Flat White

Leon Trotsky, sex symbol

23 August 2020

5:03 PM

23 August 2020

5:03 PM

In a very recent article the very learned journalist, Douglas Murray, enquired (almost rhetorically) why there were people today who called themselves Trotskyists. 

I have heard people in my own adult life, born in my own lifetime, and sometimes younger than myself (people in their twenties or thirties), seriously describe themselves as being (or at some point having been) a Trotskyist.

Perhaps he had forgotten that Tony Blair — New Labor, British Prime Minister, Europhile and very fanatic Remainer – was caught admitting that he had once, in his younger days, been a Trotskyite. 

Revealing as that is for those who try to understand Blair’s obsession with the universal homogeneous state of Europe and some more basic eastern pleasures, Murray suggests a number of reasons that attract some moths to Trotsky flame. 

After suggesting a literary connection to Isaac Deutscher’s three-volume work of ‘personal hero-worship’ for Leon, he next suggests it was Trotsky’s ‘undoubted intellectual ability’ and the ‘martyr-like glamour’ in the eyes of Western intellectuals of a far-away assassination; Trotsky, after all, was assassinated in Mexico with an ice-pick 80 years ago last week, to the dismay of exotic local characters such as Frida Kahlo.

But in the end, Murray settles for what is as romantic but as unsatisfying as Hemingway’s Spanish war flirtation. He thinks it is the failure of Communists to prove that they could secure peace on earth, Trotsky, instead, killed before he had a chance at success; which is about as unconvincing as Hemingway’s reporting on the Spanish Civil War from the luxury of Paris.


I would like, therefore, to suggest a simpler explanation for the allure that men like Trotsky (and Lenin and Stalin and Hitler) hold for a certain type of people, one that is rooted in human nature. 

Whether that person is an intellectual or an adventurer, they express a desire for power and excitement that is overwhelming and erotic. The unconsummated potential for absolute power that men such as Trotsky represent is highly erotic because that potential is there for the use if they have the ability. 

The best explanation of the awkwardness of undisciplined human desire was given by then-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger when he was asked why he was always seen in the company of beautiful young women. He replied simply that power is the greatest aphrodisiac. 

The erotic attraction of older powerful men even older wealthy men for beautiful young women is no different from the erotic attraction that footballers and other pre-eminent sportsmen hold for women. Success is their victory over a greater power. For as much as they might protest, women are drawn to the physical power of the male for the sheer thrill of it. They are, in fact, seduced by the toxic masculinity that left-wing women find so repulsive. 

It is as old and as permanent as human nature but it alone explains some of the more curious couplings that everyone has noticed.

Those who are attracted to the tyrant’s power, who boast of being an adherent to the intellectual musings of some long-dead brutal tyrant, have merely succumbed to the erotic charm of absolute power and the potential success that might still be theirs. 

Sex and power are two of the greatest forces alive in the world. Unregulated, each provides an incomplete though wholly inaccurate view of the erotic and unregulated, each distorts human nature. 

Dr David Long is a retired solicitor and economist.

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