The Degenerated Revolution: The Rise and Fall of the Stalinist States

The Degenerated Revolution: The Rise and Fall of the Stalinist States


The first edition of The Degenerated Revolution, published in 1982, dealt with the central question that had faced the Trotskyist movement since the end of the Second World War; how had Stalinism not only survived that war but expanded its power and its territory?

It based its answer to that question on Trotsky's analysis of the Soviet Union as a “degenerate workers' state” in which, although the capitalist class had been overthrown, progress towards a socialist society was blocked by a bureaucratic dictatorship. Through detailed examinations of Eastern Europe, China and Cuba, it showed how, in exceptional circumstances, that political system could be reproduced elsewhere.

At the same time, it reasserted Trotsky's conclusion that such states would be unable to develop their economies to a higher level than capitalism and that only the revolutionary overthrow of their bureaucratic dictatorships could open the way to socialism.

This second edition extends that analysis by examining how those dictatorships responded to economic decline. As Trotsky had predicted, “market reforms”, although intended to dynamise production, actually destabilised it even further. In country after country, again as Trotsky had predicted, mass movements for democratic rights threatened even the most repressive regimes. Most collapsed and, in the process, handed power to capitalist forces. Most, but not all. The book also presents a detailed examination of how the Chinese “Communist Party” restored capitalism under its own rule.

The rise and fall of the “Stalinist States” was the central feature of the 20th century and led to confusion and demoralisation in the revolutionary movement. The Degenerated Revolution provides an explanation of that history by re-establishing, but also extending, the key concepts and theories of revolutionary Marxism.

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