COMMUNISTS and progressives will be rallying to mark the 92nd anniversary of the Russian Revolution this weekend in parades and ceremonies across the world. The Bolshevik revolution on 7th November 1917 swept away the rotting edifice of bourgeois rule in Russia and lit the torch of revolution that burns on throughout the world communist movement.
Back in 1891 the first workers’ uprising established the Paris Commune, which lasted for two months before being drowned in blood by the French ruling class. The Russian revolution mobilised the starving masses with its battle cry of “peace, bread and land” to build the first workers’ and peasants’ republic. The Bolsheviks’ first call was the peace decree calling for an immediate armistice, the annulment of secret treaties, self-determination and no annexations. That call ended the senseless slaughter with Germany and ultimately brought the First World War to a close.
The Bolsheviks established a revolutionary militia, the Red Army, which against all odds, beat back the forces of reaction during the civil war that followed to establish the world’s first socialist state: the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which under the leadership of Lenin and Stalin became a bastion for the international working class.
The Russian Revolution electrified the entire colonial world. For the first time in the history of humanity the masses had overthrown feudalism and capitalism and were beginning to build a workers’ and peasants’ state. The oppressed peoples of Africa, Asia and the Americas were inspired by the fledgling Soviet state that defeated the reactionary White Guards and beat off the combined might of the imperialist interventionist armies. Within decades the colonial chains of slavery would soon be broken with the help of the Soviets.
When the entire imperialist economy crashed in 1929 plunging millions upon millions into poverty and desperation, the Soviet Union was building a new life for working people, emancipating women, eliminating unemployment, eradicating illiteracy and providing free education and a health service that was second to none.
While reactionary ruling circles in Europe tried to turn the clock back by turning to nazism and fascism to crush the working class, Soviet citizens were enjoying a new life in the USSR. Working people were in command at all levels of government and the Soviet Union was the centre of modern scientific and artistic development. And when the Nazis plunged the world into another global conflict it was the Soviet youth who smashed Hitler’s legions and saved the world from barbarism.
When the counter-revolutionaries who had wormed their way to the top of the Soviet leadership destroyed the USSR and brought down the people’s democracies of eastern Europe, the imperialists rejoiced and told us that communism was finished. Now we’re plunged into another global slump that is entirely the creation of the world capitalist system.
The Soviet Union is no more but the spirit of the Great October Russian Revolution lives on in the world communist movement and the people’s democracies of Asia and the Caribbean. The lesson of 1917 is that working people can take destiny into their own hands and end the era of exploitation. The Soviet peoples under the leadership of the Bolsheviks proved that you can build socialism in one state and create a social system far superior to the decadent, corrupt and oppressive capitalist world. Above all it shows that there is no limit to human creativity when the chains of exploitation are broken and the energy of working people is released.
Capitalism cannot solve the problems of the world economy and indeed that is not its intention. It is merely a system that ensures that a tiny minority of landowners, industrialists, speculators and parasites can enjoy the life of Roman emperors by living off the backs of working people. Now great mass movements are again sweeping the continents. Working people are demanding social justice, democratic rights and an end to exploitation. It’s capitalism that’s finished — not us.