Geras and Trotskyism

  • Mark Cowling


The chapter examines Geras’s earlier writings on Trotsky and Trotskyism. Geras accepted the idea of permanent revolution, regarded Trotsky as a democratic figure, admired his prescient analysis of the rise of Nazism, and admired Trotsky as a literary figure. Cowling argues that this was one of the weakest aspects of Geras’s work. If he had applied his technique of rigorous analysis and thorough theoretical research, he might perhaps have reached his liberal Marxist position earlier. Cowling claims that Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution is vague, and not accepted by Lenin and Luxemburg. Trotsky’s own political practice, and that of Trotskyists generally, was and remains remarkably unsuccessful. Trotsky was not remotely a democratic figure when in power, and applied terror ruthlessly; he failed to criticize his past. He was more perceptive than other Marxists about the rise of Nazism, but his proposed strategy for dealing with it was inferior to that eventually adopted by Stalin. And sometimes his literary flourishes sound fine but are effectively meaningless.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Cowling
    • 1
  1. 1.Teesside University [retired]MiddlesboroughUK

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