We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Russian Revolution: Chapter 1: Fundamental Significance of the Russian Revolution

Click here to access article by Rosa Luxemburg for her book The Russian Revolution that was written by her in prison in 1918. (Note: I will be running the important chapters in this book over the next days.)

Now that the Bolsheviks and their soviet leaders have taken power, I will be running a series of articles both to report on important events of the counter revolution with which they were faced, but also some critiques of the revolution from several other informed writers since then. The earliest writer in the last category was Rosa Luxemburg.

It would be very helpful for readers to have some understanding of the history of radical movements in order to completely understand her writings. In this first chapter you should know at little about some of the following: social democracy and Karl Kautsky.

Her first chapter praises the significance of the revolution and its leadership. Her criticisms will come later.
Only a party which knows how to lead, that is, to advance things, wins support in stormy times. The determination with which, at the decisive moment, Lenin and his comrades offered the only solution which could advance things (“all power in the hands of the proletariat and peasantry”), transformed them almost overnight from a persecuted, slandered, outlawed minority whose leader had to hid like Marat in cellars, into the absolute master of the situation.

Moreover, the Bolsheviks immediately set as the aim of this seizure of power a complete, far-reaching revolutionary program; not the safeguarding of bourgeois democracy, but a dictatorship of the proletariat for the purpose of realizing socialism. Thereby they won for themselves the imperishable historic distinction of having for the first time proclaimed the final aim of socialism as the direct program of practical politics.

Whatever a party could offer of courage, revolutionary far-sightedness and consistency in an historic hour, Lenin, Trotsky and all the other comrades have given in good measure. All the revolutionary honor and capacity which western Social-Democracy lacked was represented by the Bolsheviks. Their October uprising was not only the actual salvation of the Russian Revolution; it was also the salvation of the honor of international socialism.