Combined and uneven development

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Combined and uneven develoopment is a Marxist theory associated with Trotsky. It says that the capitalist mode of production developes unevenly across the World – sooner in some countries than others – and that within countries, different stages of development, pre-capitalist as well as varius sub-stages of capitalism, may exist, for a while, simultaneously in different regions or in different sectors of the economy – ie., a country may exhibit a combination of stages. This has many implications for revolutionary strategy.

Partly prefigured by Lenin

In 1916 Lenin had reflected that "the development of capitalism proceeds very unevenly in the various countries. It cannot be otherwise under the commodity production system. From this it inevitably follows that socialism cannot be victorious simultaneously in all countries." "For anyone who has carefully thought over the economic pre-requisites of the socialist revolution in Europe," said Lenin with delicately oblique reference to Trotsky, "it could not but be dear that in Europe it will be immeasurably more difficult to start, whereas it was immeasurably easier for us to start; but it will be more difficult for us to continue the revolution than it will be over there." He was always convinced that "communism cannot be imposed by force." "All nations will reach socialism; this is inevitable. But all nations will not reach, socialism in the same way." (Text from Chris Hill, 1947, p 158.)

Further reading

Christopher Hill (1947) Lenin and the Russian Revolution. Available from