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The Revolution Betrayed

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,339 ratings  ·  63 reviews
One of Marxism's most important texts, The Revolution Betrayed explores the fate of the Russian Revolution after Lenin's death. Written in 1936 and published the following year, this brilliant and profound evaluation of Stalinism from the Marxist standpoint prophesied the collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequent related events.
The effects of the October Revolution led
Paperback, 240 pages
Published February 20th 2004 by Dover Publications (first published 1937)
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Nov 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016

Written in 1936, Trotsky provides a Marxist analysis of the fate of the Russian Revolution after Lenin's death (1924). Which was, obviously, a total totalitarian bureaucracy nightmare, yes. Marx and Lenin would be the very first to say so.

Good read for all the smug fuckers who like to say "well, socialism doesnt work, look at Russia". It was precisely because Stalin and co abandoned the October ideas and principles - including freedom - that this great historic opportunity turned into a massive
The Once and Future King
Jun 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: To anyone who wants to know the difference between Stalinism and true Communism.
This is a most excellent book for all of those who want to know the difference between False Communism and true Communism, International Freedom Fighter Leon Trotsky un-masks the Hypocrisy of the Stalinist Dictatorship in Russia after the Death of Lenin.
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Reading George Orwell made me want to read this, and I'm glad I did.
Tom Michalak
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
His analysis of the Soviet Union's development from the Great October Revolution's inception is a surprisingly well-balanced, materialist one. Going into the book, judging from (my copy's) picture of a scowling Stalin and the title (which I've heard was originally when Trotsky wrote it "The Revolution Deformed"), I imagined it was going to be anti-communist ravings, when it wasn't. The Trotsky I was familiar with until actually reading what he had to say, as opposed to Trotskyist parties of the ...more
I have rather ambiguous feelings on this one. On the one hand, I'm not some right-wing cold warrior who believes that Lenin = Stalin in any straightforward manner. I wouldn't reject every continuity between the two leaderships, but I also believe the differences were important. Nor do I see Lenin as a psychopath merely out for his own power and influence and therefore no different from Stalin. So on this particular point, there would be at least some agreement between me and Trotsky.

My problem
Jun 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
worst case of sour grapes in world history. it's not cool to pooh-pooh the entire bureaucratic-bonapartist project just because you got chased outta town by an icepick-wielding madman, dude.
Sep 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is probably one of the most important books on the Soviet Union. If you are interested in its degeneration and the future collapse of the Eastern block, this is the perfect book to start with. As was the case with the most genuine revolutionaries, Trotsky tended to overestimate the revolutionary potential of the masses. In this book he professes that either there will be a new workers' revolution or capitalism will be restored in Russia. Well, guess what happened at the end.
Andy Hempe
Jan 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of the most important political works of the 20th century. Explains what the Soviet Union started out as, and what it became. Essential reading for anyone interested in the history of socialism. As Trotsky wrote, the Soviet Union was not a communist country, and not even a socialist one; it was half way between capitalism and socialism.
May 30, 2018 rated it did not like it
It’s the usual Trotsky dribble. What do you expect?
Christopher Koch
Jul 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Those who worship the established fact can't prepare for the future.
Jan 28, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: bilge
Ghastly book by one of the few men who might've made the Soviet Union even worse than it was under Stalin.
Oct 05, 2010 rated it it was ok
Oh Trotsky. . . . We all know that you're just bitter because Stalin won and you didn't.
Aug 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: society-politics
The book discusses the origin of authoritarian Communist Party rule in the USSR.

I'd like to think that Trotsky represents a more hopeful alternative, although I don't begin assuming what he says is fact. The USSR and the Communist regimes which followed are polarizing topics. It may be hard to find a fully objective analysis, regardless of the writer's politics, to verify some of Trotsky's data. Trotsky's description of the cause and effect of the changes in the early USSR leading to bureaucracy
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: soviet-history
Trotsky has some wild views about "political revolution against the bureaucracy" that as far as I know weren't at all in touch with Soviet reality (and, perhaps more importantly, would not have stopped the unraveling and stagnation of the planned economy by the 70s/80s due to the Soviet Union's isolation and underdeveloped production). That being said, I actually really enjoyed this book and found it to be a prescient analysis of what the Soviet Union was at the time. Not nearly as ...more
Donna Davis
Brilliant theory; wish he'd been right.
Shea Mastison
Dec 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
"The motor force of progress is truth and not lies." Trotsky is an interesting political figure from the 20th century. He was the 'Left Opposition' to Stalin; and a political scapegoat for nearly every catastrophe that befell the Soviet Union after Lenin's death. In this book, Trotsky uses wit and cold facts to dismantle the bureaucratic mess that was the U.S.S.R.

It's not that Trotsky disagrees with the objectives; he's just highly skeptical of the "new aristocracy" that had built itself upon
Jun 08, 2010 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Michael de Percy
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
When I lecture I will often, in the heat of the moment, say things based on my understanding of the topic, and oftentimes it is hard to pin-point where this knowledge came from - a case of: how do I know what I know? The experience usually sends me back to the books to reconfirm my knowledge. Whenever I read the classic political science texts from J.S. Mill, Rousseau, Hobbes, Locke, Burke, et al., I feel as though I am reading what I know. This is clearly a result of my education, but after ...more
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reading The Revolution Betrayed along with What Is to Be Done feels like reading tragedy. If What Is to Be Done is the Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers the October Revolution, then The Revolution Betrayed is the Eumenides and Trotsky is Orestes, trying to find reason among the blood that was shed for Marxism and seeking justice before the Furies in the Comintern rip him to shreds.

The Revolution Betrayed unflinchingly investigates how the tactics of Lenin that overthrew the despot king led to
James Fleming
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A work of genius. Anyone who genuinely wishes to understand the nature of the Soviet Union should make reading this a priority. The science of Marxism shines like a light from its pages as it describes the "midnight in the century" that was Stalinism. In this work, Trotsky reclaims Marxism for the people away from the combined clutches of Western bourgeois hypocrisy and Stalinist propaganda, who had shared interests in describing the Soviet Union as "socialist". Trotsky describes the ...more
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Trotsky’s writing is the solvent to any and all unwieldy criticism of Marxist communism by way of Stalin’s brutal reign. Prescient and precise in its criticisms of the Soviet Union’s bureaucratic, one-state socialism, The Revolution Betrayed is a sentence-by-sentence mouthful and a consistent attack on the Stalinist regime; and on the deficiency of half-cocked communism. With capitalist aims at heart, and dictatorship in the fist, Stalinism is a dangerous confiscation of the ideals of ...more
Xavier Alexandre
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: politic, economy
A deep analysis about what went wrong in Soviet Union, and how the original ideal of socialism was brutally replaced by a bureaucracy dictatorship. One would love to know what would have happened if the USSR had stayed true to the intentions of erstwhile revolutionaries. And to ask the author his analysis of the current world. He was right in expecting Soviet bureaucracy to founder at some time. But it has certainly not been replaced by a regime he would appreciate.
Surprisingly easy read. Trotsky is downright hilarious in places, with a very dry wit. Makes some good points. Makes some naive/optimistic points. I have trouble thinking that his idealistic view of communism/socialism was possible, particularly at the point in time he was writing from. Lots of the insights from the book are still valid, though.
Nov 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Interesting what he gets right and wrong. Also has a passage (not sure which page as the version I read was an ebook) that seems to be anticipating Hayek's view of prices as an information aggregator (see "The Use of Knowledge in Society")...
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
This book was interesting and insightful. Although I had studied communism in college (poli sci major here), I never went this in-depth into Russia/Soviet Union. Sort of dry reading, but not too difficult to get through.
Sebastian Coe
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent overview of how the bureacracy of the Soviet Union, embodied by Stalin, became a force in itself, which strangled any possible growth towards worker socialism. By the time this book was written, Trotsky was keenly aware of the upcoming world war, and the possible outcomes.
Kenneth Goodall
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Trotsky's best work a must read !
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
An analysis of Trotskyist ideas will be published on my blog soon.
Nate Gutman
Sep 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Insider's view of the departure of the USSR from socialism. Very insightful.
Ozgur Deniz
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Check out trotsky's point of view on bolshevik revolution
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See also Лев Троцкий

Leon Trotsky was a Bolshevik revolutionary and Marxist theorist. He was one of the leaders of the Russian October Revolution, second only to Vladimir Lenin. During the early days of the Soviet Union, he served first as People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs and later as the founder and commander of the Red Army and People's Commissar of War. He was also among the first members
“The basis of bureaucratic rule is the poverty of society in objects of consumption, with the resulting struggle of each against all. When there is enough goods in a store, the purchasers can come whenever they want to. When there is little goods, the purchasers are compelled to stand in line. When the lines are very long, it is necessary to appoint a policeman to keep order. Such is the starting point of the power of the Soviet bureaucracy. It "knows" who is to get something and who has to wait.” 7 likes
“A program of "disarmament," while imperialist antagonisms survive, is the most pernicious of fictions. Even if it were realized by way of general agreement - an obviously fantastic assumption!- that would by no means
prevent a new war. The imperialists do not make war because there are armaments; on the contrary, they forge
arms when they need to fight.”
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