The Russian Revolution

Democracy for the people, not for the money-bags

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The centenary of the Russian Revolution provides an opportunity to re-examine important questions. Sally Campbell argues that a deeply democratic impulse was at the heart of the revolution.

According to David Remnick, author of a book called Lenin’s Tomb and editor of the New Yorker magazine, Lenin, the foremost figure in the Russian Revolution of 1917, held a “view of man as modelling clay and sought to create a new model of human nature and behaviour through social engineering”. He quotes Richard Pipes, a right wing historian and critic of the Russian Revolution, who sees it as an attempt “to subject the entire life of a country to a master plan”.

Richard Linsert and the first sexual liberation movement

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The histories of socialism and sexual liberation are entwined, most clearly in revolutionary Germany a century ago, writes Noel Halifax.

The factory system tore apart the working class family. As workers were driven off the land and sucked into the new factories and cities of the industrial age, their ways of living fell apart. Many commentators from both the left and the right noticed this with varying degrees of horror and dismay, from Friedrich Engels in Manchester to the reactionary writer Robert Carlyle in London.

Russia's Red Year

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2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. This graphic novel is an accessible introduction to Russia’s “red year” and contributes to an important interpretation of the events.

Most importantly, it puts working class people as the agents of their own change and is sprinkled with small but significant funny events that bring to life how the revolution affected every aspect of the peoples’ lives.

Russian Revolution in pictures

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Sally Campbell spoke to artist Tim Sanders and historian John Newsinger about creating a graphic representation of Russia 1917.

Two and a half years ago Tim Sanders, regular cartoonist for Socialist Worker, approached Bookmarks the socialist publisher with a proposal for a graphic history of the Russian Revolution. This month the result, 1917: Russia’s Red Year, will hit the shelves.

Shlyapnikov and the Left Opposition

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I have to disagree with John Rose (October SR) when he writes that in her biography of Alexander Shlyapnikov Barbara C Allen doesn’t ask why he didn’t join forces with the Left Opposition.

Allen actually gives two reasons that have to do with Trotsky’s acceptance of the ban on factions during the 1921 Tenth Congress of the Russian Communist Party and the subsequent dissolution of the Workers Opposition, of which Shlyapnikov was the most prominent member.

Do revolutions always fail?

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The counter-revolution in Egypt, together with the confused outcome of the upheavals in Ukraine, has revived the old argument that real popular power is impossible. John Molyneux explains why this is wrong.

The state of the world - with climate change, poverty, wars, racism and much else - is such that it is not easy for our rulers to persuade people that everything is alright. But they don't need to. All they need to do is persuade people that there is nothing they can do about it. This is why, when it comes to justifying capitalism, inequality and war, the mantra of: "But you can't change human nature" has always been popular with the powerful and drummed into the heads of ordinary people.

Why Read... Lessons of October

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The year 1923 was a decisive year in the history of the international movement. It was the point at which the revolutionary movement sweeping Europe after the victory of the Bolsheviks in 1917 finally broke and began to ebb. And it was also the time at which the Soviet bureaucracy began to firmly consolidate its grip over Russian society.

Why Read The History of the Russian Revolution?

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Isaac Deutscher, Trotsky's biographer, described The History of the Russian Revolution as Trotsky's, "Crowning work, both in scale and power and as the fullest expression of his ideas on revolution." Trotsky himself says "The history of a revolution, like every other history, ought first of all to tell what happened and how. That however is, little enough. From the very telling it ought to become clear why it happened thus and not otherwise...

"The most indubitable feature of a revolution is the direct interference of the masses in historical events. In ordinary times the state, be it monarchical or democratic, elevates itself above the nation, and history is made by specialists in that line of business kings, ministers, bureaucrats, parliamentarians, journalists. But at these crucial moments when the old order becomes no longer endurable to the masses, they...sweep aside their traditional representatives and create by their own interference the initial groundwork for a new regime."

Victor Serge: the untamed revolutionary

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Victor Serge was an anarchist who rallied to the Russian Revolution and Bolshevism. He later fought against both Stalinism and fascism to keep the real revolutionary tradition alive. Here George Paizis looks at Serge's extraordinary life and the lessons its offers for us today

Victor Serge (1880-1947) was one of the most important revolutionary writers of the last century. When he died, he left behind a body of books and articles, novels and poems that responded to nearly 50 years of activity and involvement in key moments of the socialist movement. Yet he was largely ignored by the British left till Peter Sedgwick translated his Memoirs of a Revolutionary in 1963. Now a new and finally unabridged edition of his Memoirs provides an opportunity to introduce Serge to a new generation of socialists, to test the relevance of his writings.

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