Russian Revolution 1917 - 2017

In February 1917, Russia’s masses overthrew the Tsarist regime, a byword for everything reactionary and retrograde, and opened the way to the workers’ seizure of power in October of the same year.
Today, the revolution has been safely relegated to the history books and TV documentaries, and this is where the ruling classes would like it to stay.
But in reality, the problem posed in 1917 remains the problem of our times. By plunging the world into a war of unimaginable barbarism, the capitalist class demonstrated that its continued rule had nothing to offer humanity but blood and horror. The Russian workers showed the way towards a world wide overthrow of capitalism, and this will be their undying merit.
In 1917 the question was posed: socialism or barbarism? When we look at the world today, who can doubt that this question remains the fundamental one of our times, even if its terms have changed? In this sense, the future still belongs to the Russian revolution.
Today’s proletariat bashes keyboards as much as metal. But it is more than ever an international class, associated in a world wide process of production. The Russian revolution of 1917 belonged to the proletariat of the day. The world revolution to come will be the work of its heirs, the world proletariat of the future.

Manifesto on the October revolution, Russia 1917

In October 1917, after three years of unspeakable carnage on the battlefields, a beacon of hope in the fog of war: the Russian workers, having overthrown the Tsar in February, now deposed the bourgeois Provisional Government which had replaced him but which insisted on carrying on with the war “until victory”. The Soviets (workers’, soldiers’ and peasants’ councils), with the Bolshevik party at the fore, called for an immediate end to the war and appealed to the workers of the world to follow their revolutionary example.

February 1917: The workers’ councils open the way to the proletarian revolution

The Russian Revolution of 1917 was a mass movement of the exploited, the largest, the most conscious and the richest in experience, initiatives and creativity ever seen in history. Millions of proletarians overcame their isolation and unified consciously, gave themselves the means to act collectively as a single force, created their instruments to overturn the bourgeois state and take power: the workers’ councils (soviets). Over and above the overthrow of the old Tsarist regime, since it took place in the context of an international wave of working class revolt against the first world war, this movement announced nothing less than the beginning of the world proletarian revolution.

February opens history's first conscious revolution

February 1917 overthrew the Tsarist regime. The wave that led to October began in a massive protest against the misery and barbarity of the capitalist war.

The bourgeois democrats, forced almost against their will to take power, would have liked to stop there. But it was to prove impossible to satisfy the masses’ urgent demands – peace, bread, and land – without attacking the root causes of their ills: the capitalist system itself.

The April Theses of 1917: signpost to the proletarian revolution

A favorite theme of today’s propaganda against the Russian revolution, is that of the power-hungry and ultra-disciplined Bolsheviks usurping the state power from the democratic masses by means of the October putsch.

The reality is very different. The Bolsheviks in April 1917 were in considerable confusion. The leadership (without Lenin who was still in exile in Zürich) were in favour of supporting the new bourgeois democracy and continuing the war. The mass of the Bolshevik rank-and-file militants was far to the left of the leadership, in favour of continuing the revolution until the workers seized power.

Lenin "April Theses" expressed this determination of the rank-and-file: "The masses must be made to see that the Soviets of Workers' Deputies are the only possible form of revolutionary government"

Lenin's State and Revolution: Striking Validation of Marxism

Given the ruling class’ frequent depiction of Lenin as a power-hungry dictator, it is all the more ironic that during the period from April to October his "socialist" adversaries accused him of anarchism. State and Revolution is Lenin’s answer, a profound reflection from a marxist standpoint on the nature of power in the revolution. Lenin began researching the book in 1916, and brought it to fruition in June 1917. In this work, we see the fertile encounter of marxist theory and the real practical experience of the workers’ soviets in Russia, first in 1905 then in 1917.

Rosa Luxemburg: the Bolsheviks represent the honor of the revolution

During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander. After their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say, and to hallow their names to a certain extent for the “consolation” of the oppressed classes and with the object of duping the latter, while at the same time robbing the revolutionary theory of its substance, blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgarizing it.” (Lenin).

Of no revolutionary has this been more true than of Rosa Luxemburg. The heirs of her assassins – the social-democrats of every hue – would like to turn her into an icon of democracy against the dictatorial Bolsheviks. This, the first chapter of her work on the Russian Revolution, is a scathing rebuttal to such attempts to rewrite history: as she says in her conclusion, "All the revolutionary honor and capacity which western Social-Democracy lacked was represented by the Bolsheviks"

Russia 1917 and the revolutionary memory of the working class

For all those who still consider that mankind’s last best hope is the revolutionary overthrow of world capitalism, it is impossible to greet the beginning of the year 2017 without recalling that it is the 100th anniversary of the Russian revolution. And we also know that all those who insist that there is no alternative to the present social system will recall it in their own way.

Problems of the Period of Transition (April 1975)

The seizure of power by the working class immediately posed a whole new series of problems: how, by what practical measures, could the workers begin to dismantle the whole apparatus of bourgeois power and to improve the material situation of the workers and labouring masses themselves?

Inevitably, the new proletarian power found itself in a contradictory situation: it was confronted with an all-out resistance by the defeated bourgeois class, ranging from military intervention to sabotage; it was necessary to maintain production and distribution on an immediate basis in order to feed the population; and at the same time to take whatever steps were possible towards the transformation of the whole basis of society.

This question was addressed right at the beginning of the ICC’s existence, as this article shows.

80 years since the Russian Revolution: The July Days and the vital role of the Party

The July Days of 1917 are one of the most important moments, not only in the Russian Revolution, but in the whole history of the workers' movement. In the space of three days, from July 3rd  to July 5th, one of the mightiest ever confrontations between bourgeoisie and proletariat, despite ending in a defeat for the working class, opened the road to the seizure of power four months later in October 1917.