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 Revolutionary leader
Trotsky was not a member of the Bolsheviks, the most extreme faction of the Russian social democratic party to which other revolutionary leaders, such as Lenin, belonged. Instead he was on the far left of the generally more moderate and pro-democratic Menshevik wing. But in 1917 Trotsky, who was a popular leader and good organiser, allied himself with the Bolsheviks because they, unlike the Menshevik faction, advocated the most radical action. Trotsky was, in effect, the leading figure in the Petrograd Soviet (workers' council) and the Bolsheviks would have failed without his support, but in later years his Menshevik past was used against him as a sign of his untrustworthiness.
In the Russian Civil War Trotsky led the Red Army and the war's successful conclusion (from the Bolshevik point of view) left him in high esteem. His Red Army had, however, reneged on the Bolsheviks' promises to respect the rights of national minorities and had instead reconquered independent Georgia (ruled by a democratically elected Menshevik government), Azerbaijan and Ukraine. Trotsky then, though, went on to make several mis-steps which undermined his authority. He advocated, fought and lost a war with Poland and he demanded that workers face firing squads for failing to respect management orders (he said that the Soviet Union was a workers' state and those workers who failed to obey were counterrevolutionaries). He acquired a reputation as an extreme leftist and as arrogant and looking down on his colleagues. His repression of the Krondstadt and Makhnovist Anarchist movements made him a hated figure in the anti-Bolshevik Left, and his theory of Permanent Revolution depended on continued international expansion of Bolshevism, which clearly was not happening.
The death of Lenin allowed Stalin and other "centrists" in the party to move against him - Trotsky was portrayed as a splitter for his opposition to the then "New Economic Policy" which allowed some small-scale capitalist production. Stalin deftly made common cause with the "right" against Trotsky's "Left Opposition" and by the time the right realised they too were being outmaneuvered, the "United Opposition" to Stalin was facing an invincible enemy. In 1928 Trotsky found himself expelled from the Soviet Union, and refused entry to several countries before he settled in Mexico. He became good friends with Mexican Communist artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo (whom he had an affair with) prior to his assassination.
Trotsky founded the Fourth International in 1938, to counter the Soviet-led Third International (or Comintern). The Fourth International proclaimed capitalism was in its "death agony" and the principal barriers to successful workers' revolutions were the leaderships of the (reformist) social democrats and (especially) the orthodox Stalinist Communist Parties. The Fourth International's principal tactic was to be the "Transitional Demand" - a series of slogans that looked quite like the traditional demands of social democratic parties but which were, in fact, so extreme that they could only be achieved through the revolutionary overthrow of the existing order (i.e., as opposed to social democratic reform). This tactic is still central to Trotskyist practise today, where Trotskyists can often be seen mirroring the demands of the mainstream reformists or trade unionists except in an extremely amplified form.
After Trotsky's assassination in 1940 the Fourth International underwent several splits. Trotskyists often used the communist hammer and sickle symbol with the number 4 superimposed on it, a reference to their allegiance to the Fourth International rather than the Third.
At the time of the Stalin-Trotsky split, Stalinist and Trotskyist branches of the world communist movement split and took different ideological directions. Most of the national Communist Parties took their direction from Moscow and expelled Trotsky's supporters. In the United States the Trotskyists became the Socialist Workers Party. In the UK they united, briefly, towards the war's end under the name of the Revolutionary Communist Party (distinct from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, which is Maoist). In Britain, and elsewhere, much of the divisions in later years came between those who advocated that they were the followers of the "true" Fourth International. Trotskyism took a communist but anti-Stalinist line and advocated a "permanent revolution" as a contrast to Stalinism, which they saw as leading to an entrenched bureaucracy and creation of a new ruling class under the guise of Communist Party leadership.
Trotskyism in the United States eventually split further into different tendencies. One tendency was the Shachtmanites, or followers of Max Shachtman, whose hard anti-Soviet line led to support for Cold War policies, and while remaining on the left economically, to a softening of their revolutionary Marxism in favor of social democracy. The Shachtmanites are sometimes cited as intellectual fathers of neoconservatism. Going in the opposite direction were the followers of Sam Marcy, for whom worldwide opposition to so-called "U.S. imperialism" took priority over opposition to Stalinism; hence, Marcy's followers defended the Soviet Union's invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, and declared support for any communist government regardless of ideology from the relatively moderate Yugoslavia to the hard-line cranks ruling Albania and North Korea. In the United States, Marcy's followers became the Workers World Party, who gained a great deal of recent attention due to their leadership role within A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism). One of the strangest and richest of (former?) Trotskyists is Lyndon LaRouche, who went the same direction as the Shactmanites with a hard-line anti-Soviet foreign policy while taking his followers into the lunatic world of conspiracy theories and cult status. In the midst of all these deviations, the Socialist Workers Party kept its status as the "main" Trotskyist party, although they are decidedly irrelevant and mostly like to sell books and newspaper subscriptions.
In the U.K., they are often called "Trots" and are a permanent fixture at left-wing and labour events, distinguishing themselves by their abrasive tendentiousness. The most popular of these iterations is usually found to be an heir to the teachings and platform of Israeli-British immigrant Tony Cliff, whose party Christopher Hitchens launched his writing career before moving to America. In the USA, the International Socialist Organization is one of these, though they were expelled by Cliff from his fold over a dispute over large sums of money.
 Obligatory George Orwell reference
In Animal Farm, the role of Trotsky is given to Snowball.
 See also
- ↑ cf. William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.
- ↑ cf. Jack Reed, Ten Days That Shook The World.
- ↑ cf. Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Unarmed.
- ↑ cf. Any copy of Reed's book published after 1930, which purged Trotsky from the narrative, despite the fact he is a main protagonist in the story.
- ↑ cf. Slavoj Zizek (ed.), Communism and Terrorism. Verso Books.
- ↑ cf. Voline, The Unknown Revolution.
- ↑ cf. Deutscher.