By marking the entry of capitalism into its decadent phase, World War I showed that the objective conditions for the proletarian revolution had ripened. The revolutionary wave, which arose in response to the war and which thundered across Russia and Europe, made its mark in both Americas and found an echo in China, and thus constituted the first attempt by the world proletariat to accomplish its historic task of destroying capitalism. At the highest points of its struggle between 1917 and 1923, the proletariat took power in Russia, engaged in mass insurrections in Germany, and insurrections in Germany, and shook Italy, Hungary, and Austria to their foundations. Although less strongly, the revolutionary wave expressed itself in bitter struggles in, for example, Spain, Great Britain, North and South America. The tragic failure of the revolutionary wave was finally marked in 1927 by the crushing of the proletarian insurrection in Shanghai and Canton in China after a long series of defeats for the working class internationally. This is why the October 1917 revolution in Russia can only be understood as one of the most important manifestations of this class movement and not as a ‘bourgeois’, ‘state-capitalist’, ‘dual’, or ‘permanent’ revolution which would somehow force the proletariat to fulfil the ‘bourgeois-democratic’ tasks which the bourgeoisie itself was incapable of carrying out.
“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"
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.
The bourgeoisie has made no mistake in spending decades concocting the shabbiest lies about the revolution in Russia in 1917. 100 years after the soviets took power in Russia, the propagandists of the ruling class continue to sing the same hymn to the virtues of bourgeois parliamentary ‘democracy’ and spew out the worst falsifications about the reality of the dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia.
The discussion on the ICC’s French internet forum has been particularly animated and passionate these last few weeks around a tragic event: the bloody crushing of the insurgents at Kronstadt.
Ninety years ago, in 1921, the workers stood up to the Bolshevik Party demanding, amongst other things, the restoration of real power to the soviets. The Bolshevik Party then took the terrible decision to repress them.
A participant in this forum debate called Youhou sent us a letter which we warmly welcome and which we publish here below. She makes both the effort to synthesize the different points of view coming out of the posts and to clearly take a position.
In theprevious article in this serieswe saw how the soviets, having seized power in October 1917, gradually lost it to the point where it was no more than a facade, kept alive artificially to hide the triumph of the capitalist counter-revolution that had taken place in Russia. The aim of this article is to understand what caused this to happen and to draw lessons that will be indispensable for revolutionaries in the future.
In previous articles in this series, we followed the appearance of the workers’ councils (i.e. soviets in Russian) during the revolution of 1905; their disappearance and resurgence during the revolution of 1917, and their crisis and revival in the hands of the workers which led to their seizure of power in October 1917. In this article we will deal with the attempt by the soviets to wield power, a fundamental moment in the history of mankind
In the series "What are workers' councils?" we want to answer the question by analysing the historical experience of the proletariat. It isn't a case of putting the soviets forward as a perfect model for others to copy; we want to understand both their mistakes as well as their achievements, so that current and future generations will be armed with this knowledge.
In this second part, we are going to see how they reappeared during the February 1917 revolution and how, under the domination of the old Menshevik and Social Revolutionary (SR) parties who betrayed the working class, they distanced themselves from the will and growing consciousness of the worker masses, becoming, in July 1917, a point of support for the counter-revolution.
On the occasion of the anniversary of the October 1917
revolution in Russia, the scribblers of the ruling class regularly serve us up
with the same refrain: the dictator Stalin is the heir of Lenin; his crimes
were the inevitable consequences of the policies of the Bolsheviks of 1917. The
moral? The communist revolution can only lead to the terror of Stalinism.
This is the
latest in a series of articles celebrating the anniversary of the Russian
revolution of October 1917 and the international revolutionary wave which
followed. Although written in response to particular bourgeois campaigns in
France, the denigration and distortion of the October revolution is a
fundamental plank of bourgeois ideology everywhere, so the article loses none
of its validity by being translated into English.
In the last two issues of WR,
we have been marking the 90th anniversary of the October revolution in Russia
by recalling the massive scale and importance of the Russian revolution - the
first time in history that the working class had taken political power on the
level of an entire country, and the opening salvo in an international explosion
of workers' uprisings that shook world capitalism to the core.
The current year reminds us that history is not the affair of university professors, but a social, class question of vital importance for the proletariat. The main political goal the world bourgeoisie has set itself in 1997 is to impose on the working class its own reactionary, falsified version of the history of the 20th century. To this end it is highlighting the holocaust during World War II, and the October Revolution.
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.
The "Ten days that shook the world" were seventy years
ago. The world media is celebrating the anniversary. Once more they are going
to talk about the Russian Revolution. In their
fashion that is, of the ruling class, with its lies, its deformations and with
its stale old refrains: "the communist revolution can only lead to the Gulag or
Ninety years ago one of the most
important events in the entire history of humanity took place. While the first world war ravaged most of the advanced
countries, destroyed entire generations and devoured centuries of
civilisation's progress, the Russian proletariat gave a dramatic new life to
the hopes of tens of thousands of human beings who were oppressed by
exploitation and barbarous war.
In our discussions, especially with
young people, we often hear variations of the following: "It's true that
things are very bad, there's more and more poverty and war, our conditions are
getting worse, that the future of the planet is under threat. Something has to
be done, but what? A revolution? That's utopian, it's impossible". That's the big difference between May 68 and now...
The article we reproduce below was
published by the Gauche Communiste de France (GCF) in n°
10 of their magazine Internationalisme, which came out in May 1946.
Internationalisme saw itself as the continuation of Bilan and Octobre,
published by the International Communist Left before the outbreak of the Second
Ninety years on from 1917 we are publishing an extract of
correspondence on the degeneration of the Russian revolution. An essential part
of our defence of the Russian revolution is to draw a clear class line between
the revolution and the Stalinist counter-revolution which abandoned the internationalism
that the Bolsheviks had based themselves on.
In our discussions, especially with young people, we often hear variations of the following: "It's true that things are very bad, there's more and more poverty and war, our conditions are getting worse, that the future of the planet is under threat. Something has to be done, but what? A revolution? That's utopian, it's impossible".