[Marxism] 7 Stars IRSP: Celebrate the 87th Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution

Octob1917 at aol.com Octob1917 at aol.com
Fri Nov 5 09:45:34 MST 2004

Irish Republican Socialist Party
5 November 2004

IRSP: Celebrate of the 87th Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution

On 6 November 1917 was the date of the Bolshevik Revolution. The Irish 
Republican Socialist Party recognizes this event as a watershed in human 
history and therefore pays tribute to the memory of the "ten days that 
shook the world." Accordingly, the IRSP's International Department takes 
this opportunity to express our solidarity with socialists, communists, 
syndicalists, anarchists, and anti-imperialists throughout the world who 
are struggling, as we are, for the liberation of our nations and our class.

Prior to the Bolshevik Revolution, the only experience the world had known 
of a working class revolution was the short-lived Paris Commune of 1871. 
The Paris Commune, despite the promise it demonstrated during its short 
existence, ultimately lasted only from 26 March until 28 May, too short a 
time to realise much of the potential it held.  In contrast, the Bolshevik 
Revolution not only succeeded in taking state power in the name of the 
Russian working class, but also defended itself from attacks by the most 
powerful imperialist armies of the day and survived as a state for 
three-quarters of a century.

The revolution arose in circumstances that none thought capable of 
producing a socialist revolt. Russia was the backward hinterland of Europe. 
Feudalism, long dead in western Europe still predominated in Russia. It was 
only in 1861 that the serfs were freed and prior to 1801 serfs could still 
be sold as chattel. Pre-revolutionary Russia was ruled by an almost 
absolute monarchy and peasants made up perhaps as much as 90 percent of the 
populace. However, the penetration of the Russian economy by foreign 
imperialists had transformed sections of the populace from peasants to 
industrial workers in modern factories. In the process, a large and 
militant workers' movement was forged and the Bolsheviks were the left wing 
of that movement. In international socialist circles the Bolsheviks were 
often within the left wing of the international socialist movement as well, 
especially in the wake of the First World War.

The widespread radicalism of the Russian working class and the Bolsheviks' 
reputation for unflinching revolutionary politics throughout the socialist 
movement won the 'Great October Revolution' widespread excitement and hope 
from socialists around the globe. (Illustrating the backward state of 
Russia at the time they were still using the old calendar, so despite the 
revolution occurring on what we know as the 6th of November, it was still 
October by the Russian calendar and the name of the revolution was 
retained, even after the calendar used throughout the west was adopted.)

But, a socialist revolution is above all else a transformation of the mode 
of production, distribution, and exchange, if it lives up to the title, and 
the Bolsheviks seizure of state power and their subsequent defense of the 
revolution against domestic reactionaries and foreign imperialists was not 
sufficient to overcome the reality of economic development in Russia. In 
less than five years, the workers' councils (soviets in Russian) existed in 
name only, the trade unions had become instruments of state control in the 
workplace, and managers from the days of capitalism had been returned to 
the workplace. Likewise, the initial abolition of rank within the military 
was reversed and the Red Army was turned on the Kronstadt sailors, once 
held up as shining examples of revolutionary heroism. By 1921, the 
Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin made plain his view that the best that 
could be salvaged from the revolution was what he termed "state capitalism" 
and the adoption of his New Economic Policy that year was intended to 
accomplish that.

The collapse of the USSR in 1990 has been heralded throughout the 
imperialist media as proof of the failure of socialism and the final 
refutation of Marxism. In actual fact, it is neither. In reality, despite 
returning to the claim of having created socialism in Russia, following 
Lenin's death in early 1924, the Bolshevik leader's understanding of 
revolution far exceeded those who followed him and state capitalism was 
what had been obtained. Accordingly, its fall in Russia at the close of the 
20th century is actually a comment on the present instability of capitalism 
in all its forms around the globe today and says nothing about socialism.

While this may be true of the USSR for most of its history, it is not true 
for the Bolshevik Revolution itself, however, and that is why we in the 
IRSP celebrate the 87th anniversary of that event today. The Bolshevik 
Revolution and the emergence of the central role of the workers' councils 
that characterised it, was soon mirrored in similar insurrections in Italy, 
Germany, Hungary, Austria, and many other nations, including the brief and 
localised experience of the Limerick Soviet here in Ireland. Unlike the 
Bolshevik Revolution, most of these other insurrections were short-lived, 
but like it, they carved the name of the working class boldly on the pages 
of human history and provided our class with important lessons to be 
learned and heroic examples of struggle, which provide continued 
inspiration to us.

Today, many struggles have lost heart and sought some form of compromise or 
accommodation within capitalism. We in the IRSP continue to believe that 
the only way forward for our class is to see the revolutionary 
transformation of society through to its conclusion. Sisters and brothers 
of all nations, comrades and fellow workers, look to the inspiration of the 
Bolshevik Revolution. Gain strength from the example of the heroes and 
martyrs of 1917. We still have a world to win; let us do so!


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