The 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution which ushered in the Communist experiment of the 20th century has just passed. It led to the deaths over 100 million people in less than a century, caused famine, poverty, terror and the crushing of the human spirit. The end of communism along with its creditability began with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and finished with the collapse of the Soviet Union and transition of the People’s Republic of China to a capitalist system.
The Russian Revolution itself in October 1917 (under the old calendar system) was simply the replacement of one totalitarian regime with another. The Russian Empire under the Tsar exercised political repression of the peasants as it still was a society operating under the feudal serf system.
Russia’s huge losses in World War One was the catalyst for the abdication of the Tsar in what is known as the February Revolution in 1917. However, the Russian Provisional Government that took its place was seen as been ineffective at addressing the problems Russia faced, it did not end the war, nor did it enact land reform to free the serfs.
This inaction is what allowed the Bolsheviks under Vladimir Lenin’s leadership to stage their revolution nine months later with the promise of ‘peace, land, bread’. Although they made good on their promise to end Russian involved in World War One, the same can’t be said for the rest of that slogan. Land is interpreted as giving the peasants control of their land, but of course in a communist society all land is owned by the state and eventually under Stalin’s rule in 1929 the process began of collectivizing all farms.
As for bread or food the Soviet Union experienced three famines, the first of which started only four years after the revolution in 1921. What was not mentioned in the Bolshevik’s slogan was that of freedom, the Russian Revolution unleashed the Red Terror which involved political repression and mass killings by its secret police the Cheka where the death toll is estimated to be over 1 million.
The anniversary of this revolution should be a time for reflection on the horror and misery mankind is capable of committing against itself in what we are told was all the result of good intentions. What we should vowing is no communism, never again. Sadly, the victims of communism aren’t commemorated in the same manner that victims of other atrocities are, despite communism having one of the highest human body counts.
However disturbingly this is not the view that the mainstream left is taking, they believe it is a great historical event worth commemorating. The Victorian Trades Hall hosted an event organised by the Socialist Alternative Celebrating the 1917 Russian Revolution, the description for the event describes the revolution as “one of the most liberatory events in history. Millions of workers overthrew the Russian monarchy and their bosses, and established genuinely democratic organisations to run society.”
They also believe that the revolution can serve as inspiration for future political activism “Despite its eventual defeat and suppression, the Russian Revolution provides an inspiring example of how the injustices of modern capitalism could be overthrown”. The ironic thing about the meeting is that it still practices capitalism when it states, “Drinks and snacks available for purchase”.
Of course, the glorification of communism, socialism and Marxism is sadly all too common in the modern world, most concerningly amongst the youth who do not remember the time when half the world was suffering under communist rule with people climbing walls to escape it. It would seem that North Korea Cuba, and Venezuela aren’t sufficient modern reminders.
In the United States you saw self-described socialist Bernie Sanders almost win the Democratic Party nomination (which now many believe was stolen from him) and in the United Kingdom you have Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who has praised Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, once considered unelectable now looks set to become the next British Prime Minister. In Australia we have the new ACTU Secretary Sally McManus who believes that the free market has failed and calls her fellow unionists ‘comrades’.
The Russian Revolution now may be a century old, but there’s nothing to say the horrors of communism won’t be unleashed again. Which is why we need to vow never again. We need to educate the people, especially the youth about its death and destrcution. We need to uphold the values of freedom to peruse your own destiny free of state interference, political freedom and having an economic system that makes sure we have the highest standard of living. The promise of a workers’ paradise has been proven a folly, let us not fall for it again.