100th Anniversary of the October Revolution - Lessons (Part 1)


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.