Implementing Revolution

Political power at the top rests on or conflicts with economic power beneath. The dynamics of this are complicated and obscured by the slow evolution of the underlying economic correlation of forces relative to the faster and more visible political correlation of forces.

Единовластие, необходимое условие устойчивости каждого режима, сохраняется до тех пор, пока господствующему классу удается навязывать всему обществу свои экономические и политические формы как единственно возможные….

Режим двоевластия возникает лишь из непримиримого столкновения классов, возможен поэтому только в революционную эпоху и образует собою один из ее основных элементов….

Историческая подготовка переворота приводит в предреволюционный период к такому положению, когда класс, призванный осуществить новую общественную систему, не став еще хозяином страны, фактически сосредоточивает в своих руках значительную долю государственного могущества, тогда как официальный аппарат государства остается еще в руках старых владык. Это и есть исходное двоевластие всякой революции….

Общество нуждается в концентрации власти и, в лице господствующего класса или в данном случае двух полугосподствующих классов, непримиримо стремится к ней. Расщепление власти предвещает не что иное, как гражданскую войну. [Trotsky.]

A single, government, the necessary condition of stability in any régime, is preserved so long as the ruling class succeeds in putting over its economic and political forms upon the whole of society the only forms possible….

The two-power régime arises only out of irreconcilable class conflicts – is possible, therefore, only in a revolutionary epoch, and constitutes one of its fundamental elements….

The historic preparation of a revolution brings about, in the pre-revolutionary period, a situation in which the class which is called to realise the new social system, although not yet master of the country, has actually concentrated in its hands a significant share of the state power, while the official apparatus of the government is still in. the hands of the old lords. That is the initial dual power in every revolution….

Society needs a concentration of power, and in the person of the ruling class-or, in the situation we are discussing, the two half-ruling classes-irresistibly strives to get it. The splitting of sovereignty foretells nothing less than civil war. [Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution, Ch. 11.]

Solzhenitsyn lays out extensive evidence in The Red Wheel supporting Trotsky’s zero-sum perspective that “society needs a concentration of power,” i.e., that democracy is a mirage because multiple power centers cannot cooperate over the long run to create a society governed through compromise and generosity: the Tsar refusing to compromise with Duma liberals, Duma liberals and the Bolsheviks trying to undermine each other, the Bolsheviks planning to set the liberals up for a fall by supporting their rise to power as (unknown to them) an interim solution while the Bolsheviks amassed absolute power behind the scenes. The question remains, however, whether or not Trotsky’s zero-sum negativism is a function of short-sighted Russian viewpoints of the era or reveals true human limitations.


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