Question on Stagism for Lou

Domhnall donaloc at
Thu Apr 11 04:53:56 MDT 2002

Louis, I would like you clarify your own position on stagism Vs permanent
revolution. I would value your opinion as it's a question of obvious
importance to me.

Louis: > This stuff still has a considerable hold on the left. If you go to
Democratic Socialist Party of Australia's website (,
you'll find an article titled "In Defence of Lenin's Marxist Policy of a
Two-Stage, Uninterrupted Revolution" by Doug Lorimer. It is an abysmal
document with formulations such as:

"In Two Tactics Lenin did not discuss in any great detail what would be the
content of this "series of intermediary stages of revolutionary
development". This is because, at that time (July 1905), the transformation
of the democratic revolution into a socialist revolution was not posed by
either the subjective or objective conditions of the class struggle in
Russia. Nor was it the most pressing theoretical question that needed
clarification within the ranks of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour

It was not a "pressing theoretical question" because KAUTSKYIST ORTHODOXY
prevailed. Except for Trotsky, the Russian social democracy assumed that
after the Czar was overthrown, there would be an extended period of very
radical bourgeois democracy which would allow the working class to prepare
itself for taking power. Nobody would have dreamed that socialist tasks
would have been on the IMMEDIATE AGENDA in April 1917. <

I can agree that this piece is flawed. I was looking around their website (I
couldn't find the article) but instead I found - Lenin's two-stage strategy
of revolution (see under A history of the DSP Part 2). What do you make of
this? It seems very similar to the stuff the US SWP put out on the same
subject. I have to agree with a lot of their criticisms of the traditional
Trotskyist positioning and thinking.

The question to me of stagism or permanent revolution is that they are both
non-dialectical ways of analysing situations - it's like trying to fit the
huge variety of concrete situations into a particular model. These
generalised rulebooks which work absolutely everywhere seem to me to be a
parody of the sort of analysis we need to be doing.

Prioritisation of the achievement of 'National Democratic' objectives can be
a very vague term and could almost be used to justify anything. At the same
time, Permanent Revolution theory can lead to the worst forms of
'ultra-leftism'. I don't think that there could be a simple theory which
would apply in all cases. What's the difference between Nicaragua or the
USSR - what is the correct way to analyse both?

A model (if that's what people want) needs to be very broad and deep in
terms of capacity. It needs to be adjustable to take in new circumstances,
i.e. that it will become more accurate and all-encompassing with time.


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