Between the Power and the Dream
Publisher: Against the Current
Date Written: 01/09/2015
Year Published: 2015
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21289
Book review of Paul Le Blanc's Leon Trotsky.
Trotskyologists are a peculiar species. The journey from "True Disciple of the Old Man" to outright political nutter - sometimes on the Left, sometimes on the Right - is far from unknown. There are also certain academic specialists and journalists who are professionally anti-radical, selectively focusing on the "scandalous" elements of Trotsky's record in the manner of a drunk using a lamppost; for support, not illumination.
Alternatively, there is a danger in composing books and essays from too deep inside a Trotskyist echo-chamber; the result can be Trotskyists writing for each other with fill-in-the-blanks predictability about correct programs, principled politics, betrayers, renegades, centrists and so on. The most appalling cases give the impression of Lear on the heath, ranting to an audience of one.
Le Blanc, however, is simpatico to Trotsky yet an even-handed guide through the thicket of elusive, shape-shifting enigmas that mold, limit and challenge the human experience. While I'm hesitant to say that Le Blanc delivers any earth-shaking new evaluations, he offers a fresh perspective and judicious sense of objectivity that opens the door to a renewed engagement with select ideas that will especially appeal to present-day activists.