Sun Sep 25, 2022
September 25, 2022

In Defense Of The Russian Revolution

  1. Introduction
  2. Some truths on the Russian Revolution
  3. Are Bolshevism and Stalinism the same?
  4. The restoration of capitalism was the last great betrayal of Stalinism
  5. Socialism or barbarianism
  6. To learn from the Russian Revolution
  7. It is impossible to give steps toward the revolution without fighting reformism
  8. Bourgeois democracy and revolution
  9. Is Socialism a utopia?
  10. To be realistic is to be revolutionaries

By Eduardo Almeida.

 

Introduction

It is the evening of October 25, 1917 (November 7th in the Gregorian calendar). The regiments led by the Revolutionary Military Committee of Petrograd surround the Winter Palace, headquarter of Kerensky’s government. They demand the surrender of the battalions still defending Kerensky. The soldiers oppose no resistance.

In the evening also begins the Soviet’s Congress, with battle background noise. Lenin appears on the next day session. According to Victor Serge: “The moment he appeared, there was a major ovation. He waited calmly until it finished, looking at the victorious crowd. And then, putting both hands in the table, his wide shoulders lightly towards the auditorium, he said in a simple way, with no gestures, ‘we now begin the task of building the Socialist society’”.

A workers’ insurrection has just changed Russian and world history: the Russian Revolution, celebrating 100 years in 2017.

lenin

For the first time, the working class took and exercised power, showing the control of the dominant classes is not a “divine decision” nor “something natural”. The power of the Soviets was shown as a revolutionary example of another state, a different kind of state to the ones known so far.

The Bolshevik Party became a world reference to the vanguards of the struggles. The Social-Democrat workers’ parties all around the world split with the left-wing sectors knocking the door of the III International. During those years, it took place a revolutionary political reorganization of the proletariat as never seen in history.

That time was erased from the workers’ memory all over the world. Nowadays, the Russian Revolution and the Stalinism are represented as the same. It is a historical farce, the substitution of the Russian Revolution by the political counter-revolution, which transformed the workers’ regime into a bureaucratic monstrosity.

Therefore, it is very important to remember what happened during the first seven years of the revolution. To it, it is necessary to remove the thick litter of dust of the imperialist and Stalinist propaganda. To re-live the fantastic experience of a new power, a new state. A much greater democracy than any existent bourgeois democracy.

Some Truths On The Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution overthrew a bourgeois state and built another type of state, a workers’ state. It was an experience with no precedents in history.

The two months of existence of the Paris Commune were deeply studied by the Bolsheviks, which took essential conclusions from it to achieve triumph in 1917. But the Commune only lasted 2 months; it now was about taking the power and keep it. It was what happened during the first 7 years of the revolution, a very rich and fascinating historical experience.

The new State relied on the councils (soviets). The local soviets were the base of the power, directly linked to the factory workers through their workplaces and neighborhoods.

The main goal was to link the daily activities of the masses with the vital problems of the State and the Economy. Thus, they looked to avoid for the administration of those matters to become a privilege of a bureaucracy isolated from the masses. The mandates were revocable at any time, the public positions were elected by the people, the salary of the public workers could not be higher than a regular factory worker.

In the bourgeois democracy, the masses vote every 4-5 years, individually, and the elected candidate does what he/she wants until the next election. In the Soviet Republic, the workers debated the State matters daily and chose their representatives, who could be deposed at any moment.

The election was direct: in the cities, one representative every 25 thousand people; in the countryside, one every 125 thousand. Everyone could choose and be chosen, except the bourgeois. There was full freedom for the parties that were part of the soviets, including the ones that were part of the government (Bolsheviks and left-wing revolutionary socialists, in a first moment) and also the Mensheviks and right-wing revolutionary socialists, until the moment they armed themselves against the revolution, when they were outlawed.

Unlike the bourgeois democracy, which separates the power into three (Executive, Legislative and Judiciary) for the bourgeoisie to better maneuver and decide everything in the shadows, the soviets’ power was global and direct. The debates on the councils decided and implemented the resolutions directly.

The representatives of the local soviets were part of the regional soviets, which also elected representatives for the Soviets’ Congress –still, revocable at any time-.

The Russian workers debated and decided in their soviets the course of economy, of peace and war (including the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk), the organization of the Red Army.

It has nothing to do with the bourgeois democracy, which is actually the dictatorship of the capital. The bourgeoisie controls the greatest firms and finances the electoral campaigns of the party in government and the “opposition”. The bourgeoisie also controls the communication (TVs, newspapers, internet channels), and can directly influence the public opinion.

The people vote but do not decide anything. No matter who wins, the bourgeoisie is victorious. Even if the reformist parties are the ones to be elected (like the PT, Syriza or Podemos), they are already trained in alignment with the bourgeois plans.

This is why we see situation of assumption and fall of governments, while the neo-liberal economic plans remain the same. The people vote for the opposition to change the economic plans and then they do not change anything. Just four or five years later the people will vote again, to be again deceived.

In the Russian Revolution, the bourgeois were expropriated and the resources of the country were at workers’ disposal. The definitive element on the debate were the ideas, not the capital. The bourgeois parties (that did not defend the armed fight against the state) could present candidates, but they did not have money for the campaign. The control of the representatives in workplaces and homes were the major expression of the workers’ democracy. It was also the best way to avoid the corruption plague, present in all other types of State. If there is no control by the file and rank and revocability of the representatives, there is no way to avoid the corruption.

As Lenin said, comparing the bourgeois democracy to the Soviet regime: “Elections held in such circumstances are lauded by the bourgeoisie, for very good reasons, as being “free”, “equal”, “democratic” and “universal”. These words are designed to conceal the truth, to conceal the fact that the means of production and political power remain in the hands of the exploiters, and that therefore real freedom and real equality for the exploited, that is, for the vast majority of the population, are out of the question” [“Democracy” and Dictatorship].

This new State was, as every other state, a dictatorship. Only that this time it was a workers’ dictatorship, not a bourgeois dictatorship. It ensured wide democracy for the workers and also the defense, as a State, of the inevitable attacks that would come from the bourgeoisie and the imperialism.

This had a harsh military expression. The new State was attacked through every border, by the White Army and troops of 14 countries, including the greater imperialist powers; and it won.

Even in conditions of civil war, it was the most democratic regime for the working class and the people that history has ever seen.

It is not by chance that from such freedom, such effervescence, it emerged an instigating, critical and many times brilliant art that left a mark in history in several fields. There was no “official” art, the Bolshevik Party and the State were categorically against it. They just guaranteed the resources for the art movements to bloom.

In cinema, Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov broke the linear Hollywood narrative. Mayakovski and Alexander Blok broke the rules of poetry. In plastic arts, Malevich and his Suprematism reflected the European explosion of Surrealism, Expressionism and Futurism. In Mayakovsky’s words: “There is no revolutionary art without revolutionary form”.

The Russian Revolution was also a historical demonstration that only like this the oppressions can be radically defeated. Women’s struggle had a historical advance conquering the right to divorce, abortion and equal salary as the men, and the communitarian restaurants, laundries and kidergartens attacked the basis of domestic work. All the laws against the homosexuals were annulled together with the Tsarist legislation. Marriage between homosexuals was approved by the Soviet Courts. The oppression over the nationalities of the Tsarist Russia transformed into free unification, the USSR.

The expropriation of the bourgeoisie and the planning of economy originated the greatest change ever seen in economic history. The USSR, one of the most backwardness countries of Europe and Asia, became a a country with an economic development that no other country ever had, in only a few decades.

This fact exposes the ideology of “inefficiency of the State companies”, one of the basis of the neo-liberal privatizing policy. The private property of the big firms, by looking for profit, brings misery for the workers, anarchy of the production and cyclic crisis. The combination of nationalization of the big companies and planning of economy led to a huge advance of the USSR.

Even after the Stalinist counter-revolution the advantages of a planned State economy were still vivid. In Trotsky’s words: “Socialism has demonstrated its right to victory, not on the pages of Capital, but in an industrial area comprising one-sixth of the earth’s surface – not in the language of dialectics, but in the language of steel, cement and electricity” [In Defence Of Marxism].

One of the most categorical examples of it is the counterpoint of the USSR evolution and the deep capitalist crisis, the one of 1929. While the capitalist world was facing the deepest depression with downturns of 20% annual GDP in many countries, the USSR industry grew 16% per year between 1928 and 1940.

This is the historical truth, suppressed from the memories of the workers all over the world. This is what we want to bring back in the celebration of 100 years of the Russian Revolution.

Are Bolshevism and Stalinism the same?

The Bolsheviks always put their hopes in the international revolution, specially in Europe. The Russian Revolution got to break the capitalist chain through its weaker link, the backward Russia. But the Socialist strategy supposes international planning of economy, not “Socialism in one country”. Only the development of the productive forces internationally can give material base to move towards Socialism. Socialism is, by nature, international, and can only triumph definitely by defeating capitalism in a global scale.

Nevertheless, the revolution was defeated in Germany on 1919, and also in Hungary. In 1923, a new defeat in Germany, and in 1927, a defeat in China. The Russian Revolution was isolated.

On the other hand, the Russian proletariat had to confront and defeat the armies of the biggest imperialist countries, and it paid a high price for it, with a high number of workers (particularly its vanguard) dead in the battlefields.

The isolation from the world did not allow the economy to move beyond a certain point. The proletariat, worn by the loss of its best fighters, could not hold the regime created in 1917. Of the proletariat itself was born the bureaucracy, which took advantage of the world revolution setback and the isolation of the Russian revolution to take the power.

The economic backwardness of Russia caused bureaucratic tendencies, greatly explained by Trotsky: “The basis of bureaucratic rule is the poverty of society in objects of consumption, with the resulting struggle of each against all. When there is enough goods in a store, the purchasers can come whenever they want to. When there is little goods, the purchasers are compelled to stand in line. When the lines are very long, it is necessary to appoint a policeman to keep order. Such is the starting point of the power of the Soviet bureaucracy. It “knows” who is to get something and how has to wait.

A raising of the material and cultural level ought, at first glance, to lessen the necessity of privileges, narrow the sphere of application of “bourgeois law”, and thereby undermine the standing ground of its defenders, the bureaucracy. In reality the opposite thing has happened: the growth of the productive forces has been so far accompanied by an extreme development of all forms of inequality, privilege and advantage, and therewith of bureaucratism. That too is not accidental” [In Defence of Marxism].

The Stalinist counter-revolution completely changed the soviets’ regime. Internal democracy was suppressed first in the Bolshevik party and then in the Soviets. The old Bolshevik vanguard was imprisoned and most of them killed. Many were judged in the Moscow Trials, and later shot. Trotsky was assassinated in exile, in 1940. Every opposition in the soviets was persecuted and killed.

The artistic environment was no further libertarian and polemic, due to the reactionary, stupid censorship that was imposed. The “Socialist Realism” became the “official art”, that is to say a tool of propaganda for the regime. Films, banners and ultra-realistic paintings exalted the people, the work.. and Stalin. Mayakovsky committed suicide in 1930; Malevich died in abandonment in 1935.

The conquests against the oppressions were stalled. The USSR became once again, as in the old Tsarist Russia, a “prison of the peoples”.

The III International stopped being a lever for the world revolution to become an obedient branch of the Soviet bureaucracy, until its total dissolution by Stalin in 1943, as a demonstration of good will to the imperialism.

The imperialist propaganda aims to equal Stalinism and Bolshevism, supported by the entire Stalinist apparatus. To erase the first years of the Russian Revolution is an essential ideological manipulation.

However, the Stalinism was agent and expression of the defeat of the Revolution. It imposed only through a true civil war. The Stalinist dictatorship slaughtered over 700 thousand people, starting by the majority of the CC which led the 1917 revolution.

The Restoration Of Capitalism Was The Last Great Betrayal Of Stalinism

Stalinism was the biggest counter-revolutionary apparatus in the inside of the working class in the whole history. It had the usurped authority of the Russian Revolution, plus a great quantity of resources because of the control of the USSR State apparatus (and later the other bureaucratized Workers’ States). It could convince or corrupt a major part of the vanguard emerging around the world.

The official ideology of Stalinism combined the construction of “Socialism” in the USSR (“Socialism in one country”) and the pacific coexistence with the imperialism. That took to major defeats of the revolutionary processes.

The ‘Stalinized’ leadership of the III had responsibility on the defeat of 1923 in Germany and the one of 1927 in China. Then, Stalinism helped the victory of Hitler in Germany by refusing to call for a United Front, during the so called extreme-left “third period”. It turned to the right supporting the policy of popular fronts (coalition with “progressive” bourgeoisies, tactic they would never abandon from then on), driving the Spanish Revolution to a defeat.

In the post-war period, Stalin determined the CPs in France and Italy should hand over the power to the bourgeoisie that had lost power when the Nazi-Fascism was destroyed. With this, Stalinism made possible for the imperialism to survive in the core of Europe.

The reflexion on the economy of the Russian Workers’ State would be felt soon. The failure of the strategy of “Socialism in one country” was evident. In a first moment, those limits were relative and still allowed the economy to grow. But later they became absolute. By not expanding the world revolution, the Russian economy was becoming more and more subjected to the control of the imperialism.

Trotsky himself, analyzing the superiority of the Soviet planned economy, in a genial prediction, affirms:

The progressive role of the Soviet bureaucracy coincides with the period devoted to introducing into the Soviet Union the most important elements of capitalist technique.

The rough work of borrowing, imitating, transplanting and grafting, was accomplished on the bases laid down by the revolution. There was, thus far, no question of any new word in the sphere of technique, science or art. It is possible to build gigantic factories according to a ready-made Western pattern by bureaucratic command – although, to be sure, at triple the normal cost. But the farther you go, the more the economy runs into the problem of quality, which slips out of the hands of a bureaucracy like a shadow. The Soviet products are as though branded with the gray label of indifference. Under a nationalized economy, quality demands a democracy of producers and consumers, freedom of criticism and initiative – conditions incompatible with a totalitarian regime of fear, lies and flattery.

Behind the question of quality stands a more complicated and grandiose problem which may be comprised in the concept of independent, technical and cultural creation. The ancient philosopher said that strife is the father of all things. No new values can be created where a free conflict of ideas is impossible” [The Revolution Betrayed – Chapter 11].

The USSR economy, as well as other bureaucratized Workers States’, started declining during the ‘60s. The bureaucracies were progressively deepening their bonds with the imperialism, specifically through the mechanism of the external debt. Together with that they were slowly introducing economic reforms with more and more market elements.

The workers, each time more discontent, revolted against the Stalinist dictatorships. The political revolutions in Germany (1953), Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968) and Poland (1980) generated a major crisis for Stalinism. But those revolutions were defeated by the direct repression of the USSR troops or the Stalinist bureaucracies.

The bureaucracy finally left aside the partial plans of reforms and moved to the restoration of capitalism in those countries. The national bureaucracies commanded the restoration process from the States, starting by Yugoslavia during the ‘60s, China by the end of the ‘70s, and the USSR with the assumption of Gobratchev, in ’85-’87.

The insurrection in the USSR and the European East during the ‘90s were already against the brutal fall of the life quality (salary adjustment, hyperinflation, lack of provisions, uncontrollable speculation), determined by the restoration. The masses confronted the Stalinist dictatorships, which were the head of already bourgeois states. The Stalinism world apparatus ended up being defeated by the masses’ action.

The restoration of capitalism was the last betrayal of Stalinism to the working class’ cause. The imperialism took advantage of that to launch the deep campaign of the “death of Socialism”, equalling socialism to Stalinism. The campaign aimed to show capitalism as the only alternative for humanity, and the bourgeois democracy as the major goal for all peoples.

Nevertheless, the economic world crisis of 2007-2008 shaked the neo-liberal ideology. The true face of the capitalist exploitation is more evident each day. There are clear aspects of barbarianism in our daily reality.

Socialism Or Barbarianism

Most workers think a Socialist revolution is not possible in the present. We would like to recall Trotsky’s phrase: “Every revolution is impossible until it becomes inevitable”.

Workers nowadays face a strong fall of their salaries, most part of the workforce in precarious conditions (only a quarter of it with stable jobs), lousy condition of public health and education. The hope of social ascent of the past is not present anymore, not even in the imperialist countries.

The planet, in midst of the XXI Century, lives a deep economic, cultural, moral and ecologic decline. The war refugees reach 60 million; the unemployment affecting a minority of the population that capitalism was using as “reserve army of labour” now hits entire populations. Half inhabitants are poor and miserable. It is an announcement of a new recessive world crisis in the horizon.

Violence against women, black and homosexuals reaches absurd levels. There are clear signs of barbarianism in the periphery of each of the world big cities. Global warming threatens the future of the planet.

Near the Centenary of the Russian Revolution we must take a conclusion: more than ever, the real disjunctive is Socialism or barbarianism. Whether the workers recover the example of the Russian Revolution, or capitalism will inevitably drive the world to barbarianism.

Together with the growing signs of barbarianism, the signs of economic or political instability in great parts of the planet also deepen. There is a social, economic and political polarization growing that can originate new revolutionary processes.

Reformist say a socialist revolution is not possible because “it is part of the masses’ consciousness”. We would like to recall Lenin words on this matter, in polemics with the reformists of back then:

But when it comes to supporting and developing now the revolutionary effervescence growing among the masses, then Axelrod responds this tactic of masses’ revolutionary actions ‘would still be justified if we were on the eve of a social revolution, as it happened for example in Russia, where the students’ demonstrations in 1901 announced the arrival of decisive battles against absolutism’; but in the present that should be utopia.

The indescribable Axelrod simply forgets that in 1901 in Russia no one knew, nor could have known, the first ‘decisive battle’ would take place four years later – and it would not be ‘decisive’. And yet only us, revolutionary Marxists, were right at that point: we did not ridiculed the Kritchevski and the Martinov, who immediately appealed to the assault. We just advised the workers to expell the opportunists from everywhere and support, intensify and expand, with all their strength, the mobilizations and other massive revolutionary actions. The current situation in Europe is perfectly analogue: it would not be sincere to appeal to the ‘immediate’ assault. But it would be shameful to call yourself a ‘social-democrat’ and not advise the workers to break with the opportunists and consolidate, deepen, expand and intensify with all their strength the revolutionary movement and the emerging mobilization. The revolution never falls from the sky complete; in the beginning of the revolutionary rise no one ever knows if it will lead, and when, to a ‘true’, ‘authentic’ revolution”.[1]

Lenin wrote this less than two years before the revolution of October, when he was fighting, still in absolute minority, against the Social-Democrat parties that were capitulating to the imperialist bourgeoisies in the war.

We are not professing a socialist revolution in a few years from now. There is obviously a long way ahead to the construction of a revolutionary leadership with masses influence on the proletariat, as the Bolshevik Party was. We are debating with the reformists which do everything possible to backward the consciousness of the masses to then argument “the backwardness of the consciousness” makes the revolution impossible. Through Lenin’s method, we defend to encourage the direct struggle of the workers for them to break with these reformist leaderships.

To Learn From The Russian Revolution

To us, the Russian Revolution is more than a historical fact, although an important one. It is a reference of what to do to change the world.

Most of the ones commemorating the Centenary of the 1917 Revolution will talk about it as something in the past, almost a relic. To us, it is model to action.

The Bolsheviks deeply studied the Paris Commune to be able to face the challenge of making a revolution in Russia. We have to study the Russian Revolution, to learn from its merits and mistakes, in case one day we propose ourselves to drive a new Socialist revolution.

We are not pretentious of assuming this challenge in this initial article. Our goal is to instigate all the revolutionaries to do it collectively.

We will approach only two aspects of the many lessons the Russian Revolution left. The first one is the Bolsheviks’ struggle against the reformists; the second one is how the Russian Revolution was almost defeated by the bourgeois democracy.

It Is Impossible To Give Steps Toward The Revolution Without Fighting Reformism

This Leninist analysis is opposed to the very common comprehension among the activism: many think the “left” is some kind of family that includes more leftist sectors and others more rightist, but they still are all part of the same family.

Lenin thought the opposite. Reformists are the representatives of the bourgeois pressure over the workers movement. If the workers do not break with reformism, the revolution is impossible. It has nothing to do with leaving aside the necessary tactics of unity of action and united front for the masses movement. But they should serve the dispute of the struggles’ leaderships and the consciousness of the mass movement against reformist parties.

The experience of the Russian Revolution proves it. The reformist Mensheviks and Revolutionary Socialist were a majority during most of 1917. During all that period they refused to break with the bourgeoisie and take the power. They did not agree in ending the war, they did not expropriate the lands of the great land-owners.

Only when the Bolsheviks got the majority in the soviets it was possible to take power and make the revolution.

Trotsky synthesizes well our understanding on reformism:

The three tendencies in the present workers’ movement – reformism, communism, and centrism – flow inescapably from the objective situation of the proletariat under the imperialist regime of the bourgeoisie. Reformism is the current that emerged from the upper and privileged layers of the proletariat and reflects their interests. In some countries especially, the workers’ aristocracy and bureaucracy form a very important and powerful layer with a mentality, in most cases, that is petty-bourgeois by virtue of the very conditions of their existence and way of thinking; but they have to adapt themselves to the proletariat on whose back they grew up. The highest of these elements attain to supreme power and well-being through the bourgeois parliamentary channel.

(…) The imperialist stage of evolution, which increasingly aggravates contradictions, often forces the bourgeoisie to transform the leading groups of reformists into real activists for its trusts and governmental combinations. This is what characterizes the new -much higher -degree of dependence of reformism on the imperialist bourgeoisie, and sets a much more distinctive stamp on its psychology and politics, making it suitable for directly taking the helm in the affairs of the bourgeois state. Of this upper layer of “reformists” we can least of all say “They have nothing to lose but their chains”. On the contrary, for all these prime ministers, ministers, mayors, deputies, and union leaders, the socialist revolution would mean the expropriation of their positions of privilege. These watchdogs of capital do not protect merely property in general but mainly their own property. They are the bitter enemies of the proletariat’s liberating revolution” [What Is Centrism? – 1930, p. 234-235].

In the present, the reformism does not even defend as in the past a “parliamentary way to socialism”. It just defends reforms through the inside of capitalism, through the elections.

By reaching the power, the social democracy makes part of the bourgeois governments which strictly implement the neo-liberal plans of the bourgeoisie. It was the road followed by the European social democracy, the Greek PASOK and the Spanish PSOE, that took those parties to huge crisis.

New reformist parties emerge to occupy the political space left by the crisis of the social democracy, like Syriza (Greece), Podemos (Spain), PSOL (Brazil) and the Broad Front (Costa Rica). Those parties share the parliamentary strategy of the social democracy.

The experience of Syriza in the Greek government is quite illustrative. After being elected to oppose the European Union plans, after a referendum in which the Greek people repudiated those plans, Syriza implemented the hardest neo-liberal plan already seen in the country.

The Brazilian PT also followed the road of the social democracy, leading bourgeois governments for thirteen years in Brazil, what caused the rupture of most workers with the party. When the PT lost its base among the working class the bourgeoisie co-governing with the PT led the impeachment overthrowing the PT.

The PSOL, a new reformist party, presents looking to occupy the space opened by the PT crisis. It was part of a bourgeois field around the PT government, supporting the government “against a right-wing coup”. There was no coup: there were two bourgeois fields (the right-wing bourgeois opposition and the PT government), with the PSOL and the entire reformism aligned to one of them.

The PSOL supported the PT against the impeachment incorporating the speech of “against the coup”. When campaigning for Municipal Elections in Rio de Janeiro, Marcelo Freixo, one of the greatest PSOL’s figures, presented the “Commitment with Rio”, a text similar to the “Letter to the Brazilians” of Lula, in 2002, in which he committed to respect all the contracts of “fiscal balance” signed with the bourgeoisie.

Reformism –the old and the new one- plays the role in the XXI century of arm of the bourgeoisie in the mass movement. The lesson of the Russian Revolution remains: if we do not defeat reformism, there is no possibility for the revolution to triumph.

Bourgeois Democracy And Revolution

Trotsky wrote a famous text, called The Lessons of October, in which he calls the activists to study the revolution. In this book, he approaches a key moment in which the revolution was about to be defeated.

In September, less than a month before the October insurrection, the Bolshevik Central Committe was divided on the policy for the Pre-Parliament. According to Trotsky:

We saw how the right-wing conceived the development of the revolution: the soviets transferring progressively their functions to qualified institutions) municipalities, zemstvos, unions and, finally, Constituent Assembly), abandoning with this the political scene. Through the pre-parliament, the political thought of the masses should focus on the Constituent Assembly, crowning of the democratic revolution. The Bolsheviks were majority in Moscovo and Petrograd soviets, our influence among the army grew day by day. It was no longer about prognostics or perspectives but about choosing the way we needed to go through”.

So, the reformist Mensheviks pointed the way of dissolving the dual power in the bourgeois democracy institutions, focusing on the pre-parliament and the Constituent. The right wing of the Bolshevik CC defended it and was a majority on this. Only Lenin’s open pressure got to revert the position and force the Bolsheviks to abandon the pre-parliament. Not much more than a month later they were taking the power.

Unfortunately, that was not the outcome of the German revolution, in 1919. The end of the German war brought the country to a brutal crisis, the fall of the monarchy and the assumption of a social-democrat government. Workers’ Councils generalized around the country. Yet, the 1st Congress of Workers and Soldiers’ Councils, in December 1918, voted (by 344 to 98 votes) against the motion of giving the councils the highest legislative and executive powers, and keep the councils’ system “as the foundation of the Constitution of the Socialist Republic”. It voted for the Constituent Assembly. The defeat of a revolution began there.

To those who still think the revolutionaries and the reformists are still “a family”, although with differences, it is good to recall the social-democrat German government killed Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in 1919.

The bourgeois democracy was used to deviate the revolution and defeat it countless times since then. It was like this with the Portuguese revolution of 1974-75, and the revolution in Central America by the end of the ‘70s.

This became the main policy of imperialism since the Carter governments in the US, and it was essential to deviate the revolutions in Latin America since the beginning of the XXI century, in Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina.

The pressure of the bourgeois democracy still strongly affects the left in the present. The Peace Agreement between the FARC and the Colombian government is part of it. It is part of the same agreement that took the guerrilla leaderships of Nicaragua and El Salvador to integrate the bourgeois democracy.

Is Socialism A Utopia?

Many workers believe Socialism is just a utopia. They do not see how the humanity could reach that level. It recalls an extract of Trotsky’s writings:

The material premise of communism should be so high a development of the economic powers of man that productive labor, having ceased to be a burden, will not require any goad, and the distribution of life’s goods, existing in continual abundance, will not demand – as it does not now in any well-off family or ‘decent’ boarding-house – any control except that of education, habit and social opinion. Speaking frankly, I think it would be pretty dull-witted to consider such a really modest perspective ‘utopian’.

Capitalism prepared the conditions and forces for a social revolution: technique, science and the proletariat. The communist structure cannot, however, immediately replace the bourgeois society. The material and cultural inheritance from the past is wholly inadequate for that. In its first steps the workers’ state cannot yet permit everyone to work ‘according to his abilities’ – that is, as much as he can and wishes to – nor can it reward everyone ‘according to his needs’, regardless of the work he does. In order to increase the productive forces, it is necessary to resort to the customary norms of wage payment – that is, to the distribution of life’s goods in proportion to the quantity and quality of individual labor.

Marx named this first stage of the new society ‘the lowest stage of communism’, in distinction from the highest, where together with the last phantoms of want material inequality will disappear” [The Revolution Betrayed].

Today, the development of the productive forces would already allow to end the world hunger. It would be a qualitative advance for the world.

Yet we would still be under the level of economic needs of the workers, that go much beyond food. The necessities vary according to the evolution of the technic.

According to Trotsky:

The Soviet Union, to be sure, even now excels in productive forces the most advanced countries of the epoch of Marx. But in the first place, in the historic rivalry of two regimes, it is not so much a question of absolutely as of relative levels: the Soviet economy opposes the capitalism of Hitler, Baldwin, and Roosevelt, not Bismarck, Palmerston, or Abraham Lincoln. And in the second place, the very scope of human demands changes fundamentally with the growth of world technique. The contemporaries of Marx knew nothing of automobiles, radios, moving pictures, airplanes. A socialist society, however, is unthinkable without the free enjoyment of these goods” [The Revolution Betrayed].

Updating Trotsky, a Socialist society today would be unthinkable without the free use of smartphones and computers. It is more than undeniable that the development of computers, internet and communication means ease a lot the administration of companies and institutions. A republic based on Soviet councils could more easily incorporate the working masses to the control of the State and the society.

To Be Realistic Is To Be Revolutionaries

We were many times accused of not being ‘realistic’, because of defending a revolution. We want to say precisely because we are realistic we defend a socialist revolution like the Russian of 1917.

What do the “realists” defend, otherwise? In general, they defend reforms of the capitalism in alliance with “progressive” bourgeois sectors for the elections. Is that truly being realistic? What changes will they achieve that way?

That was the path followed by the reformists. Many had hopes in the PT reformism, of changing through the inside of the State, through the election. It is the PT that was changed by the bourgeois state instead, now being one more party to implement neo-liberalism, incorporating to itself the corruption of every bourgeois party.

Others had hopes on the bourgeois nationalism of Chavism, called “the socialism of the XXI century”. Chavez has nothing of socialist. It was a bourgeois nationalism refusing to confront the imperialism and move forward to Socialism. Take a look at the current situation in Venezuela.

The same direction is being followed by the new reformism of Syriza, en Greece, and can also be followed by Podemos, the PSOL and the Broad Front.

That is not our way. We defend the example of the Russian Revolution. The “realism” of the new and old reformists does not lead to any deep change or rupture with capitalism. And such is the utopia, a reactionary utopia.

The working masses are fighting all over the world. In Middle East, Europe and Latin America, the neo-liberal plans, harder each time, are forcing the workers to go out on the streets. The workers are overthrowing governments, yet many times others emerge which are the same or worse. The brutal oppression of dictatorships like the Syrian one forces the people into heroic fights. The Palestinians are confronting the Nazi-Fascist state of Israel.

The realist path to the revolution is hard, full of come-and-go. Many defeats, not much victories. But it is the only way possible. Just through the revolutionary mobilization of the working class and other exploited sectors we can, one day, end capitalism, misery, starvation, unemployment, all type of oppression, the lousy health and education systems, etc., like the Russian Revolution did.

To move forward in that direction, it is necessary to overcome the crisis of the revolutionary leadership, that is to say the predominance of reformist leaderships and the weakness of the revolutionary ones.

Our greater tribute to the Russian Revolution is to follow its example in the present. It is to transform the impossible in possible.

**

Notes:

[1] Quotation not avaliable in English. Translation by Editorial Team.

**

Translation: Sofia Ballack.

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