Trotsky, Jewish universalist

by Chris Bertram on September 2, 2003

When I, somewhat unwisely, ventured into the “greatest figures of the 20th century” debate and mentioned Trotsky, there was a good deal of flak in the comments to the post. One blogger who agreed with that judgement, and who had voted for Trotsky in the original poll, was Norman Geras. Now Norman has published (for the first time in English) an essay he wrote a few years ago on Trotsky’s Jewish identity and the tension between that identity and the revolutionary leader’s universalist goals. It is well worth reading for many reasons, but I’ll mention two: first, it reveals Trotsky’s remarkable prediction, as early as 1938, that the extermination of the Jews was in prospect, and second, Geras reminds us via Trotsky’s account of a pogrom from 1905 what a powerful writer he was.

{ 1 comment }


Chris Young 09.03.03 at 12:16 pm

This is embarrassingly trivial, but Geras’ article reminded me that, billions and billions of years ago, Private Eye ran a silly item asserting that Trotsky had had an affair with Paula Ben-Gurion.

Now nothing interests me so little as the sex lives of the dead, but did Trotsky and the Ben-Gurions spend enough time together to lend credibility to such a rumour, and if so, is it known what they discussed? Because that really would be interesting.

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