Centenary Celebrations ( 1917-2017)
The October Revolution was the first major attempt to create a society free from class exploitation. It was the first successful revolution by workers, peasants and other exploited sections to establish a new society.
The October Revolution in Russia marked a new epoch in world history. It created the first socialist state -- the Soviet Union. Pre-revolutionary Russia was controlled by the Tsarist monarchy. This presided over the whole of Central Asia. Large tracts of land were owned by landowners, and factories and the mining industry was owned by a few monopolies.
The Europeans were entangled in a war to colonise the world. Russia too, was involved in the first world war in 1914. The Russian Tsar sent thousands of people to the battle front. Russia began losing the war with Germany. Death and hunger was widespread. This gave rise to mass discontent among the ordinary people. The Bolshevik party launched an insurrection against Tsarist rule. This resulted in Tsarist rule being replaced by a bourgeois-dominated government. Some social democratic parties were also represented.
This took place in February 1917, and the provisional government began looking into the interests of a few rich people and landowners.
The February revolution had also given rise to a new form of peoples organization:the soviets. Soviets of workers, soldiers and peasants sprang up in all major cities and in rural areas. The Bolshevik Party became very popular among the worker soviets and armed forces.
The provisional government became very unpopular by the end of September. Many soviets in Petrograd and Moscow formed armed detachments to defend the ongoing changes. The peasants took over land from the landowners. Soldiers in the army had elected their own soviets. They were calling for an end to the war.
The changes in the Russian society was well understood by the leader of the Bolshevik Party, V.I. Lenin. He said that power should be transferred from the first stage of bourgeois revolution to the next stage of workers and peasants. This gave rise to the formation of a Revolutionary government headed by V.I. Lenin with the Council of peoples Commissars.
The masses rallied around the Bolshevik Party for Peace, bread and land. The first step taken by the new government was to place a decree on land. The land decree adopted took over all landed estates and all lands of church and monastery with their livestock, implements and buildings and placed them under the authority of local land committees and soviets of peasants deputies. The decree on peace called for an end to the war with immediate peace negotiations between all governments and peoples involved in the war.
"The Europeans were entangled in a war to colonise the world. Russia too, was involved in the first world war in 1914. "
Other decrees were on the elimination of illiteracy , for universal primary education , provision of free medical health care and creation of the new Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR). The Russian Revolution liberated various non-Russian nationalities from the colonial yoke and gave them an autonomous setup as Socialist Republics within the Union. Recital of a poem at the gathering of Peoples commissars:
“You fell in the fatal fight, For the liberty of the people, For the honour of the people,
You gave up your lives and everything dear to you, you suffered in horrible prisons , You went to exile in chains,
“Without a word you carried your chains because you could not ignore your suffering, brothers, because you believed justice is stronger than the sword……………………
“The time will come when your surrendered life will count,That time is near; When tyranny falls the people will rise, great and free!
“Farewell brothers, you chose a noble path, You are followed by the new and fresh army ready to die and to suffer……………
“Farewell brothers, You chose a noble path, At your grave we swear to fight, to work for freedom and the peoples happiness….”
(Ten Days that shook the world – John Reed)
Before the Soviet state could start on building socialism it had to face a counter- revolution. A bitter civil war erupted.The Red Army had to fight the white guards and the counter-revolutionary forces. Ten capitalist countries including Britain, France, Germany and the USA supported counter-revolutionary forces with money and weapons.
After four years of fighting the civil war the Red Army finally crushed the reactionary forces . Some of the finest comrades were killed in the battle front. Thousands of class-conscious workers and peasants sacrificed their lives .
The October Revolution was the first time in history the working class and its allies like the poor peasantry -- the exploited classes -- led a revolution to overthrow the ruling bourgeois and the exploiting classes. Lenin had stated that a revolution is successful only when the old state power is smashed and a new form of state power is established. This is what happened in the Russian Revolution which dismantled the old state power and put in place a new state In the form of Soviets which represents the interests of the workers and poor peasants.
The world before 1917 was very different from what it is today. The beginning of the 20th century was dominated by empires. The British and Americans , the French, the Austro-Hungarian, Russians and Japanese dominated and divided the world.The lesser empires such as Italy and Portugal had fewer colonies. The bulk of the world population lived in colonies subject to these empires.
The Russian Revolution put an end to the old-style colonialism. The October Revolution sparked off the chain of National Liberation struggles which overthrew colonial rule. The struggle against imperialism reached a higher plane with the success of the socialist revolution. The national liberation movements in Asia, Africa and Latin America drew their inspiration from the Russian Revolution and the Soviet Union lent its support to the national liberation struggles.
"Nearly 27 million Soviet people lost their lives in defeating fascism. It was the Red Army which spearheaded the smashing of the Nazi war machine"
The ‘October Revolution’ was based on the revolutionary strategy of the worker-peasant alliance . This strategy was well used by the national liberation movements to be free from colonial exploitation. Following these footsteps, three decades later the Chinese Revolution took place under the guidance of the Communist Party of China. This was followed by revolutions in Vietnam and Korea. All these revolutions were direct descendants of the worldwide anti-imperialist and anti-fascist struggles which developed in the 1930s.
The defeat of the greatest evil of the 20th century, that of fascism, was mainly due to the existence and the struggles waged by the Soviet Union. Nearly 27 million Soviet people lost their lives in defeating fascism. It was the Red Army which spearheaded the smashing of the Nazi war machine. The victory of Soviet Union cost the imperialist countries their colonial legacy. Many colonial pundits came and brought reforms so that the colonies do not breakaway from them and develop relationship with the Soviet Union.
The end of WW II saw a new alignment of nations. The Soviet Union was thrown into an arms race by the western countries led by USA. This resulted in huge nuclear arsenals and stockpiling them in third countries. The Soviet Union dismantled its military alliance, the Warsaw Pact, and also worked with the USA in dismantling nuclear weapons.
Although the Soviet Union kept its promises,the agreements made by US presidents had not been fulfilled. The US presidents’ promises not to sell advanced weapons to eastern Europe or draw them into NATO has not been fulfilled. Instead many hotspots have been created in the Ukraine, Georgia, and Estonia, which are states bordering Russia. Many economic and trade embargoes are placed on Russia.
When Russia celebrates its centenary of the Russian Revolution, we salute them for their historic contribution to mankind.