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Bolshevik Revolution: 98 years on-Lal Khan

Posted by admin On November - 8 - 2015

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As the crisis of capitalism unravels with a harrowing ferocity, society in Pakistan descends into the blind abyss of poverty, misery, disease, filth, terrorism, mayhem and crime. It is not just in Pakistan but also on a world scale; we are passing through one of the most turbulent and pulverising periods ever in history. It is not just the economy and dominant politics that are devouring the oppressed masses but the fact that art, culture, human relations, social behaviour, ethics and morality are also in decay. The working classes, students, youth and women have struggled time and again to liberate themselves from this exploitation and socioeconomic coercion but without a party, a programme and a scientific perspective of class struggle they failed to achieve salvation. However, in the last analysis, the only road that can lead to their emancipation still lies in the path pioneered and carved by the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. It is as much relevant today as it was almost a century ago.

Of all the parodies of popular representation in which history is so rich, Pakistan’s political elite is perhaps the most absurd. On the one hand, they reverberate the cliché that ‘socialism is dead’ while at the same time mostly the right wing politicians often frighteningly warn about a bloody revolution. If one dares to mention the Bolshevik Revolution the abrupt reply of the political elite and their subservient intelligentsia is, “Oh! The one that failed in Russia.” The relative weight of slander in a political struggle in society still awaits its sociologist.

The Bolshevik, or the Russian Revolution, triumphed on November 7 (October 26 according to the orthodox Byzantine calendar), 1917. Apart from the heroic episode of the Paris Commune, millions of downtrodden workers and peasants seized political power in their own hands, sweeping aside rotten capitalists and landlords, and embarked upon creating a socialist world order. John Reed, the iconic American writer, described it in the following words: “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” (Ten Days that Shook the World, page 130).

In a gigantic and unprecedented experiment it was proved that it was possible to run society without capitalists, feudal landlords, bankers and moneylenders. Despite the extreme primitiveness, reactionary religiosity, fierce aggression of 21 imperialist armies and tremendous objective difficulties and obstacles, the abolition of market mechanisms and the introduction of the planned economy revolutionised the productive forces and laid the basis for a modern and rapidly developing economy. The process of the overthrow of the bourgeois state and capture of power by the leading party of the proletariat had a massive conscious involvement and participation of the vast majority of toilers. It is the only revolution hitherto that took place on classic Marxist lines. Lenin explained what real change this revolution ought to bring. He wrote in December 1917, “One of the most important tasks of today is to develop (the) independent initiative of the workers, and of all the working and the exploited people generally, develop it as widely as possible in creative organisational work. At all costs we must break the old, absurd, savage and despicable prejudice that only the so-called upper classes, only the rich and those who have gone through the school of the rich are capable of administering the state and directing the organisational development of socialist society.”

In the 50 years, from 1913 (the height of the pre-war production) to 1963, the total industrial output of the USSR rose by more than 52 times. The corresponding figure for the US was less than six times. In a few decades, a backward agricultural economy was transformed into the second most powerful country in the world. It developed a mighty industrial base, a high cultural level and more scientists than the US and Japan combined. Life expectancy more than doubled and child mortality fell by nine times. Such economic advance, in such a short time, has no parallel in the world. Rents were fixed at about six percent of the monthly income. A small flat in Moscow, up until the early1980s, cost $ 17 per month, which included gas, electricity, telephone and unlimited hot water.

However, due to the defeat of revolutions in Germany (1918-1923), China (1925-1927), the UK (1926) and several other countries, the isolation of the revolution and primitiveness of technology led to the beginning of the degeneration of the revolution. Under frightful conditions of economic, social and cultural backwardness, the workers’ democracy was replaced by a monstrously deformed caricature.

After the death of Lenin we saw the rise of a bureaucratic clique that began to monopolise power. The four conditions laid down by Lenin were swept away. As the economy expanded and technology became more advanced and complex, it became more and more difficult to run the system efficiently for the privileged bureaucracy that had usurped power. Unlike the development of capitalism, which relies on the market for allocation of resources, a nationalised economy requires conscious planning and direction. Workers’ democracy is the same for the planned economy as is oxygen for the human body.

In his epic work, Revolution Betrayed, Trotsky wrote in 1936: “The fall of the present bureaucratic dictatorship, if it were not replaced by a new socialist power, would thus mean a return to capitalism with a catastrophic decline of industry and culture.”

How the post-1991 scenario has vindicated that! And yet the apologists of capitalism, the reformists and ex-leftists try to maintain that the collapse of the USSR signified the demise of socialism. What failed in Russia was not socialism, but a caricature of socialism. The demagogic attacks on socialism/Marxism/communism have an increasingly hollow ring because they are made against a background of the deepening crisis of capitalism that is devastating society.

Social malaise and mayhem have set in due to the raging terminal crisis of capitalism aggravating mass agony and misery. In her famous book, Waiting for Allah, Christina Lamb wrote in the early 1990s: “Nothing less than a revolution can save Pakistan.” With the unravelling capitalist crisis, society is faced with the stark choice predicted by the great Marxist teacher Frederick Engels more that a century ago: socialism or barbarism? The revolution that can ensure an end to this misery, overthrow this rotten system and achieve the victory of the toiling masses is only possible on the ideas, methods and strategy of Bolshevism. The ruling classes will tremble in stormy events when the masses enter the arena of history to transform their destiny.
The writer is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and international secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign. He can be reached at lalkhan1956@gmail.com
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/08-Nov-2015/bolshevik-revolution-98-years-on

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