutionThis first volume of the trilogy originally published in 1954 traces Trotsky’s political development his early activities the formation and crystallization of his distinctive and motivating idea—the permanent revolution— his long feud and final reconciliation with Lenin and Bolshevism and his role in the October insurrection of 1917 The volume ends in the year 1921 when Trotsky then at the climax of his power unwittingly sowed the seeds of his own defeat


10 thoughts on “The Prophet Armed: Trotsky 1879-1921

  1. says:

    In my adorable years of late teens and early twenties 'radicalism' some of my heroes cultural aesthetic political included Salvador Dalí Karen Finley Emma Goldman Marcel Duchamp Jean Paul Sartre Jean Luc Godard Woody Allen David Lynch Rosa Luxemburg Diamanda Galás Jacues Derrida Friedrich Nietzsche JD Salinger and Leon Trotsky The motliest of crews to say the least Each member of this pantheon although no longer gilded by the burnished and obscuring light of youth retains some measure of my affection either to a greater or lesser degree but no one has perhaps suffered a precipitous drop on the pop charts of my esteem than Leon Trotsky And deservedly so For the most part whatever lingers of his reputation as a champion of the oppressed relies upon comparisons to Stalin that paranoiac barbarian who elbowed him out of the Soviet Throne a comparison which in most cases except maybe with Hitler will always favor the non Stalin entity and also upon speculation or wishful thinking that he would have been a far palatable despot Admittedly Trostky makes for a much appealing intellectual icon than that swarthy unrefined not entirely evolved Georgian who seemed in many of his photographs to be on the cusp of a sinister smile a product of knowing perhaps that he had your entire family dispatched to the gulag that very morning over breakfast Trotsky meanwhile had the goatee the big poofy leonine hairdo and fuck yeah the pince nez When selecting an icon always go with the one wearing the pince nez as a rule of thumb As with everything Trotsky's appeal is only relative He's not so bad when you take what you know about him and draw up a color coded chart comparing him to Mao and Stalin and Hitler and Idi Amin Dada and so on But that's maybe because he never enjoyed the power they did He never even came close to it The Prophet Armed was the first volume of Isaac Deutscher's three volume biography of Leon Trotsky Since Deutscher liked Trotsky both politically and personally it's obviously a sympathetic account but never gives itself over to rapture or pure hagiography This edition published by Verso contains typographical errors than a reader should ever expect from a legitimate established publishing house In other words this editorial sloppiness is distracting and lends the impression if only subliminally that one is reading a bootleg or a spurious text


  2. says:

    I read this first volume of three of Isaac Deutscher's massive biography of Leon Trotsky for a discussion group on Russian history It turns out that seeing the Russian Revolution through the eyes of one man perhaps the most brilliant of the early Soviet leaders gave me a uniue perception of Russia's successes and failures in those critical early yearsCommunism started out or less as an international debating society with branches all over Europe It was only the proto revolution of 1905 that showed Trotsky and Lenin that the whole thing was possible What they didn't expect however was that the whole rest of the world did not march in lockstep with them They conducted their revolution in the middle of World War I while under attack by the Germans succeeded in an almost bloodless overthrow of Kerensky's Menshevik government then had to deal with several years of civil war against the White Russian forces of Denikin Kolchak and Wrangel not to mention an invasion of the Ukraine by the Polish At the end of this time Russia was in the middle of a famine industrial production was way down and something new had to be doneTrotsky was not only the major player in the October Revolution but founded the Red Army to combat the Poles and the Whites As Deutscher writesIt was his clear consistent and swift logic the logic of the great administrator that defeated Trotsky His mind fixed on his objective he rushed headlong into controversy impetuously produced arguments and generalizations and ignored the movement of opinion until he overreached himself and aroused angry resentment The self conscious administrator in him got the better of the sensitive political thinker and blinded him to the implications of his schemes What was only one of many facets in Trotsky's experimental thinking namely a monolithic state was to become Stalin's alpha and omegaThe first volume ends in 1921 as Trotsky was still in his prime but beginning to run into opposition from Stalin and othersOn a suib of the back cover of my edition Graham Greene states Surely this must be counted among the greatest biographies in the English language To which I might add that it is a sine ua non for understanding how communism emerged from a theory into a large and powerful state


  3. says:

    Very solid biography detailed than is perhaps necessary at times but it's so well organized that you can skim over some of the turgid debates knowing that you'll be able to find that debate should you ever need to which I hope you won't It's ultra intellectual in the sense that Trotsky's wife appears in about two sentences and otherwise we're just talking about the minute discussions that in some sense determined the disastrous course of the Russian transition from shit Tsarism to shit 'communism' It's also remarkably balanced I was expecting Trotsky to come off much better than he did frankly Deutscher gives us a man who came up with all sorts of horrible ideas before Lenin did but had the good fortune to lose the debate when his ideas were particularly noxious so Lenin could take the short term glory and long term hatred while Trotsky got all that love as the anti Stalin despite being totally proto Stalin but with a much much much better personality and brain and luck Weird stuff


  4. says:

    This is a book of big ideas and actions to match Once Big Ideas were the norm We've moved beyond that through the period of little lean and mean ideas to the time of No ideas Ideas have been replaced by positions supported by its mutant step child talking points and those usually appear fossilized Action we do have But unfortunately it comes from either Michael Bay or a droneBut this book is about a different time Big Ideas ruled and people could shape destinies armed with those ideas and yes of course they needed and wielded power But the passion and vision of Lenin Trotsky and others cannot be denied They created a dream of social and economic justice that has never been rivaled or realized That the dream vaporized before becoming reality is part of the fascination and wonder of it all Though Deutshcer sheds much light on the why They were after all human as we are The seeds sown resulted in a different crop yes They all had a hand in that tilling Could they have foresee Stalin's corruption of Ideal Brezhnev's bankruptcy of State? No but as a species we are remarkably un prescient about our futureIt's obvious that Deutscher has sympathy for the Marxian Idea and for Trotsky the revolutionary man of ideas and action But he doesn't let that color his criticism either If you are looking for a book of Trotsky bashing or Trotsky glorification search on as this is neither It is instead a well written even enthralling account of a time where grand ideas coupled with visionary leaders moved people to act Now it seems almost hopelessly uaint antiue a sepia pastiche of a far removed time and we are the weaker for it


  5. says:

    Revolutions are true as movements but false as regimes Merleau Ponty Adventures of the DialecticFirst this is not hagiography Plenty of liberal historians have written biographies of American presidents; for a Marxist to write one of Trotsky is no inherently biasedIn a little over a year the centenary of the October Revolution will be upon us comrades While the Soviet Union looks like a thoroughly discredited cause the significance of this event may still be up for grabs We have not yet reached the end of history and capitalism continues to produce conflict and crisis I come to Deutscher's biography as a leftist obviously I think that for the last 50 years or so the greatest publication in English has been Perry Anderson's New Left Review I'm no longer very active politically but when I do have political conversations I'm often surprised to find that on many issues my views are apparently well to the left of liberal consensusGranted I don't have much in the way of a positive alternative to the neoliberal world order Do such alternatives exist? Reading a biography of Trotsky may seem like a roundabout way to investigate this uestion but then my temperament was probably always too baroue to make a good activistThe crimes of the Bolshevism have been roundly and rightly denounced by people of all political persuasions However there have been those that have maintained that it didn't have to be that way That the horrors of Stalinism were the accident of one particular man coming to power; that if Trotsky had succeeded Lenin history would have been very different We might have an idea of Communism as something other than totalitarian terror Does the Trotskyist view have any real merit? I keep this uestion constantly in mind as I read Deutscher's biography After volume 1 I have to say the case for Trotksy does not look good As the original commissar of the Red Army he oversaw the first use of revolutionary terror He was the first strong advocate of the militarization of labor which later became the hallmark of Stalin's planned economy Indeed Stalin would take many of his most brutal policies directly from his chief political opponent The narrative of Stalin the tyrant versus Trotsky the heroic dissident often obscures this fact


  6. says:

    The other reviewers are right to call this biography hagiography Although since the Soviets kept such a tight lock on their historical information and one can never trust Stalin's press releases as genuine perhaps the limited information Deuscher had access to really did paint Trotsky in such a pristine light I'm dubious though The serious problem with this book is that Deutscher sets out on too many goals at once and thus fails to consummate any of them He tries to write a bio without being too in depth a history of the Russian revolution while assuming prior knowledge of his reader and a foray or two into philosophy and literary criticism There's no doubt the author is talented learned inuisitive and passionate about his subject However he should of stuck to one task at a time and perhaps published several books on these maters individually Reread Eh not so sure this is hagiography any


  7. says:

    Having had my eyes opened about US foreign policy by the invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965 and my study of the history of the war in Southeast Asia I joined the Young People's Socialist League the youth affiliate of the Socialist Party and Students for a Democratic Society by my junior year in high school I also made some older friends through the school's social science club most of whom knew a lot than I did and some of whom directed me to books about history political science economics and sociology which further opened my eyesThe most influential and admired of these friends was Ed His house became my second home his mother a member of Women Strike for Peace my second mother Our conversations weren't the usual bullshit gossip They were about books ideas history When Ed recommended a book I read it That's how I got turned on to Deutscher's three volume biography of Lev Davidovich Bronstein aka Leon Trotsky


  8. says:

    In Tari Ali's autobiography he recounts reading Deutscher's famous biography of Trotsky one weekend while laid up with the flu and it converting him into a trot and catalysing his joining the IMG Perhaps the other two volumes are inspirational but this one rather had the opposite effect on me


  9. says:

    For nearly all its existence since Lenin's death in 1924 Trotsky aka Lev Davidovich Bronstein was Satan in the Bolshevik's manichean view of the world Most of the purges of the 1930s were allegedly meant to cleanse Soviet society and its key institutions the Communist Party the unions the Red Army the intelligentsia of the Trotskyte taint that like some sort of Original Sin pervaded the proletarian dictatorship Stalin tried to erase Trotsky from the history of the Revolution He even erased Trotsky's physical attributes not just by killing him in 1940 half a world away but by obliterating his likeness wherever it might have been foundThis book published fifty years ago tried to counter the Stalinist plot against Trotsky by vindicating his key role in the 1905 and 1917 revolutions in the Civil War and in the establishment of the Red Army and the Soviet state The author partially succeeds Here we see Trotsky in all his glory as perhaps he would have liked to be remembered as a child prodigy who from humble rural beginnings uickly found his way in the world as a professional revolutionary as a brilliant polemist and orator who even as a young man was seen as worthy counterpart to Lenin and far above the rest of the Party as a good hearted man who tried to promote harmony within the Party and failed at it as a cultured civilized westernizer much appealing than the brutal Stalin who came straight from the log cabin of czarist barbarism He also came up with many good ideas such as Lenin's New Economic Policy Deutscher also gives us some of the darker sides to Trotsky's scintillating personna He was proud and haughty but brittle He was abusive to others often unnecessarily He often let abstractions and daydreams take the place of reality And he came up with many bad ideas such as War Communism and the Militarization of LaborBut given Deutscher's profile he was a Trotskyte the book is often a competent whitewash The author shares Trotsky's and the Bolshevik's worldview to a great extent and sees the October Revolution as a worthy action Mostly he takes Trotskyte and Bolshevik motives as justification for their actions He portrays opponents such as the White Guards and nationalist Ukrainians and Poles as illegitimate Nowhere does the awfulness of Soviet rule and the brutality of the Bolshevik leaders come through except perhaps in their remarkably abusive writings To find such bitchiness nowadays one would have to refer to the academic world where the nastiness is commensurate to the irrelevance of that which is being discussedAlso the book is often not very readable as history The author will often refer to future or past events in a single page without indication of the precise dates which makes this a hard book to read for someone not familiar with the October RevolutionHaving said this a good reason to read this book is that it is beautifully written and that the author really does get very close to his subject which is mostly a negative in that he lacks perspective but does bring the advantage of great liveliness which makes this a very good read This reminds me of Preston's life of General Franco Preston hated his subject and was unable utterly to develop any empathy with him so the book was fairly arid and not insightful Deutscher has the opposite defect he gets too close as perhaps does Nicholas Farrell to Mussolini The ideal would be like Kershaw's Hitler or Short's Mao far enough to look the monster in the eye but not close enough to kiss himAt this book's end Trotsky is at the apex of his power from which he would begin to slip during Lenin's final year But this is better left to volume II which I also hope to reviewSo read the book but don't take Deutscher at his word Complement this with Volkogonov's Trotsky And with Trotsky's own voluminous writings which are often very amusing particularly his biography of Stalin


  10. says:

    This book is pretty effing incredible It's a lot than a biography Deutscher presents the political events of the era and the theory that Trotsky grappled with and developed in some pretty rich detail Trotsky's life is the stuff of high drama The social events of the time and place are inspiring And Deutscher writes brilliantly Boy if this kind of history was taught in school