I posted this on MyT a few years ago in response to an American blogger who saw ‘Trotskyism’ almost everywhere he looked.
Many years ago I had some Trotskyist acquaintances, and I knew a fair bit about Trotsky’s ideas at that time. One thing about him is absolutely clear – he hated ‘bourgeois democracy’. In order to have true (socialist) democracy, he felt, capitalism would have to be swept away. If the workers’ lives were controlled by their bosses, the right to elect members of parliament was immaterial.
Trotsky envisioned democracy through ‘workers’ councils’; he felt that this was the core idea of Bolshevism but it had been betrayed by Lenin and Stalin’s dictatorial instincts. He was on a mission to rescue it; the ice-pick put an end to that, but it couldn’t have succeeded in any case – Trotsky had a naïve view of human nature. He thought that if capitalism were overthrown in one country, that country would be attacked and overcome by others where capitalism persisted – hence the need for worldwide revolution.
What we have now all over the Western world is the very capitalist, bourgeois democracy that Trotsky despised. We have, to degrees varying from country to country, a capitalist economic system mitigated by the intervention of the state in the interest of the general good. It is generally agreed, in Europe at least, that the state has a legitimate role to play not only in justice and foreign policy but also in healthcare, education, welfare and the regulation of business in the consumers’ interest – for example, by legislating against monopolies. Governing parties in Europe tend to be clustered around the political centre; this allows for pragmatic, ad hoc – rather than ideology-based – solutions to problems.
People like you use the word ‘socialism’ far too loosely, and lump all ‘socialists’ together. When you talk about Trotsky you make a huge mistake in apparently not realizing that as he saw capitalism and socialism as incompatible, even current ‘socialist’ governments in Europe would have been anathema to him … he believed in revolution, not reform. Capitalism cannot be reformed out of existence … even if you repeatedly reduce a number by half, you will never reach zero.
For the Trotskyists I knew, the greatest insult was to call a fellow socialist a ‘reformist’. The EU is not anti-capitalist; it is about helping capitalism to flourish in a way that is compatible with social equity and justice … liberty, equality, fraternity, and so on. If you think it is about overthrowing capitalism and replacing it with a Trotskyist social system, I’m afraid you are deluded.