In The Atlantic Monthly: July/August 2004 Christopher Hitchens writes,
Leon Trotsky survives as part kitsch and part caricature. But the reissue of a majestic biography reveals him as he always was – a prophetic moralist; The Prophet Armed: Trotsky 1879-1921: The Prophet Unarmed: Trotsky 1921-1929: The Prophet Outcast: Trotsky 1929-1940: by Isaac Deutscher.
Trotsky took a leading part in the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917, and also in many other political and military upheavals, from the Balkans to China, and was perhaps the most prescient writer of his day in warning of the true menace of National Socialism. Yet his most enduring and tenacious battle was against the monstrous regime that had resulted from his earlier exertions.
Comparisons are made between economists (J. M. Keynes) and revolutionaries,
Lenin is stranded in time and place, as are Mao and Ho Chi Minh. Stalin is annexed to the general study of pathological dictatorship. Combative and brilliant intellectuals such as Rosa Luxemburg, Antonio Gramsci, and Nikolai Bukharin are for specialists, and were localized before they were defeated. Fidel Castro has at least made it into the twenty-first century, but at the price of becoming a bloated and theatrical caricature. Only Che Guevara retains a hint of charisma, and he made no contribution whatsoever to the battle of theories and ideas.
And “the large footprint of Trotsky and Trotskyism among intellectuals” including American examples such as Saul Bellow, Mary McCarthy, Clement Greenberg, Norman Mailer, George Orwell and, nearer the present time, the hero of Milan Kundera’s The Joke has only to write “Long Live Trotsky!” on a postcard in order to find out precisely how, why, and when a “joke” under communism has gone too far.
What is missing of course is the influence that Trotsky had on Australian philosophy and intellectual thought. Does Australia have a history of “philosophy and intellectual thought” I hear you ask. Apparently so, as detailed in a book called “Corrupting the Youth: A HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY IN AUSTRALIA” by James Franklin. A number of reviews are listed at the Arts and Letters site including one from the Times Literary Supplement that includes a quote would resonate with the Professor in the billabong.
Linking Anderson to the 1970s strife is “The Push”, that twenty-year affair (mainly amorous) during which, in Barry Humphries’s words, “a fraternity of middle-class desperates, journalists, drop-out academics, gamblers and poets manqu©s, and their doxies” hung out in the Royal George pub, drank themselves silly, gambled on the horses, and slept with each other’s girlfriends (even passing the hat round for abortions what mates). The inspiration? Anderson, of course. Australian libertarianism (not just libertinism) found its feet during those many long hours of arguing whether the tote should be privatized. Since the Communist Party was marginalized throughout the Cold War, and the Labor Party split, the Push was a colourful attempt to fill the ideological vacuum.
Another from Quadrant magazine entitled “THOSE SMORGASBORD CATHOLICS” by Peter Coleman does in fact mention the influence of political thinking of the time including interference by the church in the education system that was being regularly corrupted by institutionalised sodomy.
The Primate 1 asked: Is it not the duty of governments to take action against immoralist philosophers who are undermining civilisation?
Anderson’s teaching on ethics did not vary greatly in his thirty years as Challis Professor, whereas his politics moved from Stalinism to Trotskyism to conservatism. Franklin does not give him enough credit for his lone anticommunism at a time when Stalin was the idol of a quasi-religious cult and fellow-travelling dominated Australian culture the way its successor, political correctness, does today.
I’d want to compare him with someone like Archbishop Mannix. Both of course came from overseas early in the century and reigned for what seemed like forever, and I wonder whether they both had the same kind of nuclear reactor personalities that when they finally did exit the scene, they left a desert behind him, just sort of scorched earth all around. Do you think that’s true?
James Franklin: Yes that’s an interesting parallel. They did have indeed very similar personalities and were prepared to give speeches that enraged the populace and the parliaments, and yes, they didn’t brook any disagreement within their own circle. So yes, there was a scorched earth around them for a little while but they inspired some interesting persons, Santamaria perhaps in Mannix’s case, and David Armstrong and David Stowe the philosophers in Anderson’s case, who turned out in the next generation to have very interesting things to say that were influenced by the great man, but were distinct.
Reviewer Tony Coady in the Age 14/2/2004 says,
” He 2 is excited by the idea that philosophy can have profound effects upon the young and upon society, and this sense of excitement gives the book a good deal of its racy charm.”
He has read widely and in depth, he writes well and he has an eye for the colourful phrase. Franklin’s concentration upon the points where academic philosophy and public affairs connect dramatically, even sensationally, is both a strength and a weakness. A strength because there really are such connections (such as the infamous Sydney Sparkes Orr case, when the University of Tasmania’s professor of philosophy was sacked for pursuing a sexual relationship with a student) and they enliven his narrative; a weakness, because he tends to stretch the connections and even proclaim ones that dubiously exist.
Perhaps it’s because there is so little written about the history of political and philosophical thought here in Australia, or perhaps that the plebs and ‘hacks’ are sufficiently uninterested, that leads to the chief armadillo’s cry of “it’s a measure of the intellectual poverty of Australian political discourse that mainstream media commentators don’t even seem to have recognised the communitarian strand of his thinking, let alone attempted to analyse the theoretical underpinnings of the policies it spawns.”
- Hugh Rowlands Gough