1917

"No matter what one thinks of Bolshevism, it is undeniable that the Russian Revolution is one of the greatest events in human history, and the rule of the Bolsheviki a phenomenon of worldwide importance." John Reed, 1st January 1919. (J. Reed, Ten Days that Shook the World)

2017 marks the centenary of the greatest event in world history: the Russian Revolution. The names Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky will forever be connected to that momentous social, political, and economic upheaval, which forever changed the course of humanity. Many people familiar with 20th Century history know that when the Russian working class overthrew the tsar in February 1917, Lenin was in exile in Switzerland, soon to return to Petrograd in the famous sealed train. But where was Trotsky before returning to the maelstrom?

On Monday 17 October, the Morning Star published a review of the new edition of Trotsky’s biography of Stalin written by Andrew Murray. While admitting that “this book has literary and historical merit,” Murray states that “it has much less as an actual biography of Stalin”. How does he justify these claims?

Ninety years ago, on 21st January 1924, Vladimir Lenin, the great Marxist and leader of the Russian Revolution, died from complications arising from an earlier assassin’s bullet. Ever since then there has been a sustained campaign to slander his name and distort his ideas, ranging from bourgeois historians and apologists to various reformists, liberals and assorted anarchists. Their task has been to discredit Lenin, Marxism and the Russian Revolution in the interests of the “democratic” rule of bankers and capitalists.

At the recent Marxist summer school in London, Alan Woods - author of "Bolshevism: the road to revolution" - explores the ideas of Bolshevism and discusses the vital role of Lenin and Trotsky in the Russian Revolution of 1917.

The early symptoms of bureaucratic degeneration in Russia were already noted by Lenin in the last two years of his politically active life. He spent his last months fighting against these reactionary tendencies, leaving behind a vital heritage of struggle in his last letters and articles. The struggle of the anti-Stalinist Left Opposition, led by Trotsky after Lenin's death, really begins here.

In the avalanche of propaganda against “Communism” an idea is often peddled that while preaching equality, the Communist leaders make sure their own personal position is well catered for. What this propaganda is based on is the horrible bureaucratically degenerate Soviet Union under Stalin. Not happy with attacking Stalin, however, they attempt to show that Lenin was no different.

Ted Sprague looks back at the period into which Lenin was born, the kind of society it was, and the key events that marked the young Lenin. He looks at the way Lenin discovered Marxism and made it his own, using it in later life to lead the Bolshevik party.

An avalanche of books has recently been published to discredit Lenin, Trotsky and the Russian Revolution. First and foremost of these writers is Professor Robert Service. The aim of his latest book on Trotsky is to prove that Bolshevism leads to Stalinism and totalitarianism. Here Rob Sewell sets the record straight and explains the huge gulf that divided genuine Bolshevism from the monster of Stalinism that was built on the physical destruction of the Bolshevik party.

Today is the 91st anniversary of the October Revolution, quite possibly the greatest moment in human history. For the first time the working class took control of both the state machinery and the means of production. In one bold move the old feudalistic mode of production was swept aside and the bourgeoisie, too weak to take control or play a productive role, were defeated also.

Lenin is probably the most slandered individual of the 20th century. As leader of the Russian Revolution of 1917, he has been attacked by bourgeois academics, Tory, Labour and Liberal politicians as well as Establishment figures internationally. So what did Lenin really stand for? And are his ideas still relevant today?

Sunday August 20th is the 66th anniversary of Trotsky's assassination by a Stalinist agent. On this occasion we republish Ted Grant's text Trotsky's Relevance Today, written in 1990.

This article written in 1945 analyses the relationship between the Soviet state and the Russian Orthodox Church. There was a clear dividing line between Lenin’s approach to this question and the zig-zag policy later adopted by Stalin. First published in Workers International News, October 1945.

Yesterday marked the 65th anniversary of the death of Leon Trotsky. He had been brutally struck down on August 20, 1940 by the hand of an assassin, an agent of Joseph Stalin, and rushed to hospital where he died at 7.25 p.m. the following day. He was sixty years old. On this commemoration, Rob Sewell takes a look at Trotsky’s life.

Lenin stated that the October Revolution of 1917 could never have taken place without the previous experience of the Revolution of 1905. A study of this remarkable event is therefore of great importance for anyone who wishes to understand the dynamics of revolution in general, and not just in the particular case. We publish here Alan Woods’ introduction to the forthcoming Spanish edition of Trotsky’s 1905.

On March 22 and 29, in two parts, the British Channel Five TV showed a documentary on the Russian Revolution entitled The Russian Revolution in Colour. Far from being an objective account of the events that took place in 1917, it belongs to that long series of cheap misrepresentation of historical fact. Its purpose is to present the revolution as a cunning plot of Lenin and the Bolsheviks intent on imposing a bloody dictatorship on the Russian masses. But as Lenin always said, "the truth is always concrete". Nadim al-Mahjoub looks at the distortions and lies and puts the record straight.

We remember all those thousands of genuine Communists who perished in Stalin’s camps, butchered simply for defending the ideas of Lenin and Trotsky. Old Bolsheviks like Zinoviev, Kamenev and Bukharin were forced to confess to crimes they had not committed. These famous victims were only the tip of the iceberg. Not remembered are the thousands of Trotskyists who languished in brutal concentration camps. They were brave and defiant to the end.

As the old Soviet archives are opened up and studied, more material is being made available about what happened in Russia immediately after the revolution. Myths have been created about events like the Kronstadt “rebellion”, the peasant revolts, the anarchists, etc. The new material available confirms what Lenin and Trotsky explained about  these events. In spite of all attempts to slander the Bolsheviks, the truth is always concrete.

An article by Israel Shamir, La saga de Woods, appeared on October 15, on the Spanish language web site Rebelión. Shamir brings out all his Stalinist venom against genuine Marxism – i.e. Trotskyism – but he also adds some of his own novel ideas. Alan Woods, basing himself on the classical writings of Marx, Engels and in particular Lenin, shows how Stalinism and Marxism are opposites.

As part of our commemoration of the centenary of Lenin's death, we are publishing a series of articles about his life and ideas. Lenin not only led the first succesful socialist revolution, but he also made an enourmous contribution to Marxist theory. The present article deals with the important contribution he made on the national question, and how such a correct stand on this issue guaranteed the success of the Bolshevik Party in October 1917.