Permanent Revolution is a revolutionary Trotskyist group which was formed after 24 people were expelled from the League for the Fifth International (L5I) in July 2006. It takes its name from Leon Trotsky's theory of Permanent Revolution.


The group was founded after a two year struggle against the perspectives adopted by the L5I at its 2003 Congress. [1] It had first organised as a tendency then as a faction.[2]

The split followed a discussion of how to assess the impact, on class politics in general and the level of class struggle, of two changes:

  1. the effect of the restoration of capitalism in the former degenerated workers states in 1990
  2. and of the defeats of the working class movement in the 1970s/80s, particularly in the USA and United Kingdom.

The group gathered together a minority which argued that, almost without exception, the international left had undertaken no serious rexamination of world perspectives and economy since a "stagnation phase" in the 1970s and 1980s. [3] It felt that as a result, the international left had been unable to explain either the marginalisation of the left or the failure of important protest movements against capitalism (such as the anti-capitalist movement, anti-war movement and Social Forum movements) to sink significant roots into the world working-class.[4][5]

Permanent Revolution argued the L5I perspectives adopted at their Sixth Congress in 2003, that the engine of the world economy had “halted”, that world capitalism was in a “period of stagnation” and as a result the world faced a “pre-revolutionary period,” were fundamentally inaccurate and the refusal of the L5I to correct these perspectives in the light of experience, proved they had decisively broken from the method of revolutionary Trotskyism. In contrast Permanent Revolution argued that the integration of the former workers states into world capitalism, when combined with the defeats of the working class in the 1970s/80s, had allowed capitalism to revive itself through globalisation.[6]

Furthermore, it argued that while the working class movement was no longer in the counter revolutionary phase of the 1990s, the movement had still not fully recovered from those defeats and rather was in a transitional period, with uneven struggles, not yet usually generalised or sustained.[7]


Permanent Revolution aims to stand in the tradition of Lenin and Trotsky, and for the revolutionary programme developed by the early Comintern and the early Fourth International. However, it differs from other Trotskyist organisations in three ways:

  1. Permanent Revolution believes that Trotskyism requires a "perspective": the most concrete assessment of the situation must be made in order to enable the application of revolutionary Marxist ideas to the real situation of the class struggle at any given moment. It emphasises Marx's view that it is necessary to understand the world in order to change it.[8]
  2. Permanent Revolution considers the LRCI to have been a healthy period within Trotskyism. It considers itself to be following on from the work of the LCRI, which argued that the Fourth International had degenerated after the Second World War because of a refusal to fundamentally reassess its perspectives.[9] It feels that the L5I, through a similar refusal, suffered a similar process of disorientation and degeneration which culminated in the L5I abandoning the Trotskyist programme as a method of intervention into the actual class struggle.[10]
  3. Permanent Revolution has paid special interest to an analysis of how it sees globalisation to have offset the tendency of the rate of profit to decline and enabled capitalism to escape the stagnation period which it feels defined the world economy through the 1970s and 1980s.


At its inauguration in London in July 2006, Permanent Revolution claimed to have had 33 members.[11][12] Its founding meeting involved participants from Britain, Ireland, Chile, Czech Republic, Sweden, Australia, Austria and observers from Argentina. A meeting in September 2006 agreed a Founding Statement [13] which restates its intention to relaunch an international tendency committed to building a new Leninist Trotskyist International. Twenty four British Members were expelled from the League, as well as four Australian members, several Irish members and one member from Sweden.

PR members in Britain participated in:

  • the launch and development of a shop stewards movement in the UK
  • the campaign to get Labour MP John McDonnell on the ballot paper to stand against Gordon Brown as leader of the Labour Party after Tony Blair resigned.
  • many actions of the Stop The War coalition
  • trade union struggles in schools, offices.
  • produced 12 issues [14] of a journal of Marxist theory and analysis, as well as leaflets for specific events
  • set up and developed a website
  • actions to stop the G8 summit near Rostock in June 2007
  • held a public event with debates in central London in June 2007
  • established close fraternal links with iRevo, a coalition of international youth groups


External links

For the alternative point of view including an edited selection of the L5I's account see below.

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Permanent Revolution (group)
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