Permanent revolution: definition, main ideas, authors and supporters. Leon Trotsky

What is a permanent revolution? Who wrote about it? These and other questions will be answered in the article. It is believed that this term was introduced by Leon Trotsky. But in Russian, this expression came about thanks to GV Plekhanov, who wrote about the "permanent coup" in the 12th issue of the Diary of the Social Democrat (June 1910). It was this man who founded the Social-Democratic movement in Russia. In his writings, he applied the term Karl Marx (1918-1883) - die Revolution in Permanenz (incessant revolution), which he came up with.


How did the phrase "permanent revolution" come about? At first Trotsky wrote in 1905 about the "revolutionary continuum" and "continuous overturn" (the newspaper "Nachalo", November 8). He began to use the term "permanent revolution" after February 1917, when in the pamphlet "What's Next?" Published the slogan "A Permanent Coup against a Permanent Massacre!" In 1932 his book appeared about this phenomenon, and the new term began to be associated only with the name of Trotsky.

As sarcasm, this phrase means a protracted process of reform, change, and so on.


What is the theory of permanent revolution? This is the doctrine of the formation of a rebellious process in the underdeveloped and peripheral countries. It was first proposed by Engels and Marx, later developed by Leon Trotsky, Vladimir Lenin, Ernest Mendel and other Marxist ideologists (including such authors as the Trotskyists, Joseph Hansen, Michael Levy, Livio Maytan).


How was the permanent revolution interpreted by the founders of Marxism? The very image of this phenomenon was described by Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx as early as 1840 in the Manifesto of the Communist Party and the Central Committee's Message to the Union of Communists. The founders of Marxism believed that in the implementation of the democratic bourgeois revolution, workers will not stop at achieving simple goals.

It is known that the bourgeoisie seeks to end the mutiny as soon as possible. And the proletariat is obliged to make this process uninterrupted until the propertied classes are removed from the government until the workers conquer state power. Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx insisted on the harmony of the revolutionary movement of the peasants and the proletarian revolution.

The position of Lenin

The term "permanent revolution" also aroused interest in Lenin. Vladimir Ilyich argued that, in the Russian situation, a democratic-bourgeois revolution could develop into a socialist riot. This nuance is possible due to the specific conditions for the development of capitalism in the country-the existence of a dual type of disagreement between the given formation as between developing capitalism and the remnants of serfdom, and within the system itself.

In this situation, it is not the bourgeoisie, but the proletariat, led by the revolutionary party, is the foremost force of the coup. The peasantry, wishing, with the help of the insurrection, to achieve its goals, first and foremost to destroy landed estates, is an ally of the workers.

Lenin's point of view is rather unusual. He believed that the essence of the overgrowth of the democratic-bourgeois coup into the socialist revolution was a modification of the structure of forces around the working class towards the end of the democratic-bourgeois revolution. He argued that if the proletariat carries out a democratic-bourgeois mutiny in alliance with all the grain growers, then the workers must immediately urgently turn to a socialist revolution with the rural poor and other indigent, oppressed elements. The democratic-revolutionary dictatorship of the workers and peasants must take the form of the socialist dictatorship of the proletariat.

The concept of the transformation of the democratic-bourgeois rebellion into a socialist revolution was created in 1905 by Lenin in the works "Democratic-Revolutionary Dictatorship of Workers and Peasants", "Two Maneuvers of Social Democracy in Democratic Rebellion" and others. Lenin regarded the socialist and democratic-bourgeois revolutions as two details of one chain. Moreover, these two mutinies are treated as a single stream.

The prospect of a world riot

The theory of permanent revolution is a very interesting teaching. It is known that Lenin contemplated the formation of a rebellious movement in the context of an interethnic revolutionary perspective. He saw the complete construction of socialism precisely through the world anti-imperialist trend.

In each of his works, Vladimir Ulyanov inscribes the October Revolution in the revolutionary global context. Although, like Trotsky, in a number of works he writes about the Soviet Republic as the bulwark of a world coup.

The view of the Social Democrats

The idea of a permanent revolution was also of interest to the Russian Mensheviks and the Western Social Democrats. Their view reflects the idea that the working class in resisting a socialist rebellion is resisting all non-proletarian classes, including the opposition peasantry.

In view of this, for the triumph of socialist rebellion, mainly in Russia, after the democratic-bourgeois revolution has been accomplished, it will take a long time until the majority of the population turns into proletarians and the workers become a majority in the state. If the workers are not enough, any permanent rebellion is doomed to failure.

Opinion of Trotsky

Trotsky described his own view of the prospect of a permanent insurrection, which in 1905 prepared a new interpretation of it. One of the most important details of the concept of this revolution is the theory of combined development. Marxists until 1905 analyzed the way of implementing socialist rebellion in developed bourgeois countries.

In accordance with Trotsky, in more or less progressive states, such as Russia, in which the process of the development of the proletariat and industrialization appeared quite recently, it was possible to make a socialist revolution in view of the historical powerlessness of the bourgeoisie to implement democratic-bourgeois demands.

In his writings, Leon Trotsky wrote that the political incompetence of the bourgeoisie was directly determined by the way in which she dealt with the peasantry and the proletariat. He argued that the belatedness of the Russian insurrection was not only a problem of chronology, but also a dilemma of the social structure of the nation.

So, we have already found out that Trotsky is a supporter of the theory of permanent revolution. Very rapidly, he began to develop it after the October 1917 riot. Trotsky denied the complete socialist character of this insurrection, regarding it only as the first phase on the road to a socialist riot in the West and throughout the globe. He said that socialism can win in Soviet Russia only when the socialist rebellion becomes permanent, that is, it will penetrate the most important countries of Europe, when the proletariat-victor of the West will help the Russian workers to cope with the opposing classes, and then it will be possible to build communism and Socialism on a world scale. He saw such an outcome of the mutiny in connection with the small number of the Russian proletariat and the existence in Russia of a huge mass of petty-bourgeois grain farmers.

The role of rural residents

Quite often the theory of the permanent revolution of Trotsky is criticized for the fact that the author allegedly underestimates the role of the peasantry. In fact, in his writings he writes a great deal about the fact that the workers will not be able to carry out a socialist mutiny without enlisting the support of the peasants. Trotsky asserts that, being only a smaller part of Russian society, the working class can lead a revolt to the emancipation of the peasantry and thereby obtain the approval of the agrarians as part of the revolution, to whose support it will rely.

At the same time, the proletariat, in the name of personal interests and improving its conditions, will strive to implement such revolutionary changes that will not only fulfill the functions of a bourgeois coup, but will also lead to the formation of a working state.

At the same time, Trotsky asserts that the proletariat will be forced to introduce class opposition to the village, as a consequence of which the community of interests that is unquestionably present for all grain growers, but in a relatively narrow range, will be violated. The workers will, in the initial period of their rule, seek support in the confrontation of the rural poor with the rural rich people, the agrarian proletariat - with the bread-and-butter bourgeoisie.

Condemnation of theory in the USSR

So, you already know that Trotsky is the author of the theory of permanent revolution in Russia. In the Soviet Union, his teaching was condemned at the plenums of the Central Committee of the RCP (B.) And the Central Committee in a resolution on Trotsky's speech, which was adopted in 1925, on January 17, as well as in the "Theses on the Tasks of the RCP (B) and the Comintern" Th session of the RCP (B.) "On the Frontier bloc in the CPSU (B.)". Similar decisions were taken in all the official communist parties that were part of the Comintern.

The policy of this organization in China became a direct reason for Trotsky's classified exposition of the doctrine of a permanent coup and criticism of the Stalinist interpretation of the "stages of the revolutionary movement." It was in this country that the Chinese Communist Party, on the orders of Moscow, tried to create an alliance with the people's bourgeoisie, first with the leadership of the Kuomintang (Chiang Kai-shek's head), and after the Shanghai massacre in 1927, which occurred through his fault, with Wang Jingwei (the "Left Kuomintang").

Perspectives of the USSR

How could the permanent revolution affect the development of the USSR? The definition of this process makes many think. Supporters of permanent rebellion considered the building of socialism in a single Russia a "people's one-sidedness", a departure from the fundamental views of proletarian solidarity.

The Trotskyites said that if in the near future, after the October mutiny in the West, the revolution of the working class did not triumph, then the "reconstruction of capitalism" would begin in the USSR.

Trotsky maintained that the Soviet Union emerged from the October coup as a working state. Reprivatization of the means of production is a necessary condition for socialist development. It was she who opened the possibility of rapid growth of productive forces. The apparatus of the working country, meanwhile, turned into an instrument of bureaucratic violence over the working class, and then into an instrument of sabotage of the economy. The ostracizing of an isolated and backward working country and the transformation of the bureaucracy into a privileged all-powerful caste is the most logical practical challenge to socialism in a separate state.

Trotsky declared that the regime of the USSR consists, therefore, of terrifying contradictions. But it continues to be the regime of a degenerated working country. This is the social conclusion. The political scenario has a multi-variant character: either the bureaucracy will throw the country back to capitalism, overturning new types of property, or the proletariat will destroy the bureaucracy and open the way to socialism.

The Evolution of Learning

How did the theory develop after the Second World War? This doctrine was continued to develop by many leftist Marxist theorists in the countries of Southeast Asia, Western Europe, South and North America, where there were Trotskyist formations. In the middle of the XX century there was an anti-colonial rise. At this stage, the Fourth International explored the evolution of revolutionary currents in developing countries, primarily in the Cuban and Algerian revolutions.

At one of the congresses of the Fourth International in 1963, the resolution "Dynamics of the world coup today" was adopted. Its authors were Ernest Mandel (leader of the Belgian bloc) and Joseph Hansen (member of the management of the Socialist Workers' Party of the USA).

The resolution stated that the three dominant forces of the world coup-the political riot in the distorted workers' states, the colonial insurgency and the proletarian insurrection in the capstrans-constitute a dialectical union. Each of these forces affects others and in response receives a powerful impetus for its future inhibition or development. The delay of the proletarian insurrection in the bourgeois powers certainly prevented the colonial coup from embarking on the socialist path as consciously and quickly as possible under the pressure of the triumph of workers in developed countries or revolutionary revolutionary triumphs. This delay also hinders the development of a political uprising in the USSR, including because the Soviet workers do not see an example of the multivariate path of creating socialism.


The term "permanent revolution" Bukharin interested also. In a pamphlet dedicated to the October coup, in early 1918 he wrote that the fall of the imperialist regime was organized by the entire previous revolutionary history. He argued that this fall and the triumph of the working class, supported by the rural poor, a victory that opened immediately unlimited horizons on the entire planet, is not the beginning of an organic era. Before the Russian proletariat, the task of an interethnic coup is set so sharply than ever before. The whole complex of relations that originated in Europe leads to this inevitable end. So, the permanent revolution in Russia is turning into the European revolution of the proletariat.

He believed that the torch of the Russian socialist revolt was thrown into the powder cellar of the bloody old Europe. He is not dead. He is prosperous. It expands. And it will inevitably merge with the great triumphal revolt of the world proletariat.

In fact, Bukharin was far from the system of socialism in a sovereign country. Everyone knows that he was the main theoretician of the campaign against Trotskyism, which was generalized in the battle against the concept of a permanent coup. But earlier, when the magma of the revolutionary insurrection had not yet cooled down, Bukharin, it turns out, did not find a different formulation for assessing the coup, except for the one against which he had to fiercely fight a few years later.

Bukharin's brochure was produced by the Central Committee of the Priboy Party. No one declared her heretical. On the contrary, everyone saw in it an indisputable and official expression of the convictions of the Central Council of the Party. The brochure was reprinted in this form many times over the next few years, and along with another booklet dedicated to the February rebellion, under the general title "From the collapse of the autocracy to the fall of the bourgeoisie", it was translated into French, German, English and other languages.

In 1923-1924, many began to debate against Trotskyism. These debates destroyed much of what was built by the October Revolution, seeped into the reading rooms, libraries, newspapers and buried countless documents relating to the greatest era in the development of the revolution and the party. Today, these documents have to be restored in parts to recall the old days.


So, you have already understood that the prospect of a world revolution is very tempting. In practice, the doctrine of a permanent coup looked peculiar. Criticizing Trotsky's theory, Radek (a Soviet politician) adds to it "tactics that follow from her." This is a very important addition. The open discussion of "Trotskyism" in this question was prudently limited to doctrine. But Radek is not enough. He is fighting against the Bolshevik diplomatic line in China. He aspires to stain this course with the theory of permanent rebellion, and for this it must be proved that from this doctrine an incorrect tactical line followed in the past.

Radek of his readers here is misleading. Perhaps he himself does not know the history of the revolution, in which he never participated personally. But he, apparently, did not bother to check the issue on the documents.

History does not go straight. Sometimes it gets into various dead ends.

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