The Emerging Global Role of US Capitalism

Leon Trotsky’s Analysis of the Emerging Global Role of US Capitalism

By Nick Beams, 24 November 2010

The WSWS organized a panel on “The Cultural, Economic and Geo-strategic Thought of Leon Trotsky: A Retrospective Analysis 70 years after His Assassination,” at the 42nd annual convention of the Association for Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies (formerly the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies), held November 18-21 in Los Angeles. About 1,400 historians, political scientists, economists, and literary scholars presented papers on a wide array of topics.

The first paper, by David North, chairman of the WSWS Editorial Board, was published yesterday. The second paper, by Nick Beams, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (Australia) and a member of the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site is presented here today. Mehring Books had a display of its literature in the exhibit hall alongside.


As with all of Trotsky’s theoretical work, his study and analysis of the United States and its rise to global prominence was bound up with the development of the perspective for world socialist revolution.

Trotsky, above all, conceived of the Russian Revolution as the opening shot of the world revolution. His theory of Permanent Revolution, elaborated in 1905, examined the issues confronting the Marxist movement in Russia on the basis of an analysis of the deepening global economic and political contradictions of world capitalism.

As David North, chairman of the World Socialist Web Site editorial board, has noted: “Trotsky’s approach represented an astonishing theoretical breakthrough. As Einstein’s relativity theory—another gift of 1905 to mankind—fundamentally and irrevocably altered the conceptual framework within which man viewed the universe and provided a means of tackling problems for which no answers could be found within the straitjacket of classical Newtonian physics, Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution fundamentally shifted the analytical perspective from which revolutionary processes were viewed. Prior to 1905, the development of revolutions was seen as a progression of national events, whose outcome was determined by the logic of its internal socio-economic structure and relations. Trotsky proposed another approach: to understand revolution, in the modern epoch, as essentially a world-historic process of social transition from class society, rooted politically in nation-states, to a classless society developing on the basis of a globally-integrated economy and internationally-unified mankind.”[1]


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