The Politics of Combined and Uneven Development

The Politics of Combined and Uneven Development:The Theory of Permanent Revolution

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Few notions have had so controversial a history as 'permanent revolution'. Coined by Marx during the German Revolution of 1848, it was taken up by Trotsky after the Russian Revolution of 1905 as the basis of his forecast of the seizure of power that eventually came in 1917. Thereafter it became a watchword of the opposition to the doctrine of 'socialism in one country' in the USSR in the 1920s. Michael Lowy's book is the first full-length study of both the history of the term and the validity of its usage in post-war politics. Beginning with a philological analysis of its origins in Marx, Lowy traces the biography of the concept in the writings of Marxists such as Kautsky and Plekhanov. and compares it with Lenin's strategic ideas. He then surveys the general theory of 'permanent revolution' elaborated by Trotsky between 1925 and 1940. Next Lowy examines the whole course of world history since Trotsky's death, as a test of his ideas. The nature of the Chinese. Yugoslav, Cuban and Vietnamese Revolutions is carefully explored. and the record of capitalist development in countries such as Mexico. Egypt. India and Turkey is inspected. A final chapter assesses the continuing relevance of Trotsky's theory to the analysis of history and politics. The Politics of Combined and Uneven Development is an important reflection on one of the classical issues of contention in twentieth-century socialism.