First published in Revolutionary History, Volume 9, nº2, 2006.
THE Spanish Revolution marked the end of a cycle that began with the Russian revolution of 1917. The scope and complexity of the social experiments that took place in the first months of the Spanish Civil War were even more far reaching than in Russia 19 years before. The defeat of the Spanish Republic was a massive blow to the international working-class movement, a defeat that has to be seen in the context of the rise of fascism and Stalinism on a world scale and the burying of the hopes of human liberation that had been ignited by the events in Russia in 1917. The experience and lessons of the Russian revolution run through the writings of Leon Trotsky, who from exile, hounded and slandered by his capitalist and Stalinist enemies alike, was trying desperately to reorganise the scattered forces of revolutionary Marxism.