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Arise, ye prisoners of delusion! Arise, ye whackjobs of the Earth!
September 24, 2006 3:14 PM   Subscribe

Have you ever run into Trotskyites before? You know, those dour, uptight dudes handing out free papers at demonstrations? They can spout some pretty colorful rhetoric but apart from that, most of them lead dull, constricted lives devoted to Party meetings and getting out the Party newspaper. Juan Posadas was the exception to this rule. Señor Posadas was a high-octane Trotskyite superfreak who advocated a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the USA in order to hasten the proletarian revolution. He looked to the skies and saw UFOs as evidence of the triumph of communism on other planets. Fidel Castro banned the Cuban section of his movement for trying to organize an attack on the U.S. base at Guantanamo. They don’t make ‘em like Posadas anymore. That’s for sure. (If you’re curious, there’s an archive of his works stored here. And some people are still keeping the faith.)
posted by jason's_planet (50 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Is it just me or does understanding communsism and it's movements and schism really complicated? It's like trying to do calculus in your head.
posted by nyxxxx at 3:22 PM on September 24, 2006


I've met some Trotskyites. They tend to be very wealthy.
posted by bardic at 3:29 PM on September 24, 2006


Is it just me or does understanding communsism and it's movements and schism really complicated?

No. It's not just you. I actually was one for a while and I never got the hang of who expelled whom or who was getting kicked out of whose meetings. I don't think I missed much, to tell you the truth.
posted by jason's_planet at 3:37 PM on September 24, 2006


I've met some Trotskyites. They tend to be very wealthy.

Funny...I'm a Trotskyist, and neither I nor most of the other people I've met who consider themselves Trotskyists are exactly rolling in the dough. I admit there are exceptions (I think some of the people high-up in the International Socialist Organization have quite a good chunk of change), but the rank and file of the groups are either older people with union jobs they've had for years, or younger people who are either students or don't exactly live high on the lamb (like myself; I hardly consider $30K/year "very wealthy").
posted by graymouser at 3:38 PM on September 24, 2006


Pretty much all Trotskyites have given it up and become right wing lunatics instead these days anyway.
posted by Artw at 3:39 PM on September 24, 2006


Fascinating -- I have just learned that, as a Trotskyist ("Trotskyite is not the preferred nomenclature, dude"), I am dour, uptight, independently wealthy male who has recently become a right-wing lunatic. Thanks for setting me straight, Metafilter!
posted by scody at 3:40 PM on September 24, 2006


As to the post at large, I've been in a couple of Trotskyist groups -- one, Solidarity, has largely abstained from actually doing anything these days, and the other, Socialist Action, has about 70 people and little prospects for actually going anywhere. I'm not in either these days, but I think the OP is at best specious about who we are; Trotskyists actually have lives, y'know.

Anyway, I think you have to be realistic about the lunacy of people like Posadas: during the Cold War, the Trotskyists wound up isolated as the part of the Left that actually stood up against the Stalinists. They were marginalized, and keeping that up takes a hell of a lot out of a person. Some went bonkers, others went off on one sectarian jag or another. That's life for you.
posted by graymouser at 3:49 PM on September 24, 2006


Always here to help, scody.
posted by Captaintripps at 3:53 PM on September 24, 2006


Thanks for setting me straight, Metafilter!

Sorry that I've offended you. Any thoughts on Posadas? Are you a Posadista?

Trotskyists actually have lives, y'know.

I'm happy that you've managed it. That sure as hell wasn't my experience.
posted by jason's_planet at 3:59 PM on September 24, 2006


My favorite info bit about Trotsky was when he, early on, tried to get Lenin to allow worker collectives to run their own factories and make a profit for themselves. Didn't take, sadly.

most of them lead dull, constricted lives devoted to Party meetings and getting out the Party newspaper

Ya know, I really wish folks would learn to leave opinionated garbage out of their front page posts. Save the insulting crap for the inside.

By the way, is there a reason you linked to Google caches of the original Fortean Times article? The site works fine, and should get the linkage.
posted by mediareport at 4:00 PM on September 24, 2006


the rank and file of the groups are either older people with union jobs they've had for years, or younger people who are either students or don't exactly live high on the lamb

That's pretty consistent with my experience.
posted by jason's_planet at 4:03 PM on September 24, 2006


I was all set to come into here and make a joke about MeFites being those dour, uptight dudes handing out free papers at demonstrations, but I see it's already been aptly demonstrated.
posted by keswick at 4:20 PM on September 24, 2006


I think that many of you are missing the point, which is:

Posadas RAWKED!

He was an amazingly creative and colorful guy and I created this post to celebrate his creative lunacy, which I think was worthy of a FPP.
posted by jason's_planet at 4:46 PM on September 24, 2006


Ahem. Not all Trotskyites are Posadists. There are still quite a few other "Fourth Internationals", and even a couple of so-called Fifth Internationals (I say 'so-called' because, to "call bullshit" on a phrase in the last- referenced article, the problem with Internationals since the late 19th century Second was high-jacking by Marxists; the First International was much broader, and Marx's claims to "leadership" were challenged by many, especially Bakunin, an Anarchist. These days there are many "Left-wing 'Internationals'", including (according to Wikipedia) three Anarchist Internationals: The IAF, Black Bridge, and IWA. (I concentrated here on Wikipedia articles for my own convenience; the Wikipedia articles have bibliographies and external links for interested folks.)

But Posadas does seem to've been an unusual fellow, so I won't quibble about the presence of the FPP. And in case anyone cares, I myself am not a member of any group or tendency there are any Wikipedia articles about.
posted by davy at 5:14 PM on September 24, 2006


Seriously, anyone who enjoyed this post and isn't down with Leftist Trainspotters really has to join. Maybe even Posadas gets a mention from time to time.

And I'm a member of what might be termed a "soft-trot" group, aligned with Solidarity in the US.
posted by Gnatcho at 5:27 PM on September 24, 2006


By 1959, Posadas was quarrelling with Pablo, denouncing his “lack of confidence”.

"We find your lack of confidence... disturbing."
posted by clevershark at 5:39 PM on September 24, 2006


Hey, I live in a city that was governed by Trotskyites for several years. They were definitely dour, uptight and right wing, and while they might not have had a lot of money before they got into power, some of them weren't short of it by the time they left.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:47 PM on September 24, 2006


I was a Trot for about two weeks in college; it was a sure-fire way to piss everybody off. (Then I discovered anarchism was an even better way.) I'll take this opportunity to point out that Trotsky was a superb reporter; he was a war correspondent during the Balkan Wars (1912-13), and the book collecting his reportage is well worth seeking out. If only he hadn't got into the revolution business!
posted by languagehat at 6:03 PM on September 24, 2006


My favorite info bit about Trotsky was when he, early on, tried to get Lenin to allow worker collectives to run their own factories and make a profit for themselves.

When (communist) sailors in Kronstadt requested free elections, free speech, and the release of political prisoners from Bolshevik jails and concentration camps, Trotsky, as War Commissar, sent in the army and crushed the rebellion. To this day, Trotskyists are still defending his actions against "petty-bourgeois putschists".
posted by stammer at 6:05 PM on September 24, 2006


Mutilating capitalism, one cow at a time...
posted by Pinback at 6:14 PM on September 24, 2006


*cough*
posted by leotrotsky at 6:23 PM on September 24, 2006


It just floors me that, in the 21st century, there are people that still believe communism can work, if given the right set of circumstances. It's like meeting people that believe the planet is borne on the back of a turtle, and they're convinces that it's just turtles, turtles, turtles, all the way down.

Makes me wanna pull a Grey's Anatomy:

"Communism. Seriously? Seriously?"
posted by frogan at 6:44 PM on September 24, 2006


frogan: it's funny, ain't it?
posted by keswick at 6:46 PM on September 24, 2006


Almost as funny as Republicans who think their party wants any sort of a free market.
posted by sonofsamiam at 6:54 PM on September 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


It just floors me that, in the 21st century, there are people that still believe communism can work, if given the right set of circumstances.

Honestly, it floors me that, in the 21st century, over half the world's population is poor, over a third are desperately poor, yet people think that capitalism "works" and it's socialism that has failed. Calling capitalism a "success" is a sick joke.
posted by graymouser at 7:00 PM on September 24, 2006 [2 favorites]


it's not capitalism's fault 2/3 of the world's population is lazy.
posted by keswick at 7:03 PM on September 24, 2006 [2 favorites]


And brown-skinned too, right keswick?
posted by bardic at 7:07 PM on September 24, 2006


I'm not sure what that has to do with anything, you filthy racist.
posted by keswick at 7:08 PM on September 24, 2006


Geez. One person calls communism a joke and then
HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT? CAPITALISM DOESN'T WORK YOU TAKE THAT BACK
C'mon. Communism doesn't work. Socialism has merits and capitalism has merits and they're great together, but communism isn't good.
posted by Joybooth at 7:15 PM on September 24, 2006


yet people think that capitalism "works" and it's socialism that has failed.

Notice I said "communism," not "socialism," but thanks for playing. There are many semi-socialist countries that are clear successes on the world stage (big shoutout to the Swedish Bikini Team here).

But then again, I'd blame cockamamie socialist and communist policies and plain-jane corruption for the world's ills, not the "capitalist" idea that people should be free to do what they want to do.

So, point to a true, world-stage-level communist success story -- you know, the real worker's paradise -- and we can do a compare/contrast. Let us know when you find one.
posted by frogan at 7:32 PM on September 24, 2006


the "capitalist" idea that people should be free to do what they want to do

Huh? Show me one country where capitalism survives without a government.
posted by davy at 7:51 PM on September 24, 2006


But then again, I'd blame cockamamie socialist and communist policies and plain-jane corruption for the world's ills, not the "capitalist" idea that people should be free to do what they want to do.

Show me a capitalist society that has shown a real commitment to letting people do what they want to do (even Latin American people and poor people and people who live on oilfields and near diamond mines). Alternately, show me a capitalist society that has developed working mechanisms to stop "plain-jane corruption" from causing thousands of deaths.

Excellent post, by the way, jason's_planet.
posted by stammer at 7:54 PM on September 24, 2006


Excellent post, by the way, jason's_planet.

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it!
posted by jason's_planet at 8:05 PM on September 24, 2006


Is it true that Trotsky slept with Salma Hayek?
posted by homunculus at 8:07 PM on September 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


Trotsky, as War Commissar, sent in the army and crushed the rebellion

Yeah, that would be one of my least favorite info bits about Trotsky. I highlighted the other one to note that even during the vehement early years of Soviet communism, there were leaders exploring use of the profit motive in small collectives. I've always found that fascinating.
posted by mediareport at 8:10 PM on September 24, 2006


I'm glad you enjoyed it!

But why *did* you link to the Google cache of the Fortean Times pages? I'm just curious.
posted by mediareport at 8:11 PM on September 24, 2006


Show me a capitalist society that has shown a real commitment to letting people do what they want to do.

The United States? Oh, that's right. U.S. = bad. Fuck, how about Canada? Great Britain? Japan? Australia?

Alternately, show me a capitalist society that has developed working mechanisms to stop "plain-jane corruption" from causing thousands of deaths.

The United States? Oh, again, anything from the U.S. is just bad, bad, bad. You know, all that 20th century genocide and purges and five-year-plans and everything else right here in North America.

Communism. Holy fuck. Seriously? Seriously?
posted by frogan at 10:21 PM on September 24, 2006


Mind you, his great-granddaughter is doing a pretty good job as the head of NIDA.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:33 PM on September 24, 2006


Show me a capitalist society that has shown a real commitment to letting people do what they want to do.

Capitalism is all about letting people do what they want to do. The freer the market, the better the chance that I'll be able to starve your family to provide luxuries for mine (or vice versa). Empowerment, hell no. Freedom, for sure.
posted by dreamsign at 11:35 PM on September 24, 2006


Yeah. Of all things to pick on capitalism for, freedom isn't really one of them. No, no capitalist countries are "truly free". Then again, no communist countries are "truly free". And, for that matter, no capitalist countries are "truly capitalist", and no communist countries are "truly communist". But if we're painting with broad brushes, capitalist countries tend to focus on freedom, at the expense of equality, and communist countries tend to focus on equality, at the expense of freedom.
posted by Bugbread at 12:20 AM on September 25, 2006


It is clear that while we maintain a factious, individual competing viciously and endlessly against individual, capitalist system and fail to unite all humanity in common cause we fail to ignite the interest of the superior intelligents[sic] that reside in our shared universe.*

He has no good reason to suppose anything about the motivations of these extraterrestrial 'intelligents' perhaps we are all safer without their attentions. Which I think is a pretty solid argument for the continuation of the current mess.
* Not, actually, a quote. I made it up.
posted by econous at 5:34 AM on September 25, 2006


Yeah. Of all things to pick on capitalism for, freedom isn't really one of them.

Kind of depends on how you define freedom, doesn't it? What exactly does freedom mean to you? While communism has been an abysmal failure, mind you, capitalism has brought us the slave trade (pretty much the opposite of "freedom" by my reckoning), the company store, banana republics, the war on drugs, and the war on terror.

In the netherlands (a socialist country) prostitution is legal, as are most recreational drugs. (Oh yeah, and they have freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion, too). What specific freedoms do we have more of in good ol' capitalist US of A? Could you be more specific?
posted by saulgoodman at 8:07 AM on September 25, 2006


saulgoodman writes "capitalism has brought us the slave trade (pretty much the opposite of 'freedom' by my reckoning), the company store, banana republics,"

Good points.

saulgoodman writes "the war on drugs"

Dunno so much about that one. Illegal drug sales are a huge economy. While otherwise capitalist countries have the war on drugs going, there are no true, 100% capitalist countries, and I'd say the war on drugs is an example of a non-capitalist, paternalist (semi-socialist) aspect. Not that socialism advocates a war on drugs, by any means. But put together the paternalist aspects of a socialist government with the blind traditions and stupidity that crop up in countries regardless of their economic backing, and you get things like the war on drugs.

saulgoodman writes "and the war on terror."

If you're talking about the whole Afghanistan / Iraq part of this fiasco, it's partly economically based, and largely religiously based (in my opinion), but it isn't so much an example of lack of liberty for the residents of America (as your slavery, banana republic, company store examples were). If you're talking about the curtailing of civil liberties inside the US as a result of the war on terror...Well, to be honest, I have no idea what's up with that. I can't see it as being a result of capitalism, though no doubt it does help people economically. I think that whole situation is too complex to put it on the "Socialist/Capitalist" spectrum easily.

saulgoodman writes "In the netherlands (a socialist country) prostitution is legal, as are most recreational drugs. (Oh yeah, and they have freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion, too). What specific freedoms do we have more of in good ol' capitalist US of A? Could you be more specific?"

Well, first, I never said all capitalist countries are more free than all socialist ones, just that in general they have more freedom and more inequality, whereas in general socialist countries have more equality and less freedom. Second, I dunno, ask someone who lives in America. I haven't lived there in over a decade, and things have changed. I never meant my discussion of general trends in capitalism and socialism to be a discussion of America vs. Socialism. America's just a fucked up goofy country right now. Using it as a baseline example of capitalism is like using North Korea as a baseline example of socialism.
posted by Bugbread at 8:50 AM on September 25, 2006


I think that whole situation is too complex to put it on the "Socialist/Capitalist" spectrum easily.

Bingo.

Using it as a baseline example of capitalism is like using North Korea as a baseline example of socialism.

Agreed. And yet, many Americans operate under the impression that capitalism is a uniquely American concept, and that America essentially is capitalism (at least, if you take the rhetoric at face value).
posted by saulgoodman at 9:42 AM on September 25, 2006


But this is all probably best left for another topic.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:43 AM on September 25, 2006


Kind of depends on how you define freedom, doesn't it?

I noted that capitalism wasn't in the business of empowerment. Conceptions of positive liberty (the ability to do what you want, not just the freedom to do so if you have the means) have a great deal more to do with equality than dog-eats-dog capitalism.

But that's not what most people mean when they speak of "freedom" and government.
posted by dreamsign at 11:59 AM on September 25, 2006


The War on Drugs is a HUGE victory for US Capitalism. Artificial scarcity = Massive profits = handy funding for CIA black bag shenanigans worldwide.
posted by stenseng at 7:21 PM on September 25, 2006


stenseng : "The War on Drugs is a HUGE victory for US Capitalism. Artificial scarcity = Massive profits = handy funding for CIA black bag shenanigans worldwide."

True, but I think it's a bit silly to claim that any time someone benefits from something, they therefore did that on purpose for that benefit. The war on drugs has benefited capitalism, but it's not some sort of product of capitalism, any more than Clinton getting a blowjob benefited the Republicans, and therefore Republicanism results in centrist presidents getting blowjobs.
posted by Bugbread at 8:34 PM on September 25, 2006


In the netherlands (a socialist country) prostitution is legal, as are most recreational drugs. (Oh yeah, and they have freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion, too).

Huh? I've lived in the Netherlands, and it looked pretty capitalistic to me, with such mainstays of capitalism as Philips, Unilever and Royal Dutch Shell. Hell, the Dutch invented capitalism, in the first place!
Sure, it's a pretty high-tax country (although not necessarily for corporations and pop stars, though), with a comprehensive safety net, but socialist? Not by a long shot...

The misuse of the "socialist" tag over there in America bugs me to no end. To me "socialism" means at the very least the public ownership of the means of production. And, by that measure, no Western European country even remotely fits the bill. In fact, after some intensive fits of privatisation, most European countries are farther from socialism than the USA. You still have state-owned railways and post service, after all (both privatised in the Netherlands, for example).

Now, in Europe "Social Democrats" (who in some cases still misleadingly call themselves "Socialists") are certainly more influential than in the USA. But what they advocate is a welfare safety net and some redistribution of wealth. Not socialism. And they are just one party in a rather competitive political landscape.
posted by Skeptic at 12:02 AM on September 26, 2006


public ownership of the means of production

Skeptic--Alles klar. You're right on all counts. But many Americans take "socialism" to mean any form of government that provides publically-funded social programs. Sorry; I know that's not what the term means in the rest of the world, but that's what it usually means here in the states. Basically, any governmental function beyond national defense and criminal justice is considered socialism (and yes, I think people here actually just confuse the concepts because of the similarity of the language, i.e., social programs --> socialism).
posted by saulgoodman at 7:13 AM on September 26, 2006


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