“During the first two months of 1917 Russia was still a Romanov monarchy. Eight months later the Bolsheviks stood at the helm. They were little known to anybody when the year began, and their leaders were still under indictment for state treason when they came to power. You will not find another such sharp turn in history especially if you remember that it involves a nation of 150 million people. It is clear that the events of 1917, whatever you think of them, deserve study.”
–Leon Trotsky, from History of the Russian Revolution
For Marxists, the October 1917 revolution in Russia was the greatest single event in human history. Tsarist rule ended in February 1917, and capitalism and landlordism were overthrown by the mass of workers and peasants – led by Lenin, Trotsky and the Bolsheviks – in October. The October Revolution brought into existence the first workers’-led government to hold power for any length of time.
This was the most democratic form of government ever embarked on. All major decision-making was to be exercised through a system of elected councils (‘soviets’) – of workers’, soldiers’ and peasants’ delegates – at a local, regional and national level. Any paid representatives were to stand regularly for re-election and receive no more than the average wage of a worker.
The new Soviet government decreed land to the peasants and took Russia out of the imperialist First World War. It recognised the right to self-determination of all non-Russian nations oppressed under Tsarist and capitalist rule.
The October revolution also gave a mighty impetus to the processes of world socialist revolution. By the end of 1918 an uprising in Germany had removed the Kaiser. The following year in Hungary, an attempt was made to emulate the Russian revolution.
But the young Soviet government faced huge obstacles. Twenty one capitalist armies, led by Britain, France, Japan and US, invaded Russia in support of the reactionary White armies. Despite enormous difficulties – Civil War, famine, the terrible destruction wrought by WW1 – the nationalised planned economy established by the October Revolution succeeded in transforming a backward economy into the second most powerful nation on earth. The viability of socialism was demonstrated in the language of steel, coal, electricity and cement, Trotsky wrote in The Revolution Betrayed.
Celebrating and Defending 1917
2017 marks the centenary of this world-historic event. This site is initiated by the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) to celebrate the October revolution and the transformation that it heralded – politically, economically, culturally, concerning questions of gender and sexual equality and in many other aspects of working class life. We defend the October revolution against the class hostility, distortions and outright lies perpetrated by the ruling class, the capitalist media, right wing politicians and parts of academia.
In particular, this site aims help introduce the new generations moving into struggle and looking at left and socialist ideas to the crucial lessons of October.
Over the coming months, we will publish archive articles by Lenin, Trotsky and other leaders of the October revolution and by other contemporary Marxist figures from that period. We will also publish from the rich archives of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), and new articles. These will examine the processes of revolution and counter revolution in 1917 and explain why the Bolsheviks were successful, where so many other revolutions in the 20th century tragically failed. CWI sections from around the world will discuss how the Russian Revolution dramatically impacted and influenced the workers’ movement in their countries.
We will examine why the revolution degenerated in the 1920s and 1930s and the disastrous effect this had on the international communist movement and working class. The site will highlight the heroic resistance of Trotsky and the Left Opposition and International Left Opposition to the tyranny of Stalin and the emergent narrow nationalist and conservative ruling bureaucratic caste that he represented.
As well as these historical and theoretical questions, the site will publicise 1917-related public events organised by the sections of the CWI from around the world.
We hope you will enjoy this website as we add articles in the run up to and during the centenary year. If you agree with the ideas expressed here, why not join with us in today’s struggle for a socialist society or contact us for more information
The Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), which initiated ‘1917revolution.org’, has a long and proud tradition of fighting for a socialist alternative to this crisis-ridden capitalist system. As the 1917 Russian Revolution and afterwards indicated, on the basis of a socialist society, where the economy is planned democratically, with the resources of the planet under the control of the majority, we could begin to solve these fundamental problems.
Join the fightback
The CWI has parties, groups and individuals in over 45 countries around the world. We stand shoulder to shoulder with workers, young people and the discriminated and oppressed around the world in struggle against the system of the bosses and for a fairer, better society – a socialist
To be successful, the struggle against capitalism requires ideas, a socialist programme, and an organisation that is able to unite workers and oppressed people across the globe.
The CWI aims to build such an organisation. We think that organised workers and youth in their millions are stronger than the millionaires. That is why we need more people to join us in the struggle for socialism!