The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Trotsky, Lev Davidovitch (1879–1940)

  • Richard B. Day
Reference work entry


Born in 1879, the son of Jewish farmers living near the Black Sea, Trotsky became an important political figure by the time of the Second Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Party in 1903. Disagreeing with Lenin’s centralizing view of party organization, Trotsky either favoured the Mensheviks or attempted to mediate between them and the Bolsheviks until making his peace with Lenin in 1917. In the 1905 Revolution he served as chairman of the St Petersburg Soviet, drawing upon that experience to develop the theory of ‘permanent revolution’ in his book Results and Prospects. In the 1917 Revolution Trotsky ranked second only to Lenin among Bolshevik party leaders. He orchestrated the seizure of power and subsequently organized and led the Red Army in the civil war. During the early 1920s Trotsky’s political influence waned, and by the middle of the decade he became the political leader and intellectual mentor of the Left Opposition to Stalin. Defeated by Stalin in the intra-party struggle, in 1929 Trotsky was deported from the Soviet Union. In exile he edited Biulleten’ Oppozitsii (Bulletin of the Opposition) and published numerous other writings critical of Stalinist policy, the most important being The Revolution Betrayed. Unable to answer Trotsky’s criticisms on intellectual grounds, in August 1940 Stalin replied in the only way he knew: he had Trotsky assassinated in Mexico, his last place of exile.


Bukharin, N. I. Collectivization Comparative coefficients Industrialization Planning Socialism Stalin, J. V. Trade monopoly Trade unions Trotsky, L. D 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard B. Day
    • 1
  1. 1.