November 7 is the anniversary of the Great October Revolution in Russia. On this day, for the first time in the history of mankind, the working class overthrew the rule of the bourgeoisie and established its own state power, the state of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
This state power of the working class emancipated the toiling masses from exploitation, oppression and poverty in the shortest possible time, and went on to astound the whole world with its achievements in diverse spheres.
The outbreak of this Revolution was not an accident, was not a spontaneous event. It represented the application of the scientific teachings of Marxism by a bold and determined communist party, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolshevik) led by the outstanding Marxist theoretician and leader, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.
The socialist state founded through the October Revolution, the Soviet Union, no longer exists. After the death of J.V.Stalin, it was undermined from within by enemies of socialism and became an aggressive, social-imperialist state, before it finally collapsed in 1991. However, this does not negate the great historic significance of the October Revolution. Today, the deep crisis of capitalism and the mounting protests of the working class and people against exploitation and oppression all over the world show that the path blazed by the October Revolution remains the way forward for humanity. This is the path of dismantling the bourgeois state, establishing the rule of the working class and replacing capitalism with socialism.
At the time when the revolution broke out in Russia, the whole world was in the grip of the First World War. Lakhs of people, not just in Europe but even from India and other colonies, lost their lives in this war engendered by the rivalry and striving for domination of the major capitalist countries. The great merit of the Bolshevik Party and Lenin was to utilise the crisis of capitalism in favour of revolution. They rallied the masses of discontented people of Russia around the working class to seize power from the bankrupt bourgeoisie and establish a totally new state power.
The victorious working class and toiling peasantry of Russia quickly formed a close bond with the oppressed nations and nationalities of the former tsarist empire. This ensured the founding, just a short time later, of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. This, a voluntary union of free and equal peoples, was an unprecedented phenomenon in world history.
The test of this union of nationalities, and of the state of the working class and peasantry, came immediately. The world’s only socialist state triumphed over the combined military forces of the imperialist powers of the world which were hurled against it. Although besieged from all sides for several years, while still in its infancy, the Soviet Union could not be vanquished by the armed intervention of the imperialist states. This was confirmed again when the peoples of the Soviet Union rallied around the Bolshevik Party led by J.V.Stalin to defeat the ferocious offensive of the Hitlerite hordes during World War II.
Without waiting for the consolidation of the new state power, the Soviet Union blazed a new trail in the sphere of international relations. It unilaterally renounced all privileges of the old tsarist empire. It rejected the self-serving and unprincipled imperialist power politics practised by the major states in the world. Above all, it actively assisted the movements of the working class and oppressed peoples, including the anti-imperialist and national liberation movements in other countries. This ensured that the imperialists’ attempts to isolate the new Soviet state were defeated. It also provided a tremendous boost to the movements for national and social liberation worldwide.
There was no blueprint or existing model for the Bolshevik party to build socialism. But by following the fundamental principles of Marxism, the Soviet communists led by Lenin and Stalin showed the working class and people that it is possible to build a social system which not only eliminated poverty and exploitation, but which could also set new standards in the well-being of the people and all-round development.
While completely dismantling the old state power and expropriating the capitalists, a new set of political institutions, a new people’s army and a totally new economic system were built. Once the toiling masses were emancipated, and private profit removed as the driver of the economy, immense productive forces were released. Self-reliance and scientific planning ensured that the socialist economy grew at remarkably rapid rates, at a time when the capitalist world was plunged into economic depression.
The fruits of all this development did not go into the pockets of a few but were used to uplift the formerly downtrodden masses and ensure them a high standard of living that won the admiration of the peoples of the whole world. Universal literacy, advanced health care for all, the emancipation of women by drawing them out of their homes and into public and socially productive life, stupendous scientific and technical development, the flourishing of literature and all the arts – these were just some of the visible, tangible achievements of socialism in the Soviet Union.
The great lesson of the October Revolution and the Soviet Union is that it is possible for the working class and toiling people to rise up and build a new life for themselves, provided they are led by a communist party that is based on, and creatively applies the scientific teachings of Marxism-Leninism. The emancipation of the poor and downtrodden, and a new world without exploitation and oppression, need not be a dream. However, the lesson of the Soviet Union also is that the dictatorship of the proletariat can be defeated and the achievements of socialism reversed, if the party does not lead the class struggle at every stage of socialist construction, based on the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism, but instead capitulates to the bourgeoisie and the bourgeois ideology.
The Khrushchevite revisionists who came to the head of the party and the state in the Soviet Union after the death of Comrade Stalin systematically negated all the features of the socialist system that had been built up, beginning with an all-out attack on the name and work of Stalin. They gave the utterly anti-Marxist-Leninist line that the Bolshevik Party had become a “party of the whole people” in order to disarm the working class and sabotage its struggle against the new bourgeoisie that was emerging. They converted the party of the proletariat into a party of the revisionist bourgeoisie, which concentrated decision making power in its hands, reducing to a dead letter the far reaching advances made by the 1936 Constitution of the Soviet Union in extending political rights and broadening the role of people in governance. In the name of opposing US imperialism, the Khrushchevites and their anti-Marxist successors entered into an arms race and rivalry for world domination with US imperialism, turning the once great bastion of world revolution into an aggressive social-imperialist power – socialist in words but imperialist in deeds. What finally collapsed in 1991 was just a hollow shell of what was once the world’s first socialist state.
The duty of communists and revolutionaries, however, is not to bemoan this great tragedy that befell the working class and people, but to draw lessons from it and work tirelessly for the victory of the revolution in one's own country, by ceaselessly strengthening the Marxist-Leninist party ideologically and organisationally, as the ultimate guarantee of the emancipation of the people.
On the anniversary of the Great October Revolution, Mazdoor Ekta Lehar calls on the working class and communists of our country to redouble efforts for the victory of revolution and socialism on our soil!
Uphold Marxism-Leninism and the Path of the Great October Revolution!