Left and Right

Marxists Look Back on the Russian Revolution

If there is one thing anarchists should learn from history, it’s to never trust a commie. At least with fascists, you know where you stand.

By J.P. O’Malley

The American Conservative

October: The Story of the Russian Revolution, China Míeville, Verso, 384 pages.

The Dilemmas of Lenin: Terrorism, War, Empire, Love, Revolution, Tariq Ali, Verso, 384 pages.

On October 25, 1917, across the city of Petrograd, the Bolshevik party was preparing to take power from the Provisional Government that had overthrown the autocratic Tsarist regime the previous February. Vladimir Lenin, leader of the far-left Bolshevik movement, felt February’s coup had been premature and was run by what he viewed as hypocritical liberals who merely sought a moderate polity based on the values of social democracy.

Sensing a historic moment, Lenin sat down to draft a proclamation for what he believed would be the coming of a worldwide socialist revolution. He wrote: “To the citizens of Russia: The cause for which the people have fought, namely…the abolition of landed proprietorship, workers’ control over production, and the establishment of Soviet power, has been secured. Long live the workers’, soldiers’, and peasants’ revolution!”

Lenin pulled his principles primarily from Marx’s Capital and The Communist Manifesto. Written in the mid-19th century, both books predicted that the global capitalist system would collapse when the working classes perceived the power they could obtain through unity. Then they would revolt to break free from their capitalist chains.

By October 1917, Lenin believed those masses had finally spoken through the numerous soviets (councils) that had sprung up across Russia. A centralized party, however, would now take charge of those soviets. Lenin’s Bolsheviks were preparing to abandon the old dictum, “All power to the soviets.” Their vision now, far more authoritarian, was “dictatorship of the proletariat.”


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