Permanent Revolution

The theory of Permanent Revolution was written by Trotsky in jail. Permanent Revolution came about when Leon Trotsky questioned the beliefs of Karl Marx, believing that he had viewed the west of Europe as being the only area capable of sustaining a revolution at the expense of Russia. Permanent Revolution argued that the working class would be compelled to carry out a revolution. Permanent Revolution also believed that Russia would be capable of spearheading a revolution because of the weakness of the middle class. Trotsky believed that revolution was inevitable in Russia, as the state under the tsar had tried to get into every aspect of the people’s lives – and eventually the people would rebel against this.

The Industrial Revolution had a marked impact on Russia in a very short space of time. It brought the proletariat to the fore. Permanent Revolution saw that the proletariat had many strengths. Without them, the industrialisation of Russia would grind to a halt and the nation’s competitiveness with western nations such as Germany and Britain would be compromised. The more important industry became for Russia, the more important the proletariat became. Without the proletariat, the huge gains made by Russia at an industrial level would not have been sustained. Therefore, the industrial worker was key to any revolution that Russia would experience.

Permanent Revolution also believed that the workers in the industrial cities also needed the support of those who worked in agriculture. “The proletariat in power will appear before the peasantry as its liberator.” (Trotsky) Permanent Revolution did not consider the peasants to be the main thrust of a revolutionary force – but it did consider them to be important in sustaining that revolution.

Marx did not accept the belief that the industrial workers had to have the support of the peasants. Marx believed that those in industry should not seize power until they were in the majority. Permanent Revolution believed that the industrial workers had the power to seize power as Russia depended too much on them. Permanent Revolution believed that their revolution would receive the support of the peasants as long as they could see that their lives would improve after the industrial workers had pushed ahead with their revolution.

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