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Ice Pick that killed Trotsky found

Discussion in 'Communist Only' started by Laika, Sep 14, 2017.

  1. Laika

    Laika Well-Known Member
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    The ice axe used in the 1940 assassination of Leon Trotsky has been found. As a bit of background information: Trotsky was a major contributor to the events of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and was head of the Red Army during the Russian Civil War, only to lose in a power struggle with Stalin and be exiled from the USSR in 1929. As an active revolutionary figure with many accomplishments to his name, his theoretical contributions and differences with Stalin led to the development of Trotskyism as a international political movement with the founding of the Fourth International in 1938. Trotsky made his way to Mexico, then a centre of revolutionary activity, and was assassinated in August 1940 by being struck with an ice axe in the back of his head. As a movement Trotskyism has had limited success (particularly due to sectarian infighting), but was popular in Vietnam until its extermination by the (Pro-Stalin) Vietnamese Communist Party in 1945.

    The axe was stored in the Mexico City police evidence room until it was checked out by Alfredo Salas, a secret police officer who wanted to preserve it for posterity. It was passed down to his daughter, Ana Alicia, who kept the ice axe under her bed for 40 years and putting it on Sale in 2005. it was eventually bought by a US private collector, Keith Melton, and next year it will go on display at Washington's International Spy Museum.
    [​IMG]

    Bloodstained ice axe used to kill Trotsky emerges after decades in the shadows

    Here's a video about the assassination as seen by Trotsky's Grandson.



    Not exactly breaking news and probably pretty morbid, but still worth a share. Any Thoughts Comrades? :)

    **Please Note this is in the Communist Only Sub-forum**
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    #1 Laika, Sep 14, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
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  2. Rival

    Rival Noahide Fundamentalist
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    Give it here I'm not done.
     
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  3. Laika

    Laika Well-Known Member
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    So that's why I get those headaches?
     
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  4. Sartre

    Sartre Well-Known Member

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    Trotskyism in one line.
     
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  5. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    You are to be congratulated on a very well constructed OP.
     
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  6. Laika

    Laika Well-Known Member
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    There is much I could admire about Trotsky's career, his literary gifts and much of his theoretical ideas, but it is the fact that Trotskyists seem to be the absolute worst factionalists that puts me off. Intellectually, I prefer Marxism-Leninism particularly because of the way they tried to work out dialectical materialism as a systematic worldview behind it. It makes it easier to understand and defend as its about finding what piece to add on to a giant "puzzle", whereas I don't believe Trotsky/Trotskyism was ever able to come up with an equivalent. Its sad really as it is such a waste of effort.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Do you mean as opposed to Leninism? :D
     
  8. Laika

    Laika Well-Known Member
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    I've also never been able to sit down and watch "The Trotsky" film. Its in danger of capturing the embarrassment of my early years as a wannabe Communist and makes my flesh crawl. Oh god I was such a moron! :oops:

     
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  9. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Would you mind offering an example of the Stalinist Comintern "work[ing] out dialectical materialism as a systematic worldview"? I'd also be interested in reading your dialectical materialist critique of "permanent revolution" and, perhaps, Trotsky's The ABC of Materialist Dialectics.
     
  10. Laika

    Laika Well-Known Member
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    If you look at pretty much any academic discipline in the Soviet Union, you will find identical principles at work. I suspect that Socialist Realism in Art is based on Lenin's theory of reflection so the "art" reflects "reality" (which may be why the Soviets opposed Abstract Art). The efforts to apply Dialectical Materialism and Lenin's critique of "physical idealism" in Cosmology are fascinating, particularly in relation to trying to scientifically substantiate Soviet style Atheism. They also use the ideas of Pavlovian conditioning to substantiate a "dialectical" conception of human behaviour that is both determined by nature ("unconditioned reflexes") and nurture ("conditioned reflexes").

    Its the way in which everything has to obey roughly the same set of principles that is remarkable in its intellectual ambition. it collapses the distinction between intellectual disciplines and is pretty attractive if only because it can open up huge potential for combining disciplines or bringing different ideas together under a shared set of principles.

    I was only vaguely aware that Trotsky had actually written anything of the kind, so I will give it a read.

    At first glance, I would say that Stalin's 1938 "Dialectical and Historical Materialism" is much better organised as a text. This is one of those rare moments where I think Stalin's education in theology at the Orthodox Seminary was directly relevant to his ideas. It is an effort to codify and centralise Marxist doctrine into a set of standardised ideas that could then be applied to pretty much anything.

    That said, Trotsky is expressing many ideas common to Stalin's version of dialectical materialism given they share the same source (namely Lenin, Marx and Engels) such as rejecting free will. Although not in such a coherent way. The reason why I would treat Stalin's attempt as superior is that he has the reader in mind, and is deliberately trying to create something that is easy to learn and to repeat. Trotsky's one is a stream of thoughts which- whilst definitely Marxist- are much harder to systematise and therefore harder to reproduce in individual adherents.

    [edit: I do not have a specific rejection of Permanent Revolution and am wary of the Anti-Trotskyist sources because they incorporate fabricated charges from the Show Trials. However the one text that might be sufficient to give an "idea" of what a Stalin-type rejection may look like is in the link here. However it is probably still unfair to Trotsky and may distort his words (as Stalinist's typically do).]
     
  11. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    I'm confused. Was it an ice pick or an ice axe?
    They're very different things.
     
  12. Laika

    Laika Well-Known Member
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    Ice Axe. I wasn't aware there was a difference so my apologies.
     
  13. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    For a different opinion ...

    Trotsky's 'ABC of Materialist Dialectics' is a brilliant short explanation of Marxist philosophy. It was written as part of a defence of Marxism against a middle class revisionist tendency in the American Trotskyist movement in the late 1930s, which attempted to challenge its basic principles. As opposed to pragmatism and empiricism, Trotsky defended dialectical materialism as a richer, fuller, more comprehensive view of society and life in general. Reprinted in 1994 with a new introduction by Rob Sewell and a short addition summary of the basic points of dialectical materialism by John Pickard.

    Trotsky's 'ABC of Materialist Dialectics' is a brilliant short explanation of Marxist philosophy. It was written as part of a defence of Marxism against a middle class revisionist tendency in the American Trotskyist movement in the late 1930s, which attempted to challenge its basic principles. As opposed to pragmatism and empiricism, Trotsky defended dialectical materialism as a richer, fuller, more comprehensive view of society and life in general. Reprinted in 1994 with a new introduction by Rob Sewell and a short addition summary of the basic points of dialectical materialism by John Pickard.
    [ source ]
    Also of some interest might be Novack's Trotsky's Views On Dialectical Materialism. It is more chatty and biographical than theoretical, but I've always liked Novack (so note the bias).
     
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  14. Magus

    Magus Active Member

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    He was killed in Mexico ( Catholic Land ) by a Spaniard ( Mostly Catholics) and it was mostly Catholics that were Nazis.
     
  15. Sartre

    Sartre Well-Known Member

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    That's some very loose logic.

    Even based on your premises (which I don't really know enough about in order to confirm or deny,) it still doesn't add up.

    A is a catholic land.
    Trotsky was killed by someone from land B.
    A and B are both Catholic lands, so Catholics did it.
    It was mostly Catholics who were Nazis.

    You are making an assumption about the assassin's faith based on where he assassinated someone and where he was from. I do not believe it to be correct but it could be true.

    Then you make the claim most Nazi's where Catholics. I do not know if this is true or not (at the moment I am assuming not, but I will leave that out of this,) however, even if most Nazi's where Catholics, by no means were most Catholics affiliated with the Nazis.

    It's pretty much accepted history by even Stalin sympathizers, so I don't see much of a point in this post.
     
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  16. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    Stalinists killed him.
     
  17. Laika

    Laika Well-Known Member
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    Rob Sewell does a very good job of working with the material and I agree with pretty much everything John Pickard says. Both Stalin and Trotsky are working from the same source material (namely the works of Engels and Lenin) so there is consistency and overlap in the understanding of them. This is much like two sides of Christianity debating the text of the bible- it says the same thing but the interpretations may differ slightly based on who is saying it. There is much more in common than they differ.

    My knowledge of Dialectical Materialism comes mainly from a trilogy of books by Maurice Cornforth. Cornforth was one of the leading intellectuals of the original CPGB. The First book "Dialectical Materialism" and his second book "Historical Materialism" are very good. Again, its the way the ideas are organised more systematically that makes it very readable as reference material. These are probably some of the most used books on my book shelf because of how useful they are as a point of reference to understand the finer points of Marxist theory.

    It is Cornforth's third book however that really takes my breath away as every time I read it I find something new. He managed to compress a huge amount of ideas into maybe a little over 200 pages. I have a 1953 edition but I have a link to a PDF file from a 1971 reprint. I think he updated it as his views changed (as Cornforth turned against the Soviets eventually). The link is here and I hope you give it a read. I know you hate Stalinists guts, but think of it like reading a text on theology from the other side of arguments between Catholics vs protestants. it says the same thing but from a slightly different angle. They are still both Christians/Communists though and they agree on more than they differ. :D

    As Rob Sewell put it, "Over the past period, especially since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, there has been a systematic and vitriolic attack on the ideas of Marxism." I think the only reason I've held out so long against the "conventional wisdom" is due to how good Cornforth's books are and it has added years on to my interest in Marxism. I would not have been able to defend communism to myself or others without them. They have only really started to prove inadequate very recently because they don't explain what Communist Morality is, Why Marxism is a Science and How we know Marxism is true. Those questions are too advanced for that stuff.
     
  18. Laika

    Laika Well-Known Member
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    Almost missed this...

    I like Cornforth probably in the same way you like Novak at a guess. I am aware that the struggle against Pragmatism is a peculiar feature of American Marxism. I think the British Communists had similar issues with Positivism as Cornforth wrote a reply to Karl Poppers accusation that Marxism was a psuedo-Science.

    On this I agree with Trotsky (and it is also a very fair reflection of Lenin's views as well):

    The Narodnik terrorists, bomb in hand, used to argue: “Iskra [Lenin’s paper] wants to found a school of dialectic materialism while we want to overthrow tsarist autocracy — It is historical experience”, Trotsky observed with characteristic irony, “that the greatest revolution in all history was not led by the party which started out with bombs but by the party which started out with dialectic materialism.”

    Trotsky attached such great importance to the generalised theory incorporated in Marxist philosophy because of its utility in political practice. “The question of a correct philosophical doctrine, that is, a correct method of thought, is of decisive significance to a revolutionary party just as a good machine shop is of decisive significance to production”, he wrote.[5] Many of the now indispensable tools of thought for investigating and analysing reality were fabricated by the great philosophers before entering into common use. In dialectical materialism, he asserted, Marx and Engels forged the theoretical tools and weapons required by the workers in their struggle to get rid of the old order and build a new one.

    A while back it might have struck me as bizarre that Lenin spent the aftermath of the 1905 Russian revolution debating philosophy in Materialism and Empiro-criticism (1908) but it has made much more sense. Given how important it is to think clearly and to recognise the influence of religion on secular thought, it is important to be consistent in materialism and after Trump won I have found a need to get to grips with this philosophical problems rather than just surrender to defeatism.

    It is particularity difficult to be a Marxist now, as Marxism has its roots very much in 19th century thought (especially Darwinism) as a means to treat Social Science as equal to Natural Science. If human society is law governed, it would mean that the paragraph below could well be true. We can just as easily become the victims of history as much as its victors and Trotsky's story is very much a warning against complacency. In the Darwinian sense, History is a process of natural selection and it is often those who are strongest rather than those who are right who win.

    Trotsky is often severely condemned for “permitting” Stalin to outwit him in the contest for supremacy after Lenin’s death. Critics of this superficial stamp do not understand that the most intelligent individuals with the most correct ideas and strategy are necessarily subordinated to the historical tides of their time and to the prevailing relations of class forces. Power is not a personal possession which can be transported at will like any commodity from one owner to another.

    I have read James Burhnam's "Managerial Revolution" and Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom". They take different perspectives but reach very similar conclusions and it has been tempting to agree with them that the Soviet Union was a "class" society because of the weakness of my own philosophical ideas. I still think the debate between Trotsky and Stalin over the character of the USSR is an open question as if Socialism had been built in the USSR it should not have been able to collapse from within. The Stalin side of the argument is very weak here because it focuses on political factors rather than underlying economic causes of the Soviet's collapse (as you would expect Marxists would).

    I am also in agreement with Trotsky on this point too as I have favoured Freud/Wilhelm Reich over Pavlov, even if I can see the value of Pavlov's thinking. From the Soviet perspective Freud's ideas a threatening because it suggests that human behaviour cannot be "planned" or "engineered" quite so easily. It also raises serious questions about the knowledge of the self as introspection was considered mysticism in Soviet texts. It is one of those debates that rarely gets attention but is very relevant in updating Marxism in line with new scientific discoveries in psychology:

    Trotsky probed more deeply than any other Marxist thinker into the problems of materialist psychology. In the controversies that counterposed Pavlov’s school of conditioned reflexes to the Freudian school of depth analysis he took a third position. While he observed that their respective approaches to the formation of consciousness were different, he did not believe there was an insuperable materialist-idealist conflict between them, as the Stalinists have contended. Both Pavlov and Freud considered that physiology constituted the basis of the higher functions of thought. Trotsky compared Pavlov to a diver who descends to the bottom of the well of the human mind to inspect it from there upwards, while Freud stood above peering through the obscure and troubled waters of the psyche to discern what was at work within its depths.

    Trotsky was a great man and did much to advance the Russian Revolution. I started out as a Trotsky sympathiser, reading the Revolution Betrayed (I was 15/16 so I didn't understand all of it). It was really only the clarity of Cornforth's books that made me wonder if the Stalin side might have a point and it did bring me closer to understanding just how revolutionary Marxism was in attempting to transform not simply politics or economics, but the entirety of society based on dialectical materialism. I think, given the advantages of having the resources of the world communist movement, the Marxist-Leninists may have come up with better propaganda but its still debatable exactly who was in the right here.
     
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  19. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Predictably, I find the above troubling. You see Marxism attempting to build "the entirety of society based on dialectical materialism" while I see Stalin perpetrating a massive purge -- the Great Purge -- of Marxist-Leninists and promulgating a tsunami of lies to entrench his regime. The impact on the Soviet Union was devastating, and on Germany and Spain incalculable.

    From my perspective, seeking to normalize Stalin differs from attempts to normalize *Trump only in that the former is far more toxic.

    * This is somewhat addressed in the Slate article: In a Regime of Lies which, while far from a Marxist dissertation, is useful nonetheless.
     
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  20. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Back to the ice-pick ...

    There are a couple of interesting pieces of fiction that focus on the man wielding the weapon, Ramón Mercader:


    The latter, written by Cuban Leonardo Padura, is particularly good. It might surprise many to read that ...


    ... given Padura's sympathetic treatment of Trotsky and the POUM and his balanced treatment of Mercader.

    The book is reviewed here. It ends:

    Ms. Kushner’s rendering of the novel in English brilliantly demonstrates her loyalty to the author’s voice. She nudges the English to give it a Cuban tone, respectful of the brutal efficiency of Mr. Padura’s Spanish, while never sacrificing the lyrical flourishes with which he occasionally bedazzles his readers.​

    ... a reference to Anna Kushner who translated the work into English. Since I do not speak Spanish I am ill-prepared to judge the accuracy to the evaluation, but I do know that the resulting work was a great read.

    I look forward to reading Padura's The Heretic (also translated by Kushner) as soon as time permits.
     
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