Birmingham CPGB-ML today adds its voice to the millions of others who mark 100 years since the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia. Below we reproduce the speech by Joti Brar, editor of Proletarian who spoke at Saturday’s well attended meeting in London.
“Why do we celebrate October?
Why does this centenary matter so much to us?
Quite simply, it is because if humanity has any future at all, it is undoubtedly a communist future.
At this meeting, we are honouring the brave men and women workers, soldiers and peasants who fought in the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917.
We are honouring the members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), who organised the masses to make their struggle effective, and most of all, we honour the leadership of that party, led by the great Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, whose profound theoretical insights enabled the oppressed masses of the Russian empire to clearly understand their enemies.
It was Comrade Lenin who created the template for a revolutionary party, working out in the furnace of intense class struggle the essential elements of communist organisation that enabled workers to make their fight effective.
All parties that are serious about overthrowing capitalism and building socialism still follow Lenin’s organisational tenets today.
Lenin was a master of strategy and tactics. He solved many important questions, such as the peasant question and the national question, by clearly and precisely explaining their relationship to the socialist revolution.
He demonstrated the need for the proletariat to maximise its forces by galvanising as many allies for each phase of the struggle as possible, and showed how it was both possible and necessary to take on the various enemies of socialism one at a time rather than all together.
Unlike Trotsky and his modern-day followers, Lenin did not play at revolution; he was not at all interested in heroic failures.
Comrade Lenin understood that what was at stake was nothing less than the future of humanity, and he taught the working class how to think and act so it could win.
Correct theoretical understanding was what enabled the Bolsheviks to see their way clearly and navigate the turbulent waters of the class struggle.
It was the combination of correct theory with disciplined organisational practice that created an unstoppable force for change in the Russian empire a century ago.
This is the true legacy of Comrade Lenin, and it is one which continues to reverberate throughout the world.
Our party’s interest in October is not merely academic or historical; we are not professors, fans or armchair ‘experts’ on October, but modern-day revolutionaries.
Like the Bolsheviks, we aim to apply Marxist-Leninist science to present-day problems of organisation, strategy and tactics in order that we might help the British working class to gather the forces it needs to emancipate itself from capitalist slavery.
If we want to repeat the their achievements, we must work hard to learn everything we can from their experiences.
The October Revolution marked the beginning of the era in which imperialism will be replaced by socialism; it shaped our world and put the ruling class on notice that capitalism’s days are numbered.
Lenin summed up the first mighty step that Russian workers had taken on behalf of workers everywhere in 1918, when the revolution was barely half a year old:
“We are entitled to be proud and to consider ourselves fortunate that it has come to our lot to be the first to fell in one part of the globe that wild beast, capitalism, which has drenched the earth in blood, which has reduced humanity to starvation and demoralisation, and which will assuredly perish soon, no matter how monstrous and savage its frenzy in the face of death.”
The Russian workers did indeed have every right to be proud of their earth-shaking achievements.
Those pioneers, who had set themselves free from the shackles of capitalist exploitation and servitude, lit a flame that still burns, continuing to light the way for workers and oppressed peoples everywhere and proving that capitalism’s blood-stained history can finally be ended.
With the unstoppable combination of Bolshevik organisation and Marxist-Leninist theory, the workers and peasants of Russia and the Russian empire were able to unite to effective action that defeated first tsarism and feudalism, then Russian capitalist imperialism, and finally the combined forces of European imperialist intervention.
Their heroic feats did not stop there. Under the scientific leadership of the Bolsheviks, the masses in the new Soviet republic were mobilised not only to destroy the old, capitalist forces of production and state control, but also to build the world’s first socialist state and planned economy – geared to meeting the needs of the working masses.
The colossal achievements of the Soviet Union during the period of socialist construction will be well known to people in this hall.
Workers not only in the Soviet Union but all over the world have felt the ramifications of those achievements every day since October 1917.
The genie is well and truly out of the bottle.
Capitalism might linger on, but it is living on borrowed time.
After October 1917, the imperialists lost the moral high ground.
When Soviet policy proved in practice the falsehoods of colonial justifications for racism and national oppression (that colonised peoples were unfit to rule themselves) and for sexism (that women were physically and mentally incapable of doing ‘men’s work’), the popular sentiment turned against imperialism for good.
That modern-day imperialists are forced to pay lip-service to ‘equality’ and ‘human rights’; that their colonial wars have to be fought under such slogans as ‘anti-terrorism’ or ‘pro-democracy’ are a telling legacy of October.
No longer will workers accept the openly-expressed imperial ambitions of the nineteenth century.
No longer will oppressed peoples suffer their fate in silence, accepting the propaganda that their European overlords are somehow ordained by God to rule over them.
The imperialists may continue to fight wars for domination and plunder, but they have to hide their real motivations for doing so, and they are almost never successful in the end.
Where in the world, since October, is the people who will accept colonial rule? From Korea to Palestine, from Vietnam to Angola and Syria, the history of the last century is littered with evidence of the determined resistance of oppressed peoples to imperialism’s best-laid plans.
As fighters for socialism, the most important legacy that the October revolution has left for us is Leninism, which was profoundly defined by Josef Stalin as “Marxism of the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution.
“To be more exact, Leninism is the theory and tactics of the proletarian revolution in general, the theory and tactics of the dictatorship of the proletariat in particular.”
It is no accident, of course, that I have chosen to quote Comrade Stalin.
Our opponents’ favourite slur to hurl against us is the dreaded label, Stalinist, although in reality, there is no such thing as ‘Stalinism’. Stalin himself was a Marxist-Leninist, albeit an outstanding one.
Still, we wear this supposed insult as a badge of honour, for Josef Vissarionovich Stalin – known during his lifetime in Britain as Uncle Joe – was nothing more or less than Lenin’s most faithful pupil and truest successor.
Comrade Stalin was a master implementer of Marxist-Leninist science, an expert dialectician and tactician, an untiring fighter for the socialist cause, and, while he lived, a wise and beloved teacher and leader not only to the Soviet peoples but to all the workers and oppressed of the world.
As head of the Bolshevik party and leader of the USSR, Comrade Stalin presided over some of humanity’s greatest achievements to date.
And the Soviet peoples’ successes in industry, in agriculture, in science, in public service provision, in culture and in every other field, finally proved in practice the correctness of Marxism’s projections about what the working classes would be capable of once the capitalist ruling class and anarchic capitalist production had been removed from the scene.
While workers in the capitalist countries were enduring the misery of the terrible economic crisis of the 1920s and 30s, Soviet workers were enjoying the fruits that came to them as a result of the abolition of class exploitation and the construction of a planned socialist economy: the elimination of hunger, poverty and homelessness; the liberation of women; the end of national oppression and of wars for plunder.
Millions upon millions of previously downtrodden and destitute workers were actively engaged in the creation of a new socialist culture, as their creative power was unleashed and they found themselves the masters and makers of a new world.
When we put aside all the nonsensical prejudices with which we have been indoctrinated and evaluate sensibly the role played by Comrade Stalin’s leadership, and by the Bolshevik party during Stalin’s time at the helm, it becomes clear that his role was pivotal to the Soviet Union’s successes.
And when we understand all this, it becomes clear just why it is that workers all over the capitalist world are taught to revile the name of Josef Stalin; why so many historians, journalists and academics are paid such good wages for making up obscene and ridiculous lies about him and about the Soviet Union he led.
While Stalin lived, the world socialist movement had an undisputed leader, whom the mass of the oppressed could look to for guidance and assistance. Our movement was united and achieved victory after victory, putting the fear of god into capitalists and imperialists everywhere, and letting them know that their days were most definitely numbered.
The Soviet Union won the second world war, which had been forced upon it by the rapacious imperialists, and completely smashed the allegedly invincible Nazi war machine.
As the Red Army forced the fascists back towards Berlin, it freed country after country from occupation, and cleared the way for the forces of popular resistance to form socialist governments across liberated eastern Europe.
Despite suffering horrendous material losses during the war and sacrificing 27 million of their citizens in the fight against fascism – the flower of that first proud generation of Soviet men and women – the Soviet people rebuilt their devastated towns and cities at a pace that exceeded the earlier drives to industrialisation and collectivisation.
Both before and after the war, the USSR gave unstinting support to national-liberation movements in the superexploited colonial and semi-colonial countries.
While Stalin lived, and while the Soviet Union was guided by such a leader, and by a party founded on Marxist-Leninist science, there was nothing the workers of the USSR could not achieve and no force on earth that could defeat them.
Workers everywhere had a motherland and the world revolution had a base from which it could take confidence and support.
No wonder the bourgeoisie hated Stalin then, and no wonder they hate him still.
No wonder his legacy leaves them incandescent with rage.
No wonder they are so desperate to inculcate revulsion at the very sound of his name amongst workers.
J V Stalin represents everything our rulers fear most: the death of their power and privilege; the end of their dominion over the people and resources of this earth.
He represents the bright future of humanity – and the certainty that there is no place for rich exploiters in that future.
Josef Stalin, more than any other individual, was and remains the capitalist class’s harbinger of doom.
That is why true Marxists continue to laud the leadership of both Lenin and Stalin, as well as the party they led, and to hold up the phenomenal achievements of the Soviet people as the inspiration for our own struggle.
Together, they have given us something that can never be taken away: they have shown us the strength of workers’ power and given us incontrovertible proof of our ability to do without rulers.
They have given us incontrovertible proof that socialism truly is the next step on mankind’s long progress from primitive to higher communism.
The USSR was living proof that all the apparently insoluble problems of our world – poverty, hunger, homelessness, disease, racism, war, inequality, impending ecological catastrophe and more – can in fact be solved by means of the simple application of technology, resources, manpower and planning, if only we are prepared to do what is necessary to free our world from the control of commodity production and everything that goes with it: the insanity of capitalist market forces and the unquenchable thirst of the capitalist ruling class for ever-greater profit.
The experience of those pioneers of socialist revolution and construction, summed up for us in the works of Comrades Lenin and Stalin, and in a plethora of Soviet textbooks, novels and eye-witness accounts, is a precious legacy that our party works hard to preserve and to bring to the attention of class-conscious workers, sure in the knowledge that an understanding of what they are capable of is key to raising the confidence of the British proletariat after decades of the decline and demoralisation of the working-class movement.
Today in Britain, the deepest-ever crisis of overproduction is creating splits and schisms amongst our rulers, as they argue over the best way to keep their failing system alive.
Should they be following policies of market protectionism or of unfettered free trade? Should austerity be intensified or somewhat ameliorated? (All, of course, agree that austerity is needed if British capitalism is to be saved.)
Is there really a need for all these wars, or could the same regime-change objectives be met using other means? (Again, the objectives themselves are not really in dispute.)
The constant infighting and mud-slinging between the representatives of the various bourgeois factions as they jostle for control is resulting in a chain of extremely educative exposures about the workings of the state machine: the workings of the judiciary, for example, or the activities of the secret services, or just the fact that the real running of the bourgeois state is carried on by unelected elites behind doors that are firmly closed to the working class.
In their haste to throw mud at one another, the capitalists are being unusually careless in what they let slip to the rest of us, and many topics that are usually passed over in silence by the capitalist media are now being openly discussed.
In such an atmosphere, workers cannot but start to lose their respect for the hitherto sanctified organs of bourgeois power, and no amount of forced teaching of ‘British democratic values’ in our schools will be able to reverse this trend.
Practice is teaching us the truth of Lenin’s observation: “Democracy for an insignificant minority, democracy for the rich – that is the democracy of capitalist society.”
The British working class today is demoralised and disunited. The communist forces in Britain are small and weak. That can and must be remedied.
In their own battle against apparently invincible capital, the weapon of choice of the Bolsheviks was Marxism Leninism – scientific socialism for this era of decaying imperialism and proletarian revolution.
Our job is to pick up this powerful weapon and learn to use it.
The work must be done to reinvigorate our movement and build a force that is capable of harnessing the collective power of the working class.
This work must be done by those who understand that it is needed, and the number of those who understand this must be constantly increased.
The socialist revolution is the first step workers must take if humanity is to have a chance of dedicating the necessary time and resources to solving such pressing problems as hunger, poverty, inequality and war, and of ameliorating the worst effects of climate change.
We communists understand that this is no game.
It is our firm intention to become a force fit for the crucial battles to come.
Comrades, let us work together, let us work like Bolsheviks, to bring proletarian dictatorship – the rule of the working class – to Britain.
Long live the October Revolution!
The future belongs to communism!”
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