Russian Revolution

Russian Revolution

Russn Rvoluton



Only twc n hstory hs th workng clss tkn stt powr: n th Prs Commun of 1871 nd th Russn Rvoluton of 1917. Th Prs Commun dmonstrtd th hrosm of th workng clss, ts cpcty to sz stt powr nd to strt, howvr hltngly, to rshp socty.

But th ndustrl workng clss of Prs ws tny, mployd mnly n smll workshops, wthout prty to ld t, nd wthout clr thory to gud t. Th Russn Rvoluton brought to powr much mor mtur, bttr orgnsd nd poltclly conscous workng clss. Nvr bfor hd th workng clss bcom th rulng clss of grt country, fghtng tncously nd hroclly gnst clss nms t hom nd gnst nvdng forgn rms. Nvr bfor hd such rdcl chngs n socl structur bn crrd out n so short tm. Sm-fudl socl rltons of lnd ownrshp wr swpt wy fr mor rdclly thn vn n th Frnch Rvoluton of 1789. Prctclly ll th fctors, mns nd othr vlubl nturl rsourcs of th country wr tkn ovr by th workrs' stt.

numbr of dcrs of world hstorcl mportnc wr ssud by th nwly-stblshd workrs' govrnmnt: th dcr on lnd, whch trnsfrrd th proprty of th lndlords to th mllons of psnts; th dcr on workrs' control ovr producton, whch md th workrs th mstrs n th fctors; th dcr on slf-dtrmnton, whch gv full frdom to th opprssd ntons of Russ; th dcrs tht swpt wy th old mrrg nd dvorc lws. ccordng to ths dcrs only cvl mrrg ws to b rcognsd by th stt; chldrn born out of wdlock wr to b gvn th sm rghts s thos born n mrrg; dvorc ws to b hd for th skng by thr spous. Th nw lws mphssd th full qulty of mn nd womn. dultry nd homosxulty wr droppd from th crmnl cod.

Th Russn workng clss fcd xtrm obstcls on ts wy. Th Frnch Rvoluton of 1789 hd tkn plc n country tht t th tm hd chvd th hghst lvl of conomc nd culturl dvlopmnt n th world, wth th possbl xcpton of nglnd. Russ n 1917 ws on of th most bckwrd countrs n urop. nd from th outst th Russn bourgos rsortd to hrsh countr-rvolutonry msurs, cllng on th support of world cptlsm. Th Russn Wht rms wr dd by ho fwr thn fourtn forgn xpdtonry forcs, ncludng thos of Brtn, Frnc, th Untd Stts, Jpn, Grmny, tly nd Turky.

Russ mrgd from th cvl wr n stt of conomc collps `unprllld n th hstory of mnknd', s on conomc hstorn of th prod put t. ndustrl producton ws bout on ffth of th lvl t hd bn bfor th outbrk of th Frst World Wr n 1914. Th populton of th cts hd shrunk. Th most rvolutonry workrs hd jond th Rd rmy n dfnc of th rvoluton. Othrs, drvn by lck of food nd ful, hd rturnd to th psnt vllgs. Btwn th nd of 1918 nd th nd of 1920 pdmcs, hungr nd cold hd klld nn mllon Russns (th wr s whol hd clmd four mllon vctms).

From th frst dy Lnn nd Trotsky hd md t clr tht th survvl of workrs' powr n Russ would dpnd on th vctory of rvoluton lswhr n th world. Th Russn rvoluton ws only th bgnnng of th world soclst rvoluton. Lnn told th Thrd Congrss of Sovts on 11 Jnury 1918: Th fnl vctory of soclsm n sngl country s of cours mpossbl. Our contngnt of workrs nd psnts whch s upholdng Sovt powr s on of th contngnts of th grt world rmy.' V. Lnn, Collctd Works, trnsltd from th fourth Russn dton, Vol. 26, pp. 470-471. `t s th bsolut truth tht wthout Grmn rvoluton w r doomd,' h sd short whl ltr. bd., Vol. 27, p. 98.

Th Octobr rvoluton n Russ dd fnd n cho lswhr - wth rvolutons n Grmny, ustr nd Hungry sprdng rvolutonry wvs throughout urop. Th tny Communst groups of 1919 grw nto mss workng-clss prts. For whl th futur hung n th blnc. But th ldrshps of ths nw Communst Prts wr young nd nxprncd, nd unbl to ovrcom th countr-rvolutonry ctvts of th old-stblshd socl-dmocrtc prts. Th rvolutons n urop wr dftd. Russ rmnd soltd.

Th quston tht soclsts who look bck to th hop rd nsprton offrd by th rvoluton of 1917 hv to nswr s ths: how ws t tht ths rvoluton, whch cm closr to workng-clss slf-mncpton thn vr bfor, ws followd by th rs of th rulng burucrcy hdd by Stln? t ws to nswr ths quston tht Chrs Hrmn wrot hs rtcl `Russ: How th rvoluton ws lost', frst publshd n 1967 nd rprntd hr.

How th rvoluton ws lost

TH RVOLUTON OF 1917 gv control of mjor country to workrs' govrnmnt for th frst tm n hstory. To mllons throughout world lockd n svg nd futl wr, t offrd nw hop. n th prod ftrwrds popl vrywhr turnd-from th grm ltrntvs of dclnng cptlsm - unmploymnt, povrty, fscst brbrty, th thrt of nw wrs - to plc thr hops for th futur n th rgm tht th Sovts (councls of ordnry workng mn nd womn) hd put nto powr n Russ.

Yt tody th govrnmnt of th USSR nsprs support from fw on th lft. ts brutl supprsson of th Hungrn rvoluton n 1956 turnd thousnds of mltnts gnst t. Whn t rptd - lbt n lss bloody form, such n ct of ggrsson gnst `soclst' country n Czchoslovk, vn th offcl Communst Prts turnd gnst t n hlf-hrtd fshon. Mnwhl t's posturng vs--vs Chn - from wthdrwng much ndd tchncl d to thrtnng full-scl wr ovr fw brrn bordr rs - hv dsllusond thos who vn tody mng to prs Stln.

Wht dd hppn n th ftful yrs ftr th rvoluton? Wht wnt wrong? Who ws to blm?

Th two rvolutons

Th prod btwn th two rvolutons of Fbrury nd Octobr 1917 ws mouldd by two concurrnt procsss. Th frst occurrd n th towns, nd ws vry rpd growth of workng-clss conscousnss. By th July dys, th ndustrl workrs t lst sm to hv rrvd t n undrstndng of th dffrnt ntrsts of th clsss n th rvoluton. n th countrysd, dffrnt form of clss dffrntton took plc. Ths ws not, s n th cts, btwn proprtd clss - th bourgos - nd clss tht could not vn spr to ndvdul ownrshp of proprty - th workrs. Rthr t ws btwn two proprty-ownng clsss: on th on hnd th lndownrs, on th othr th psnts. Th lttr wr not soclst n ntnton. Thr m ws to sz th stts of th lndownrs, but to dvd ths up on n ndvdulstc bss. n ths movmnt vn kulks, wlthy frmrs, could prtcpt.

Th rvoluton could not hv tkn plc wthout th smultnous occurrnc of ths two procsss. Wht td thm togthr ws not howvr n dntty of ultmt m. Rthr t ws th fct tht for contngnt hstorcl rsons th ndustrl bourgos could not brk poltclly wth th lrg lndownrs. ts nblty to do ths pushd th psntry (whch ffctvly ncludd th rmy) nd th workrs nto th sm cmp:

`n ordr to rls th sovt stt, thr ws rqurd th drwng togthr nd mutul pntrton of two fctors blongng to compltly dffrnt hstorc spcs: psnt wr - tht s movmnt chrctrstc of th dwn of bourgos dvlopmnt - nd proltrn nsurrcton, th movmnt sgnlsng ts dcln.' Lon Trotsky, Hstory of th Russn Rvoluton, London, 1965, p. 72.

Th urbn nsurrcton could not hv succdd but for th sympthy of th lrgly psnt rmy. Nor could th psnts hv wgd succssful struggl unlss ld nd wldd togthr by cntrlsd, xtrnl forc. n Russ of 1917 th only possbl such forc ws th orgnsd workng clss. t ws ths blty to drw th psntry bhnd t t th crucl momnt tht md t possbl for th workrs to hold powr n th towns.

Th bourgos nd ts lnd-ownng lls wr xproprtd. Put th clsss whch prtcptd n ths xproprton shrd no smpl long-trm common ntrst. n th towns ws clss whos vry xstnc dpndd upon collctv ctvty; n th countrysd clss whos mmbrs would only unt vn mongst thmslvs momntrly to sz th lnd, but would thn tll t ndvdully. Onc th ct of szur nd dfnc of tht szur ws ovr, only xtrnl nducmnts could bnd thm to ny stt.

Th rvoluton, thn, ws rlly dcttorshp of th workrs ovr othr clsss n th towns - n th mjor towns th rul of th mjorty n Sovts or workrs' councls - nd dcttorshp of th towns ovr th country. n th frst prod of th dvson of th stts ths dcttorshp could rly upon psnt support, ndd, ws dfndd by psnt byonts. But wht ws to hppn ftrwrds?

Ths quston hd proccupd th Russn soclsts thmslvs long bfor th rvoluton. Th rlston tht soclst rvoluton n Russ would b hoplssly lost n th psnt mss ws on rson why ll th Mrxsts n Russ (ncludng Lnn, but xcludng Trotsky nd t frst Prvus) hd sn th forthcomng rvoluton s bourgos on. Whn Prvus nd Trotsky frst suggstd tht th rvoluton mght produc soclst govrnmnt, Lnn wrot:

`Ths cnnot b, bcus such rvolutonry dcttorshp cn only hv stblty bsd on th grt mjorty of th popl. Th Russn proltrt consttuts now mnorty of th Russn populton.'

H mntnd ths vw rght up to 1917. Whn h dd com to ccpt nd fght for th possblty of soclst outcom for th rvoluton, t ws bcus h sw t s on stg n worldwd rvoluton tht would gv th mnorty workng clss n Russ protcton gnst forgn ntrvnton nd d to rconcl th psntry to ts rul. ųght months bfor th Octobr rvoluton h wrot to Swss workrs tht `th Russn proltrt cnnot by ts own forcs vctorously complt th soclst rvoluton.' Four months ftr th rvoluton (on 7 Mrch 1918) h rptd: `Th bsolut truth s tht wthout rvoluton n Grmny w shll prsh.'

Th cvl wr

Th frst yrs of sovt rul smd to br out th prspctv of world rvoluton. Th prod 1918-19 ws chrctrsd by socl uphvls unsn snc 1848. n Grmny nd ustr mltry dft ws followd by th dstructon of th monrchy. vrywhr thr ws tlk of Sovts. n Hungry nd Bvr sovt govrnmnts ctully took powr - lthough only brfly. n tly th fctors wr occupd. Yt th hrtg of ffty yrs of grdul dvlopmnt ws not to b rsd so rpdly. Th old Socl-Dmocrtc nd trd unon ldrs movd nto th gp lft by th dscrdtd bourgos prts. Th Communst lft on th othr hnd stll lckd th orgnston to rspond to ths. t ctd whn thr ws no mss support; whn thr ws mss support t fld to ct. vn so th stblston of urop ftr 1919 ws t bst prcrous. n vry uropn country, th socl structur rcvd svr thrts wthn th subsqunt fftn yrs. nd th xprnc of both th Communst Prts nd th workng clss hd put thm nto fr bttr poston to undrstnd wht ws hppnng.

Th Russn Bolshvks dd not, howvr, ntnd to wt upon th rvoluton brod. Th dfnc of th sovt rpublc nd nctmnt to rvoluton brod smd nsprbl. For th tm bng nywy, th tsks t hnd n Russ wr dtrmnd, not by th Bolshvk ldrs, but by th ntrntonl mprlst powrs. Ths hd bgun `crusd' gnst th sovt rpublc. Th Countr-rvolutonry `wht' nd forgn rms hd to b drvn bck bfor ny othr qustons could b consdrd. n ordr to do ths, vry rsourc vlbl hd to b utlsd.

By mxtur of populr support, rvolutonry rdour, nd, t tms, t smd, pur wll, th countr-rvolutonry forcs wr drvn out (lthough n th fr st of Russ thy contnud to oprt untl 1924). But th prc pd ws normous.

Ths cnnot b countd n mrly mtrl trms. But n ths trms lon t ws grt. Wht suffrd bov ll ws ndustrl nd grculturl producton. n 1920 th producton of pg ron ws only 3 pr cnt of th pr-wr fgur, of hmp 10 pr cnt, flx 25 pr cnt, cotton 11 pr cnt, bts 15 pr cnt. Ths mpld prvton, hrdshp, fmn. But much mor. Th dslocton of ndustrl producton ws lso th dslocton of th workng clss, whch ws rducd to 43 pr cnt of ts formr numbrs. Th othrs hd rturnd to thr vllgs or wr dd on th bttlfld. n purly quntttv trms, th clss tht hd ld th rvoluton, th clss whos dmocrtc procsss hd consttutd th lvng cor of sovt powr, ws hlvd n mportnc.

n rl trms th stuton ws vn wors. Wht rmnd ws not vn hlf of tht clss, forcd nto collctv cton by th vry ntur of ts lf stuton. ndustrl output ws only 18 pr cnt of th pr-wr fgur; lbour productvty ws only on-thrd of wht t hd bn. To kp lv, workrs could not rly on wht thr collctv product would buy. Mny rsortd to drct brtr of thr products - or vn prts of thr mchns - wth psnts n rturn for food. Not only ws th ldng clss of th rvoluton dcmtd, but th ts lnkng ts mmbrs togthr wr fst dsntgrtng.

Th vry prsonnl n th fctors wr not thos who hd consttutd th cor of th rvolutonry movmnt of 1917. Th most mltnt workrs hd qut nturlly fought most t th front durng th cvl wr, nd suffrd most csults. Thos tht survvd wr ndd not only n th fctors, but s cdrs n th, rmy, or s commssrs to kp th dmnstrtors oprtng th stt mchn. Rw psnts from th countrysd, wthout soclst, trdtons or sprtons, took thr plc.

But wht ws to b th ft of th rvoluton f th clss tht md t csd to xst n ny mnngful sns? Ths ws not problm tht th Bolshvk ldrs could hv forsn. Thy hd lwys sd tht solton of th rvoluton would rsult n ts dstructon by forgn rms nd domstc countr-rvoluton. Wht confrontd thm now ws th succss of countr-rvoluton from brod n dstroyng th clss tht hd ld th rvoluton, whl lvng ntct th stt pprtus bult up by t. Th rvolutonry powr hd survvd; but rdcl chngs wr bng producd n ts ntrnl composton.

From sovt powr to Bolshvk dcttorshp

Th rvolutonry nsttutons of 1917 - bov ll th Sovts - wr orgnclly connctd wth th clss tht hd ld th rvoluton. Btwn th sprtons nd ntntons of thr mmbrs nd thos of th workrs who hd lctd thm, thr could b no gp. Whl th mss supportd th Mnshvk Prty, th Sovts wr Mnshvk; whn th mss bgn to follow th Bolshvks, so dd th Sovts. Th Bolshvk Prty ws mrly th body of coordntd clss-conscous mltnts who could frm polcs nd suggst courss of cton longsd othr such bods, n th Sovts s n th fctors thmslvs. Thr cohrnt vws nd slf-dscpln mnt tht thy could ct to mplmnt polcs ffctvly - but only f th mss of workrs would follow thm.

vn consstnt opponnts of th Bolshvks rcognsd ths. Thr ldng Mnshvk crtc wrot:

`Undrstnd, pls, tht bfor us ftr ll s vctorous uprsng of th proltrt - lmost th ntr proltrt supports Lnn nd xpcts ts socl lbrton from th uprsng ' Lttr from Mrtov to xlrod, 19th Novmbr, 1917, quotd n srl Gtzlr, Mrtov, Cmbrdg, 1967

Untl th cvl wr ws wll undr wy, ths dmocrtc dlctc of prty nd clss could contnu. Th Bolshvks hld powr s th mjorty prty n th Sovts. But othr prts contnud to xst thr too. Th Mnshvks contnud to oprt lglty nd compt wth th Bolshvks for support untl Jun 1918.

Th dcmton of th workng clss chngd ll ths. Of ncssty th sovt nsttutons took on lf ndpndntly of th clss thy hd rsn from. Thos workrs nd psnts who fought th cvl wr could not govrn thmslvs collctvly from thr plcs n th fctors. Th soclst workrs sprd ovr th lngth nd brdth of th wr zons hd to b orgnsd nd coordntd by cntrlsd govrnmntl pprtus ndpndnt of thr drct control - t lst tmporrly.

t smd to th Bolshvks tht such structur could not b hld togthr unlss t contnd wthn t only thos who whol-hrtdly supportd th rvoluton - tht s, only th Bolshvks.

Th Rght Socl Rvolutonrs wr nstgtors of th countr-rvoluton. Th Lft Socl Rvolutonrs wr wllng to rsort to trror whn thy dsgrd wth govrnmnt polcy. s for th Mnshvks, thr polcy ws on of support for th Bolshvks gnst th countr-rvoluton, wth th dmnd tht thy hnd ovr powr to th Consttunt ssmbly (on of th chf dmnds of th countr-rvoluton). n prctc ths mnt tht th Mnshvk Prty contnd both supportrs nd opponnts of th sovt powr. Mny of ts mmbrs wnt ovr to th sd of th Whts (for xmpl Mnshvk orgnstons n th Volg r wr sympthtc to th countr-rvolutonry Smr govrnmnt, nd on mmbr of th Mnshvk cntrl commtt, vn Msky - ltr Stln's mbssdor - jond t). Gtzlr op. ct., p. 183. Th rspons of th Bolshvks ws to llow th prty's mmbrs thr frdom (t lst, most of th tm), but to prvnt thm ctng s n ffctv poltcl forc - for xmpl thy wr llowd no prss ftr Jun 1918 xcpt for thr months n th followng yr.

n ll ths th Bolshvks hd no choc. Thy could not gv up powr just bcus th clss thy rprsntd hd dssolvd tslf whl fghtng to dfnd tht powr, nor could thy tolrt th propgton of ds tht undrmnd th bss of ts powr - prcsly bcus th workng clss tslf no longr xstd s n gncy collctvly orgnsd so s to b bl to dtrmn ts own ntrsts.

Of ncssty th sovt stt of 1917 hd bn rplcd by th sngl-prty stt of 1920 onwrds. Th Sovts tht rmnd wr ncrsngly just front for Bolshvk powr (lthough othr prts, such s th Mnshvks, contnud to oprt n thm s lt s 1920). By 1919, for nstnc, thr wr no lctons to th Moscow Sovt for ovr 18 months. Gtzlr op. ct., p. 199.

Kronstdt nd th Nw conomc Polcy

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