The concept of revolution in Marxian theory telescopes an entire historical period: the final stage of capitalism; the transitional period of proletarian dictatorship, and the initial stage of socialism. It is in a strict sense a historical concept, projecting actual tendencies in the society; and it is a dialectical concept, projecting the counter-tendencies within the respective historical period, in as much as they are inherent in this period. These tendencies and counter-tendencies are manifestations of which Marxian theory and practice themselves are essential elements. Marxian theory itself is a power in the historical struggle, and to the degree to which its concepts, ‘translated’ into practice, become forces of resistance, change and reconstruction, they are subject to the vicissitudes of the struggle, which they reflect and comprehend,but do not dominate. ‘Re-examination’ is therefore an element of the concept of revolution, part of its internal development.

This paperfootnote can raise only some of the problems involved in such a re-examination. I shall start with a brief recapitulation of the Marxian concepts. The revolution is:

The concept contains the following democratic presuppositions: a) the revolution is a majority affair; and

b) democracy offers the most favourable conditions for organization and for education to class consciousness.

This presupposition underlines the importance of the ‘subjective factor’: awareness of the facts of exploitation, and of the ways to undo them; experience of intolerable conditions and of the vital need for change are pre-conditions of the revolution.

But the Marxian concept of revolution also implies continuity in change: development of the productive forces contained by capitalism, taking over of the technology and of the technical apparatus by the new producers.

What is at stake in the re-examination is not only the identification and enumeration of those presuppositions invalidated by the actual development, but also the concept of the revolution as a whole, because all its elements are interrelated. This involves a re-examination of the Marxian concept of the structural relation between capitalism and socialism under the following aspects: