Presentation of IARKP
International meeting 4 of November, 2017 in Athens
100 years from October of 1917. The Socialist revolution inspires, teaches and leads.
October revolution was a leap forward in human history and deeply influenced the events of the 20th century for it did not only lead to fundamental changes in Russia. Their bourgeois-democratic content was: purging the social situation of the country from medieval structures, from serfdom and feudalism. Furthermore it also opened the perspective for the whole mankind that a new world is possible. October revolution showed how working people in power are able to construct a new, socialist society based on the dictatorship of the proletariat on the ruins of the old society, a society liberated from capitalist suppression and exploitation. This outstanding step in human history, that was accomplished by the Bolsheviks under Lenin’s leadership fighting a hard ideological and political struggle as well as doing arduous organizational work, all this was the result of tackling revolution strategically: correctly handling the issue of political power as well as fundamental questions of revolution linked with correct tactical solutions, both of which being of great relevance for guiding the masses. This means: linking Marxist theory and praxis based on a materialistic conception of history, the principles of social development in a certain country, as well as intensive political mass work together with the oppressed, especially the working class. For they are the revolutionary subject in a capitalist-imperialist society as Russia already was in 1917. October revolution also deeply influenced the further events of the 20th century: two imperialist wars, destruction of fascism by the Red Army of the Soviet Union guided by Stalin and revolutions and insurrections in the colonial and dependent countries, first of all in China and in the imperialist metropole countries (as e.g. in the 1920ies and 30ies but also in 1968).
The October revolution smashed the giant peoples’ prison of tsarist Russia, made an important step on the road to fully equal rights for women, and guaranteed freedom and self-determination to the oppressed nations as well as national and religious minorities. October revolution and the achievements of socialist construction show us that even today there is no alternative to a socialist revolution and construction of the dictatorship of the proletariat against the dictatorship of neo-liberal finance monopolies. The October revolution in 1917 was and is a shining path to the liberation of mankind from the yoke of capital and reactionary and imperialist wars.
In the last 100 years the imperialist bourgeoisie have again and again tried to vilify the existence of the socialist Soviet Union (1917 – 1956) under the leadership of Lenin and then Stalin by means of military aggression and all kinds of conspiracies, direct or indirect, as well as large-scale anti-communist propaganda crusades. The reactionaries portray socialism as inhumane and criminal. In contradiction to that, however, the conscious revolutionary and progressive elements of the working class stick to the banner of October revolution and its teachings as well as the achievements of socialist construction.
100 years later however the situation has become complicated and in favour of the bourgeoisie – this means: a weak development of the working class movement and class struggles and an aggressive advance of neo-liberal politics and economy against working people and oppressed peoples and nations. Despite many defeats and backlashes suffered by the working class and communist movement, the construction of communist parties is the immediate task of communist forces and their allies so-that the active revolutionary subject gets in a position to intervene in favour of the working class in present class struggles in a situation of aggravated, repeated crises immanent to the system and to resist the potential danger of an emerging fascism.
The lessons of October revolution are no abstract outdated findings or only relevant for Russia at that time how some people want to distort them. On the contrary, they are in their outline topical more than ever, and they are highlighting the road for us in regard of the coming ideological, political, and organizational issues of the working class to be in a position to solve them according to the new situation.
Although the capitalist-imperialist global system has changed quantitatively it has stayed more or less the same in a qualitative sense. As far as possible within the framework of this meeting we will try to point out the most important and still relevant elements of the October revolution and deepen our critical approach.
The first element and very important for further analyses is the still existing character of the bourgeois-imperialist system that is fully reactionary in all aspects. We must ask ourselves if this system – that was scientifically explained by Lenin in his book “Imperialism – the Highest Stage of Capitalism” in spring of 1916, as the beginning of a new era of imperialism because of the economic and political changes from capitalism of free competition to monopoly capitalism – if this opinion is already outdated representing an old and finished story?
We say: No! The most important aspects that were described by Lenin in this book as characteristics of imperialism are still prevailing and define the political events of our time. Our Marxist-Leninist analysis of society is based on them. We do not want to go into detail – we have explained it several times e.g. in “Proletarian Revolution” magazine no.70 of July this year.
But we state that the era we are living in is still the era of imperialism and socialist revolution. Some pseudo-Marxists may regard Lenin’s theory of imperialism as outdated but what they themselves offer are concepts not going further than reforming the existing system. Moreover among the critics there are also those aggressive advocates of the system such as Fukuyama, Huntington and their sorts who glorify the capitalist-imperialist system and justify the wars, exploitation, misery, poverty and a lot of other social nuisance as well as environmental destruction produced by it. Both currents pursue the same goal that is the protection of the existing capitalist-imperialist system and fighting all sort of revolutionary change.
The second element is the question of agitation and the construction of a class organization. As Lenin put it in his text “What to be done?”. “The main topic shall be three questions: the question about the character and the main contents of our political agitation, our organisatorial tasks, the plan for the construction of a militant All-Russian organization tackled from various sides at the same time.”
Referring to these teachings we are also nowadays in a position to counter rightwing and leftist opportunism in theory and in constructing the revolutionary organization, against the negation of the necessity of a violent revolution (at present fashionable among the so-called “leftists”) and to counter them based on the teachings of October revolution.
Considering the current situation – objectively the relative stagnation of the working class movement and subjectively the non-existence of a revolutionary workers party in Austria and other countries, as well as the betrayal, the renegadism and transmutation of many former leftists and communists into fans of bourgeois democracy in general and the increasing growth of reactionary nationalist and islamist currents in dependent and neo-colonial countries – in such a situation the imperialists and their lackeys intensify repression against leftist and communist forces. They also give massive support for the construction of political islamism in various shapes such as the Taliban, Al-Qaida or Daesh (ISIS) etc. On account of this situation the communist and progressive forces of the working class all over the world are obliged more than ever to resort to these teachings explained in texts such as “What to be done?” or “Two Tactics of Social Democracy in Democratic Revolution” and “One Step forward, Two Steps Back”. They give the essence of long agitatorial and organizational work, decision making, finding right tactics and so they form the fundamental theoretical and ideological basis of (former) Social Democrats (now Communists) for success of first bourgeois-democratic revolution then socialist October revolution. We can creatively adopt them in principle for the present situation that is obviously more complicated and multifaceted.
The third element and even one of the most important lessons of October revolution is the answer to the question of the state and revolution and, connected with it, the question of political power. Lenin wrote in his preface to the 2nd edition of “The State and Revolution” in August 1917 as follows: The question of the relations of the socialist revolution of the proletariat to the state is getting not only practical-political relevance but also highly topical relevance as a question of explaining the masses what they have to do in nearest future to liberate themselves from the yoke of capital.” The tampering of Marxist theory of the state is continuing just as 100 years ago done by Kautsky and other opportunists. Some so-called “leftists” and “communists” of today even assert that the state in a “neo-liberal society” be something neutral and being transformed into an element standing above the classes and “keeping order” and being irrelevant. They put it synonymous with certain governments of various wings of the bourgeoisie that come and go every four years. Those governments only serve as a front court of the bourgeoisie with the finance capital making the most important decisions behind the scenes. They replace class struggle by protests of civil society und so negate the working class as a class in itself. The consequence of such a view is that they take the state out of the line of fire, limit the social struggles and especially the workers struggles to the framework of bourgeois-democratic parliamentarism and in this way abuse mass struggles for the interest of certain interests of bourgeois parties. A prime example for this are/were the elections in Austria on 15 October.
Eventually the October revolution has proved that the state is a product of irreconcilability of class contradictions; that the state is a special formation of armed people, namely police, army, justice etc., a tool for exploiting the oppressed classes; that the state can only be destroyed in a violent revolution. So Marx and Engels wrote in 1871 about the experience of the Commune insurrection in “Civil War in France”: “… the Commune has brought forward proof that the working class cannot simply take the given state machinery into their possession and set it in motion for their own intended purpose.”
The bourgeois February revolution of 1917 e.g. defeated the tsarist regime but kept the bourgeois state with all its formations and continued imperialist war and occupation of foreign territories. It was October revolution that – based on workers, peasants and soldiers – destroyed the bourgeois state in an armed insurrection and established the dictatorship of the proletariat, finished imperialist war and opened the road to construction of a socialist society.
The fourth element is the ideological struggle and the slogan against imperialist and reactionary war. Victory in October revolution was also a result of a consistent struggle of the Bolsheviks under Lenin’s leadship against various shades of opportunism and revisionism both within the Social Democratic Workers Party of Russia and on a global scale. In October 1916 Lenin wrote in his text “Imperialism and the Split in Socialism” as follows: “Is there a connection between imperialism and that terribly repulsive victory which opportunism (in the form of social chauvinism) has gained over the working class movement in Europe?” The struggles of the Bolsheviks in this field show that without noticing the economic roots of this phenomenon, without recognizing its political and social relevance it is not possible to advance in the field of solving the practical issues of communist movement nor of the forthcoming social revolution. In further analysis Lenin explains, “that the capital of the advanced industrial countries has succeeded in creating a rather wide and stabile stratum of labour aristocracy by conquering colonies and gaining maximum profit etc. from finance capital.” (Lenin, Theses on the Tasks of the 2nd International Communist Congress). This minority in the working class is the source of opportunism within the working class propagating unity with bourgeoisie and so turning against the own proletariat, the exploited masses and the oppressed nations. This stratum tries to prevent the working class from revolution by making propaganda for chauvinism and reformism. Therefore also nowadays it is impossible to prepare the hegemony of the working class and the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat without systematic struggle against labour aristocracy and their ideology.
Finally the October revolution put an end to the imperialist wars that now as then are a formative feature of finance capital driving world population into misery, poverty and on flight. The slogan of October revolution, “Convert imperialist war into civil war!” stands as the only truth in direct opposition to the refined chauvinist and pacifist lies of the Second and Second-and-a-halfth International. As Lenin said, “Let’s convert this war led by slave-owners fighting for their loot into the war of the slaves of all nations against the slave-owners of all nations!” (On occasion of the 4th anniversary of October revolution). After the overthrow of the tsarist regime and the victory of October revolution the 2nd All-Russian Soviet Congress passed the decree on peace and demanded from all war-waging peoples and their governments to initiate a democratic peace. The October revolution of 1917 is the starting point of the world-wide transition from capitalism to socialism. Mankind have existed for 1 million years. The era of class society lasting for 5000 years is coming to its end. 100 years is nothing.