This short essay is a study of the October Revolution — the greatest working-class revolution in history. The October Revolution, the seizure of state power in Russia by the Russian working class and the establishment of the world’s first workers’ state, was the greatest revolution in human history. It proves that the working class can establish Socialism.1
In 1917 Lenin led the Bolsheviks, and the Russian workers, to the great victory of the October Revolution — the Great October Socialist Revolution. This revolution not only established the world’s first Socialist country — but also began a new era in human history: the era of Socialist Revolution. All of humanity’s hopes, and struggles, for human liberation, since then, have developed from the example of the October Revolution.2
The October Revolution emerged from the Russian Revolution of 1917 — specifically the February Revolution, which overthrew Tsarism in Russia. The October Revolution occurred because the Russian working class wished to achieve the full potential of the February Revolution — to end the First World War and to achieve Socialism in Russia and in the world. The October Revolution also emerged from the social struggle of the Russian working class, and the Russian peasantry, for their own power and their own liberation. The workers of Russia made the Russian Revolution in order to end the First World War. The February Revolution began this process of struggle, while the October Revolution shifted this process of struggle into the revolutionary struggle of achieving Socialism. The October Revolution transformed the Russian Revolution of 1917 from being simply a Democratic Revolution into a Socialist Revolution. This was the real social and political power of the October Revolution.
The October Revolution occurred because millions of Russian workers and peasants took part in it and supported it — in the form of the revolutionary seizure of power by the Bolsheviks and the Petrograd Soviet. It was the Russian working class which effectively made the October Revolution — by seizing state power in 1917. The October Revolution was a mass popular revolution. It had the full support of the vast majority of the working class of Russia — who struggled to defend it in the reality of the Russian Civil War of 1917-1922. The October Revolution was a mass revolutionary event. It was launched by millions of workers and it was supported by millions of workers. Indeed, the October Revolution, as a historical and political event, was one of the greatest examples of a mass democratic revolution — a real Democratic Revolution.3
The real, political, importance of the October Revolution is that it was a revolution made by the working class, of the working class, for the working class. This type of working-class revolution had never happened before in history — not since the rise and fall of the Paris Commune of 1871. The real political importance of the October Revolution is that it showed that the working class can achieve social liberation only by taking social and political power for themselves. This political example is crucial today, as the working class continues to struggle for its liberation and for the liberation of the world. The struggle for Socialism still gains a great deal from the example of the October Revolution — specifically the example that the working class can achieve Socialism.
Human history is based on social struggle. The October Revolution was a major example of such social struggle. Indeed, the example of the October Revolution, as a working-class revolution, shows, quite clearly, that social struggle and social revolution is vital to achieving any major social progress in human societies. History moves forward because millions of ordinary people struggle to achieve a better world. The October Revolution, as an event, is part of that wider legacy of human struggle — a legacy which will lead, hopefully, to Socialism.
The real, historical, importance of the October Revolution is that it proves the power of the working class. In 1917, the workers of Russia proved that working-class power, in the form of Soviets and workers’ councils, could seize state power and build a better form of society — through workers’ power and workers’ democracy. The October Revolution, as an event of political importance, showed that the working class can build its own state and its own society — in the form of workers’ democracy.
The Great October Socialist Revolution started a new era in world history — the era of struggle for Socialism and Socialist Revolution.4 Lenin was correct to say that the Russian Revolution began ‘a new era in world history’.5 Humanity, today, lives in a world where it is possible to achieve Socialism — a society based on working-class power, on the free development of each and the free development of all. The October Revolution is a practical example of the power of the working class and the power of working-class revolution. It shows that the power of the working class can achieve Socialism — in the right circumstances and in the right social struggle. The experience of the Russian Revolution, specifically the October Revolution, shows that history can advance forward — due to revolution.6 This possibility exists because of the struggle of the working class for a better society and a better world. The October Revolution created this possibility. The October Revolution remains the greatest revolutionary event in modern history.7 It is the historical event which continues to shake the world.
1. E.H. Carr, The Bolshevik Revolution: 1917-1923, (1950-1953)
2. E.H. Carr, The Bolshevik Revolution: 1917-1923, (1950-1953)
3. L. Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution, (1931)
4. V.I. Lenin, The Third International and Its Place in History, (1919)
5. V.I. Lenin, The Third International and Its Place in History, (1919)
6. E.H. Carr, A History of Soviet Russia, (1950-1978)
7. J. Reed, Ten Days that Shook the World, (1919)
(2011)Tags: Essays - R.G. Williams
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