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Author Topic: If Trotsky won the power struggle  (Read 5556 times)
Miamiu1027
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« on: August 19, 2006, 05:58:25 pm »
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If Leon Trotsky defeated Joseph Stalin in the Soviet power struggle in the 1920's, would:

a) the Soviet Union have existed by 1940ish
b) the Axis powers have won World War II

Discuss.
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Michael Z
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« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2006, 06:54:31 pm »
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Ssshh! Be careful Cosmo Kramer doesn't catch you. I mean, you haven't outlined a realistic scenario where Trotsky won. Tsk, tsk.

In any case, it's quite likely Soviet Russia would have fallen to the Nazis in WW2. While Trotsky was arguably more benevolent than Stalin, it was precisely Stalin's psychotic ruthlessness that contributed to the Red Army turning the tide at the eastern Front. When the RA was defending Moscow, Stalin basically ordered anyone who refused to fight to be shot immediately. I doubt Trotsky would have done likewise. But then I guess that's neither here nor there.
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Miamiu1027
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« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2006, 07:52:18 pm »
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In any case, it's quite likely Soviet Russia would have fallen to the Nazis in WW2. While Trotsky was arguably more benevolent than Stalin, it was precisely Stalin's psychotic ruthlessness that contributed to the Red Army turning the tide at the eastern Front. When the RA was defending Moscow, Stalin basically ordered anyone who refused to fight to be shot immediately. I doubt Trotsky would have done likewise. But then I guess that's neither here nor there.

Your reasoning is represented by the Stalin quote "In the Soviet Army, it takes more courage for a man to retreat than to advance".  (Or something along those lines)  There is no doubt a great reason for the ultimate success of the Soviet Union in WWII was Stalin's method of handling the military.

But the main reason I feel Stalin prepared the USSR for war and the main reason they were able to defeat the Nazis was his rapid industrialization of the Soviet Union.  Under his watch the USSR went from an undeveloped agriculturally based society to a world manufacturing power.  Of course, this started under Lenin (the Lenin quote goes something like "Socialism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the entire country".  'Socialism' isn't the first word of that quote, a word which eludes me, but it shows that technologically advancing the USSR was a goal of the CPSU from the very beginning.)  Industrialization surely would have occured to a degree under Trotsky, but not anywhere close to what Stalin was able to create and I feel a Trotsky-led CCCP would have been little match for Nazi Germany, even despite the harsh conditions at Stalingrad and some help from the USA.

Of course assuming the USSR would have survived until 1940 under Trotsky, which I'm not so sure it would.
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« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2006, 10:05:41 pm »
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Well, I have to agree with the fact that Trotsky was not as evil or psychopathic as Stalin, Trotsky surely would not have been able to stop
Hitler. So maybe it was better for the U.S. that Stalin won the power struggle after all.
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« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2006, 05:52:57 pm »
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We have WWII against the soviets and cold war against the japanese.
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« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2006, 06:49:50 pm »
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One thing to consider, a negative towards Stalin: he purged many of the most experienced generals in the Soviet army prior to WWII.  That couldn't have helped the Soviets at all.
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« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2006, 07:57:22 pm »
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It would be us, the brits and all of europe against the soviets. and since trotsky wouldn't do forced draft industry...
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« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2006, 09:23:04 pm »

While the Soviet Union would likely have had somewhat less heavy industry, it would have otherwise been better off economically.  Also, Trotsky would likely have done more to support Republican Spain and probably would have stood by the defense pact with Czechoslovakia in 1938 had he been able to gain the cooperation of Poland.  In any event, there would have been no collusion with Hitler to divide Poland in 1939.  I don't think Hitler was crazy enough to have invaded Poland in 1939 if he had known that the Soviets would have supported Poland instead of stabbing it in the back.
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Miamiu1027
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« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2006, 08:51:22 pm »
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While the Soviet Union would likely have had somewhat less heavy industry, it would have otherwise been better off economically. 

Why do you feel this way?
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« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2006, 10:36:35 pm »

While the Soviet Union would likely have had somewhat less heavy industry, it would have otherwise been better off economically. 

Why do you feel this way?

For one thing, Trotsky was urging the end of War Communism and the start of something along the lines of the New Economic Policy a full year before Lenin was finally convinved of the need.  Trotsky's greater willingness to be pragmatic in economic affairs combined with at the minimum a less harsh introduction of collectivization than what occured with Stalin argues for a economy that would have more sensitivity to the provision of consumer goods than occurred under Stalin's rule.  Indeed, it's likely that had Trotsky won over Stalin that he would have been the Deng to Lenin's Mao and oriented the Soviet economy on market socialist lines.
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« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2006, 09:49:24 am »
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China's economy isn't market socialist its fascist.
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« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2006, 02:36:32 pm »

I'll agree that China currently has a large infusion of corporatism in its market socialist economy, much as the United States fuses capitalism with corporatism.
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« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2006, 03:24:47 pm »
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Ernest, I doubt that the USSR would have turned Democratic socialist under Trotsky (although it is possible, I suppose; he did lobby briefly at the 13th CPSU party conference for a potential multi-party system, and he was an early supported for a partial re-opening of the "grain market".)  But despite the claims of many Stalinists, he was not a capitalist and Trotskyism is the school of communist thought most loyal to the true ideals Marxism (in my opinion).

And if Trotsky had gone about with "less harsh introduction of collectivization than what occured with Stalin", would that really have been a good thing for the Soviet economy?  Under Stalin, soviet agricultural production increased exponentially from the end of the civil war.  And if they "had somewhat less heavy industry" under Trotsky than under Stalin, how could that have been good for a war effort spanning several years?
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« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2006, 03:49:20 pm »

I said market socialist, not democratic socialist.  As China shows, it is quite possible to have the former without the latter.  I do agree that Trotsky would not have been likely to support the corporatist elements in China's current economic system.

As for the other, I think that under Trotsky's probable policies, the Soviet Union would have had a better overall economy, thus the hit to heavy industry would not have been as severe in absolute terms as as it would have been as a percentage of the economy.  Furthermore, Trotsky would have done more to contain the Nazis earlier, thus not needing to worry about a multi-year war had war broken out in 1938 between Germany on the one hand and Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union on the other, Hitler loses even if Britain and France stay on the side line.  Even supporting Poland in 1939 along with Britain and France would have defeated Germany, altho in either situation I don't think the Hitler of 1938-1939 would have been crazy enough to have started such a war in either circumstance.
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« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2006, 11:00:38 pm »
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I can't agree with you on the point that Trotsky would have been better for the Soviet economy than Stalin.  Stalin transformed the CCCP from a rural, primary agricultural society in which millions went without electricity into a global industrial and manufacturing superpower.  And once collectivization was complete, agricultural production reached and surpassed Czarist levels.

Trotsky's foreign policy?  He was more open and supportive of the possibility of remaining in WWI than Lenin and other Soviets, as a means of furthering the worldwide revolution.  I find it likely he would have gone on the offensive in Europe, particularly in fascist Italy and Germany with global support, in order to spread the workers' revolution.  Assuming the USSR was a major world economic power with long-term stability under him, of course.
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« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2006, 11:45:59 pm »

Well, I don't buy into the Communist myth that only Stalin's collectivization could have modernized Russia.  The gains made in that period were impressive, but that's been the case for every other econmy that's progressed through that portion of modernization and few of them required collectivization and mass murder to do it.  A considerable flux of capital and a relatively low-corruption business environment that enables achievers to achieve and enjoy the rewards thereof are the primary requirements for an economic boom, and those can be achieved under a wide variety of economic systems.  With the fairly static economy and society of Czarist Russia swept away by the Revolution, pretty much any non-kleptocratic government would have enjoyed an economic boom.
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« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2006, 07:02:04 pm »
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A few considerations:

1. Trotsky coming to power in 1925? Easy - just make him slightly more interested in bureaucratic struggle within the party and more observable what is happening around him.  Trotsky was the most natural successor after Lenin died.  What prevented this from actually happening was nothing that a good, ruthelss and personally loyal chief of staff (present from about 1921) couldn't have remedied.

2. As of 1925 Stalin was considered a "conservative" within the party, Trotsky was far further to the left on economic policy. Stalin did not give any hints that he'd turn left until 1928 or even 1929, when he needed to dump Bukharin (the last remaining co-ruler).  Until that point, he was all in favor of NEP.  There is no reason to believe Trotsky wouldn't pursue a similar  industrialization program in the 1930s. Given that NEP was staggering by that time, probably, due to Communist inability to commit to defending property rights, most likely this would have been similarly statist undertaking. There is not even a clear indication that it would be any less ruthless - Trotsky wasn't a fan of soft methods, so a ten million dead peasants wouldn't have made him change a policy, though he might have possibly listened to reasonable technical advice on how to avoid famine. 

3. The main difference would have been in terms of the scale of urban terror: Trotsky wasn't paranoid, so he would not be as much into show trials and purges.  Also, being extremely personally popular within the military (and cognizant of the fact), Trotsky wouldn't need any purges there.  Any dissent would be ruthlessly suppressed, of course, but that would only require periodically executing a few hundred or thousand people here and there.  A couple of concentration camps, as in the 1920s, would suffice - no need for a large-scale GULAG. 

4. Culturally - think of a much better relationship with the intellectuals, no imposition of "sociallist realism", continued sponsorship of all thigs avant garde and revolutionary. Overall, very presentable face to the west.  On the other hand, nothing like Stalin's war-time and post-war rapproachment w/ the Church could have happened. The regime would have been very sincerely secular and anti-religious till the end of Trotsky's days.

5. Militarily - Trotsky was an extremely popular head of the army. He'd never need or want any purges in that sector and, hence, he would have a much better prepared army (because of Stalin's purges, at the time of the start of WWII some regiments were commanded by leutenants, 3 of the 5 top commanders - the best 3 - had been freshly executed).  Furthermore, not only he had a far better track record than Stalin in the civil war, he was also a lot better at following professional military advice.  By 1939 Soviet military machine would have been formidable - and headed by some very tallented generals.  With full due respect to Gen. Mannerheim, but even he might not have been able to save Finnland. Even though Hitler might have actually prefered to keep Poland as a buffer state in this scenario, Poland wouldn't be safe at all.  Western Europeans would no at all object German rearmament - it would be vital for their own defense.

6. Foreign policy: even stronger relationship with the foreign Communist parties, much more aggressive fostering of revolutions all over, much more aggressive stance towards neighbors in the 1930s (especiallly Balts, Poles, Finns).  High probability of periodic attempts at military take-over. On the other hand, possibly overall better relatioship with more moderate left - Trotsky wouldn't really hate Social-Democrats, though he might fight them. Under Trotsky you could actually see a KPD/SDP coalition in Germany.  Not much likelyhood of anything like Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, though, if Hitler were still to come to power - Trotsky neither would need it (he'd have a much readier army), nor would he be principless enough to sign it. In Spain, you'd actually see USSR declaring a war and going for the Republicans with full force (possibly even invading Germany, if needed).

Overall, it would be still a ruthless regime, but much more coherent ideologically. Think Fidel Castro, but even more sincerely Revolutionary and ideological.  I'd guess, in many respects it would be a tough opponent: for a Western leftist there would be a lot less to feel uneasy about, so the pro-Soviet left would be both larger and more radical.  On the other hand, continuous repression of all things nationalist/Russian/religious would have fostered a strong resentment within Russia itself, which might have become a serious weakness.
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« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2006, 07:12:45 pm »
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.  With the fairly static economy and society of Czarist Russia swept away by the Revolution, pretty much any non-kleptocratic government would have enjoyed an economic boom.

Actually, in its last decades Czarist Russia had anything but a static economy: it was rapidly developing, though from a meagre base. The revolution took away the main pre-condition for that development: independent courts, that had been established by the 1864? reform, were destroyed.  the 1864?-1917 period is the only time in Russian history of an actually functioning system of administering justice and enforcing property rights (subject, of course, to all the problems of a sclerotic bureacracy, still feudal land-owning, lack of basic education, impotent semi-elected legislature and a largely unconstrained autocracy). 

It's not enough for a government not to be cleptocratic - it would have to be able to commit not to "honestly" expropriate, and, given the fact that by the 1930s the Communists had no credible challegers, they also couldn't make such a commitment: nobody would believe them.
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« Reply #18 on: September 25, 2006, 06:32:52 pm »
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In any case, it's quite likely Soviet Russia would have fallen to the Nazis in WW2. While Trotsky was arguably more benevolent than Stalin, it was precisely Stalin's psychotic ruthlessness that contributed to the Red Army turning the tide at the eastern Front. When the RA was defending Moscow, Stalin basically ordered anyone who refused to fight to be shot immediately. I doubt Trotsky would have done likewise. But then I guess that's neither here nor there.

Your reasoning is represented by the Stalin quote "In the Soviet Army, it takes more courage for a man to retreat than to advance".  (Or something along those lines)  There is no doubt a great reason for the ultimate success of the Soviet Union in WWII was Stalin's method of handling the military.

I have just discovered a great document. It is a Civil War leaflet, containing extracts from Trotsky's orders against desertion (specifically, Orders No. 52 and 65 of the Chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council comrade Trotsky). This is for those who think Stalin invented ruthlessness. I quote:

"Against desertion, there should be a merciless fight. For obvious deserters there can be only one punishment: execution by shooting.

"All executions should be published in Army orders, with names, units, and, wherever possible, hometowns.

"1) Every scoundrel who incites retreat, desertion or not fulfilling an order will be shot.

"2) Every Red Army soldier who leaves his position without an order will be shot.

"3) Every soldier who drops his gun or sells any part of his uniform will be shot.

"4) Throughout the frontline area, as well as behind the lines there are special units catching deserters.  Every soldier who tries resisting these should be shot on the spot.
...

"6) Those guilty of cover up are subject to being shot.

"Death to those concerned about their own skin and traitors!

"Death to deserters!"

Trotsky
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« Reply #19 on: September 26, 2006, 03:32:04 pm »
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Wow. Now that's a bit... insane. Its surprising the commies won with such sh**tty tactics.
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« Reply #20 on: September 26, 2006, 11:08:36 pm »
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Wow. Now that's a bit... insane. Its surprising the commies won with such sh**tty tactics.

Aren't those exactly the methods that just a little while ago somebody here claimed helped Stalin defeat Hitler?  Actually, at least the first two of these points were lifted directly (aside from some verbiage) off the pre-revolutionary military code (and were not that dissimilar to military regulations in other countries at the time).
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« Reply #21 on: September 26, 2006, 11:33:25 pm »
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Imagine how scary a soviet union with a sane economic polciy and no purges would be to the west.
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« Reply #22 on: September 27, 2006, 09:00:15 am »
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Imagine how scary a soviet union with a sane economic polciy and no purges would be to the west.

It wouldn't have been scary at all - it wouldn't have been Soviet Union.
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« Reply #23 on: September 27, 2006, 03:22:14 pm »
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Imagine how scary a soviet union with a sane economic polciy and no purges would be to the west.

It wouldn't have been scary at all - it wouldn't have been Soviet Union.
By no purges I meant no military purges. The purges of dissidents would still happen. Basically imagine a more fearsome soviet union not held back by poor economic policies.
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