1917–2017 centenary - February to April

Lenin speaking on Red Square May 1919

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 will be publishing articles which analyse the lessons of the Bolshevik Revolution.

In FRFI 255 we published an article examining the February Revolution. Below, we continue the series with edited versions of two articles by Patrick Newman first published in FRFI in 1987, which analyse the different standpoints of Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky in relation to the character of the revolution.

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April: Lenin re-arms Bolshevik Vanguard: Russia 1917 Part 3

lenin rearms

This article was first published in Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 68 in May 1987. We republish it now, in 2017, in a series celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and the beginning of the most important struggle for socialism, peace and progress in history.

The pressure of the mass movement was forcing the leadership of the Soviets and the Provisional Government to declare their positions on the real issues which affected the workers, soldiers and peasants - the continuation of the war, and, the ownership of the land. In the first month of the revolution the contradictions between the revolutionary expectations of the masses and the actions of the Soviet leadership and the Provisional Government began to emerge.

On 14 March the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet issued a Manifesto, 'To the Peoples of the World'. It declared that ‘. . . the Russian democracy . . . will oppose the acquisitive policy of its own ruling classes by all means . . . ' and summoned '. . . the peoples of Europe to common decisive actions in favour of peace . . . ', appealing to Austrian and German workers ‘. . . to refuse to serve as a weapon for conquest and violence in the hands of kings, landlords and bankers.'

However, in imperialist politics, to accept something in principle means to reject it in effect. No specific measures at all were taken to oppose the imperialist war. The Provisional Government refused to publish the Tsar's secret treaties of 1915 and 1916 which had fallen into its hands. According to these amicable agreements between the 'democratic' powers, Britain and France consented to the annexation by Russia of Constantinople and access to the Straits of Bosphorus and Hellespont. In return, Britain was to obtain Iraq, France to get Syria, and Palestine would be shared out between them. The reactionary officials of the Tsarist Foreign Office who had been party to the secret treaties remained at their desks; the inspirer of the Tsar's foreign policy, Miliukov, actually became Foreign Minister in the Provisional Government; and on 1 April, with no joke intended, the Chief of Staff in the Tsarist army, Alekseev, assumed the same position in the army of 'revolutionary democracy'.

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Dual power: Russia 1917 Part 2

prov committee

This article was first published in Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 67 in April 1987. We republish it now, in 2017, in a series celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and the beginning of the most important struggle for socialism, peace and progress in history.

The success of the February 1917 revolution in Russia was followed by a situation of dual power. The bourgeoisie set up a Provisional Government, the working class and peasantry formed their own organisations, the Soviets (councils). The struggle between the two antagonistic powers was to be the crucial question for the next 8 months of the revolution.

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Taking the side of socialism: speech by Trevor Rayne

Reichstag flag original

SPEECH ON THE CENTENARY OF THE FEBRUARY 1917 RUSSIAN REVOLUTION:

TAKING THE SIDE OF SOCIALISM given by Trevor Rayne in LONDON 16 February 2017

The Bolshevik October Revolution showed to the people of the world that poor people, the masses, can take power and begin to build a society without exploitation, without the systematic oppression of half humanity that is female – women. Its targets were to overcome capitalism, imperialism, perpetual war between nations and peoples and to end the use of productive powers for purposes of destruction, and to end poverty.

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The February Revolution: Russia 1917 Part 1

1917 october revolution

Under the slogan ‘Power to the Soviets, Land to the Peasants, Peace to the Nations, Bread to the Starving’, the working class in Russia seized state power. In 2017 we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution and the beginning of the most important struggle for socialism, peace, and progress in our history.

In the wake of October 1917, the newly-founded Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) aimed to banish exploitation from every sphere of social and economic life, to develop its industry and agriculture to provide for all its people, and to revolutionise political, cultural, and social institutions. As a result, the world was transformed. The example of seizing the control of a nation away from capitalists and imperialists inspired socialist revolutions across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas and the victorious proletarian revolution gave unstinting support to national liberation struggles in oppressed nations. This legacy lives on in socialist Cuba and in all those fighting oppression and imperialism.

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