Political Ideas in the Twentieth Century

Leon Trotsky, Vladimir Lenin, and Lev Kamenev, 1920.

Anyone desiring a quiet life has done badly to be born in the twentieth century.--L. Trotsky.

HISTORIANS of ideas, however scrupulous and minute they may feel it necessary to be, cannot avoid perceiving their material in terms of some kind of pattern. To say this is not necessarily to subscribe to any form of Hegelian dogma about the dominant rôle of laws and metaphysical principles in history -- a view increasingly influential in our time -- according to which there is some single "explanation" of the order and attributes of persons, things and events. Usually this consists in the advocacy of some fundamental "category" or "principle" which claims to act as an infallible guide both to the past and to the future, a magic lens revealing "inner," inexorable, all-pervasive historical laws, invisible to the naked eye of the mere recorder of events, but capable, when understood, of

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