Revolutions are historical facts of life. Almost all major states in today’s world are born from revolutions. Whether one likes it or not, our century has seen something like three dozen revolutions-some victorious, others defeated-and there is no sign that we have come to the end of the revolutionary experience.
Revolutions and counter-revolutions, being real historical processes, always occur in really existing social-economic formations which are always specific. No two countries in the world are exactly alike, if only because their basic social classes and the major fractions of these classes are products of the specific history of each of these countries.
While revolutions are historical facts of life, counter-revolutions are likewise undeniable realities. Indeed, counter-revolutions seem regularly to follow revolutions as night follows day. Etymology confirms this paradox. The very concept of “revolution” originates from the sciences of astronomy. The movements of planets evolve in an orbital manner, returning to the point of departure.
The revolutionary processes in the Third World since World War II have confirmed the validity of the strategy of permanent revolution. Wherever these processes have climaxed in a full break with the old ruling classes and with international capital the historical tasks of the national-democratic revolution (national unification, independence from imperialism) have been realized.
The concept of political (anti-bureaucratic) revolution in the bureaucratized societies in transition between capitalism and socialism (bureaucratized workers states) was first launched by Trotsky in 1933. It resulted from the diagnosis of the growing contradictions of Soviet society and from the prediction that these contradictions could no longer be removed through reforms; and it was related, therefore to the prediction that a self-reform of the bureaucracy was impossible.
The concept of the three sectors of the world revolution refers to the different strategic-historical tasks with which the revolutionary process is confronted today. But this only represents the first step towards a concretization of the concept of world revolution today. The question of these sectors and their interaction, and hence their growing unity, has also to be raised.