Trotskyism is the political ideology and branch of Marxism developed by Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky and by some other members of the Left Opposition and Fourth International. Trotsky self-identified as an orthodox Marxist, a revolutionary Marxist, and Bolshevik–Leninist, a follower of Marx, Engels, and of 3L: Lenin, Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg. He supported founding a vanguard party of the proletariat, proletarian internationalism, and a dictatorship of the proletariat based on working class self-emancipation and mass democracy. Trotskyists are critical of Stalinism as they oppose Joseph Stalin's theory of socialism in one country in favor of Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution. Trotskyists also criticize the bureaucracy that developed in the Soviet Union under Stalin.
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Vladimir Lenin and Trotsky, despite their ideological disputes, were close personally before the London congress of social democrats in 1903 and during the First World War. Nadezhda Krupskaya, Lenin's wife, was a Trotskyist after the death of Lenin. Lenin and Trotsky were close both ideologically and personally during the Russian Revolution and its aftermath, and Trotskyists and some others call Trotsky its "co-leader". Trotsky was the paramount leader of the Red Army in the direct aftermath of the Revolutionary period. Trotsky initially opposed some aspects of Leninism, but eventually concluded that unity between the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks was impossible and joined the Bolsheviks. Trotsky played a leading role with Lenin in the October Revolution. Assessing Trotsky, Lenin wrote: "Trotsky long ago said that unification is impossible. Trotsky understood this and from that time on there has been no better Bolshevik."
Beginning in 1927, Trotsky was purged from the Communist Party and Soviet politics. In October, by order of Stalin, Trotsky was removed from power, and in November, expelled from the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks). He was then internally exiled to Alma-Ata (now Almaty) in January 1928, and then expelled from the Soviet Union altogether in February 1929. As the head of the Fourth International, Trotsky continued in exile to oppose what he termed the degenerated workers' state in the Soviet Union. On 20 August 1940, Trotsky was attacked in Mexico City by Ramón Mercader, a Spanish-born NKVD agent, and died the next day in a hospital. His murder is considered a political assassination. Almost all of the Trotskyists within the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) were executed in the Great Purges of 1937–1938, effectively removing all of Trotsky's internal influence in the Soviet Union. The former active Trotskyist Nikita Khrushchev had come to power, signing lists of other Trotskyists to be executed, and restored the critique of the personality of Stalin. Trotsky and the party of Trotskyists still were recognized as enemies of the USSR during Khrushchev's rule.
Trotsky's Fourth International was established in France in 1938, when Trotskyists argued that the Comintern or Third International had become irretrievably "lost to Stalinism" and thus incapable of leading the international working class to political power. In contemporary English language usage, an advocate of Trotsky's ideas is often called a "Trotskyist". A Trotskyist can be called a "Trotskyite" or "Trot", especially by a critic of Trotskyism.