"VARIATIONS ON A THEME BY TROTSKY"

David Christian

Abstract


This is not a research paper in the conventional sense. It is not based on exhaustive analysis either of Trotsky's writings, or of theories of revolution in general. It is very much a workshop paper, an attempt to pose a problem rather than to solve it. What it does do is to explore some of the implications of Trotsky's theory of revolution, for our approach to the general problem of 'Revolution as History'.!

Briefly, I will argue that an examination of Trotsky's theories of revolution shows how difficult it is to avoid broadening our concept of revolution. Indeed, it suggests that it may be necessary to collapse it into the much broader notion of a 'revolution epoch'. This is indeed an inflationary interpretation of the concept of 'revolution', for it means abandoning the conceptual 'gold standard' which allowed historians to exchange the term only against a few familiar, and clearly definable national revolutions, of which the best known were the English, French, Russian, and Chinese Revolutions. In a workshop paper one can legitimately leave the task of restoring conceptual soundness to others. Indeed, a conceptual Keynesian may hope that inflation will offer the best path out of a conceptual slump!


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