The ideas and lessons of the October Revolution are immortal!
One hundred years ago, after the intensification of the class struggle, the wave of the world revolution pulled down the bourgeoisie of political power in Russia in October 1917, and the Russian proletariat rose to Soviet power. The October Revolution was the most prominent event, a twentieth-century surprise. The proletariat, after the Paris Commune, took down capitalism for the first time and indicated that the Communist Revolution was not only necessary and feasible but is also only an alternative to capitalist barbarism. The proletariat’s acquisition of political power in Russia is the beginning of a new era. The era of imperialism and the epoch of communist revolutions.
The October Revolution occurred when capitalism entered its decadent era, the epoch of the bourgeois revolution had ceased, and consequently, the period of the communist revolution had begun. The nature of every revolution, including the October Revolution, is characterized by the program and social forces involved in the revolution. The active involvement of the working class in the class struggle, the opposition of the Russian working class to the imperialist war, the introduction of revolutionary demands, and the process of the formation of workers’ councils as proletarian power gave the October Revolution a proletarian nature. The Russian proletariat was the pioneer of the world revolution. The Bolsheviks, and at the head of them, Lenin, knew that the revolution would be isolated in Russia without a victory for the revolution in other capitalist countries. Lenin in his farewell letter to the Swiss workers, the idea of a revolutionary class in Russia, apart from other European workers, was wholly alien and stressed that these conditions would probably be very short. In other words, the workers in Europe would revolutionize and writes:
“To the Russian proletariat has fallen the great honour of beginning the series of revolutions which the imperialist war has made an objective inevitability. But the idea that the Russian proletariat is the chosen revolutionary proletariat among the workers of the world is absolutely alien to us… It is not its special qualities, but rather the special conjuncture of historical circumstances that for a certain, perhaps very short, time has made the proletariat of Russia the vanguard of the revolutionary proletariat of the whole world.”
The Bolsheviks were aware and emphasized that they should not forget that their revolution is part of a world revolution, and the fate of the socialist revolution in Russia depends on the fate of the world revolution, and in particular on the German revolution. They depicted their duties only from the horizon of the world revolution, Lenin writes in this context:
“The great honour of beginning the revolution has fallen to the Russian proletariat. But the Russian proletariat must not forget that its movement and revolution are only part of a world revolutionary proletarian movement, which in Germany, for example, is gaining momentum with every passing day. Only from this angle can we define our tasks.”
The sleeping giant was awakened; the Russian proletariat gave a new horizon to the class struggle and the wave of the world revolution on a global scale. The working class all over the world sought to generalize the experience of the October Revolution, to undermine the bourgeois state, to seize power by the proletariat and to establish its dictatorship through workers’ councils.
The wave of the world revolution that was moving forward, shaking the bourgeoisie, in the stronghold of capitalism in Germany was confronted with hard resistance. On the one hand, the German bourgeoisie learned from the experience of the October Revolution, and the German proletariat faced more difficult circumstances. On the other hand, the German proletariat and the party of the working class were not as prepared as the Bolsheviks.
Internationalists have stated that the advance of the October Revolution as part of the world revolution required the German revolution, not due to the amount of growth of productive forces in Russia, but because of the universal nature of the communist revolution. In other words, if the revolution was not shaped in Russia, but on an advanced island like Britain, then as part of a world revolution, it would require a victory for the revolution in other countries.
Rosa Luxemburg not only evaluated the myth of Russia’s underdevelopment baseless but also stressed the causes of the degeneration of the October Revolution, in the defeat of the world revolution, and in this context writes:
“Practically, this same doctrine represents an attempt to get rid of any responsibility for the course of the Russian Revolution, so far as that responsibility concerns the international, and especially the German, proletariat, and to deny the international connections of this revolution. It is not Russia’s unripeness which has been proved by the events of the war and the Russian Revolution, but the unripeness of the German proletariat for the fulfilment of its historic tasks. And to make this fully clear is the first task of a critical examination of the Russian Revolution.”
Following the defeat of the wave of the world revolution and the isolation of the October Revolution, combined with the economic blockade and intervention of the other imperialist powers through the White Army, practically the binding of society collapsed. The Bolsheviks, who once put forward the slogan “All power to the Soviets” adhered to political power and defined themselves as a state power. In such a situation, for their survivors, put forward war communism, the NEP, and so on, resulting in dissatisfaction among workers, sailors, and peasants. Kronstadt insurgency and its oppression was the first expression of the decadence of the October Revolution.
The decline of the October Revolution was in the sense of the rising of the counter-revolution. The Stalinist counter-revolution with the massacre of a generation of communists, the creators of the October Revolution, celebrated its victory. Stalinism consolidated itself in the ruins of the October Revolution and on the bones of communists beaten to death. Stalinism was not the evolutionary process of the October Revolution, but it has been the grave-digger of the October Revolution.
In contrast to the degeneration of the Third International and the rise of Stalinism, the Internationalist Communists (Left Communists) from the very beginning of the rise of Stalinism, from England to Mexico, from Russia to Italy, and so on defended Marxism. Nevertheless, first of all, we must mention the leading role of the Dutch and German Communist Left. Then this honour, this great responsibility, the defending of Marxism against the counter-revolution, the defending of the achievements of the proletariat, the real defence of the October Revolution, was given to the Italian Communist Left. No wonder all Internationalist Communists have either come from this tradition or they regard themselves as belonging to this tradition.
Capital ideologists call the October Revolution a coup, which Gulag, worker camp, systematic oppression, continued poverty, etc… and in a word barbarism that resulted in the former Soviet Union. For the internationalists, the lessons of the October Revolution and the experience that has provided the most significant event of the twentieth century are of particular significance. These lessons and experiences are a pattern for the future battles of the working class.
The most significant experience of the October Revolution is the experience of workers’ councils. The workers’ councils are a product of the Russian Revolution. The October Revolution showed that the proletariat could only enforce its dictatorship through its councils, which included the entire class.
The rejection of the substitutionism perceptions of the party is one of the lessons of the October Revolution. In other words, in the transition from capitalism to socialism, the denial that the party defines itself with political power and the party is replaced by the dictatorship of the proletariat. The dictatorship of the proletariat is the dictatorship of the working class through the global councils, not the party dictatorship, or even the Communist Party. In line with this lesson, internationalists believe in the Internationalist Communist Party, a worldwide organization that does not belong to a particular country and whose area of action is also global.
Global socialism is another lesson of the October Revolution. Stalinism and Councilism, despite being bloody enemies, have many common points. One of their common ideas is the possibility of realizing socialism in one country. Contrary to their views, the valuable experience of the October Revolution demonstrated the legitimacy of the Marxist conception of the worldwide nature of the Communist Revolution that the Communist Revolution is either universal or nothing, and consequently socialism is only possible on a global scale.
The October Revolution showed that without the Internationalist Communist Party there is no possibility of a victory for the Communist Revolution. The readiness of the Internationalist Communist Party is vital for the political leadership of the working class in crucial battles.
Capitalism smells of blood, dirt, filth, mud, sludge, and war; capitalism is the source of all misery and adversity, not only for the working class but also for the whole of humanity. The October Revolution showed that the working class is the only one that challenges the bourgeoisie through its world revolution, and the working class cannot really save itself without liberating all humanity from the sludge and dirt of capitalism. The communist revolution is not only possible but is also a vital necessity for the survival of the human race. The best celebration of the October Revolution, which insists on the ideas and goals of the October Revolution, is to fight for the realization of the communist revolution. Let once again a spectre will be haunting, the spectre of the communist revolution. Let once again the bourgeois class of the spectre of the communist revolution shake. We have nothing to lose, but our chains and the world to win. Communism, a society in which the exploitation of man by man has no meaning, is the only horizon of humanity.
8 October 2017
- Farewell Letter to the Swiss Workers (April 8 1917)
- Speech Delivered at the Opening of the Conference April 24
- Rosa Luxemburg-The Russian Revolution