October 1917: The greatest revolutionary experience of the working class

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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.

The imperialist butchery marked the fact that the capitalist system had had its day, that it had ceased to provide the conditions for the development of civilisation as it had done in the past against the feudal system. On the contrary, it had become the main hindrance to any further development of civilisation and had become a threat to it. The revolution of October 1917 demonstrated that the proletariat was the class able to overthrow capitalist domination and able to take control of managing the planet in order to move towards a society free of exploitation and war.

Every sector of the dominant class and its political apparatus will celebrate this anniversary in its own way and in accordance with the tendency to which it belongs.

Some will try to ensure that it is mentioned as little as possible by resorting to "scoops" on every "dramatic" subject under the sun, such as the drama of little Maddie McCann, the rugby world cup or the future of the monarchy in Spain.

Others will talk about it but only to repeat once more what has been asserted ad nauseam since the collapse of the USSR and its bloc: that Stalinism is the legitimate child of the revolution, any attempt by the exploited to free themselves of their chains can only lead to terror and mass murder.

Others however will eulogise the workers' insurrection of 1917 and praise Lenin and the Bolsheviks who led it. However they will end up agreeing that today the revolution is either unnecessary or else impossible.

It is up to revolutionaries to combat all the lies that the defenders of the capitalist order disseminate unceasingly in order to divert the working class from its revolutionary perspective. This is why we are publishing the two articles below.

The main aim of the first one is to show that the revolution is not just a pious wish, that it is not only necessary but also possible and realisable.

The second takes up one of the biggest lies in history: the idea that the society that existed in the USSR was a "socialist" society because it had abolished individual ownership of the means of production. This is a lie that was shared by all those parties that had an interest in doing so; the classical sectors of the "democratic" bourgeoisie as well as Stalinism, it was also supported by Trotskyism, a political current that nevertheless presents itself as "revolutionary", "communist" and "anti-Stalinist".

This article first appeared in 1946 in the review Internationalisme which was produced by the French Communist Left group, the ancestor of the ICC and it was re-produced in International Review n° 61 in Spring 1990. It is not easy to read and that is why we have written the introduction published here.[1] We have added several notes to the 1946 article where it makes reference to events or organisations that are not generally known among the new generations that are now, 60 years later, embarking upon communist reflection. Obviously the ICC has devoted many other texts to an event as important as the 1917 revolution and we hope that the two articles published here will encourage our readers to look at these texts.[2]


[1]. This presentation is signed MC, i.e our comrade who died at the end of that year. It's the last article he wrote for our Review but it expresses the vigour of his thought, which he held onto till the end. The fact that this comrade had been the main animator the GCF, had himself lived through the 1917 revolution in Russia, in his home town of Kichinev, gives this document a particular value at a time when we are commemorating the 90th anniversary of this revolution (On MC, see our article "Marc" in International Review n° 65 and 66).


[2]. See in particular our pamphlet October 1917, start of the world revolution, and the articles published in International Review n° 12,13, 51, 71, 72, 89, 90 and 91.


History of the workers' movement: