A significant contribution to an understanding of Permanent Revolution—Witnesses to Permanent Revolution: The Documentary Record edited and translated by Richard B. Day and Daniel Gaido. (Brill, 2009). To order Witnesses to Permanent Revolutionfrom Mehring Books, click here.
By David North, WSWS.ORG
Originally posted 19 April 2010
Editor’s Note: The concept of “permanent revolution” is one of the key concepts in the construction and defense of socialism. It is often intentionally misrepresented by bourgeois propaganda as signifying constant chaos and turmoil instead of the “continuous development of socialism under the vigilant eye of the citizenry”.
The presentation that follows is a Trotskyst interpretation. The history and development of socialist revolutionary theory and practice admits of other approaches, Leninist, Maoist, Stalinist, Castroite, un-affiliated Marxist, etc.
We are reposting this review, which discusses in detail the history and development of the Theory of Permanent Revolution, whose importance in contemporary society is underscored by the emergence of mass revolutionary struggles by the working class in North Africa. The book is available for sale by Mehring books.
The publication of Witnesses to Permanent Revolution: The Documentary Record is a major event in the study of the theoretical foundations of the 1917 October Revolution. The documents presented in this substantial volume (677 pages)—compiled, translated and introduced by historians Richard B. Day and Daniel Gaido—provide a comprehensive review of the controversies and polemics from which the theory of permanent revolution emerged. Day and Gaido have produced a book that is indispensable for those who wish to understand the development of Marxist theory and revolutionary strategy in the twentieth century.
Richard Day, who has taught for many years at the University of Toronto in Mississauga, is respected as an authority on Soviet history, economics and politics. His best known work, Leon Trotsky and the Politics of Economic Isolation (1973), remains an important exposition of the critical theoretical issues that underlay the struggle over economic policy in the Soviet Union in the 1920s. Day’s work on the life and ideas of E. A. Preobrazhensky, including a translation of the latter’s Decline of Capitalism (1985), rescued from historical oblivion this important figure in the Trotskyist Left Opposition, who was eventually murdered by Stalin in 1937. Professor Day has written essays on a wide range of subjects, including Marxist philosophy. He is presently preparing the publication of a new volume of previously unknown writings of Preobrazhensky. Continue reading »
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