41: 30 June 2001.
Marx and Engels and:
"The Permanent Revolution",
"Socialism In One Country"
This issue consists of materials relevant to a recent
discussion on the e-list of the "International Struggle Marxist-Leninist".
At that site a discussion was initiated by Comrade Gazza who pointed out,
that in a passage from a work by Frederick Engels, it seems that Engels
believed that socialism in a single country was impossible.
This issue contains the following:
an annotated and edited version of three e-messages between comrades Gazza
and Klo McKinsey ;
a commentary from Alliance; outlining the views
of Marx, Engels, Then discusses Trotsky's distortion and differences from
Lenin; and finally Stalin's evaluation of these differences.
an Appendix of two relevant letters from Engels .
We feel that the discussion is of
importance, not the least because with honest intent, there is an echo
of an earlier distortion of the concept of "Permanent Revolution", by Trotsky.
We stress that we have no concern that
Comrade Gazza has any intent to re-tread Trotsky's path. But his isolation
of an earlier quote from Engels deserves a fuller discussion, if only to
remind all Marxist-Leninists of the history of the theory of "Socialism
in One Country", and its' Trotskyite counter-part , the "Theory of Permanant
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1) The e-list Correspondence between Comrades Gazza
& McKinsey Upon the Question –Three notes;
2) Commentary From Alliance, consisting of:
a) The Early Views of Marx and Engels On "Socialism
In One Country"; b) In What Sense is the "Revolution Permanent"?
c) The Later Positions of Marx and Engels on Socialism
In One Country;
d) Marx and Engels on the Russian Prospects for Revolution;
e) Trotsky's Distortion of Marx and Engels, the theory
of "Permanent Revolution"; & Lenin's and Stalin's Critique of it.
letters of Engels
THE CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN
COMRADES GAZZA AND McKINSEY
The First Note: A Citation
from Engels by Comrade Gazza:
Will it be possible for this (communist - Gazza) revolution
to take place in one country alone?
The Second Note: Comrade Klo
McKinsey to Gazza.
Answer: No. Large scale
industry, already by creating the world market, has so linked up all the
peoples of the earth, and especially the civilised peoples, that each people
is dependent on what happens to another. Further, large-scale industry
has levelled the social development of all civilised countries so much
that in all these countries the bourgeoisie and proletariat have become
the decisive two classes of society, and the struggle between them has
become the main struggle of the day. the communist revolution, therefore,
will be not only a national one; it will take place in all civilised countries,
that is, at least simultaneously in England, America, France and Germany.
(Emphasis inserted Editor Alliance) In each of these countries it will
take a longer or a shorter time to develop depending on which has a more
developed industry, more wealth and a greater mass of the productive forces.
It will therefore achieve the slowest pace and be most difficult to achieve
in Germany; it will be quickest and easiest to carry out in England. It
will also exercise considerable influence upon other countries of the world,
completely changing the hitherto existing mode of their development and
accelerating it greatly. It is to be a world revolution, and will therefore,
have the whole world as its arena."
From Frederick Engels, "Principles of Communism";
Written October 1847; In Marx and Engels Collected Works;
Volume 6; Moscow 1976; pp.341-358". Also at: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/11/prin-com.htm
"You are misinterpreting Engels, as did Trotsky. Engels
is talking about the communist phase, not the socialist. How do you square
the above, as you are interpreting it, with the following comments by Lenin?
From Comrade Gazza to Comrade Klo:
"A United States of the World (not of Europe alone)
is the state form of the unification and freedom of nations which we associate
with socialism -- until the time when the complete victory of communism
brings about the total disappearance of the state, including the democratic.
As a separate slogan, however, the slogan of a United States of the World
would hardly be a correct one,
first, because it merges with socialism;
second, because it may be wrongly interpreted to mean
that the victory of socialism in a single country is impossible, and it
may also create misconceptions as to the relations of such a country to
Uneven economic and political development is an absolute
law of capitalism. Hence, the victory of socialism is possible first in
several or even in one capitalist country alone. After expropriating the
capitalists and organising their own socialist production, the victorious
proletariat of that country will arise against the rest of the world --
the capitalist world -- attracting to its cause the oppressed classes of
other countries, stirring uprisings in those countries against the capitalists,
and in case of need using even armed force against the exploiting classes
and their states. The political form of a society wherein the proletariat
is victorious in overthrowing the bourgeoisie will be a democratic republic,
which will more and more concentrate the forces of the proletariat of a
given nation or nations, in the struggle against states that have not yet
gone over to socialism."
(V. I. Lenin, ON THE SLOGAN FOR A UNITED STATES OF
EUROPE, LCW Progress Publishers, page 343)".
Right, I have uploaded the quotation from Engel's
"Principles of Communism", so that comrades can see that I was quoting
directly from Engels and not engaging in any interpretation whatsoever.
As for Klo's assertion that Engel's is referring to
the higher phase of communism - no one can infer that from what Engels
is saying. ….. Engel's talks about the division
of society into two classes, bourgeoisie and the Proletariat in the sentence
before he talks about the communist revolution, so I can't see how you
can interpret Engel's as talking about the higher phase of communist society.
But, anyway, there really isn't any need to burst a blood
vessel over Engel's quotation, Klo, because if you see the two quotations
historically and logically, i.e., in dialectical development, you will
see that there is certainly no "Trotskyist" taint on the point I am trying
to make and by the way, thanks for quoting that passage from Lenin, as
it enables me to make my point, namely:
Engels wrote that quotation in 1849, in the midst
of developing capitalism. When the higher phase of capitalism, imperialism,
kicked in at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century,
and with the intensification of the law of uneven economic and political
development of countries, the possibly of a world revolution became improbable,
if not impossible, but the possibility of socialist revolution in several
countries taken together or even in a single country only, became highly
possible and quite probable in some cases. So, you
see, there is no need to counter-pose Lenin to Engels. Engels was quite
possibly correct in his own time, but with the development of capitalism
into imperialism, his prognosis ceased to apply. The possibility of revolution
succeeding in a single country in Engel's time was remote; in Lenin's time
the possibility of world revolution became remote. So, there is no contradiction
between Engels and Lenin - Lenin developed Engels views in the condition
As for Lenin criticising the slogan of a "United States
of Europe", yes, he was quite correct on that point, but its an entirely
separate point from the point that Engels made in 1849, as Engels was talking
about proletarian revolution, whereas Lenin, in your quotation, was making
two points, namely, the possibility of revolution breaking out in several
or even a single country, and secondly about the possibility of the formation
of a "United states of Europe" or even of a "United states of the World",
in the distant future when Europe and then much of the World had gone socialist,
and maybe even entered on the higher phase of communist society.
As for Trotsky, well, his ultra-leftist, adventurist
ideas on sacrificing the soviet revolution on the altar of world revolution
was at best dogmatic, and at worst wholly reactionary. It reflected his
inability to reason dialectically."
PART TWO: A
BRIEF COMMENTARY FROM ALLIANCE.
the practice of finding citations from the leaders of our movement is pervasive
in our movement, and is on the whole a useful approach.
By this means, we can more fully understand lines
of demarcation and it allows us to see by what steps our leaders arrived
at their conclusions.
no citation can be, or should be - treated by Marxist-Leninists as a "holy
writ". Even our leaders may have made mistakes, and a cardinal principle
of Marxist-Leninists is to acknowledge these if there are any, and to learn
from them. No one is immune from such
criticism or self-criticism.
Nonetheless, if any serious differences between the leaders on important
questions are found, it is important to explore and understand with no
Therefore, in this context, we
should ask and answer honestly the following question:
"Is there a difference between
the Attitudes of Engels and Lenin upon the Question of Socialism In One
Superficially, at least based on this single citation,
there does appear to be a difference between
Comrade Engels and Comrade Lenin upon this matter.
If there is a difference, what
accounts for it? Who was right and who was wrong?
Comrade Gazza himself resolves
the differences, as being largely due to the differing eras in which Lenin
and Engels lived. That in which Engels was operating – was one of a developing
and strengthening of capital:
"Engels wrote that quotation in 1849, in the midst
of developing capitalism". See above Third Note.
Comrade Gazza also suggested another
underlying reason for the apparent difference, namely, that world revolution
was less likely under Lenin’s day:
"The possibility of revolution succeeding in a single
country in Engel's time was remote; in Lenin's time the possibility of
world revolution became remote". See above Third Note.
However, we believe that both comrades,
have overlooked a couple of significant matters complicating a correct
interpretation of this apparent difference. (NB After this article
was largely written, Comrade Klo appears to have made some of the same
observations as we have - Editor Alliance).
and most obviously, when comrade Engels wrote the piece in question, it
was 1847. Marx and Engels were to write
the Manifesto only one year later. This was an intense and formative period
for Marx and Engels. We can hardly be surprised that certain features of
their writings may not have been entirely accurate. After all, they had
a lot of intellectual fish to fry in a very short period of time. Yet
they formulated the key principles
and analyses that Marxist-Leninists adhere to:
Including what drives change in
society, the class nature of all human society following primitive communism,
the societal epochs that mankind had formed, and the manner in which to
bring about a better society.
It is hardly surprising if a few
details were too rapidly formulated for lasting historical accuracy!
Both Marx and Engels likely underestimated the resilience of capitalism.
They both at a later stage somewhat ruefully admitted as much.
Perhaps most importantly from the point of view of this discussion, both
Marx and Engels - even in their lifetime – revised their view according
to more sustained and careful observation.
By the time they died, we maintain,
that there was NO inconsistency with the
views of Lenin and Stalin upon this question.
One brief example of this can be
seen in the following citation from a letter written in 1870, by Marx to
Engels that directly contradicts the answer in "Principles of Communism",
that Engels gave to Question 19.
"I agree with your marginal notes on the French Radical
press. Not for anything was Proudhon the socialist of the Imperial period.
I am firmly convinced that, although the first blow will come from France,
Germany is far riper for a social movement and will grow far over the heads
of the French. It is a great error and self-deception on their part that
they still regard themselves as the ‘chosen people’."
We will proceed to adduce some further evidence to support
Letter: Marx to Engels, Dated 12 February 1870; London;
In Collected Works; Volume 43; Moscow; 1988; p. 429.
(a) The Early Views of Marx
and Engels On "Socialism In One Country"
Comrade Gazza reminds us of the early views of Engels
on this matter. But, it is just as pertinent to consider the early views
of Marx. Marx and Engels had one primary theoretical purpose in the years
leading from 1845-1848 - this was to clarify their analysis of class society.
As a part way to achieving this, they wrote the famous work, "The German
In this work, their primary purpose
was to achieve a self-clarification. In his famous later note of 1859,
Marx observed that:
"Frederick Engels, with whom I maintained a constant
exchange of ideas by correspondence since the publication of his brilliant
essay on the critique of economic categories (printed in the Deutsch-Franzosische
Jahrbucher, arrived by another road (compare his ‘Lage der arbeitenden
Klasse’, in England ) at the same result as I, and when in the spring of
1845 he too came to live in Brussels, we decided to set forth together
our conception as opposed to the ideological one of German philosophy,
in fact to settle accounts with our former philosophical conscience. The
intention was carried out in the form of a critique of post-Hegelian philosophy.
The manuscript [The German Ideology], two large octavo volumes, had long
ago reached the publishers in Westphalia when we were informed that owing
to changed circumstances it could not be printed. We abandoned the manuscript
to the gnawing criticism of the mice all the more willingly since we had
achieved our main purpose -- self-clarification."
In that joint work, Marx and Engels
explicitly advocated the necessity of an international
communist movement - "Empirically communism is only possible as the act
of the dominant peoples "all at once" and "simultaneously which pre-supposes
the universal development of productive forces and the world intercourse
bound up with them".
Karl Marx: 1859 "Preface to A Contribution to the
Critique of Political Economy"; or at
The full citation is as follows:
"5. Development of the Productive Forces as a Material
Premise of Communism].
can be no doubt that early on, before their full maturity, both Marx and
Engels thought that the revolution had to be virtually simultaneous in
several countries around the world.
"This "estrangement" ["entfremdung"](to use a term
which will be comprehensible to the philosophers) can, of course,
only be abolished given two practical premises. In order to become
an "unendurable" power, i.e. a power against which men make a revolution,
it must necessarily have rendered the great mass of humanity "propertyless",
and moreover, in contradiction to an existing world of wealth and culture,
both of these premises presuppose a great increase in productive power,
a high degree of its development. And, on the other hand, this development
of productive forces (which at the same time implies the actual empirical
existence of men in their world-historical, instead of local, being)
is an absolutely necessary practical premise, because without it privation,
want is merely made general, and with want the struggle for
necessities and all the old filthy business would necessarily be restored;
and furthermore, because only with this universal development of productive
forces is a universal intercourse between men established, which
on the one side produces in all nations simultaneously the phenomenon
of the "propertyless" mass (universal competition), makes each nation dependent
on the revolutions of the others, and finally puts world-historical,
empirically universal individuals in place of local ones. Without this,
(1) communism could only exist as a local phenomenon; (2) the forces
of intercourse themselves could not have developed as universal,
hence unendurable powers: they would have remained home-bred "conditions"
surrounded by superstition; and (3) each extension of intercourse would
abolish local communism. Empirically, communism is only possible as the
act of the dominant peoples "all at once" and simultaneously, which presupposes
the universal development of productive forces and the world intercourse
bound up with them.
Moreover, the mass of workers, who are nothing
but workers - labour power on a mass scale cut off from capital or
from even a limited satisfaction [of their needs] and, hence, as a result
of competition their utterly precarious position, the no longer merely
temporary loss of work as a secure source of life — presupposes the world
market. The proletariat can thus only exist world-historically,
just as communism, its activity, can only have a "world-historical" existence.
World-historical existence of individuals i.e. existence of individuals
which is directly linked up with world history.
 Communism is for us not a state of affairs
which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will]
have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which
abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement
result from the premises now in existence."
Karl Marx & Frederick Engels: "The German ideology.
(I). Feuerbach. Section  Development of the Productive Forces as a Material
Premise of Communism"; In Collected Works; Volume 5; Moscow 1976;
pp. 48-9. A version is to be found at: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/german-ideology/ch01a.htm#a3
2. In What Sense is the "Revolution
It is relevant to examine the views
of Marx and Engels on how the movement should revive itself after the defeat
of the 1848-9 revolutions.
Again this was an early period
in their political careers. Nonetheless, by now, they had not only participated
in extraordinary theoretical achievements, but they had also been in the
thick of mass movements. They had now a practical experience that
allowed them to begin to formulate more precisely the theory of
the mechanics of the proletarian revolution. In other words the practical
implementation of the strategy and tactics of the revolution itself - How
was the revolution to be brought forward?
They had already laid down principles
in their theoretical works and in the great Communist Manifesto of 1848.
But now they had a mass collective experience that they could analyse and
draw upon. It was now 1850. Marx and
Engels were mulling over the 1848 revolutions and the collective and international
failure to ignite a proletarian revolution from the democratic sparks.
In their famous advice given to
the Communist League, Marx and Engels used the word "permanent",
to stress that the long term CLASS interests of the proletariat must always
be considered - irrespective of what class alliances were necessary
for the proletariat to undertake in achieving any short term goals.
Trotsky later warped this notion
into an insistence that the proletariat dispense with any class
alliances (specifically the peasantry in Russia); and that the Russian
state could not be maintained as "socialist" in isolation.
Marx and Engels delineated clear
differences in the ultimate aims of the proletariat - versus the progressive
but entirely short lived aims of the petty-bourgeois democrats. These latter
aims, are of a benefit to the workers. But the proletariat is interested
in a revolution transcending the short-term aims. It has a more far reaching
aim. It is in this sense that the revolution must be "permanent".
However, it is still true that
mixed in with this notion, in 1850 Marx and Engels do still convey the
sense that an international solution must be found. This is highlighted
in the following citation:
"The domination and speedy increase of capital is
further to be counteracted partly by restricting the right
of inheritance and partly by transferring as much employment as possible
to the state. As far as the workers are concerned,
it is above all certain that they are to remain wage-workers as
before; the democratic petty bourgeois only desire better wages and a more
secure existence for the workers and hope to achieve
this through partial employment by the state and through
charity measures; in short, they hope to bribe the workers by more or less
concealed alms and to sap their revolutionary vigour by making
their position tolerable for the moment. The demands
of the petty-bourgeois democracy here summarised are
not put forward by all of their factions and only very few of their members
consider these demands in their aggregate as a definite aim.
The further individual people or factions among them go, the more of these
demands will they make their own, and those few who
see their own programme in what has been outlined
above would believe that thereby they have put forward the utmost that
can be demanded from the revolution. But these demands
can in no wise suffice for the party of the proletariat. While the democratic
petty bourgeois wish to bring the revolution to a conclusion
as quickly as possible, and with the achievement,
at most, of the above demands, it is our interest and our
task to make the revolution
permanent, until all more or less possessing classes are forced out of
their position of dominance, the proletariat has conquered
state power, and the association of proletarians, not
only in one country but in all the dominant countries of the world, has
advanced so far that competition among the proletarians
in these countries has ceased and that at least
the decisive productive forces are concentrated in
the hands of the proletarians. For us the issue cannot be the
alteration of private property but only its abolition, not the smoothing
over of class antagonisms but the abolition of classes,
not the improvement of existing society but the foundation
of a new one. That, during the further development of the revolution, the
petty-bourgeois democrats will for a moment obtain predominating
influence in Germany is not open to doubt. The question
is, therefore, what is to be the attitude of the proletariat and
in particular of the League towards them:
In the highlighted section, it is perfectly
clear that Marx and Engels still adhere to their "early" viewpoint expressed
before in both the German Ideology" and the "Principles of Communism" -
that an international revolution is required for an ultimate successful
1. During the continuance of the present conditions
where the petty-bourgeois democrats are likewise oppressed;
2. In the next revolutionary struggle, which will
give them the upper hand;
3. After this struggle, during the period of their
preponderance over the overthrown classes and the
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels: "Address
of the Central Authority To The League"; [Communist League]; March 1850;
Collected Works; In Volume 10; Moscow 1978; pp. 277-287; Quote from p.
281. [Emphasis - Alliance Editor]. Also
a version is at: http://www.marx2mao.org//M&E/ACL50.html
But there is now, no
sense that a simultaneous revolution is required. The sense instead
is that the ultimate goal must simply not be forgotten ("UNTIL all more
or less possessing classes have been forced out of their position of dominance")
Of even more central concern to
this article however, is the form of alliances that the proletariat should
make with the democratically minded petty-bourgeoisie.
In other words, Marx and Engels
pose the question of whether there should be an alliance of the
proletarians with the "petty-bourgeois democrats"; for what period
of time; and how to move to the second stage of revolution - i.e.
to the socialist revolution ("2. In the next struggle which will give them
the upper hand").
Marx and Engels are quite clear
that the aims of the petty-democrats are different from those of
the workers. The petty-bourgeois democrats wish only to have democracy
for their own purposes:
"Far from desiring to transform the whole of society
for the revolutionary proletarians, the democratic petty bourgeois strive
for a change in social conditions by means of which the existing society
will be made as tolerable and comfortable as possible for them. Hence they
demand above all a diminution of state expenditure by curtailing the bureaucracy
and shifting the bulk of the taxes on to the big landowners and bourgeois.
Further, they demand the abolition of the pressure of big capital on small,
through public credit institutions and laws against usury, by which means
it will be possible for them and the peasants to obtain advances, on favourable
conditions from the state instead of from the capitalists; they also demand
the establishment of bourgeois property relations in the countryside by
the complete abolition of feudalism. To accomplish all this they need a
democratic form of government, either constitutional or republican, that
will give them and their allies, the peasants, a majority; also a
democratic communal structure that will give them direct control over communal
property and a number of functions now performed by the bureaucrats."
Nonetheless, even a temporary bourgeois
democratic structure, will benefit the workers, and assists them to move
on to the next stage. The formula that encapsulates
the advice of Marx and Engels was:
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels: "Address
of the Central Authority To The League"; [Communist League]; March 1850;
In Volume 10; Collected Works; pp. 277-287; Quote from p. 280.
Also a version is at: http://www.marx2mao.org//M&E/ACL50.html
"The relation of the revolutionary workers' party
to the petty-bourgeois democrats is this: it marches together with them
against the faction which it aims at overthrowing, it opposes them in everything
whereby they seek to consolidate their position in their own interests."
Marx and Engels end this article, by
exhorting the workers to remain on guard and NOT
to cease their struggle independent of the "democratic petty bourgeois":
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels: "Address of the Central
Authority To The League"; [Communist League]; March 1850; In Volume 10;
Collected Works; pp. 277-287; Quote from p. 280. Also a version
is at: http://www.marx2mao.org//M&E/ACL50.html
"If the German workers are not able to attain power
and achieve their own class interests without
completely going through a lengthy revolutionary development, they at least
know for a certainty this time that the first act of this
approaching revolutionary drama will coincide with the direct
victory of their own class in France and will be very
much accelerated by it.
Summary: Already in
this text, the emphasis has entirely shifted, from a "simultaneous"
revolution in several countries to one of a dogged persistence with
the revolutionary agenda, in order to spread it world-wide.
But they themselves must do the utmost for their final
victory by it clear to themselves what their class
interests are, by taking up their position as an independent party as soon
as possible and by not allowing themselves to be misled
for a single moment by the hypocritical phrases of
the democratic petty bourgeois into refraining from the independent organization
of the party of the proletariat. Their battle cry
must be: The Revolution in Permanence. "
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels: "Address of the Central
Authority To The League"; [Communist League]; March 1850; In Volume 10;
Collected Works; Quote from p. 287. A Version is also at:
The later relevance this article
assumed, followed Trotsky's distortion of its main message. Trotsky did
this in order to serve his own ends, to justify the "Theory of the Permanent
We shall examine this distortion,
after we have seen the later positions of Marx and Engels upon "Socialism
in One Country".
c). The Later Positions of
Marx and Engels on Socialism In One Country
It is difficult for even the most
ardent Trotskyite to deny, that Marx and Engels took a more sophisticated
and clear-sighted view later in their careers on many issues, than they
had taken earlier on.
It is interesting that even Marx
and Engels themselves were somewhat disparaging about at least sections
of their earlier work. In 1888 Engels said this in a preface to "Ludwig
Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy":
"Before sending these lines to press, I have once
again ferreted out and looked over the old manuscript of 1845-46. The section
dealing with Feuerbach is not completed. The finished portion consists
of an exposition of the materialist conception of history which proves
only how incomplete our knowledge of economic history still was at the
One case in point appears to be the
matter of Socialism in One Country.
Frederick Engels: 1888 Preface to: "Ludwig Feuerbach
and the End of Classical German Philosophy" ; In Selected works: Volume
3: p. 357; http://www.marx2mao.org//M&E/LF86.html#fw
For there is clear evidence that in later years, both
Marx and Engels had considerably modified their earlier view, of the need
for a "simultaneous" and far-reaching revolution in several countries at
In the following letter written
in 1882, Engels makes clear to Kautsky that the pace
of revolution varies from country to country. In the context here, Engels
is explicitly relating this thought to countries lacking independence,
such as Italy, but especially he means Ireland and Poland:
"Now it is historically impossible for a great
people to discuss this or that internal question in any way seriously so
long as national independence is lacking. Prior to 1859 there was no question
of socialism in Italy; even the republicans were few in number, although
they constituted the most vigorous element. Not until 1861 did the republicans
begin to expand, subsequently yielding their best elements to the socialists.
Similarly in Germany. Lassalle was on the point of giving up the cause
for lost when he was lucky enough to be shot. It was not until 1866, the
year that actually decided Little Germany's Greater Prussian unity, that
both the Lassallean and the so-called Eisenach parties acquired any significance,
and it was not until 1870, when the Bonapartist urge to interfere had been
eliminated for good, that the cause gathered momentum. If we still had
the old Federal Diet, where would our party be now? Similarly in Hungary.
It wasn't until 1860 that it was drawn into the modern movement - sharp
practice above, socialism below.
In yet another letter to Kautsky, also
in 1882, Engels broaches the question of the colonial revolution
in relation to English colonial policy. Engels disclaims precise description
of how events will unfold, however he projects colonial revolutions where
the "natives" are ruled. Of these countries he estimates that a revolution
might begin in India - decidedly different to his anticipations
of an earlier 1847:
Generally speaking an international movement of the
proletariat is possible only as between independent
nations. What little republican internationalism there was in the years
1830-48 was grouped round the France that was to liberate Europe, and French
chauvinism was thus raised to such a pitch that we are still
hampered at every turn by France's mission as universal liberator and hence
by its natural right to take the lead ......................
So long as Poland remains partitioned and subjugated,
therefore, there can be no development either of a powerful socialist party
within the country itself or of genuine international intercourse between
Poles other than the émigrés and the rest of the proletarian
parties in Germany, etc."
Letter Engels to Kautsky; 7 February 1882; In
Marx and Engels; Collected Works; Volume 46; Moscow; 1992; pp. 191-195.
(For Full letter See Appendix; carried at: on Web-pages
"You ask me what the English workers think of colonial
policy. Well, exactly what they think of any policy - the same as what
the middle classes think. There is, after all, no labour party here, only
conservatives and liberal radicals, and the workers cheerfully go snacks
in England's monopoly of the world market and colonies. As I see it, the
actual colonies, i.e. the countries occupied by European settlers, such
as Canada, the Cape, Australia, will all become independent; on the other
hand, countries that are merely ruled and are inhabited by natives, such
as India, Algeria and the Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish possessions, will
have to be temporarily taken over by the proletariat and guided as rapidly
as possible towards independence. How this process will develop is difficult
to say. India may, indeed very probably will, start a revolution and, since
a proletariat that is effecting its own emancipation cannot wage a colonial
war, it would have to be given its head, which would obviously entail a
great deal of destruction, but after all that sort of thing is inseparable
from any revolution. The same thing could also happen elsewhere, say in
Algeria or Egypt, and would certainly suit us best. We shall have enough
on our hands at home. Once Europe has been reorganised, and North America,
the resulting power will be so colossal and the example set will be such
that the semi-civilised countries will follow suit quite of their own accord;
their economic needs alone will see to that. What social and political
phases those countries will then have to traverse before they likewise
acquire a socialist organisation is something about which I do not believe
we can profitably speculate at present. Only one thing is certain, namely
that a victorious proletariat cannot forcibly confer any
boon whatever on another country without undermining its own victory in
the process. Which does not, of course, in any way preclude defensive wars
of various kinds."
It cannot be over-looked that
the army and military specialist of the Marxist-Leninist movement – General
Engels – advises against the export of revolution": Only one thing
is certain, namely that a victorious proletariat cannot forcibly confer
any boon whatever on another country without undermining
its own victory in the process. And then there are the numerous works where
both Marx and Engels examine Russia. These illustrate
their changed view in more detail.
Letter Engels to Kautsky, 12 September 1882; In Marx
and Engels Collected Works: Volume 46; Moscow 1992; pp. 320-323.
(For Full letter See Appendix; carried at: on Web-pages
(d). Marx and Engels on the
Russian Prospects for Revolution (adapted From Alliance
Issue 36, at
It is apparent that Marx and Engels were
extremely well informed about the position of the Russian movement and
of Russian society in general. A bourgeois canard is still about that Marx
and Engels "Got it wrong because they did not foresee that the proletarian
revolution would begin FIRST in a backward
country like Russia, and not in a fully developed capitalist country, like
Britain or Germany."
It is certainly true that early
on in their writing, both Marx & Engels not only hoped for, but also
thought it most likely - that revolution would break out in countries where
capitalism was fully developed. But by the middle, and especially the end
of their lives and careers, they had both correctly predicted that the
weak link was likely to be Russia. This is linked to this article’s theme,
since Marx and Engels predicted that the revolution would break out in
Russia, and only then would be emulated following the stimulus in Western
Again, this was a departure in
two respects from the prognosis for revolution given by them in the early
part of their career. Engels for example wrote:
"Apart from Germany and Austria the country on which
we should focus our attention remains Russia., The government there, just
as in this country is the chief ally of the movement. But a much better
one than our Bismarck, Stieber and Tessendorf. The Russian court party,
which is now firmly in the saddle, tries to take back all its concessions
made during the years of the "new era" that was ushered in 1861, and with
genuinely Russian methods at that. So now again, only "sons of the upper
classes" are to be allowed to study, and in order to carry this policy
out all others are made to fail in the graduation examinations. In 1873
alone this was the fate that awaited 24,000 young people whose entire careers
were blocked, as they were expressly forbidden to become even elementary
school-teachers. And yet people are surprised at the spread of "nihilism"
in Russia. … It almost looks like the next dance is going to start in Russia.
And if this happens while the inevitable war between the German-Prussian
Empire and Russia is in progress- which is very likely - repercussions
in Germany are also inevitable."
After the folding of the First International
(See Alliance issue -----------), there was a question as to when it would
be right to form the Second International. In discussing this timing,
Engels argued that the proletarian powder should be kept dry, until
the battle began. He believed that this battle would begin in Russia, and
that this would give the signal for the International’s "official" re-birth.
This would be an action orientated, and not merely theoretical manifestation:
Written London October 15th, 1875; Engels,
Frederick; "Letter to August Bebel in Leipzig; In: "Marx-Engels: Selected
Correspondence"; Moscow; 1982; p.282.
"We think that the time for … a new formally reorganised
International would only call forth new persecution in Germany, Austria,
Hungary, Italy and Spain… On the other hand the International actually
continues to exist. There is a connection between the revolutionary workers
in all countries, as far as that is feasible. Every socialist journal is
an international center…. When the time for rallying of forces arrives
it will therefore be a matter of but a moment and require no lengthy preparation…
The names of the champions of the people in any country are well known
in all the others and a manifesto signed and endorsed by all of them would
create an immense impression… for that very reason such a demonstration
must kept for the moment when it can have a decisive effect, i.e.; when
events in Europe make it necessary. Otherwise the effect in the future
will be spoiled and the whole thing will be only a shot in the air. Such
events are however maturing in Russia where the vanguard of the battle
will engage in battle. This and its inevitable impact on Germany is what
one must in our opinion wait for., and then will also come the time for
a grand demonstration and the establishment of an official, formal International
which however can no longer be a propaganda society but only a society
But perhaps the best illustration that
Engels thought the revolution would start in Russia, comes from correspondence
with Vera Zasulich. Engels clearly
displays an exuberant optimism in the Russian revolution. Now it may be
true that he was some 20 years too early! But, after all, he had clearly
identified the motive forces of the "Old Mole" in Russia. He even made
clear that so serious was the situation in Russia, that in a "certain"
sense this might be a relatively unique situation – one where some degree
of Blanquist theory, might be relevant.
Written London February 10th, 1882; Engels,
Frederick; "Letter to Johann Phillip Becker in Geneva; In: "Marx-Engels:
Selected Correspondence"; Moscow; 1982; p.328-329.
"I am proud to know that there is a party among the
youth of Russia which frankly and without equivocation accepts the great
economic and historical theories of Marx and has definitely broken with
all the anarchist and also the few existing Slavophil tendencies of its
predecessors…. What I know or believe I know about the situation in Russia
makes me think that the Russians are fast approaching their 1789. The revolution
must break out any day. In these circumstances the country is like a charged
mine which only needs a single match to be applied to it. Especially since
March 13 (Editor- the assassination of Tsar Alexander 3rd)
This is one of the exceptional cases where it is possible for handful of
people to make a revolution, i.e., by giving a small impetus to cause a
whole system (to use a metaphor of Plekhanov’s) which is in more than labile
equilibrium, to come crashing down, and by an action insignificant of itself
to release explosive forces that afterwards becomes uncontrollable. Well,
if ever Blanquism – the fantastic idea of overturning an entire society
by the action of a small group of conspirators – had a certain raison d’être,
that is certainly so now in St.Petersburg. Once the spark has been put
to the powder… the people who laid the spark to the mine will be swept
along by the explosion …. Suppose these people imagine they can seize power,
what harm does it do? .. To me the important thing is the impulse in Russia
should be given, that the revolution should break out. Whether this or
that faction gives the signal, whether it happens under this flag or that
is a matter of complete indifference to me. If it were a palace conspiracy
it would be swept away tomorrow. In a country where the situation is so
strained, where the revolutionary elements have accumulated to such a degree,
where the economic conditions of the people become daily more impossible,
where every stage of social development is represented, from the primitive
commune to the modern large scale industry and high finance, where all
these contradictions are arbitrarily held in check by an unexampled despotism,
a despotism which is becoming more and more unbearable to the a youth in
whom the dignity and intelligence of such a nation are united-when 1789
has once been launched in such a country, 1793 will not be far away." Written
London April 23 1885;
Lenin, naturally, made a particular
study of the views of Marx and Engels upon Russia. He clearly saw the same
inter-relation between Russian revolution and European revolution that
Marx and Engels had. Here are some notes in his famous encyclopaedic "Notebooks
on Imperialism" – and are drawn from two articles of Engels. A Postscript
to the Engels article "On Social Relations In Russia" (1894) - ends with
Engels, Frederick; "Letter to Vera Ivanovna Zasulich
in Geneva"; In: "Marx-Engels: Selected Correspondence"; Moscow; 1982; pp.361-363.
"It - the revolution in Russia – will not only rescue
the great mass of the nation, the peasants, from the isolation of their
villages, which constitute their ‘mir’, their world, and lead them
to the big stage, where they will get to know the outside world and thereby
themselves, their own position and the means of salvation from their present
state of want, but it will also give a new impetus and new, better conditions
of struggle for the workers’ movement of the West, and hasten the victory
of the modern industrial proletariat, with out which present day Russia
cannot find her way, whether through the village commune or through capitalism,
to a socialist transformation of society."
And it was necessary for Lenin in other
places, to point out in contrast to those who argued in 1905, that the
Bolsheviks should not harbor "Jacobin" prospects for the 1905 revolution,
that Russia was "too backward" for the proletarian revolution"; that Marx
and Engels had argued against such a step as the first proletarian revolution,
etc; etc; ....:
Lenin, Vladimir.I ; "Notes on Engels’ ‘On Social relations
In Russia’; Cited Lenin; "Collected Works"; ‘Notebooks on Imperialism’;
Volume 39; Moscow; 1968; p.506.
"VI. The internal situation of Russia is "almost desperate"…
"This European China" (21)… the ruin of the peasants after 1861… "This
path of (of economic & social revolution = capitalism-in Russia) "is
for the time being predominantly a destructive path" (21). Impoverishment
of the soil, deforestation etc; in Russia. Russia’s credit falling. "It
is not France that needs Russia, but rather Russia that needs France… If
she had a little sense France could obtain from France whatever she liked.
Instead, France crawls on her belly before the Tsar. . Russia lives by
exporting rye-mainly to Germany. "As soon as Germany begins to eat white
bread instead of black, the present official Tsarist and big-bourgeois
Russia will at once be bankrupt".
Lenin’s Notes on Engels’ article: Cited Lenin; "Collected
Works"; ‘Notebooks on Imperialism’; Volume 39; Moscow; 1968; "Can Europe
"Take Marx’s letter of September 27 1877. He is quite
enthusiastic about the Eastern crisis:
Summary: There is
therefore no justification for the view that Marx and Engels got it wrong
by not foreseeing the Russian revolution. Moreover, their views in this
regard buttress the fact that they had moved well beyond their early understanding
of an absolute necessity of a "simultaneous" world revolution.
"Russia has long been standing on the threshold of
an upheaval, all the elements of it are prepared……. The gallant Turks have
hastened the explosion by years with the thrashing they have inflicted….
The upheaval will begin secundum artem (according to the rules of the art)
with some playing at constitutionalism et puis il ya aura un beau taupage
(and then there will be a fine row). If Mother Nature is not particularly
unfavorable to us, we shall yet live to see the fun!" (Marx was then fifty-nine
Lenin, Vladimir.I.; "Preface to The Russian Translation
of Letters By Johanne Becker, Joseph Dietzgen, Frederick Engels, Marl Marx
and others to Friedrich Sorge and Others"; (April 1907); In Collected Works";
Volume 12; Moscow; 1962; p.376.
"Or take Marx’s letter of November 5th 1880.
He was delighted with the success of Capital in Russia, and took the parts
of the members of the Narodnaya Volya organization against the newly arisen
General Redistribution Group. Marx correctly perceived the anarchistic
elements in their views. Not knowing the future evolution of the General-Redistribution
Narodniks into Social-Democrats, Marx attacked them with all his trenchant
"These gentlemen are against all political-revolutionary
action. Russia is to make a somersault into the anarchist-communist-atheist
millenium! Meanwhile, they are preparing for this leap with the most tedious
doctrinarism, whose so-called "principes cournat la rue depuis le feu Bakounine".
We can gather from this how Marx would have appreciated
the significance for Russia of 1905 and the succeeding years of Social-Democracy’s
Lenin V.I: "Preface to The Russian Translation of
Letters By Johanne Becker, Joseph Dietzgen, Frederick Engels, Marl Marx
and others to Friedrich Sorge and Others"; (April 1907); In Collected Works";
Volume 12; Moscow; 1962; p.376.
"There is a letter by Engels dated April 6th
"On the other hand it seems as if a crisis is impending
in Russia. The recent attentates rather upset the apple cart. "The army
is full of discontented conspiring officers (Lenin adds: Engels at that
time was impressed by the revolutionary struggle of the Narodnaya Volya
organization; he set his hopes on the officers and did not yet see the
revolutionary spirit of the Russian soldiers and sailors, which was manifested
so magnificently eighteen years later..) I do not think things will last
another year; and once it (the revolution breaks out in Russia, then hurrah!"
A letter of April 23 1887:
"in Germany there is persecution after persecution
of socialist. It looks as if Bismarck wants to have everything ready so
that the moment the revolution breaks out in Russia, which is now only
a question of months, Germany could immediately follow her example."
Lenin V.I: "Preface to The Russian Translation of Letters
By Johanne Becker, Joseph Dietzgen, Frederick Engels, Marl Marx and others
to Friedrich Sorge and Others"; (April 1907); In Collected Works"; Volume
12; Moscow; 1962; p.377. http://www.marx2mao.org//Lenin/PRTL07.html
"Yes, Marx and Engels made many and frequent mistakes
in determining the proximity of revolution in their hopes in the victory
of revolution (e.g. in 1848 in Germany), in their faith in the imminence
of a German "republic" (to die for the republic" wrote Engels of that period
recalling his sentiments as a participant in the military campaign for
a Reich constitution in 1848-9)….. But such errors – the errors of the
giant of revolutionary thought, who sought to raise, and did raise, the
proletariat of the whole world above the level of petty commonplace and
trivial tasks - are a thousand times more noble and magnificent and historically
more valuable and true than the trite wisdom of official liberalism, which
lauds, shouts, appeals and holds forth about the vanity of revolutionary
vanities, the futility of the revolutionary struggle and the charms of
the counter-revolutionary "constitutional" fantasies." Lenin
V.I: "Preface to The Russian Translation of Letters By Johanne Becker,
Joseph Dietzgen, Frederick Engels, Marl Marx and others to Friedrich Sorge
and Others"; (April 1907); In Collected Works"; Volume 12; Moscow; 1962;
(e) The Distortion Of Marx and
Engels by Trotsky: The Theory of the "Permanent Revolution"; and Lenin
and Stalin's Critique of it. (Adapted from Communist
League "Trotsky Agaisnt the Boslheviks" part One, dated 1976; see -----------------------------).
In November and December 1904, Trotsky
Wrote a brochure on the necessity for the working class to play the-leading
role in the capitalist revolution in Russia which, the following
year, he entitled “Before the 9th. January” . This
being the date, under the old Russian calendar, in 1905 when the first
Russian revolution began with the shooting down by the. tsar's troops of
an unarmed workers’ demonstration.
When he was in Munich, Trotsky
was accustomed to stay at the home of Aleksandr Helfand a Russian
Jew who then claimed to be a Marxist. Helfand published his own political
review "Aus der Weltpolitik" (World Politics) and wrote articles for other
magazine s especially Kautsky's "Neue Zeit" (New Life) and the "new
"Iskra" under' the pen-name "Parvus”.
When Trotsky visited Munich in
January 1905, he had the proofs of the brochure with him. Parvus was impressed
with its contents and decided to put the weight of his, authority behind
Trotsky by writing a preface to it. In this preface he stated a conclusion
which Trotsky still hesitated to draw:
"In Russia only the workers can accomplish a revolutionary
insurrection. . . The revolutionary provisional government will be a government
of workers' democracy."
In April 1905 Lenin commented
on Parvus's theory that the capitalist revolution in Russia could result
in a government of the working class, as it had been put forward in the
brochure written by:
(Parvus Preface to: L, Trotsky: "Do 9 Yanvara"; Geneva;
“the windbag Trotsky".
Lenin declared about the theory, that:
Lenin: " Social-Democracy and the Provisional Revolutionary
Government", in. "Selected Works", Volume 3; London; 1946; p. 35).
"This cannot be . . . This cannot be, because, only
a revolutionary dictatorship relying on the overwhelming majority of the
people can be at all durable. . . The Russian proletariat, however, at
present constitutes a minority of the population in Russia. It can become
the great overwhelming majority only if it combines with the mass of semi-proletarians,
semi-small proprietors, i.e. with the mass of the petty-bourgeois urban
and rural poor. And such a composition of the social basis of the possible
and desirable revolutionary-democratic dictatorship will of course... find
its reflection in the composition of. the revolutionary government. With
such a composition of the participation or even the predominance of the
most diversified representatives of revolutionary democracy in such a government
will be inevitable".
In 1905, Leon Trotsky had been one
of the leaders of the St.Petersburg Soviet. He was then held in prison
on charges of plotting insurrection.
(V. I. Lenin; ibid.; p. 35).
While in prison, Trotsky wrote
"Results and Prospects" which was published in St.Petersburg in
1906 as the final chapter of his book "Our Revolution" a collection of
essays on the Russian Revolution of December 1905.
In this essay Trotsky gave a fundamental
statement of his views on the capitalist revolution the "theory of permanent
The term permanent revolution"
was derived from the analysis of Marx and Engels in 1850 (see above):
"While the democratic petty bourgeois wish to bring
the revolution to a conclusion as quickly as possible and with the achievement
at most of the above demands it is our interest and our task to make the
revolution permanent, until all more or' less possessing classes have been
displaced from domination until the proletariat has conquered state power.
. . Their (i.e., --the-German workers' ---Ed.) battle-cry must be: the
Lenin broadly accepted this
concept of the permanant revolution, although after Trotsky's publication,
Marxists preferred to use the term "un-interrupted
revolution" or "continuous revolution" in order to avoid confusion
with Trotsky's perversion of the term in connection with his anti-Leninist
theory of the capitalist revolution. In September 1905, Lenin wrote:
K. Marx and F. Engels: Address of the Central Council
to the Communist League, in: Ibid;
"From the democratic revolution we shall at once.,
according to the degree of our strength, the strength of the class conscious
and organised proletariat, begin to pass over to the-socialist revolution.
We stand for continuous revolution".
theory of the capitalist revolution, as put forward in "Results
and Prospects" was as follows:
V.I. Lenin: "The Attitude of Social-Democracy towards
the Peasant Movement', in: "Selected Works", Volume 3; London; 1946; p.
1) The working class will be the active force in the
capitalist revolution with the peasantry as supporters:
"The struggle for the emancipation of Russia from
the incubus of absolutism which is stifling it has become converted into
a single combat between absolutism and the industrial proletariat, a
single combat in which the peasants may render considerable support
but cannot play a leading role.. .. .
2. Because the peasantry in the capitalist revolution
is destined to play only an auxiliary role of supporters rather than allies
of the working class, the democratic- revolution will place in power --
not an alliance of the' working class and peasantry, "the democratic dictatorship
of the working class and peasantry-
- but the working class, establishing the dictatorship of the working class,
a revolutionary Workers' government:
Many sections of the working masses, particularly
in the countryside, will be drawn into the revolution and become politically
organised only after the advance-guard of the revolution, the urban proletariat,
stands at the helm of the state.. . .
The proletariat in power will stand before the peasants
as the. class which has emancipated it.. . . advance-guard of the
revolution, the urban proletariat, stands at the helm of the state.. .
The proletariat in power will stand before the peasants
as the. class which has emancipated it.. . .
The Russian peasantry in the first and, most difficult
period of the revolution will be interested in the maintenance of a proletarian
regime (workers' democracy)".
(L. Trotsky: "Results and Prospects", in: "The Permanent
Revolution''; New York; 1970; p. 66, 70, 71-72).
"The idea of a proletarian and peasant dictatorship'
is unrealisable. . ..
3. Once in power the working class will be compelled to
proceed with the construction of a socialist Society:
There can be no talk of any special form of proletarian
dictatorship in the bourgeois revolution, of democratic proletarian
dictatorship (or dictatorship of the proletariat and Peasantry). . .
Victory in this struggle must transfer power to the
That has led the struggle, i.e., the Social- democratic
The question, therefore, is not one of a
'revolutionary provisional government' -- an empty
phrase but of a revolutionary workers' government,
the conquest of power by the Russian proletariat.".
(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 73, 80, 121-22).
"The proletariat, once having taken power, will fight
for it to the very end. Collectivism will become
not only the inevitable way forward from the position in which the party
in power will find itself, but will also be a means of preserving this
position with the support of the., proletariat……..
4. But the, construction of socialism will inevitably
bring the working class into hostile collision with the peasantry
and urban petty bourgeoisie:
The political domination of the proletariat is incompatible
with its economic enslavement . No matter under what political flag the
proletariat has come to power, it is obliged to take the path of socialist
(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 80, 101).
"Every passing day will deepen the policy of the proletariat
in power,, and more and more define its class' character. Side by side
with that, the revolutionary ties betwee n the proletariat and the nation
will be broken. . . .
5. Thus, the working class in power now isolated
from and opposed by the masses of the peasantry and urban
petty bourgeoisie will inevitably be overthrown by the
forces of reaction -- unless the working classes of Western
Europe establish proletarian dictatorships which render
direct state aid to the working-class of Russia:
The primitiveness of the peasantry turns its hostile
face towards the proletariat.
The cooling-off of the peasantry, its political passivity,
and all the more active opposition of its upper sections, cannot but have
an influence on a section of the intellectuals and the petty-bourgeoisie
of the towns.
Thus, the more definite and determined the policy
of the proletariat in power becomes, the narrower and more shaky does the
ground beneath its feet become.. . .
The, two main features of proletarian policy which
will meet opposition from the allies of the proletariat are collectivism
and internationalism" (L., Trotsky: ibid.; p. 76-77).
"Left to it’s own resources.., the working class of
Russia: will inevitably be crushed by the counter--
revolution the moment the peasantry turns its back
on it. It will have no alternative but to link the
fate of its political rule and, hence, the fate of the
whole Russian revolution, with the fate of the socialist
revolution in Europe."
6. The Russian working class government will, therefore,
be forced to use its state power actively to initiate
socialist revolutions in Western Europe
(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 115).
"Without the direct State support of the European proletariat
the working class of Russia cannot remain in power and convert its
temporary domination into a lasting socialistic dictatorship.
Of this there cannot for one moment be any doubt."
(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 105)
"This immediately gives the events now unfolding an
international character... . The political emancipation of Russia led by
the working transfer to it colossal power and resources, and. ..
will make it the initiator of the liquidation of world capitalism. . .
Trotsky continued to put forward his
theory of "permanent revolution" throughout his life. In
his book "The Permanent Revolution", published in Berlin in Russian
in 1930, he says:
If the Russian Proletariat, having temporarily obtained
power, does not on its own initiative carry revolution on to European soil,
it will be compelled to do so by the forces of European feudal-bourgeois
The colossal state-political power given it by a temporary
conjuncture of circumstances in the Russian bourgeois revolution it will
cast into the scales of the class struggle of the entire capitalist world".
(L. Trotsky; ibid.; p. 108, 115).
"I came out against the formula 'democratic
dictatorship of the Proletariat and the peasantry'.. .
As we have seen, Lenin analysed the
revolutionary process in tsarist Russia as
essentially one of two successive stages --
The theory of the permanent revolution.. which originated
in 1905, . .".pointed out that the democratic tasks. of the backward bourgeois
nations lead directly, in our epoch, to the dictatorship of the proletariat
. . . .
The socialist revolution begins on national foundations
but it cannot be completed within these foundations. .
The difference between the 'permanent' and the Leninist
standpoint expressed itself politically in the counter-posing, of the slogan
of the dictatorship of the proletariat relying on the peasantry to the
slogan of the democratic dictatorship of ‘the proletariat and the
peasantry.. . . .
The world division of labour, the dependence of
Soviet industry upon foreign technology, the dependence
of the productive forces of the advanced countries of
Europe upon Asiatic raw material, etc., make the
construction of an independent.. socialist society
in any single country impossible."..
(L. Trotsky: "The Permanent Revolution"; New York;'
1970; P. 128,132, 133, 189, 280).
the stage of democratic revolution;
the stage of socialist revolution, but with the possibility
of uninterrupted transition from the first stage to
the second if the working class were able to win the leading
role in the first stage.
The resemblance of Lenin's viewpoint
to that of Marx and Engels is quickly apparent, by a simple comparison
of his viewpoint with the advice that Marx and Engels gave to the Communist
League as cited above.
The Trotskyite theory of "permanent
revolution" rejected Lenin's concept of two stages in the revolutionary
process in tsarist Russia, and postulated a single stage, that of the proletarian-socialist
revolution leading directly to the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Lenin saw the revolutionary process
in colonial-type countries also as essentially one of two successive stages
-- Firstly, the stage of national- democratic revolution, secondly, the
stage of socialist revolution, but with the possibility of uninterrupted
transition from the first stage to the second if the working class were
able to win the leading role in the first stage.
Trotsky logically extended his
theory of "permanent revolution" to colonial-type countries, here also
postulating a single stage in the revolutionary process, that of proletarian-
socialist revolution leading directly to the dictatorship of the proletariat.
"In order that the proletariat of the Eastern countries
may open the road to victory, the pedantic reactionary theory of Stalin
. . . on 'stages' and 'steps' must be eliminated at the very
outset, must be cast aside, broken up and swept away with a broom.
With regard to . . . . the colonial and semi-colonial
countries, the theory of the permanent revolution signifies
that the complete and genuine solution of their tasks
Lenin was, of course, strongly opposed to what he
of achieving democracy and national emancipation is
conceivable only through the dictatorship. of the proletariat.
The Comintern's endeavour to foist upon the Eastern countries
the slogan of the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry,
finally and long ago exhausted by history, can have only a reactionary
(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 248, 276, 278).
"Trotsky's “absurdly 'Left' theory of 'permanent
Analysing Trotsky's "Results and Prospects" in 19070 Lenin
(V. I. Lenin: "Violation of Unity under Cover of Cries
for Unity", in: "Selected "Works" Volume London;. 1943; p. 207).
"Trotsky's major mistake is that he ignores the bourgeois
character of the revolution and has no clear conception of the transition
from this revolution to the socialist revolution".
At the end of 1910, we find Lenin saying:
(V. I. Lenin: "The Aim of the Proletarian Struggle
in our Revolution', in: "Collected Works", Volume 15; Moscow; 1962; p.
"Trotsky distorts Bolshevism, because he has never
been able to form any definite views on the role of the proletariat in
the Russian bourgeois revolution".
And in November 1915, Lenin says:
(V.I. Lenin: "'The Historical Meaning of the Internal
Party Struggle in Russia", in: "Selected Works", Volume 3; London; 1946;
"Trotsky repeats his ‘original’ theory of
In November and December 1924 Stalin
made a more comprehensive theoretical analysis of Trotsky's theory of "permanent
1905 and refuses to stop and think why, for ten whole
years, life passed by this beautiful theory.
Trotsky's original theory takes, from the Bolsheviks
their call for a decisive revolutionary struggle and for the conquest of
political power by the proletariat, and from the Mensheviks it takes the
'repudiation' of the role of the peasantry.. . .
Trotsky is in fact helping the liberal labour politicians
in Russia who by the 'repudiation' of the role of the peasantry mean refusal
to arouse the peasants to revolution."
(V. I. Lenin: "Two Lines of the Revolution", in:
"Selected Works', Volume 5; London,; 1935; P. 162,
"Trotskyism is :the theory of 'permanent'
(uninterrupted) revolution. But what is 'permanent
revolution in its Trotskyist interpretation? It is
revolution that fails to take the poor peasantry
into account as a revolutionary force. Trotsky's
'Permanent' revolution is, as Lenin said, ‘skipping’
the peasant movement, playing at the seizure of power'.
Why is it dangerous? Because, such a revolution, if
an attempt had been made to bring it about, would inevitably have ended
in failure, for it would have divorced from the Russian proletariat its
ally, the poor peasantry. This explains the struggle that Leninism has
been waging again Trotskyism over since l905".
(J. V, Stalin: "Trotskyism or Leninism?", in: “Works",
Volume 6; Moscow; 1953; p. 364-65).
"What is the dictatorship of tbe proletariat according
The dictatorship, of the proletariat is a power which
comes ‘into hostile collision’ with ‘the broad masses, of the peasantry’
and seeks, the solution of its 'contradictions’ only ‘in the arena of the
world proletarian revolution’.
What difference is there between this ‘theory of
permanent revolution and the well-known theory of Menshevism which repudiates
the concept of dictatorship of the proletariat?
Essentially, there is no difference. . .
'Permanent revolution' is not a mere underestimation
of the revolutionary potentialities of the peasant movement. 'Permanent
revolution' is an underestimation of the peasant movement which leads to
the repudiation of Lenin's theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Trotsky's 'permanent revolution’ is a variety
Trotsky’s, ‘permanent revolution’ . . . means that
the victory of socialism in one country, in this case
Russia, is impossible ‘without direct state support
from the European proletariat', i.e., before the
European proletariat has conquered power.
What is there in common between this 'theory’, and
Lenin's thesis on the possibility of the victory of socialism in one capitalist
country taken separately"?
Clearly, there is nothing in common.
What does Trotsky's assertion that a revolutionary
Russia could not hold out in the face of a conservative Europe signify?
It can signify only this: firstly, that Trotsky
does not appreciate the inherent strength of our revolution; secondly,
that Trotsky does not understand the inestimable importance of the moral
support which is given to our revolution by the workers of the East and
the peasants of the East; thirdly, that Trotsky does not perceive the internal
infirmity which is consuming imperialism today. . .
Trotsky's 'permanent revolution’ is the repudiation
of Lenin's theory of proletarian revolution; and conversely, Lenin's theory
of the proletarian revolution is the repudiation of the theory of 'permanent
revolution' . . .
Hitherto only one aspect of the theory of 'permanent
Revolution’, has usually been noted -- lack of faith
in the revolutionary potentialities of the peasant
movement. Now, in fairness, this must be supplemented
by another aspect -- lack of faith in the strength
and capacity of the proletariat in Russia.
What difference is there between Trotsky's theory
and the ordinary Menshevik theory that the victory of socialism in one
country, and in a backward country at that, is impossible without the preliminary
victory of the proletarian revolution in the principal countries of Western
Essentially, there is no difference.
There can be no doubt at all. Trotsky’s theory of
'permanent revolution' is a variety of Menshevism . . . .
'Honeyed speeches and rotten diplomacy cannot hide
the yawning chasm which lies between the theory of 'permanent revolution
(J. V. Stalin: “The October Revolution and the
Tactics of the Russian Communists", in: “Works”;
Ibid; p. 385-61, 389, 392, 395-96, 397).
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