Impermanent Revolution

S. Artesian

Revolution, Defeat, and Theoretical Underdevelopment:

Russia, Turkey, Spain, Bolivia

Loren Goldner,

Haymarket Books, $28.

When Marx wrote that a specter was haunting Europe, he didn’t mean “national liberation,” anti-imperialism, the “tasks of economic development,” or the stages theory of history.  He said what he meant and he said “communism,” requiring the overthrow of capitalism, its ruling class and its ruling relations of production, by the proletariat.  Marx didn’t quite imagine the corollary proposition to his evocation of the specter of communist future– that the socialists, the “left,” the big and small C communists would be the ones scared to death of ghosts.

If all of the bourgeoisie’s economics, philosophy, sociology, and psychology of the past century amounts to the evasion of, and flight from Marx’s critique of capital (and it does), that’s only because all of the history of the last 100 years has been the flight from proletarian revolution through the substitution of national liberation, anti-imperialism, stages theory, popular fronts, for class struggle.  Nothing persists in capitalism like obsolescence, planned or unplanned. Nothing has more currency, more staying power than the forms of rebellion that embody, embrace, and imitate the capitalist relations of production.

Loren Goldner, activist, author, and editor of Insurgent Noteshas produced four essays on the obstacles placed in the path to power by revolutionists themselves and Haymarket Books has compiled the essays under a single cover, and the single title  Revolution, Defeat, and Theoretical Underdevelopment: Russia, Turkey, Spain, Bolivia. 

The essays examine four ideologies, Leninism, anti-imperialism, anarchism and Troskyism through the real history of revolutionary struggle.   

We begin with Russia.  We are always beginning with Russia.  The Russian Revolution is, after all, that location in time and space where the working class created and installed the original organs of its power to rule society, the soviets.

Russia was the crucible that yielded up the compounded upheaval  of proletarian power and peasant war known as permanent revolution, itself the translation of the theory of uneven and combined development into the practical activity of class struggle.

There is no mistaking that each of Goldner’s studies– Russia before and after the revolution; Russia’s engagement with Turkish nationalism 1920-1925; the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939;  the 1952 MNR revolution in Bolivia–is a “grapple” with uneven and combined development and with permanent revolution as the only viable path to the overthrow of capitalism.

The basics of uneven and combined development are well…basic.   Capitalism does not develop uniformly, or by formula, across the globe.   The ability of capital in any particular, local, environment to refashion society, to revolutionize the relations of production is circumscribed, and compromised, by the existing relations of property in which capital emerges, or is grafted on its “host.”

Marx wrote that a certain productivity of agriculture is required for the development of social organization.  Capital, in its quest to fulfill its essential, and only essential task, the accumulation of more capital, requires more than just a certain level.  It requires continuous advances in agricultural productivity, expelling the population from rural production, detaching that population from direct production of its own subsistence, and transforming agriculture from a subsistence activity where only a surplus product is available for exchange and into an activity where all product must be exchanged for a) the producer to subsist and b) surplus product to be replaced by surplus value extracted by and for the owner of the means of production.

To create those conditions of laboring, capital has to overthrow the pre-existing relations of property, of private property.   That’s a risky business for capital as its private property is enmeshed in the general networks of credit, debt, commerce, and trade with those pre-existing forms.   That’s a risky business given the sanctity of private property to the bourgeoisie in general.

Where “local” capital finds itself surrounded, stifled even, by pre-existing relations of land and landed labor, capitalism as an international system is able to insert “islands”– “zones” of industrial activity where the condition of labor is that of wage-labor, essentially the same as the condition of labor in the most advanced countries.

The result of this uneven and combined development is that agriculture does not achieve a level of productivity able to sustain a “reciprocity” between city and countryside; sufficient to sustain the accumulation of capital; and that advanced capitalist economies dominate these areas.

Just as capital  is overwhelmed by the weight of all pre-existing relations bearing down on it, the capitalist class cannot make, much less lead, a revolution.

This also means that while the working class can seize power during a social upheaval, that seizure can only be sustained through the transformation of agricultural production beyond the conditions of capitalist accumulation, beyond the condition of labor as wage-labor.  For the proletarian revolution to be successful, the transformation of agriculture cannot be the imitation of or analogy to capitalism, i.e “state” as the imitation or analogy to “corporate” units.

So Goldner begins with the “agricultural question” and the Russian revolution.  He explores Lenin’s misrepresentation of production in the countryside as being “capitalist” not only in tendency but in fact. No such capitalist dominance had occurred or was even emerging in Russian agriculture.  The large landed estate, the landlord-peasant relation, as opposed to landowner-free farmer relation continued to dominate, and the Russian peasant commune, the mir or obschina, remained at the heart (and soul) of the peasant social organization.

While the Czar’s bureaucracy saw the mir as a tax collecting body, the mir was an organization designed to ensure an equitable distribution of land, and tools, among its members.  This equitable “rationing” made the commune deeply resistant to commercial penetration

To argue that capitalism was becoming dominant in the Russian countryside required both a distortion of the empirical data and an ideological commitment to “developmentalist” economics, which is itself nothing but stages theory all dressed up in the clothing of “destiny.”  It was an argument that, when turned into policy, was made at the expense of historical materialism and ultimately, social revolution.

After the civil war in Russia, the Bolsheviks adopted programs designed to appeal to the so-called “economic rationality”– the “individual commercial interest”– of the rural producer as the mechanism for developing agriculture and transferring surplus from the countryside to the city, from agriculture to industry.  Goldner demonstrates that the commune undermined the appeal to such “rational self-interest.”  The policies did, however, make the Bolsheviks advocates, even if unwilling or unwitting ones, for an economic differentiation among the peasantry, and thus made them, the Communists, substitutes for a bourgeoisie.

In discussing the NEP,  Goldner correctly points out that the Bolsheviks intended it to “guide capitalism” in an effort to revive agriculture and industry.  And he’s right when he says that the NEP was not a “restoration of capitalism,” but he’s wrong when he says “because capitalism had never been abolished in the first place.”  The NEP was not a restoration of capitalism because capitalism had never been established in the countryside in the first place.

The peasant communes were under attack, prior to the revolution, certainly, as the “enlightened Czarists” (an oxymoron to beat all other oxymorons) sought a capitalist transformation of agriculture, but the communes survived, and remained as they had always been– subsistence plus marginal surplus units of production.  The surplus was “marginal” in the sense that the surplus was not the organizing principle of production.  The surplus product was made exchangeable, unlike the condition of capitalist agriculture where all product must be produced for exchange in order to realize the surplus value embedded in the whole.

The Bolshevik predicament was that  the revolution could not adequately enhance agricultural productivity because agricultural productivity was already too low.  The escape from this trick-bag, of course, was only possible through the expansion of the social revolution into the advanced countries, and this in turn required the ability and willingness to continue the pursuit of revolution in the less-developed countries.

Which gets us to Goldner’s second essay “Socialism in One Country Before Stalin.”  This essay deals with the ebbs and flows of the Bolsheviks’ accommodation to post-WW1 Turkish nationalism, and in particular the “romance” with Kemalist Turkey under the guise of support for “national liberation.”

The raising of post-Ottoman Turkey as struggle for national liberation endorsed by the Bolsheviks (and the Third International) was a pragmatic decision by the Bolsheviks as no issue of national liberation existed.  The conflict was an inter-, and intra-,capitalist, competition.  The Bolsheviks engaged in their maneuvering in order to secure their borders with Asia against the British even if, or precisely because, revolution appeared imminent on those borders.

Those maneuvers involved the sacrifice, literally, of Turkish communist militants to the Kemal regime; the transfer of gold and weapons to Kemal after that sacrifice; and all of this in the period 1921-1925,  before the policy of socialism in one country was announced; before the sacrifice of the Chinese Revolution on the altar of national liberation.

This might help us understand how of much of the “ebb” of the revolutionary wave was the result of the Bolsheviks’ (and the Third International’s) own actions.   The answer?  “A lot.”

National liberation has not always been presented as a mechanism  primarily for class collaboration with a “national”  “patriotic” or simply “petty” bourgeoisie but it has always been rationalized as a precursor, a stage necessarily prior to a proletarian revolution, akin to a “bourgeois democratic revolution” or even the unworkable “democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry.”  What the Russian Revolution exploded in its triumph, the stages theory, the Bolsheviks brought back through the trap door of national liberation.

From precursor, national liberation becomes the substitute for class struggle; and from substitute it moves to become the opponent of class struggle.  Thanks to Goldner’s essay we can answer another question: When does a workers’ state stop being a workers’ state?   When it establishes policies and undertakes actions separate, apart, distinct from, and in opposition to the advance of proletarian revolution.

Goldner’s remaining two essays in the volume, “The Spanish Revolution, Past and Future,” and “Anti-Capitalism or Anti-Imperialism…” (concerning the MNR and Bolivia), deal with the legacy of two revolutions where defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory.

In both Spain and Bolivia, the revolutionary struggle, populated by workers and rural poor is again sacrificed to the “stages” of history, the “economic tasks of development,” the ideology of substitutionism that becomes the practice of opposition to social revolution.

In the case of Spain, the anarchists presented overwhelming, but atomized class power. Failing to centralize that power, to exercise that power as its class dictatorship, the anarchist organizations allowed the popular front to organize counter that class, counter that proletarian revolution, as if  the struggle were one for a bourgeois democracy.

Finally, in the examination of the MNR and Bolivia, Goldner engages in an exhaustive examination of the fascist, near-fascist, populist, and corporate ideologies on the formation of a “national movement.”  Goldner is fascinated by the impact of German Romantic Populism, and the German military, on the formation of movements among intellectuals and the military officer in the countries of Latin America.  If I were a glib person, I might say comrade Goldner is a bit too concerned with the ideological formulations of intellectuals.

I’m not.  I’d say that the development of capitalism in Bolivia was so constrained by internal factors like the Spanish mita, the encomienda, the hacienda, and by the  market power of the advanced capitalist countries that intellectuals, administrators, professionals, students, military officers were compressed between the rock and the hard place, that space between the rock and the hard place being a void.  Under those circumstances, ideologies of the state, as an entity somehow raised above class differentiation,  and representing the “people” as  the volk provided the intellectuals with a fantasy of accumulation in the midst of the  most impoverished of realities.

Beyond that, the story of the Bolivian Revolution and the MNR is the story of the armed intervention of the workers in the coup initiated by the MNR against the mine-owners’ government; the conversion of a coup into class struggle;  the frittering away of that revolution by the Trotskyist POR which, terrified by the specter that once haunted Europe, constituted itself as an adjunct to the “left wing” of the MNR.  Goldner is correct when he writes that “to ‘blame’ the POR for ‘betraying’ the Bolivian Revolution is to fall into the idealist trap of saying ‘they had the wrong’ ideas’ instead of explaining why they had the ideas they did.”  The explanation is not, however, that those ideas were then— that those ideas were the legacy of a capitalism not sufficiently, nor globally, dominant.  In fact, those ‘ideas’ were precisely a recoil, a flinching, in the face of a capitalism that was indeed globally dominant, had itself overgrown the notions of definitive stages– it was and is, and will always be until its overthrow, a capitalism where the limitations are not simply limitations upon capital, but limitations of capital itself.

February 27, 2018

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21 thoughts on “Impermanent Revolution”

  1. My primary disagreement with the article is due to the implicit defense of the theory of permanent revolution that it contains. It’s as though acceptance of the law of combined and uneven development must necessarily mean support for permanent revolution.

    The kernel of this disagreement is that the theory of permanent revolution is a rejection of what is for what should be, and as such can only confuse politics with ideology.

    Even though what follows is based on the agrarian question and the peasantry, for which there is far less significance today in 2018 than a century ago, it is still useful for outlining the method of permanent revolution.

    Leaving aside the history of the theory and its author, and analyzing the theory solely on the merits of what it purports to be, there is an immediate problem.

    “When we speak of a workers’ government we have in view a government in which the working-class representatives dominate and lead. The proletariat, in order to consolidate its power, cannot but widen the base of the revolution. Many sections of the working masses, particularly in the countryside, will be drawn into the revolution and become politically organized only after the advance-guard of the revolution, the urban proletariat, stands at the helm of state.” — Trotsky, Results and Prospects, V. The Proletariat in Power and the Peasantry, 1906
    “Assessed historically, the old slogan of Bolshevism – ’the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry’ – expressed precisely the above-characterized relationship of the proletariat, the peasantry and the liberal bourgeoisie. This has been confirmed by the experience of October. But Lenin’s old formula did not settle in advance the problem of what the reciprocal relations would be between the proletariat and the peasantry within the revolutionary bloc. In other words, the formula deliberately retained a certain algebraic quality, which had to make way for more precise arithmetical quantities in the process of historical experience. However, the latter showed, and under circumstances that exclude any kind of misinterpretation, that no matter how great the revolutionary role of the peasantry may be, it nevertheless cannot be an independent role and even less a leading one. The peasant follows either the worker or the bourgeois. This means that the ‘democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry’ is only conceivable as a dictatorship of the proletariat that leads the peasant masses behind it.” — Trotsky, The Permanent Revolution, What Is The Permanent Revolution?, Basic Postulate #5, 1931

    The other theory is referenced by Trotsky: Lenin’s formulation of the ‘democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry’ from works like Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution. The result of this formulation can best be shown in the October Revolution:

    “Izvestia Vserossiiskogo Soveta Krestyanskikh Deputatov No. 88, dated August 19, carries a ‘model mandate drawn up on the basis of 242 mandates submitted by deputies from various localities to the First All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies held in Petrograd in 1917′.

    This summary of 242 mandates, made by representatives of peasants in the localities, gives the best idea of what the peasants want. This summarized mandate shows very well that the project of Maslov and the SR Party is a swindle.

    The peasants are demanding the abolition of the right to private ownership of land; the conversion of all private land holdings, etc., into the property of the whole people, without compensation; the conversion of land tracts farmed on a highly efficient level (orchards, plantations, etc.) into “model farms”, their transfer to “the exclusive use of the state and the communes”; the confiscation of “all livestock and farm implements”, etc.

    Such is the clear-cut statement of the peasant demands based on 242 local mandates submitted by the peasants themselves. . .

    The Socialist-Revolutionaries, who were returned in a majority to the All-Russia Executive Committee of the Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies by the unsuspecting peasants, have now betrayed them; they have sold out the peasant Soviets, gone over to the landowners, and accepted the land committee law of Prince Lvov, the landed proprietor. Therein lies the second big fraud which the Socialist-Revolutionaries have worked on the peasants.

    This makes it all the more imperative for us, the workers’ party, to reiterate the Bolshevik demand: all power in the countryside to the Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies and Agricultural Labourers’ Deputies!” — Lenin, just prior to the October Revolution

    Lenin characterized political parties as the vanguard of classes. Permanent revolution would have us believe in the impossibility of independent political organization by the peasantry (i.e. the emergence of a peasants’ party), and that the peasants would only be drawn into the socialist revolution after the proletariat had seized state power– in other words, that the peasantry was fundamentally incapable of playing an independent role in the revolution. Here we see the vanguard of the peasants organized in their class political party (Essers), developing their own soviets of peasants’ deputies, taking their own independent action and formulating their own specific demands.

    Then, after the October Revolution:

    “Comrades Left Socialist-Revolutionaries! In July there began a period in which the masses of the people started breaking away from the policy of compromise, but to this very day the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries are stretching out a hand to the Avksentyevs, while offering the workers only their little finger. If compromise continues, the revolution is doomed. Only if the peasantry supports the workers can the problems of the revolution be solved. Compromise is an attempt on the part of the masses of workers, peasants and soldiers to get their needs satisfied by means of reforms, by concessions on the part of capital, without a socialist revolution. But it is impossible to give the people peace and land without overthrowing the bourgeoisie, without socialism. It is the duty of the revolution to put an end to compromise, and to put an end to compromise means taking the path of socialist revolution.

    Comrade Lenin went on to defend the instructions to the volost committees[2] and spoke of the necessity of breaking with the leading organs, such as the army committees, the Executive Committee of the Peasants’ Deputies, etc. We adopted our law on the volost committees, he said, from the peasants. The peasants want land and the prohibition of hired labour; they want implements for the cultivation of the soil. And this cannot be obtained without defeating capital. You want land, we said to them, but the land is mortgaged and belongs to Russian and world capital. You are throwing down a challenge to capital, you are following a different path from ours; but we are at one with you in that we are marching, and must march, towards the social revolution.” — Pravda on Lenin (as Chairman of Sovnarkom) intervention at the Extraordinary Peasant Congress

    “The Peasants’ Congress fully and in every way supports the law (decree) on land of October 26, 1917, approved by the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies and published by the Council of People’s Commissars as the provisional workers’ and peasants’ government of the Russian Republic. The Peasants’ Congress declares its firm and unshakable resolve to ensure the implementation of this law, calls upon all peasants to support it unanimously and to carry it out themselves in the localities without delay, and also to elect to all and every responsible post and office only people who have proved not in word but in deed their complete devotion to the interests of the working and exploited peasants, their readiness and ability to uphold these interests against any resistance the landowners, capitalists, and their supporters or accomplices may offer.

    The Peasants’ Congress also expresses its conviction that the full implementation of all the measures constituting the law on land is possible only if the workers’ socialist revolution which began on October 25 is successful, for only the socialist revolution can ensure the transfer of the land to the working peasantry without compensation, the confiscation of the landowners’ implements, full protection of the interests of agricultural wage-workers and the immediate commencement of the unconditional abolition of the entire system of capitalist wage-slavery, the proper and planned distribution of the products of both agriculture and industry among the various regions and the population of the country, control over the banks (without such control the people will not be masters of the land even though private property in land is abolished), all-round state assistance specifically to the working and exploited people, etc.

    Therefore the Peasants’ Congress, fully supporting the Revolution of October 25, and supporting it precisely as a socialist revolution, declares its unswerving resolve to carry out, with due gradualness but without the slightest vacillation, measures aimed at the socialist transformation of the Russian Republic.

    A necessary condition for the victory of the socialist revolution, which alone can secure the lasting triumph and full implementation of the law on land, is the close alliance of the working and exploited peasantry with the working class—the proletariat—in all the advanced countries. In the Russian Republic the entire organisation and administration of the state from top to bottom must henceforth be based on such an alliance. Rejecting all and every attempt, direct and indirect, overt and covert, to return to a course that experience has rejected, to the course of conciliation with the bourgeoisie and the champions of bourgeois policy, this alliance alone can ensure the victory of socialism the world over.” — Extradordinary Congress of Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies draft resolution, published in Izvestia

    Apologies for the lengthy quotations, which is a bit of a cop out on my part, but– The point: one developed from a sober analysis of the practical tasks of revolution, in the existing political situation, recognition of the revolutionary energy of the peasantry and through it a strategy for the inauguration of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The other denied that this political situation existed, denied that it constituted a practical task of revolution, denied the revolutionary energy of the peasantry and offered no concrete strategy for the inauguration of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Both ostensibly adhered to the law of combined and uneven development.

    1. I’m grateful that comrade October has separated his criticism of the theory of permanent revolution from the issue surrounding Trotsky himself. I have criticisms too, but I suspect my opposition to, and criticism of ‘Trotskyism’ is of a different form and content than comrade O’s, focusing on the militarization of labor, the advocacy of labor armies, the emphasis on ‘specialists,’ the whole panorama of ‘Bolshevization’ which dispossessed the soviets, suppressed workers, and facilitated the 3rd International’s ‘mishandling’ and destruction of revolutionary opportunities elsewhere.

      In essence, comrade October has raised the old and woolly charge that Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution “underestimated” the peasantry. That charge was at initiated by, and as an ideological cover for, the retreat from proletarian revolution, and the justification of “socialism in one country.” You simply cannot abstract the argument about the “revolutionary energy” of the peasantry in Russia without engaging, or disengaging, from the international origins, and consequences, of the Russian Revolution.

      That’s a critical oversight on comrade O’s part. Exactly how does the “revolutionary energy” of the peasantry, how does the the ability of the peasantry to “act independently” meld with the international nature of the class struggle against capitalism in the more, and most, advanced countries? Comrade O doesn’t even consider that question. But that question– the international ORIGINS and ramifications of uneven and combined development is the critical dimension

      Let’s try and get to the essence of the matter. Comrade O objects to the conclusion, or inclusion of, that the theory of permanent revolution represents a, or the, practical application of the uneven and combined development of capitalism to the actual course of class struggle, because said practical application denies the ability of the peasantry to lead, or co-lead, the revolutionary struggle. Fine. Except that issue is NOT the fundamental, essential, issue informing permanent revolution. The material basis for the theory of uneven and combined development is that capitalism in various local expressions is a) enmeshed through world markets, direct investment, and conditions of ownership directly with capital globally, with capitals of the more “developed” areas; b)that in certain of these local expressions, capital is unable to transform, revolutionize, overthrow pre-capitalist conditions of production, particularly those that persist in, and dominate, rural production. It’s not the peasantry who can’t make a revolution in the countryside, it’s the bourgeoisie who cannot make, organize, lead, or MOLD that revolution to uproot the pre-existing conditions of land and landed labor.

      Now either that material analysis is correct or incorrect. Comrade O believes the theory of U&C development is accurate, or at least accurate enough to focus his criticism on permanent revolution. But what is the essence of this “telescoped” revolution? Not that the peasantry cannot conduct a peasant war; but that the bourgeoisie cannot lead a revolution; cannot take power; cannot revolutionize the conditions of production because they cannot overthrow, or lead the overthrow of the already existing, and persisting archaic production relations; that the growth capitalism which takes place in the form of advanced industrial relations will exacerbate the instability of the entire society and propel the working class to take power as the only class with the internal cohesion capable of abolishing the archaic relations AND, because the cohesion of the working class exists only on an international basis, and because the tasks of “development” cannot be separated from the tasks of the emancipation of labor, the successful revolution most overgrow not only its “bourgeois boundaries” but its national ones.

      We can argue all we want about the “democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry” and “permanent revolution” but the facts of the Russian Revolution, its triumphs and its defeats, certainly give the proof that capitalism did undermine the stability of the Czarist order; that the bourgeoisie was incapable of transforming the relations in the countryside AND relations between city and countryside; that the seizure of power was a seizure by the proletariat based on the organs of proletarian class rule, the soviets, and that without the expansion of the revolution to the advanced countries, the proletariat would be “dispossessed” of its own revolution, and defeated.

      I’ll add here, that these are my opinions on the relations of the theory of U&C development to permanent revolution. Comrade Goldner’s views may differ from my own.

      1. I largely agree with your manner of framing the matter, SA, but in reverse: in place of, “In essence, comrade October has raised the old and woolly charge that Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution “underestimated” the peasantry. That charge was at initiated by, and as an ideological cover for, the retreat from proletarian revolution, and the justification of “socialism in one country.” You simply cannot abstract the argument about the “revolutionary energy” of the peasantry in Russia without engaging, or disengaging, from the international origins, and consequences, of the Russian Revolution,” I will substitute:

        You simply cannot abstract the argument about the “international origins, and consequences, of the Russian Revolution,” from the most immediately and intimately practical, concrete questions raised precisely by the proletarian revolution, a real-existing proletarian revolution, in the specific geographic location(s) from which it was born, cultivated, nurtured and reared into the social and physical fact of working-class control/power over a society that had previously been a dictatorship of the capitalists and governed by a bulwark of reaction.

        Permanent revolution carries out a graceful sleight of hand, by originating in the aftermath of 1905, ostensibly as a theoretical analysis of these very domestic peculiarities of a revolutionary movement but which seamlessly pivots onto the purely ideological terrain by making the ephemeral “international revolution” as the preeminent issue in practical political matters. Flowing from the realm of theory, and into the terrain of a real-existing proletarian revolution (October 1917), the practical and political methods of this theory are purely administrative: the militarization of labor, the governmentalization of the trade unions, etc. and on the political terrain: the struggle is solely at the pinnacle of the workers’ movement and workers’ organizations, the sole question is the question of the leadership CPSU, the Communist International, the organs of the Soviet government, the trade unions, etc.

        The question is: is the class struggle manifested ‘from above’ or ‘from below’ ? The answer to that question is why we have to strip permanent revolution of its ideological facade and reject it.

        The question of the peasantry in the works of the factions of the RSDLP in the years immediately preceding and immediately following 1905 is not the essential kernel of permanent revolution, or the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry, etc.; what it is, is the clearest window to see what the difference is between them, and why permanent revolution should be rejected as a theory and a theoretical foundation upon which a practical method and a political method is constructed.

        In that regard, I firmly believe what I wrote in the first reply: The kernel of this disagreement is that the theory of permanent revolution is a rejection of what is for what should be, and as such can only confuse politics with ideology.

        We see in the retreat into ideology of permanent revolution a retreat from the practical tasks confronting a victorious proletarian revolution in one or many nations, and its defeat and/or delay in others and its relative non-existence in others still. The forces of the revolution, the balance of forces in the class struggle, the active agents and subjects of the revolution, are made irrelevant in the name of the ephemeral “international revolution”. 

        SA observes that I did not explicitly meld the question of the peasantry into that of the proletariat of the advanced capitalist nations. I disagree. The existence of a predominant peasantry in the Russian Empire was a fact upon which the struggle for the proletarian revolution and dictatorship of the proletariat was oriented around. The method of learning from and applying the practical lessons of the class struggle, and validating these lessons in political practice, is the ultimate distinction here between the method of permanent revolution and the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry– a theoretical method with derivative practical and political methods upon which the struggle for the proletarian revolution and dictatorship of the proletariat is defined and acted upon in the most concrete terms. That is the difference between their attitude toward the peasantry and why that particular topic is the best window into the kernel of our disagreement in my opinion. Not least because, as we can plainly see in the origin of the October Revolution, the peasantry was a dominant issue and a dominant factor. The Socialist-Revolutionary Party, the Councils of Peasants’ Deputies and Congresses of Peasants’ Deputies, the split in the Esser’s into a Left-SR and Right-SR party, the winning of the vanguard of the peasants to the proletarian revolution aren’t an abstraction, they happened, they were real.

        I don’t believe for a moment that pulling a J’Accuse against permanent revolution on the issue of estimation of the peasantry is simply picking up an old “ideological cover” developed by and for “socialism in one country”. Mainly because the theory as it was developed in 1906 (specifically its analysis of the peasantry) was upheld by its author, in his own words, ever since that date, including a long time after his expulsion from the CPSU and USSR (1931 for example, in the previous reply). What else can you call such theoretical-political obstinacy in the face of the facts of the class struggle but an ideology? 

        The theoretical method of permanent revolution looks at the international terrain above all else, the theoretical method of the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry looked to the class struggle and those who would create the conditions for revolution, organize the revolution and who would carry it out; the specific peculiarities of the terms and conditions of the real-existing class struggle, as the means for the international struggle for socialism and partner to an analysis of the international development of capitalism.

        There is no inseparable bond between uneven and combined development and permanent revolution just as there is no inseparable bond between permanent revolution and the international revolution. Rejecting permanent revolution, retroactively and in present theory and practice, is not inherently a rejection of uneven and combined development. Rejecting permanent revolution is not inherently a rejection of international socialism for “socialism in one country”. 

        Uneven and combined development is a framework to understand the development of capital and the terms of the class struggle at any given time. It would be a terrible waste to use it to retreat and reject that very class struggle as it actually exists.

  2. A short reply might say more than comrade O’s 12 paragraphs, particularly if that reply points out out how comrade O has failed to engage with the fundamental claim of permanent revolution– that the bourgeoisie were incapable of making a revolution; that in fact the Russian Revolution had to be a proletarian revolution. THAT was historical context in which it emerged and those were the issues at hand– the Russian Revolution, bourgeois or proletarian; national, or inextricably connected to the international development of capitalism?

    That’s why raising the issue of the peasantry, as opposed to the actual conditions of agricultural production, the actual absence of capitalist relations of production in the countryside, is an exercise in historical immaterialism.

    I will reply further, separately, but really, missing the importance of the impossibility of a bourgeois revolution to the theory of permanent revolution AS the legacy and application of uneven and combined development deserves its own critique.

  3. I’m writing using the Anti-Capital account because I don’t have a wordpress account, but I’m speaking solely as Broletariat.

    I’ll weigh in with a question for comrade October which should more or less imply my criticism and allow for elaboration.

    We aired an article called Class Matters (https://anticapital0.wordpress.com/class-matters/) wherein I detailed why the interests of the petty-bourgeoisie may occasionally align with those of the working class, but ultimately can never be the same interests. Am I to understand that in positing the democratic dictatorship of the peasantry and the proletariat, the identity of class-interests is precise and exact? I know full well that the peasantry had reasons to hate the bourgeoisie in Russia, but this is more or less analogous to the petty-bourgeoisie, unless it can be demonstrated that the property given to the peasantry is incapable of becoming a wedge between them and the working class.

    -Broletariat

  4. SA:

    What is the primary purpose of the theory/law of uneven and combined development? To demolish the theory of stageism and demonstrate that the contradictions of capitalist development allow the class struggle to rise to its most acute manifestations even in areas with a relatively low breadth-depth of capitalist development.

    The contradictions due to the uneven and combined development of capitalism can create the objective conditions for the class struggle to pose the question of the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalists (the dictatorship of the proletariat).

    A local cheka executing its capitalist hostages in Russia as retaliation for the murder of Luxemburg and Liebknecht in Germany in 1918 is a profound example of the development of this class struggle onto the international terrain, no less than the organic development of the First International from the trade union struggle in Britain and France. The point is for the most advanced to bring along the less advanced (and backward), whether that proletariat is in a highly developed or underdeveloped nation/region, to bring the workers to the same higher level of practical and political development.

    That also means that the theory/law of uneven and combined development has its mirror image in the class struggle; how a ‘new’ proletariat of an underdeveloped nation can make the leap over the ‘old’ proletariats of the capitalist metropoles.

    Posing the hegemony of the proletariat in the democratic revolution and the necessity of turning it into the socialist revolution did not require the framework of permanent revolution (quite the contrary).

    Broletariat: There is definitely no identity of class interest, but you’re right in Class Matters that the P-B can be won, at least in part, to the other side if the balance of forces changes between the workers and capitalists, which is part of neutralizing the P-B as a social force.

    For an example from a highly developed industrial nation that has nothing to do with the peasantry, look at the actions of the workers during the Homestead strikes and lock-outs of the 1880’s and 1894; every time, the workers compelled the small shopkeepers of the town to ‘donate’ goods and services to the workers during the strikes/lock-outs, compelled every artisan and salesperson (from the town blacksmith to the paper boy to the ferryman on the river side of the mill) to stop doing business with Carnegie’s mill. Some supported the workers, knowing that their livelihood depended solely on the iron and steel workers of the town, while those whose livelihood depended solely on Carnegie were cowed into submission. Carrot or stick, silver or lead, made no difference to the workers; either way, they were prevented from supporting capital’s side in the struggle which was made necessary by the immediate needs of the workers’ struggle.

    Is there a significant difference between saying that a “bourgeois revolution” (the democratic revolution) is impossible, and that it’s impossible for the bourgeoisie to implement its democratic programme? I think there is.

    1. Speaking as Broletariat.

      If it took carrot or stick, silver or lead to move the P-B to the side of the working class, it was no doubt the working class leading that particular proto-dictatorship. The natural follow-up question is, in what way would, could, this be different with the peasantry such that the working class is more or less sharing control with the peasantry as opposed to lording it over them?

      -Broletariat

    2. Time to parse:
      O (1): What is the primary purpose of the theory/law of uneven and combined development? To demolish the theory of stageism and demonstrate that the contradictions of capitalist development allow the class struggle to rise to its most acute manifestations even in areas with a relatively low breadth-depth of capitalist development.

      SA(1): “primary purpose”?? U&C development is not a teleological exercise, designed to show us the purpose of history. It is the concrete analysis of the conditions of capitalist development and the relative strength of class forces that are derived from those conditions. I think ideology, as evidenced, by ascribing a “primary purpose,” informs comrade O’s comments from the getgo.

      O (2): “The contradictions due to the uneven and combined development of capitalism can create the objective conditions for the class struggle to pose the question of the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalists (the dictatorship of the proletariat).”

      SA (2): Agreed. Are the contradictions expressed in uneven and combined development purely localized, national, or are they expressions of conflicts in capitalism’s international development? Did the uneven and combined development in Russia result simply, and solely, from internal class relations, or where those conditions exacerbated, created even, and the result of, capitalism’s own development beyond national boundaries?

      SA(2a): Let’s keep in mind Goldner’s (remember him?) essential point is that the Marxists, Lenin included if not first and foremost, mischaracterized the relations of land and labor in rural Russia. Lenin write an entire book proving that capitalist development was well under way in Russia, so linking uneven and combined development Lenin’s “democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry” is somewhat problematic. The mir was an obstacle to capitalist development in the countryside. Development of advanced capitalist RELATIONS was isolated, and hamstrung by an inability to penetrate the countryside.

      O(3): “A local cheka executing its capitalist hostages in Russia as retaliation for the murder of Luxemburg and Liebknecht in Germany in 1918 is a profound example of the development of this class struggle onto the international terrain,”

      SA(3): 1919, comrade, the murders of Luxemburg and Liebknecht occurred in 1919. In addition, while retaliation is inherent in class struggle, that’s not the issue; the issue is what social relations of production, what organization of labor is going to dominate. Now the uneven and combined development not only smashes the stages theory of historical development, but in so doing, it smashes a stages theory of revolutionary development, i.e. that “economics” can be separated from the emancipation of labor; that an industrial policy, or an agricultural policy can be abstracted from the actual rule of the working class expressed through working class organization. We know theoretically that that emancipation of labor requires international coordination, reciprocity, among workers organizations, not simply retaliation. The productivity of labor is critical to the emancipation of labor. U&C development identifies the reverse– the emancipation of labor as critical to its productivity– as the essential condition and thus “completes” historical materialism. Despite my anti-Leninism, Lenin did put it succinctly and essentially when he said “soviets plus electrification.” Achieving this internal reciprocity proved impossible in isolation.

      O(4):”That also means that the theory/law of uneven and combined development has its mirror image in the class struggle; how a ‘new’ proletariat of an underdeveloped nation can make the leap over the ‘old’ proletariats of the capitalist metropoles.”

      SA(4): Indeed, and that mirror image excludes any collaboration with the bourgeoisie, no matter how national, patriotic, democratic that bourgeoisie may appear to be. Cases in point China 1919-1927; Spain 1936-1939; Bolivia 1952; Chile 1970-1973; Portugal 1974; South Africa 1994. That “leap” is a leap to the seizure of power, locally. Transforming the relations of production, the legacy of “undeveloped” capitalism, is something else,as the case of the former Soviet Union proved. Agricultural productivity in the fSU never approached that of the advanced capitalist countries– and yes, no country suffered like the fSU in WW2, but that– WW2 was the result was it not of the failure of the revolution to extend itself internationally? WW2 was the ultimate result of the interruption of the continuous revolution.

      O(5): Posing the hegemony of the proletariat in the democratic revolution and the necessity of turning it into the socialist revolution did not require the framework of permanent revolution (quite the contrary).

      SA (5): I’m reminded of a scene in the movie ‘Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?” The American corporate fast-food exec is trying to win back his professional haute-cuisine chef ex-wife on a dance floor in Paris. They start to argue and he tells her that he doesn’t want her Quiche Lorraine, he wants ham and eggs. She stops dancing looks at him and says, “But that’s what Quiche Lorraine is.”– Ham and eggs. Posing the hegemony of the proletariat in the “democratic revolution” and the necessity of turning it into a socialist [not exactly, proletarian goes better here] is precisely what “permanent” “continuous” “telescoped” revolution is. Permanent revolution locates that nexus in the convergence of underdevelopment with capitalism’s own “overdevelopment.” Ham and eggs, comrade, same-same.

      O (6): “For an example from a highly developed industrial nation that has nothing to do with the peasantry, look at the actions of the workers during the Homestead strikes and lock-outs of the 1880’s and 1894; every time, the workers compelled the small shopkeepers of the town to ‘donate’ goods and services to the workers during the strikes/lock-outs, compelled every artisan and salesperson (from the town blacksmith to the paper boy to the ferryman on the river side of the mill) to stop doing business with Carnegie’s mill. Some supported the workers, knowing that their livelihood depended solely on the iron and steel workers of the town, while those whose livelihood depended solely on Carnegie were cowed into submission. Carrot or stick, silver or lead, made no difference to the workers; either way, they were prevented from supporting capital’s side in the struggle which was made necessary by the immediate needs of the workers’ struggle.”

      SA (6): The above has absolutely nothing to do with U&C development, permanent revolution, or “democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry.” The above is simply tactic. PR and DDofPP have to do with program.
      So with that, and this: — (O) “Is there a significant difference between saying that a “bourgeois revolution” (the democratic revolution) is impossible, and that it’s impossible for the bourgeoisie to implement its democratic programme? I think there is.”– comrade has to tell us exactly of what that “democratic programme” consists, how it differs from the program of permanent revolution, and how that democratic programme was actualized in the relations of production in both city and countryside in Russia by the Bolsheviks.

      1. SA:

        1 You’re arguing against a position that doesn’t exist. U&C was a product of the rising trajectory of an increasingly politically sophisticated and revolutionary proletariat in a nation that had not undergone an evolution of capitalist development on par with England, France, etc. It was made necessary by the course of capitalist development and the course of the class struggle. It was made necessary because of the prevailing stageist theory of revolution and its offspring, Bernsteinism and Kautskyism in the 2nd International which could not explain (and thus denied) the appearance of the-then most advanced forms and methods of the proletariat (like the mass strike).

        I don’t think we really disagree here other than on the phrasing.

        2 The development of capitalism in Russia was certainly the result of uneven and combined development (the international development of capitalism). 

        I’m saying that U&C explains the objective development of international capitalism, and the specifics of this development in Russia; but that the class struggle does not organically manifest itself at that level– that it begins from the most local peculiarities.

        2a Are you that convinced that the mir was virtually impenetrable to capital, even after the abolition of serfdom, the zemstvo system, and the Stolypin reforms?

        3 Mea culpa on the date. This section is getting into the meat of it, I think.

        You’re right, retaliation isn’t the issue. It’s that, in this example, and examples like it (of which the majority don’t involve violence), is evidence of a portion of the proletariat of an underdeveloped nation, steeled through years of a domestic class struggle that had escalated to the point of the seizure of political power by said proletariat, explicitly bringing this class struggle onto the international terrain; not at the level of the central committee of the CP, or the Council of People’s Commissars, but at the local level, on their own initiative.

        But that experience, that class struggle, that political sophistication, has to be cultivated and nurtured and above all Lived. A German steel company, a French chemical company and an English textile company can open mills and factories outside Petrograd and hire young peasants as first generation wage laborers due to U&C; bringing the most technologically advanced production equipment, techniques and management into a local area that resembles what those nations looked like in their development 50, 100, 200 years earlier. Capitalism’s contradictions compel the advanced nations to do just that. It doesn’t require that this locally underdeveloped area/region (Russia circa 19th century) mimic the advanced nations in its domestic development, which exacerbates the contradictions of capitalist society.

        Are those young peasants turned wage laborers equally equipped with the most advanced forms and methods of the international proletariat? Generally not, they have to learn through the terms and conditions of the class struggle that they are now fighting that is entirely different from what they experienced in the villages. Of course this development of class struggle experience can be (and was) tremendously accelerated, as these very advanced forms and methods were actively sought– shown in the tremendous export of Marx and Engels’ works to Russia at the end of the 19th century/early 20th century, along with the material, debates and forms of organization of the 2nd International. But the ‘new’ Russian proletariat did follow the basic course of the German, French and English proletariat, starting with machine-breaking, then spontaneous insurrections, then strikes and beyond (as noted by Marx in the 1840’s in Germany and Lenin at the turn of the century in Russia).

        Absolutely agreed on the latter portion of your reply in 3.

        “The productivity of labor is critical to the emancipation of labor. U&C development identifies the reverse–the emancipation of labor as critical to its productivity– as the essential condition and thus ‘completes’ historical materialism”
        — is probably the best articulation on this subject. You really should develop that further, it’d make a great article.

        4 No real disagreements here. 

        5 There is dissonance in what permanent revolution says it is, and the method it employs. Hence the initial example of Lenin and Trotsky’s theories, in their own words, tested on the role of the Russian peasantry in the proletarian revolution (in October 1917, based on the experience/developments from 1905 to February 1917 to the end of the provisional government and the establishment of soviet power).

        That is what really grinds my gears about the whole deal. I realize what permanent revolution is purported to be. In practice it is something else.

        6 That quoted bit was part of the reply to Broletariat.

  5. O: “2a Are you that convinced that the mir was virtually impenetrable to capital, even after the abolition of serfdom, the zemstvo system, and the Stolypin reforms?”

    SA: That’s the essence of Goldner’s argument, and I think he’s right. It’s a “resistance” to capitalist penetration that is manifested in various commune (the ejido in Mexico– an important BTW from Spain), and non-commune subsistence agricultural systems (i.e. China pre-revolution), and even commercial systems that are highly regressive (i.e. the hacienda systems in countries of Latin America).

    O: “5. There is dissonance in what permanent revolution says it is, and the method it employs. Hence the initial example of Lenin and Trotsky’s theories, in their own words, tested on the role of the Russian peasantry in the proletarian revolution (in October 1917, based on the experience/developments from 1905 to February 1917 to the end of the provisional government and the establishment of soviet power).

    That is what really grinds my gears about the whole deal. I realize what permanent revolution is purported to be. In practice it is something else.”

    SA: This is the heart of the issue: What exactly is the practice that grinds your gears? In 1917, the practice was “all power to the soviets,” the organization of the military-revolutionary committee by the Petrograd soviet, the seizure of power through the overthrow of the provisional government, and the dispersal of the Constituent Assembly. What part of that a)is not the practice of “permanent revolution” b) represents the “proof” of DDofPP as opposed to PR?

    “Outside” of the Russian Revolution what is the dissonance? Is it in the dissent from the policy of the 3rd Intl in China? In the rejection of alliance, collaboration, of “joint programs” with a national bourgeoisie? Is it in rejection of the popular front in Spain and France in the 1930s? Is it in the actions throughout the 1930s, and particularly in 1937 in Vietnam, opposing the subordination of the proletariat to notions of “democracy” and the reality of colonialism in support of a popular front? Is it again in Vietnam in 1945, when the the “anti-permanent revolutionaries” suppressed the proletariat and secured the restoration of colonialism? Exactly where is the dissonance? I suspect you mean Trotsky’s refusal to join the Bolsheviks, or establish any organization with the deep connections to the working class that the Bolsheviks established. Fair point, but it’s a point that has nothing to do with permanent revolution as a theory, as an assessment of the conflict between means and relations of production in capitalism, and the resolution thereof through the proletariat taking power initially “in situ”– locally– but able to maintain that power, meaning introduce and reproduce new social relations of production only internationally.

    O: “The productivity of labor is critical to the emancipation of labor. U&C development identifies the reverse–the emancipation of labor as critical to its productivity– as the essential condition and thus ‘completes’ historical materialism”
    — is probably the best articulation on this subject. You really should develop that further, it’d make a great article

    Thanks. Trying to work out the framework and the details.

  6. Without a better understanding of the other examples, I can’t really give much in the way of response re: ejido, Chinese pre-capitalist agriculture, etc. but I think I understand what you mean.

    Resistance to the penetration of capital sounds right, but could this resistance complement the revolutionary movement of the proletariat, which is premised on the development of capitalism put to work fulfilling needs? That has to mean open conflict between the working-class and the weight of tradition in the undeveloped countryside. I’m definitely not convinced that differentiation among the peasantry (penetration of capital into the countryside) was either non-existent or relatively unimportant in Russia– and have not read LG’s book. Sounds like it’s worth the time though.

    Re: the practice of permanent revolution and DDotPP, the immediate example remains the relative importance of the Russian peasantry in the proletarian revolution. You’ve listed the things that made it possible at all for Trotsky to go-over to the Bolsheviks, but have left out the things that his theory of permanent revolution says is not possible.

    Compare the two positions at the time of 1905 (Results and Prospects vs any of the articles Lenin wrote on the subject, like the short ‘The Proletariat and the Peasantry’  https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1905/nov/12.htm  ), which was a correct estimation of the issue of the peasantry and the proletarian revolution, which one was put into practice and validated by revolutionary experience in October 1917? Both positions were consistent from the era of the 1905 revolution to October 1917 and beyond, neither of their principal authors deviated from their position.

    Leaving aside 1917, there’s the question of the theory of permanent revolution unhindered by party discipline and the need to uphold a decade of renunciation of this theory: what is the defining political method derived from the theory of permanent revolution? The opening 2 lines of Trotsky’s Transitional Program at the founding congress of his “4th international – world party of socialist revolution” spells it out:

    “The world political situation as a whole is chiefly characterized by a historical crisis of the leadership of the proletariat.

    The economic prerequisite for the proletarian revolution has already in general achieved the highest point of fruition that can be reached under capitalism.”

    A rejection of what is for what should be, a flight into ideology. The theory can’t be separated from its implied (misunderstanding of the importance of domestic vs international capitalist development in the development of the class struggle re: peasantry in 1905-1917) and explicit (purely administrative method, ‘crisis of leadership’ is the preeminent/ultimate issue in every class struggle) political method.

    Re: CI/CP/USSR in China, Vietnam, Chile, etc. vs Trotskyists in/on China, Vietnam, Chile, etc. = 2 wrongs don’t make a right.

    1. “Re: CI/CP/USSR in China, Vietnam, Chile, etc. vs Trotskyists in/on China, Vietnam, Chile, etc. = 2 wrongs don’t make a right.”

      Talk about a rejection of reality in favor of….., ideology…

      Comrade O, there aren’t “2 wrongs” here. There is one side subordinating the proletariat and its revolution to capitalism, to collaboration with the bourgeoisie, to support of colonialism, and doing so I might add, with references to and quotes of Lenin and “democratic dictatorship,” and there is the “other side”– the advocates of permanent revolution supporting the independence of the proletariat, no subordination of the class struggle to a “national” or “democratic” STAGE, rejection of class collaboration, and repudiation of stages theory.

      This isn’t both sides being wrong, or one side being “mistaken.” This is about revolution and counterrevolution, and the “anti-permanent revolutionists” being the “spear tip” of counterrevolution.

      What the theory of permanent revolution did say was not possible, could not happen, was a)a democratic revolution captained by a “liberal” democratic bourgeoisie b) the capitalist reorganization of agriculture c) a proletarian revolution that could subordinate itself to tasks of capitalist economic development d) a collaboration with the bourgeoisie.

      1. Which is living proof of the validity of what I’ve been saying here: the development of capitalism and its contradictions on the basis of U&C is international, whereas the development of the class struggle begins from the local peculiarities of this international development.

        This is confirmed in the entire trajectory of the application of this law of development to the most local, domestic peculiarities– in Russia. The form and not the method of this confirmation was codified, which gradually emptied it of its revolutionary content, and resulted in the increasingly administrative (bolshevization) and eventually doctrinaire (popular front stageism) application of this once-successful method. What remained were the trappings of the method without it actually being present.

        That happens because labor organization is inherently conservative, being based on the consolidation and defense of gains. The consolidation and defense of the gains of October was an inevitable fact of the victory of October (and this was a real victory).

        Of course the CI used Lenin’s writings to justify the policy in China. But Lenin and the party was not rooted in the local peculiarities of the class struggle in China when the slogan of the DDOTPP was formulated and applied. What was needed was a living application of the method that led to the formulation of the slogan of the DDOTPP and its practical use in the first place according to real, existing conditions then prevailing in China. At that point Lenin’s carcass had been stuffed and put in a grand mausoleum; that says it all really.

        A parallel of the post-Lenin USSR is the post-John L. Lewis United Mine Workers of America. In every way, the new UMWA president (Tony Boyle) and the UMWA executive board statically maintained all of Lewis’ policies. There’s an interesting anecdote that the union leadership refused to sell stock owned by the union to give relief to the beleaguered health and welfare fund because that stock had been purchased by John L. Lewis and would be seen as a betrayal of his legacy. And like the Trotskyists, Miners for Democracy made the issue of leadership the sole issue in the union, and unlike the Trotskyists, who didn’t take over the CI and USSR, MfD took over UMWA– and quickly ran up against both objective conditions over which they had no control, and in their haste to undo the policies of the organization, unleashed chaos in the union and the coal fields to such a degree that the workers threw them out just like they threw out Lewisites.

        “2 wrongs don’t make a right” is just a rejection of this dichotomy you’ve constructed. Permanent revolution does not have a theoretical monopoly on the rejection of the popular front.

        Does the international development of capitalism mean that the world is ‘ripe’ for proletarian revolution irrespective of the level of development of the local-domestic peculiarities of the class struggle? Is the leadership of the proletariat the ultimate obstacle to revolution since the international development of capitalism has placed the revolution on the immediate agenda? 

        If the answer is no, then permanent revolution is not a valid theory to develop practical and political methods. 

    1. Because the original ejido was a concept based on common lands attached to villages in feudal Spain, which has origins extending as far back as the 12th century, and was widely practiced in Castile prior to and during the period of conquest. The creation of common lands and attaching them to pueblos was practiced in Mexico by the Spanish.

  7. There’s a point where the argument becomes a bit of jabberwocky, or like a funhouse full of distortion mirrors.

    For example, I say:

    ” the advocates of permanent revolution supporting the independence of the proletariat, no subordination of the class struggle to a “national” or “democratic” STAGE, rejection of class collaboration, and repudiation of stages theory”

    and “What the theory of permanent revolution did say was not possible, could not happen, was a)a democratic revolution captained by a “liberal” democratic bourgeoisie b) the capitalist reorganization of agriculture c) a proletarian revolution that could subordinate itself to tasks of capitalist economic development d) a collaboration with the bourgeoisie.”

    and comrade O says, “Which is living proof of the validity of what I’ve been saying here: the development of capitalism and its contradictions on the basis of U&C is international, whereas the development of the class struggle begins from the local peculiarities of this international development.”

    meaning, according to comrade O that permanent revolution is wrong even when it’s right.

    There’s a point where the funhouse isn’t really fun, and that’s this point.

    Permanent revolution never denied or denies the local peculiarities of this international development. On the contrary, the origin of permanent revolution is precisely in the local peculiarities of international development. It is “appreciation” of the local peculiarities of international development that provides the theory with its ability to refute stage-ism, class collaboration with the bourgeoisie, subordination of the proletariat and its revolution to the myth of a bourgeois, democratic, and/or national revolution.

    I think that you, comrade O, must misunderstand “permanent” to mean “always,” when that’s not at all what PR argues. It doesn’t argue that any and every “local” situation is always the moment of, or moment for, revolutionary struggle. It does argue that in preparation for that moment LOCAL activities have to be prepared, be organized for eclipsing the “national” “bourgeois” “democratic” stage-ist, class collaboration MOMENTS that will inevitably be pushed to the fore in the DEVELOPMENT of that conflict– pushed to the fore as the conflict between means and relations becomes acute, as the chronic nature of this conflict between means and relations converges with its acute expression. Permanent revolution is not a “crisis” theory, and does not hold that capitalism is always and forever in crisis; or that the “moment” is always the moment for proletarian revolution regardless of the level of organization of the revolutionary class.

    You write: ‘ “2 wrongs don’t make a right” is just a rejection of this dichotomy you’ve constructed. Permanent revolution does not have a theoretical monopoly on the rejection of the popular front.’

    The dichotomy I’ve constructed is NOT “permanent revolution vs. all other critiques of the popular front.” Certainly class organizations can and have rejected the popular front without expressing their agreement with permanent revolution. The dichotomy is between the meaning of permanent revolution, and those who caricature that content as being dismissive or ignorant of “local conditions,” of the need for organization, of the interconnections between the national and international conflict.

    You might as well be telling us that “Marxism does not have a theoretical monopoly on the rejection of capitalism” or “Marxism does not have a theoretical monopoly on the need for socialism.” Of course not, but what Marxism does have is the ability to ground the struggle against capitalism, the need for socialism, in the actual material of history, in the actual conflicts between the organization of labor, and labor itself, or laborers themselves. That’s also the strength, and the viable core, of permanent revolution

    What part of permanent revolution, what actions of the advocates of permanent revolution, in Vietnam, in Bolivia, in Spain, does in fact DISREGARD the “local conditions” in Vietnam, Bolivia, and Spain? I’m not talking about tactical errors, but complete misapprehension, and disavowal, of the particular class conflicts and the connections of those particular conflicts to the international class conflict.

    You write: “Does the international development of capitalism mean that the world is ‘ripe’ for proletarian revolution irrespective of the level of development of the local-domestic peculiarities of the class struggle?” That’s never been the core, the essence, or even a critical component of the theory of permanent revolution. On the contrary, the permanent revolution is situated quite practically in the connection of those local specifics with the international conflicts of capital.

    1. The dichotomy was not permanent revolution vs all critiques of popular frontism, it was, on the issue of the Chinese revolution, permanent revolution vs popular frontism (“anti-permanentists”)– as in, on one side is the Revolution (permanent revolution), on the other is Stalin (popular frontism). I don’t accept that dichotomy.

      Really, neither did Trotsky at the time. He supported the oscillating application of different tactical implementations of the slogan of DDotPP in China by the CI, even in private letters:

      https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1928/03/china.htm

      From the above:

      /”Up to February 1917, the slogan of the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry was historically progressive; after the February overturn the same slogan – of Stalin, Kamenev, and the rest – became a reactionary slogan.

      From April to May 1927 I supported the slogan of the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry for China (more correctly, I concurred with this slogan) inasmuch as the social forces had not as yet passed their political verdict, although the situation in China was immeasurably less propitious for this slogan than in Russia. After this verdict was passed by a colossal historical action (the experience of Wuhan) the slogan of democratic dictatorship became a reactionary force and will lead inevitably either to opportunism or adventurism.”/

      Which is rich, given that in the previous letter, the Canton insurrection (which was a putschist adventure by the CPC) forms the very basis of the analysis of the DDotPP becoming a ‘reactionary slogan’ through the method of permanent revolution, that the Chinese revolution had even /less/ necessity for the tasks of the democratic revolution, than Russia! 

      If several thousand communists occupied the banks, government buildings, radio stations, etc. of Fargo, North Dakota, issued revolutionary decrees in the name of a self-proclaimed Fargo Soviet for a few days before being ousted and buried under the prison in Leavenworth for treason, and contemporary communist analysis correctly identified this as a crass putschist adventure, can you imagine using this very adventure, in the next breath, as the basis for claiming that the American proletariat is far in advance of immediate (minimum programme-esque) demands, because we already have a movement for a Soviet Republic as evidenced by the Fargo Soviet?

      This is an example of the eclectic method of permanent revolution. If the choice is between this and popular frontism, it’s an easy choice: neither.

      It’s also exactly what I mean by substituting ‘what is’ for ‘what should be’, a rejection of what is for what should be, the substitution of politics for ideology.

      These letters also get us back to the single issue you have not responded to; the possibility of an independent role of the peasantry in the revolution and how this independent role exemplified a difference between the underlying methods that originally led to both DDotPP and permanent revolution:

      /”In the first place, even were the SRs to be created [in China-OiA], there would not at all follow from this any dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry, precisely as none followed in our own country, despite immeasurably more favorable conditions; secondly, instead of guessing whether the petty-bourgeoisie is capable in the future – i.e., with the further aggravation of class relations – of playing a greater or lesser independent role (suppose a piece of wood suddenly fires a bullet?), one should rather ask why did the petty-bourgeoisie prove incapable of playing such a role in the recent past? When it had at its disposal the most favorable conditions the Communist Party was driven into the Kuomintang, the latter was declared a workers’ and peasants’ party, it was supported by the entire authority of the Communist International and the USSR, the peasant movement was far-flung and sought for leadership, the intelligentsia was widely mobilized since 1919, etc., etc.

      You write that China still faces the “colossal problem of the agrarian bourgeois-democratic revolution.” To Lenin, this was the root of the question. Lenin pointed out that the peasantry, even as an estate, is capable of playing a revolutionary role in the struggle against the estate of the landed nobility, and the bureaucracy indissolubly linked up with the latter, crowned by the tsarist autocracy. In the subsequent stage, says Lenin, the kulaks will break with the workers, and together with them a considerable section of the middle peasants, but this will take place during the transition to the proletarian revolution, as an integral part of the international revolution. But how do matters stand in China? China has no landed nobility; no peasant estate, fused by community of interests against the landlords. The agrarian revolution in China is aimed against the urban and rural bourgeoisie. Radek has stressed this often – even Bukharin has half-understood this now. In this lies the gist of the matter!

      You write that “the social content of the first stage of the future third Chinese revolution cannot be characterized as a socialist overturn.” But we run the risk here of falling into Bukharinistic scholasticism, and of occupying ourselves with splitting hairs over terminology instead of with a living characterization of the dialectic process. What was the content of our revolution from October 1917 to July 1918? We left the mills and factories in the hands of the capitalists, confining ourselves to workers’ control; we expropriated the landed estates and put through the petty-bourgeois SR program of the socialization of land; and to crown it all, during this period, we had a coparticipant in power in the form of the Left SRs.”/

      To recap the above: the organization of a political party (Essers), the sharing of state power between that party and the workers’ party, the organization of the peasants’ unions and congresses (1905) and peasants soviets’ (1917), the implementation of the SR agrarian program and winning of the peasants’ independent organs over to socialism, are trifling matters to the method of permanent revolution, little more than footnotes to the October Revolution, and weren’t any of these things anyway because these things didn’t and couldn’t happen (“suppose a piece of wood suddenly fires a bullet?”)– the peasantry couldn’t have an independent role because of the international development of capitalism and the ‘ripeness’ of the world proletariat for revolution, after which it will rally the peasants, organize the peasants, etc. even though that isn’t what happened.

      That is not a method worth defending.

      1. 1. Yes, Trotsky, in his initial analysis of the struggle in China is tentative in his application of permanent revolution and does not break, at the earliest moment with the confusion of “national self-determination” with proletarian revolution. The issue, which you refuse to recognize, is not Trotsky himself, what he did or did not do. It’s what permanent revolution means, and that meaning is developed explicitly from uneven and combined development.

        2. As for Canton– laying this on Trotsky is pathetic, since the “oppositionists” were the ones who opposed the policy of the ECCI, pointing out that after Shanghai, brought about by the policy of subordinating the proletariat to the KMT, the revolutionary upsurge was essentially shattered, and uprisings like Canton would not, could not succeed.
        3. O: "To recap the above: the organization of a political party (Essers), the sharing of state power between that party and the workers’ party, the organization of the peasants’ unions and congresses (1905) and peasants soviets’ (1917), the implementation of the SR agrarian program and winning of the peasants’ independent organs over to socialism, are trifling matters to the method of permanent revolution, little more than footnotes to the October Revolution,"
        a) the SR shared power in the soviets and the provisional government prior to October 17.
        b)After October, the left SRs, supporting all power to the soviets, joined with the Bolsheviks; the SRs did not
        share that power.
        c) the issue is precisely not the evaluation of the capabilities of the peasantry as some sort of political partner, but the tasks of the reorganization of the relations between city and countryside, between land and labor. That requires something more than the seizure of estates, or peasant soviets– it requires the seizure of state power, the breaking up of the old state power; and the application of the new class' power as a ruling class. That state power was seized, broken up, and reconstituted in the cities, by the proletariat as a ruling class.
        d)Does the DDofPP imagine the peasantry exercising state power? The DDofPP doesn't even imagine the proletariat wielding state power. It's not until the April Theses that Lenin clarifies, for himself and the Bolsheviks what's at stake in the revolution, and that's state power which is embodied in embryo by the councils of workers deputies.
        e) Regardless of whatever errors in application or evaluation Trotsky made, permanent revolution held that the Russian Revolution could not be a bourgeois revolution because of the conditions and relations of city and countryside in Russia; that the proletariat would lead a social revolution, and that revolution would founder if not supported internationally, not the least because of the low productivity in agriculture.

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