I’m just about to finish Edmund Wilson’s To the Finland Station, which is such a magnificent book about the rise of revolutionary ideology, culminating in the Bolshevik Revolution. It’s so hard to make this stuff readable and yet Wilson turns it into a page turner. Even at 80 years old, it holds up incredibly well, outside of his tendency to generalize about peoples–“the German,” “the Russian,” the Jew.” Though I feel like saying a lot about “the American” right now. Anyway, I realized I had never heard Trotsky speak. His English isn’t great, but here he is, just before the end of his life, reading from his denouncing of Stalin:
Even in this circumstance, one can feel the charisma and power of this man washing over you. Trotsky did always know how to carry himself and perform the role, regardless of what you think about his life and ideas.
Incidentally, if you want to see some real trash, watch the Russian series Trotsky that Netflix is streaming. It’s pure Putin propaganda. The show leaves no opportunity to remind you that Trotsky was A JEW unused. It’s pretty terrible, though honestly, late at night, it’s worth seeing if you want something both mindless and infuriating that can be used to talk about later.
Couldn’t find any footage of Wilson, surprisingly. Maybe I need to look harder.