Trotsky, Leon

Trotsky, Leon [Троцкий, Лев; Trockij, Lev] (pseud of Lev Bronshtein), b 7 November 1879 in Yanivka, Yelysavethrad county, Kherson gubernia, d 20 August 1940 in Coyoacán, near Mexico City. Russian revolutionary, Soviet political leader, and publicist. In March 1918 he was appointed people's commissar for war and chairman of the Supreme War Council and played the leading role in organizing the Red Army into a regular, professional force. A member of the Bolshevik government, he opposed the Ukrainian National Republic. As a theoretician Trotsky is best known for his theory of permanent revolution and his criticism of Joseph Stalin's theory of socialism. His Revolution Betrayed (1937) is one of the first Marxist analyses of the nature of Stalinism.

Trotsky was unpopular in Ukraine because in 1917–20 he had commanded the alien Red Army and had organized the Red Terror. His calls for the militarization of labor in 1920–1 and for higher taxation of the peasantry to finance industrialization diminished his popularity even further. In the 1920s and 1930s Joseph Stalin unleashed a campaign against Trotsky and his Left Opposition within the Communist Party. Trotsky was expelled from the Party in November 1927, then exiled to Alma Ata, and finally deported from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1929. After the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 Trotsky called for the formation of an independent soviet socialist Ukraine. Tens of thousands of people accused of Trotskyism were executed or sent to the labor camps.

Outside the Ukrainian SSR Trotsky's Ukrainian following was limited to a small number of revolutionary socialist intellectuals in Galicia and to a small faction of Ukrainian-Canadian Communists, who published the newspaper Robitnychi visty (1933–8) and Ukrainian translations of several of Trotsky's works. In the 1970s some Ukrainian students in the West, particularly in Canada, were attracted to the ideas of the Left Opposition and contributed articles about Ukraine to various Trotskyist publications. An Italian Trotskyist publishing house translated Ivan Dziuba's Internationalism or Russification?

Trotsky, L. For a Free Independent Soviet Ukraine (Toronto nd)
Trots’kyi, L. SRSR i IV internatsional: Kliasova pryroda radians'koï derzhavy (Toronto 1934)

Heorhii Kasianov, Bohdan Krawchenko

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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