History Teaches Us that to Win the Revolution We Must Struggle Today for a Socialist Future!
Liberation is only Possible if a Revolutionary Party Organizes the Working Class in Alliance with the Rural and Urban Poor for the Socialist World Revolution!
Resolution of the 2nd Congress of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), November/December 2017, www.thecommunists.net
1. The socialist revolution in Russia in October 1917 remains the most important event in the liberation struggle of the working class and the oppressed in the modern era. It was the first time that the working class, led by the Bolshevik Party of Lenin and Trotsky, succeeded in overthrowing the capitalist class and created a workers’ and peasant republic with the goal of spreading the revolution internationally. The RCIT stands in the tradition of the Bolshevik Party of Lenin and Trotsky and the socialist revolution in Russia of October 1917. Our goal is to build a Bolshevik Party nationally and internationally in order to carry forward a new October Revolution.
2. The socialist October Revolution has confirmed a number of Marxist maxims which are extremely relevant for any fundamental revolutionary transformation today. The first is that the revolution will inevitably be defeated or thrown back if it is not continually driven forward, without interruption, until final victory is achieved and the working class takes power and overthrows the capitalist system. Any uncompleted revolutionary process which leaves the bourgeoisie in power, or a fraction of it, or reformist and petty-bourgeoisie leaders who act as servants for capitalism; all such unfinished revolutions will not succeed in solving any fundamental antagonism of the capitalist society. The revolution must become a “Permanent Revolution” (Trotsky) until the working class takes power through a socialist revolution or it will stall, be thrown back and ultimately defeated.
3. The theory of permanent revolution was the strategic conclusion of the Marxist’s understanding that the development of humanity was ruled by the historic ”Law of Uneven and Combined Development”. In Russia the capitalist mode of production was developed within the feudal relations of exploitation of the peasants. As a result, Russia was a backward imperialist state with a large majority of peasants and a working class mainly based in very large factories (many of them owned by foreign capitalists). On the left there were three different theories on the coming revolution. The reformist Mensheviks argued that the revolution will have a bourgeois character and that the working class and the peasants must support the capitalist class. Lenin, until 1917, argued that the revolution will have a bourgeois-democratic character revolution but will be made by the alliance of the working class and the poor peasants. Finally, there was Trotsky’s theory of the Permanent Revolution which stated that the revolution will begin as a democratic revolution but that the working class must lead the poor peasants and strive to take power. Once the working class will take power it will continue with the socialist tasks as part of the world revolution. Lenin adopted Trotsky’s theory upon his return from exile in April 1917 and called, despite opposition by Kamenev and Stalin, for a socialist revolution as part of a world revolution.
4. Capitalism inevitably throws the working class into misery, and torments it with unemployment, low wages, job insecurity, etc. This is the situation today on every continent of this planet. This was also the case in Russia before 1917 and remained so after the February Revolution in that year, when the workers overthrew the Tsarist autocracy but were prevented from taking power by a coalition of reformist “socialist” parties and bourgeois forces (“popular front”). It was only when the working class imposed workers’ control in the factories and the Bolsheviks took power in October, only when they nationalized the large enterprises and banks under workers’ control, that these crucial issues of working men’s and women’s life were solved. It was only later, when the Stalinist bureaucracy replaced the Bolshevik leadership in 1924 after Lenin’s death that, one after another, rights were taken away from the workers.
5. The same is true for the agrarian issue. As long as the working class revolution is not victorious, so long as it does not expropriate the bourgeoisie and the land owners, the poor peasants will always remain an oppressed and exploited class. When the February Revolution brought the biggest petty-bourgeois peasant party – the so-called “Social-Revolutionary Party” – to power, it proved unable to expropriate the big land owners and distribute their lands among the poor peasants. Only when the October Revolution smashed the capitalist system, was it possible to expropriate the big land owners by nationalizing the land and handing it over to committees of poor peasants so that they could distribute it among themselves. This guaranteed the loyalty of the poor peasants to the Soviet Republic and enabled the latter to be victorious in the devastating civil war (1918-1921) during which 14 foreign armies fought against it on the side of Russian counter-revolutionary forces. The Bolsheviks advocated the creation of voluntary cooperatives and state farms to raise agrarian productivity. It was the Stalinist counterrevolution which took away the land from the poor peasantry in 1928-29 (“forced collectivization”), a policy that led to devastating famine which ensured the complete alienation of this important segment of society from the socialist goal.
6. The issue of liberation of oppressed nations is another example of the relevance of the Marxist teachings of Lenin and Trotsky for today’s revolutionary struggle. Tsarist Russia was a “prison house of peoples,“ with 57% of the population being non-Russians who were denied their fundamental rights. This didn’t change when the reformist-bourgeois government took power between February and October 1917. It was only the Bolshevik government, after October, which guaranteed the oppressed people of their right of national self-determination. All nations were ensured full equality, their languages were taught in schools, their culture promoted, they had the right to found their own state, etc. It was only after the Stalinist counter-revolution that non-Russian nations were increasingly oppressed, that Great Russian chauvinism was promoted and that a number of small nations like the Chechens, the Crimean Tatars and others were forcefully deported to remote places thousands of kilometers away from their homelands. Likewise, the Bolsheviks consistently defended the Jews already during the 1903 pogroms as well as after the revolution. In contrast, the capitalist counter-revolution killed numerous Jews. Characteristically, Stalin also waged his campaigns against oppositional groups with anti-Semitic undertones. Likewise, the right-wing Zionists led by Ze'ev Jabotinsky supported the reactionary and anti-Semitic regime of Symon Petlura in the Ukraine during the civil war which killed many Jews.
7. Similarly, the Bolsheviks were committed to unconditional support for the liberation struggles of the oppressed people in the colonies and semi-colonies in Africa, Asia and Latin America. They called for an end of imperialist domination and supported the anti-colonial uprisings of the Rif-Berbers against Spanish and French imperialism, of the Indians against British imperialism, of the Chinese against all Great Powers and of Turkey against Britain. Lenin and Trotsky called for unconditional support for the struggle of black people in the US and in Africa against imperialist super-exploitation and racism. They gave unconditional support to such struggles despite the fact they were usually led by non-socialist, (petty-)bourgeois nationalist and religious forces (“anti-imperialist united front tactic”). However, the Communist International advocated simultaneously the independent organization of the working class. It emphasized the necessity for the working class and the oppressed to prepare to replace the non-revolutionary leaderships as the latter will inevitable betray the liberation struggle.
8. The Soviet Union at the time of Lenin and Trotsky was the first state in the world which gave women full equality. For the first time women were ensured equal wages, voting rights, maternity protection, the right to divorce, to abortions, etc. Furthermore women played a crucial role in the revolution itself. Alexandra Kollontai become the first female minister in the world; women fought in the Red Army and played an important role in the political and social campaigns among the popular masses; and the Bolsheviks went on to create a communist women’s movement. Likewise the young Soviet Union abolished all oppressive laws related to sexuality, including laws which criminalized homosexuality. Again, it was the Stalinist counter-revolution which took away from women a number of rights (like that of abortion). Similarly, Stalin added an article to the criminal code in 1933, which made male homosexuality a crime punishable by up to five years in prison with hard labor.
9. Lenin, following Marx and Engels, characterized the victorious workers state as a “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Bourgeois demagogues maintain that this explicitly precludes democracy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Surely, the victorious revolution cannot tolerate its sworn enemies who will use all means necessary to restore the power of the old capitalist class. Bourgeois historians refer to the example of the Constituent Assembly which was dissolved by the Bolsheviks in January 1918. However, the Constituent Assembly with its majority of petty-bourgeois parties (right-wing Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks) represented an institution hostile to the revolution and it did not represent the will of the majority of the workers and poor peasants as it was expressed in the All-Russian Soviet Congress. Contrary to the claims of bourgeois ideologists, the young Soviet Union was full of debates about the course of the revolution and even saw numerous blocs and factions within the Bolshevik Party. Authentic workers’ democracy existed in the revolutionary workers’ and peasants’ republic at the time of Lenin and Trotsky. Only when the Stalinist bureaucracy took power, did they systematically suppress any dissent. It expelled the Left Opposition led by Leon Trotsky at the end of 1927, and subsequently threw tens of thousands – later even millions of oppositionists – into prison, many of whom were later executed. Stalinism is not the continuation of Bolshevism but the embodiment of its negation. A line of blood is drawn between these two antipodes.
10. The revolution is doomed to degenerate, to bureaucratize and finally to collapse if it fails to spread internationally to other countries. This is so because (a) the imperialist enemies will unavoidable do everything in their power to subvert, to attack and finally to smash the revolution; and (b) because the modern productive forces, by their very nature, transcend all borders of the nation state. True, the revolution will not succeed in several countries in a single stroke. The working class will first take power in one country. But, while striving for consolidation of the socialist nation state as much as it is possible under the condition of imperialist encirclement, the priority must be given to the internationalization of the revolution, of spreading it to other countries. If this fails and the revolution remains isolated for a number of years, it is doomed. If a country remains isolated, it will suffer from backwardness and poverty. However, socialism can only be built on the basis of modern productive forces in order to free humanity increasingly from the burden of labor. Hence, socialism cannot be built in isolation in one country, as Stalin infamously proclaimed in 1924, but only on an international level. This was proven by the fate of the USSR, China and all other Stalinist states: first they bureaucratized and suppressed the working class and popular masses and finally they collapsed and opened the road to capitalism in 1989-91. This is why Lenin and Trotsky advocated the internationalization of the revolution as a chief priority after 1917. This is why they launched the Communist International in 1919. And this is why Stalin transformed this International into a subordinated appendix of Moscow’s foreign policy and finally dissolved it in 1943.
11. Contrary to the claims of numerous reformists and centrists, the socialist revolution cannot be accomplished by peaceful means. The ruling class will inevitably launch massive and violent attacks against insurrectional workers and oppressed. The October Revolution itself was conducted relatively peacefully in those days, with only a limited number of deaths – proving that the working class is not bloodthirsty but rather interested in an orderly transformation. However, following the Bolshevik Revolution, the ruling class and their imperialist allies organized a vicious counterrevolution which opened years of bloody civil war. The experience and legacy of the Bolsheviks teaches us that every oppressed class that desires to overcome its circumstances must organize and arm itself in workers’ and popular militias and later, after the successful revolution, create a Red Workers’ and Peasants Army. The pacifist preachers of a “peaceful transformation” are nothing but lackeys of the bourgeoisie who only serve to disarm the working class and oppressed.
12. Another crucial lesson of the October Revolution is that all forms of coalition governments with bourgeois parties, any kind of government which tacitly administers capitalism are in fact betraying the interests of the working class and oppressed. Lenin and Trotsky rightly and vehemently opposed any attempt to politically support – to say nothing of actually joining – the bourgeois-reformist government between February and October 1917. For the same reason, the Bolsheviks continued to pursue the line of revolutionary defeatism during the war as Russia remained an imperialist state after February (albeit Lenin modified the application of this strategy in specific situation when e.g. the Kerensky government conspired to allow the German occupation of Petrograd so that the later could suppress the revolutionary workers and soldiers). The Bolsheviks resolutely generalized this experience and called the issue of support for or participation in coalition governments with pro-capitalist parties as a crucial line of demarcation between communism and reformism. Later this lesson was trampled by Stalin when he ordered the Communist parties in France, Italy, Spain, Austria, etc. to support or openly join capitalist governments and to oppose working class struggles against such governments (as took place, for example, in the 1930s and again in 1945-47).
13. Similarly, Lenin and Trotsky strongly denounced any political collaboration with or support for imperialist states. While practical deals like diplomatic treaties and trade agreements are legitimate and unavoidable, this must never lead to any political support for such regimes. Hence, the Bolsheviks, after being forced to conclude the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany in March 1918, and again the Treaty of Rapallo in 1922, never stopped supporting and assisting the German Revolution during this period which culminated first in the November Revolution of 1918 as well as in the ultimately unsuccessful uprising during the autumn of 1923. In contrast with Lenin and Trotsky, Stalin did advocate political support for and collaboration with one or the other imperialist camp (with French, British and American imperialism in 1935‒39 and again in 1941‒47; and with Nazi Germany in 1939‒41). Such collaboration resulted in political support for or even the joining (by Stalinist political parties in Europe) of imperialist governments, and the advocacy of ceasing the class struggle against the imperialist allies, including the violent denunciation of anti-colonial uprisings in India in 1942 and Algeria in 1945.
14. Another crucial lesson of the October Revolution is how the Bolshevik party successfully used the united front tactic to win over the masses that initially supported the reformist parties. While refusing to politically support the reformist government which came to power after February 1917, the Bolsheviks made concrete demands on these coalition parties and called upon reformist-minded workers and peasants to put pressure on them by organizing the struggle in the streets, in the factories and on the land. When sectors of the masses in Petrograd pre-maturely wanted to take power in July 1917, the Bolsheviks tried to restrain them as the relationship of forces in the whole country was not ripe for a revolution. Since a large section of the working class still had illusions in the reformists, the Bolsheviks called to throw out the ten bourgeois ministers. The Bolsheviks were prepared to side with the reformists when a military crisis ensued following threats of a military coup by General Kornilov in September 1917, but refused to give any political support to the government. However, such practical collaboration did not stop Lenin and Trotsky from sharply criticizing the reformists for their failure to carry the revolution forward. As subsequent history showed, such situations of the counter-revolution preparing a military coup to smash a popular front government, often take place (e.g. Spain 1936, Chile 1973) and revolutionaries must use the same approach as the Bolsheviks in 1917.
15. The Bolsheviks emphasized the importance of the Soviets to the revolution. Such councils exist as a democratic hierarchy – with councils organizing the workers and oppressed in every work place, neighborhood, and village. These local soviets elect delegates with a clear mandate to the next higher body – local, regional and finally national soviets. These delegates remain under control of the electoral base and can be recalled at any time if their performance is unsatisfactory. As representatives they earn an income no higher than that of an average worker. While such soviets already existed in the autumn of 1905 in the city of St. Petersburg, where Trotsky was elected as chairman, in 1917 they spread to the whole of Russia as well as to many other countries. We saw similar workers’ and popular councils in Chile 1973 and in Iran in 1979. A similar form of direct workers’ democracy existed in the daily assemblies and decision making bodies set up by the heroic South African miners in Marikana in August 2012. In fact, every authentic popular revolution is characterized by its being based on these types of mass workers’ and popular councils in stark contrast with a coup by a small armed minority. Various centrists claim that the Bolsheviks made the revolution by calling for “Bread, Land and Peace”. While it is true that they raised this slogan, the centrists omit the fact that the Bolsheviks combined this with the slogan “All Power to the Soviets”. By this omission, the centrists distort the Bolsheviks’ strategy and transform it into a Menshevik two-stage revolution.
16. Another important lesson of the October Revolution is that the socialist revolution must be led by the working class. The working class is the modern class that epitomizes the negation of capitalism. It is – and must be – the leading class of the revolution, even if it constitutes a relatively small force in society. In Russia in 1917, for example, the proletariat accounted for no more than 10% of the population, while the huge majority of Russians were peasants. There is hardly a country in the world today where the working class is smaller in relative terms. Nevertheless, the Bolsheviks rightly insisted that the city leads the countryside and the workers lead the peasantry, because of the former’s central role in the process of production. This lesson remains fully valid today.
17. However – and this is another crucial lesson of the socialist revolution of October 1917 – the working class cannot succeed in its struggle to topple capitalism without an alliance with other oppressed classes and strata of the population. This is especially so regarding the poor peasantry which faces barbaric exploitation in the semi-colonial countries and which constitutes a substantial part of the popular masses in these countries. Another important sector is the growing layer of urban poor. In the old imperialist countries (North America, Western Europe and Japan) special importance must be given to the struggles of the socially oppressed layers of the popular masses – women, migrants, youth, national minorities.
18. The experience of the Russian Revolution, the early Soviet Union and its Stalinist degeneration offer rich lessons for our programmatic vision of the kind of society we want to build. Our Socialism – in contrast to its Stalinist caricature – will be revolutionary and free! Our struggle for the Socialism of the 21st century is inspired by the revolutionary spirit of the young Soviet Union at the time of Lenin and Trotsky, but which was subsequently annihilated by the Stalinist bureaucracy. We are fighting for socialism where the working class, the peasants, the urban poor (including both those still in being educated as well as those who are already pensioners) rule the society via popular councils which are present in all enterprises, schools and universities, and in the slums and villages. The Socialism of the 21st century – in contrast to the Stalinist dictatorship – is bottom up and not top down. All important issues are discussed in these councils and delegates are elected to represent the viewpoint of the rank and file in higher bodies; local, regional, national and international. These delegates must be recallable if the rank and file no longer feel that they are being adequately represented. The Socialism of the 21st century must not be a socialism where a caste of bureaucrats rule society as was, and is, the case in the Stalinist countries. It is an important lesson of the 20th century that socialism must never be a dictatorship of bureaucrats against the workers. Nor can the Socialism of the 21st century be one in which only a single party exists and rules. Rather, the working class and the popular masses will express their views in different parties which will compete democratically for a majority in the councils. Neither must the Socialism of the 21st century be one in which a caudillo rules over society as a combination of a parliamentarian and bonapartist system (as is the case in Venezuela). The Socialism of the 21st century we are fighting for will be characterised by a global planned economy and a world federation of socialist republics. It will move towards the creation of general wealth for the whole of humanity and, in this process, state structures and classes will gradually whiter away, to use Marx’s analogy. However, in the period of socialist revolution and in the transition period following it, when the old ruling class will try to hold on to, or to take back, power by any means, the working class must do everything necessary to win what will be a long and bitter civil war. In such a period of transition, it is clear that only the dictatorship of the proletariat and the popular masses can smash and suppress the resistance of the old ruling class. Otherwise they will smash us.
19. The Socialism of the 21st century we are fighting for is one where the economy is in the hands of the working class and the oppressed and one which is democratically planned. Immediately after the successful socialist revolution, the working class will socialise the banks, key financial institutions, transport and utility companies and major industries. Family enterprises and the peasant economy will remain as private property and will be integrated in a plan for economic development. In the end, however, the economy will never achieve its optimal development as long as significant parts of it remain in private hands. Of course, with regard to small scale production and property, such as peasant farms, socialisation should proceed cautiously, on the basis of voluntary agreements, and not by force as was the case with the Stalinist bureaucracy. The Socialism of the 21st century we are fighting for is therefore a socialism where people own the economy together and work together. We reject the vision of a Socialism based on autonomous cooperatives. Of course, for a transitional period after the revolution, there may well be cooperatives. But we have to be aware of their inherent dangers; competition between the cooperatives would inevitably lead towards the redevelopment of a market economy and, in the end, capital accumulation and concentration and the re-emergence of classes. When there is no private ownership of the economy, "ownership" will be vested in those who produce, and those they produce for, at the appropriate level; local, regional, national, international. Anything that can be decided locally will be. Broader allocations of resources and exchanges of products will be done on a national, regional or global level. Since there will be no competitive struggle for profits, no hidden privileges for bureaucrats or experts, there will be no need for secrecy. Information about resources and decisions will be available to all. We would not have a single, monstrous, bureaucratic central plan, such as existed under Stalinism, where everything was decided in one place by a caste of privileged bureaucrats. Under real socialism, what will exist will be an ascending series of plans at all appropriate levels, each decided on after debate in a workers' and consumers' democracy. Such a democratically planned economy is not a dream as the bourgeois propagandists claim. Via modern technologies it is possible to communicate needs and necessities and to coordinate production and transport across the globe in seconds. Indeed, every modern multinational corporation works this way. But, in contrast to the capitalist corporations, we will utilise the achievements of modern technologies not for the profit of a few but for the wealth of humanity as a whole.
20. The final, and probably most important, lesson of the October Revolution is that the working class insurrection cannot succeed without the leadership of a revolutionary party. The October revolution could only take place because the Bolshevik party had prepared for it for one and half decades by constructing a militant, combative party. Such a party can only exist on the basis of a solid and scientific Marxist program derived from theory. It can only operate successfully if it is based on iron discipline and democratic centralism (democracy in internal debates, unity in action). Its cadre can only be steeled by regularly intervening in the class struggle and by rooting the party in the working class. It can only exist as a workers’ party with a special focus on organizing of women, minorities, youth, etc. The revisionist thesis that Lenin would have thought that the reformists could lead a socialist revolution is a falsification of history. Lenin thought that, under pressure, the reformists could go further than they wanted initially. However, he understood that such forces could never lead a proletarian revolution. In fact, the failure of later revolutions has to be explained by the absence of such a Bolshevik party. Building anew such parties constitutes the chief task of revolutionaries today.
21. The October Revolution also demonstrated once more the important role of personality in history. Without Lenin and Trotsky, the revolution would not have taken place. Most of the Bolsheviks’ Central Committee gave critical support to the popular front before Lenin arrival to Russia. In autumn many members of the Central Committee opposed Lenin demand for armed insurrection. Zinoviev and Kamenev even betrayed the party and informed Gorky that Lenin was preparing an insurrection.
22. Lenin and Trotsky always insisted that such a revolutionary party must not exist in national isolation but can only exist as a world party. Capitalism exists, and can only exist, on an international plane. Hence, the working class must also organize its struggle against the exploiters internationally. This is why Marx and Engels always strived for the creation of international workers’ parties. This is why the Bolsheviks called for the creation of the Third International from the autumn of 1914 onwards and finally founded it in March 1919. This is why Trotsky saw the construction of the Fourth International – after the Stalinist degeneration of the Third – as the chief task of the 1930s. This is why the RCIT identifies the building of the Fifth revolutionary International as our central task today! We call upon all revolutionary workers and youth to join us in this struggle!
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We encourage organizations and activists who share the general outlook of this document to contact us so that we can discuss working jointly for the liberation of the workers and oppressed:
The RCIT is an international revolutionary organization which unites sections and activists in 14 countries on the basis of a joint program and the organizational principles of democratic centralism (Zambia, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Tunisia, Israel/Occupied Palestine, Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Britain, Germany, and Austria).
For a more extensive overview of the RCIT’s viewpoints we refer those who are interested to our website www.thecommunists.net. We want to draw particular attention to our programmatic documents:
RCIT: Manifesto for Revolutionary Liberation. The Tasks of the Liberation Struggle against Decaying Capitalism (adopted by the 1st Congress of the RCIT in October 2016, https://www.thecommunists.net/rcit-program-2016/)
RCIT: The Revolutionary Communist Manifesto, April 2012, https://www.thecommunists.net/rcit-manifesto/
1. 1917년 10월 러시아에서의 사회주의혁명은 현 시대의 노동자계급 · 피억압 인민의 해방투쟁에서 가장 중요한 사건으로 남아 있다. 레닌과 볼셰비키 당이 이끄는 노동자계급이 자본가계급을 타도하고, 혁명을 국제적으로 확산시킨다는 목적을 가지고 노동자·농민 공화국을 수립했다. RCIT는 레닌 · 트로츠키의 볼셰비키 당 전통과 1917년 10월 러시아에서의 사회주의혁명 전통에 서 있다. 우리의 목표는 새로운 10월 혁명을 밀고가기 위해 볼셰비키 당을 일국에서뿐만 아니라 국제적으로 건설하는 것이다.
2. 사회주의 10월 혁명은 오늘날 근본적인 혁명적 변혁에 지극히 유효 적실한 일련의 맑스주의 명제들을 확인시켜주었다. 첫째는 혁명이 중단 없이 계속해서 앞으로 나아가지 않는다면, 즉 최종 승리를 이뤄 노동자계급이 권력을 잡고 자본주의 체제를 타도할 때까지 나아가지 않는다면, 혁명은 필연적으로 패배하거나 후퇴할 것이라는 것이다. 부르주아지 (또는 부르주아지의 분파)를 권력에 남겨둔, 또는 자본주의의 시종 노릇을 하는 개량주의적 · 소부르주아적 지도자들을 권력에 남겨두는 모든 미완성의 혁명은 자본주의 사회의 근본 적대를 해결하는 데 성공하지 못할 것이다. 혁명은 노동자계급이 사회주의혁명을 통해 권력을 잡을 때까지 “연속적인 혁명 [영구혁명]”이 되어야 한다. 그렇지 않으면 혁명은 멈춰 서서 후퇴하고 결국은 패배할 것이다.
3. 영구혁명 이론은 인류의 발전이 역사적인 “불균등 · 결합 발전 법칙”에 의해 지배된다는 맑스주의적 인식의 전략적 결론이었다. 러시아에서 자본주의 생산양식은 농민에 대한 봉건적 착취 관계 내에서 발전했다. 그 결과로 러시아는 농민이 주민의 대다수를 점하고 노동자계급이 주로 대공장 (그 중 많은 것이 외국인 자본가의 소유다)에 기반해 있는 낙후한 제국주의 국가였다. 영구혁명 이론은 혁명이 민주주의 혁명으로 시작할 것이지만, 노동자계급이 가난한 농민을 이끌고 권력을 잡기 위해 중단 없이 앞으로 나아갈 것이며, 일단 권력을 잡으면 세계혁명의 일부로서 사회주의적 과제를 떠안고 혁명을 계속해 나갈 것이라고 예견했다.
4. 자본주의는 필연적으로 노동자계급을 궁핍으로 몰아넣고, 실업, 저임금, 고용불안 등으로 고통을 준다. 이것이 오늘 이 지구상의 모든 대륙에서의 상황이다. 1917년 이전 러시아에서도 사정은 이러했고, 그 해에 있은 2월 혁명 이후에도 여전히 그러했다. 노동자들은 차르 전제정을 타도했지만, 노동자권력을 수립하지 못했다. 개량주의적인 “사회주의” 당들과 부르주아 세력의 연합 (“인민전선”)에 의해 노동자권력 수립이 가로막힌 것이다. 노동자계급이 공장에서 노동자 통제를 실시하고 10월에 볼셰비키가 권력을 잡았을 때, 볼셰비키가 대기업과 은행을 노동자 통제 하에 국유화했을 때 비로소 노동자들의 삶의 결정적인 문제들이 해결되었다. 노동자들이 권리를 빼앗긴 것은 그 뒤에 스탈린주의 관료가 1924년 레닌 사후 볼셰비키 지도부를 대체해버리고 난 다음이었다.
5. 농업 문제에서도 그러했다. 노동자계급 혁명이 승리하지 못하는 한, 부르주아지와 지주의 소유를 몰수·수탈하지 못하는 한 가난한 농민들은 언제나 피억압 · 피착취 계급으로 남아 있을 것이다. 2월 혁명이 가장 큰 소부르주아 농민당 ㅡ 이른바 “사회주의혁명가당” ㅡ 을 권력에 올려놓았을 때 그 당은 대지주를 수탈하고 토지를 가난한 농민들에게 분배할 의지와 능력이 없는 것으로 드러났다. 10월 혁명이 자본주의 체제를 분쇄했을 때 비로소 대지주를 수탈하는 것이 가능했다. 비로소 그 때서야 토지를 국유화하고 빈농위원회에게 넘겨 가난한 농민들 사이에 토지를 분배할 수 있게 되었다. 이로써 소비에트 공화국이 가난한 농민들의 충성을 확보할 수 있었고, 14개 외국 군대가 러시아 반혁명 세력의 편에 서서 소비에트 공화국에 대항하여 싸운 그 파괴적인 내전 (1918~1921년)에서 승리할 수 있었다. 농업 생산성을 끌어올리기 위해 볼셰비키는 자발적인 협동조합과 국영농장 창설을 내걸고 추진했다. 그러나 스탈린 관료 독재가 1928-29년에 가난한 농민으로부터 토지를 빼앗았다 (강제 집산화). 이 스탈린주의 반혁명은 파멸적인 기근을 가져왔고, 이로써 사회주의적 목표로부터 농민을 완전히 분리, 소외시켰다.
6. 피억압 민족의 해방 문제는, 레닌과 트로츠키의 맑스주의적 지침이 오늘날 혁명 투쟁에서도 그 유효성을 잃지 않고 있는 또 다른 예다. “제 민족의 감옥”이라고 불린 차르 러시아는 주민의 57%가 기본권을 부정당한 비 러시아 계 인이었다. 이러한 상황은 1917년 2월 혁명 이후, 개량주의-부르주아 ‘인민’전선 정부가 들어선 뒤에도 바뀌지 않았다. 10월 이후 볼셰비키 정부가 비로소 피억압 인민들에게 민족자결권을 보장해주었다. 모든 민족이 완전한 동등권을 부여받았고, 학교에서 각 민족의 모어(母語)를 가르쳤으며, 각 민족의 문화도 억압 금지가 아니라 장려되었다. 나아가 각 민족은 자신의 국가를 창설할 권리도 보장되었다. 이 모든 것이 스탈린주의 반혁명 이후 되돌려졌다. 비 러시아 계 민족들이 다시 억압받고, 대국 배외주의가 장려되었으며, 체첸인과 크림 타타르인, 고려인 등 많은 소 민족들이 고향에서 수천 킬로미터 떨어진 벽지로 강제 추방되었다. 스탈린 반혁명 이전에 볼셰비키는 이미 1903년 포그롬 (유대인 대학살) 당시부터 계속해서 유대인을 일관되게 방어했다. 그러나 스탈린은 당내 반대파를 겨냥해 반유대주의 캠페인을 펼쳤고, 나아가 유대인 박해를 조장했다.
7. 또 볼셰비키는 아시아, 아프리카, 라틴아메리카의 식민지 · 반(半)식민지 피억압 인민의 해방투쟁을 무조건 지지한다는 입장을 견지했다. 볼셰비키는 제국주의 지배의 종식을 요구했고, 반식민 봉기들을 지지했다. (예를 들어 스페인과 프랑스 제국주의에 맞선 모로코 베르베르족의 봉기, 영국 제국주의에 맞선 인도 인민의 봉기, 모든 열강에 맞선 중국 인민의 봉기, 영국에 맞선 터키의 봉기 등). 레닌과 트로츠키는 제국주의 초과착취와 인종주의에 반대하여 아프리카와 미국에서의 흑인들의 투쟁에 대한 무조건적 지지를 호소했다. 그 투쟁들을 보통 비사회주의 세력, (소)부르주아 민족주의 세력, 종교 세력 등이 주도한 사실에도 불구하고 레닌과 트로츠키는 그 투쟁들에 무조건적 지지를 보내는 (“반제국주의 통일전선 전술”) 한편, 그러나 그와 동시에 노동자계급의 독자적 조직화를 내걸었다. 레닌과 트로츠키가 이끌던 당시의 공산주의 인터내셔널은, 비혁명적 지도부는 필연적으로 해방투쟁을 배반할 것이기 때문에 노동자계급과 피억압자가 이러한 지도부를 대체할 준비를 해야 한다고 강조했다.
8. 레닌과 트로츠키 당시의 소련은 여성에게 완전한 동등권을 부여한 세계 최초의 국가였다. 처음으로 여성들은 동등한 임금 (동일임금)과 투표권, 모성 보호, 이혼할 권리, 낙태의 권리 등을 보장받았다. 더욱이 혁명 자체에서 여성들이 결정적인 역할을 했다. 알렉산드라 콜론타이는 세계 최초의 여성 장관이 되었다. 여성들은 붉은군대에 속해서 싸웠고 인민 대중 속에서의 정치적· 사회적 캠페인에서 중요한 역할을 담당했다. 나아가 볼셰비키는 공산주의 여성운동을 건설했다. 또 신생 소련은 동성애를 범죄화한 법령을 포함하여 성 문제와 관련한 모든 억압적 법령을 폐지했다. 그러나 다시 여성에게서 일련의 권리 (낙태의 권리를 포함하여)를 빼앗은 것은 스탈린주의 반혁명이었다. 이와 함께 스탈린은 1933년 형법에 한 조항을 추가해 남성 동성애를 중노동을 포함하는 5년 징역형에 처할 수 있는 범죄로 규정했다.
9. 레닌은 맑스와 엥겔스를 따라, 승리한 노동자국가를 “프롤레타리아트 독재”로 성격 규정했다. 부르주아 데마고그들은 바로 그것이 민주주의를 배제하는 증거라고 주장한다. 이것만큼 진실과 거리가 먼 것은 없다. 모든 수단을 동원해 구 자본가계급의 권력을 회복시키려는 불구대천의 적들을, 승리한 혁명이 용인할 수 없다는 것은 너무도 당연하다. 부르주아 역사가들은 1918년 1월에 볼셰비키에 의해 해산된 제헌의회를 예로 든다. 그러나 제헌의회는 그 다수파인 소부르주아 당들 (우익 사회주의혁명가당과 멘셰비키)과 함께 혁명에 적대적인 기구로 판명나면서, 전 러시아 소비에트 대회에서 표명된 바의, 노동자·빈농 다수자의 의지를 대표하지 않았다. 부르주아 이데올로그들의 주장과는 반대로 신생 소련에서는 혁명의 진로에 관한 토론과 논쟁이 어디서나 활발하게 펼쳐졌고, 볼셰비키 당 내에서도 수많은 의견 그룹과 파벌이 존재했다. 레닌과 트로츠키 당시의 혁명적 노동자·농민 공화국에서는 진정한 노동자 민주주의가 살아 숨 쉬었다. 이견과 반대가 체계적으로 말살된 것은 다름 아닌 스탈린주의 관료가 권력을 잡고 난 뒤였다. 스탈린주의 관료는 1927년 말에 트로츠키와 좌익 반대파를 축출했고, 이어서 수만 명의 반대자들을 ㅡ 나중에는 수백만 명까지 ㅡ 투옥했으며, 그 중 많은 사람들이 처형당했다. 스탈린주의는 볼셰비즘의 계속이 아니라 그 부정의 구현이다. 이 두 대척점 사이에는 피의 강물이 흐르고 있다.
10. 혁명이 국제적으로 다른 나라들에 확산되는 데 실패하면, 타락하고 관료화하고 마침내 붕괴하는 것을 피할 수 없다. 이는 첫째, 제국주의 적들이 혁명을 공격, 와해시키고 마침내 분쇄하기 위해 모든 수단과 힘을 동원해 할 수 있는 모든 것을 다 할 것이기 때문이며 둘째, 현대의 생산력은 바로 그 본성상 민족국가의 모든 국경을 넘어서 있기 때문이다. 혁명이 한 방에 여러 나라에서 승리하지는 않을 것이라는 것은 사실이다. 노동자계급은 먼저 일국에서 권력을 잡을 것이다. 그러나 제국주의의 포위라는 조건 하에서 가능한 한 사회주의 민족국가의 공고화를 위해 노력하면서도 우선순위는 혁명의 국제화에, 혁명을 타국으로 확산시키는 것에 두어져야 한다. 이것이 실패하고 혁명이 여러 해 동안 고립된 채 머물러 있게 되면 필연적으로 파멸하기 마련이다. 한 나라가 고립된 채 남아 있으면 낙후와 빈곤으로 고통 받게 될 것이다. 인류를 노동의 부담으로부터 점차로 자유롭게 하기 위해서는, 사회주의는 오직 현대 생산력의 기초 위에서만 건설될 수 있다. 따라서 사회주의는, 스탈린이 1924년에 선언한 악명 높은 ‘일국 사회주의’론처럼 고립 상태에서 건설될 수 없고, 오직 국제적 수준에서만 건설될 수 있다. 이것은 소련과 중국을 비롯한 그 밖의 스탈린주의 국가들의 운명으로 증명된 바다. 먼저 이들은 관료화하여 노동자계급과 인민 대중을 억압하고 마침내 1989-91년에 붕괴하여 자본주의로의 길을 열었다. 레닌과 트로츠키가 1917년 이후 혁명의 국제화를 최우선순위로 내걸고 1919년에 공산주의 인터내셔널을 띄운