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History's Happenings for October 22

JFK Blockades Cuba Over Missiles

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First Parachute Descent

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Birth of Leon Trotsky

One of Communism's greatest thinkers, and a purer Marxist than either Lenin or Stalin, Leon Trotsky was born in the Ukraine on October 22, 1879.

From his earliest days, Trotsky was committed to the Marxist concept of a worldwide socialist revolution led by the working class. Initially a member of the somewhat more benign Mensheviks ("minority"), Trotsky became a Bolshevik ("majority") over the issue of who would lead the hoped-for revolution. The Mensheviks advocated a loosely controlled party of mass membership, and a leading role for the middle class, while the Bolsheviks under Vladimir Lenin planned a tightly disciplined party of die-hard revolutionaries driving the movement through the Proletariat, or working class.

When the popular revolution of March, 1917 ousted the Czar and established a provisional government under Alexander Kerensky, the Mensheviks advocated working with the new government to establish reasonable social policies, while Lenin and Trotsky led the Bolshevik opposition seeking a "dictatorship of the Proletariat" — a government wherein Lenin's "professional revolutionaries" would rule absolutely and work to spread the revolution beyond Russia's borders. With Lenin in exile, Trotsky was left to do the planning for the overthrow of the provisional government.

And so it came to pass in November, 1917, as the Bolsheviks swept to power in another wave of revolution. Trotsky assumed the position of Commissar of War, and successfully led the newly-formed Red Army against the generally monarchist White Russians in the civil war of 1918-21. To keep itself supplied, the Red Army simply expropriated anything it needed from the peasantry that was supposed to be communism's heart and soul.

When Lenin suffered a stroke in 1922, a Communist Party official by the name of Josef Stalin began maneuvering for control. Trotsky disagreed with Stalin on many issues, including the doctrine of world revolution -- Stalin seemed content to concentrate on Russia, which he proceeded to do with extraordinary thoroughness and brutality in the years ahead.

After Lenin's death in 1924, Stalin quickly consolidated his power, while Trotsky became even more involved in the opposition -- an opposition which, in his opinion at the time, was to the left of Stalin, one of purer Marxism. Consequently, Stalin had him tossed out of the Politburo in 1926, expelled from the Party in 1927, exiled to Russian Asia in 1928, and finally thrown out of the country in 1929.

After moving around looking for a country that would accept him, Trotsky finally settled with his family near Mexico City in 1936. Always a prolific writer, he continued to write articles and theses promoting world revolution and opposing Stalinism. One of his last books, The Revolution Betrayed (1937), was so critical of Stalin that the dictator ordered Trotsky assassinated.

After one failed attempt, the deed was done in August, 1940 by a pickaxe-wielding agent of the Soviet secret police.

Such were life and times in the communist world. Great minds wasted in the desert of totalitarianism.

Feds Take Out "Pretty Boy Floyd"

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