My Man, Trotsky — I

My Man, Trotsky — I found myself amazed to be nodding in agreement at the end of Mick Hume’s New Statesman piece on Trotsky (via A&L Daily). He writes:

The left-right debates or class divides of Trotsky’s time mean little in politics now. New divisions are taking shape, perhaps most importantly between those who champion progress and change and those who resist it. Every argument against change is posed in moral terms, whether it be about our duty to conserve the environment or the alleged dangers of embryo research. The supposedly ethical argument seems always to be the conservative one for restraint, aiming to put a brake on scientific or social advance.

Yet by the standards that Trotsky acknowledged in very different circumstances, the progressive view remains the moral one, especially if it “leads to increasing the power of humanity over nature and the abolition of the power of one person over another”.

It seems Virginia’s ideas are getting through to the not-quite-but-close Trotskyites at the New Statesman. Anyway, he’s right about the new alignments. In the face of the evidence, Marxists can give up their progressive humanism, give up on evidence, or both (which is dispiritingly popular). Congratulations to Hume for sticking with progress and people, at least.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center