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Russian Revolution

Either A 'Socialist Revolution Or A Make-Believe Revolution': A Rejoinder to Doug Lorimer

By Phil Hearse

"The International of Crime and Treason [i.e., the counter-revolutionary coordination of imperialism—PH] has in fact been organised. On the other hand, the indigenous bourgeoisies have lost all their capacity to oppose imperialism—if they ever had it—and they have become the last card in the pack. There are no other alternatives: either a socialist revolution or a make-believe revolution."—Ernesto Che Guevara, Message to the Tricontinental 1967 (emphasis added).

"You must struggle for the socialist revolution, struggle to the end, until the complete victory of the proletariat. Long live the socialist revolution!"—V.I. Lenin, "Speech at the Finland Station" on arrival back in Russia, April 1917

What remains of Soviet culture?

By Boris Kagarlitsky

A decade after the official dissolution of the Soviet Union, the question of the Soviet heritage remains the topic of heated discussions in Russia and other post-Communist countries. Some people explain all the problems and disagreements as survivals from the Soviet past, and dream of a time when the collective memory will be wiped clean of the last traces of the Soviet experience. Others carefully cherish Soviet traditions, saving whatever can still be saved and preserving it. Among sections of radical youth there is a half myth, half fairy tale about life in the USSR, a version that mixes the truth with the idealised recollections of grandfathers and grandmothers who take their grandchildren to Communist demonstrations. As the grandchildren grow up, they do not become admirers of Stalin, but feel a robust loathing for the people who destroyed the country and impoverished its people. Even without the grandparents, they would have thought exactly the same, since their own experience of life proves to the younger generation, on a daily basis, that present-day Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan are societies that are not so much creating the conditions for future development, as squandering and destroying the inheritance from Soviet times. The most important questions remain at a certain distance from all these disputes: What was it that made Soviet culture unique and attractive? What is its place in history, and what did it leave behind?

The Bolshevik Party and 'Zinovievism': Comments on a caricature of Leninism

By Doug Lorimer

The disintegration of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union opened an important debate within the Marxist movement about how to evaluate the history of the socialist movement, and especially of the Bolshevik Party, the party that led the world's first successful socialist revolution. One of the central aims of Links has been to provide a forum for such debate.

It is obviously important to carry out this evaluation in a way that does not make the mistake of confusing Stalinism with the theory and practice of the Bolsheviks when Lenin was the foremost leader of that party. Moreover—as was only to be expected—there are different views of what constituted the theory and practice of Bolshevism. Some of these differences have revolved around the role of Grigory Zinoviev.

Joseph Stalin

By Armando Hart

Armando Hart is the former minister of culture of Cuba. Our translation largely relies on a CubaNews translation by Ana Portela.

These thoughts are intended as a tribute to all revolutionaries, without exception, who suffered the great historical drama of seeing the socialist ideas of October 1917 frustrated. We write this with admiration and respect for the Russian people, who were the protagonists of the first socialist revolution in history and who defeated fascism decades later under the leadership of Stalin. The same Russian people, 130 years before, defeated the military offensive of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Fundamentally, I have the experience of fifty years of working for socialist ideas in the beautiful trenches of the Fidel and Martí-inspired Cuban Revolution, that is to say, the first revolution of Marxist orientation that triumphed in what has become known as the West.

The 1905 revolution and its lessons

by Doug Lorimer

Doug Lorimer is a member of the National Executive of the Democratic Socialist Perspective in Australia. This is a talk presented to the DSP's January 2005 Marxism Summer School.

Contents

Soviets of workers' deputies

January 1905 protest

Bolsheviks and Mensheviks

Anti-feudal revolution

Marxism versus Narodnism

Marxism and the peasantry

Monopoly capitalism

Russo-Japanese War

Lessons drawn by Lenin

Footnotes

 

One hundred years ago this month, the first proletarian revolution in the new imperialist epoch of capitalism began. This revolution, the first Russian revolution, was born of mass discontent aggravated by a deeply unpopular war, the Russo-Japanese War of 1904. It began with a wave of strikes, riots and street demonstrations protesting the police shooting on a peaceful mass workers' demonstration in St Petersburg, the capital of the vast Russian Empire, on Sunday, January 22, 1905 (January 9 in the Julian calendar still in use in Russia at the time), killing 1000 and wounding 2000 of the 200,000 marchers.

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