Biography & Autobiography, Book Reviews, Charles, Communism, Eastern European History, European History, Left-Liberalism, Political Discussion & Analysis
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Trotsky: A Biography (Robert Service)

I continue to be fascinated by the Bolshevik Revolution, because in its success there are many lessons.  Unbiased history and biography of the Bolsheviks is a relatively recent phenomenon; prior to 1991, a combination of lack of primary materials and philo-Communism among Western historians meant very few objective books were published.  Since 1991, though, the balance has shifted, even if plenty of Communist-loving propaganda is still published by major historians, because the global Left has always, and continues to, fully support the goals and methods of Communism.  They mostly just keep it a bit more quiet in public than they used to.

British historian Robert Service is not one of those, though.  He has made a career of dispassionately analyzing Communists and Communism, including writing biographies of Lenin and Stalin.  His reward for this is to be regularly attacked by Communists and their allies, and those attacks reached a fever pitch upon the publication of Trotsky in 2009.  This because for a hundred years the fiction that Trotsky was the conscience of the Russian Revolution, the man who would have implemented “real Communism” leading to the workers’ utopia, has been maintained with a straight face by a great many influential people all around the world.  He is second only to the loathsome “Che” Guevara as the object of idolatry by the modern Left.  Thus, since Service shows definitively that Trotsky was just as much an evil killer as Stalin or Lenin, philo-Communists were not pleased, and attempted to, among other things, suppress publication and dissemination of his book.  They were not successful, though of course the point of such suppressions is not to succeed against people like Service, but to warn the less established that they must toe the line.

Service has much appreciation for Trotsky’s virtues, however.  He was brilliant, an outstanding writer and polemicist, decisive, and personally brave.  He lost the competition to succeed Lenin because of his limitations—inability to build coalitions, ability to make enemies, and failure to see where events were leading.  Trotsky inspired loyalty in those who followed him, and hatred in those he opposed.  Unfortunately for him, over the decades the former group shrank in size, and the latter grew, until he was assassinated in 1940 in Mexico City.  Perhaps indicative of the mental hold he had over others, the last words (in 1978) of Ramón Mercader, his assassin, were “I hear it always. I hear the scream. I know he’s waiting for me on the other side. ’ ”

Trotsky was born Leiba Bronstein, in southern Ukraine, in 1879.  His father was what was later called a kulak; his grandfather was an agricultural colonist who came south as part of the plans of Alexander I to make the lands near the Black Sea more productive, mostly be resettling Jews.  At age eight Bronstein was sent to a state school in Odessa.  At age sixteen, he fell in with bad company and became a Marxist true believer, mostly only in the discussion circle sense.  Doubtless, like other politically active sixteen-year-olds, what he had to say was very tedious.  His little group, aiming at higher ambitions, had no trouble raising money to cause trouble for the authorities; Service notes that they “set about gathering money from sympathizers:  this was normal procedure at the time since not a few wealthy citizens either disliked the Imperial political order or wanted to defend themselves against being associated with it in any future revolutionary situation.”  Their activities consisted of writing and disseminating revolutionary propaganda; Bronstein quickly discovered the genius for writing and polemic that set him apart for his entire life.  But in 1898, when he was nineteen, Bronstein and all the other members of his group were arrested for revolutionary agitation.

Unlike under later, ideological, regimes, this didn’t mean all that much to a young man.  In fact, such an arrest enhanced his reputation among his peers.  After some time in a comfortable jail, during which he got married to another revolutionary from his group, Bronstein was sentenced to four years in “administrative exile”—i.e., he was sent to a village in Siberia, a stock Tsarist punishment.  There he was free to do as he pleased.  But rather than serve out his sentence with his wife and, soon enough, two babies, he learned of Vladimir Lenin’s publication in Germany of a new underground newspaper, Iskra (“Spark”).  He wanted in; he wanted to be relevant; he was nothing if not vain and self-centered; therefore he assumed (correctly, as it turned out) that he was critical to this movement.  So he “escaped” in 1902, abandoning his wife, and went to Geneva, where some of the Iskra board members lived.  Lenin, however, was in London, where the real action was at, so off Bronstein went, changing his name to Trotsky for good measure, and soon taking up with Natalya Sedova, who was his partner for the rest of his life.

At this time, there were many Marxist groups, cutting across borders, and few clear lines.  Trotsky sometimes lined up with Lenin, sometimes not, and vicious political arguments, in print and in person, were the norm among all Marxists.  Lenin and Iskra were important, but by no means dominant.  In 1903 the main Russian group, the Russian Social-Democratic Workers’ Party, split into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, with Lenin leading the former.  Trotsky was neither (after briefly being a Menshevik).  Among other things, Trotsky soon enough was accusing Lenin of Jacobinism, as opposed to truly representing the proletariat.  But in 1906 Trotsky (along with many other leaders of the new St. Petersburg “Soviet”) was arrested again, and sentenced to more Siberian exile.  Naturally, he escaped on the way, and went back to London, but quickly moved to Vienna, where he stayed until the war began.

Trotsky was prominent in Marxist revolutionary circles, but not dominant.  He was not a member of, much less a leader of, any faction.  Unlike Lenin, he tried to be a uniter, not a divider (a task hampered by his vanity and arrogance; he was always happy to let everyone know who the smartest person in the room was).  Unsuccessful at being elected to party leadership,  he set out to write his way to relevance, through books and magazines, but mostly through writing in the new newspaper Pravda.  That newspaper is remember by those who lived through the 1980s as the punch line to a bad joke, but at this time was highly influential.

World War I upset the apple cart.  It reshuffled the position of all the Marxists; some, like Lenin, resolutely advocated Russian defeat as the most likely route to civil war and the worker’s revolution.  Others abandoned Marxism.  Trotsky held steadfast in his belief in proletarian revolution, trying to hold all the threads together, and participating in the 1915 Zimmerwald Conference, pushing a successful “moderate” line that ultimately Lenin temporarily endorsed.  The French quickly tired of Trotsky, who had moved to France as a magazine correspondent, and deported him to Spain, and the Spanish deported him to New York, where he proceeded to agitate some more.  But in 1917 the February Revolution overthrew Nicholas II, and Trotsky hurried back to Russia.

The events following are expertly covered by Sean McMeekin’s excellent recent The Russian Revolution, in a much more interesting fashion than Service.  The Bolsheviks were not shot out of hand by the Kerensky government, as they should have been, and they managed to seize power.  This was due in large part to Trotsky’s skill; Service quotes him as describing his approach, “The attacking side is almost always interested in seeming on the defensive.  A revolutionary party is interested in legal coverings.”  His tactical skill, along with his oratory and writings, were critical components of Bolshevik success.  Upon taking power, they, with Trotsky’s leadership and full approval, immediately began a reign of bloody terror that within a few weeks dwarfed the past century of Tsarist political repression.  In the Civil War, Trotsky, despite no military background, took command of the Red Army with considerable success, considerable bravery, and considerable brutality.  Trotsky was in favor of the Civil War, like Lenin, because it gave them the best chance to exterminate as many enemies of the Revolution as possible, a chance they took every advantage of.

After the Bolsheviks won the Civil War, though, Trotsky’s political position began to erode. He had made a lot of enemies, and many Bolsheviks were worried that Trotsky fancied himself the Russian Napoleon, and would try to become him after Lenin’s death.  (No doubt his obsessive need to win at games, like Napoleon, contributed to that view.)  Internal disputes grew among the victors, revolving around such matters as how independent trade unions should be (Trotsky thought not independent at all, since the state now fully represented the workers).  Still, Bolshevik consolidation of power through terror continued, with Trotsky leading the charge, openly endorsing terror and killing (something his supporters have tried to hide or downplay for decades), while manipulating Western governments into recognizing and funding the new Communist regime, and attacking the Russian Orthodox Church.

Soon enough, Trotsky’s main competitor for second-most-important, after Lenin, became Stalin, who while not as smart, was more clever and more politically astute.  Most importantly, all Stalin wanted was to be in charge, while Trotsky was happy to be an important man in a working power structure.  Gradually Trotsky was edged from power, forming an informal “left opposition,” and watching his influence slip away.  This process really accelerated when Lenin became disabled and then died; towards the end, as Stalin tightened his grip, Trotsky still retained his famous rapier wit:  “At one meeting addressed by Trotsky a zealous official switched off the lights.  Trotsky declared: ‘Lenin said that socialism was the soviets plus electrification.  Stalin has already suppressed the soviets, now it’s the turn of the electricity.’ ”

But the end came—Trotsky was internally exiled, then deported to Turkey.  From there, he went to Mexico, still trying to breathe life into the dying ashes of his international influence.  He created the Fourth International, which modern Trotskyists like to think is relevant, and corresponded with various people.  He wrote books, in part for money, but mostly to get out his point of view, often glossing over inconvenient parts of his past.  But his influence inside the Soviet Union was zero, and his entire family remaining in Russia (including his first wife) were killed (one of his two sons was died in France after an operation, probably assassinated).  He therefore outlived all his four children.  Trotsky also amused himself by having an affair with that nasty piece of work, ugly Stalinist painter of ugly paintings Frida Kahlo, who was the wife of the artist Diego Rivera, in whose house Trotsky found refuge for a time (along with his partner, Natalya).  Trotsky never lost faith in Communism; he just thought Stalin had perverted it and made it tyrannically bureaucratic, but that the Soviet Union was still a shining beacon, and capitalism (meaning the West) was doomed (which it is, or probably is, but not for the reasons Trotsky thought, which are obviously laughable at this remove, although to be fair between the Great Depression and the World Wars the argument was a bit stronger then).

Trotsky was tried in absentia by Stalin and sentenced to death.  Western intellectuals and Communist fellow travelers of the time (but I repeat myself) took the verdict as valid, and believed, for the most part, that Trotsky was indeed a betrayer of the Revolution.  He still had some supporters, but a lot more enemies, and plenty of those on the Right, too, obviously.  After a botched attempt by a group of Mexican Communists, Stalin succeeded in getting Mercader into Trotsky’s guarded compound, taking advantage of Trotsky’s refusal to believe that bad people were everywhere out to get him, whereupon Mercader bashed his head in with an ice axe.

Trotsky has had an earthly afterlife, not because of his genius, but because the Communist delusion needed something to coalesce around after the myriad unparalleled crimes of actual, in-practice, Communism were revealed.  Thus, starting in the 1960s, significant segments of the international Left have claimed to be inspired by, or followers of, Trotsky, although given that his works were neither original nor comprehensive nor coherent, this says more about his “followers” than it does about Trotsky.  In Russia, of course, he has no relevance at all—as Service puts it in one of his few non-pedestrian writing passages, there he is “an antiquarian curiosity, something to be discussed along with Fabergé eggs, Ivan the Terrible or peasant weaving patterns.”  (My sole complaint about this book is the writing style, which is very plain and very choppy.  Perhaps this is a taste thing, since it’s Hemingway-esque, if less descriptive in tone, and I think Hemingway is grossly overrated.  Maybe Service thinks the opposite.  But short sentence follows short sentence, endlessly, and no flow ever develops, so the reader has to plow through the paragraphs, like an icebreaker through Arctic ice.  The facts are all there, but it’s only a small step from plain and choppy to bullet points.  Still, one can communicate through bullet points, so I suppose this is not a fatal problem, just an irritating one.)

The author does not obsess about Trotsky being Jewish, but he does not ignore it.  The fact was central to Trotsky’s life:  in his youth as an orthodox Jew, and from his teen years on as an atheist Jew, his Jewishness played a significant role in his decision-making.  Part of this was that he sometimes resonated with other Jews, given the common background, but most of it was more meta than that—it was not his Jewishness, but his awareness of other people’s awareness of his Jewishness.  Thus, he hesitated to take too prominent a role in certain situations, knowing that the Revolution might not benefit from an increase in anti-Jewish sentiment.  And there was plenty of that, Trotsky or not, in part because the Bolsheviks’ enemies used any criticism at hand, and in part because there were, in fact, lots of Jews among the Bolsheviks, something that was used quite a bit against Jews in later decades.  Service quotes the classic formulation of the impact, from Jacob Maze, Chief Rabbi of Moscow, “Trotsky makes the revolutions, and the Bronsteins pay the bills.”

I learned quite a lot new from this book, though it was mostly interesting detail about Trotsky, not about the Bolsheviks, the Russian Revolution, or Communism.  There has been a recent vogue among some on the fringy Right to ascribe the success of Communism to a supposed appeal to low status people in Russia and elsewhere, offering them higher status in exchange for loyalty to Communism.  (The purpose of this analogy is to offer a parallel to today’s Left, which supposedly offers higher status to people who, due to biology or oppression, are low status.  This is, apparently, called “Bioleninism”; I’ve run across it in my examination of some of these fringes.)  As a historical analog, it makes no sense, and like so many ideas on the fringy Right, such as those of Mencius Moldbug, it seems to appeal to those who have no real grasp of history.  (On the other hand, as a secondary explanatory device only of today’s Left, it actually isn’t bad at all.  It’s the claimed historical analogies I object to as false.)

It is simply not true that Russian Communism recruited primarily from the lower status castes of Russian society.  If that were true, it would have been peasants who dominated Communism, and actual peasants never wanted anything to do with Communism.  Rather, it was people like Trotsky—intellectuals on the make and on the rise.  Communists successfully recruited all across the societal spectrum.  For example, most of the Bolsheviks’ military officers were former Tsarist officers, all through the ranks—a policy that Trotsky insisted on, that professionals run the Red Army, not amateurs.  But those officers weren’t drawn to Communism by its offer of higher status, which they already had—some thought the Bolsheviks the lesser of two evils, some thought they could help control the Bolsheviks, some were non-political.  And as Service notes, and is commonly noted in histories of the Bolsheviks, massive funding for their activities was provided by high-status people who were either ideologically sympathetic or simply as an insurance policy.  Such examples could easily be multiplied.  Certainly, some Bolsheviks came from humble circumstances, but all successful societies, of whatever political stripe, have mechanisms for bringing the most talented into the running of society.  Typically this is through the Church or through the military; some, like the Ottomans, are better at it than others.  But to suggest that what drove Bolshevism’s initial success was low-status individuals getting back at those who lorded it over them is bad history. True, within a few decades it was mediocrities all the way down, but that merely shows a poorly organized system, or one inherently defective, not one that appeals to low-status people.

No, what the Bolsheviks offered was heaven on earth, and to each man, the most important driver of human action, transcendence, the ability to participate in the formation of this heaven.  In Trotsky’s own words:  “Man will become incomparably stronger, more intelligent, more subtle.  His body will be more harmonious, his movements more rhythmical, his voice more musical; the forms of daily existence with acquire a dynamic theatricality.  The average human type will rise to the level of Aristotle, Goethe, Marx.  It is above this ridge that new summits will rise.”  Or, as Service says, “[Trotsky] never recoiled from his belief that the October Revolution was the first great glimmering of the dawn of the global socialist era.”  “He believed in the achievability of a universal order which would totally liberate the human spirit.”

Transcendence is a far more powerful driver than status seeking, and it is that which explains the lure of Communism through the past century.  No doubt the modern Western Left, with its obsessive focus on emancipation from imaginary oppression, offers increases in status, and a complete divorce of status from merit, more so than formal Communism did, but that is not its main attraction.  Such emancipation is a type of seeking after transcendence, even if it has more immediate benefits for some, and it is the collective belief in being able to remake the world to achieve “new summits” that provides the dynamo inside the Left, which is fundamentally a religious belief.  I am not sure, given how central this urge is to human nature and the grip it clearly maintains on so many people, how to destroy that dynamo.  Probably by providing and drawing people to an alternate, more powerful, religious belief, something that the spiritually decayed West has failed at through the past century.  What Trotsky’s life teaches us is that very smart and very talented people can wholly buy into such beliefs, and their drive to achieve transcendence, and the costs they are willing to impose, should never be underestimated.

10 Comments

  1. Petrus says

    You may want to consider the element of “egregores” in making sense of why there are widely held beliefs that don’t easily disappear. While it can be approached metaphorically (for the skeptically disinclined), an egregore nonetheless functions as a psychic entity that is created by the continued application of a focussed and directed will on the part of a community of people — say, a religious community, commonly enough, although it can certainly be “manufactured” on a larger societal scale when it comes to political objectives. An interesting example to consider in this connection is that of Germany after WWII, where systematically the various symbols and images of the nazi regime were destroyed publically, thus visibly effecting the “destruction” of the egregore’s thrall in all minds beholding. The victors of many conquests have known or suspected the efficacy of this action (as noses smashed off from many busts and statues from antiquity also bear witness).

    The term egregore is more readily found in the hermetic or esoteric schools and mystery traditions, although Valentin Tomberg brings the matter up in his “Meditations on the Tarot” (which book is actually a series of meditations, not so much on the arcana of the Tarot, but rather on a delineation of Christian Hermeticism).

    While an egregore is not necessarily evil per se, it does take on the contents of what is projected into it, which it therefore also distributes among those drawn into its power. (Hence today, there appear to be two powerful egregores around Trump – one pro and one con.) There is a kind of feedback loop operating as part of its mechanism, with people projecting into it as well as taking from it. While there involves a deliberate initiation process in the case of esoteric and mystery schools, the indoctrination today into various social and politically derived egregores is achieved largely through our susceptibility to media, which performs the functions of initiation.

    It’s also said that the “life” of an egregore is not quite ended upon a decisive break of the community from its influence, by way of common and forceful rejections, but remains in the background, fading out slowly… unless or until it is revived by a new interest of a future constituency. Hence the renewal of interest in Marxism, whose cumulative egregore has not (yet apparently) been destroyed in a clear and decisive manner; although it should be remarked that Nazism and its symbols can also find new adherents even today, who perhaps enable a tentative reconnection to its power.

    It is a main reason why the Catholic Church has striven so much to eliminate the influences of a pagan past, even though in absorbing much of the Roman Empire’s “genius” (as the egregore was called then), it may have taken on a bigger burden over time than it could clearly integrate and transform. Indeed Tomberg (who was converted to Catholicism), suggests that there is an undesirable buildup of disparate and negative content that has yet to be purged from the Church’s egregore. (Whether the Orthodox Church has kept a cleaner house in this respect, I am unable to say.)

    Although your approach and reading material is no doubt more erudite in sensibility, you may want to look into Mark Stavish’s recent book on egregores, which is probably not exhaustive and is admittedly written from the esoteric side, but which does shed some valuable insights into how this more hidden aspect of spiritual life operates.

    • Charles says

      That’s quite interesting. I had not heard of egregores, but it strikes me as an interesting concept. My initial response is that there certainly could be something real, not metaphorical, about such entities, but my assumption would be (a) they are dangerous and (b) they are probably not self-created, but in some way lend power to, or reify in the temporal sphere, pre-existing spirits, generically demons and angels–which, again, would make them dangerous.

      If viewed purely metaphorically, there is probably something to it as well.

      • Petrus says

        As to an egregore being “not self-created,” well… not quite it seems. There’s reification for sure, but within a contingency of interdependence which should only raise our individual caution.

        It’s said that at least part of what becomes an egregore originates in the individual person’s psyche, but “separates off” when it has gained enough power, and — when the content has already been in good part derived from or influenced by the sociopolitical or religious community one is participating in — one contributes one’s own psychic content to the volume already “in the works.” From another angle, I think this is one good example of what can be intuited when reflecting on the words of Jesus when he said to the apostles that “ye are all gods.” As such we are children of the Creator, albeit lacking a more profound and esoteric level of understanding of just how we are — and what we are — actually creating throughout our lives.

        So, while good or bad relationships with this “energetic aspect” of communal life are possible (in perhaps the same way that “karma” is said to be neutral, although it tends to indicate negatively as opposed to the positive generation of merit), the striving for greater objectivity and becoming ever more aware of our emotions and our thoughts should increase as a real concern for us over time.

  2. What do you make of the fact that Trotsky was willing to abandon a wife and two children in Siberia to take up his role as an essential revolutionary (and that he quickly shacked up with someone else along the way)? This seems to be a common theme– I think Marx disrespected his family, and the Mao biography I am plowing through is almost as horrific for the way Mao continually conceived and abandoned children along the Long March with a variety of wives and concubines as it is for all the public atrocities he committed along the way.

    The human psyche is universal in its structure, motivations and diseases. Where do you think Trotsky’s willingness to abandon family bonds and responsibilities in favor of “universal” roles came from? Did the text explore that at all?

    It’s hard to remember with Great Men of history that they’re all just mortal human beings operating with the same flaws and psychological shortcomings as others, just with grander scale and resources to act out poorly.

    • Charles says

      Oh, I think that sort of thing is par for the course for the Left. It is related to the old observation that Communists love mankind but not individual men. Combine that with the ego of men like Trotsky, and the Left’s focus on emancipation and self-actualization, it’s pretty much inevitable that’s how prominent men of the Left will behave. (Not to mention that the Russian Left in particular was explicitly very enamored of free love, for both men and women.)

      So I think Trotsky’s willingness to abandon family bonds and responsibilities was some combination of the above, which are mostly defects of the Left. (Powerful men on the Right, generically speaking, tend to cheat on their wives but not abandon them.)

  3. Fkarian says

    > by having an affair with that nasty piece of work, ugly Stalinist painter of ugly paintings Frida Kahlo,

    Do you think that an unsubstantiated childish attack (“ugly Stalinist painter of ugly paintings”) makes this review more relevant?

    For one, ugly is subjective. Large eyebrows aside, which she insisted on for effect, Frida Kahlo was quite ok (if not good) looking:

    https://i.pinimg.com/originals/69/d3/8b/69d38b413dcb35bcbdb2193b859fc6f2.jpg

    Besides, whether she was beautiful or not, it’s plain bad manners to call someone “ugly” in that manner (which is not merely descriptive, but seeks to paint to a horrible person).

    Are you beautiful? Can we see a picture?

    Because at least your manners in this excerpt place you as a “nasty piece of work”.

    She also was not much of a Stalinist, except in the sense that half of Europe, and a good chunk of the US, artists and intellectuals were stalinist. Not even remotely involved with USSR and Stalin. Not to mention that no Stalinist at the time would approach Trotsky except with a pickaxe, much less befriend him.

    Similarly, her paintings were quite nice folk-inspired paintings. One might not like them, but hardly “ugly”.

    Lastly, where’s the justification for the “nasty piece of work” part?

    • Charles says

      1) It’s not childish, it’s poetic. And just.

      2) Ugly is not subjective. See, e.g., Aristotle, or read Roger Scruton’s book on it. It is a false modern trope that beauty is subjective.

      3) Good manners are not my primary aim on the blog. But this type of insult is not bad manners. As my father used to instruct me, a gentlemen is a man who is never rude except on purpose.

      4) Kahlo was a horrible person, so she doubly deserves the adjective. Ugly on the outside, ugly on the inside. A twofer!

      5) I am beautiful. Or rather, handsome. My picture is on my profile!

      6) “Not even remotely involved with USSR and Stalin”?! Um, wrong. She joined the Communist Party in 1927 and worked actively for its success, under the direction of the USSR. And as Service says, “The last work of art she produced before her death in 1954 was an oil painting of Joseph Stalin.” I think that pretty much sums up the reality. When she had the affair with Trotsky, she had taken the anti-Stalin side for a time (as Service notes), but in 1940, after divorcing Diego Rivera, became his acolyte. Hence the apparent contradiction of her affair with Trotsky is no contradiction at all. You’re just wrong. Not part right. Just wrong. And when you love Stalin, you are, by definition, a “nasty piece of work.” (Not to mention her sexually degenerate life.)

      7) Her paintings were ugly. See #2. Although, here, I am willing to say there is a role for taste. They were peasant “art,” which produces a vague enjoyment in some people. Perhaps an argument could be made that only her portrait of Stalin was ugly, due to its subject matter. As with many modern artists, her stuff is pushed due to approbation for the person.

      8) Thus, none of this is “unsubstantiated.” Whether the review is relevant, I don’t know, and my purpose is not to make it relevant. But you certainly seem to think and act like it is, so thank you!

    • Petrus says

      Beauty is truly objective. It is opinions that are subjective, which is probably why the Greeks held opinions in the lowest esteem. They instead esteemed one thing: knowledge. You either know or you don’t.

      As for what is just or unjust… there will always arise that justice which appears beyond our ability to contradict it and regardless of our efforts to accomodate it. It is something that the mordant Oscar Wilde understood perfectly when he wrote Dorian Gray (and he had more than “art” in mind), but which is even more trenchantly offered by an old Portuguese saying:

      “Up until the age of thirty, you have the face God gave you. After that, you have the face you deserve.”

  4. Arilando says

    The originator of the term “Bioleninism” thinks it originates with the post WW2 western left.
    https://bloodyshovel.wordpress.com/2019/01/21/tucker-carlsons-war-against-woke-capital-and-the-future-of-the-right/
    “Then after WW2 the Western left realized that the oppressor/oppressed template worked much better with groups disadvantaged biologically than with mere social class. Hence we got Bioleninism. The industrial worker who was so much into socialism could after all become a manager, or start his own company and not be so interested in socialism anymore. Happened all the time. That’s not a good deal if you’re a leftist politician. You want your underlings to stick around and be loyal, and the underclass doesn’t feel so oppressed if there’s not an underclass anymore. Of course, you can change class (in modern Western societies), but you can’t change biology. The average racial minority, the sexual deviant, the mentally ill, the fat cat lady, those will always be low status, always feel oppressed. That’s firm, absolute loyalty right there”
    He doesn’t think it applies to the pre-war socialist/communist left. I just wanted to make that clear.

    • Charles says

      Well, yes, the concept of bio-Leninism is supposedly of more recent vintage than actual Leninism. My point is that actual Leninism bears no relationship to Bioleninism, so the name is silly and misleading. The core of the idea is also wrong, although as I said in my review, as a “secondary explanatory device” of the modern Left it does have some value.

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