As well as leading the 1917 Russian Revolution, Trotsky is known for a series of key contributions to a Marxist understanding of human societies and revolution. One of his earlier insights was his contribution to the theory of ‘permanent revolution’. In underdeveloped countries, what we call ‘Third World’ countries today, the age of bourgeois revolution passed by without fully overthrowing the backward practices of landlords and without the development of bourgeois democracy. These countries are often characterised by a small working class and a large emphasis on agriculture rather than advanced industry. Trotsky argued that even though this was the case, it was still necessary for the working class to lead the revolution, and that once a revolutionary process had begun, the people would not stop merely at the achievements of a bourgeois revolution, but would push onward into a socialist revolution. This is exactly how things would later unfold in Russia – in the revolution that Trotsky used these same theoretical insights to help lead.
This book contains the two key works in which Trotsky advanced these ideas prior to 1917: Results & Prospects and The Permanent Revolution.