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James T. Farrell

Tribute to Comrade Trotsky

(August 1940)

They Pay Tribute to Comrade Trotsky, Labor Action, Vol. 4 No. 21, 2 September 1940, p. 2.
Republished as This is James T. Farrell’s Tribute to Trotsky, Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 34, 21 August 1944, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

I know of no words strong enough to be employed in condemning the murder of Leon Trotsky. And I am convinced, that he was murdered by an agent of the O.G.P.U.

For Leon Trotsky, I felt both admiration and affection. I was not a follower of his in the strict and literal meaning of this term. But I was influenced by him. The Old Man educated some of the members of my generation: 1 was one of those whom he educated. Were it not for his writings, I would be a different person than I am, and I would think differently than I do. The loss of Leon Trotsky at this particular moment is tragic. In this black and bitter period of reaction. Trotsky was needed, and needed not merely as a symbol, but even more so as a leader. Now, those points on which one disagreed with him fade in importance. One sees now his greatness, the inspiration which was gained from his very life, from his indomitable fight, and from his brilliant writings. Leon Trotsky was a great revolutionist, a great writer, a great man, a great spirit. Edmund Wilson, the literary critic, once remarked that since his exile from Soviet Russia, Leon Trotsky had served as “the Marxist conscience of the world.” The pickaxe blow of Stalin’s hired assassin struck down “the Marxist conscience of the world.” With grief, I say farewell to the Old Man. He is dead in the flesh. The spirit that animated his work will not die.

Aug. 28, 1940

James T. Farrell

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