Lenin and the Bolshevik Party

From Revolutionary Communist 6, 1976

Presidium of the 9th Congress of the Russian Communist Party Bolsheviks

This is an extended review of Tony Cliff’s Lenin: Volume One: Building the Party. London: Pluto Press Limited, 1975. Hardback and paperback editions. It is a slightly abridged version of an article of the same title in Revolutionary Marxist Papers 8, July 1976.

Please also see the Editorial from Revolutionary Communist 6 which made criticisms of certain aspects of the argument put forward in this review. 

Tony Cliff, the leader of the International Socialism group of Great Britain, has written the first volume of a projected three volume political biography of Lenin. The first volume deals with the period ending in 1914, and its subtitle, Building the Party, indicates Cliff’s main focus: How did a handful of Russian Marxists manage to construct the most successful mass revolutionary workers’ party in history, the only party which proved able to lead the proletariat to the conquest of state power and then to consolidate and defend that conquest in the face of the ferocious international capitalist reaction?

Writing in the magazine International Socialism, another IS spokesman Duncan Hallas assesses Cliff’s Lenin in the most glowing terms: ‘This book is the most important work on the theory and practice of building a socialist organisation that has appeared for a long time. As a biography it has its faults. It would be no great exaggeration to say that it might well have been called Building the Party – Illustrated from the Life of Lenin. No matter. A manual for revolutionaries – and that is what we have here – is needed more urgently than a fully rounded biography. This is a work whose lessons can and must be applied to the practical tasks of party building.’

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Counter-revolution defeated: Russia 1917 Part 6

General Kornilov
General Lavr Kornilov

Centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution 1917–2017

In 2017 we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and the beginning of the most important struggle for socialism, peace, and progress in history. Throughout the year, FRFI is carrying articles which analyse the lessons of the Bolshevik Revolution. In FRFI 258 we examined the developments up to July 1917. Below, we continue the series with an edited version of an article by Patrick Newman first published in FRFI 71 in September 1987, which looks at Kornilov’s attempted coup.

Counter-revolution defeated

After the July days, the masses had fallen back in confusion. Would the forces of reaction seize the opportunity to crush them? In earlier proletarian revolutions – France 1848, 1871 and Russia 1905 – the bourgeoisie was able to wreak a terrible revenge, killing thousands of workers. But in Russia 1917 the counter-revolution was too weak to take advantage of its most favourable moment.

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Women in the Revolution

Alexandra Kollontai
Alexandra Kollontai

It was on International Working Women’s Day in 1917 that women factory workers came out onto the streets of Petrograd and joined workers at the Putilov Works who were protesting against government food rationing. There was a growing resentment against the Tsarist regime, and women in particular wanted to show their dissatisfaction, not only with the lack of food, but with the increasingly unpopular war that had been devastating Europe for over two years. The Bolsheviks had been vocal opponents of the war since its outbreak in 1914 and this fact helped strengthen their position. Women workers came out on the streets and marched to nearby factories to recruit over 50,000 workers for strike action. The government tried to stop the demonstrations but women boldly went against the advice of their union leaders and spoke with soldiers who then refused to open fire on the demonstrations and turned their weapons instead against the Tsarist forces. The influence that women had in the February revolution was significant. The changes brought about as a result of this and the later October revolution did more to advance women’s emancipation than anything that had come before and would change the history of the world forever. Lucy Roberts reports.

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150 years of Capital

‘It is without question the most terrible missile that has yet been hurled at the heads of the bourgeoisie.’ – Marx

‘As long as there have been capitalists and workers on earth, no book has appeared which is of as much importance for the workers.’ – Engels

 ‘Marx caught

                                the pilferers

                                                                of surplus-value

                                                                                                with their pelf

red-handed’ – Vladimir Mayakovsky

‘This is the source, here we learnt everything together, in fits and starts, searching what is still barely intuition’ – Che Guevara

‘When I read Marx’s Capital, I understood my plays.’ – Bertolt Brecht

‘It is hard to conceive of any more devastating attack against social democracy in all its aspects than Capital.’ – Sergei Eisenstein

‘The greatest work on political economy of our age.’ – Lenin


14 September 2017 is the 150th anniversary of the publication of the first volume of Marx’s life's work, Capital. The truths of this titanic work have been ‘refuted’, over and over, a million times, by a gaggle of bourgeois professors since its birth, yet its conclusions continue to be confirmed, decade after decade, by crisis-ridden capitalism. Why is Capital so important to the revolutionary socialist movement? Capital is a ‘Critique of Political Economy’, according to Marx’s subtitle. Why are we talking about ‘Political Economy’ at all? Why should we be criticising it? What has it got to do with the practical work of fighting for socialism?

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A new path for socialism? Revolutionary renewal in the Soviet Union and Cuba

Revolutionary Communist Group pamphlet from 1989, featuring articles from
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!

new pamphlet


Gorbachev's new path for Soviet Socialism

1. A return to Leninist principles?

2. The limits of co-existence

3. Disarmament and human rights: Gorbachev at the United Nations

4. Gorbachev in Havana and London

Castro and the Cuban road to socialism

5. Castro deepens the revolution

6. Cuba's transition to socialism

7. In defence of socialism


8. Soviet troops leave Afghanistan

9. Afghanistan turns tables on Washington