05 March 2006

Blair: trotskyite?

file under: things that a US president could never do
file under: yet another thing that Bush has likely not read (either book, by the way)
file under: now I have to read this biography. damn.

Blair Says Trotsky Book Inspired Him

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March 04,2006 | LONDON -- Prime Minister Tony Blair, who wrenched his party from the left to the center of the political spectrum, said he had been inspired to enter politics by a book about socialist icon Leon Trotsky.

At a World Book Day event at London's Commonwealth Club earlier this week, Blair said Isaac Deutscher's biography of the Russian communist leader was the book that meant the most to him.

Deutscher's three-volume work -- "The Prophet Armed," "The Prophet Unarmed" and "The Prophet Outcast" -- paints a sympathetic portrait of Trotsky, who helped Vladimir Lenin lead the 1917 Russian revolution but was later driven out by Joseph Stalin. He was murdered by an agent of Stalin in Mexico in 1940.

"I might as well make a confession now," Blair said. "There were people who got me very involved in politics. But then there was also a book."

Blair said the work "made a very deep impression on me and gave me a love of political biography for the rest of my life."

"My association with books has continued through the rest of my adult life but particularly with my children," Blair added.

He said the book he read most often was "Flat Stanley," a children's story loved by his 5-year-old son, Leo.

"I know more about Flat Stanley than I ever really wanted to."

1 comment:

tenaciousmcd said...

It's about time for a Trotsky comeback. After all, many of the American neo-cons now allied with Blair are repentant Trotskyites, and Francis Fukayama (as several people have already pointed out) seems to be positioning himself as the neocon Trotsky. To paraphrase: "neoconservatism has never failed because it has never been tried."

Still, I'm a bit shocked by Blair's comment. Did he really mean it in an admiring way? Trotsky may have been charismatic, but his politics were thoroughly repellant. The Russian Revolution didn't just go wrong once Stalin took over--it was rotten from the start. And Trotsky's "permanent revolution" suggests an even more aggressively militarist and imperialist stance than did Stalin's "socialism in one country." Hard to top Stalin for brutality, but I can't really imagine that Trotsky would have been much better, if at all. So why the romance? Icepick chic? Che with cred?