Peter Thomas (Brunel University), ‘Revolutions, Passive and Permanent’
This was the sixth and final seminar in the series for Semester 1, organised by the Department of Political Economy at the University of Sydney.
Peter Thomas, author of the prize-winning The Gramscian Moment, reflects further on the political theory and practice of the Gramsci-Trotsky question.
This paper explores similarities and divergences between the notions of passive and permanent revolution in the work of Antonio Gramsci and Leon Trotsky. Although Gramsci himself explicitly rejected Trotsky’s notion of permanent revolution as a reversion to a strategy of ‘war of movement’, he also claimed that his development of the theory of hegemony could be regarded as a contemporary form of Marx and Engels’s notion of the ‘Revolution in Permanence’. The paper analyses the similarities and differences of the two seemingly divergent claims to inherit a central perspective of the classical Marxist tradition, and argues that thinking the concepts of passive and permanent revolution together enables us to clarify and to make explicit dimensions that remain underdeveloped in each theorist’s respective work.