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3 From Inefficiency to Political Alienation

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Chapter Summary

The year 1923 represented a watershed in the development of Trotsky's thinking. When Trotsky addressed the issue of bureaucracy, he described it in terms of factors responsible for inefficiency, especially in the military and economic organs of the state. He began to characterise the problem as one of political alienation in all political institutions in the Soviet Union. Although in later years his views continued to develop and change, his understanding that the fundamental problem was one of political alienation would remain constant. This shift in focus brought his thinking into line with the dominant tradition in the Marxist analysis of bureaucracy. Marxists writing in this tradition commonly identified bureaucracy with the tendency of the state to rise above and dominate society. Furthermore, they viewed political alienation in normal periods as closely related to the inclination of the state to fall under the sway of exploitative classes.

Keywords: bureaucracy; Marxists writing; political alienation; Soviet Union; Trotsky



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