I've just read two of Robert Services' biographical tomes - 'Trotsky' and 'Stalin' and am now sitting back trying to mull over and make sense of what I have learned. And as Oct 17 is coming up I thought I'd consult the panel over a few points. First, I thought I'd break 'good' or 'bad' into three areas, us in the West, the USSR/Russia as a nation state, and finally the Sovs themselves. It strikes me that the most important thing the USSR ever did was defeat the Third Reich. If Jerry had conquered Russia he'd have had more oil, mineral wealth and lebensraum than he would have known what to do with and Lord knows how things would have ended up apart from very badly for us. I would put their success down to three things, a) That Stalin hadn't got round to purging Zhukov before Op Barbarossa, b) Russia's massive industrialisation and c) Zhukov made a much better of job of keeping his mad boss' hands away from the controls than the German high command ever managed with theirs. My opinion is that unless someone had given Russia a mahoosive kick *********** during the 20s and 30s as regards industrialisation then Hitler would have been through Russia and out the other side like shit through a goose. Therefore the Russian Revolution was a good thing for us, a good thing for the USSR as a state and, however bloody awful it must have been for the Sovs on the ground, ultimately a good thing for them. My next point of pondering is how things would have been if Trotsky had succeed Lenin instead of Stalin. My impression of Trotsky is that he was a very hard man and just as quick to start shooting people as anyone else but he had advantages over Stalin in that he was a) not bonkers b) brighter c) a much better economist and d) a much better military man, though you certainly wouldn't have wanted to actually soldier for either of them. Two other points - Trotsky was a jew and from the countryside. I think Trotsky would have made a better job of the industrialisation, he would have made a much better and far less gruesome job of sorting out agriculture and as a Jew he would have kept a much closer eye on what Hitler was up to and not been taken by surprise like Stalin seems to have been. Trotsky seems to have appreciated military talent regardless of previous political allegiance and would have produced a far better Red Army that would have defended Russia on its borders instead of, as Stalin did, let them get over run and damn near lose it. (Having said that, Hitler may have had is mind concentrated by the fact that his main opponent was Jewish and made a better job of the invasion in the first place.) So I think Trotsky would have been much better for the USSR and the Sovs themselves but definitely not for us. Trotsky's Red Army would have been much further West by the time we met up with them, so they'd have been a much bigger beast to deal with post-war. And Trotsky was a proper international revolutionary, as opposed to Stalin who was mainly concerned with his own personal power base and seems to have settled for communism in one country. So the post-war commies would have been an absolute nightmare to deal with if Trotsky had been at the helm. Stalin set the tone for his successors, even though they later rejected him, which just saw the USSR fall increasingly behind economically leading to eventual collapse and descent into Putin's kleptoracy that we have today. So, the Russian Revolution and Stalin - good for us, anyway?