1917 - Russian Revolution

14. THE FIRST GREAT REVOLUTIONARY WAVE OF THE WORLD PROLETARIAT

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.

ICC Day of Discussion on the Russian Revolution

The following account consists of the presentations given by the CWO and the ICC, and the summaries of the discussion produced by two close sympathisers of the ICC. We hope it gives a clear enough picture of what was a very stimulating and positive meeting.

Contribution to the discussion of the centenary of the Russian Revolution of 1917

On the 11th November, the ICC is hosting a Day of Discussion on the Russian Revolution. Several comrades have been already been reflecting seriously on the importance of this all-important episode in the history of working class struggle. A comrade on our discussion board, Link, has already reposted a presentation he prepared for a previous meeting on the topic. It can be found on our discussion forum here.

The text that follows has been sent to us by a close sympathiser of the ICC. We are publishing it in the hope that as many comrades as possible will read it prior to the meeting in the hope that it will stimulate further thought and discussion.

We encourage all comrades to attend the meeting if they are able and to consider making further contributions, either in the form of texts or participating on our forum.

Day of Discussion on the Russian Revolution

Saturday 11 November 2017, May Day Rooms, 88 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1DH, 11am to 6pm

One hundred years after the October insurrection in Russia, we will be holding a day of discussion about the relevance of the Russian revolution for the class struggle today. We will look at its historic importance as a first step towards the world revolution against capitalism, at its huge political and organizational achievements, as well as the tragic process of its degeneration and defeat.

Presentations will be given both by the ICC and the comrades of the Communist Workers Organisation. We also hope that the debate will include other groups and individuals who are trying to understand history - and what the future holds in store for us - from the standpoint of the working class.

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.

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.

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

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.

90 years after Kronstadt: a tragedy that's still being debated in the revolutionary movement

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.

What are workers' councils? (Part 5) 1917 – 1921: The soviets and the question of the state

 In the previous article in this series we 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.

What are workers' councils? (Part 4): The soviets attempt to wield power (1917 - 1921)

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.[1] In this article we will deal with the attempt by the soviets to wield power, a fundamental moment in the history of mankind

What are workers' councils? (Part 3): The revolution of 1917 (July to October)

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.

What are workers' councils? (Part 2): The resurgence and crisis of workers’ councils in 1917

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.

Zimmerwald (1915-1917): From war to revolution

The first stirrings of the proletariat against the First World War

Some lessons for the regroupment of revolutionaries

The confusions of Fomento Obrero Revolucionario (FOR): on Russia 1917 and Spain 1936

"Far from being a sum of ready-made prescriptions which have only to be applied, the practical realization of            socialism as an economic, social and juridical system is s

The Dutch Left, 1914-1920, 2nd part: The Dutch Left and the Russian Revolution

The Dutch Left (1914-16): From Tribunism to Communism

International correspondence

The degeneration of the Russian Revolution

In the second issue of Forward (Spring 1974), the theoretical magazine of the Revolutionary Workers' Group (RWG*), there appears an

The epigones of “Councilism”

Part I Spartacusbond haunted by Bolshevik ghosts

The Spartacusbond,

The period of transition

 

Part I Political

 

Problems of the Period of Transition (December 1974)


We consider this text to be a tool for further work and not a complete and final statement. Certain positions are simply affirmed, others are traced in outline.

1918: The revolution criticises its errors, Part 2

Part two: the first debates on state capitalism in the Bolshevik party

In the first part of this article,

How Stalin wiped out the militants of the October 1917 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.

Proletarian nature of Bolshevism and the October revolution

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. 

October 1917: The soviets organise the insurrection

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.

80 years since the Russian Revolution: October 1917 - a victory for the working masses

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.

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.

70 years ago, the Russian Revolution: The most important experience of the world proletariat

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 to suicide".

October 1917: The greatest revolutionary experience of the working class

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.

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