Geopolitical Economy and Class Formation
Geopolitical Economy and Class Formation

The Theory of Permanent Counterrevolution

After the repression following the bourgeois revolts of 1848 in Europe Marx and Engels adjusted their original ideas of working-class revolution with the theory of permanent revolution. It held that since the bourgeoisie no longer could be counted on to side with the workers against the ruling classes, socialists should move from the stage of democratic revolution straight to that of socialist transformation. The international dimension of this theory was emphasized by Trotsky when he reformulated the theory in the early stages of the Russian revolution. One can also turn the argument around by seeing that beginning with the repression of the 1850s, a process of permanent counterrevolution has evolved which has passed through phases of retrenchment and attack, without allowing the initiative to pass to the side of revolution ever again. From this perspective, fascism and Fordism, the successive editions of the Cold War, covert action, military interventions and full-scale wars are all part of this counterrevolutionary process. It owes its ‘permanency’ to its unrelenting imposition which in each case works to isolate revolutionary challenges ‘with the concentrated strength of the international forces’ (Gramsci) and yet today, against the background of a deepening crisis of exhaustion of capitalist discipline, has reached its apogee without having obliterated the forces of resistance worldwide. This paper presents a first outline of the argument of a forthcoming book, ‘The End of Political Compromise in Capitalism’.

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