I was intrigued by this post on the popular* Trot blog Lenin's Tomb. I guess the point is that analysis of the USSR typically fails to seriously consider alternative interpretations of what was going on in the USSR, such as those developed by Trotskyist thinkers. What the USSR actually was and why it (and other regimes like it) went so badly wrong are clearly important questions, and it is notable that in the comments under the post there are references to other books which appear to seek to defend the drive behind the Bolshevik project and separate that from what the USSR did in practice.
I just don't buy it. The more I read about the USSR the more convinced I am that it was simply a genuine and serious attempt to put a Marxist version of socialism into practice. They had 70 years to get it right, admittedly including two serious attempts to destroy the regime. For most of the time the Soviet leadership had unchallenged power and as far as I can see all they tried to do whilst in power was put Marxism into practice. This is from A Short History of Soviet Socialism (which is probably guilty of 'ideologoical conformity' too):
"[O]ne of the striking features of the theory and practice of Soviet socialism was the degree of continuity and stability exhibited between 1917 and 1985. The worldview of Bolshevik Marxism-Leninism - constructivist, rationalist, productivist, technocractic - continued to underpin the process of building socialism in the USSR after 1917 (and indeed remained during the early stages of perestroika). The CPSU also maintained a striking commitment to the core features of "socialism" as a transition phase, as derived from their readings of Marx, Engels and Kautsky and from the practice of the German war economy: central planning, state ownership, central direction of social processes, leading role of the comminist party, proletarian internationalism. The stability or rigidity of the core features of the ruling ideology has long been remarked upon by Western commentators. Although the precise meaning of many of these features was subject to periodical reinterpretation in the light of political imperatives (especially the leading role of the communist party, and the commitment to proletarian internationalism), the party maintained that socialism was a transitional society defined according to a set of structural features to be consciously constructed."
Personally I don't think it is unfair to judge a Marxist version of socialism by the results of the regimes established in its name. Whilst I think it is always useful to keep an open mind about how things might have turned out there is a lot of evidence available to us - 70 plus years of the USSR, 50 plus years of the PRC and the experience of plenty of other regimes. In effect the same experiment was run a number of times in a number of countries and yielded similar results - undemocratic, inefficient and unpopular regimes with poor living standards. In contrast those that argue that a Marxist version of socialism could have been different a) tend to rely on dispositional explanations of previous failures (ie if only Trotsky had beaten Stalin) and b) don't have anything like the same level of evidence to back up their position, it is principally theoretical speculation.
As such my view is that it is the Trots who have got it wrong - they fail to take the stated ideological aims of Marxist regimes seriously and as such allow themselves to ignore a huge amount of problematic evidence.
(* Lenin seems to get very chippy about his traffic stats.)