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Lal Khan *Bolshevik Revolution: 95 years on*

lessons for today
 http://www.marxist.com/bolshevik-revolution-95-years-on.htm

*95th anniversary of the Russian Revolution: Russia 1917, Europe 1970s*
Written by Ted Grant Wednesday, 07 November 2012
 link to www.marxist.com

On the 58th anniversary of the Russian Revolution Ted Grant wrote this
article in which he compared the revolutionary ideas and tactics of the
Bolsheviks in 1917 to the class collaborationist and reformist policies of
the leaders of the Socialist and Communist parties in the 1970s. He
explains how the Bolsheviks were able to lead the workers to successfully
take power in 1917. He stressed the historical significance of the Russian
revolution. Unfortunately the isolation of the revolution to one country
prepared the ground for its degeneration and the coming to power of a
bureaucratic elite.

Read article in the Ted Grant Archive < http://marxists.org/archive/grant/>:

 http://marxists.org/archive/grant/1975/11/58years.htm

also another article from 1974:

 http://www.marxist.com/russia-1917-europe-1970s.htm

-------------------------------------------------

 http://www.marxist.com/bolshevik-revolution-95-years-on.htm

*Bolshevik Revolution: 95 years on*
Written by Lal Khan Wednesday, 07 November 2012


Sometimes decades pass and not much happens. At other times more events
take place in days than those that occurred in decades. After the collapse
of the Soviet Union twenty years ago we were relentlessly told the great
political and economic questions had all been settled and that liberal
democracy and free-market capitalism had triumphed. Socialism had been
consigned to the dustbin of history. The strategists of capital were
exultant. The "end of history" was proclaimed by Francis Fukuyama.

[image: alan-woods-on-the-russian-revolution-2]The events on a single day
on 15th September 2008 were a watershed. The collapse of Lehman Brothers
glaringly exposed a voracious model of capitalism forced down the throats
of the world as the only way to run a modern economy, at the cost of
grotesque inequality, exploitation, wars and colonial occupations; it has
now come down crashing. The baleful twins of neo-conservatism and
neoliberalism had been tried and tested to destruction. The Arab
revolutions in 2011 not only engrossed one country after another in the
Middle East but gave rise to more convulsive events around the globe than
in the preceding two decades.

The intensity and ferocity of these events was such that it sent shivers
down the spines of the ruling elites across the world. Innumerable
comparisons were drawn of these revolutions with the revolutions of the
19th and 20th century yet the single greatest event of the 20th century,
the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 was conspicuously missing from the
analysis and reports of the media. And this is neither an accident nor a
coincidence. It was by design which reflects the fears that even the name
of this revolution instil in the hearts of the ruling classes the world
over. And this is in spite of the relentless din of the voracious chorus
that 'socialism', Marxism', 'communism' are dead.

Of all the parodies of popular representation in which history is so rich,
Pakistan's political elite is perhaps the most absurd. On the one hand they
reverberate the cliché that 'socialism is dead', while at the same time
mostly the right wing politicians are frighteningly warning about a bloody
revolution. Awkwardly some present the French revolution as a solution to
the crisis without even knowing which one. From 1789 till 1968 there were
five bourgeois revolutions and two proletarian revolutions in France. The
victorious Paris Commune of 1871 was the first revolution in history in
which the working classes took power and held it for more than seventy days
while the May 1968 upheaval in France was even larger in comparison to the
Russian revolution of 1917 but was defeated by the betrayals of the leaders
of the traditional workers parties in France. But such is the deafening
silence on the Bolshevik Revolution as if it never even happened. If one
dares to mention it the abrupt reply of the political overlords and their
intellectual geniuses of today is "Oh! That failed in Russia." The relative
weight of slander in a political struggle in society still awaits its
sociologist.

The Russian revolution of October 1917 changed the course of history. The
American journalist and socialist who witnessed the events of the
revolution at first hand wrote in his epic book, Ten days that shook the
world, "No matter what one thinks of Bolshevism, it is an undeniable fact
that the Russian revolution is one of the greatest events in human history,
and the rule of the Bolsheviki is a phenomenon of worldwide importance."
According to the Russian orthodox calendar, the revolutionary insurrection
and the capture of power by the Bolsheviks took place on the night of
October 26, which falls on November 7 in the modern Christian calendar.

This revolutionary victory appropriated rulership from one oppressor class
in a tiny minority and transferred it to the vast majority of the working
classes in society. The process of the overthrow of the bourgeois state and
capture of power by the leading party of the proletariat had a massive
conscious involvement and participation of the vast majority of toilers. It
is the only revolution hitherto that took place on classical Marxist lines.
Lenin explained what real change this revolution ought to bring. He wrote
in December 1917, "One of the most important tasks of today, is to develop
[the] independent initiative of the workers, and of all the working and the
exploited people generally, develop it as widely as possible in creative
organisational work. At all costs we must break the old, absurd, savage,
despicable and distinguishing prejudice that only the so-called upper
classes, only the rich, and those who have gone through the school of the
rich, are capable of administering the state and directing the
organisational development of socialist society."

The most distinguishing feature of the Bolshevik party was that they
subordinated the subjective goal, the guarding of the interests of the
toiling people, to the dynamics of the revolution as an objectively
hardened course. The party's strategy was based on the scientific discovery
of the laws that govern mass movements and upheavals. The muzhiks (poor
peasants) had not read Lenin, but Lenin knew how to read the minds of the
muzhiks. The oppressed and exploited masses are guided in their struggle
not only by their demands, their desires, their needs but above all the
experiences of their lives. The Bolsheviks were never under any snobbish
prejudice or held any patrician derision for the independent experience of
the people in struggle. Conversely they took it as their starting point and
built upon it. Where the reformists and the pseudo-revolutionaries moaned
and groaned about the hardships, obstacles and difficulties, the Bolsheviks
took them head on. Trotsky defines them in his epic work, History of the
Russian Revolution: "The Bolsheviks were revolutionaries of deed and not
gesture, of the essence and not the form. Their policy was determined by
the real grouping of forces, and not by sympathies and
antipathies...Bolshevism created the type of authentic revolutionist who
subordinates to historic goals irreconcilable with contemporary society the
conditions of his personal existence, his ideas, and his moral judgements.
The necessary distance from bourgeois ideology was kept up in the party by
a vigilant irreconcilability, whose inspirer was Lenin. Lenin never tired
of working with his lancet, cutting off those bonds which a petty bourgeois
environment creates between the party and official social opinion. At the
same time Lenin taught the party to create its own social opinion, resting
upon the thoughts and feelings of the rising class. Thus by a process of
selection and education and in continual struggle, the Bolshevik party
created not only a political but a moral medium of its own, independent of
bourgeois social opinion and implacably opposed to it. Only this permitted
the Bolsheviks to overcome the waverings in their own ranks and reveal in
action the courageous determination without which the October victory would
have been impossible."

After the victorious insurrection, Lenin spoke to the All Russia Congress
of the Soviets: "We shall now proceed to build, on the space cleared by
historical rubbish, the airy, towering edifice of socialist society." The
revolution ushered in a new era of socioeconomic transformation. Landed
estates, heavy industry, corporate monopolies and the commanding heights of
the economy were expropriated by the nascent workers state. The
dictatorship of the financial oligarchy was broken; the state had a
monopoly on all foreign trade and commerce. Ministerial perks and
privileges were abolished and the leaders of the revolution lived in most
modest conditions. Victor Serge in his, Memoirs of a Revolutionary wrote:
"In the Kremlin Lenin still occupied a small apartment built for a palace
servant. In the recent winter he, like everyone else, had no heating. When
he went to the barber's he took his turn, thinking it unseemly for anyone
else to give way to him." Initially the new government was a coalition of
the Bolsheviks, Left Social Revolutionaries and the Menshevik
Internationalists. Only the fascist Black Hundreds were banned and even the
Kadets, the bourgeois liberal party, was allowed to operate after the
revolution. The new government was based on the most democratic system ever
seen in history, the soviets, i.e. workers, soldiers and peasants councils
at grassroots level that were devised to manage and democratically control
the economy, agriculture, industry, army and society. The main guiding
principles of this soviet system of governance were the following:

1. Free democratic elections to all positions in the soviet state;
2. Right of recall of all officials;
3. No official to receive a higher wage than a skilled worker, and
4. Gradually, all tasks of running society and the state to be performed
by everyone in turn.

What this revolution really meant for the oppressed and exploited working
classes of Russia was portrayed in an inspiring anecdote by John Reed:
"Across the horizon spread the glittering lights of the Capital,
immeasurably more splendid by the night than by the day, like a dike of
jewels heaped on a barren plain. The old workman who drove the wheelbarrow
held in one hand, while with the other he swept the pavement, looked at the
far gleaming capital and exclaimed in an exulted gesture, 'Mine!' he cried,
his face all alight. 'All mine now! My Petrograd!"

If the revolutionary victory has to be explained from a scientific
analysis, the Marxists also have a historical responsibility to give a
scientific explanation of the degeneration and collapse of the Soviet
Union. But Marxism is a science of perspective and it is a mediocrity of
knowledge to analyse events after they have taken place. The Marxists had
predicted the fall of the Soviet Union far in advance, starting with the
leader of the revolution Vladimir Lenin, who from a Marxist standpoint had
never ever envisaged the accomplishment of socialism in a single country.
On March 7, 1918, Lenin weighed upon the situation, "Regarded from a
world-historical point of view, there would be no hope of the ultimate
victory of our revolution if it were to remain alone, if there were no
revolutionary victories in other countries... our salvation from all these
difficulties is an all-European revolution. At all events, under all
conceivable circumstances, if the German revolution does not come, we are
doomed." Leon Trotsky wrote an epoch making book, The Revolution Betrayed
in 1936 in which he scientifically predicted more than fifty years before
the events took place that why and how the Soviet Union will collapse if
the revolution in the advanced countries is not victorious and a political
revolution of workers democracy doesn't take place in the USSR. Ted Grant
in his outstanding 1943 work, Marxist theory of the state, further
elaborated and analysed this process. His perspectives, albeit in a
negative sense, were vindicated by the events around the fall of the Berlin
Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The Russian revolution of 1917 was not an isolated national event but had
immense international repercussions. It not only overthrew capitalism and
landlordism in Russia but also smashed the shackles of the imperialist
stranglehold. This triggered revolutionary upheavals far beyond the
frontiers of the USSR, particularly in Europe. The imperialist masters were
terrified by these mass revolts that threatened capitalism in its citadels.
The British Prime Minister Lloyd George wrote in a confidential memorandum
to Clemenceau, his French counterpart at the 1919 Versailles Peace
Conference: "The whole of Europe is filled with the spirit of revolution.
There is a deep sense not only of discontent but of anger and revolt
amongst the workmen against the present conditions. The whole existing
order in its political, social and economic aspects is questioned by the
masses of the population from one end of Europe to the other." To crush the
epicentre of the rising tide of the revolutionary upheavals they launched a
massive attack on the nascent Soviet state with twenty one imperialist
armies. Although the revolution itself was a relatively peaceful affair as
only nine people died during the actual insurrection, the imperialist
attack supporting the reactionary white armies brought drastic carnage,
bloodshed, mayhem, starvation and destruction to a backward country already
devastated by the first world war.

On the basis of extreme deprivation and pulverisation of the masses
aggravated by the civil war and the blockade, the "struggle for individual
existence", in the words of Karl Marx, did not disappear or soften, but
assumed in the subsequent period a ferocious character. The defeats of the
revolutions in Germany (1918-19 and 1923), China (1924-25), Britain (1926)
and several other countries were a fatal blow for the Bolshevik Revolution.
They intensified its isolation and induced nationalist degeneration. The
imperialist aggression was defeated by the combination of the heroic fight
by the Red Army and the support of the proletariat and the soldiers of the
imperialist countries and armies. Trotsky raised a revolutionary Red Army
of five million from a war-torn Russian army of three hundred thousand.
Innumerable Bolshevik cadres perished in this imperialist civil war. This
created a vacuum in which the opportunist and the careerist elements
penetrated the Soviet government. The shortages and dearth of commodities,
the collapse of industry and agriculture due to the war brought a
generalised misery that played an important role in the bureaucratic
degeneration of the revolution.

Lenin struggled against this degeneration before his early death in 1924.
Lenin's last testament which criticised and called for a struggle against
this bureaucratic deformation was concealed in the iron vaults of the
Kremlin, and finally exposed in 1956 at the 20th Congress of the CPSU. But
the hostile objective conditions, the exhaustion of the proletarian
vanguard due to war and revolution created a situation where a bureaucratic
regime began to emerge around Stalin in the Soviet government and the
state. Trotsky created a left opposition and put up a valiant resistance
against this degeneration but that was crushed because of the ebbing of the
revolutionary tide. This led to the consolidation of a bureaucratic
totalitarian apparatus with huge perks and privileges. The maximum wage
differentials of 1:4 were abolished. This political reaction against the
October revolution was so repressive that by 1940 there was only one
survivor, apart from Stalin of the central committee of the Bolshevik Party
that had led the revolution in 1917. All others were either exterminated,
died, committed suicide, were incarcerated or exiled.

In spite of this Stalinist degeneration of the revolution, the economy
remained a planned one. The bureaucracy was not a class that owned the
means of production but was a caste or a clique which controlled and
usurped the surplus. Inspite of these severe setbacks the economy of the
USSR grew at a pace that capitalism never achieved anywhere. Ted Grant
wrote in his brilliant work, Russia — From Revolution to Counter
Revolution, "In the fifty years from 1913 (the height of pre-war
production) to 1963, despite two world wars, foreign intervention and civil
war, and other calamities total industrial output rose more than 52 times.
The corresponding figure for the USA was less than six times, while Britain
struggled to double its output. In other words Soviet Union was transformed
from a backward agricultural economy into the second most powerful nation
on earth, with a mighty industrial base, a high cultural level and more
scientists than the USA and Japan combined. Life expectancy more than
doubled and child mortality fell by nine times. Such economic advance, in
such a short a time, has no parallel anywhere in the world." The equality
and full involvement of women was ensured in all spheres of social,
economic and political life — the provision of free school meals, milk for
children, pregnancy consultation centres, maternity homes, crèches and
other facilities free of cost were provided by the workers state. The
superiority of the planned economy was proved to the world not in the
language of dialectics but in the language of unprecedented social and
material advances.

However as the economy expanded rapidly it became more sophisticated,
complex and advanced. An economy producing one million commodities cannot
be run by the same methods as those for an economy producing 1,500 items.
Trotsky had once said that, "For a planned economy, workers democracy is as
essential as oxygen is for the human body." By the late 1960s the economic
growth had begun to falter. By 1978 it plummeted to zero percent. The dead
weight of mismanagement, waste, corruption and bureaucracy weighed down
heavily on the economy, eventually dragging it to a standstill. The
isolation of the revolution, nationalist caricature of socialism and the
lack of workers democratic control and management of the economy and
society were the real reasons for the degeneration of the Russian
revolution, not the so-called 'failure of socialism'. What actually existed
in the Soviet Union at the time of its collapse was not socialism or
communism but its caricature, Stalinism.

Today with the crisis of capitalism on a world scale there have been
massive upheavals against this harrowing system that has plunged the vast
majority of mankind into the pit of misery, poverty and disease. It is a
historically doomed system and can only cause more pain, agony and grief to
the human race. Marx and Engels understood from the beginning that the
crisis of the capitalist system is the crisis of overproduction or
overcapacity. Even the most far-sighted bourgeois economists acknowledge
this crisis and how it has brought the capitalist system into extreme
crisis at the present time. The Economist bemoans in its analysis of the
world economy, "Modern politics needs to undergo a similar reinvention — to
come up with ways of mitigating inequality. Some of those at the top of the
pile will remain sceptical that inequality is a problem in itself. But even
they have an interest in mitigating it, for if it continues to rise,
momentum for change will build and may lead to a political outcome that
serves nobody's interests".

The mass revolts of a renewed class struggle arising around the world in
the present epoch that is dawning are clearly rejecting capitalism. The
most daunting problem for these movements is the determination of an
alternative system. Most of the ex-socialists and ex-communists are in the
forefront of condemning revolutionary socialism as a scientific alternative
to resolve the crisis. They have capitulated to the reactionary theories of
'end of history, etc', i.e. capitalism. But the greater damage being done
by these intellectuals is trying to 'modernise' Marxism by venomous
revisionism. However the only road to the salvation of mankind still today
is revolutionary Marxism. Ninety five years later, the Bolshevik revolution
of 1917 is the only way forward for the accomplishment of this historic
task. In 1917 it took about two weeks for the news of the Russian
revolution to reach the leftwing activists in the Indian subcontinent. Now
the masses can watch revolutions live on television. In more than nine
hundred cities of the five continents there were mass demonstrations in
support of the 'Occupy Wall Street movement'. This is the internationalism
that Marxism anticipated and strived for by creating the First
International. At this juncture in human history if there is another
October it would not and could not be confined to any national frontiers. A
socialist revolution in any major country today shall redeem Lenin's pledge
that the whole world will develop into a USSR with a mighty revolutionary
storm transcending the planet. Thus the process of the conquest of universe
by the human race shall commence.

*This article was originally published in the Pakistan *Daily
Times< http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/>

* in three parts November 4-6.*

homepage: homepage: http://marxist.com


I remember... 07.Nov.2012 16:47

Reds

I remember...civil war within the Bolshevik revolution when the sailors who defeated the White armies rose up in protest of violent totalitarian policies being imposed upon their families and that sociopathic Lenin guy sent that megalomaniac Trotsky guy to go slaughter them. Yeah, communists pervert history and adhere to moral bankrupts who were too incompitent to rule through any other means than terror. The people will never forget their legacy, not "the people" rather the people.