Wednesday, December 13, 2017

On China Miéville’s “October”

By Kamran Nayeri, December 13, 2017 

There has been a flurry of books and articles published on the centenary of the 1917 Russian revolutions and for good reason. The Russian revolution continues to be a source of historical and political debates about feasibility and desirability of socialism and the Bolshevik legacy.  Were the horrors of Stalinism that followed, not just in the Soviet Union but also in Eastern Europe, China, Vietnam, North Korea, Cambodia, and elsewhere the logical outcome of Bolshevism? Was the October 1917 revolution a Bolshevik coup? What was the role of the masses of Russian people, especially the proletariat, in the 1917 revolutions? How should we appraise the Cuban revolution in light of the Bolshevik legacy? What can we learn from the Russian revolutions and the Bolshevik legacy in preparation for ecological socialism? These and other similarly strategic questions require us to examine or re-examine the lessons of the Russian revolutions of 1917.

China Miéville’s “October” is a captivating and well-thought-out telling of the story of the nine months of the Russian revolutions of 1917.  The events of these nine months, each told in a chapter, are set in between the first chapter, “The Prehistory of 1917,” which offers a succinct explanation of the root-causes of the February revolution that overthrew the Tsar Nicholas II’s regime and ended the centuries-old absolute monarchy in one the most vast empires in history, and an epilogue about the demise of the historic gains of the October revolution and the rise of Stalinism. A revolutionary socialist, Miéville is not an “impartial observer” of such monumental historic events. But he also pledges “to be fair, and I hope readers of various political hues will find value in this telling.”  I think his telling is consistent with the best histories of the Russian revolutions of 1917 and the more recent scholarship of the Bolshevik party, especially about Lenin’s role in it.   “October” reads like a historical novel with many well-developed characters while offering proper attention to social and political forces in play and at times incorporate recently resurrected scholarly controversies about related political, historical, and theoretical questions. 

A reader of “October” will come away with her own lessons of the Russian revolutions of 1917.  Below are a few that I think may be useful to those committed to radical social change.

The revolutionary potential of the working class: A revolution is a radical reordering of power structures.  Class societies are social organizations for the appropriation of nature through the exploitation of oppressed classes and strata for the benefit of the ruling elite.  A revolution can disrupt such power structures either in favor of another exploiting ruling strata without changing the dominant eco-social mode of production (political revolution) or it can bring a new class to power that would inaugurate a new eco-social mode of production (social revolution).  The February revolution was a largely spontaneous movement of the working and oppressed masses. It empowered workers, soldiers, peasants, women, oppressed nationalities, and religious minorities as detailed in “October.” Central to these was the Petrograd Soviet of Workers and Soldiers Deputies which was emulated throughout Russia (see below).  This interpretation that appears to me also shared by Miéville is at odds with Trotsky’s assessment.  Trotsky’s account tends to enhance the role the Bolshevik party played in the February revolution:
“The struggle in the capital lasted not an hour or two hours, but five days. The leaders tried to hold it back; the masses answered with increased pressure and marched forward. They had against them the old state, behind whose traditional facade a mighty power was still assumed to exist, the liberal bourgeoisie with the State Duma, the Land and City Unions, the military-industrial organizations, academies, universities, a highly developed press, and finally the two strong socialist parties [i.e., the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries. KN] who put up a patriotic resistance to the assault from below. In the party of the Bolsheviks the insurrection had its nearest organization, but a headless organization with a scattered staff and with weak illegal nuclei. And nevertheless the revolution, which nobody in those days was expecting, unfolded, and just when it seemed from above as though the movement was already dying down, with an abrupt revival, a mighty convulsion, it seized the victory.”  (Trotsky, 1930, chapter 8, “Who Led the February Insurrection”)
Trotsky’s argument rests on the proposition that the vanguard of the Russian working class was trained in the school of Bolshevism.  It is true that the 1905 revolution brought a wave of radicalized workers into the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) which was largely a socialist propaganda group before 1905.  Trotsky (1938/1947) estimates that as the result of this the Bolsheviks had about 10,000 members and the Mensheviks 10,000-12,000.  With the defeat of the 1905 revolution, some members of the RSDLP left. Paul Le Blanc (1990, pp. 190-198) suggests that the intellegencia were highly represented among those who left the party, leaving the smaller party more proletarian in composition in the 1907-1912 period.  At the same time, it is also true that the workers in the Bolshevik party were schooled in revolutionary socialism thanks to Lenin’s strategic view of the coming Russian revolution and his advocacy for a “democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry” to carry forward the historical democratic tasks while the Mensheviks preached an alliance with the Russian bourgeoisie who they saw as the natural leader of the comping bourgeois democratic revolution.  As the above quotation from Trotsky makes clear, the Mensheviks and SRs worked to limits the February revolution to the formation of a bourgeois government which the masses of the working people pushed to go further and make deeper inroads into the power structures leftover from the Tsarist regime. 

Still, there are reasons to doubt the weight of workers-Bolsheviks in the working people's leadership of the February revolution and find confirmation of the revolutionary potentials of the working class itself. First, we know that the in the 1905 revolution the Russian working class formed the soviets independently and on their own initiative.  Second, the Bolsheviks obtained a small minority of 10% of the deputies in the Petrograd Soviet in February 1917. The rest went to the labor leaders who were influenced by the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries. Yet, it was still the Petrograd Soviet that pushed the revolution to go further.  Third, workers’ councils have been formed in revolutions elsewhere in the world without a Bolshevik-type party.  The Iranian working class, through its general strike, especially by the oil workers, made the the February 11 insurrection in Tehran that extended for three days into the rest of the country possible.  No political party led the three-day February insurrection in Iran.  Not only there was no Bolshevik-type proletarian party present in Iran, Stalinism, which preached a two-stage theory similar to the Menshevik’s vision of the Russian revolution, ruled the Iranian left.  Yet, the February revolution triumphed despite Khomeini leadership’s attempt to negotiate a peaceful transfer of power with sections of the Shah’s regime. The reason for the leadership role of the Iranian working class and its ability to organize and mobilize independently was the severe damage to the Stalinist Tudeh Party in the 1953 CIA-MI6 coup which left the Iranian workers free to organize under a class-struggle ledership not trained in Stalinist class-collaborationist politics.  Once the Shah’s rapid pace of the industrialization picked up in the 1960s and the industrial working class grew two-folds to 3 million by mid-1970s, they began organizing their own unions despite severe repression (for a brief biography of the oil workers central leader, Yadullah Khosroshahi, who examplified this class-struggle leadership, see, Nayeri, 2016). When the mass movement against the Shah’s regime erupted in the city of Tabriz in February of 1976, advanced sections of the Iranian working class began to organize for the revolution which resulted in their general strike, and in October 1976, the oil workers strike that paralyzed the regime.  As in 1905 revolution in Russia, after the February 1979 revolution, the vanguard of the Iranian working class began to organize their own Shoras (councils) to run larger workplaces as the capitalists and managers fled the country. The Shoras expanded across the country until they were repressed by the clerical Islamic Republic that crushed the revolution by the end of 1982 (Nayeri and Nassab, 2006).  I think both the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917 as well as the Iranian revolution of 1979 confirm Marx’s conception of the working class potential for self-organization and self-activity (I will return the key role of the Bolshevik party soon).

To return to the 1917 experience, the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies was founded in a conference of the leaders of the labor movement in the city organized by the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries (SR) in the Tauride Palace on February 27. The conference empowered these labor leaders as “deputies.” By the end of March, 600 soviets of workers’, soldiers’, sailors’, peasants’, and Cossacks’ deputies were in existence in Russia.  
“The Sovietization of Russia continued over the following months. The most widespread type of soviets were soviet of workers’ deputies, of workers’ and soldiers’ deputies, of peasants’ deputies…, of sailors’  deputies…, of Muslim workers’ deputies (in Central Asia), as well as unified soviets of workers’, soldiers’, and peasants’ deputies.” (Smirnov, in Acton, et. al., eds., 1997, p. 429)
Smirnov reports that according to incomplete data, there were 1,429 functioning soviets in Russia in October 1917.  Of these 706 were workers’ and soldiers’, 235 were united workers’, soldiers’ and peasants’, 455 were peasants’, and 33 were soldiers’ soviets. As I will briefly discuss below, gradually the Bolshevik influence in the Petrograd Soviet and in others across the country increased while those of the class-collaborationist Mensheviks and SRs declined.  By October, the Bolsheviks had a strong enough majority that Lenin brushed for a organizing an armed uprising to overthrow the Provisional Government and transfer the power to soviets of workers’, soldiers’, and peasants’ deputies. In fact, Lenin tried to time the uprising to coincide with the opening of the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies which took place in Petrograd from October 25 to 27 (Of course, there were hiccups in the actual carrying out of the armed uprising. But the Provisional Government found little mass support and surrounded). The Congress created the Council of People’s Commissars chaired by Lenin who was subordinated to the All-Russian Central Executive Committee (VTsIK) set up by the Congress and declared to be that highest executive organ of power. 

The oppressed and exploited rose up:  Miéville tells us how in Petrograd on February 23, the International Women’s Day (old calendar), radical agitators went to factories that employed mostly a female workforce to speak about women’s rights, the war, and high cost of living. 

“As the meetings ended, women began to pour from the factories into the streets, shouting for bread. They marched through the city’s most militant districts…hollering to people who gathered in the courtyards of the blocks, filling the wide streets, in huge and growing numbers, rushing to factories and calling for the men to join them.” (Miéville, p. 41)

The February revolution politicized women in great number and from all social classes. But the Provisional Government avoided the question of women’s suffrage and many in the revolutionary movement were hesitant, some arguing the Russian women were too politically backward to vote.  The Bolshevik leader Alexandra Kollontai took them to task:

“But wasn’t it we women, with our grumbling about hunger, about disorganization of Russian life, about our poverty and the suffering born of the war, who awakened a popular wrath? And didn’t we women first out to the streets in order to struggle with our brothers  for freedom, and even if necessary to die for it?” (quoted in Miéville, 2017, p. 94)

On March 19, 40,000 people, mostly women descended on the Tauride Palace demanding universal suffrage.  A banner proclaimed: “If the woman is a slave, there will be no freedom.” Miéville notes that pro-war banners were also present at this demonstration reflecting the presence of middle-class women.  Barbara Evans Clements similarly notes: 
“From February 1917 to the end of the civil war women from all walks of life became politically engaged in ways that would have been impossible under the old regime. Female revolutionaries worked within their movements, as did female Cadets (albeit in far lower numbers.) Blue- and white-collar workers joined political parties, organized exclusively female trade unions and professional associations, demonstrated, attended meetings, and voted.  Peasant women participated in the confiscation of the landlords’ land and in village meetings where the land was partitioned. They also asserted themselves within their families by urging their husbands to leave their parents’ households in order to set up farming on their own.” (Clements, in Acton,, eds. 1997, pp. 595-96) 
Radicalization even reached the Muslim women in Central Asia and the Caucasus.  Miéville writes:
“Buoyed by the February revolution, and feeling it vindicated their own programme, members of the progressive, modernizing Muslim Jadidist movement set up an Islamic Council in Tashkent, Turkestan, and across the region, helping to dismantle the old government structures—already undermined by the spread of local soviets—and enhancing the role of the indigenous Muslim population.
“…[O]n April 23, delegates [from the Muslim Duma deputies]  gathered in Kazan in Tatarstan for the All-Russia Muslim Women’s Congress. There, fifty-nine women delegates met before an audience 300 strong, overwhelmingly female, to debate issues including the status of Sharia law, plural marriage, women’s rights and the hijab.” (Miéville, 2017, p. 121) 
Clements also reports that in 1920, 66,000 women were in the Red Army which had about 3 million soldiers. Thirty-thousand women joined the Communist Party between 1917 and 1921. 

As Miéville notes, the Petrograd was a cosmopolitan city with people talking politics in Yiddish, Polish, Latvia, Finnish, German, and many other languages.  That reflected the ethnic composition of the Russian empire, which was a prison house of nations.  Beginning in the mid-sixteenth century, Russia ceased to be a relatively homogenous ethnic polity as the empire was gradually extended to include many ethnic, national, and religious groups. Of these, the Jews, Muslims, and Armenians were the most oppressed. Thus, the February revolution engendered revolutions in Central Asia with its Turkic speaking Muslim population and the Caucasus that included Azerbaijanis, Armenians, and Georgians, as well as the Baltic.

The revolution empowered these oppressed nationalities and religious minorities.  “And whether or not dissent took socialist forms,” writes Miéville, “the national aspirations of Russia’s minorities were amplifying.”  In Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Muslim Uzbeks formed their own revolutionary committees expelling representative of the central government on September 10. 
“From the 8th to the 15th [of September], the Ukrainian Rada [parliament, KN] provocatively convened a Congress of the Nationalities, bringing together Ukrainians, Jews, Poles, Lithuanians, Tatars, Turks, Bessarabian Romanians, Kazakhs, Cossacks, and representatives of various radical parties. The Congress, in an escalation from the language of ‘cultural autonomy’, agreed that Russia must be a ‘federative-democratic republic,’ each component part to decide how it would link to others. Except in the case of Poland, and to a lesser extent Finland, the orientation (let alone formal demand) was not full independence…” (Miéville, 2017, p. 242)
Bolshevism and the October revolution:  A central question in the history of the Russian revolution is the role played by the Bolshevik party. Marcel Liebman expressed a widely held view about the Bolshevik party in his much-praised book, Leninism Under Lenin (1975, first published in French in 1973): 
“It is hardly an exaggeration to say that Lenin’s chief contribution to the political reality of our time was the creation of the Bolshevik party, of a tool to make revolutions with—indeed, the tool for making revolutions.” (Liebman, 1975, p.25, emphasis in the original)
But in what sense was the Bolshevik party the tool for making the Russian revolution? And, in what sense the Bolshevik party is a generalizable model for the rest of the world? I will briefly touch upon the second assertion at the conclusion of this essay. But the answer to the first question may be gleaned from Miéville’s telling.   As pointed out earlier, the Bolshevik party’s influence in the working class and among soldiers increased between February and October while those of its two key competitors, the Mensheviks and SRs declined.  While socialist currents had hegemony over the Russian proletariat on the eve of the February revolution and both the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks were proletarian parties, they were still of modest size. But by the end of 1917, the Bolsheviks had 300,000 members, heavily working class (Service, in Acton,, 1997, p. 235).    This was a significant portion of the the Russian working class which numbered between 4.2 to 4.4 million. The Bolshevik party also exerted much influence among soldiers and had some influence even among the peasantry.  How did this happen? 

Miéville’s account vividly reveals the immediate reasons for their ascendency: their opposition to the Provisional Government (there were three reincarnations of it as the revolution radicalized), their revolutionary defeatist position on the imperialist war, including their demand for democratization of the armed forces, and their consistent agitation to secure “peace, land, and bread” (demands of the February revolution), and their agitation that the working class must take power in alliance with the (poor) peasantry to fulfill the promise of the February revolution.  The Bolsheviks also theoretically, programmatically, and politically had prepared and presented themselves as the revolutionary proletarian socialist in support of the unconditional right of nations to self-determination. 

The October insurrection was organized by the Bolshevik party led by Lenin to coincide with the opening of the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies on October 25.   As the ministers of the Provisional Government surrounded to the revolutionary armed forces of workers, soldiers, and sailors, Lenin sent the following proclamation to the Congress that was presented by Lunacharsky on his behalf.  It states in part:
The Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers and Soldiers' Deputies has opened. The vast majority of the Soviets are represented at the Congress. A number of delegates from the Peasants' Soviets are also present. The mandate of the compromising Central Executive Committee has terminated. Backed by the will of the vast majority of the workers, soldiers, and peasants, backed by the victorious uprising of the workers and the garrison which has taken place in Petrograd, the Congress takes power into its own hands.
The Provisional Government has been overthrown. The majority of the members of the Provisional Government have already been arrested.
The Soviet government will propose an immediate democratic peace to all the nations and an immediate armistice on all fronts. It will secure the transfer of the land of the landed proprietors, the crown and the monasteries to the peasant committees without compensation; it will protect the rights of the soldiers by introducing complete democracy in the army; it will establish workers' control over production; it will ensure the convocation of the Constituent Assembly at the time appointed; it will see to it that bread is supplied to the cities and prime necessities to the villages; it will guarantee all the nations inhabiting Russia the genuine right to self-determination.
The Congress decrees: all power in the localities shall pass to the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies, which must guarantee genuine revolutionary order.
The Congress calls upon the soldiers in the trenches to be vigilant and firm. The Congress of Soviets is convinced that the revolutionary army will be able to defend the revolution against all attack of imperialism until such time as the new government succeeds in concluding a democratic peace, which it will propose directly to all peoples. The new government will do everything to fully supply the revolutionary army be means of a determined policy of requisitions and taxation of the propertied classes, and also will improve the condition of the soldiers' families. (Lenin, 1917) 
In contrast, both the Mensheviks and SRs joined alliances with the Russian bourgeoisie to maintain capitalism through participation in the Provisional Governments and they supported the unpopular imperialist war effort. Thus, they gradually lost the confidence of the workers and soldiers, and eventually many of the peasants as reflected in the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies.  This change in the mood of the masses is revealed in the declining political fortune of Alexander Kerensky, a lawyer and a leader of a small SR faction, the Trudoviks.  In the morning of March 2, Pavel Milyukov, the prominent historian and a leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party [K-Ds in Russian but written and pronounced Kadets/Cadets in English. KN], that encompassed constitutional monarchists and right-wing republicans, read a negotiated list of the first Provisional Government ministers to the revolutionary crowd gathered in the Tauride Palace.   Miéville writes: “As he listed the cabinet, the room jeered in bewilderment at the names that were unfamiliar, and in disgust at those they knew.”  He adds: “There was one appointment, though, that drew applause: the role of justice minister has been filled by the popular SR… Alexander Kerensky.”  Kerensky also was on the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet which had agreed its members would not take cabinet positions.  It turned out the Kerensky’s charm persuaded the Soviet to make an exception. He managed to become the Minister of Justice as well as the President of Petrograd Soviet, the two poles of the dual power, at the same time!  He then went on to become the defencist Minister of War who worked to undermine democratic aspiration of the ranks of the armed forces and during after the events of July appointed the rightist General Kornilov, a counter-revolutionary, as the commander-in-chief of the Russian army.  Soon, a power struggle developed between the two men as Kornilov responding to the deepening polarization decided to crush the Petrograd Soviet and take charge of the government.  While Kerensky was aware of his plans he proved incapable of acting to stop Kornilov. Meanwhile, the Petrograd Soviet-led by the Bolsheviks organized a defense force and crushed the coup.  The Bolshevik leading role in defending the revolution paved the way for the October revolution that resolved the dual power in favor of the soviets when the third Provisional Government ministers were arrested in the Winter Palace. Kerensky himself escaped and in November began organizing an armed counter-revolution. 

Let us return to Liebman’s first assertion: in what sense was the Bolshevik party the tool for making the Russian revolution? Only in the sense that given the spontaneous rise of the soviet power in Petrograd, the Bolshevik program, strategy, and tactics, helped direct the working people to organize to take power from the capitalist Provisional Government. Those “Leninists” who focus attention on the Bolshevik party as the “tool for revolution” often forget that without the working people and their soviets there would have been no revolution in Russia in 1917, let alone a Soviet Russia in October. 

The revolutionary role of Bolshevism then can only be assessed in such context.  To this, we must add a number of observations that defies the too often dominant view of the party and its leaders.  As Trotsky told us earlier, the Bolshevik party in Petrograd was a “headless” organization.  Reading “October” also reminds us that the top leaders of the party were far from in agreement in their opposition to the Provisional Governments. While Lenin was consistently on the leftwing of the leadership, others like Kamenov were conciliatory.  But even Lenin was sometimes a sectarian in his relentless opposition to the Mensheviks and SRs.  And even Lenin sometimes wrongly was to the right of the revolutionary workers.  At the same time, the reader of October sees in the Bolshevik party deliberations a very living democratic atmosphere where different and sometimes sharply at variance views presented, debated, and decided after a vote and carried out.  Even when Kamenov and Zinoviev who disagreed with Lenin’s position for organzing the October insurrection and lost the vote and went on to publish their opposition in the Gorky’s paper subsequently remained as Bolshevik leaders despite Lenin’s call for their expulsion. Such was Democratic Centralism in a mass proletarian revolutionary socialist party on the eve of October 1917. 

The legacy of Bolshevism: To discuss Liebman’s second proposition, that to make revolutions there must be Bolshevik parties in place as the “tools of revolution,” we must first see what happened to the Bolshevik party of Lenin after the October revolution.  There are numerous places in “October” where the reader learns of Lenin’s view that a workers and peasants power in Russia can only be sustained with the extension of the world revolution, in particular to Europe.  This was a kep aspect of Lenin’s political calculation in organizing the October revolution.  As we know, despite a number of revolutionary upsurges in Europe, none was victorious. Young Soviet Russia remained isolated and was besieged by the counter-revolutionary (White) armies and its imperialist allies.  The White armies engaged in 
“indiscriminate butchery, burning villages and killing some 150,000 Jews in enthusiastic programs, performing exemplary torture—mass flogging, burial alive, mutilation, dragging prisoners behind horses— and summary execution. Their instruction to take no prisoners are often graphically explicit.” (Miéville, 2017, p. 311) 
“Under such unrelenting pressures, these are months and years of unspeakable barbarity and suffering, starvation, mass death, the near-total collapse of industry and culture, of banditry, programs, torture and cannibalism. The beleaguered regime unleashes its own Red Terror.” (ibid. pp. 311-12).
In 1917, there were between 4.2 to 4.4 million workers in Russia out of an estimated population of less than 98 million. In 1918, it has fallen to 2.5 million, and in 1919, it had fallen further to 1.4 million.  The “rundown of military production,  the fuel and raw materials crisis, the call-up of workers to the front. And their flight from hunger in towns to the countryside” as well as agricultural workers becoming self-employed peasants were responsible for this trend (Iarov, in Acton, et. al. 1997, p. 604). At the same time, the militarization of industrial production and reintroduced military command hierarchy in the Red Army contributed to undermining of workers and soldiers democracy.  The soviets largely ceased to exist or function properly. The Bolshevik party substituted itself for the working class.  After the end of the war which Soviet Russia won militarily, the Red Army demobilized and many officers became the leaders of the existing soviets undermining their militancy.  “The party apparatus grew by leap and bounds, from a few hundred full-time functionaries in 1919 to 15,000 in 1922.” (Mandel, in LeBlanc, 1990, p. xxi) 

Ernest Mandel argues that the Bolsheviks made critical policy errors.  As they won in the war and substituted the New Economic Policy for War Communism, the Bolshevik-led by Lenin “decided to narrow democracy in a decisive way, by banning all opposition soviet organizations (Mensheviks, anarchists) and by banning factions inside the Bolshevik party, although not banning ‘tendencies’”. (ibid. p. xx). Mandel argues persuasively that what was needed was, in fact, the revitalization of soviet and party democracy. 
“Under a one-party regime, the decline of the working class political life unavoidably hits the party and its working-class members as well.  De facto exercise of power by paid functionaries thereby becomes the most ‘realistic’ stopgap solution, independent of any calculation by unprincipled maneuvering of the Stalin type. The formula ‘workers’ power equals party power equals party cadre power equals party leadership power’ becomes transformed into ‘workers’ power equals party power equals party leadership power equals party apparatus power equals bureaucracy’s power.’ The party bureaucracy rapidly fuses with the state bureaucracy and identifies itself with it.  Far from playing the leading role, the party becomes more and more a tool of the bureaucracy in its totality.” (ibid. p. xxi) 
Despite Lenin’s last struggle directed against the bureaucracy and of the Left Opposition fight that continued it, Stalin heading the rising bureaucracy was able to overthrow the Bolshevik program, strategy and norms while consolidating his totalitarian rule through bloody purges of the Bolshevik leaders and cadres and resistance from workers and peasants.  Stalinism was born as the ideology and rule of the conservative bureaucracy. 

While Trotsky’s Left Opposition maintained and developed the Bolshevik legacy in line of contemporary events (e.g., Stalinism, Fascism), and eventually founded the Fourth International in 1938, revolutionary socialist currents that followed Lenin’s teachings have never become proletarian mass parties. Posing as the heirs to the October revolution, Stalin and his cohort purged the Communist International and the leadership of the revolutions in Yugoslavia, China, Vietnam, and Korea, not mention the Eastern European countries where there was a “socialist overturn,” were schooled in Stalinism, not Leninism.   Despite the collapse of the Stalinist ruled “existing socialisms,” and embracing of capitalism in these counties by their current elite (some still using the “Communist Party” to rule over the working people), there has not yet been a resurgence of Bolshevik-type parties anywhere in the world.  Yet, as in the Iranian revolution, the working people have self-organized and self-mobilized to fight for their demands, including through the formation of councils that as in October revolution could serve as the basis of the government of workers and poor peasants. 

The Russian revolutions of 1917 and the Bolshevik legacy remain as an inspiration for those who are engaged in confronting the current social and planetary crisis through developing a worldwide ecological socialist movement.  China Miéville’s “October” offers an engaging window to that critical part of modern revolutionary history. 

Clements, Barbara Evans. “Women and the Gender Question,” in Critical Companion to the Russian Revolution: 1914-1921.  Edward Acton, Vladimir Iu. Cherniaev, William G, Rosenberg. editors, 1997, pp. 592-603.
Iarov, Sergi V. “Workers,” in Critical Companion to the Russian Revolution: 1914-1921.  Edward Acton, Vladimir Iu. Cherniaev, William G, Rosenberg. 1997, editors, pp. 604-620. 
Le Blanc, Paul. Lenin and the Revolutionary Party. 1990. 
Lenin. V.I. “To Workers, Soldiers, and Peasants!”, October 25, 1917.
Liebman, Marcel. Leninism Under Lenin. 1973/1975. 
Mandel, Ernest. “Introduction,” in Le Blanc, Lenin and the Revolutionary Party. 1990. 
Miéville, China. October, 2017. 
Nayeri, Kamran, and Alireza Nassab. “The Rise and Fall of the 1979 Iranian Revolution: Its Lessons for Today.” 2006. 
Service, Robert. “The Bolshevik Party,” in Critical Companion to the Russian Revolution: 1914-1921.  Edward Acton, Vladimir Iu. Cherniaev, William G, Rosenberg, editors. 1997, pp. 231-244. 
Smirnov, Nikolai N. “The Soviets,” Edward Acton, Vladimir Iu. Cherniaev, William G, Rosenberg. 1997, editors. pp. 429-437. 
Trotsky, Leon. The History of the Russian Revolution. 1930. 
———————. “Discussions with Trotsky on the Transitional Program,” Fourth International. 1947 (recorded in June 1938).

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