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Thread: What would a Trotsky dominated Soviet Union have looked like?

  1. #21
    ivan_the_terrible's Avatar Auxiliarius
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    Default Re: What would a Trotsky dominated Soviet Union have looked like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Adrian View Post
    Than why is it that the regions that were hit by the famine coincided exactly with the regions where Stalin had ordered the militia to confiscate all food reserves from the villages just a few months before the first wave of famine.

    The Holodomor was entirely premeditated. By the early 1930's the Ukrainians were less than happy to be a part of the Soviet Union and more of them started clamoring for independence. Couple that with a rapidly rising population and you have a big problem on your hands. By forcing a mass starvation he killed two birds with one stone - he put the Ukrainians to heel, and he ensured that they remain obedient by eliminating almost all of the Ukrainian elite.
    It's disingenuous to cast the starvations of the 1930s, through a national lens, as something specifically aimed at Ukrainians, because it was not. It was not only Ukraine and Ukrainians that suffered, but all southern regions that produced food.

    By the same token, not all of these regions were uniformly hit. This includes Ukraine -- for example, the area where my family comes from did not see any kind of mass starvation (just hard times like elsewhere in the USSR). And this is why my Ukrainian great grandmother adored Stalin, while her Caucasian son-in-law despised him for his deportation of Muslim north Caucasians (Stalin's real act of completely intentional ethnic cleansing).

    And this is unsurprising because the starvation was a failure of local authorities as much as it was of central authorities.

    It is simply something that Ukrainian nationalists today ascribe to some Russian conspiracy to wipe out the poor, oppressed, anti-communist Ukrainian nation -- while in reality Ukrainians were as much behind it as anyone else, whether Russian, Georgian, Jewish, or anyone else.

  2. #22
    Axeman's Avatar Equites Alares
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    Default Re: What would a Trotsky dominated Soviet Union have looked like?

    Stalin ended up in power because Trotsky was feared and politically isolated. He was a military man with extensive ties to numerous bureaucracies within the Soviet State and there was every fear that he would end up as a "Red Napoleon" and try to spread communism with the red army and try to overrun Europe. Trotsky was seen as a bad choice and Stalin was allowed to rise to the top. Contrary to popular belief Stalin, while "betraying the revolution" did it with permission, it's not like he skulked through the night, Stalin came to power when various agencies, such as the Politburo, The CPSU, and the Triumverate itself, were powerful enough to stop his rise. He played them off against each other and allied with crucial parts against Trotsky because they feared Trotsky. If you want Trotsky in control of the Soviet Union you need a POD back during the Kerensky Government at least. Also remember Trotsky's reign wouldn't be all flowers and daises, he did have the name "butcher of Krondstat" for a reason.

    On concrete foreign policy it depends on when Trotsky comes into power. If he is in power from right after Lenin's death, assuming he dies "on schedule", then it is possible that Mongolia is integrated as a SSR directly into the USSR and the Tuvan SR will be directly integrated into the RSFSR sooner. If China progresses like OTL then I suspect that the initial offers to have East Turkestan annexed to the Soviet Union, presented by local authorities, would be readily accepted. Trotsky would also more readily help the beleaguered Chinese Soviet Republic. In the West Trotsky will definitely have a more pressing axe to grind. Trotsky's actions could ironically send Germany into a right-wing dictatorship earlier and avoid the Nazis, ending up with a bunch of Junker-esque people running the country, which would be palatable to Britain and France. Poland and the Baltics , seeing that the "Western Camp" isn't as busy fighting each other as they are the USSR might be more willing to commit to something. Of course this is all dependent on your POD, as those countries and part / all of Poland might be a part of the USSR if Trotsky was in power with a POD when Lenin was around.

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  3. #23
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    Default Re: What would a Trotsky dominated Soviet Union have looked like?

    Moved to Alternate History.
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  4. #24
    Dromikaites's Avatar Equites Alares
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    Default Re: What would a Trotsky dominated Soviet Union have looked like?

    I'll expand on why if Trotsky would have won the power struggle there would paradoxically be no Five Year Plans soon enough as to provide the Soviet Union with the industrial base it had at the beginning of WW2.

    Axeman had just pointed out why Trotsky was sidelined and why Stalin managed to get to the top. In order for Trotsky to win, he would have needed the support of the same people who advocated the NEP. So in order to get their support, he would have had to do just like Stalin did, and go along with the NEP until he would have consolidated his own power.

    The difference is therefore in how long would it would have taken for Trotsky to build the same network of supporters as Stalin had. Stalin could do it because his job had to do with the less glamorous activities of organizing the party life (OrgBuro) and the economic life (RABKRIN). As such he was able to plant his proteges at each level both in the party structures and in the economic and administrative structures.

    Trotsky would have had to do all the work of replacing Stalin's people with his own the soft way, because he would not have had enough power to launch a purge from the very beginning. Stalin himself first became the master of the Soviet Union thanks precisely to having astutely placed his people in key positions and only then started to methodically eliminate everybody else.

    Since it took about 10 years for Stalin to build quietly build his network, it would have probably taken a similar amount of time for Trotsky to achieve the same thing in such a discrete way as to alarm none of his colleagues of the Politburo. Then and only then he would have had enough power to kill the NEP and replace it with the planned economy. That would mean the late '30s.

    On the other hand, given his idiotic push for World Revolution, chances are he would have triggered a Western intervention in the late '20s or early '30s, at a time the Soviet Union would have been weaker both industrially and politically (the communists had quickly disappointed the population of the Soviet Union, therefore they were forced to rule by repression practically from day 1 of their reign).
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  5. #25
    Cornicularius
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    Default Re: What would a Trotsky dominated Soviet Union have looked like?

    Something like a Soviet/Russian, more centralized, fanatically left-wing version of early Showa Japan or the late-war Spanish "Republic" comes to mind. Overall, Trotsky was just as murderous and evil as Stalin and Lenin, it's just a matter of not all evil being the same. He legitimately did care a great deal more about intellectual debates and the "Big Tent" Bolshevism Lenin had than Stalin ever did (and I think people sometimes underestimate Stalin's toleration of that), which means while I doubt people would ever doubt who was really in charge we probably would've had a lot more interest groups and plurality in policy making. So long as everybody toed the major lines.

    That, and a far, FAAAR more adventurous foreign policy is all but absolutely assured. I wouldn't even be surprised if Trotsky tried to march into Manchuria against the Japanese, using the latter's newly found rogue state status as political cover while no other major force would be really capable of intervening (what with the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea being Japanese lakes). Expect a lot more aggressive maneuvering and subversion, especially to the benefit of outfits like the KPD since at this time Weimar was still in flux. That being said, I also doubt that we'd see the sort of rapprochement that resulted in the Soviet entry into the League of Nations, by dint of Trotsky being a royal, dogmatic idjiot unable and unwilling to compromise with the enemies of historical progress even when it was pragmatic.

    On that same note, I also can't see the sort of detente between the Orthodox Church and the regime that Stalin engineered for WWII and beyond happening under Trotsky, being the overly dogmatic bull head he was. Nevermind the fact that the Church was a crucial opponent to the Bolshevik regime for the hearts and minds of the rural majority as long as neither side would permit the existence of the other. Nevermind the fact that it was a crucial and helpful tool for the regime in acting like it had for the Tsarist regimes in the past, something that we even see today with its' ties to Putin and the Moldovan Communist Party. It was the opiate of the masses, and an enemy to progress in Trotsky's eyes. Ergo there could be no compromise. No matter the costs.

    And on that note....

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    Fair actually, Trotsky had created the Red Army as a fighting force, and it can be argued that Stalin's purges of the Army where based on the fear of Trotsky's old comrades in the higher ranks (And being nuts).

    Ehhh.... I think there's a couple important distinctions to keep in mind here. Trotsky certainly whipped (and shot) the Army of Workers and Peasants into a formidable force that evnetually won the Civil War. However, that basically translated into it being a huge, unwieldy force of ill-trained infantry and cavalry capable of eventually, eventuallllly overcoming the tattered Whites, in large part through sheer use of manpower. What we think of when we think of the Red Army- as a true force capable of plausibly going toe to toe with the major industrialized powers and winning- was a product of the post Civil War years, and especially the officer corps like Tuch, Zhuk, etc. al as well as Soviet industrialization. Most of said officers being no more favorably inclined to Trotsky than to Stalin, if not the exact opposite due to the fact that the former made a lot of enemies amongst their ranks due to his position during and after the Civil War.

    The Trotsky era Red Army was nothing to wave off, but it also wasn't an overwhelmingly credible political threat to the major powers. An EXCELLENT barometer for this is the early Red Army's preformance against the IJA during the Civil War years in the 1910's and '20's, given that the IJA was in a broad stasis in terms of equipment (types), doctrine, and tactics for the 40 some years between the Russo-Japanese War and the downfall of the Empire in '45, and how the Far Eastern Front utterly wrecked them in the 1930's. Broadly speaking, the same military that Zhukov etc. al. defeated in the 1930's was well beyond the abilities of Trotsky and his Red Army to overcome just a decade earlier, with the Japanese defeat and withdrawal from the Far East being political rather than military. I can't think of a bigger indictment against Trotsky's military genius than that.

    On top of that the Romanians in particular held them off with one hand due to the damage caused by the Central occupation and their commitments to fighting Petrograd's ally in Budapest, the Poles came back from the brink when they by conventional standards shouldn't have, the Baltic Republics humiliated them royally after having to rebuild from scratch, and the Western Allies made hay of them pretty much wherever and whenever they were stupid enough to attack their rather small and war weary expeditionary forces.

    Trotsky deserves a lot of credit for turning the Red Army into a mass organization capable of actually throwing enough men and material at all comers to solidify the Soviet regime and for being the fine mixture of capable and sociopathic enough to use it well, but I'd only call him an organizational genius, not a military one.

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    Very unlikely Trotsky would have entered into the pacts with Germany (the military tech sharing of the Weimar era, or the NAP under Hitler) because he most likely wouldn't have needed to.
    Right. Nevermind the fact that Rapallo and the alliance with Seeckt's Reichwehr had already gone through, and that Soviet policy- including that tied to Trotsky- depended on to a great deal. Because they RECOGNIZED that as things stood they didn't have the sophistication or raw competence to fight a non-insignificant industrial power without the help of a major industrial power.

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    However the rise of NAzism would also have been made less likely, Stalin made a massive miscalculation that a Nazi government would lead to revolution as he saw them as reaction on the march, so ordered the German communists not to form a united front with the opposition against the rise of the Reich.
    The logic is good, but I'm not so sure about the conclusions. While I agree that Stalin made a boo-boo in withholding the KPD's intervention against the rising Nazis and that that is the sort of mistake Trotsky would not have made, I think it's worth noting that Trotsky- being the dogmatic, expansionist, Imperialist (Hurr hurr) scumbag he was- would have made DIFFERENT mistakes. Even the KPD under Stalin was a major force on Germany's streets geared towards violent revolution. Under Trotsky's tutelage he would've probably tried to turn it into something like the Roehm era SA: a huge, militant, mass movement aimed at fighting on the streets, overthrowing the government and installing a revolution by force of arms.

    The problem with this? Well... what happened to the Roehm era SA again? Heck, what happened to the far less militarized and less intimidating historical KPD?

    That sort of force is a threat, and a target for coalitions. It will unite forces that otherwise would want nothing to do with each other against the greater common threat. That's one of the tools Hitler historically used, and that sort of activity by the KPD would have made it vulnerable to the same. Particularly since a Trotskyite KPD would've probably been pushed into starting a civil war against the government, and openly rebelling against Weimar in that sustained a fashion would've shot up a warning light like even Hitler never did.

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    Onto foreign affairs: Franco would be boned, hard.
    Oh? This ought to be good....

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    A USSR that wasn't tearing itself apart in a paranoid fever dream would be in far better shape to aid the Republic against Franco in the Civil war,
    I agree. However, that's not what we're talking about, now is it?

    The USSR under Trotsky wouldn't be *not* tearing itself apart in a paranoid fever dream. It would just be tearing itself apart from a *different* fever dream, in different ways.

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    and more likely to make common cause with the Anarchists,
    FPPHHHh.... Bwahahaahaaa....

    Sorry, couldn't help myself. But seriously?

    Trotsky's alliances with the Anarchists were purely pragmatic, and almost always when he had absolutely no other choice in the matter due to inferior strength. He preferred to wipe them out outright when given the chance (in ways just as cruel and thorough as Stalin ever did) and even when allied he ALWAYS was the one to backstab them. Take a look at the sad, sick history of his ties with Makhno and the Black Army during the Civil War. The only time he didn't was after his exile, when he no longer had the capability to do much more than rant and speak.

    At most, he might've been more restrained for the time, because he'd calculate the importance of making/keeping Spain Red as more important than culling the political threat posed by them as soon as possible. And even that's debatable and would only last for the duration of the civil war.

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    the Trotskyites. we could then see an ongoing Civil war in Spain at the start of the time span of WW2, or even worse for the Axis a communist Spain that is hostile to them.
    Riiight. Nevermind the fact that Trotsky's brilliant tactics were poor substitutes for what the Germans, Italians, and veteran troops from the Army of Africa could bring to the table. It's very hard to take militias up against professional troops and do much of anything beyond losing. It's even moreso to take disorganized, fiercely independent almost fully infantry militias and have them stand against a combined arms force of professionals. The loyalists did well for what they had, but in the end I doubt they had much chance after they failed to stop the North from falling.

    That, and keep in mind that a huge chunk of why the war lasted as long as it did was because of the number of forces in play that were at least mildly sympathetic or neutral to the Republic, especially the Western Democracies, and even then they weren't the most successful in doing that. A Trotskyite Soviet Union and Spanish "Republic" would absolutely not engender that sort of sympathy at all, if not lead to a broader alliance against what's seen as a puppet of the Kremlin in Western Europe.

    Again, Trotsky made enemies, and kept them. It was what he did. The Soviet Union was the original rogue state in the post-WWI world, and it was only because of Stalin's pragmatism that he managed to bleed that away until he invaded Poland and Finland. Trotsky was not the most pragmatic, especially when it came to rigid doctrinnaire ideology. That is why his support would most likely act like a massive pair of cement shoes to a government desperately trying to sell itself to the West as the legitimate, free, democratic-republican government of Spain. He was so loudmouthed and belligerent he made it exponentially more likely to unite non-Communists who would have otherwise been shooting each other against him.

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    However it isn't all roses, above all Trotsky was competent, methodical and sane,
    Ehhh... *Taps wrist* Time Out, Time Out, Time Out.

    Calling Trotsky- overall- competent and sane is dubious, in my opinion. Was he competent in some ways? Absolutely. The guy was a masterful organizer, a hell of an inspirer, and wasn't lacking in bravery or charisma. He also wasn't exactly the dullest knife in the drawer.

    Was he sane? In some ways, certainly more than Stalin, like his healthier ability to avoid being paranoid (even if he was just as murderous overall, he didn't think EVERYBODY was conspiring against him) and probably would have been less crushing towards the ethnic and religious minorities.

    But let's not get ahead of ourselves here. From what I understand of him, the man was less "competent and sane" and more "incompetent and insane in ways different from Stalin." Simply put, if he were fictional people would probably accuse the writer of making a strawman. He was THAT dogmatic, that he was *incapable* of understanding anything that didn't fit neatly into the Marxist-Engellian worldview. Sure, this was a problem for every Bolshevik leader including Stalin, but Trotsky was below even the norm because often times he practically ignored reality in favor of "substituting his own." His form of "peoples' war" was something he stuck more or less to the end, even when little things like the invasion of Poland and the Spanish Civil War- and his own maulings against the Westerners/Poles/etc discredited. Did this mean that his doctrine was useless? Hardly, but it wasn't a cure all. No single tactic is.

    Trotsky didn't see that. He couldn't. He was categorically inflexible, and incapable of making himself adapt to reality on a number of issues. That sort of inflexibility and refusal to play well is what eventually let Stalin show him the door.

    This isn't to say he was a simpering idiot. Just that he had crushing shortfalls, and ones that would have been far easier to overcome than many of Stalin's.

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    this does not in any way make him our friend,
    Agreed. Wholeheartedly.

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    the failure of Fascism could very well have been achieved early, replaced with a resurgent Communist party devoted to world revolution, run from Moscow by a brilliant and charismatic man. That is not necessarily a good thing.
    Again, calling him brilliant is pushing it. Maybe we can call him a brilliant thinker or author or debater, but calling him brilliant overall is pushing it. For someone who is supposedly lionized as being a leader and intellectual, he was remarkably bad at two of the hallmarks of both: independent critical thinking.

    And I would say it is VERY necessarily a bad thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    Pay attention to what Trotsky means here. People would flock to the revolution if they where shortages, if the old overlords cannot supply bread and circuses get new ones. Rather than Mao's supreme disinterest in the results of a policy (meaning millions of deaths) we have a savy assessment, people with nothing to loose fight very hard for what little they have.
    And pay attention to A: What actually happened during the "shortages" and

    B: What actually happened with Trotsky and his record.

    Simply put, his theory had its' chance to spread in the chaos after WWI and the Great Depression. By and large, it proved a damp squib. The Communist cause received a number of converts, yes, and some of thos ewould eventually triumph. However, by and large the Communist cause failed to take hold of another major polity. Even without those "bread and circuses", the old overlords- especially democratic ones- managed to weather the storm with their institutions and popularity intact. And even where they didn't, they tended to be replaced by overlords that were no more sympathetic and often *far* less so to Communism.

    For an argument that hinges on his supposedly savvy evaluation, that isn't very reassuring. Again, he was quite savvy within grounds, but he possessed close to nil ability to think outside of his own narrow biases. And that was what would have likely done him in, but not before he was about as bad as Stalin ever was.

  6. #26
    justicar5's Avatar Centurio Primus Pilus
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    Default Re: What would a Trotsky dominated Soviet Union have looked like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Turtler View Post


    1)Ehhh.... I think there's a couple important distinctions to keep in mind here. Trotsky certainly whipped (and shot) the Army of Workers and Peasants into a formidable force that evnetually won the Civil War. However, that basically translated into it being a huge, unwieldy force of ill-trained infantry and cavalry capable of eventually, eventuallllly overcoming the tattered Whites, in large part through sheer use of manpower. What we think of when we think of the Red Army- as a true force capable of plausibly going toe to toe with the major industrialized powers and winning- was a product of the post Civil War years, and especially the officer corps like Tuch, Zhuk, etc. al as well as Soviet industrialization. Most of said officers being no more favorably inclined to Trotsky than to Stalin, if not the exact opposite due to the fact that the former made a lot of enemies amongst their ranks due to his position during and after the Civil War.

    The Trotsky era Red Army was nothing to wave off, but it also wasn't an overwhelmingly credible political threat to the major powers. An EXCELLENT barometer for this is the early Red Army's preformance against the IJA during the Civil War years in the 1910's and '20's, given that the IJA was in a broad stasis in terms of equipment (types), doctrine, and tactics for the 40 some years between the Russo-Japanese War and the downfall of the Empire in '45, and how the Far Eastern Front utterly wrecked them in the 1930's. Broadly speaking, the same military that Zhukov etc. al. defeated in the 1930's was well beyond the abilities of Trotsky and his Red Army to overcome just a decade earlier, with the Japanese defeat and withdrawal from the Far East being political rather than military. I can't think of a bigger indictment against Trotsky's military genius than that.

    On top of that the Romanians in particular held them off with one hand due to the damage caused by the Central occupation and their commitments to fighting Petrograd's ally in Budapest, the Poles came back from the brink when they by conventional standards shouldn't have, the Baltic Republics humiliated them royally after having to rebuild from scratch, and the Western Allies made hay of them pretty much wherever and whenever they were stupid enough to attack their rather small and war weary expeditionary forces.

    Trotsky deserves a lot of credit for turning the Red Army into a mass organization capable of actually throwing enough men and material at all comers to solidify the Soviet regime and for being the fine mixture of capable and sociopathic enough to use it well, but I'd only call him an organizational genius, not a military one.



    2)Right. Nevermind the fact that Rapallo and the alliance with Seeckt's Reichwehr had already gone through, and that Soviet policy- including that tied to Trotsky- depended on to a great deal. Because they RECOGNIZED that as things stood they didn't have the sophistication or raw competence to fight a non-insignificant industrial power without the help of a major industrial power.



    3)The logic is good, but I'm not so sure about the conclusions. While I agree that Stalin made a boo-boo in withholding the KPD's intervention against the rising Nazis and that that is the sort of mistake Trotsky would not have made, I think it's worth noting that Trotsky- being the dogmatic, expansionist, Imperialist (Hurr hurr) scumbag he was- would have made DIFFERENT mistakes. Even the KPD under Stalin was a major force on Germany's streets geared towards violent revolution. Under Trotsky's tutelage he would've probably tried to turn it into something like the Roehm era SA: a huge, militant, mass movement aimed at fighting on the streets, overthrowing the government and installing a revolution by force of arms.

    The problem with this? Well... what happened to the Roehm era SA again? Heck, what happened to the far less militarized and less intimidating historical KPD?

    That sort of force is a threat, and a target for coalitions. It will unite forces that otherwise would want nothing to do with each other against the greater common threat. That's one of the tools Hitler historically used, and that sort of activity by the KPD would have made it vulnerable to the same. Particularly since a Trotskyite KPD would've probably been pushed into starting a civil war against the government, and openly rebelling against Weimar in that sustained a fashion would've shot up a warning light like even Hitler never did.

    Oh? This ought to be good....



    4)I agree. However, that's not what we're talking about, now is it?

    The USSR under Trotsky wouldn't be *not* tearing itself apart in a paranoid fever dream. It would just be tearing itself apart from a *different* fever dream, in different ways.



    5)FPPHHHh.... Bwahahaahaaa....

    Sorry, couldn't help myself. But seriously?

    Trotsky's alliances with the Anarchists were purely pragmatic, and almost always when he had absolutely no other choice in the matter due to inferior strength. He preferred to wipe them out outright when given the chance (in ways just as cruel and thorough as Stalin ever did) and even when allied he ALWAYS was the one to backstab them. Take a look at the sad, sick history of his ties with Makhno and the Black Army during the Civil War. The only time he didn't was after his exile, when he no longer had the capability to do much more than rant and speak.

    At most, he might've been more restrained for the time, because he'd calculate the importance of making/keeping Spain Red as more important than culling the political threat posed by them as soon as possible. And even that's debatable and would only last for the duration of the civil war.



    6)Riiight. Nevermind the fact that Trotsky's brilliant tactics were poor substitutes for what the Germans, Italians, and veteran troops from the Army of Africa could bring to the table. It's very hard to take militias up against professional troops and do much of anything beyond losing. It's even moreso to take disorganized, fiercely independent almost fully infantry militias and have them stand against a combined arms force of professionals. The loyalists did well for what they had, but in the end I doubt they had much chance after they failed to stop the North from falling.

    That, and keep in mind that a huge chunk of why the war lasted as long as it did was because of the number of forces in play that were at least mildly sympathetic or neutral to the Republic, especially the Western Democracies, and even then they weren't the most successful in doing that. A Trotskyite Soviet Union and Spanish "Republic" would absolutely not engender that sort of sympathy at all, if not lead to a broader alliance against what's seen as a puppet of the Kremlin in Western Europe.

    Again, Trotsky made enemies, and kept them. It was what he did. The Soviet Union was the original rogue state in the post-WWI world, and it was only because of Stalin's pragmatism that he managed to bleed that away until he invaded Poland and Finland. Trotsky was not the most pragmatic, especially when it came to rigid doctrinnaire ideology. That is why his support would most likely act like a massive pair of cement shoes to a government desperately trying to sell itself to the West as the legitimate, free, democratic-republican government of Spain. He was so loudmouthed and belligerent he made it exponentially more likely to unite non-Communists who would have otherwise been shooting each other against him.



    7)Ehhh... *Taps wrist* Time Out, Time Out, Time Out.

    Calling Trotsky- overall- competent and sane is dubious, in my opinion. Was he competent in some ways? Absolutely. The guy was a masterful organizer, a hell of an inspirer, and wasn't lacking in bravery or charisma. He also wasn't exactly the dullest knife in the drawer.

    Was he sane? In some ways, certainly more than Stalin, like his healthier ability to avoid being paranoid (even if he was just as murderous overall, he didn't think EVERYBODY was conspiring against him) and probably would have been less crushing towards the ethnic and religious minorities.

    But let's not get ahead of ourselves here. From what I understand of him, the man was less "competent and sane" and more "incompetent and insane in ways different from Stalin." Simply put, if he were fictional people would probably accuse the writer of making a strawman. He was THAT dogmatic, that he was *incapable* of understanding anything that didn't fit neatly into the Marxist-Engellian worldview. Sure, this was a problem for every Bolshevik leader including Stalin, but Trotsky was below even the norm because often times he practically ignored reality in favor of "substituting his own." His form of "peoples' war" was something he stuck more or less to the end, even when little things like the invasion of Poland and the Spanish Civil War- and his own maulings against the Westerners/Poles/etc discredited. Did this mean that his doctrine was useless? Hardly, but it wasn't a cure all. No single tactic is.

    Trotsky didn't see that. He couldn't. He was categorically inflexible, and incapable of making himself adapt to reality on a number of issues. That sort of inflexibility and refusal to play well is what eventually let Stalin show him the door.

    This isn't to say he was a simpering idiot. Just that he had crushing shortfalls, and ones that would have been far easier to overcome than many of Stalin's.



    Agreed. Wholeheartedly.



    8)Again, calling him brilliant is pushing it. Maybe we can call him a brilliant thinker or author or debater, but calling him brilliant overall is pushing it. For someone who is supposedly lionized as being a leader and intellectual, he was remarkably bad at two of the hallmarks of both: independent critical thinking.

    And I would say it is VERY necessarily a bad thing.



    9)And pay attention to A: What actually happened during the "shortages" and

    B: What actually happened with Trotsky and his record.

    Simply put, his theory had its' chance to spread in the chaos after WWI and the Great Depression. By and large, it proved a damp squib. The Communist cause received a number of converts, yes, and some of thos ewould eventually triumph. However, by and large the Communist cause failed to take hold of another major polity. Even without those "bread and circuses", the old overlords- especially democratic ones- managed to weather the storm with their institutions and popularity intact. And even where they didn't, they tended to be replaced by overlords that were no more sympathetic and often *far* less so to Communism.

    For an argument that hinges on his supposedly savvy evaluation, that isn't very reassuring. Again, he was quite savvy within grounds, but he possessed close to nil ability to think outside of his own narrow biases. And that was what would have likely done him in, but not before he was about as bad as Stalin ever was.

    1) He took the broken and battered workers and peasants militias and turned them into a victorious army. The mistake was getting expansionist instantly. The Red Army of the end of the civil war was , as you say, a steam roller, and ww1 had shown what a properly trained and entrenched army could do to steam rollers. How the RA would have developed without the purges is a huge question, I gave my thoughts on it, but it is equally valid to argue it would have been less effective by the 1930s without the purges and 5 year plans (or as seems more likely with different ones)

    2) My bad, I thought the cross training of the late 20's and early 30s was all their was.


    3) A totalitarian revolution in the Weimar republic was almost a certainty ( you just have to look at voting patterns to see it written plain as day) I happen to believe that a more united and active 'popular front' would have been the ones winning that election (and giving us a Spain writ large pretty much instantly) Whether the Nazi party would have come out ahead is up in the air.

    4)The question then would become whether that fever dream would be less damaging (and whether a COMINTERN that was serious about what it said [rather than all power and glory to Moscow] would have given us even more butterflys.

    5)That is what I meant, sorry to not be clearer common cause in the 'lets defeat Franco, then sort out our differences' not a second Paris Commune. What the effect of a more proactive USSR would have been is hard to judge, the 'non-intervention' commitee was a bad joke anyway, it becomes would a more active USSR have scared the UK and France into actually doing something, or would they have done as they did, and let Franco and chums deal as they saw fit while crying crocodile tears?

    6) The Militias weren't as ill trained as you seem to think (Or rather not all of them) They did have a fair proportion of the Spanish military, as well as Civil and Shock Guards, (See Hugh Thomas The Spanish Civil war) Also the Army of Africa had a major problem: It was to start with on the wrong side of the Med, if the USSR had done at the start what the Italians did later, and reflag a few submarines and give them a hunting license, that army was going no where.



    7) Trotsky was an ideologue which made him semi-predictable, but dogmatism isn't insanity in the same way as Stalin's paranoia, wether it would have been less destructive and who exactly that distruction would have fallen on, that is an interesting question.

    8) Fair.

    9) True. It was savvier than Stalins evaluation, but also flawed, he was right that desperation led to revolution, he was wrong about the form that revolution took, and he was wrong about the strength of some of the democracies.

  7. #27
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    Default Re: What would a Trotsky dominated Soviet Union have looked like?

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    ...Trotsky was competent, methodical and sane, this does not in any way make him our friend, the failure of Fascism could very well have been achieved early, replaced with a resurgent Communist party devoted to world revolution, run from Moscow by a brilliant and charismatic man. That is not necessarily a good thing....
    I think Trotsky was an effective operator who lacked the talent for brutal personal power politics that Stalin brought to the table. Stalins purges did have one huge result: he was not subject to assasination attempts the way Hitler (and indeed Trotsky) was. So there was stability at the top of the comand tree (if nowhere else). So this AH begins with Trotsky either becoming a little more savvy and paranoid or at least beingh better looked after by his advisors.

    Trotsky's preference for a more plural society does come with inherent problems. I imagine a Trotskyite Soviet Union does face problems with nationalism, perhaps manifesting as terrorism and further civil wars.

    I agree totally about the military side of things: IIRC Stalin emphasised large cav groups because the formation was part of the myth of Stalin winning the Civil War. A Trotskyite Red Army would be a terrible weapon and as several have mention one that would be used, most likely into Eastern Europe but possibly Asia as well.

    A more fairly and effectively run Soviet Union would give more impetous to social change around the world: the few improvements managed in the 1920's (and many of these were attributable to Trotsky) would make lkeft-wing rule more attractive and might lead to even more social unrest: France was in chaos in the 30's and many other societies were pretty rocky, even the USA. The again the USA did stabilise through compromise with some socialist elemnents to the New Deal (many more were rubbed out by the courts). A credible communist threat might make for more compromise rather than class warfare.

    The communists did keep Australia honest, I know that from my history studies, so long as there was a Red Spectre the rest of the political spectrum cooperated and kept the national political scene on a moderate course. Would stronger and more proselytiseing Communism mean more honesty and compromise, or more fighting?
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    Default Re: What would a Trotsky dominated Soviet Union have looked like?

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    1) He took the broken and battered workers and peasants militias and turned them into a victorious army. The mistake was getting expansionist instantly. The Red Army of the end of the civil war was , as you say, a steam roller, and ww1 had shown what a properly trained and entrenched army could do to steam rollers. How the RA would have developed without the purges is a huge question, I gave my thoughts on it, but it is equally valid to argue it would have been less effective by the 1930s without the purges and 5 year plans (or as seems more likely with different ones)

    I'm not going to defend the purges and five yera plans morally, and I'm not really confident I can defend them pragmatically. The Far Eastern Front of the 1930's showed what you could do even without the purges, and the loss of a lot of theoretical greats like Tukhachevsky didn't help them at allll even if for every Tukhachevsky or Blucher there were umpteen Dybenkos and certain political factors made people like Tukhachevsky all but necessary to get rid of.

    I'm just not sure that Trotsky was going to be that great at tackling the need to mobilize, modernize, and reorganize the Red Army. That's not because he was stupid, or at least stupid in a conventional or universal sense. His defense of Petrograd from the Estonians and Whites was beautiful, because it was so simple and yet so elegant a realization: that even the trained, regular soldiers of the Whites and Estonians could not subdue a metropolis where you'd handed out tons of weapons to every Ivan and Mikhail and they were shooting at you from every window in the city.

    It's just that he was an infantry and cavalry general who was self-learned, and who owed his strategies more to ideology than to any military science. The defense of Petrograd- which worked so well against Yudenich- would've been absolutely useless against the British/French/Italians/Greeks/Americans and of marginal use against the Japanese only due to their doctrine. His appointment of/tolerance of people who actually knew more might've helped somewhat but only if he let them and that's far from certain.

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    2) My bad, I thought the cross training of the late 20's and early 30s was all their was.
    Understandable, but ya.


    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    3) A totalitarian revolution in the Weimar republic was almost a certainty ( you just have to look at voting patterns to see it written plain as day)

    Oh, I'm not disputing that. Plenty of totalitarian revolutions happened in the Weimar Republic, and that was all but inevitable given the ideological turf that was around in Germany at the time (what with the Bismarckean Empire not being such an enlightened and free nation to start with). I've pointed that out myself what with if you want to understand the rise of Hitler, you don't look at the NSDAP, you look at everybody else. The Weimar Coalition was sustaining itself through the narrow centrist (and especially center left) political turf, and by the end they were minorities and the Center parties were discredited by their flirting with the Nazis.

    That said, while a totalitarian revolution was all but certain, a *successful* one is another thing altogether. The Weimar Republic survived for an obscenely long amount of time, and during the Roaring Twenties it seemed like it had weathered the storm successfully. The eventually collapse of the Republic was probably the most likely result, but I think it's a mistake to read history backwards and make that a certainty.

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    I happen to believe that a more united and active 'popular front' would have been the ones winning that election
    Yeah, yeah, but here's the rub: a "more united and active popular front" by the definition I'd guess you're using would've been unstable and quite likely self-defeating. We see what happened with that in Spain, and it was an absolute disaster that imploded on itself. Couple that with the fact that the KPD was already a lightning rod and in a Trotskyite world would probably be electoral poison to make an alliance with? I don't see a KPD-Weimar Coalition "popular front" working at all. Just trying it would represent the capitulation of the crucial center to the totalitarian internationalist Left and would probably trigger a massive exodus by the Center party voters in particular to the totalitarian nationalists, be they Left/Third Way like Hitler or Right (like Hugenburg or the old Imperialists). Even if those factions are less powerful by themselves given the rise of the Trotskyite KPD in place of Roehm's SA, they'd still have the "political high ground" of entrenched political power and resources. It would be a hell of a fight.

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    (and giving us a Spain writ large pretty much instantly)
    Don't count on it. At all. Spain was Weimar Germany before Weimar Germany, and had been for about half a century before the Spanish Civil War. The key ideological forces behind the Nationalist rising were next to unconnected to any ideologies from abroad and *especially* from Germany (the Falange being the only really big exception I can think of).

    What really caused the Spanish Civil War was the divide between the Spanish Military (especially given the strong Right Wing and Reactionary dominance it had) and the Republican government and especially the Spanish Left. That came about mainly because of a conflict over Spain's African colonies and the public division over the Army of Africa a nd the war Spain was waging in Morocco. All of that predated Hitler's rise to power by decades. By the time Hitler tried his Beer Hall Putsch, the Army of Africa was "celebrating" thirty continuous years of combat that it was just beginning to wind down. By the time Hitler came out the big winner of an election Sanjuro had already attempted a coup and he and a bunch of likeminded officers were already in the process of planning what'd eventually kick off the Civil War in '36.

    This had next to nothing to do with Hitler or Germany, and there was obscenely little anything that happened could seriously affect that. The basic problem was like that between Caesar and his army in Gaul and the Optimates in Rome or the Japanese Army in Korea/Manchuria and the Japanese government; by the time of the civil war the Army of Africa was so battle hardened, so well equipped and organized, and so thoroughly disenfranchised and radicallized that it was a natural breeding ground for dissent and conspiracy. When it finally managed to get its' act together and cross its' Rubicon at the Straits of Gibraltar, civil war was all but inevitable. And once that happens, we still have to deal with the fact that frankly, the Republican "Army" was so far out of its' depth in a conventional war and was difficult to reform.

    In the event Hitler or even Mussolini weren't in power to support them, they could always turn to Portugal or a huge chunk of Latin America.

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    Whether the Nazi party would have come out ahead is up in the air.
    Agreed. Though in many ways, I'm not sure it's that important, even a stronger reactionary force in gneeral would be a major stumbling block for Trotsky and the KPD.

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    4)The question then would become whether that fever dream would be less damaging
    I doubt it. We can parse out all we want about how the Nazis wanted to exterminate various races and ethnicities while the Soviets were content with "merely" gutting and oppressing them, but in practice totalitarianism is hell no matter what flag it flies or what rhetoric it uses. Any additional murderousness from the Nazis cwould probably be counterbalanced by the greater appeal Communism could draw on the average.

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    (and whether a COMINTERN that was serious about what it said [rather than all power and glory to Moscow] would have given us even more butterflys.
    Agreed indeed, and I'd guess it would waver from year to year. The thing is that say what anyone will, but Trotsky pretty clearly believed in what he said at least to some degree, and even in exile he had no shortage of people singing his praises. With a Soviet government under his control, that's probably at least a potent recruiting mixture.

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    5)That is what I meant, sorry to not be clearer common cause in the 'lets defeat Franco, then sort out our differences' not a second Paris Commune.

    Ohhh... *Headdesk.* My apologies. Misunderstood you for a bit there. Anyway, carrying on...

    I *could* see it maybe. The problem is that if Makhno's history with the Red Army teaches us anything, it's that Trotsky could mis-time his backstabs too. Heck, he screwed Makhno over several times only to realize that he actually still needed him because of the Whites. I don't deny that Trotsky would've placed a higher importance on crushing the Nationalists than on weeding out opponents, but I also think he wouldn't have waited for the war to be won to make his move. Which leads to all kinds of potential situations.

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    What the effect of a more proactive USSR would have been is hard to judge, the 'non-intervention' commitee was a bad joke anyway,
    Well, at least I thought it was funny....

    Oh, wait. Agreed.

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    it becomes would a more active USSR have scared the UK and France into actually doing something, or would they have done as they did, and let Franco and chums deal as they saw fit while crying crocodile tears?
    Hmmm.. *measures hand back and forth.* Difficult to say, but I think it's something of a mistake to be assuming the Civil War would be breaking out along even the same contours as it did historically. It's at least as possible he'd favor something like the '34 rebellions as he would something like the Popular Front, and at the very least the Basques would probably take badly to his rhetoric of everybody under one flag (on top of being Conservative, universalist rhetoric probably wouldn't appeal to a group that's proudly independent).

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    6) The Militias weren't as ill trained as you seem to think (Or rather not all of them) They did have a fair proportion of the Spanish military, as well as Civil and Shock Guards, (See Hugh Thomas The Spanish Civil war) Also the Army of Africa had a major problem: It was to start with on the wrong side of the Med, if the USSR had done at the start what the Italians did later, and reflag a few submarines and give them a hunting license, that army was going no where.

    The Army of Africa was screwed
    Not disputing that at all. The fact that they managed to stalemate and frequently win against not just the Army of Africa, but the Italian CNT says something, and at least some of the militias like Durruti were absolutely phenomenal. The problem is that that in many, many ways, that didn't really matter.

    For every person in a commanding position that knew something of what they were doing- like Durruti or Llurch- there was another person who was an abject idiot (like Beimler, Merriman, or Negrin) and another who knew *something* of what they had to do but just didn't have what it took or couldn't get the resources to do it. Absolutely none of this was helped by the fact that the leadership at the top in the Republican Government was militarily....at best rather so-so. Caballero was probably the best military leader in the High Command, and even he couldn't really get the hodge-podge that was the Republican military to be unified enough to exploit the advantages it did win, and he got thrown out eventually. In contrast, Negrin was an absolute disaster and Azana was so aloof he might as well not have been there as far as the battlefield was concerned.

    Basically, you can do many, many things with hodge podge militias. The Spanish proved that to the world a century earlier when they went up against the Grand Armee of all things. But the problem is that there are many things you can't get them to do with the organization they were using. Not the leaest of which being you can't command them reliably, and you can't ensure a basic, minimum level of competence and quality is maintained. That was why in the long run, they were done in. The Grand Armee was defeated by the British Army and Navy, along with the Spanish and Portuguese forces attached to it, not the "Guerillas" (even if in many capacities they were invaluable)

    The reflaging of a few submarines assumes that A: the Soviet Union had a few subs to reflag in the first place (they didn't really, that's why they failed to break the Axis naval blockade of Spain) and B: that this would do a goddamned whit of good. Historically, the AoA flew across the Straits, precisely because the Navy remained loyal to the Government. IRL the Germans were the main lifters of this, but even without Hitler or a German government that leans similarly on the Spanish issue, the AoA's problem would probably have been solvable by the Italian Air Force doing what it did best: grabbing a bunch of cargo planes and flying them in elaborate formation as a Balbo (a term they were responsible for creating) across the straits to the metropolitan. Same strategy, different source.

    You can't torpedo a flying plane.

    Trotsky I think would have avoided some of the big problems, because I imagine he probably would have kept Caballero on (unless he felt like purging him for some reason) and that would've probably been for the best. But Trotsky was ideologically affilated with the sort of hodge podge milita organization that led the Spanish Republic to defeat, and as mentioned before he would have been likely to alienate a lot more people both in Spain and abroad.


    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    7) Trotsky was an ideologue which made him semi-predictable, but dogmatism isn't insanity in the same way as Stalin's paranoia, wether it would have been less destructive and who exactly that distruction would have fallen on, that is an interesting question.
    As much as I hate that canard, Einstein's definition of Insanity might prove fitting in this case. It is insanity when it gets to the point that you think your new, revolutionary tactics and ideology somehow rewrites millenia of military science, that you can get away with promoting lemons like Dybenko, that the inexorable laws of history mean that tackling the Central Powers will work so much better for you in practice than it did to the far better armed/trained/more numerous Tsarist military before you, and if you are absolutely and completely incapable of grasping anything outside of a Marxist-Engallian POV. I really, really wish I were joking about all that.

    At the very least, it shows a serious derangement and refusal to accept reality that's kind of like what Hitler eventually would degenerate into, only while swapping the tactical novelty with larger-scale organization competence. It's at least of a handicap on him as Stalin's paranoia was, even if the two would manifest in different ways.

    Quote Originally Posted by justicar5 View Post
    9) True. It was savvier than Stalins evaluation, but also flawed, he was right that desperation led to revolution, he was wrong about the form that revolution took, and he was wrong about the strength of some of the democracies.
    I'm not so sure after all. Stalin's was certainly less aggressive/intiailly ambitious, and his "build up Fortress USSR" and "Promptly Ignore all the Signs that Hitler is going to backstab your arse until it's way too late" things didn't work out so well. However, in Stalin's defense he was also rebuilding the USSR, hauling it into the world stage as an industrial superpower, and building up the strength that he'd eventually use to turn it into a Superpower whose ability and influence was at least as strong as that of any Western power in history had in a fraction of the time it took them to get there.

    Trotsky was far more of a Big Tent Bolshevik and a lot more charismatic and able to draw people over through sheer force of will than Stalin did; the sheer influence he had on Mexico during his exile speaks volumes. But he was also a lot less pragmatic than Stalin, a lot less self-conscious, and a lot less able to understand the finer, "harder" sciences. So we can make a fair number of guesses, but overall I'd guess that things end up looking more like Command and Conquer: Red Alert 1.

    One thing I think he might've been able to do far better than Stalin did with even a medium of technological and doctrinal advancement would be jump into China in a big way. It's not inconcievable that the Japanese might get thrown off of mainland Asia or at least forced to dig in along the Yalu for the sake of defense, and depending on how well he plays with Mao etc.al. it's not impoooossssible China could go Red well ahead of history. But any attempt to go up against the Finns would've been a disaster, and the Poles and even the Romanians could've probably put up a good fight by their lonesomes. Beyond that, I figure we'd need to know exactly what happened in between then and "now" and what Trotsky and the rest of the world did in reaction to each other.

    If nothing else, it'd be fascinating to see how he'd have gotten along with Tito and the KPD....

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    I think Trotsky was an effective operator who lacked the talent for brutal personal power politics that Stalin brought to the table.
    Agreed overall, though even there I'm not so sure. Trotsky worked very, very well in the Leninist Bolshevik party even factoring in a near-complete inability to think outside his box. Calling him an effective operator or someone who lacked a talent for brutal personal power politics aren't things I'm willing to agree to given those things alone, but he certainly faced a number of problems vis-a-vis Stalin. Not the least of which was utter inflexibility in damn near anything and everything.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    Stalins purges did have one huge result: he was not subject to assasination attempts the way Hitler (and indeed Trotsky) was. So there was stability at the top of the comand tree (if nowhere else). So this AH begins with Trotsky either becoming a little more savvy and paranoid or at least beingh better looked after by his advisors.
    Of course, here's were we get the first problem. Any of those solutions would require Trotsky to gain a newfound capacity fo self-examination and critical thinking. Historically, Trotsky *sucked* at doing these things in this capacity, and so that alone is a pretty impressive divergence.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    Trotsky's preference for a more plural society does come with inherent problems. I imagine a Trotskyite Soviet Union does face problems with nationalism, perhaps manifesting as terrorism and further civil wars.
    Agreed, though in his defense Stalin also faced similar problems (the number of anti-Soviet partisan groups is staggering), and it's quite likely that (ironically) his preference would give the regime more flexibility and ability to accomodate various groups.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    I agree totally about the military side of things: IIRC Stalin emphasised large cav groups because the formation was part of the myth of Stalin winning the Civil War. A Trotskyite Red Army would be a terrible weapon and as several have mention one that would be used, most likely into Eastern Europe but possibly Asia as well.
    Stalin did, but he also had enough knowledge to recognize when things were starting to go pear shaped; he recognized what was going wrong in Finland and RAGED at his officers for it, and was at least capable enough to know when to step back. Trotsky I cannot imagine doing that at all, and the fact that his peoples' war doctrine was so all-consuming would have done him no favors.

    He could've done very well in China in large part because it was basically in the same state that Russia was in post-WWI, and as we know Trotsky could operate in that sort of situation very, very well, But once we get into the question of modernization or confronting the Poles and Romanians (nevermind the Germans or Westerners) we start running into big, Big question marks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    A more fairly and effectively run Soviet Union would give more impetous to social change around the world:
    Eehhh... depends on how we mean. The Khruschev thaw years later in conditions way more suitable for that sort of thing helped cause major upheavals but ultimately came up short on the global stage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    the few improvements managed in the 1920's (and many of these were attributable to Trotsky)
    And many more of which weren't. In particular, he had a conniption fit over the NEP, which was probably one of the most important policy decisions the Soviet Union made in its' post war years, and there are plenty of other problems around.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    would make lkeft-wing rule more attractive and might lead to even more social unrest: France was in chaos in the 30's and many other societies were pretty rocky, even the USA.
    Agreed overall, but let's be frank here: even Weimar Germany of all things managed to ride out the chaos of the 1920's and early 1930's for an amazingly long period of time, going from a starting point of basically zero disposition to democratic government. That alone is staggering indeed.

    As for the others, we'd probably have more earthquakes, but whether those would actually uproot the ship of state are another (nevermind if that's so what would replace the ship of state and whether that'd automatically be Trotskyite). In particular, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, the Ruhr, Bavaria, Britain, the US, Italy, Bulgaria, and Hungary all faced major problems from revolutionary Leftist groups. Not one of which panned out or seriously changed the status quo to their benefit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    The again the USA did stabilise through compromise with some socialist elemnents to the New Deal (many more were rubbed out by the courts). A credible communist threat might make for more compromise rather than class. warfare.
    Except that A: was not what overly happened with the New Deal (it derrived more support and inspiration from Keynes than from the Socialists) and B: is completely contrary to Trotsky's MO.

    His entire schtick was that compromise *was IMPOSSIBLE even Temporarily* with "the Capitalist class", and that world revolution was just around the corner and imminent. We know this because it's that disasterous reading that informed his decision to go to war against the Central Powers again after negotiations, with predictable results indeed.

    Anybody stupid or moderate enough to advocate moderation as a permanent solution would already be dragged through the dirt if not murdered under Stalin's tenure, and he was a lot more pragmatic than Trotsky ever was. I would hate to be Earl Bowder in a party cell under his guidance, since even my half-a$$ed evasion would be seen as an unforgivable sin.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    The communists did keep Australia honest, I know that from my history studies,
    Which was pretty much a side-effect, and a rather unintended one. The BUF in its' heyday exposed a lot of established corruption and ironically was a major force advocating the military be kept up to at least passable standards, but nobody talks about that do they? And with good reason.

    I don't doubt that the Australian Communists did the same, but that was to further their role as the local Left-Wing totalitarian stalking horse in a region that Stalin wasn't immediately interested in. Criticizing the bourgeoise government and the radical Right was its' entire purpose; getting valid things to criticize them with just helped make the job easier and helped with recruiting and PR. We see the same thing elsewhere where the USSR wasn't immediately busy preparing for conquest or war, only for things to do a massive about face when he was.

    Nothing to see here, move along.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    so long as there was a Red Spectre the rest of the political spectrum cooperated and kept the national political scene on a moderate course. Would stronger and more proselytiseing Communism mean more honesty and compromise, or more fighting?
    *FACEVAULT.*

    Seriously?

    If you're asking that question or thinking like that, you need to do more damned research. But to start you off, the answer is The Latter, VERY MUCH the Latter!

    My family is primarily Italian-American, and they not only have memories of when the Blackshirts made a habit of lobbing stones through windows (even in America!), but they also remember very clearly about how the domestic Far Left helped bring this sorry buisiness about by trying to wage their mini-revolutions and riots in the aftermath of WWI.

    As long as there was a Red Spectre that could prove a serious and imminent political threat, the rest of the political spectrum degraded and became more militarized and radicalized. Often times, the system shrugs it off and carries on anyway, like what happened in France and the US. But sometimes it just goes all the way until there's collapse and implosion.

    My family and many others bleed history that proves that much. In vivid Black and Red.

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    Default Re: What would a Trotsky dominated Soviet Union have looked like?

    Could it be that Trotsky's image as the main force behind the eventual success of the Red Army in the Civil War is the result of:

    1) Self-publicist writing;

    2) Human tendency to look for a simple causal chain in the evolution of complex phenomena?

    What Stalin has achieved slowly and methodically by placing his supporters in key party, NKVD, army and economy positions would have been achieved quickly by another Napoleon Bonaparte or Fidel Castro. All it would have taken would have been a successful military commander with political ambitions, charisma and a force large enough to arrest the political adversaries and take control of the key objectives.

    Trotsky had seen first hand how that can be done when Kerenski was ousted from power. He was power-hungry himself, so we cannot suspect him of lacking the motivation. What he seemed to lack was precisely what Bonaparte and Castro had - a direct connection with a large enough body of armed men, willing to do Trotsky's biding.

    That absence of a "personal army" makes me suspect he was either stupid or the army at that time did not consider him to be THE leader.
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    Default Re: What would a Trotsky dominated Soviet Union have looked like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    Could it be that Trotsky's image as the main force behind the eventual success of the Red Army in the Civil War is the result of:

    1) Self-publicist writing;

    2) Human tendency to look for a simple causal chain in the evolution of complex phenomena?
    Well, not sure I entirely buy it. The former DEFINITELY played a role, especially since god knows how many people were stupid enough to take the totalitarian mass murderer with cognitive dissonance at his word purely because he was charismatic. However, I think that we shouldn't marginalize him. We can be pretty sure that he was the driving force in a number of major events, like the victories at Petrograd and against the Kronstadt mutiny, and that he basically turned the Red Army into the mass movement it needed to be to consolidate the Soviet regime.

    Did other people play major roles? Of course. Could these people or others have done what Trotsky did? Ehh...maybe. But as it turns out, we can be pretty sure that Trotsky at least was *one* of the main forces behind the Red Army.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    What Stalin has achieved slowly and methodically by placing his supporters in key party, NKVD, army and economy positions would have been achieved quickly by another Napoleon Bonaparte or Fidel Castro.
    Again, not sure if those are the best of examples, for a couple reasons.

    1. Frankly, Fidel Castro was an idiot in terms of coming to power. In my personal opinion, he still is in many ways (the fact that he still talks about the "Embargo" as a fig leaf when an economist with half a brain could find ways to circumvent the US markets and get what he needs or his country requires is a major thing) but he at last has a fair degree of cunning and political intelligence, to say nothing of amazing magnetism. But his takeover of power was a complete farce, and primarily occurred only because in a battle between dumb and dumber, Batista proved to be even less competent than he was. In the face of just about *any* half-competent force of any size, Castro would have gone down in history as another failed filibuster in Cuba's rather extensive history of them.

    2. I'm not sure I'd quite call Napoleon's rise overly fast, or at least dramatically faster than Stalin's. It's worth remembering he was a major mover and shaker in French politics even before he got assigned to Italy, and especially after he helped put down the Royalist guerrillas with his "Whiff of Grapeshot." It was certainly a bit faster, and more dramatic/less methodical or "boring" than Stalin's, but I doubt by much.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    All it would have taken would have been a successful military commander with political ambitions, charisma and a force large enough to arrest the political adversaries and take control of the key objectives.
    Unfortunately, by this point in time just about the entire Tsarist Empire and constituent territories were terribly short on those. The closest I can figure would be Mannerheim (who indeed actually played a similarly decisive role, but in support of an elected/civilian government) or Kornilov (who failed). Couple that with the fact that the Red Army *never* really bred that sort of officer at all? And I doubt it'd be that feasible.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    Trotsky had seen first hand how that can be done when Kerenski was ousted from power.
    Seen nothing. He helped organize that. In large part by learning from his mistakes (for once in his life) after the previous Bolshevik putsch attempts collapsed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    He was power-hungry himself, so we cannot suspect him of lacking the motivation. What he seemed to lack was precisely what Bonaparte and Castro had - a direct connection with a large enough body of armed men, willing to do Trotsky's biding.
    Again, not altogether sure. If I'd have to say, it would be that while Trotsky certainly didn't lack for direct connections to large bodies of armed men willing to do his bidding (or intimidated into doing so), he lacked the loyalty Castro and Bonaparte in particular enjoyed. Which makes a fair degree of sense: the guy was in charge of the Red Army's conscription and discipline methods, which in practice often translated to "Dragging war-weary workers into a military camp" and "shooting them en masse when something went wrong." Such a thing isn't the most conductive to personal loyalty or support.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    That absence of a "personal army" makes me suspect he was either stupid or the army at that time did not consider him to be THE leader.
    Actually, he did possess something of a "Personal Army." They were the guys who tended to go around with him in armored train(s) and would act somewhat like Villa's men would in his civil war, by setting up MGs in the rear and urging the men onward through a combination of personal charisma and/or the threat of violence for retreat. And of course backing up those orders with bullets if need be.

    Of course, this goes back to a major fact: Trotsky deferred to Lenin, like just about everybody did. He wasn't THE Leader, he was a Leader of The Leader, acting as a deputy. But it does point to a rather detached relationship/sense of connection between Trotsky and the men he brutalized into the Red Army. One that doubtless helped Stalin a great deal.

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    Default Re: What would a Trotsky dominated Soviet Union have looked like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Turtler View Post
    Again, not sure if those are the best of examples, for a couple reasons.

    1. Frankly, Fidel Castro was an idiot in terms of coming to power. In my personal opinion, he still is in many ways (the fact that he still talks about the "Embargo" as a fig leaf when an economist with half a brain could find ways to circumvent the US markets and get what he needs or his country requires is a major thing) but he at last has a fair degree of cunning and political intelligence, to say nothing of amazing magnetism. But his takeover of power was a complete farce, and primarily occurred only because in a battle between dumb and dumber, Batista proved to be even less competent than he was. In the face of just about *any* half-competent force of any size, Castro would have gone down in history as another failed filibuster in Cuba's rather extensive history of them.
    By Castro taking the power I mean what he did after defeating Batista.

    After ousting Batista he quickly disposed of his [potentialy] rival military commanders. He also made sure the other political leaders influential in the cities (men who actually had played a large part in the victory by orchestrating the crippling strikes) would either be similarly quickly disposed of or persuaded to join his camp.
    Quote Originally Posted by Turtler View Post
    2. I'm not sure I'd quite call Napoleon's rise overly fast, or at least dramatically faster than Stalin's. It's worth remembering he was a major mover and shaker in French politics even before he got assigned to Italy, and especially after he helped put down the Royalist guerrillas with his "Whiff of Grapeshot." It was certainly a bit faster, and more dramatic/less methodical or "boring" than Stalin's, but I doubt by much.
    Napoleon was not part of the Directorate while Stalin was a full member of the Soviet equivalent, the Politburo. This is why I think Napoleon's ascension and take-over were faster than Stalin's.

    Napoleon had a much smaller power base than Stalin, but he was very skilled at securing the support of people who mattered (like securing general Moreau's support for the 18 Brumaire coup, Moreau being otherwise a rival of his, plus the support of the key politicians - Talleyrand, Sieyes, Ducos).
    Quote Originally Posted by Turtler View Post
    Unfortunately, by this point in time just about the entire Tsarist Empire and constituent territories were terribly short on those. The closest I can figure would be Mannerheim (who indeed actually played a similarly decisive role, but in support of an elected/civilian government) or Kornilov (who failed). Couple that with the fact that the Red Army *never* really bred that sort of officer at all? And I doubt it'd be that feasible.
    Things were more difficult for the White commanders because the opposition to the Bolsheviks was divided on lots of issues, ranging from democracy to accepting the independence of the non-Russians.

    The Red camp, however, was a better place for a leader like Castro or Bonaparte to rise (by that I mean a leader who is charismatic enough and understands what it takes to grab the power and never let it go).
    Quote Originally Posted by Turtler View Post
    Seen nothing. He helped organize that. In large part by learning from his mistakes (for once in his life) after the previous Bolshevik putsch attempts collapsed.
    See, that is why I also doubt his contribution to the successful overthrow of Kerenski is as large as it was later claimed. Learning from past mistakes never seemed to be Trotski's thing.

    It could be that he simply was the most prominent guy around, with the biggest mouth and the fastest to take credit while the actual operation was truly made possible by somebody less famous who subsequently vanished.

    So I chose to say the safer thing: that by being involved to difficult-to-assess-degree in the October coup, he saw how such things can be done successfully with a relatively small force of determined armed supporters.

    Quote Originally Posted by Turtler View Post
    Again, not altogether sure. If I'd have to say, it would be that while Trotsky certainly didn't lack for direct connections to large bodies of armed men willing to do his bidding (or intimidated into doing so), he lacked the loyalty Castro and Bonaparte in particular enjoyed. Which makes a fair degree of sense: the guy was in charge of the Red Army's conscription and discipline methods, which in practice often translated to "Dragging war-weary workers into a military camp" and "shooting them en masse when something went wrong." Such a thing isn't the most conductive to personal loyalty or support.
    Indeed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Turtler View Post
    Actually, he did possess something of a "Personal Army." They were the guys who tended to go around with him in armored train(s) and would act somewhat like Villa's men would in his civil war, by setting up MGs in the rear and urging the men onward through a combination of personal charisma and/or the threat of violence for retreat. And of course backing up those orders with bullets if need be.

    Of course, this goes back to a major fact: Trotsky deferred to Lenin, like just about everybody did. He wasn't THE Leader, he was a Leader of The Leader, acting as a deputy. But it does point to a rather detached relationship/sense of connection between Trotsky and the men he brutalized into the Red Army. One that doubtless helped Stalin a great deal.
    Fully agree with everything.

    Trotsky had little skills in making friends and building coalitions and probably had such a distorted view on what makes most of the humans tick that whenever he was successful he attributed his own success to the wrong causes.

    Stalin knew how to tighten his ties with the 1st Cavalry Army and made sure almost everybody commanding there was indebted to him. When the 2nd Cavalry Army was disbanded, he made sure most of it was swallowed by the 1st Cavalry Army (in whatever form it had evolved in the mean time).

    By contrast Trotsky never took care to firmly secure the support of the 3rd Cavalry Army and its subsequent "re-incarnations", in spite of that force being staffed with people who served under him and who most of the time liked him more than they liked Stalin. But it is one thing to like someone and another thing to tie one's destiny to someone who makes sure to lavishly reward one's supporters.

    Stalin, Napoleon, Caesar, Fidel, Hitler, Mussolini, Genghis Khan, Cromwell, Franco all knew how to please their followers. Trotsky seems to have been severely lacking in that department.

    Note: I do not put those leaders in the same bucket. It is just that all of them played their cards well because they understood how to build their personal power bases.
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    Default Re: What would a Trotsky dominated Soviet Union have looked like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    By Castro taking the power I mean what he did after defeating Batista.

    After ousting Batista he quickly disposed of his [potentialy] rival military commanders. He also made sure the other political leaders influential in the cities (men who actually had played a large part in the victory by orchestrating the crippling strikes) would either be similarly quickly disposed of or persuaded to join his camp.
    My apologies, I misunderstood that much. But yes, agreed. While Castro was an absolute idjiot in his revolution, he was always something of a skilled political manipulator who knew how to play crowds. We see that as far back as his trial for Moncada, and his consolidation of power certainly is a textbook example of cleaning house. I misunderstood what you were getting at.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    Napoleon was not part of the Directorate while Stalin was a full member of the Soviet equivalent, the Politburo. This is why I think Napoleon's ascension and take-over were faster than Stalin's.
    Understandable, though I'm not altogether sure I agree. Napoleon wasn't a member of the Directorate proper, but informally he was certainly a major presence on the French political and military stage by the time he got called out to the Riviera for what was supposed to be a backwater holding action theater. More or less from the start, the Politburo was always larger and more encompassing in terms of membership and responsibility than the Directory (which amounted to five men in total who were basically in charge of the civil government and public policy on the high level). They didn't really include any military men, and I'd say that if we wanted to make a comparison we'd have to take the senior military officers close to them to approximate what we had in the Politburo. At minimum, I'd say that means we'd need to throw Dumouriz and Napoleon in.

    I agree that Napoleon's rise to power was more dramatic/shorter, but I'm not sure there's that broad a gap.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    Napoleon had a much smaller power base than Stalin, but he was very skilled at securing the support of people who mattered (like securing general Moreau's support for the 18 Brumaire coup, Moreau being otherwise a rival of his, plus the support of the key politicians - Talleyrand, Sieyes, Ducos).
    I'd say this depends on what definition of "power base" we're talking about. Stalin certainly had more support amongst the brass of the Soviet regime and could cultivate a pretty large size of supporters on the middle level of the totem pole, but Napoleon had a decent grassroots level of support. Offhand, he had basically the entire Armee D'Italie who basically worshiped him in large measure, and he was one of the darlings of the French Republican "mob" in addition to the higher level patrons he was supporting. I'm sure this probably says something about the differences between even Republican/"Republican" France under the Directory and the Soviet Union and between what mattered to Stalin and Napoleon, but it's just a bit pedantic: I wouldn't say that Napoleon necessarily had a smaller powerbase than Stalin did.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    Things were more difficult for the White commanders because the opposition to the Bolsheviks was divided on lots of issues, ranging from democracy to accepting the independence of the non-Russians.
    Agreed, but the fact that the Whites were so fragmented meant that a strong, competent personality could have emerged with less opposition. A huge part of the reason why Napoleon succeeded was because the Directory outside of two people were so hated that just about anybody would've been more accepted in public opinion than they were, and even then he faced staunch opposition from Moreau. In contrast, the disorganization of the Whites and the lack of a strong centralized leadership made it aesier for someone to rise to the top...at least vis-a-vis his peers. God knows dealing with the actual Red Army wouldn't be so easy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    The Red camp, however, was a better place for a leader like Castro or Bonaparte to rise (by that I mean a leader who is charismatic enough and understands what it takes to grab the power and never let it go).
    I'm not altogether sure, at least on some levels. It certainly offered a more stable and powerful base of support on the way up, being smack dab in teh center of the country in the most heavily populated and industrialized areas of it. However, it also meant dealing with the Bolshevik political machine, and Daddy Lenin. Overall, it was a lot less conductive for people to become popular than Revolutionary France was, it was less conductive for pure meritocracy than it was (case in point of people like Dybenko were kept on in spite of having pretty much no worth whatsoever), and had a political arm that impeded independent leadership. All of that would've made the rise of such a chieftan figure in the Bolshevik party far less likely. Not impossible by any means; God knows Mao came up in relatively similar circumstances. BUt it'd have been more difficult.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    See, that is why I also doubt his contribution to the successful overthrow of Kerenski is as large as it was later claimed. Learning from past mistakes never seemed to be Trotski's thing.
    Tell me about it, mate. It's so unusual that I mentioned his problems with that. But nevertheless I'd have to say that on a fair level he seems to have, and for various reasons it worked out better than the last few cases. Saying it was all because of him is ludicrous, but nobody knew how to rabble rouse and herd cats on the street level like he did, and the fact that Stalin felt he had to write over so much of the org behind the October Revolution says something in and of itself/

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    It could be that he simply was the most prominent guy around, with the biggest mouth and the fastest to take credit while the actual operation was truly made possible by somebody less famous who subsequently vanished.
    Oh, definitely. The coup woudln't have worked with a fair amount of grassroots support or at least tolerance for it in a lot of lower/"steet" level positions, and we can even ID some of the people who were responsible for that and what happened to it. Couple that with the fact that Trotsky definitely had the biggest mouth around, and he never shut it during his long writing career, espeically in exile?

    There's a lot of truth to that observation. It's just that I wouldn't go too far, since the higher level management for it was so much better.

    The Bolsheviks made absolutely sure to fight for the printing presses, they made absolutely sure to cultivate ties with people who were still in decent military order, and the plan for the coup was carried out in a relatively ospeciallrganized manner. Granted, it's a huge stretch to attribute all of this to Trotsky personally. A lot of factors were involved, not the least of which being that the Provisional Government wsa insanely weaked by this point in time and couldn't command the loyalty of the people it needed to surpress something like this. But still, I doubt Trotsky had no role in the improvement; if there is one thing he was good at it was number crunching and rabble management and both were very much in evidence in the October Rev.

    The fact that he recognized the value of propaganda (or at least that there was value in it in the chaos that contemporary Petrograd was in) and prioritized spreading the word around in the leadup to it is certainly something worth noting. In many ways, the decisive engagement of the coup was when the Kerensky government tried to shut the presses down, only to get driven off by the local militias who were on hand for precisely that eventuality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    So I chose to say the safer thing: that by being involved to difficult-to-assess-degree in the October coup, he saw how such things can be done successfully with a relatively small force of determined armed supporters.
    I can understand why, and that's probably the lesson he should've taken off of it, and on some level (especially his use of his "political police" detatchment in the civil war) it looks like he took the lesson to heart. It's just that for whatever reason he didn't apply it in a situation like this. Which fits what you say below about Trotsky often bungling the lessons of what he saw.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    Fully agree with everything.

    Trotsky had little skills in making friends and building coalitions and probably had such a distorted view on what makes most of the humans tick that whenever he was successful he attributed his own success to the wrong causes.

    Stalin knew how to tighten his ties with the 1st Cavalry Army and made sure almost everybody commanding there was indebted to him. When the 2nd Cavalry Army was disbanded, he made sure most of it was swallowed by the 1st Cavalry Army (in whatever form it had evolved in the mean time).

    By contrast Trotsky never took care to firmly secure the support of the 3rd Cavalry Army and its subsequent "re-incarnations", in spite of that force being staffed with people who served under him and who most of the time liked him more than they liked Stalin. But it is one thing to like someone and another thing to tie one's destiny to someone who makes sure to lavishly reward one's supporters.

    Stalin, Napoleon, Caesar, Fidel, Hitler, Mussolini, Genghis Khan, Cromwell, Franco all knew how to please their followers. Trotsky seems to have been severely lacking in that department.

    Note: I do not put those leaders in the same bucket. It is just that all of them played their cards well because they understood how to build their personal power bases.
    I understand indeed, and that's sort of what I was trying to get at (misconstrueing aside): Trotsky had his own glaring and crippling flaws even vis-a-vis Stalin, because they operated in very different ways and with very different styles. That's why I figure that a Trotskyite Soviet Union would wind up becoming the undisputed bad guy of the world order in short form, given how absolutely inflexibile and loudmouthed the guy was. There'd be a difference writing what he wrote from his exile in Mexico, and writing it as the totalitarian dictator of a new regime in a major power. And unlike Hitler, I doubt he'd have the common sense to tone things down like what happened with Mein Kampf's foreign exposure.

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