101 Years of the October Revolution


Sitaram Yechury

A year has passed since the world observed the centenary of the great October Socialist Revolution of 1917. Developments during this year both globally and domestically further vindicate the validity of the creative science of Marxism Leninism and the eternal relevance of the socialist ideas.

The significance of the October Revolution lies precisely in this: The realisability of a non-exploitative social order which, at the same time, releases human creativity in hitherto unknown dimensions.  The rapid strides made by socialism, the transformation of a once backward economy into a mighty economic and military bulwark confronting imperialism has confirmed the superiority of the socialist system. The building of socialism in the Soviet Union is an epic saga of human endeavour.


Relevance in Today’s Conjuncture

The Soviet Union, the product of the October Revolution, no longer exists. But, irrespective of the USSR not existing today, the distinctive heritage of the October Revolution consists of at least four aspects and these remain as the axis of humanity’s transition from capitalism to socialism. 


a)     Lenin, by developing the Marxist understanding of the contemporary world situation on the basis of the laws of capitalist development, as laid bare by Marx noticed that the law of  concentration and centralization of capital led to the creation of monopoly capitalism and eventually reaching the stage of imperialism.  Amidst all its ramifications, the one issue that stands out is that imperialism brings the whole world into the orbit of capitalist exploitation and, at the same time, releases a ferocious contradiction between imperialist centres for controlling the world’s resources.  Lenin advanced theoretically the possibility of breaking the imperialist chain at its weakest link.  That weakest link during the first two decades of the 20th century when the World War-I was raging and ending was Russia. This provided the opportunity for the Russian working class to convert an inter-imperialist war into a civil war for liberation. Clearly, in the present times, no revolutionary advance in any country of the world can take place without a steadfast opposition to imperialism.


b)    The October Revolution broke the imperialist chain in Russia which was a relatively backward capitalistically developed country.  The till then held proposition that the transition to socialism will begin from the advanced capitalist centres did not happen with the defeat of the German Revolution and the murders of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg.  Lenin was hoping that the advanced German working class will lead the backward Russian working class into the path of social transformation.  With its failure, the survival of socialism in Russia became a very arduous challenge.  With the conception of socialism in one country, Lenin advanced the theory of stages of revolution to prepare a backward  economy in the transition towards socialism.  The democratic stage of the revolution and its transition to the socialist stage that emerged from the October Revolution experience continues to remain relevant to us in the present context. 


c)      The success of the revolution in a backward country can be achieved only by forging and strengthening the worker-peasant alliance to achieve this objective. Learning from the Paris Commune where the peasantry was successfully mobilized by the ruling classes against the communards, Lenin clearly elucidated that the exploited classes in the agricultural sector need to be  firmed up as allies of the revolution.  The worker-peasant alliance, under the leadership of the working class, is a potent weapon in the hands of the present-day revolutionaries for social transformation. 


d)    Lenin’s `Theses on National and Colonial Questions’ sharply brought out the integration of the struggles of the colonial people for freedom with the global struggle for emancipation against imperialism.  So powerful was this understanding on the national liberation movements across the world, that inspired Ho Chi Minh, who was then living in France, organizing protests against French occupation of Vietnam, to return to Vietnam to lead the Revolution.



In today’s world conjuncture, the strengthening of the global struggle against imperialism remains an important task for all revolutionaries.  The struggles going on in various countries, particularly in Latin America, against the miseries imposed by imperialist globalization, on the one hand, and the struggles emerging against imperialist military interventions and atrocities, on the other, need to be forged into a unified struggle, both at the global and domestic levels, against imperialism.  The strength of this global struggle will determine both the pace and content of humanity’s transition towards liberation – socialism.


International Capitalism Today


The highlight of international capitalism today is the crisis of neo-liberalism that has arisen due to the prolonged current systemic crisis of global capitalism. This is manifesting itself in multiple ways: further consolidation of the political right, globally and domestically; aggressive imperialist political/military interventions with the aim of controlling the world’s economic/mineral resources and to consolidate US global hegemony; coercion on developing countries to further open up their domestic economies for profit maximization; creation of new ruptures and conflicts amongst the imperialist countries as well as rising social tensions in the pursuit of a divisive agenda imposed by imperialism, amongst others. Such a pursuit engenders the growth of racism, xenophobia and extreme right-wing neo-fascist tendencies, buttressing the political rightward shift in many countries.


It is clear that no amount of reform within the capitalist system can permit capitalism to emerge from this crisis. A political alternative to capitalism is the only solution to end the vicious misery of the vast mass of the people. This would require the emergence of the political alternative, i.e., socialism as a powerful force based on the widespread struggles by the working class and the working people all across the world, i.e., by sharpened class struggles. In many countries like those in Latin America, these anti-imperialist, anti-neo-liberal protest movements had led to the emergence of elected anti-imperialist governments. These, however, are the targets today of imperialism seeking to weaken the resistance to its neo-liberal order.


Political Rightward Shift

The growth of popular discontent against the misery imposed by neo-liberal reforms is sought to be nipped in the bud by the forces of world reaction and imperialism. This is essential to continue the pursuit of profit maximization and to not permit this rising popular discontent consolidating as a political alternative to capitalism. This discontent is sought to be diverted through the global agenda of fostering domestic, local and regional tensions resulting in the growth of racism, chauvinism, xenophobia and extreme right-wing neo-fascist political tendencies. By disrupting and diverting the struggles against capitalist exploitation into such divisive agendas, global capitalism seeks to further pursue the trajectory of profit maximization, despite the continuing crisis. The objective of the political right is precisely this: establish political control for further maximization of profits by further intensifying capitalist exploitation.


This political rightward shift is nothing else but an attempt to prevent the growing popular discontent from taking the shape of a political alternative to capitalism. This permits the predatory character of capitalism and its profit maximization to consolidate despite the global capitalist crisis. For instance, in 2017, 82 per cent of the additional wealth generated globally was cornered by 1 per cent of the global population. Likewise, in India, 73 per cent of the additional wealth generated was cornered by 1 per cent of the Indian population – India’s ultra rich. The shift to the political right is to ensure the continuation of such intensified economic exploitation and profit maximization.


The Indian Imperative: Defeat The Political Right, Oust This RSS-BJP Government

This crisis of neo-liberalism is impacting India.  The path of capitalist development pursued by the Indian ruling classes makes India vulnerable to these global tendencies. This is reflected in the further consolidation of the political right. This is resulting in a vicious four-pronged attack on the country and our people. These are: (a) the aggressive pursuit of neo-liberal economic policies, (b) the sharpening of communal polarization in multiple forms, (c) increasing authoritarian attacks against parliamentary democracy, institutions and people’s democratic rights, and (d) cementing India to the status of a junior strategic partner of USA and imperialism.


In the final analysis, in order to advance the popular struggles against this intensified exploitation and growing misery of the people, it is essential that the political right needs to be defeated. The struggles against neo-liberalism will have to be intensified on the basis of an alternative policy trajectory that will eventually lead up to the consolidation of the political alternative to capitalism. It is precisely such intensification of popular struggles that the political rightward shift disrupts through its divisive agenda, pursuing policies that further advance the neo-liberal trajectory in the process.


Therefore, the counterpoising of intensifying class struggles versus adoption of tactics, including electoral tactics, to isolate and defeat the political right represented by the communal forces in India would be tantamount to remaining oblivious to the current complex realties.


The abiding relevance of the October Revolution lies particularly in the fact that globally and domestically class struggle and popular struggle are intensifying and all the four aspects of the abiding relevance of the October Revolution shall continue to be relevant till the triumph of the peoples struggle ends the Rule of Capital.


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