Law, David (1987) Trotsky in opposition: 1923-1940. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

This thesis, which is divided into two parts, examines both the politics and theory of Trotsky's opposition to the
post-Lenin leadership in the USSR between 1923 and 1940. Each of these parts is preceded by an introduction which outlines the content of the following chapters, and, in the case of the introduction to the first part, reviews the literature of current 'Trotsky studies'.
The first part begins with a chapter outlining Trotsky's political career before 1923 and indicating the content and significance of his theory of permanent revolution. The next three chapters present a narrative of Trotsky's political orientation toward the post-Lenin leadership, the Communist Party, and the Soviet state. The detail of Trotsky's programmatic position is discussed, using his published and unpublished writings. Each of the chapters puts this into the context of his current political perspectives.
For ten years, 1923-33, Trotsky's demands were relatively moderate, reflecting a belief that the real menace to socialist development came from capitalism (both inside and outside the country) and the 'Thermidorian' adaptation to its pressure by a section of the Party. Throughout the decade he sought to build alliances for reform; as late as 1932 he was in contact with disaffected groups in the Party. Thereafter, Trotsky's strategy towards the USSR changed from that of reformist to revolutionary, but he never relinquished the definition of the Soviet state as a 'workers' state'.
After expulsion from the Party (1927), and then exile from the USSR (1929), Trotsky's assessments of events were often erroneous but seldom uninteresting. Chapters three and four include discussion of his reactions to the 'left turn'
(1929-30), the first show trials (1928-31), the Kirov affair
(1934), the new Constitution of 1936, and the Moscow trials
(1936-38).
The second part of the thesis presents the conceptual apparatus on which Trotsky's opposition was based: his view of the transition to socialism; his changing definitions of
'Thermidor' and 'Bonapartism'; his analysis of 'bureaucracy' - its nature, its causes, and its consequences. The conclusion incorporates a discussion of Trotsky's characterisation of the USSR as a 'degenerated workers' state'.
The notion of 'degenerated workers' state' was articulated to 'solve' the problem perceived by Trotsky: what remains when both the forward march of revolution and the anticipated counter-revolution have faltered? In Trotsky's view, the postponement of the historical reckoning between capitalism and socialism permitted the rise of an unstable 'Bonapartist' regime which, within itself, united features of both proletarian revolution and bourgeois counter-revolution.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: For access to the hard copy thesis, check the University Library catalogue.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Contributors: Lampert, Genie (Thesis advisor)
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2020 12:57
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2020 12:57
URI: http://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/7776

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