“The Bolshevik revolution is based more on ideology than actual events. Therefore, at the end of the day, we really don’t need to know any more than we know already. It’s a revolution against Karl Marx’s Das Capital. In Russia, Capital was the book of the bourgeoisie, more than of the proletariat. It was the crucial proof needed to show that, in Russia, there had to be a bourgeoisie, there had to be a capitalist era, and there had to be a Western-style of progress before the proletariat could even think about making a comeback, about their class demands, about revolution. Events overcame ideology. And events have blown out of the water all critical notions which stated that Russia would have to develop according to the laws of historical materialism. The Bolsheviks renounce Karl Marx and they assert, through their clear statement of action, through what they have achieved, that the laws of historical materialism are not as set in stone, as one may think, or one may have thought previously”.
This has not been penned by an anti-Communist ideologue but none other than Antonio Gramsci who wrote the same in Avanti ( Forward), newspaper of the Italian Socialist Party on 24 December 1917, when Lenin, Trotsky, Bukharin and other leaders were all active.
Followers of Gramsci ~ not meaning those who admire the great Italian thinker critically and dispassionately ~ seem to lack the courage to state that Gramsci went against Marx, that too his magnum opus, Das Kapital and Kritik der politischen Ökonomie and had even trivialised Marx. Subaltern historians, notably Gautam Bhadra, fellow-traveller of Naxalite ideology in his formative years, claim that Naxalism bears resemblance with Gramscian philosophy. Bhadra, replying to a query from this writer, once admitted that Gramsci was closer to Lenin than Marx.
It is no strange coincidence that the official Marxist (OM) parties (read Leninist) like CPI-M, CPI and variants of CPI(ML) or Naxalites are over-enthusiastic in celebrating the centenary of the ‘Great October Socialist Revolution’ (GOSR), but have inexplicably skipped the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Das Kapital and Kritik der politischen Ökonomie (Capital A Critique of Political Economy; Vol I), first published on 14 September 1867. The official organs of the official Marxist parties did not even publish any article, commemorating Marx’s magnum opus which, unlike Lenin’s works such as Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capital, What is To Be Done and Development of Capitalism, became one of the best-sellers in the West after the sub-prime crisis of 2008 that made even hundreds of apologists of the Chicago school of monetary economists to turn to Das Capital in their quest for the causes of the traumatic crisis.
It is time to consider why one should consider the ‘Great October Socialist Revolution’ as really a socialist revolution when we have no evidence of the proletariat as a sequel to what Marx had coveted as an “autonomous movement of the immense majority in the interest of the immense majority” (Manifesto of Communist Party). In fact, the GOSR was “neither initiated nor led by the proletariat”. Marc Jansen in a well-researched treatise titled A Show Trial Under Lenin ~ The Trial of the Socialist Revolutionaries (Moscow 1922 ; translated from Dutch by Jean Sanders) wrote in the Preface ~ “The Bolsheviks seized power in Russia in October 1917 by staging a coup d’etat, and then established a dictatorship. The new rulers suppressed all armed resistance in a bloody civil war, after which they made every effort to uproot and exterminate even peaceful political opposition of all kinds. Even now it is impossible in the Soviet Union to subject these developments to critical historical study. The political opponents of the Soviet regime of the time are still regarded by official Soviet historiography as counter-revolutionaries and the measures taken against them are seen as completely justified”.
As regards the pre-determined trial, Charles Rappoport observed, “For my part, I considered this trial to be unnecessary: the socialist revolutionaries had been beaten and represented no visible danger at all”. A Jewish intellectual, he was a Russian-born French militant Communist politician, journalist and writer . He was a multilingual scholar who was referred to as ‘a grand man of French radicalism’.
GOSR made 170 million people captive of “a mere handful of non-proletarian radicalised intelligentsia sans any popular mandate”. They were distanced from the locus of the real process of production and exploitation. The Bolsheviks were not elected and were not accountable to the working people. Alexander Rabinowitch, a distinguished historian and author of two authentic narratives, The Bolsheviks Come to Power and The Bolsheviks in Power: The First Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd revealed that on the eve of the meeting of the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets (October 1917) in Petrograd, an estimated 300 of the 670 delegates ~ in reply to Questionnaire 505 ~ recommended the transfer of ‘all powers to the Soviets’. According to Rabinowitch, they “supported the Bolsheviks in the overthrow of the Provisional Government, did so not out of any sympathy for strictly Bolshevik rule, but because they believed that the revolution and the congress to be in imminent danger.
Only the creation of a broadly representative, exclusively socialist government by the Congress of Soviets, which they thought the Bolsheviks stood for, appeared to offer the hope of ensuring that there would not be a return to the hated ways of the old regime.” (A. Rabinowitch, The Bolsheviks Come to Power, 2004, page 314).
Rabinowitch’s extensive research, based on Russian archival and other hitherto unknown records pale into insignificance in comparison to two very popular chronicles of the November Revolution ~ John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook The World (1919) and Albert Rhys Williams’ Through The Russian Revolution (1921). But Leninists like the CPI-M Sitaram Yechury still stick to Reed and the like. They resemble the Orwellian parrot. Stalin banned Reed’s book, as it ignored his role in the Bolshevik insurrection. Reed just mentioned that the controversial dictator was chosen a Commissar whose portfolio included nationalities.
(The writer is a veteran journalist and commentator.)