[Marxism] Re: On my "rejection" of Permanent Revolution

dwalters at marxists.org dwalters at marxists.org
Sun Jan 8 10:42:58 MST 2006

For what it is worth, let me state my view on THIS question:

I think Walter and Joaquín are right and wrong. They are right that
many/most/lots of "Trotskyists" don't understand Permanent Revolution(PR). But
both have it wrong
about what it is that Trotskyists are wrong about.

What they are wrong about is profound, I want to emphisize. It is something we
already discussed recently: the under-stating and denegrating of the importance
of the Democratic (National) revolution. The context of PR is IN the Democratic
Revolution, that the revolutions start out as they do: one's of national
liberation, to put in simply. They cannot meat the tasks, generally, of this
revolution unless it grows over into a socialist one, meaning the working class
smashes the capitalist state and substitutes the Dictatorship of the Proletariat
(workers/worker and farmes gov't). That means it STARTS as democratic revolution
and Bolshevik-Leninists seek to *unconditionally* support and fight for this
revolution while organizing the working class to "keep going" and not stop at
some pre-defined mechanical/schematic "stage" in the revolution. BTW...Trotsky
often uses the term "stage" to describe Permanent Revolution, his opposition to
'stages' being his belief that there is not "iron wall" to use his term, between

Where Joaquín and Walter are wrong is that LT uses PR as a passive 'descriptive'
prognosis on the unfolding of the revolution. Keep in mind that LT and Lenin
wrote about revolution mostly as it related to RUSSIA, and no where else. . .at
least *before* 1917. Thus PR, and Lenin's "Democratic Dictoratorhip" essays were
*Russian oriented*. PR was later applied AFTER the fiasco in China in 1925-26.

But it is wrong to think that this was simply idle prognostication. It was
program because if one argues that the revolution will occur this way or that,
it has direct implication on the *program of action*, not to mention
orientation, of the social-democracy. It would quide cadre and activists on
what to organize around and what to propagandize for. It was not *idle
specualtion* as Joaquín and Walter believe, but *programmatic* even if the
writing style was one almost of a "literary fatalalism".

Secondly, Permenent Revolution as is was elucidated by Trotsky AND the
International Left Opposition/Movement for the Fourth International after 1927
was most definetly *perscriptive*, that is *programmatic*. PR runs throughout
the sections of the ILO/FI in the 1930s while LT was alive. It was used, even,
by LT to 'pull back' his comrades in China in support of the nationalist
struggle against the Japanese and in favor the ultimate revolutionary
democratic demand: the Constituent Assembly (which FI supporters in China
opposed to support 'socialist' demands only).

Anyway, that's my take on PR. I'm not expert, but it's my reading of it anyway.


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