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Europe, Politics

The relevance of the October Revolution to Europe today

The October Revolution is the most important revolution of the modern era. And for now, at least, it should gives us cause for optimism, says Giorgio Cremaschi.

In the Bolshevik Revolution the social question and the rejection of war took power in Russia, beginning a momentous journey to liberate humanity. Despite the mistakes and horrors of Stalinism, the Soviet Union was decisive in the defeat of Nazi-fascism and in starting an era of social progress and liberation of peoples around the world, a period that lasted for several decades, until the 1980s of the last century. The overall historical reach of the October Revolution is further measured today, where a capitalism that no longer fears the enemy is showing all of its innate madness. It is not true that the October Revolution has exhausted its propulsive drive, as it was said almost 40 years ago. Even in the scope of the neo-liberal counterrevolution, one measures the strength of the Soviet revolution.

When does a revolution erupt? According to Lenin, when the dominant classes can no longer govern as they have always ruled and subordinate classes no longer want to live as they have always lived. With this concept, one clarifies that the conditions of the revolution are both the general crisis of the dominant power system and the explosion of the subjectivity of the masses. We now live in an economic and political system that has exhausted all its reformist capabilities. A system incapable of any real social mediation, closed in itself and in its elites. A non-reformable system.

In 1914, Europe committed suicide with the First World War, a dirty useless massacre that not only destroyed millions of lives, but also that which was then the Left, social democracy, which in the majority of cases betrayed its ideals and those who it represented by endorsing the massacre. Today, Europe is suicidal with EU-governed austerity policies, policies that make social war on peoples and have seen the same destruction of the official Left that has backed and implemented these policies. Today, there is a need for a revolutionary rupture, foreshadowed here in Europe by widespread political crises and mass anger, which is expressed in various and even opposing forms with what is now generally termed populism.

The crisis of the ruling classes is not yet full blown; our rulers are still able to involve part of the oppressed and above all their representatives. However, system is exhausting itself and we seeing ruptures, as always arising from its weak points.

Revolution stirs the masses and no surrogate is possible for them. But that does not mean that [in the meantime] you have to be twiddling your thumbs.

First, we must grasp and understand the contours of revolutionary rupture. That precisely due to the very concept of revolution are always different from what is normally present on the political scene, precisely because they are revolutions.

What was the Menshevik’s fundamental argument against Lenin and Trotsky? That we should not leap stages of history and that in Russia there were no objective conditions for the revolution. Today the new Mensheviks of the various left-wing souls who use the same arguments to justify Tsipras in Greece: and how could he it alone go against Europe? Or to condemn Catalonia without appeal: what has the popular mobilization for independence got to do with the class struggle? Or in order not to break with the EU and NATO, they argue: do you not know what disaster awaits us if we exit those structures, which ultimately protect us from the worst risks?

All these arguments are full of partial truths, but together they amount to one big lie. The lie is that we have to wait for an evolution of the whole world for better opportunities for change. This evolution does not exist: either it comes through a revolutionary process, or we rushes headlong into the barbarism into which we are already slipping.

Lenin and Marx were first of all the revolutionary geniuses and as such gigantic social scientists. They did not wait for the confirmation of their theories, but they witnessed through real revolutionary rupture. Marx hoped that the Russian peasantry would be at the base of a social revolution that would leap a number of steps in capitalist development in that country. Lenin practiced that intuition by adopting the populist slogan of land to the peasantry, without which he wouldn’t have won the revolutionary war against the White armies, financed by the whole West.

Revolutions always err, just because they originate from the necessity of the masses. They are, by their very nature, a break with existing politics, in all its expressions. Revolutionary subjectivity is measured right at that moment. If it is true and sufficiently prepared and strong then it can play the necessary role in directing the process, which benefits. If it is not then the revolution goes on ahead on its own, for good or bad, and leaves the “avant-gardes” to give their unforgiving verdict to history.

For this reason, I feel the lessons of the Soviet October Revolution have never been so relevant.

When the system is blocked, sooner or later the revolutions explode and the task of real revolutionaries is to understand what happens and to try to govern it. Governing it towards the consolidation of a revolutionary breakthrough, even if it does not correspond to what is found in the manuals of the young Marxist Leninist groundhogs, even if it does not happen where it was hoped and in the way and size that was expected.

Because the alternative to the revolution is not a slower and safer change, but reaction and brutal regression. Today, more than ever, we must be grateful to those who in 1917 reached for the sky. And assume responsibility of the revolutionary needs of the present.

Giorgio Cremaschi is a former leader of the FIOM metalworkers union and political activist

Translation by Revolting Europe

Soource: Micromega  http://blog-micromega.blogautore.espresso.repubblica.it/?p=

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or @revoltingeurope

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