On 25 October 2017 (7 November in the Gregorian calendar) the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, organised an uprising that overthrew the weak and vacillating Provisional Government that had emerged from the overthrow of the Tsar earlier that year.
At 10am on the 25th the Military Revolutionary Committee of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies announced that the Provisional Government had been deposed and that state power had passed into the hands of the Military Revolutionary Committee, pending the convocation of the All Russian Congress of the Soviets.
The articles below explore the significance of the October Revolution, the state it created and its contribution to the progress of humanity.
By Brian Jackson
The 1917 October Revolution created today’s world in both an objective and subjective sense. Objectively, the October Revolution delivered the decisive blow to the four-century old colonial and imperialist system from which it has never recovered. Subjectively, in no country has the working class taken power and held it for any prolonged period other than via a political party that originated in the Third International created by the October Revolution (Russia, Yugoslavia, China, Vietnam) or which fused with a party from the Third International and embraced Marxism-Leninism (Cuba).
By Sammy Barker
The October revolution of 1917 was the single most important event of the twentieth century. For the first time in human history a state was established, and stabilised, that represented the interests of the labouring majority in society. Society’s resources were to be utilised to advance the welfare, living standards and ambitions of the workers and peasants. The old exploiting classes – the nobility, landlords and capitalists – were stripped of the privileges which they possessed through robbery, deceit, arbitrary violence and grinding exploitation.
By Martin Woodley
1 The lock step of socialist advance and black struggle
Marx identified the class struggle as the locomotive of history. Yet, the struggle between classes as defined by Marx is fundamental but it far from exhausts the types of conflict typical of the modern era. In particular, the struggle of black people for liberation is one of the primary metrics by which it is possible to characterise the twentieth century. How does this titanic struggle relate to the class struggle as defined by Marx, and how should communists understand and relate to the black movement and black consciousness?
By Mary McGregor
‘The inequality of the two before the law, which is a legacy of previous social conditions, is not the cause but the effect of the economic oppression of women.’ Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State.
Such was the significance of the October Revolution for women’s lives – most directly in Russia but also internationally (think, for example, of Sylvia Pankhurst – invited to Russia by Lenin in 1918 – and the inspiration the Bolshevik victory lent to her work with working class women in London’s east end, her involvement in the early Communist Party and in the anti-colonial struggle) that it cannot be entirely obliterated from officially permitted history. Hence an exhibition at the British Library records something of the role of women in Russian progressive politics and directly in the Bolshevik struggle. Most importantly, it hints at how women’s social, political and economic position improved or declined along with the arc of the revolutionary process itself.