Not-so-Permanent Revolution

March 28, 2013 at 6:03 pm (Jim D, left, political groups, socialism, strange situations, trotskyism)

Far left groups implode from time to time (eg the SWP at the moment and, back in 1985, the WRP). And not infrequently, new far left groups are formed (sometimes out of the wreckage of the implosions). What is very rare is for a far left group to simply jack it in, give up the ghost, voluntarily disband. I believe the US Independent Socialist League (the ‘Shachtmanites‘) did it in 1957 or ’58, but off hand,  that’s the only example [I have been corrected – see comments below – JD] I can think of. Until now:

Permanent Revolution – dissolution statement

Permanent Revolution was established in 2006 following the expulsion of a
number of members of Workers Power in July 2006. The original intention of
the organisation was to continue to try and build an organisation based on
the core principles of revolutionary Trotskyism that we had all long
adhered to while still members of Workers Power.

During the following seven years we produced 24 issues of a journal that we
think made a significant contribution to debates within the far left, that
attempted to develop Marxist theory to address new issues and that offered
coherent programmatic answers to key issues facing the international
working class. As a consequence the journal developed a significant
audience and our ideas won a hearing across the left and the labour

This literary contribution was matched by the activity of our comrades who
led struggles in a number of areas and a variety of arenas – union,
community, anti-cuts, anti-racist and so on.

However, with the development of a number of new campaigns, networks and
organisations, combined with the decline of the established far left
groups, we recognise the need for the left to organise itself in radically
different ways. As a result we have now decided to cease publication of our
journal and website.

Instead we will direct our efforts and resources to building those
initiatives, regionally, locally and nationally, that we believe offer a
way forward that is more effective than the maintenance of ourselves as a
distinct group – for example, the Anti-Capitalist Initiative, Marxist
Networks and radical trade union and campaigning organisations that are
working to renew the labour movement and the left in working class

We would like to thank you all for your support over the past seven years
and we know that we will continue to work with you in common struggles in
the years to come.


  1. Matt said,

    I can think of a couple of British examples: the RCP in 1950 and the Workers’ League in the late 70’s.

    • Geoff Collier said,

      Does the later RCP (of Living Marxism) count too? There has also been the Workers Action group and probably others stemming from the WRP

  2. Jim Denham said,

    Yeah, Matt, you’re right, come to think of it. I knew quite a few Workers League (aka the “Higginsites”) people at the time (c 1975/6) and a collective decision seemed to have been taken to just give up the ghost. Some dropped out of politics altogether. The best of them remained active in “the broad movement.” They included some quite serious militants, but had pretty dreadful politics. They’re probably the nearest precursor of what will happen to ‘PR’.

    • Modernity's Ghost said,


      Not a devotee of Trotskyism, but I wonder how would you classified the IMG’s disappearance? Entryism? Renaming and falling apart?

      I would welcome a connoisseur’s opinion!

      • Jim Denham said,

        Mod: I’m not sure that I’d call myself a “devotee” or “connoisseur” of Trotskyist and post-Trotskyist factions. However, I can assert that the IMG did not disappear, but dispersed into a number of different groups, eg: Socialist Action (the “Rossites”, several of whom became paid employees of Ken Livingstone), and the other lot (whose various names escape me at present) who are, I think, now called Socialist Resistance.

      • Modernity's Ghost said,

        Oh Jim,

        You are far more expert in this field than I, give your self credit!

        Out of curiosity how many were there in Perm. Revolution? 20? 40? maybe 50?

        Will they all (mostly) end up in the LP, if not already there?

  3. daggi said,

    What about Big Flame, and ‘Solidarity’? Where did they go to?

  4. Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    The Shachtmanites didn’t really dissolve in the sense of just giving up – they decamped en masse (if you can call maybe a couple of hundred activists a mass) to the Socialist Party USA and became an organised faction there which continued to be active for several decades more.

    (Sort of) similarly the RCP/RCT never really dissolved but transmogrified into a weird right-libertarian cult whose entrist talents were devoted to supporting the members media, academic and corporate careers.

  5. Jim Denham said,

  6. Stuart Elliott said,

    Roger is right. The ISL dissolved so that members could enter the Socialist Party. Many were active in the Realignment Caucus, but it was not an exclusively Shachtmanite caucus.

    Jay Lovestone’s Independent Labor League dissolved itself in 1941.

  7. paul Mellelieu said,

    Hasn’t PR just done the same as Socialist Outlook into SR? I.e. dissolved into a larger group.

  8. Modernity's Ghost said,

    Does anyone here know anything about British Trotskyism? How big the various groupings are/were?

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