[Marxism] Re: Lenin, Trotsky and Permanent Revolution (was Bolivia Discussion)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jan 10 08:08:18 MST 2006

Michael K.:
>Though I think Lenin's 1905-6 formulations, while far from perfect, were 
>somewhat better than Trotsky's, I don't think that is the main point. The 
>main point is their fundamental similarity (ie, on all the points you 
>listed above).


This is the sort of thing that Lenin was writing in 1905:

"In other words, are we to have a revolution of the 1789 type or of the 
1848 type? (We say type in order to dispose of the preposterous idea that 
there can be any repetition of the irrevocably vanished social, political, 
and international situations of 1789 and 1848.)

"That a Social-Democrat must want and work for the former, of this there 
can hardly be any doubt."

"The complete revolution means seizure of power by the proletariat and the 
poor peasantry. These classes, once in power, cannot but strive for the 
socialist revolution. Ergo, seizure of power, from being at first a step in 
the democratic revolution, will, by force of circumstances, and against the 
will (and sometimes without the awareness) of its participants, pass into 
the socialist revolution. And here failure is inevitable."

Here is what Trotsky was writing:

"The great French Revolution was truly a national revolution. But more than 
that: here, within a national framework, the world struggle of the 
bourgeois order for domination, for power, and for unimpaired triumph found 
its classic expression.

"By 1848 the bourgeoisie was already unable to play a similar role. It did 
not want to, and could not, assume responsibility for a revolutionary 
liquidation of the social order which barred the way to its own dominance. 
Its task­and this it fully realized­consisted in introducing into the old 
order certain essential guarantees, not of its own political dominance, but 
only of co-dominance with the forces of the past. It not only failed to 
lead the masses in storming the old order; it used the old order as a 
defense against the masses who were trying to push it forward. Its 
consciousness rebelled against the objective conditions of its dominance. 
Democratic institutions were reflected in its mind, not as the aim and 
purpose of its struggle, but as a threat to its well-being. The revolution 
could not be made by the bourgeoisie, but only against the bourgeoisie. 
That is why a successful revolution in 1848 would have needed a class 
capable of marching at the head of events regardless of the bourgeoisie and 
despite it, a class prepared not only to push the bourgeoisie forward by 
the force of its pressure, but also, at the decisive moment, to kick the 
political corpse of the bourgeoisie out of its way.

"Neither the petty bourgeoisie nor the peasantry were capable of this. The 
petty bourgeoisie was hostile not only to the immediate past, but also to 
the possible future­to the morrow. Still fettered by medieval relations, 
but already incapable of resisting "free" industry; still centering itself 
on the cities, but already yielding its influence to the middle and higher 
bourgeoisie; sunk in its prejudices, deafened by the roar of events, 
exploiting and exploited, greedy and impotent in its greed, the provincial 
petty bourgeoisie was incapable of directing world events."



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