1917-2017: The Legacy of the Bolshevik Revolution

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Under the slogan ‘Power to the Soviets, Land to the Peasants, Peace to the Nations, Bread to the Starving’, the working class in Russia seized state power. In 2017 we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution and the beginning of the most important struggle for socialism, peace, and progress in our history.

In the wake of October 1917, the newly-founded Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) aimed to banish exploitation from every sphere of social and economic life, to develop its industry and agriculture to provide for all its people, and to revolutionise political, cultural, and social institutions. As a result, the world was transformed. The example of seizing the control of a nation away from capitalists and imperialists inspired socialist revolutions across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas and the victorious proletarian revolution gave unstinting support to national liberation struggles in oppressed nations. This legacy lives on in socialist Cuba and in all those fighting oppression and imperialism.

Here, at the beginning of 2017, with imperialist warmongers once again forcing humanity to the brink of world war and devastation, we must learn the lessons of October 1917. It was the Bolshevik Revolution that brought an end to the slaughter of millions of working class people at the behest of imperialism in the First World War. It was the Communist movement that fought the opportunists in the social democratic parties who tried to shackle the working class to the interests of imperialism. It was the determination and sacrifices of the Soviet Union that ensured victory over fascism and it was the example of the Soviet Union that generated welfare reforms in Britain as the ruling class feared that the working class might follow the example of the Revolution.

The challenges that faced the USSR in the 20th century still face the socialist movement worldwide today. As Lenin argued on the eve of taking power:

‘Every revolution means a sharp turn in the lives of a vast number of people. … During a revolution, millions and tens of millions of people learn in a week more than they do in a year of ordinary, somnolent life. For at the time of a sharp turn in the life of an entire people it becomes particularly clear what aims the various classes of the people are pursuing, what strength they possess, and what methods they use. Every class-conscious worker, soldier and peasant should ponder thoroughly over the lessons of the Russian revolution ...’ VI Lenin, Lessons of the Revolution

Below are a number of articles which analyse the lessons of the Bolshevik Revolution, including several which we first published in Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! in 1987.