On the 101st Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia, Chair of the Young Communist League, Johnnie Hunter, discusses the reasons behind the revolution, its legacy and most importantly its significance today in 2018.
As communists it seems obvious, maybe even trite, when we say the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917 was the single most important event of the 20th Century. For the peoples of the Soviet Union it was the legendary opening chapter which began a glorious revolutionary tradition. For humankind it changed the course of history.
The opening salvo of the Aurora which signalled the storming of the Winter Palace also marked the death knell of world of imperialism and the beginning of the epoch of international proletarian revolution. Not since Paris Commune of 1871, ultimately crushed and drowned in blood, had working people seized state power. As the spring must follow the winter, the triumph of the workers against the ruling class is historically inevitable. The fact that backwards Tsarist Russia was to be the cradle of the revolution reflected its position, in Lenin’s words, as the weak link in the chain of global imperialism.
In 1917 the ruling class in Russia faced a precarious position. Even before the outbreak of World War One the country faced economic turmoil and was wracked by class conflict. In the cities, workers and new migrants from the countryside crowded into the slums surrounding the massive factories and mills. These factories, many owned by British, French, German and US capitalists, were the site of intense class struggle as workers fought for better pay and conditions and for democratic rights. In the countryside small peasants and landless rural workers, never meaningfully freed from the bonds of serfdom, laboured under the yoke of aristocratic and kulak exploitation. Everywhere the Tsarist government responded with brutality and oppression. Firing on striking workers, brutalising peasant communities and crushing insurrection. The liberal and bourgeois parties in the Russian Duma were unable and unwilling to carry forward the struggle for democratic rights.