Witnesses to Permanent Revolution: The Documentary Record


The theory of Permanent Revolution has been associated with Leon Trotsky for more than a century since the first Russian Revolution in 1905. Trotsky was the most brilliant proponent of Permanent Revolution but by no means its sole author. The documents in this volume, most of them translated into English for the first time, demonstrate that Trotsky was one of several participants in a debate from 1903-7 that involved numerous leading figures of Russian and European Marxism, including Karl Kautsky, Rosa Luxemburg, Franz Mehring, Parvus and David Ryazanov.

This volume reassembles that debate, assesses it with reference to Marx and Engels, and provides new evidence for interpreting the formative years of Russian revolutionary Marxism.

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Richard B. Day, Ph. D. (1970), University of London, is Professor of Political Economy at the University of Toronto, Canada. He has published extensively on Soviet economic and political history, including Leon Trotsky and the Politics of Economic Isolation (Cambridge, 1973).

Daniel F. Gaido, Ph.D. (2000), University of Haifa (Israel), is a researcher at the National Research Council (Conicet), Argentina. He is the author of The Formative Period of American Capitalism (Routledge, 2006) and is currently working on the history of German Social Democracy.
"Sometimes reading debates between figures on the left, involving historical references readers may not be familiar with, can be a daunting or even demoralising experience. But the brilliant and precise annotating of this collection, along with a short introduction to each piece, makes every article accessible to a wide range of readers… Day and Gaido have done a fantastic service with this immense collection. Witnesses to Permanent Revolution is a fascinating and thoughtprovoking book and one that genuinely sheds new light on past debates about socialism that can help to inform the future."
Esme Choonara, International Socialism

"Rather than being a rehash of long-standing debates, this title brings forth writings not available before in English as well as long-forgotten texts to produce a rich and nuanced picture. Proving that the wealth of intellectual debate surrounding the theory of permanent revolution is not merely a topic for specialists, Witness to Permanent Revolution is a most welcome addition to the literature of world Marxism. More than being of merely historical interest, this work will help clarify the thinking of all those who ponder the questions surrounding radical change. For those new to the debate, the editors provide a substantial introduction that puts the controversy in context."
William Pelz , Critique: Journal of Socialist Theory

" Witnesses to Permanent Revolution provides much stimulating background material to the discussion of the prospects of the Russian revolution in the run up to the First World War. [...] to be recommended"
Bill Jefferies, Marx & Philosophy, 14 March 2014

"[Es] gelingt den beiden Herausgebern mit dieser Dokumentation [...], in beeindruckender Weise zu zeigen, in welchem Umfeld und aufgrund welcher Anregungen die theorie der permanenten Revolution als Teil der marxistischen Debatten vor dem Ersten Weltkrieg entstand."
Reiner Tosstorff, Archiv für die Geschichte des Widerstandes und der Arbeit 19 (2011) pp. 440-443.

'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. [...] 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.'
David North, World Socialist Web Site, 19 April 2010

'Since the world is again in the midst of an economic crisis, the arguments here are not without contemporary relevance, even if from today's perspective it is a polemic where everybody is right. Summing Up: Recommended.'
A. Ezergailis, Choice Reviews Online, January 2010

"[Ce volume] se caractérise par la richesse du fonds documentaire réuni. Si la présentation de l’éditeur, traduite ci-dessous, indique que la plupart des textes sont présentées ici en anglais pour la première fois, il faut signaler que la plupart sont également inédits en français. De sorte que ce volume, au-delà de la volonté affichée de ses coordinateurs de donner une cohérence d’ensemble à la théorie de la révolution permanente - tâche dont ils s’acquittent avec grande honnêteté au demeurant - comblerait quelques lacunes importantes si il pouvait être traduit en français."
Eric, Smolny, 14 December 2010

1. The Slavs and Revolution (1902), Karl Kautsky
2. The Draft Programme of Iskra and the Tasks of Russian Social Democrats (1903), N. Ryazanov
3. ‘Orthodox’ Pedantry (1903), G.V. Plekhanov
4. To What Extent is the Communist Manifesto Obsolete? (First edition: 1903 – Revised edition: June 1906), Karl Kautsky
5. Revolutionary Questions (February 1904), Karl Kautsky
6. What Was Accomplished on 9th January (January 1905), Parvus
7. Up to the Ninth of January (1905), Leon Trotsky
8. After the Petersburg Uprising: What Next? (20 January [2 February] 1905), Leon Trotsky
9. The Revolution in Russia (28 January, 1905), Rosa Luxemburg
10. After the First Act (4 February, 1905), Rosa Luxemburg
11. The Consequences of the Japanese Victory and Social Democracy (July 1905), Karl Kautsky
12. Introduction to Ferdinand Lassalle’s Speech to the Jury (July 1905), Leon Trotsky
13. Social Democracy and Revolution (25 November [12 November], 1905), Leon Trotsky
14. The Revolution in Permanence (1 November 1905 - 25 November [12 November], 1905), Franz Mehring
15. The Next Questions of our Movement (September 1905), N. Ryazanov
16. Our Tasks (13 November, 1905), Parvus
17. Foreword to Karl Marx, Parizhskaya Kommuna (December 1905), Leon Trotsky
18. The Russian Revolution (20 December, 1905), Rosa Luxemburg
19. Old and New Revolution (December 1905), Karl Kautsky
20. The Sans-Culottes of the French Revolution (1889, reprinted December 1905), Karl Kautsky
21. The Role of the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat in the Russian Revolution: Speech to the Fifth (London) Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (25 May 1907), Rosa Luxemburg
22. The Driving Forces of the Russian Revolution and Its Prospects (November 1906), Karl Kautsky
23. The American Worker (February 1906), Karl Kautsky

All those interested in Marxism, the history of the Russian Revolution of 1905, and the contribution of Leon Trotsky to revolutionary theory.