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Introduction - The historical origin of the expression ‘permanent revolution’

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Chapter Summary

This is the introduction chapter of the book, which reveals an array of opinions ranging from Plekhanov's conviction that a bourgeois revolution was pending-even if it must be led by the workers-to the opposite position shared by Ryazanov, Parvus and Trotsky, namely, that a permanent revolution would rapidly point beyond bourgeois democracy in the direction of socialism. Marxism emerged in Russia in a struggle against revolutionary Narodnik populism, but during and after the 1905 revolution the echoes of previous disputes with the Narodniks were still apparent in assessments of Russia's 'peculiar' characteristics given by Ryazanov, Trotsky, and even Lenin. Plekhanov and Lenin succeeded in denying the Bor'ba group any official representation at the Second Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, which was held in London and Brussels in the summer of 1903. This congress resulted in the famous split between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks over organisational issues.

Keywords: bourgeois revolution; David Ryazanov; Georgy Plekhanov; Lenin; Leon Trotsky; Marxism; Narodnik populism; Parvus; permanent revolution; Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party



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