100 years ago today, the working class successfully seized and held state power for the first time. In 1917 the Bolsheviks overthrew the Russian Tzar and established a socialist society that shook the capitalist world order to its foundation, and which has inspired multiple movements and successive revolutions from all corners of the globe over the past 100 years. Upon the red tides unleashed by this event hundreds of revolutionary ships were launched.
Politics is a question of power: who wields it and toward what end. The history of all hitherto existing societies had been the history of class struggles, of various ruling classes (slave-owners and landlords, of capitalists and petty warlords) each exploiting and oppressing the vast majority of the people in their own unique ways. The October Revolution marked a decisive shift in human history. The great majority, the proletariat and other working classes for the first time gained the upper hand and built a society in their own interests.
Across the world, revolutionary workers and peasants rallied to the red flag raised by the workers in Russia, and these workers formed Communist parties in nearly every country on the planet. It was these parties that went on to build and lead the workers’ movement, lead the fight against fascism, develop the strategy of people’s war, and liberated countless oppressed nations from the yoke of colonialism. Workers and oppressed people the world over owe a debt of gratitude to the heroes of the October Revolution.
There are many lessons to learn from the Revolution, both its successes and failures. The October Revolution proved not only that revolution was possible, but also that it was possible for the working class to build a society in its own interest. By winning a civil war and fending off an invasion by the imperialists, who were supporting the reactionary forces trying to roll back the revolution, they also proved that revolutionaries need to build military power in order to carry out and defend the revolution. The Bolsheviks also demonstrated the necessity of organizing the advanced section of the working class into a vanguard party: an indispensable tool in the struggle against capitalism and the capitalist state.
The years that followed the October revolution showed that, far from ending the class struggle, the victory of socialism marks the intensification of class struggle. Failure to understand this lesson and to follow through with its implications – that the masses must be engaged in an uninterrupted revolution encompassing every sphere of life – has since doomed revolutionary movements to failure.
All these lessons were paid in sweat and blood by the masses of the USSR, and they are lessons the Revolutionary Communist Party applies in our fight for communism and the end of Canada. Just as the Bolsheviks learned from both the successes and the failures of their forebears, the revolutionary workers of the Paris Commune, we too adopt a scientific perspective toward the experience of the October revolution and the decades that followed. It is not enough to simply proclaim the memory of previous revolutionary attempts: rather the point is to supersede them by building revolution here and now.
We will end by paraphrasing Lenin’s remarks on the 40th anniversary of the Paris Commune:
The memory of the fighters of the October Revolution is honoured not only by the workers of Russia but by the workers of the whole world. For the fighters of the October Revolution fought, not for some local or narrow national aim, but for the emancipation of all toiling humanity, of all the downtrodden and oppressed. The epic of its life and death, the sight of a working class which seized state power and held it, the spectacle of the heroic struggle of the working class and the torments it underwent after its defeat – all this raised the spirit of millions of workers, aroused their hopes and enlisted their sympathy for the cause of socialism. That is why the cause of the October Revolution is not dead. It lives to the present day in every one of us.
The cause of the October Revolution is the cause of the social revolution, the cause of the complete political and economic emancipation of the toilers. It is the cause of the end of capitalism, imperialism, and settler-colonialism. It is the cause of the workers and oppressed nations of the whole world. And in this sense the October Revolution is immortal.