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Introduction to Leon Trotsky, The History of the Russian Revolution, Indian Edition of 2014


Soma Marik and Kunal Chattopadhyay


The Making of a Revolution

The publication of Leon Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution in India, for the first time in an Indian edition, is part of the evidence that the fall of Stalinism has not meant a collapse of unfalsified communism, but rather, it has enabled a revival of democratic-revolutionary socialism from below. In the last few years there have appeared a large number of works on Trotsky, as well as editions of many of his writings. The bourgeois biographies by Robert Service, Geoffrey Swain, or Ian Thatcher are clearly aimed at “cutting Trotsky down to size,” at proving that he was nothing but a failed Stalin, conceited, unpleasant, more wrong than right—even a paragon of murder and authoritarianism. From such a perspective, the History of the Russian Revolution too could be seen as nothing more than a self-serving work, since Trotsky, the author, can be seen here restoring the role actually performed by Trotsky, the politician. The fact that Service, Swain and Thatcher all make distorted claims, false assertions, and present information that is often plainly wrong, is known more to specialists than to the general reader.[1] Yet the very fact that major publishers are willing to publish so many books on Trotsky and that supposedly serious scholars are willing to spend time writing garbled narratives is evidence that Trotsky and his Marxism remain important for the present.

In the life as well as the writing achievements of Trotsky, the Russian Revolution occupies pride of place. Like Thucydides, he produced a work, which has defined the subject matter that he chose to write on. Like Thucydides, he was a participant, who could be severely objective, but unlike Thucydides, he did not try to hide his partisan stance. But his greatest similarity with Thucydides was that all subsequent overall accounts of the Russian revolution, to be considered serious studies and not tendentious works that either produced hagiographies of Lenin, Stalin and the absolutely wise and perfect Bolsheviks, or equally tendentious works that sought to ignore reality in a bid to present the Revolution of 1917 as a conspiracy of a handful against the alleged democracy of the Provisional Government, had to be measured against his work.[2]

What makes Trotsky’s book so remarkable is a combination of absolute commitment to working class struggle for emancipation (a political project) with a very serious attempt at factual accuracy and objectivity. The commitment – not to party but to class led by party and party created and enriched by the experiences of the class – comes out consistently, but perhaps nowhere better than in the argument that:

“The history of a revolution is for us first of all the forcible entrance of the masses into the realm of their own destiny.… The masses go into a revolution not with a prepared plan of social reconstruction, but with a sharp feeling that they cannot endure the old regime. Only the guiding layers of a class have a political program, and even this still requires the test of events, and the approval of the masses. The fundamental political process thus consists in the gradual comprehension by a class of the problems arising from the social crisis—the active orientation of the masses by a method of successive approximations”.[3]

As a good Marxist, Trotsky was committed to scientific history writing. For him, however, historical objectivity did not involve a claim to stand away from the battle, or a claim that the historian should stand on the wall observing both sides. He saw such a claim as a spurious objectivity that actually aided the reactionary forces.

“The serious and critical reader will not want a treacherous impartiality, which offers him a cup of conciliation with a well-settled poison of reactionary hate at the bottom, but a scientific conscientiousness, which for its sympathies and antipathies – open and undisguised – seeks support in an honest study of the facts, a determination of their real connections, an exposure of the causal laws of their movement. That is the only possible historic objectivism, and moreover it is amply sufficient, for it is verified and attested not by the good intentions of the historian, for which only he himself can vouch, but the natural laws revealed by him of the historic process itself”.[4]

To take a contemporary study, that of Orlando Figes, by no means the most extreme reactionary one (such an epithet should be left for Richard Pipes), the central effort is to make a case that even without the Bolshevik or October revolution, the progressive development of Russia was not ruled out. Figes admits that Tsarist Russia was extremely backward. For example, "The death rate in this city of the Tsars (St. Petersburg) was the highest of any European capital, including Constantinople, with a cholera epidemic on average once in every three years".[5] Figes argues that perhaps timely land reforms and certain concessions by the Tsarist state could have staved off the revolution, which was ultimately orchestrated as a coup d’etat by Lenin and a minority. Trotsky’s analysis is useful in reminding us that concessions, reforms, are finally based on class and other social interests, but also that states, as the power-holding entities, can get detached from the class/es they represent. The demand for some sort of concession was widespread even among the upper layers – reform minded nobles, big bourgeoisie, and their intellectual allies. But the ‘Court Camarilla’, as the term Trotsky uses, shut its ears and eyes. But more important was the social pressure from below. Figes or other bourgeois historians reject the conclusions that the empirical data presented by them indicate. Miliukov, the leader of the Constitutional Democratic (Cadet) Party, and Russia’s most important liberal leader of 1917, urged in 1915 that there should be reforms since Russia was treading a volcano. This was nothing but an unvarnished truth, since peasants were groaning under not only tax and other economic burdens caused by Tsarist policies and capitalist development in a backward economy, but also by the terrible pressure of war. The politically conscious sections of the working class, as Leopold Haimson showed in a seminal article, was turning against not only the upper classes but also against the intellectuals of the moderate left in the years immediately before the War.[6] To turn one’s back on all this and to see in the revolution essentially a conspiracy, is to reject the historian’s craft. Trotsky, by contrast, refuses to see either the wickedly conspiratorial or the absolutely wise party as the cause of the revolution. Instead, he stresses that revolution breaks out when all the antagonisms of a society have reached their highest tension.

A revolution occurs only when certain basic conditions are met. Marxists have denied that revolutions can be simply willed into existence if there is a correct leadership. There must first of all be a split within the ruling class. As long as a ruling class is united, it is able to tackle problems better. Every major revolution such as the English Revolution of 1640-49, the French Revolution, all developed when the elite was in conflict. Figes recognises this for the pre-February situation. But he fails to see that such conflicts persisted. As Rosenberg’s study showed, there was a conflict within the liberal forces, and the rightwing liberals led by Miliukov were dominant.[7] The idea that there existed a democratic alternative, which was demolished through a coup d’etat, has to be shown by a concrete study of events, rather than wishful thinking. As the events showed, attempts at forging a liberal-moderate left alliance failed, and not just because of poor leadership.

A second, equally important, or even more important, factor in bringing about a revolution is the refusal of the toiling masses to go on being ruled in the old way. The preparedness of the working class to go the whole way is vital. And if we look at a key detail, strike statistics during the War, it is evident that the February General Strike and the growth of soviets did not fall from the sky. A widespread strike developed in January 1916 in St Petersburg on the anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’ when workers were massacred in the 1905 revolution during a peaceful agitation in the form of humble petition to the Tsar. The number of strikes doubled during the following year, going from economic strikes to political strikes, from partial and sectional struggles to the idea of a general strike. The intermediary layers, particularly in the countryside, were in ferment, a process enormously speeded up by the deepened economic crisis and brutalities unleashed by the First World War.

For Figes, however, these were not the real reasons why the working class turned to revolution. As noted earlier, Figes does not deny the masses all roles. However, that they supported the Bolsheviks, according to him, is because lacking any alternative political ideology, they embraced this “dogmatism”. So the working class did not accept key Marxist ideas because these had greater explanatory power concerning their lived experiences, nor because Marxism suggested a way out, but because they were simpletons and saw things in black and white. If only they had passed through the kind of schooling provided by Professor Figes, it would all have been so different. This is much like the official histories that used to be churned out from the USSR, arguing that the correct line of the party was the key to the revolution. What Trotsky’s work argues, and what subsequent serious studies, such as Victoria Bonnell’s Roots of Rebellion (for the period between the revolution of 1905 and the war), or the slew of works on social history during 1917, by David Mandel, Dianne Koenker, or others suggest, is that the working class was not putty in anyone’s hands.[8] Paul Le Blanc’s work on Lenin and the Revolutionary Party, or Soma Marik’s Reinterrogating the Classical Marxist Discourses of Revolutionary Democracy [9], bring together these studies to show that the making of the revolutionary party was a long process, which cannot be explained as the expansion of some original scheme out of one book by Lenin.

The massive The History of the Russian Revolution was written in a relatively brief period, about a year, while Trotsky was in exile in Prinkipo, an island off the coast of Turkey. From 1923, Trotsky had been fighting openly against the rise of a bureaucratic stratum that was taking away all power in the USSR. This had resulted in his ouster from the party and the Communist International, internal exile to Alma Ata in Kazhakhstan, and ultimately forcible removal from the USSR. The person, who had been the principal organiser of the October insurrection, who had organised the defence of the revolution against imperialist aggression and counter-revolution during the Civil War, was now being publicly hounded and vilified as an agent of counterrevolution within the international communist movement. Along with Stalin’s all out assault on the final traces of working class power, proceeded hand in hand with a massive campaign of lies and a rewriting of history – of Marxist theory, of the Bolshevik Party, of Trotsky’s role, of Stalin’s own role. Trotsky’s great biographer, Isaac Deutscher, reminded readers at a time when his role had been totally obscured, that the anti-Trotskyist campaign was not slackened for a single moment.[10] Trotsky thus wrote The History of the Russian Revolution both to present the actual history of the Russian Revolution and to defend his own role within it. That there were strong political motives behind writing the book do not make it a merely political tract of low historical worth.

Three points need to be briefly considered by the modern reader. The first is that Trotsky nowhere provides references to the sources. He explained in his preface that he was not relying on his memory. Unlike Thucydides, who lived in an age when literature was just emerging from the shadow of orality, Trotsky had at hand printed sources. A careful reader would also find steady references to various memoirs and documents. That no serious work of scholarship has challenged his documentation, even when taking great objection to his interpretations, indicate that the sources he used have not been impugned. The second question is, whether, in trying to assert his role, he had not inflated it. Stalinist propaganda of course systematically tried to paint him black. But a single verification of his sources in the final years of the Soviet Union, when the Stalin School of Falsification was finally published in that country, showed that the materials kept in the archives corresponded to the documents he had published.[11] The final question is more complicated and will be dealt with later. This relates to the role of Lenin. Was he, in reacting to the Stalin cult, not accepting and reinforcing the Lenin cult? It is certain that Lenin looms very large in the book. But it is not an infallible Lenin. It is a great revolutionary whose role is painted, and one can find scope to disagree with this or that point made by Trotsky. But he shows, for example, that Lenin’s proposed tactical line for carrying out the insurrection was not necessarily the best way, because while Lenin was a major driving force behind the insurrection, he was in hiding and therefore cut off from the nitty-gritty of tactical measures.

The Fall of Tsarism

A real history had to begin with setting the social and political context and revealing the splits developing at the top. In attempting to do so, Trotsky begins with an exposition of a law of historical materialism, which he calls the law of combined development. This was not a law generated out of nothing, but the result of his reflections on his theory of permanent revolution, first articulated in the Russian context, and subsequently generalised.[12]

In the first chapter, Trotsky establishes the unique “combined” character of Russia’s economic development, with backward agrarian conditions coexisting with the most sophisticated modern industries. Trotsky writes:

“A backward country assimilates the material and intellectual conquests of the advanced countries…. Although compelled to follow after the advanced countries, a backward country does not take things in the same order. The privilege of historic backwardness—and such a privilege exists—permits, or rather compels, the adoption of whatever is ready in advance of any specified date, skipping a whole series of intermediate stages.”[13]

Forced to defend itself from, and compete with, neighbouring capitalist powers, Russia absorbed modern military and related technology and along with them industries—but only by grafting the most modern capitalist methods, with the aid of state aid and foreign investment, on top of the most backward rural social relations. This was done, moreover, not by a new capitalist state, but by the old regime itself, dominated by the monarchy and the Dvoryanstvo [nobility].

But the rulers of Russia, in importing modern technology and industry, also imported the modern class struggle. The Russian working class developed under special conditions, with peasants turning into proletarians in a generation. This included

“sharp changes of environment, ties, relations, and a sharp break with the past. It is just this fact—combined with the concentrated oppressions of tsarism—that made the Russian workers hospitable to the boldest conclusions of revolutionary thought—just as the backward industries were hospitable to the last word in capitalist organization.”[14]

While the working class was numerically small, far away from being a majority of the population, its social and economic position made it possible for this class to lead the peasant majority in making a revolution. Such a revolution would have to fight the capitalists, not just the landlords, and at the same time, by overthrowing capitalism provoke a counterrevolution that could only be met by an international chain of revolutions.

Trotsky writes, in a chapter entitled ‘The Proletariat and the Peasantry’:

“The law of combined development of backwards countries—in the sense of a peculiar mixture of backwards elements with the more modern factors—here rises before us in its most finished form, and offers a key to the fundamental riddle of the Russian revolution.… In order to realize the Soviet state, there was required a drawing together and mutual penetration of two factors belonging to completely different historical species: a peasant war—that is, a movement characteristic of the dawn of bourgeois development—and a proletarian insurrection, the movement signalizing its decline. That is the essence of 1917.”[15]

Trotsky depicts the ruling circles, particularly the Tsar Nicholas II and the Tsarina, Alexandra with pitiless clarity. As the waves of modernity moved forward, the last of the Romanovs and his spouse rejected it, and retreated to a decadent medieval past, mired in superstition, ignoring social reality, and functioning as shallow, banal people who looked away as the social crisis intensified and their world crumbled.[16] Quoting the diary of the Tsar, he shows that Nicholas could not comprehend the gravity of the political crisis even as the state apparatus and the narrow clique around him separated from the landlord-bourgeois bloc. Trotsky argues that the apparently personal traits of the tsar symbolised the obsolescence of the monarchy. “In reality his ill-luck flowed from the contradictions between those old aims which he inherited from his ancestors and the new historic conditions in which he was placed.”[17]

The Russian bourgeoisie hated the tsar, his court, and wanted the end of the semi-feudal and superstitious order. But they were even more afraid of a revolution from below, which might be set in motion if they started off a revolt from above. The 1905 Revolution had begun with modest banquet campaigns by liberals and had ended in general strikes and insurrections. Remembering it, they “could not fail to ask… Will not the palace revolution, instead of a means for preventing a real revolution, turn out to be the last jar that loosens the avalanche? May not the cure prove more ruinous than the disease?”[18]

Tsarism and Russian capitalism alike were closely linked to Western capital. An economically backward partner, during the War Russia’s principal role was to provide assistance that would benefit the Western allies. Notably, the soldiers shifted for the battle of Tannenberg, late August 1914 (though they did not reach the Eastern Front in time) perhaps made the difference during the final German push for Paris, halted at the First Battle of the Marne, early September 1914[19]. “The one thing the Russian generals did with a flourish was drag human meat out of the country.”[20] Fifteen million men were conscripted into the army, and five and a half million of them were killed, captured, or wounded in the three years of war. The outbreak of War and a temporary wave of patriotism had enabled the rulers to defuse class bitterness, on the rise since 1912. But, as Trotsky notes,

 “The war itself, its victims, its horror, its shame, brought not only the old, but also the new layers of workers into conflict with the tsarist regime. It did this with a new incisiveness and led them to the conclusion: we can no longer endure it. The conclusion was universal; it welded the masses together and gave them a mighty dynamic force.”[21]

The futility of the war was obvious; and it led to a revival of strikes and popular dissatisfaction. By 1916, political, and not merely economic strikes were becoming prominent.

It was in this situation that the five days of insurrection developed, toppling the monarchy. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, March 8, 1917, which by the unreformed Russian calendar fell on February 23, Petrograd women workers of several textile mills, demanded bread from the local Duma [city council]. They wanted a strike, which the Bolshevik leaders at the local level were not keen to arrange. But the women went ahead nevertheless, and soon a general strike developed. Within a day half the city’s workers were out, and political demands outstripped economic ones. The Cossacks, relatively privileged landed groups residing in the lower Dnieper and Don Basins in Ukraine and Southern Russia, and who were the principal suppliers of the Tsarist cavalry, were called out. Here, Trotsky’s narrative reaches amazing heights:

“Decisive moment! But the horsemen, cautiously, in a long ribbon, rode through the corridor just made by the officers…the Cossacks, without openly breaking discipline, failed to force the crowd to disperse, but flowed through it in streams…. The officers hastened to separate their patrol from the workers, and, abandoning the idea of dispersing them, lined the Cossacks out across the street as a barrier to prevent the demonstrators from getting to the center. But even this did not help: standing stock-still in perfect discipline, the Cossacks did not hinder the workers from ‘diving’ under their horses. The revolution does not choose its paths: it made its first steps toward victory under the belly of a Cossack’s horse.”[22]

On the third and the fourth days rebels confronted the army. Quite a significant number were shot – something usually ignored by bourgeois historians who like to talk about the “peaceful” February Revolution in opposition to the violent” October Revolution.[23] But the workers persisted, and eventually made a dent on the soldiers’ morale and discipline. An army, bound by the most rigid of disciplines, does not easily go against the orders of its superiors. Workers, accustomed to partial battles, can do so. Trotsky explains:

“The more the soldiers in their mass are convinced that the rebels really are rebelling—that this is not a demonstration after which they will have to go back to the barracks and report, that this is a struggle to the death, that the people might win if they join them, and that this winning will not only guarantee impunity, but will alleviate the lot of all—the more they realize this, the more willing they are to turn aside their bayonets, or go over with them to the people. In other words, the revolutionists can create a break in the soldiers’ mood only if they themselves are actually ready to seize the victory at any price whatever, even the price of blood. And this highest determination never can, or will, remain unarmed”.[24]

By the fifth day, the army had gone over to the revolutions. The tsar abdicated, with his generals telling him bluntly that his departure was the minimum to save the state. Workers and soldiers marched to the Tauride Palace, not, however, to directly take power in their hands. The grassroots leadership that had overthrown the old power was not yet confident. So it left the top echelons of power to professional politicians and parties who had at best stood on the sidelines, or who had even tried to forestall the revolution.

In the next chapter, Trotsky discusses the question of leadership. No party could claim to have led the February revolution. But it was not a spontaneous revolution. There were worker activists. Modern historians have discussed issues, like who first issued the call for a general strike.[25] Trotsky argues that while the principal leaders of all the socialist parties were either in exile abroad, or in prison or internal exile, the revolutionary tradition among the workers had not died. Working class militants who were politically mature, who played leading roles at the factory or locality level, (the class vanguard in Marxist terms) had assessed the different socialist parties and their politics, and, asserts Trotsky, were drawing Bolshevik conclusions.

“To the smug politicians of liberalism and tamed socialism everything that happens among [the?] masses is customarily represented as an instinctive process, no matter whether they are dealing with an anthill or a beehive. In reality the thought which was drilling through the thick of the working class was far bolder, more penetrating, more conscious, than those little ideas by which the educated classes live. Moreover, this thought was more scientific: not only because it was to a considerable degree fertilized with the methods of Marxism, but still more because it was ever nourishing itself on the living experience of the masses which were soon to take their place in the revolutionary arena. Thoughts are scientific if they correspond to an objective process and make it possible to influence that process and guide it.”[26]

He concludes:

“To the question, who led the February Revolution? We can then answer definitely enough: Conscious and tempered workers educated for the most part by the party of Lenin. But we must here immediately add: This leadership proved sufficient to guarantee the victory of the insurrection, but it was not adequate to transfer immediately into the hands of the proletarian vanguard the leadership of the revolution.”[27]


The Dual Power and the Reorientation of the Bolshevik Party

The subsequent chapters take up the themes of dual power (the Provisional Government, a bourgeois – landlord organ, and the Soviet, a worker and soldier institution), and the recurrent crises of the February regime. The bourgeois politicians were afraid of the popular uprising, and initially hoped that the Tsar’s forces would suppress it. When that hope faded, they simply waited in the Tauride palace, expecting to be arrested. To their shock, they were approached by workers and soldiers, who demanded that they should form a government. A moderate socialist of the populist variety, Alexander Kerensky, who would come to have enormous power and influence over the next months, urged that the Duma, dissolved by the Tsar but its members still keeping together, should place themselves at the head of the already successful insurrection. The first semi-government was named the Provisional Committee. The Provisional Government that finally emerged was somewhat different in terms of personnel.

At the same time, in the same building, was set up the Executive Committee of the Workers and Soldiers soviet. Drawing upon the experience of the 1905 Revolution, a few Menshevik leaders took the initiative in this. They did so, not in order to develop the revolution, but in the hope that by forming the Soviet in this way, they would be able to keep the radical elements under control. But the aims of the Mensheviks and the reality diverged quickly. The famous Order No. 1 of the Soviet, virtually dictated to the left Menshevik Skobelev by soldiers, was an order that established the political rights of soldiers, in a country where till the day before, a feudal order had existed in the army. It was the Soviet that took charge of food supplies through a Food Commission. It also controlled communications, as workers voluntarily turned to this institution. It was the moderate socialist intellectual leadership of the soviet that, instead of taking power, went to the powerless bourgeois liberals and asked them to form a government.  The Dual Power emerged, not because of an objective need, but because the political consciousness of the workers and their allies had not reached the stage where they would move to institutions of working class democracy and decide to build a life without the bourgeoisie. This bears special reassertion in a country where the influence of Stalinism has remained strong among leftist forces. According to the Stalinist theory of stages, there must be a self-contained bourgeois democratic revolution (termed Peoples Democratic, New Democratic etc), because without this, economic development cannot reach the stage where socialist revolution comes on the agenda. It is not possible to deal with all the variants of this theory here.[28] But where all such theories stumble is over the fact that between February and October 1917, the only thing that evolved was the consciousness of the masses, not the mode of production.

Doug Lorimer, a member of the Socialist Workers Party of Australia, which later renamed itself the Democratic Socialist Party, wrote a pamphlet on the theory of permanent revolution, in which he asserted that Trotsky had misrepresented Bolshevik theory and policy in the 1920s and 1930s.[29]This is based on the argument that a dictatorship of the proletariat is created only when the economy is nationalized. In that case, the entire struggle between Lenin and Kamenev in the Bolshevik party, with Stalin as an early supporter of Kamenev, would remain inexplicable. After all, was not Kamenev championing the “Leninist” slogan (1905) of “revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry”, and accusing Lenin of ultra-leftism and Trotskyism? The April Theses of Lenin were published in Pravda in 1917, with the comment that these represented Lenin’s personal viewpoint. Thus the top level of the Bolshevik Central Committee did not support Lenin. Trotsky traces the struggle in the Bolshevik party, and shows how Lenin won over the party by appealing over the heads of the leadership to the party ranks. It still took a month of struggle and compromises.[30] Moreover, if Lenin had indeed held the rigid views Lorimer ascribes to him, he would hardly have stated: “We shall now proceed to construct the Socialist order”, as John Reed[31] records him in a book Lenin himself approved of, at the Second Congress of Soviets.

Indeed, the return of Lenin was a crucial turning point in the revolution.  If the Bolshevik leadership of the February days, Shlyapnikov, Zalutsky and Molotov, had been inadequate, the Bolshevik leadership that replaced them, Stalin, Kamenev and Muranov, was much more moderate as well as dogmatic. Trotsky spares no details in chronicling the defensist, compromising nature of Stalin’s leadership during March, in an attempt to use all the documentary evidence to break through the lies being manufactured by the Stalinist bureaucracy concerning the infallibility of the party, and the closeness between Lenin and Stalin. Once again, in a country where the Stalin cult remains strong among the left, these details are worth studying.  Stalin forcefully stressed that the revolution must be bourgeois. In Pravda, the “defensist” line was firmly stated:

“Our slogan is not the meaningless ‘down with war.’ Our slogan is pressure upon the Provisional Government with the aim of compelling it…to make and attempt to induce all the warring countries to open immediate negotiations…and until then every man remains at his fighting post!”[32] 

The Stalin-Kamenev leadership even began to gravitate toward the idea of reuniting with the Mensheviks in a single party.[33] Lenin launched a sharp attack on this line, though he was careful to make it possible for his erring comrades to withdraw from their positions.

Lenin’s struggle was waged in distinct stages. His first task was to win over the general staff—the Bolshevik Party itself. In the two chapters, ‘The Bolsheviks and Lenin’ and ‘Rearming the Party’, Trotsky considers this process. This was followed by deep propaganda among the masses. Lenin was absolutely clear that in a country where general democratic situations existed, anything other than democratic struggles to win over the majority of the toiling masses was a false course. For that reason, it was not enough to win over the majority in the capital. This was achieved, if in a relatively unstable manner, by the time of the First All Russia congress of Soviets (October 25-26, 1917). The final chapters of the first volume trace this process, including the Bolshevik call for a demonstration, called off when the Soviet claimed it would be used by conspirators. On June 11, Tseretelli, speaking at a meeting including the executive committee, members of the presidium of the congress, and other leaders, demanded that the Bolsheviks be disarmed. But the Bolsheviks did not have special arms. The people who had the arms were the soldiers and the workers. As Trotsky puts it: “That classic moment of the revolution had arrived when the bourgeois democracy, upon the demands of the reaction, undertakes to disarm the workers who had guaranteed the victory. [34]

Hoping to show that the masses were still with them, the moderate socialists called a counter-demonstration on 18 June. To the consternation of the Menshevik and Social Revolutionary leaders, this turned out to be a triumph of the Bolsheviks. Tseretelli had thrown down a challenge – let the demonstration show which side had the greater forces.

“The delegates of the congress, assembled on Mars Field, read and counted the placards. The first Bolshevik slogans were met half laughingly… But these same slogans were repeated again and again. “Down with the Ten Minister-Capitalists!”, “Down with the Offensive!”, “All Power to the Soviets!” The ironical smiles froze, and then gradually disappeared. Bolshevik banners floated everywhere. The delegates stopped counting the uncomfortable totals.”[35]


Class and Gender: A Missing Dimension of the History

Before we turn to the next two volumes, dealing with the failure of counter revolution and the Soviet seizure pf power, one point needs to be raised. Trotsky’s narrative, superb in its scope, holds the reader enthralled even today, close to a century after the events it describes and nearly eighty years since he wrote it. But that is why, some of the omissions tend to be overlooked. An introduction to a classic work is not a place to propose rectifications into that work. But the omissions need to be mentioned. The most vital one is the seeming gender neutrality of the narrative that actually stumbles. After the eruption of women workers on International Women’s Day, women mostly disappear from the descriptions. Where they appear, it is to assert that women will look after the home while men go off for political battles. Yet the reality was more complex.[36]

There were a significant number of Bolshevik women. While a very limited number held senior party positions, there is no doubt that quite a few of them were active supporters of Lenin, and worked in various capacities to mobilize party members and non-member supporters and other workers along similar lines as Lenin. Apart from Nadezhda Krupskaya, one should mention Maria Ulyanova, Alexandra Kollontai, Inessa Armand, and others. Kollontai, a leading woman activist, the first to be elected to a Bolshevik Central Committee (in the Congress of 1917), was a firm supporter of Lenin right from her return to Russia.

Kollontai, in association with other women, like Vera Slutskaya, Konkordia Samoilova, and Klavdia Nikolaieva, was also seriously involved in organising toiling women – both women workers and the soldatki [soldiers’ wives]. By 1917 women formed 43 percent of the workforce. They had to be organised if the revolutionary movement was to proceed. The first weeks after February saw an unprecedented increase in the number of women organising themselves to make political and economic demands. Bolsheviks were active among them. In Petrograd, the best documented city, Bolshevik women were active in two kinds of work among militant women. One was the formation of the Union of Soldatki. Bolshevik influence over the army was to grow significantly as a result of the Bolshevik women’s struggle to organise the Soldatki and to champion their demands. The other work was that of organising women workers for their demands. The social peace established by the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries after February was broken for the first time by several thousand women workers in the city laundries. They fought for an 8-hour working day, and for minimum wages. Bolshevik women like Goncharskaya, Novikondratieva and Sakharova led these struggles. Under the influence of Kollontai, the party press, primarily Pravda regularly reported about the strike. After a month’s strike, there was a partial victory.[37]

In trying to organise women workers, the Bolshevik women had to wage an ideological and organisational struggle against pro-war bourgeois feminists. As a result, not only the women, but the party as a whole had to turn its attention to work among the women. A meeting of the Executive Committee of the Petersburg Committee of the Bolsheviks gave Slutskaya the task of organising work among the women.[38] She felt that in order to do this work properly, there should be a bureau of working women, autonomous but under the city Committee. Despite all her assurances that this was only to facilitate practical work, the Petrograd Committee meeting witnessed much resistance to her proposal. The meeting resolved to revive the defunct Rabotnitsa, a journal originally brought out by Bolshevik women in 1914 and then suppressed by the police but left examination of Slutskaya’s proposals for a later date.[39] Eventually very few raion [district] committees set up women’s bureaux. The reasons for the non-functioning character of the bureaux can be found in the party’s hostility to any kind of feminism.[40] The journal Rabotnitsa was revived, and it became the centre of agitational and organisational work among women workers. The fact that it was a paper meant it could avoid the charge “feminist deviation”. Rabotnitsa enabled the two types of women activists – those like Armand and Kollontai on one hand, and those like Samoilova or others, to coexist. As Kollontai wrote later:

“As late as the spring of 1917 Konkordiya Nikolaevna found superfluous the formation of an apparatus in the party for work amongst women. On the other hand she warmly welcomed the rebirth of Rabotnitsa as an ideological centre … Comrade Samoilova would not tolerate anything that smacked of feminism and she regarded with great caution any organisational scheme which in her opinion might introduce “division according to sex” into the proletariat.”[41]

The return of a powerful agitator and leading cadre like Kollontai to Russia had meant a strong impetus to the work of organising working class women. But she too failed to get the party to sanction the creation of any kind of special apparatus for work among women. This meant that work among women was not often recognised as a distinct kind of work requiring special efforts. After prolonged attempts, Kollontai, Samoilova and others eventually got the party to agree to a women workers' conference, held on November 12 and 18, 1917, in Petrograd and attended by 500 elected delegates representing over 80,000 women workers.[42] It aimed at mobilising the working class women for the coming elections to the Constituent Assembly, and to prepare the grounds for an All-Russia women’s conference. Some Bolshevik women activists and leaders realised it quite well that the task of mobilisation would be easier if the women workers were separately organised where they could find a congenial atmosphere to overcome their hesitations and inhibition which were the results of their social upbringing.

The publication of Rabotnitsa had positive consequences. Women, traditionally treated as backward, brainless, were finding voices of their own. Their understanding of the gendered nature of class struggle came out, as when an activist, Prokhorova, wrote, “Many women comrades say that everything will be done without us. But comrades, whatever is done without us will be dangerous for us."[43] The paper provided space for the voices of female factory workers criticising sexist behaviour of male colleagues, not merely overseers. The editors of the paper, who included Samoilova, Klavdia Nikolaeva, and Praskovia Kudelli, were no less committed Bolsheviks than their male counterparts. These writings helped to emerge the early articulations of a Bolshevik-feminist discourse that went beyond Bolshevik orthodoxy of defining class in the cast of an adult male. A major historian of Bolshevik women has written that not only was sexism among the ranks of the proletariat criticised, but trade union leaderships (through demands for equal pay for equal work) and also the Bolshevik leadership, which was urged to increase its efforts to reach out to the women workers.[44] That the most important leader of the October insurrection found no space to put in some of these dimensions also means that this is an area where his work has to be read today in conjunction with Marxist-feminist work on the subject.

The Failure of Coalitionism:

The first Provisional Government had been an almost purely bourgeois government with only Kerensky as a token leftist. But by May, a crisis had shaken it, and the moderate socialists had entered into a coalition, not to push the regime to the left, but to provide it with a left cover. This first coalition government had ten bourgeois and six socialist ministers. The coalition attempt however failed. As Rosenberg’s study shows, the Liberals, gathered under the banner of the Cadet party, were not willing to make adequate concessions to the moderates.[45]This has to be seen, not as accidents of history, but as the expression of basic class interests. In the second volume of The History, Trotsky traces the conflict between the soviet parties and the soviet masses, as the moderate parties swung rightward and the masses moved left.  Early in July, workers and soldiers went out on to the streets, demanding that the Central Executive Committee of the soviets should take over power. The compromising socialists refused outright. Street encounters and casualties occurred. The collapse of the demonstrations followed, because the workers and soldiers were still confused. They had come out with arms. But they were still urging class collaborators to seize powers from the upper classes. This confusion was what resulted in uncertain aims and actions. The compromising leaders now took the path advocated by Tseretelli. The Bolshevik papers were shut down. Lenin went underground. A number of others, including Trotsky, were arrested. But this victory came at a price. The most openly counter-revolutionary forces had to be employed. In other words, there was a growing polarization.

Meanwhile the failure of the Provisional Government was becoming evident in all ways. The economic crisis continued unabated, and the national debt—fuelled by the war—was approaching the value of Russia’s total wealth, at 70 billion roubles. The massive inflation led to the printing of notes in bulk, increasingly valueless and sneeringly named “kerenkies”; “both “the bourgeois and the worker, each in his own way, embodied in that name a slight note of disgust.[46]  Factory owners were deliberately closing down shops as a systematic campaign of sabotage, resulting in a decline of metal production by 40 percent and textile output by 20 percent. In the cities the shadow of famine loomed closer, convincing the participants in the February uprising that the “future contained no glimmer of hope. This was not what the workers had expected from the revolution.”[47] The land question was left untouched. The struggle of the oppressed nationalities was likewise deferred. And the key political issue, the convening of the Constituent Assembly, was finally decided upon as late as mid-June, when it was announced that the Assembly election would be held in September 17. The Cadet press started a campaign against this immediately.

The consequence of the July days was an emboldened counter revolution. The Bolsheviks were vilified and attacked as German agents. Lenin and Zinoviev explained from underground why they were not submitting to the authorities. It was clear that a frame up was being planned. There were many, even in the Bolshevik ranks, who hesitated at this. Only later, with the murders of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, did it become clear to all that in the class struggle, the bourgeoisie does not play by rules when its domination is seriously threatened.

A routine charge against revolutionaries is that they are in the pay of foreign powers. Trotsky’s discussion of this issue shows that charges of German gold were routine, but when it was turned against the Bolsheviks, it reached unprecedented heights. But the July victory did not strengthen the government. Kerensky became the Minister –President. A renewed coalition was proposed, with the bourgeoisie dictating terms – such as, continuing the war, no social reforms till the Constituent Assembly met, and responsibility of ministers to their consciences, in other words, no responsibility to the masses.[48]

The story did not end there. In order to restore discipline in the army, General Lavr Kornilov, the only successful commander during Russia’s disastrous military offensive of June 1917, was appointed Supreme Commander. The right wing press tried to make a cult out of him. Kerensky and Kornilov entered into a Bonapartist conspiracy. Their aim was to beat back the revolution.

Kornilov was chosen probably also because after February 1917 he had claimed to be a republican. But this did not make him less counter-revolutionary. He demanded the restoration of the death penalty at the rear and gave orders to shoot deserters and set up their corpses as examples. He also threatened the peasants with severe penalties for violating the proprietary rights of the landlords.[49] The upper classes felt that in Kornilov they had acquired the strong man who would put down the disturbances.

Meanwhile, Kerensky, in order to create a semblance of a social base for his regime, and to put on display the alleged national unity, organised a State Conference for August 12–14 in Moscow, which was notable for its over-representation of the rich and ruling classes. It was also notable for the behind-the-scenes manoeuvring of the “partners”—Kornilov and Kerensky—against each other. Both wanted “order,” but the democrats nursed their illusions of a bourgeois republic while the Cadets and their military allies wanted to drown the working class in blood. As a result, the State Conference saw dramatic confrontations. But these were confrontations within forces who were agreed on blocking workers, peasants and soldiers from power.

Soldiers and workers saw the State Conference as a direct threat to soviet power. The Moscow city Soviet was still dominated by the compromisers. Over their heads, the trade unions and local soviets, with Moscow Bolsheviks often in the leadership, called a general strike. They plunged the city into darkness, showing that bourgeois power was still at the mercy of the toilers. Trotsky cites Miliukov, the liberal leader and historian, as writing that “The delegates coming to the Conference... could not ride on the tramways, nor lunch in the restaurants.”[50]The Bolshevik paper, The Proletarii, asked those who had thought the militancy a special problem of Petrograd and had moved to Moscow, “From Petrograd you went to Moscow—where will you go from there?[51] 

The Counterrevolutionary Plot and its Collapse

Kornilov and his backers had decided that they would organise a coup on August 27. The plan had been to provoke the Bolsheviks into an insurrection, through imposition of martial law in the capital and if necessary by using provocateurs claiming to be Bolsheviks. Kerensky was fully involved in this. Kerensky’s memoirs, cited by Trotsky, show that from June 1917, he had held conversations with right-wingers about the possibility of a coup or a dictatorship. That he claims he was not interested in such a power is undercut by his admission that for months he, claiming to be a minister of the revolution, was a party to such counterrevolutionary discussions. During the second half of August, the conspiracy proceeded so far that elements of it were clearly understood, not only by the Bolsheviks, but by the Menshevik and Socialist Revolutionary dominated Soviet leadership, who could not, however, denounce Kerensky, but only Kornilov. The Bolshevik paper Proletarii was shut down for appealing to workers not to respond to provocations.

The plan was to concentrate rightwing cavalry troops in Petrograd, then declare martial law, and then publish measures leading to an untimely insurrection. As Trotsky writes:

“The events, the documents, the testimony of the participants, and finally the confessions of Kerensky himself, unanimously bear witness that the Minister-President, without the knowledge of a part of his own government, behind the back of the soviets which had given him the power, in secrecy from the party of which he considered himself a member, had entered into agreement with the highest generals of the army for a radical change in the state régime with the help of armed forces.”[52]

Under the pretext of protecting the capital after the fall of Riga to the German army, three “loyal” divisions were moved closer to Petrograd as the first step of the projected coup. In the early morning hours of August 28, troops began their march on Petrograd, and reports started coming to the Executive Committee, terrifying the democrats. But Kerensky too was upset, for by this time, it was no longer a coup in which he would share power with Kornilov. As Eisenstein’s film October suggested, both Kerensky and Kornilov fancied himself for the role of Bonaparte, and Kornilov now thought he did not need Kerensky. Kerensky was now in a paroxysm of fear, and he dismissed Kornilov and ordered his troops to halt. Kornilov simply ignored the order. Kerensky had no forces loyal to himself.

The Bolsheviks understood that while Kerensky was a traitor, Kornilov was the counterrevolutionary who had to be stopped immediately, at any cost. Thus arose the Bolshevik scheme of a united front. The news of Kornilov’s march on Petrograd led to huge mass meetings in the factories. Every one of them vowed to defend the city and urgently demanded arms from the Soviet Executive. Thousands of Petrograd workers threw themselves into the struggle to stop Kornilov, at least 25,000 enlisted for the Red Guards who were co-ordinated by the Soviet’s Military Revolutionary Committee. The government was forced to re-arm the militia they had disarmed in July. At Putilov 8,000 of the workforce were sent to perform defence and agitation duties. Those who remained behind worked hard to overproduce military equipment in defence of the revolution.

The Menshevik-SR leadership of the Petrograd Soviet were obliged to set up a Committee of Struggle against the counter-revolution and to invite the Bolsheviks to participate in it. There were three delegates each from the SRs, the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks plus delegates from the main trade unions.

Bolshevik leaders, whether Kamenev, out in the open, or Trotsky, still in prison, or Lenin, still in hiding, realised that the situation had changed. During the defense of Petrograd, sailors came to Trotsky, who was still in prison as a result of the July Days, and ask him what they should do. “Use Kerensky as a gun-rest to shoot Kornilov,” advised Trotsky. “Afterward we will settle with Kerensky.”[53]

Until the outbreak of the Kornilov coup Lenin had been arguing that the counter-revolution had already occurred in July, so talk of a military coup was fraudulent rhetoric by the Mensheviks. He vigorously demanded no blocks or alliances with the Mensheviks. But as the reality of the situation sank in, he changed his tactics. The Bolsheviks active in the city called for united action with the Mensheviks and SRs and also with Kerensky. Lenin started arguing that workers who wanted to defend Petrograd against Kornilov must be mobilised to put forward demands on Kerensky that would develop their militancy and simultaneously expose the weakness and vacillation of the moderate leaders. His proposals included arrests of bourgeois leaders and legalisation of land transfer to peasants, and workers’ control over factories.

As workers mobilised, the coup fell apart. The supposedly reliable soldiers had simply not known what they were being sent to do. Delegations of soldiers and workers met the troops sent by Kornilov, and the projected army of counterrevolution just melted. The coup failed, because those who had planned it were totally isolated from the Russian people. They thought the masses just needed a whip to abandon the revolution. As Trotsky writes, “This mistake in estimating the mood of the masses brought all their other calculations to the dust.[54] Both politically and organisationally, the Kornilov coup and the defence against it had immense consequences. The soviets, which had become lifeless, were revitalised. While at the top the compromisers still had formal leadership, one step below, new revolutionary forces were pushing up. And the coup itself pushed soldiers back to the Bolsheviks.

The Soviet Conquest of Power

The theme that October 1917 was a coup has a pedigree as long as the revolution itself, and the fall of the Soviet Union has seen no end of the long line of books condemning October as a coup, a theme that was examined and debunked at length in the third volume of Trotsky’s The History, ‘The Triumph of the Soviets’, exploded this myth solidly, long before the current crop of scholars. At the same time, it also challenged the view that the party, rather than working class, organised in numerous institutions, though certainly led by the party, had made the revolution.[55]

It is a standard experience of history that the masses, even in times of revolution, do not begin by turning to the most revolutionary party. Thus it was that in 1917, the masses turned initially to the compromising social democrats and populists. The masses desired a quick solution to their most burning problems - in the case of Russia, a speedy end to the War, bread and land. Instead, the reformists offered them speeches and promises. The Bolsheviks based themselves at every stage on the masses. After defeating the tendency headed by Kamenev and Stalin, Lenin had to wage a struggle against ultra-lefts who immediately put forward the slogan "down with the Provisional Government", at a time when the masses still had illusions in the Menshevik and SR leaders who were supporting the Provisional Government. He explained that before the Bolsheviks could conquer power, they must first "conquer" the masses, and this had to be done by a combination of the experience of the masses and the patient work of the Bolsheviks, summed up in Lenin's slogan "patiently explain!"

At the Petrograd City Conference of the party, held in April Lenin said:

“We do not have complete political liberty, of course. But nowhere else is there such freedom as exists in Russia today. “Down with war” does not mean flinging the bayonet away. It means the transfer or power to another class. ….. We are still a minority and realise the need for winning a majority. Unlike the anarchists, we need the state for the transition to socialism .... The role of the Soviets .... is that they apply organised force against the counter-revolution ...... There can be no dual power in a state .... the way out of the war lies through the victory of the Soviet .... This is the type of state under which it is possible to advance towards socialism .... So long as the Soviets have not seized power, we shall not take it. A living force, however, must impel the Soviets to seize power .... So long as the Provisional Government has the backing of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, you cannot “simply” overthrow it. The only way it can and must be overthrown is by winning over the majority in the Soviets.[56]

By July the masses in Petrograd had been won over to the idea of Soviet power. At this point it was the top leadership of the Bolshevik Party that tried to restrain them, since the leadership was aware that the masses all over the country were not yet ready to overthrow the compromisers. The Bolshevik Party grew gradually, over the year. The table below shows the growth of some of the principal party committees.


  Growth of Party Committees[57]

Party Committee           Early March                   Seventh Conference               Sixth Congress

                                                                                    April                                       July                       

Petrograd                                      2000                                16,000                                  26,000

Moscow                                          600                                  7,000                                  15,000

Ivanovo-Voznesensk                        10                                  3,564                                    5,440

Ekaterinoslav                                  400                                  1,500                                    3,500

Lugan                                             100                                  1,500                                    2,596

Kharkov                                          105                                  1,200                                       —

Saratov                                             60                                  1,600                                    3,000

Kiev                                                200                                  1,900                                    4,000

Ekaterinburg                                     40                                  1,700                                    2,800


Despite this, it has been argued that the Bolshevik strategy was undemocratic. Three major possible criticisms have to be considered. First, the Bolsheviks overthrew a democratic regime. Second, they acted through their party, not through the Soviets. Finally, Lenin and Trotsky, particularly Lenin, was said to have been ‘dictatorial’. Following the defeat of Kornilov, there was a brief period when the right wing was completely disarmed. The Bolsheviks again attempted to go over peacefully to Soviet democracy. They recognised that the workers and peasants in their majority wanted a purely socialist government, and proposed that the Menshevik-SR bloc should take power, promising in that case to restrict themselves to peaceful propaganda.[58] But the Mensheviks and the SRs rejected this and again turned to coalition building with the already discredited Cadets, pretending that Kornilov’s coup was his personal work.

It is obvious that wherever there was a possibility, the Bolsheviks tried to minimise violence and to take power peacefully. It is also clear that this confidence was based on a rising tide in the Soviets, factory councils and trade unions, even more than in the municipal bodies. Throughout Russia, from late August, new elections to Soviets were being organised. The Bolsheviks made significant gains. Thus, at the Second Congress of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies of Urals, representing 505,780 workers and soldiers, which met on August 17-21, the Bolsheviks had 77 deputies against 23 for the Mensheviks.[59] On August 31- September 1, the Petrograd Soviet adopted a resolution on power, which led to the resignation of the old executive committee.[60] In Kiev, a Conference of Factory and Shop Committees passed a Bolshevik resolution with 161 votes for, 35 against, and 13 abstentions.[61]

The defeat of the Menshevik-SR bloc in the Petrograd Soviet (279-115 votes) had been questioned by the compromisers. On September 9, the presidium of the Petrograd Soviet insisted that the Soviet must state whether it was changing its line or not, saying it stood for the old line. Both sides had mustered their strength, and the presidium lost by 414 votes to 519, with 67 abstentions.[62]

On September 5, the Moscow Soviet passed a resolution condemning the Provisional Government and the Central Executive Committee by 355 votes to 254.[63] At the Kiev Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, the Bolshevik resolution won on 8th September by 130 votes to 66, showing a swing of 35 previously non-Bolsheviks delegates to them. On September 10, a regional Congress of Soviets in Finland adopted Bolshevik resolutions by big majorities.[64]

In August, work had barely begun in the rural areas. But by September 21, the Saratov Soviet had 320 Bolsheviks against 103 SRs. 76 Mensheviks, and 34 non-party deputies.[65] In Kronstadt, new elections resulted in a further shift to the left in an already radical Soviet, so that now it had 100 Bolsheviks, 75 left SRs, 12 Menshevik Internationalists, 7 anarchists, and 90-odd unaffiliated, but mostly leftwing, delegates. The right wing of the Soviet spectrum was practically wiped out.[66] Newly elected Soviets in Reval, Dorpat, Wenden, all had a Bolshevik-left SR majority. In Talinn, the Estonian regional committee elected a little later, in October, had 6 Bolsheviks, 4 left SRs, 1 Menshevik Internationalist, and one rightwing Menshevik.[67]

In Petrograd, Moscow, and the other major centres, the Bolshevik influence grew even more swiftly. From the last week of September, the open struggle between the Bolsheviks and their opponents began for hegemony over the Soviets in the final lap of the race for power. The Petrograd Soviet adopted Trotsky’s resolution calling for the consolidation and federation of all Soviet organisations and the immediate convocation of the Second All Russia Congress of Soviets.[68] This unleashed a flood of similar resolutions calling for the assumption of full power by the Congress.[69]

 The most detailed all-Russia studies, by numerous scholars, disclose that the trend was towards Bolshevism.[70]The Bolsheviks were in the majority in the Workers’ Soviets in most industrial cities and in most Soldiers’ Soviets in garrison towns, with strongholds in Finland, Estonia, Petrograd, the Northern Front, the Baltic Fleet, the Central Industrial Region (around Moscow), the Urals, Western and Central Siberia. The Socialist Revolutionaries predominated among the peasants and the frontline committees. Their bases included the black-earth region, the middle Volga, and the Western, Southern and Rumanian fronts. The Mensheviks dominated only in Georgia.

The last attempt made by the parties of moderate leftism to shore up their position came when they convoked the Democratic Conference on September 14. That Conference, in turn, set up the Council of the Republic, popularly known as the Pre-Parliament. Marc Ferro assesses the significance of the Democratic Conference in the following terms:

The democratic conference, convoked and organised by the Executive Council of the Soviets, reflected in its composition, the great variety of institutions that the Revolution had thrown up rather than their numerical strength or real power. Over thirty types of organization were represented, from the league of clergy and laymen to the Soviets, although the nationalities, for one, had only 43 places out of 1250…. [The SR-Menshevik bloc controlling the VTsIK, flouted democracy and] distributed seats as suited them. Workers’ and soldiers’ Soviets were allotted 230 places, as were the peasant Soviets, whereas the municipal councils took 300, the zemstva [local self-governing bodies created during Tsarist Russia] 200 and the cooperative movement 161.”[71]


Notwithstanding all this effort, even this attempt miscarried. The principle of bourgeois participation in government was approved by 766 votes to 688, with 38 abstentions. But then, an amendment excluding the Cadets was also passed with 595 votes against 493 with 72 abstentions.[72] A coalition without the Cadets was a senseless coalition. Kerensky then threatened to resign, refusing to participate in a homogeneous government, and as a result a renewed vote was taken and a Council of Republic created with bourgeois participation. But this was not a genuinely representative body. It was not elected, but nominated by the conference and the government, its composition was the following — 15 percent of all the groups represented in the Democratic Conference, together with 120 seats for the propertied classes and 20 for the Cossacks.[73]In view of the highly distorted system of representation in the Democratic Conference, it meant that the really representative bodies like the Soviets, peasants committees etc. would be underrepresented while utterly inconsequential bodies would get large representations. As a result, the moderate socialists got far more seats than they could get in Soviets, or in the case of the upper classes even in municipal dumas (since they were not represented in the Soviets at all).

But while the class collaborationist socialists were moving further and further to the right, accommodating every demand of the bourgeoisie, not only the workers and the soldiers in the capital cities, but other social forces were also moving in a more revolutionary direction. Trotsky analyses in two chapters of the third volume on the peasantry and the oppressed nationalities, whose struggles provided a massive impetus, and without whose conscious support the revolution could not have won and subsequently held out.

The peasantry had supported the Socialist Revolutionary party, the heir to the populist tradition. The Socialist Revolutionaries (SR) was dominated by the upper layers of the peasantry who “got tangled up in a coalition” and were beholden to a government rife with landowners and the bankers to whom they owed billions of rubles. The Socialist Revolutionaries

“went to pieces, therefore, not on the Utopian character of their socialism, but on their democratic inconsistency. It might have taken years to test out their Utopianism. Their betrayal of agrarian democracy became clear in a few months. Under a government of Social Revolutionaries the peasants had to take the road of insurrection in order to carry out the Social Revolutionary program.[74] 

One historian cited by Trotsky counted 4,954 agrarian conflicts against landlords between February and October.[75]

The fusion of the two revolutionary currents—proletarian and peasant—proved irresistible. Trotsky writes:

“The 17th, 18th and 19th centuries of Russian history climbed up on the shoulders of the 20th, and bent it to the ground. The weakness of this belated bourgeois revolution was manifested in the fact that the peasant war did not urge the bourgeois revolutionists forward, but threw them back conclusively into the camp of reaction. Tseretelli, the hard-labour convict of yesterday, defended the estates of the landlords against anarchy! The peasant revolution, thus rejected by the bourgeoisie, joined hands with the industrial proletariat. In this way the 20th century not only got free of those past centuries hanging upon it, but climbed up on their shoulders to a new historic level. In order that the peasant might clear and fence his land, the worker had to stand at the head of the state: that is the simplest formula for the October revolution”.[76]


The other source was national oppression and the national liberation struggles. Within Russia’s imperial borders, 57 percent of the population was non-Russian. Instead of capitalist development in Russia integrating the multi-ethnic society, it codified ethnic and national distinctions, creating specific oppressions to keep the nationalities divided.

With the coming of the February Revolution, the hope for liberation for the second-class citizens of Russia was simultaneously raised and dashed by the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries, who used the claim of “unity” to deny long-denied national rights: “The compromisist democracy merely translated traditions of the Tzarist national policy into the language of libertarian rhetoric.[77] The Bolsheviks, by insisting on the right of nations to self-determination, fought and mobilised the masses.

This was the context in which Lenin and Trotsky began to work for an insurrection. Lenin’s personal role was certainly important, but it was not dictatorial. His central achievement was to make the Bolshevik party and the militant workers understand that however weak the Kerensky government might be, it would simply not give way to a socialist regime. It would have to be forcibly overthrown.

In this context, Trotsky also treats at length the internal struggles in the party. This has much value today. On one hand, it shows, as Trotsky intended, that the Stalinist hagiography was a myth. On the other hand, it also tells us that real Bolshevism, unlike what followed since Stalin’s conquest of power, was thoroughly democratic. Even on the eve of an insurrection the Bolsheviks could debate, and at times even take out aspects of the crucial debate into the public.

Lenin began calling for insurrection when the Bolsheviks obtained hegemony in the Petrograd and Moscow Soviets by September 1917. This meant, in his view that the active majority of revolutionary elements were with them.[78] As further evidence of the strengthening of the left wing, he cited the growth of internationalist influence among the Mensheviks and SRs. So unlike in April and July when he had attempted to rein in over enthusiastic radicals, he now wanted to spur them forward. As a result, the differences in the Central Committee surfaced anew.[79] Lenin suggested that the large number of party members present as a result of their participation in the Democratic Conference virtually made up a Party Congress, and that they should decide upon the need to steer a course for the revolution.[80]

The struggle in the Central Committee, and throughout the party, was quite serious. A few days later, Lenin still in hiding, wrote another letter to the Central Committee, entitled ‘Marxism and Insurrection’. He opposed the view that politics of insurrections were always Blanquist. When there was a mass upsurge, when the enemy was in disarray, and when certain other conditions were met, a conspiracy for the technical side of the insurrection was a necessary action, not a Blanquist aberration.[81]

The majority of the Central Committee was hesitant. In its meeting of September 15, the agenda was Lenin’s letters. It was decided, with 6 votes to 4 with 6 abstentions, to burn all but one copy of the letter.[82] On September 21, Trotsky’s call to boycott the Council of the Republic won by single vote, but was overturned by the Bolshevik delegates of the Democratic Conference. Two days later, the Central Committee, with 15 members present, voted 8-7 in favour of a proposal to openly confront the moderates’ appeal for peace as hypocritical one.[83] But rank and file pressure went to support Lenin and his allies. Bukharin later related that at the Democratic Conference:

“the sailors posted by Kerensky to defend the Democratic conference against us, the Bolsheviks, turned to Trotsky and asked him, shaking their bayonets : ‘How soon can we get to work with these things?[84]


Finally, on October 5, the Central Committee decided to withdraw from the Pre-Parliament, with Kamenev expressing his dissent.[85] On October 7, Trotsky, on behalf of the Bolshevik fraction of the Pre-Parliament, read out a statement denouncing the Pre-Parliament as “a new edition of the Bulygin Duma”, an unrepresentative and counter-revolutionary body, and said, “we, the social democratic Bolshevik group, declare we have nothing in common with this government that betrays the people and with this council which connives at counter-revolution.”[86]  This was a call for an insurrection.

The boycott of parliamentary institutions on the part of anarchists and semi-anarchists is dictated by a desire not to submit their weakness to a test.... A revolutionary party can turn its back to a parliament only if it has set itself the immediate task of overthrowing the existing regime.”[87]

Much is made of certain proposals made by Lenin, so they should be briefly examined. Impatient at what he considered the dilatory tactics of the Central Committee, he put forward a proposal to Smilga, that the latter, as chairman of the Regional Committee of the Army, Navy and Workers of Finland, could call out troops, overthrow Kerensky, and hand over power to the Congress of Soviets.[88] Two days later, in an article entitled ‘The Crisis has Matured’, he objected to waiting for the Congress of Soviets, on the ground that time would be lost and Cossacks would be mobilised against any seizure of power.[89] He also suggested that the insurrection should be called directly by the party, rather than by the Soviets, and if necessary in Moscow, rather than in Petrograd.[90] He wrote repeatedly that “To ‘wait’ for the Congress of Soviets is idiocy ....”[91] or that “To wait for the Congress of Soviets would be a childish game of formalities, a disgraceful game of formalities, and a betrayal of the revolution.”[92]

It is not true that with these proposals, he was suggesting that Soviet democracy be rejected in favour of party dictatorship. As the proposal to Smilga showed explicitly, he wanted power to go to the Congress of Soviets. But he was apprehensive that those who were actually opposed to staging the insurrection were taking refuge behind the slogan of waiting for the Soviet Congress. At the same time, his proposals also showed his failure to understand how far the organisation of the insurrection could be assisted if it was launched in the name of the Soviets. On this issue his opponent was Trotsky, who devised a different tactical approach to the uprising.

This is an issue where Trotsky had to step gingerly. Yet he achieved his task as a historian with great dexterity. By the time he was writing, a Lenin cult was in position. He had no wish to denigrate Lenin. But he was also trying to restore his position in history.  He shows that while Lenin was the central leader of the revolution and the key figure who had turned the Bolshevik party round, he himself was not there on the ground, and therefore unaware of the precise relationship of forces. Trotsky was also fighting against the lies heaped by Stalinist professors showing that the concrete work of organising the insurrection was Lenin’s deed.

Thus, in the third volume, we find a full chapter entitled ‘Lenin summons to Insurrection’. In it, Trotsky argues:

“Besides the factories, barracks, villages, the front and, the soviets, the revolution had another laboratory: the brain of Lenin. Driven underground, Lenin was obliged for a hundred and eleven days – from July 6 to October 25 – to cut down his meetings even with members of the Central Committee. Without any immediate intercourse with the masses, and deprived of contacts with any organisations, he concentrated his thought the more resolutely upon the fundamental problems of the revolution, reducing them – as was both his rule and the necessity of his nature – to the key problems of Marxism.”[93]


But this does not mean that Trotsky was willing to ascribe to Lenin the single-handed power to make or unmake the insurrection. One of the present authors had, because of this chapter and similar comments, many years back, accused Trotsky of ignoring Marxist views on the role of the individual in history.[94] A careful reading shows this not to be the case. In the first place, Trotsky here is drawing attention to Lenin’s theoretical work. Rejecting the mechanical determinism of the Second International’s moderates, who often behaved as though History personified would ensure the collapse of capitalism, and who abused the criticisms levelled by Marx and Engels against minority putschism (“Blanquism”, etc) by turning them into flat rejections of the use of force in a revolution, Lenin argued that when the majority of conscious workers and their allies were willing to fight for class power, making an insurrection was a necessity, because the bourgeoisie would not hand over power. Perhaps, at this point, it is worth quoting the great revolutionary whose authority is misused to condemn the Bolsheviks. At the time of the German revolution of 1918-19, this is what Rosa Luxemburg wrote:

“From the  Deutsche Tageszeitung,  Die Vossische and Vorwärts to the independent Freiheit, from Reventlow, Erzberger and Scheidemann to Haase and Kautsky, comes a unanimous call for a National Assembly. At the same time there is a unanimous cry of fear at the idea of the power being in the hands of the working class.

All the ‘people’, the whole ‘nation’, are to be called upon to decide by majority resolution the further fate of the revolution.

This slogan is a matter of course to the open and disguised agents of the ruling classes. We shall discuss neither in the National Assembly nor about the National Assembly with the guards of the capitalists’ safes.

But even independent leaders are joining the ranks of the guards of capital in this decisive question.

In this way, as Hilferding states in Freiheit, they want to spare themselves the revolution, the use of force, the civil war with all its horrors. Petit-bourgeois illusions! They imagine that the greatest revolution since the beginning of humankind will develop in such a form that the various social classes will come together, engage in a pleasant, calm and ‘dignified’ discussion with each other, and will afterwards hold a vote, perhaps even one with a famous ‘division’. When the capitalist class sees that it is in the minority, it, as a well-disciplined parliamentary party, will declare with a sigh, There is nothing we can do! We see that we are outvoted. All right, we shall submit and hand over all our lands, factories, mines, all our fire-proof safes and our handsome profits to the workers ...”

Indeed, the species embodied by Lamartine, Garnier Pages, Ledru Rollin, namely the species of petit-bourgeois illusionists and babblers of 1848, has not died out; it has reappeared – without the lustre and talent and allure of newness – in a boring-pedantic-scholarly German edition written by Kautsky, Hilferding and Haase.”[95]

In other words, it was the theoretical position of the revolutionary left that power cannot go to the working class without open battle against the bourgeoisie, and without class power socialism could not be built. This is where Lenin made a decisive contribution in 1917, especially in opposition to those of his own comrades who fell into the trap of equating insurrections with Blanquism.

But Trotsky was also able to make two other arguments. First, even in this chapter, and then in the next, he demonstrated that Lenin did not create an insurrection out of nothing. Even less did he create the leadership of the insurrection out of nothing. He fought passionately with his comrades precisely because he knew that the Bolshevik party, built over so many years, with so many vanguard workers, could not be replaced in the middle of a revolution:

“It required a mighty confidence in the proletariat, in the party, but also a very serious mistrust of the Central Committee, in order over its head, upon his own personal responsibility, from underground, and by means of a few small sheets of notepaper minutely inscribed, to raise an agitation for an armed revolution, for an armed overthrow of the government. How could it happen that Lenin, whom we have seen at the beginning of April isolated among the leaders of his own party, found himself again solitary in the same group in September and early October? This cannot be understood if you believe the unintelligent legend which portrays the history of Bolshevism as an emanation of the pure revolutionary idea. In reality Bolshevism developed in a definite social milieu undergoing its heterogeneous influences and among them the influence of a petty bourgeois environment and of cultural backwardness. To each new situation the party adapted itself only by way of an inner crisis.

In order that the sharp pre-October struggle in the Bolshevik upper circles may come before us in a true light, it is necessary again to look back at those processes in the party of which we spoke in the first volume. This is the more necessary since exactly at this present time the faction of Stalin is making unheard-of efforts, and that, too, on an international scale, to wipe out of historic memory every recollection of how the October revolution was in reality prepared and achieved.”[96]

In the next chapter, ‘The Art of Insurrection’, Trotsky attempts to demonstrate that theoretical clarity by itself could not have made a successful insurrection. This was at the same time therefore a restatement of the historical role of Trotsky himself in October, for it was he, as the principal leader of the Petrograd Soviet, who took the actions that led to the insurrection while constantly hiding it from the enemies of the revolution.

When the old executive committee of the Petrograd Soviet had resigned, Trotsky had been elected the new chairman. From this position, he symbolised Bolshevism to the mass of workers and soldiers. Also, from this position, he was better able to feel the pulse of the workers and soldiers. He was sanguine that for the insurrection to succeed, it had to be made through the Petrograd Soviet. The Central Committee majority, while agreeing on the need for an insurrection, likewise differed with Lenin’s tactical Proposals. On October 15, there was a meeting of the Central Committee, the Petersburg Committee and other prominent activists. The discussions revealed that many activists, including some who had been to the left of Lenin during the July Days, felt that an uprising in the name of the party would not get adequate popular support.[97] The next day, there was a meeting of the Central Committee which Lenin could at last attend. There too, reports were presented that showed that an uprising organised by the Petrograd Soviet would be more popular than one organised by the party.[98]

In many Soviets, the majority was left, but not purely Bolshevik. The leftists included Left SRs, anarchists (mainly in factory committees, but also in a few Soviets like Kronstadt), leftwing Mensheviks, etc. The left SR support was vital above all, for they represented the revolutionary peasantry. Another reason for sticking to the Soviets was that the long established dual power tradition could be used to screen offensive moves. Thus, when a rumour arose concerning a counter-revolutionary plan to abandon the capital, Trotsky formally proposed an all out opposition to any transfer of seat of the government out of Petrograd. On October 11, he spoke before the Congress of Northern Soviets: “Our government can run away from Petrograd, but the revolutionary people will never leave Petrograd.”[99]The Petrograd Soviet became aware that Kerensky was trying to transfer many of the military units out of Petrograd. The Executive Committee of the Soviet decided to respond by creating a Committee of Defence, soon to be renamed Military Revolutionary Committee. This was an executive organ of the Petrograd Soviet, and the tasks given to it included both defensive and offensive ones.[100] Trotsky did not move according to a set plan, but improvised, using events as they came up.  A delegation of workers came to him and said that they needed weapons, which an arms factory would supply if the Soviet ordered it. Trotsky gave an initial order for five thousand rifles, which was immediately complied with.[101] In the same way, the Garrison Conference of October 18, saw almost the entire garrison declaring their readiness to come out at the call of the Petrograd Soviet.[102]On the same day, Trotsky issued a declaration: 

“I declare in the name of the Soviet: we have not been planning any kind of armed initiative. However, if the course of events forced the Soviet to take an initiative, workers and soldiers would respond....  at the first attempt.... to disrupt the Congress of Soviet.... we shall answer with a counter attack.[103]


This gave the complete definition of the intended insurrection a political offensive under the formula of military defence. The All Russia Central Executive Committee postponed the Soviet Congress by six days at last moment. The Petrograd Soviet put the six days to good use.  On the night of October 21, General Polkovnikov, in charge of the Petrograd garrison, refused to allow any access to the Military Revolutionary Committee of the Petrograd Soviet.   The Military Revolutionary Committee responded by calling on the soldiers not to accept any directive unless countersigned by it.[104] On October 23, Trotsky won over the garrison at the Peter and Paul Fortress and the Kronverk Arsenal.[105]As yet, every step had been taken by pointing to the quite genuine counter revolutionary threat and calling for defence. Trotsky’s strategy was thus covered by Soviet legality. He was aware that the masses were in favour of action by the Soviets. By October 24, when the insurrection began, it had been virtually secured. The government’s attempt at this stage, to close down the Bolshevik press, provided the perfect scope. The Military Revolutionary Committee stated, on the same day that “Two revolutionary papers, Rabochii Put and Soldat, have been closed down by the plotters from the General staff. The Soviet will not tolerate the strangling of free speech.[106] The insurrection had begun. The deceptive ruses were intended for the enemy. For the working masses, at each stage the Bolsheviks proclaimed the goal of Soviet power, and explained that it could be established by overthrowing the Provisional Government.

In his The History, Trotsky explains the nature of class-party relationship as it had developed on the eve of the revolution:

“The Party set the Soviets in motion, the Soviets set in motion the workers, soldiers and to some extent the peasantry. What was gained in mass was lost in speed. If you represent this conducting apparatus as a system of cog-wheels ...... the impatient attempt to connect the party directly with the gigantic wheel of the masses - omitting the medium sized wheel of the Soviets — would have given rise to the danger of breaking the teeth of the party wheel, and nevertheless not setting sufficiently large masses in motion.”[107]


It has been remarked that:

“In so far as the October insurrection meant a total rupture with the remnants of the Tsarist state, as well as the emerging bourgeois state, the revolution’s victory meant, not a continuity of the old legality, but its destruction, however peaceful the revolution might be. But, the degree of Bolsheviks’ commitment to Soviet democracy and Soviet legality is a different matter. As long as there existed Provisional Government, claiming (though with indifferent success) the allegiance of the troops, it was pointless to imagine that a Congress of Soviets could meet and decide to take over power, without meeting armed resistance from the government.”[108]

The political leadership of the insurrection certainly came from the Bolsheviks, whose Central Committee had decided on it. But the party acted democratically through the Soviet. Trotsky has sometimes been accused of Soviet legalism. It is possible to argue that as the President of the Petrograd Soviet, he was aware that the working class could / should not be duped. Charges of this kind actually reveal a substitutionist attitude, with the working class being treated as a backward mass fit only to be led by the Party.

The decision for going ahead with the insurrection on the eve of the Soviet Congress, rather than after it gave a formal sanction, was based on an awareness that what decision the Second Congress of Soviets would adopt depended on who controlled the guns. As recent history shows repeatedly, even an anti-dictatorial democratic struggle, whether in Thailand or in Egypt, has to face this hurdle, the question of the armed forces. There was no coup involved in October, but the guns had to be won over.


The October Revolution was a tremendous act of social emancipation. It ended centuries of tsarist oppression along with the extremely exploitative capitalist development of Russia. It liberated the peasants and the nationalities. It aroused the masses to political life, and provided inspiration to a whole generation. The democratic and socialist ideals of October did not only attract the exploited and oppressed masses. They also inspired the best of the artists and intellectuals, who were irresistibly drawn to the cause of the Revolution. Going beyond Russian borders, the October revolution inspired radicals fighting for national liberation and social emancipation everywhere. Virendranath Chattopadhyay, the Indian revolutionary, a member of the Berlin Committee, testified that they were electrified when the Bolshevik tribune talked about the liberation of colonies at the negotiations of Brest Litovsk in March 1918. In an age when Stalinists are becoming upholders of neo-liberalism, when cynicism is rampant, when the very idea of building a new and better world is met with knowing sneers it is difficult to imagine the spirit of liberation that was born out of the Russian Revolution.

For all the horrors of Stalinism, the October Revolution proved in practice the superiority of a nationalized planned economy. It proved that it was possible to run the economy of a vast country without landlords, bankers and private capitalists. In the words of Leon Trotsky, it proved the superiority of socialism, not in the language of Marx's Capital but in the language of cement, iron, steel, coal and electricity. Thanks to the colossal advantages of a nationalized planned economy, the USSR made notable strides forward in education, science, art and culture. A land where large sections of the population had been illiterate before October experienced a cultural revolution like no other in previous history. The discourse and the actuality of women’s liberation, under the greatly difficult situations of civil war, economic isolation, and the legacy of backwardness, were well integrated into the project of socialist construction until the rise of Stalinism and the consequent partial reversal of the gains of women.

The Stalinist bureaucracy that usurped power however was a major impediment. In the long run, as scholars like H. H. Ticktin have shown, it ruined the economy[109].And ultimately it turned to capitalist restoration to preserve its privileges and transform them into lasting class power – in the name of democratic revolutions in the USSR, and some East European countries, and in the name of the party in China.

And what have the admirers of capitalism got to say about Russia today? The restoration of capitalism has not conferred any benefits on the peoples of the former USSR. As Trotsky predicted, the return to capitalism in the Soviet Union has caused an unprecedented decline in the productive forces and culture. In place of the monstrous corrupt regime of the Stalinist bureaucracy, we have the even more monstrous and corrupt regime of Putin. There can be no return to the conditions of 1917. But for working people anywhere, resistance to neoliberal capitalism must lead to reassertion of class power, class democracy. For this, re-learning the lessons of what really happened during the Russian revolution is vital, and no book is more suitable for that than Trotsky’s great history.



[1] The Trotsky biographies are, Robert Service, Trotsky, A Biography (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009), Ian D. Thatcher, Trotsky (London: Routledge, 2003), Geoffrey Swain Trotsky, Longman, 2006. For critiques of the biographies see Paul Le Blanc, “Second Assassination of Leon Trotsky,” Links, International Journal of Socialist Renewal, December 25, 2009 (http://links.org.au/node/1440); Thomas Twiss and Paul Le Blanc, “Revolutionary Betrayed: Leon Trotsky and His Biographer,” International Socialist Review, issue 71, May-June 2010; and David North, Leon Trotsky & the Post-Soviet School of Historical Falsification [Oak Park, MI: Mehring Books, 2007].

Serious recent works on Trotsky’s Marxism and aspects of his life and work see Kunal Chattopadhyay, The Marxism of Leon Trotsky (Kolkata: Progress Publishers, 2006); Bill Dunn and Hugo Radice, eds., 100 Years of Permanent Revolution, Results and Prospects (London: Pluto Press, 2006); Ernest Mandel, Trotsky As Alternative (London: Verso, 1995); Michael Löwy, The Politics of Combined and Uneven Development (Chicago, IL: Haymarket, 2010).

[2]For Cold War histories that claim/ed that the Bolsheviks were a minority bent on seizing power in an undemocratic manner, see L Schapiro, The Origin of the Communist Autocracy, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1966); Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution, (New York: Knopff. 1990). For the most popular post-Cold War account along that tradition see Orlando Figes, A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, 1891-1924, (London: Jonathan Cape, 1996). Figes is different from the earlier Cold Warriors, not in his assessment of the evils of the Russian revolution, but in his rejection of those historians’ views that the masses were passive tools. Instead, he argues, it was to degenerate into dictatorship and violence precisely because it was a people’s revolution. The people, you see, were barbaric. Simon Schama must be applauding from his corner. See Simon Schama, Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution. (New York: Vintage Books, 1990). For orthodox Stalinist historiography, see the classic work, Isaac Izrailevich Mints, Istoriia Velikogo Oktiabria, 3 vols. (Moscow: Izdatelstvo Nauka, 1967-72).


[3]Leon Trotsky, The History of the Russian Revolution, (Delhi: Aakar Books. 2011), pp. 17-18. Hereafter all quotations from the History will be from this edition, and by page.

[4] Ibid, p.21.

[5] Orlando Figes, A People’s Tragedy: pp 112-113.

[6] Leopold Henri Haimson, “The Problem of Political and Social Stability in Urban Russia, 1905-1917,” Slavic Review 23 (Dec. 1964): 619-642 and Slavic Review 24 (March 1965): 1-22

[7]William G. Rosenberg, Liberals in the Russian Revolution: The Constitutional Democratic Party 1917-1921, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1974).

[8]V.E. Bonnell, Roots of Rebellion, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983); D. Koenker; Moscow Workers and the 1917 Revolution, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981);  D. Mandel; The Petrograd Workers’ and the Fall of the Old Regime, (London:MacMillan, 1984); The Petrograd Workers and the Soviet Seizure of Power, (London:MacMillan, 1984); Factory Committees and Workers’ Control in Petrograd in 1917, (Montreuil: IIRE, 1993).

[9]Paul Le Blanc, Lenin and the Revolutionary Party, (New York: Humanity Books, 1993); Soma Marik, Reinterrogating the Classical Marxist Discourses of Revolutionary Democracy,  (Delhi: Aakar Books, 2008).

[10]Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Outcast: 1929–1940 (New York: Vintage Books, 1963), p. 125

[11]L. Trotsky,  Stalinskaya shkola falsifikatsii, in Voprosy Istorii, no. 7, 1989.

[12]On this see George Novack, Understanding History (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1972); Michael Lowy, The Politics of Combined and Uneven Development: The Theory of Permanent Revolution, (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2010), and Kunal Chattopadhyay, The Marxism of Leon Trotsky.

[13]Leon Trotsky, History, pp. 26-27.

[14]Ibid, p 33.


[16]Ibid, pp. 72-84.

[17]Ibid, p. 116.

[18]Ibid, p.92.

[19]This traditional view has however been questioned by John Sweetman, Tannenberg 1914, (London:Cassell, 2002). But Dennis Showalter, Tannenberg: Clash of Empires, 1914, ( Hamden, Connecticut: Archon, 1991); as well as a number of other scholars argue that Younger Moltke was so much anxious about the pace of Russian advance in East Prussia that he weakened the right wing of the German push along Belgium leading to Von Kluck's defeat at Marne.

[20]Leon Trotsky, History,p.40.

[21] Ibid, p.165.

[22] Ibid. pp.124-125 .

[23] One can mention a number of historians. In particular, it is possible to talk about Richard Pipes, a scholar who worked as an analyst for the CIA. See Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution. For critiques of Pipes’ view that the October Revolution was, rather than a popular general uprising, a coup foisted upon the majority of the Russian population and the national minorities, by a tiny segment of the population driven by a select group of intelligentsia who subsequently established a “totalitarian” dictatorship which was intolerant and repressive from the start, see David C. Engerman, Know your enemy. The rise and fall of America's Soviet experts. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) See also Peter Kenez,  ‘The Prosecution of Soviet History: A Critique of Richard Pipes' The Russian RevolutionThe Russian Review, vol. 50, 1991, pp. 345-51.

[24]Leon Trotsky, History, p.141

[25]This discussion has been summarized in Soma Marik, Reinterrogating the Classical Marxist Discourses, pp.321-23.

[26]Trotsky, pp.169-70.

[27]Ibid., p.171

[28] This has been done in Kunal Chattopadhyay, Leninism and Permanent Revolution, Antar Rashtriya Prakashan, Baroda, 1987; as well as in Kunal Chattopadhyay, The Marxism of Leon Trotsky. See also the editors’ introduction in Kunal Chattopadhyay, Anindya Banerjee and Saurobijoy Sarkar Eds, Leon Trotsky, Permanent Revolution and Results and Prospects, Aakar Books, Delhi, 2006

[29] Doug Lorimer, Trotsky's Theory of Permanent Revolution—a Leninist Critique, Resistance Books, Sydney, 1998.

[30] On this, see Soma Marik, Reinterrogating the Classical Marxist Discourses, pp. 328-330, 333-335, 338-340.

[31] John Reed, Ten Days That Shook the World, London: Penguin (1977), p. 128

[32] Trotsky, History, p. 305.

[33] Ibid., p.321.

[34] Ibid, p.457.

[35] Ibid, p.462.

[36] This has been discussed at length in Marik, Reinterrogating…, and in a number of specialized articles like Soma Marik (2004), ‘Gendering the Revolutionary Party’, in B. Chaqtterjee and K. Chattopadhyay (Eds), Perspectives on Socialism, Kolkata, Progressive Publishers, pp. 13-50; Soma Marik (1999), ‘Biplabi Dal o Linga Samata’, in P. Majumdar (Ed.), Loukik Udyan – Manabi Sankhya, Kolkata: UBI Staff welfare and Cultural Society, pp. 379-406.

[37] See M. Donald, ‘Bolshevik Activity Amongst the Working Women of Petrograd in 1917’, International Review of Social History, vol.XXVII, 1982. See also Pravda, 7 May 1917 and 31 May 1917.

[38] Pervyi legalnyi komitet Bolshevikov v 1917g, Moscow, 1927, p.33.

[39] Ibid., p.40

[40] Lyudmilla Stal, a prominent Bolshevik woman, made this point later in her memoirs of 1917. See M. Donald, ‘Bolshevik Activity Amongst the Working Women of Petrograd in 1917’, p.137.

[41] Ibid., p.139.

[42] See Pravda, 26.11.1917.

[43] Rabotnitsa, 30 May 1917.

[44]B. Evans Clements, Bolshevik Women, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997, pp. 132-3.

[45] W. G. Rosenberg, Liberals in the Russian Revolution: The Constitutional Democratic Party, 1917-1921, Princeton Univ Pr (June 1974)


[46] Trotsky, History, vol II, p.515.

[47] Ibid, p.516.

[48] Ibid, pp. 626, 629-30.

[49] Ibid, p. 653.

[50]Ibid, p.658.

[51]Ibid.p. 659.

[52]Ibid, pp.706-7.

[53]Ibid, p. 739.

[54]Ibid, p. 733.

[55] For similar views see particularly Charles Bettelheim (1976), for whom “The establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat means that the proletariat sets itself up as the ruling class and this cannot be done through organs of the soviet type, which are mass organisations, or through state organs exclusively derived from these. The constitution of the proletariat as ruling class is necessarily effected through an apparatus that is specifically proletarian in ideology and aims, and in the role of leadership and unification that it plays in relation to the masses. ‘In other words, through a proletarian party that plays this leading role, politically and ideologically, and plays it, too, in relation to the machinery od state issuing from the mass organisation”. Class Struggle in the USSR, First Period 1917-1923. New York: Monthly Review Press, p. 109.

[56] V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition, volume 24, Moscow, 1980, Progress Publishers, hereafter cited in the form LCW:  24, pp. 145-6.

[57] Based on data in Voprosy Istorii KPSS, no.2, 1958.

[58] V.I. Lenin, ‘On Compromises’ in LCW: 25, pp.310-14.

[59] V. V. Kutuzov, ed., Velikaia Oktiabrskaia Sotsialisticheskaia Revolutsiia — Khronika Sobytii. , Moscow, 1957, vol.3, p.226. The SRs had 40, giving the Bolsheviks a clear lead over the combined Menshevik-SR bloc.

[60] A. Andreyev, The Soviets of Workers and Soldiers Deputies on the eve of the October Revolution, Moscow, 1971, p.260.

[61] L. Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution, vol.2, p. 781.

[62] Ibid, p.806 gives the voting figures.

[63] Ibid., p.804.

[64] Ibid., p. 805.

[65] A. Andreyev, The Soviets of Workers and Soldiers Deputies on the eve of the October Revolution, p.263.

[66] L.Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution, vol.2, p.803.

[67] O. Anweiler, The Soviets, p.179.

[68] The text of the resolution is in Vtoroi Vesrossiiskii Sezd Sovetov , Moscow, 1957, pp.119-20. It gives 22 September as the date. O. Anweiler, The Soviets, p.181 gives the date as 21 September.

[69] For a nearly complete checklist, see Vtoroi Vserossiiskii S”ezd Sovetov, pp.121-216.

[70] Apart from Anweiler and Trotsky, see A. Rabinowitch, The Bolsheviks Come to Power, New York 1976.

[71] M. Ferro, The Bolshevik Revolution, London, 1985, Routledge and Kegan Paul, p.233.

[72] L.Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution, vol.2, p. 839, Ferro, The Bolshevik Revolution, p,233 gives somewhat different figures.

[73] L. Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution, vol.2, p.841; M. Ferro, The Bolshevik Revolution, p.233.

[74] L. Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution, vol 3, p 872.

[75]Ibid., p.871.

[76] Ibid, p.888.

[77]Ibid, p. 891.

[78] V.I. Lenin, ‘The Bolsheviks must assume power’ in LCW: 26, Moscow, 1977, p.19.

[79] R. Schlesinger, History of the Communist Party of the USSR , pp.121-2, rejects the view that Lenin found the Central Committee, or large parts of it, as a hindrance, saying that it is a Trotskyist myth, Trotsky’s own detailed account is in L. Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution, vol.3, pp. 975- 1016. As we have argued, Trotsky did not make as simplistic a claim as Schlesinger implies.

[80] LCW: 26, p.20.

[81] Ibid, pp.22-4

[82] The Bolsheviks and the October Revolution, Minutes of the Central Committee of the Russia Social Democratic Labour party (Bolsheviks), August 1917 — February 1918, London, Pluto Press, 1974, translated by Anne Bone, with additional notes by T. Cliff, p.58.

[83] Ibid., p.69

[84] Quoted in L.Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution, vol.2, p.839.

[85] The Bolsheviks and the October Revolution, p.78.

[86] Rabochii Put, October 8, 1917, English translation in The Bolsheviks...., pp.79-81.

[87] L. Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution, vol.2, p.841.

[88] LCW: 26, p.70

[89] Ibid., p.83.

[90] V.I. Lenin, ‘Letter to the Central Committee, the Moscow and Petrograd Committees and the Bolshevik Members of the Petrograd and Moscow Soviets, in ibid., pp.20-21, 58, 80-81, 141.

[91] Ibid., p.141.

[92] Ibid., p.83.

[93] L.Trotsky, The History of the Russian Revolution, vol.3, p. 975.

[94]Kunal Chattopadhyay, ‘Rus Biplaber Oitihasiker Bhumikaye Trotsky’, [Trotsky as Historian of the Russian Revolution] Arani, 1977-78, pp.72-85, especially pp.83-84. Reading the essay, Professor Sushovan Sarkar , the founder of Marxist historiography in Bengal, had argued that this was a rather mechanical view of the materialist conception of history. He argued that leadership is something that develops historically, and while leadership is certainly only a link in a chain; the leadership cannot be replaced overnight.

[95]Rosa Luxemburg, ‘Die Nationalversammlung’, in Gesammelte Werke, Bd 4, Berlin: Dietz Verlag, 1990, pp. 407-8. This translation is based on the translation provided by Robert Looker, edited and introduced, Rosa Luxemburg: Selected Political Writings, New Tork: Random House, 1972, pp.262-3, but somewhat modified.

[96] L.Trotsky, The History of the Russian Revolution, vol.3, pp.138-139.

[97] See J. Bunyan and H. H. Fisher, The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1918: Documents and Materials, Stanford, 1934, pp.69-74.

[98] The Bolsheviks and the October Revolution, pp.97-99.

[99] Leon Trotsky Speaks, Pathfinder Press, New York, 1972, p.59

[100] L.Trotsky, The History of the Russian Revolution, vol.3, pp.950-52.

[101] Ibid, p.949

[102] Ibid, pp. 954-55.

[103] M. Macauley, ed, The Russian Revolution and the Soviet State 1917-1921: Documents, London, 1988, pp.119-21

[104] Leon Trotsky Speaks, pp.67-8

[105] N. N. Sukhanov (1955) (Tr. And Ed, Joel /Carmichael), The Russian Revolution, London: Oxford University Press, pp.595-6.

[106] Bunyan and Fisher, The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1918: Documents and Materials, p.86.

[107] L. Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution, vol.3, p. 1130.

[108] Soma Marik, Reinterrogating , p. 356

[109] Ticktin has written extensively on the Soviet Union and its breakdown. See for example H H Ticktin: Origins of the Crisis in the USSR: Political Economy of the disintegration of a system, Myron Sharpe, Armonk, 1992. For a positive appreciation of Ticktin and a critique of earlier approaches (Mandel versus Tony Cliff, etc), see Marcel van der Linden, Western Marxism and the Soviet Union, Chicago, Haymarket Books, 2009.

রুশ বিপ্লব - সমাজ বিপ্লব না ষড়যন্ত্র ?




সোমা মারিক

[২০১৭-র ভূমিকাঃ এই প্রবন্ধটি মূল্যায়ন পত্রিকার অক্টোবর ’৯৭ – মার্চ ’৯৮ সংখ্যাতে প্রকাশিত হয়। পুরো নতুন করে তা ঢেলে সাজানো এখনই সম্ভব নয়। উপরন্তু, যে সংকলনে এই প্রবন্ধটি প্রকাশিত হবে, তাতে অন্য একাধিক প্রবন্ধে কয়েকটি জরুরী বিষয় আলোচিত হবে। কেবল কিছু অন্তটীকার মাধ্যমে তথ্যসূত্র দিয়ে দেওয়া হল। সামান্য কয়েকটি ক্ষেত্রে প্রবন্ধে কিছু সংযোজন বা পরিমার্জন করা হয়েছে। টীকা দেওয়ার ফলে সঙ্গের গ্রন্থপঞ্জী সরিয়ে দেওয়া হয়েছে।]

রুশ বিপ্লবের, বিশেষত  অক্টোবর, ১৯১৭-এর সমালোচনা, নতুন নয়। যেদিন গণ-অভ্যুত্থান ঘটেছিল, মেনশেভিক নেতা ফেদোর ড্যান সেই দিনই একটি বক্তৃতায় তাকে এক "অপরাধমূলক  কাজ" বলে চিহ্নিত করেছিলেন। লিওনার্দ শ্যাপিরোর মতে, একদল লোক, যারা সংখ্যায় অল্প, কিন্তু যারা নিজেদের লক্ষ্য সম্পর্কে সজাগ ছিল, তারা কীভাবে ষড়যন্ত্রমূলক অভ্যুত্থান করে ক্ষমতা দখল করল এবং অধিকতর গণতান্ত্রিক দাবীদারদের ক্ষমতার কাছে আসতে দিল না, ১৯১৭ পরবর্তী রাশিয়ার ইতিহাসে সেটা এক প্রধান বিষয়।[i] গত এক দশকে মার্ক্সবাদী, কমিউনিস্ট   ইত্যাদি বলে নিজেদের সম্পর্কে দাবী করার পরও আরো অনেকে এই সুরে গলা মিলিয়েছেন। দক্ষিণপন্থী বলে সুপরিচিত রিচার্ড পাইপস, নৈরাষ্ট্রবাদের প্রতি সহানুভূতিশীল ও আনাল স্কুলের ইতিহাসবিদ মার্কস ফেরো প্রমুখের সঙ্গে অনেকটা গলা মেলাচ্ছেন এরিক হবসবম, পরেশ চট্টোপাধ্যায়, শার্ল বেতেলহাইম ও অন্যান্যরা।[ii]

প্রত্যেক লেখকের প্রতিটি খুঁটিনাটি বক্তব্য পর্যালোচনা করার জন্য একটি গোটা বই লাগবে সংক্ষিপ্ত পরিসরে আলোচনার জন্য মূল কয়েকটি ধারা বা কয়েকটি যুক্তি ও প্রস্তাবনাকে তুলে ধরা হবে।

এই সমালোচকদের মতে (কমবেশী), 'সোভিয়েতের হাতে সব ক্ষমতা ' এই স্লোগান ছিল ভাঁওতা কারণ বাস্তবে লেনিন বারে বারে পার্টির হাতে ক্ষমতা কুক্ষিগত  করতে চেয়েছিলেন। 

দ্বিতীয়ত, সোভিয়েত কংগ্রেস যথেষ্ট প্রতিনিধিত্বমূলক ছিল না। সংবিধান সভা ভেঙে দিয়ে বলশেভিকরা নিজেদের স্বৈরতান্ত্রিক উদ্দেশ্যে স্পষ্ট করে দেখিয়েছিলেন।

তৃতীয়ত, সোভিয়েত নয়, বলশেভিকরাই বাস্তবক্ষেত্রে অভ্যুথান পরিচালনা করেছিলেন তাঁদের নিজেদের তত্বে এই কমিটিগুলির কোনো জায়গা ছিল না।

সুতরাং এঁদের সিদ্ধান্ত মোটামুটি এইরকম --- ১৯১৭-র ফেব্রুয়ারিতে একটি গতান্ত্রিক  পরিকাঠামো রচিত হয়েছিল। গতান্ত্রিক ব্যবস্থায় তাঁদের অভিসন্ধি কার্যকর হবে না   বলে বলশেভিকরা ষড়যন্ত্র করে গতন্ত্র ধ্বংস করলেন। ১৯৩০-এর দশকে যে  স্তালিনবাদী স্বৈরতন্ত্র দেখা দিল তা নতুন কিছু নয়। রুশ ইতিহাসবিদ ভলকোগোনভের মত তাঁরাও মনে করেন,লেনিন এবং ট্রটস্কী, তথা ১৯১৭-র বলশেভিক নেতৃত্ব, স্তালিনবাদী ব্যবস্থা প্রকৃত স্রষ্টাদের মধ্যে পড়েন। স্তালিনবাদ বর্জিত কোনো প্রকৃত বিপ্লবী মার্কসবাদী সম্ভব নয়, যে একাধারে গণতান্ত্রিক এবং বিপ্লবী, আর বিপ্লবী মার্কসবাদ ইউটোপীয় এবং তাকে বাস্তব রূপ দিতে হলে স্বৈরতন্ত্র অনিবার্য। এই শেষ সিদ্ধান্তটা অবশ্য তাঁরা সকলে এখনো গ্রহণ করেন নি। কিন্তু আমরা দেখব, ১৯১৭-র অক্টোবরকে সম্পূর্ণ প্রত্যাখ্যান করলে তার কোন বিকল্প থাকে না

১৯১৭-তে বলশেভিকবাদঃ   

লেনিন তাঁর একদল নগণ্য সংখ্যক অনুচর একটি একটি সুশৃঙ্খল রোবট-পার্টি নিয়ে ক্ষমতা দখল করলেন, এই দাবী ঠিক কিনা তা যাচাই করার রাস্তা হল ১৯১৭ সালে বলশেভিক পার্টি কেমন ছিল, তার মতাদর্শ, তার দলীয় গণতন্ত্র কেমন ছিল, তার পর্যালোচনা। বে-আইনী থাকলে  আন্তঃপার্টি গণতন্ত্র কতটা থাকতে পারে বা না পারে, ফেব্রুয়ারির গ-অভ্যুথানের পর সে সব তর্কের শেষ হয়ে যায়।বলশেভিক পিটার্সবুর্গ কমিটি মনে করেছিল, আন্তর্জাতিক নারী দিবস উপলক্ষে সাধারণ ধর্মঘটের চেষ্টা করা ভুল। সাধারণ ধর্মঘট ও বিপ্লবী সরকারের ডাক প্রথম দেয় ছোটো একটি সংগঠন, মেঝরায়াঙ্কা ( আন্তঃ জেলা কমিটি )। কিন্তু এই সংগঠন কয়েক মাস পরে, ষষ্ঠ কংগ্রেসে, বলশেভিক দলে যোগ দেয়। এমন কি, মার্চের গোড়াতেই দুই সংগঠনের ঐক্যের আলোচনা শুরু হয়। তা যে সাময়িক ভেঙে গেল, তার কারণ হল মার্চের মাঝামাঝি বলশেভিকদের ডাইনে মো ঘোরাপ্রাথমিকভাবে ইতস্তত করলেও, অভ্যুথান শুরু হওয়ার পর কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির সদস্য শ্লিয়াপনিকভ বুর্জোয়াশ্রেণীর তৈরী অস্থায়ী সরকারের বিরোধী ছিলেন। ভাইবর্গ এলাকার  (রাজধানীর অন্যতম প্রধান শ্রমিক এলাকা) বলশেভিক কমিটি তো আরো আগেই সোভিয়েত গঠনের উদ্যোগ নেয়।

কিন্তু ১২ মার্চ সাইবেরিয়া থেকে স্তালিন, কামেনেভ, মুরানভ , এই তিন নেতা ফেরার পর কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটি ও পার্টির মুখপত্র প্রাভদা ডাইনে মোড় নেয়। ৮ মার্চ কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির রুশ ব্যুরোর প্রস্তাবে বলা হয়, সোভিয়েতকে সমর্থন করা উচিত, যাতে তা একটি অস্থায়ী বিপ্লবী সরকার তৈরী করে। ২২ মার্চ, স্তালিন-কামেনেভের প্রভাবে, নতুন প্রস্তাবে সোভিয়েতকে আর ক্ষমতার কেন্দ্র হিসাবে দেখা হল না।বলা হল,সোভিয়েতদের অস্থায়ী সরকার (বিদ্যমান বুর্জোয়া অস্থায়ী সরকার) তার প্রতিনিধিদের ওপর নিয়ন্ত্রণ বজায় রাখতে হবে”। মার্চের শেষ দিকে, পার্টির এক সারা রাশিয়া সম্মেলনে স্তালিন তাঁর বক্তৃতায় সোজা বলেন, সরকারকে সমালোচনাত্বক সমর্থন জানাতে হবে।[iii]

ইতিমধ্যে লেনিন বিদেশ থেকে একাধিক চিঠি লিখেছেন(letters from Afar)[iv] তার সবকটি প্রাভদায় মুদ্রিত হয় নি। যখন তিনি ফিরে এসে তাঁর বিখ্যাত ‘এপ্রিল থিসিসে’ সোভিয়েতদের  হাতে সব ক্ষমতা-র কথা বলেন, প্রাভদা তা ছেপে সঙ্গে সম্পাদকীয় মন্তব্যে লেখে –এটা কমরেড লেনিনের ব্যক্তিগত মত।[v] কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির অপেক্ষাকৃত বামপন্থী সদস্যরা (যথা শ্লিয়ানিকভ) পর্যন্ত লেনিনের সঙ্গে পুরোপুরি একমত হলেন না। 

লেনিন ফেরার আগে মার্চ সম্মেলনে পার্টিতে তিনটি ধারা দেখা দেয়। ইতিনস্কির নেতৃত্বে সবচেয়ে নরমপন্থীরা মনে করলেন, মেনশেভিকদের সঙ্গে ঐক্যের পথে কোনো বাধাই নেই। স্তালিন ও কামেনেভের নেতৃত্বে মধ্যপন্থীরা জিমারওয়াল্ড কর্মসূচীর ভিত্তিতে ঐক্য চাইলেন[vi]আর মলোটভ ও পিওতর জালুৎস্কির নেতৃত্বে একাংশ মেনশেভিকদের সঙ্গে ঐক্যের বিরোধিতা করলেন। 

সম্মেলনের মাঝপথে ফিরে লেনিন যেন বোমা ফাটালেন। ভইতিনস্কি ও তার সমর্থকরা মেনশেভিক দলে চলে যান। লেনিন ও কামেনেভের মধ্যে যে দ্বন্দ্ব বেধে ওঠে, তা গোটা বছর ধরেই চলেছিল। সপ্তম সারা রাশিয়া সম্মেলনে (২৪-২৯ এপ্রিল) লেনিনের প্রস্তাব পায় ৭১ ভোট, তার বিপক্ষে পড়ে ৩৯ ভোট এবং ৮ জন ভোট দান থেকে বিরত থাকেন। অর্থাৎ পার্টির তথাকথিত একনায়ক প্রথমে নিঃসঙ্গ ছিলেন, এবং পরে প্রায় ৪০ শতাংশ তাঁর বিরুদ্ধে ভোট দেয়।[vii]

মতভেদের অধিকার শুধু পার্টির উপর মহলে সীমাবদ্ধ ছিল না। বিভিন্ন প্রশ্নে সিদ্ধান্ত নেওয়ার জন্য যত বড় সম্ভব সভা ডাকা হত। যেমন, জুন মাসে, অস্থায়ী  সরকারের অবসান দাবী করে একটি মিছিল ডাকা হবে কি না, তা নিয়ে সিদ্ধান্ত নেয় কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটি, পিটার্সবুর্গ কমিটি, সামরিক বিভাগের ভারপ্রাপ্ত কমিটি এবং ট্রেড ইউনিয়ান সেল ও ফ্যাক্টরী কমিটি সেলের প্রতিনিধিদের সম্মিলিত সভা। বিশেষ পরিস্থিতিতে যখন কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটি পরে মিছিল স্থগিত রাখতে বাধ্য হয়, তখন পার্টির বিভিন্ন কমিটি কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটিকে নিন্দা করে প্রস্তাব নেয় এবং লেনিন স্বীকার করেন, তাঁদের তা করার অধিকার রয়েছে।[viii]

এটাও লক্ষণীয় যে প্রতিটি কাজে বিভিন্ন মতের সদস্যদের যুক্ত রাখা হতষষ্ঠ কংগ্রেসে নির্বাচিত ২১ সদস্যের কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটিতে ৬ জন ছিলেন কামেনেভপন্থীএর পিছনে একদিকে ছিল লেনিন ও অন্য বলশেভিক নেতাদের গণতান্ত্রিক মনোভাবথেকে আরেক দিকে ছিল তলা থেকে আসা চাপ

১৯১৭ সালে বলশেভিক পার্টির সদস্য সংখ্যা উল্লেখযোগ্যভাবে বাড়েফেব্রুয়ারীতে সদস্য সংখ্যা ছিল আনুমানিক ২৩,৬০০এপ্রিল সম্মেলনে তা বেড়ে হয় ৮০,০০০ এবং ষষ্ঠ কংগ্রেসে ২,৪০,০০০ব্যাপক সংখ্যক জঙ্গী শ্রমিক পার্টিতে আসেনতাঁদের উপর রাতারাতি কঠোর শৃংখলা চাপানো হবে এবং গণতান্ত্রিক বাতাবরনের অস্তিত্ব সত্ত্বেও তাঁরা সেটা নীরবে মেনে নেবেন, এটা অসম্ভব ছিল। নীচের সারনীতে কয়েকটি বড় শহরে পার্টির সদস্য সংখ্যা বৃদ্ধির ছবি তুলে ধরা হল  



মার্চ                     সপ্তম সম্মেলন           ষষ্ঠ কংগ্রেস

পেত্রোগ্রাদ                       ২০০০                  ১৬,০০০                        ৩৬,০০০

মস্কো                           ৬০০                    ,০০০                 ১৫,০০০

ইভানোভো ভসনেসেনস্ক          ১০                     ,৫৬৪                  ,৪৪০

একাতেরিনোস্লাভ                 ৪০০                    ,৫০০                  ,৫০০

লুগান                           ১০০                    ,৫০০                  ,৫৯৬

খারকভ                         ১০৫                    ,২০০

সারাতোভ                        ৬০                     ,৬০০                  ,০০০

কিয়েভ                          ২০০                    ,৯০০                  ,০০০

একাতেরিনবুর্গ                   ৪০                     ,৭০০                  ,৮০০

আমরা আগেই দেখিয়েছি, পার্টির পুরোনো কর্মীদের মধ্যে কোনো ফ্যাসিস্ত ধাঁচের (বা স্তালিনবাদী) হুকুমসর্বস্ব শৃঙ্খলা ছিল নাআর, যদি তর্কের খাতিরে মেনে নেওয়াও হয়, যে তা কিছুটা ছিল, ইভানোভো-ভসনেসেনস্কের  ১০ জন পুরোনো বলশেভিক ৫৪৩০ জন নতুন সদস্যকে নিয়ন্ত্রণ করছিলেন, বা এমনকি পেত্রোগ্রাদের ২০০০ জন ৩৬,০০০ জনকে নিয়ন্ত্রণ করছিলেন (যে ৩৬,০০০-এর মধ্যে ছিলেন মেঝরায়ঙ্কা সংগঠনের ৪০০০ সদস্য), এটা অবিশ্বাস্য এবং অপ্রমাণিত

এই রকম একটি দল, যা প্রতিদিন  নতুন জঙ্গী শ্রমিকদের টেনে নিচ্ছে, তার পক্ষে গোপন, ষড়যন্ত্রমূলক রাজনীতি করাই অসম্ভব ছিলযদি আমরা ১৯১৭-র মূল সংকটের দিনগুলির দিকে তাকাই এবং তখন বলশেভিকরা কি করছিল তা দেখি, তাহলে ছবিটা সম্পূর্ণতা লাভ করবে  

লেনিন তাঁর এপ্রিল থিসিসে বলেন, “এখন, শ্রমিক প্রতিনিধি পরিষদ থেকে পার্লামেণ্টারি সাধারণতন্ত্রে ফিরে যাওয়া হবে পিছু হঠাঅর্থাৎ, তাঁর ঘোষিত বক্তব্য হল, পরিষদীয় (সোভিয়েত) গণতন্ত্র সংসদীয় গণতন্ত্রের চেয়ে উন্নত, তাই সেটাই চাইএপ্রিল মাসে, পার্টির পেত্রোগ্রাদ নগর সম্মেলনে তিনি বলেন, রাশিয়াতে এখন এতটা স্বাধীনতা রয়েছে যে গণতান্ত্রিক পদ্ধতি ছাড়া ক্ষমতা দখল করা যায় না। বলশেভিকরা সংখ্যালঘু। সংখ্যাগরিষ্ঠের উদ্যোগ ছাড়া ক্ষমতা দখল সম্ভব নয়। পার্টির কাজ সোভিয়েতের সংখ্যাগরিষ্ঠ অংশকে নিজের মতে টেনে আনা।[x]

চারটি ঘটনার মাধ্যমে আমরা দেখব, এই দিশাই গোটা বছর ধরে বলশেভিকদের দিশা ছিলসেগুলি হল যথাক্রমে ‘ এপ্রিল সংকট , ক্রোনস্তাদে প্রায় অভ্যুত্থান, জুনের মিছিল ও জুলাইয়ের আধা-অভ্যুত্থান

ফেব্রুয়ারী বিপ্লবের পরও থেকেই শ্রমিক আর সৈনিকদের দাবী ছিল, এই ভয়াবহ এবং সাধারণ মানুষের স্বার্থবিরোধী যুদ্ধের অবসান চাই। বুর্জোয়া অস্থায়ী সরকার তাতে রাজী ছিল না। কিন্তু সোভিয়েতের সমর্থন ছাড়া অস্থায়ী সরকার টিঁকতে পারত না। ফলে সোভিয়েতের মেনশেভিক ও সোশ্যালিস্ট রেভল্যুশনারী নেতৃত্বের সঙ্গে অস্থায়ী সরকারের রফা হয়, তারা এক ঘোষণাপত্রে জানায়, রাশিয়া চায় কোনো দেশ দখল নয়, জনগণের অধিকারের ভিত্তিতে গণতান্ত্রিক শান্তি।কিন্তু এটা ছিল কৌশলগত ঘোষণা।  ১৮ এপ্রিল, অস্থায়ী সরকারের বিদেশমন্ত্রী পাভেল মিলিউকভ মিত্রশক্তিকে জানান, রাশিয়ার জারতন্ত্রী সরকারের যুদ্ধ সংক্রান্ত প্রতিশ্রুতি ও চুক্তিগুলি থেকে অস্থায়ী সরকার পিছু হঠবে না। এই চুক্তিগুলিতে রাশিয়ার পাওনা ছিল কনস্ট্যান্টিনোপল সহ বিভিন্ন এলাকা দখলের অধিকার। এই খবর জানার ফলে জনগণ অস্ত্র হাতে পথে বেরিয়ে আসেন। ধর্মঘট শুরু হয়। সোভিয়েতের নেতৃত্ব মেনশেভিক রেভল্যুশনারী জোটের হাতে। তারা এমন পথ খুঁজছিল, যাতে মিলিউকভের এই বক্তব্য খণ্ডিত হয়, কিন্তু বিপ্লব না ঘটেএই সময় কেরেনস্কীর বন্ধু স্টাঙ্কেভিচ সোভিয়েতকে বলেন, এত চিন্তার কি আছে। আপনারা ফোনে একটা কথা বললে পাঁচ মিনিটে সরকার ইস্তফা দেবে। আপনারা ক্ষমতা নিয়ে নিন। কিন্তু তা তাঁদের কাম্য ছিল না (এবং স্টাঙ্কেভিচ তা জানতেন)। এই চাপের ফলে তাঁরা এবার মিলিউকভের সঙ্গেও রফা করতে চেষ্টা করেন। 

কিন্তু পরদিন, বলশেভিক দলের পিটার্সবুর্গ কমিটি আরেক দফা মিছিলের ডাক দেয়। তাদের দাবী ছিল, “অস্থায়ী সরকার নিপাত যাক”। কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির বক্তব্য ছিল, বর্তমান পরিস্থিতিতে, সোভিয়েতের মধ্যে এই দাবী তোলা যায়, সোভিয়েত সরকার গড়ার কথা বলা যায়,কিন্তু অস্ত্র হাতে পথে বেরোনো যায় না, কারণ তাহলে জনগণের সংখ্যাগরিষ্ঠের বিরুদ্ধে যেতে হয়, যেহেতু তাঁরা সোভিয়েত নেতৃত্বকে মেনে চলছেনএপ্রিল সম্মেলনে লেনিন বলেন, ঐ স্লোগানের অর্থ ছিল এমন পরিস্থিতিতে শক্তি ব্যবহার করা, যা অনুমোদনযোগ্য নয়তবে, ব্যাপক জনপ্রতিরোধের ফলে মিলিউকভ ইস্তফা দিতে বাধ্য হলেন।

এর সঙ্গেই যুক্ত ছিল ক্রোনস্তাদের সংকট। দ্বীপ-দূর্গ ক্রোনস্তাদের ৮২,০০০ জন প্রাপ্ত বয়স্কের মধ্যে ছিলেন ২০,০০০ সৈনিক, ১২,০০০ নাবিক এবং যুদ্ধ শিল্পের ১৭,০০০ কর্মী। গোড়া থেকেই ক্রোনস্তাদ অস্থায়ী সরকারকে অস্বীকার করে কেবল সোভিয়েত কার্যনির্বাহী কমিটির কর্তৃত্ব মানত। এপ্রিলের শেষদিকে ক্রোনস্তাদের বলশেভিক সদস্য সংখ্যা ছিল ৩০০০ এবং সোভিয়েতে ৩০ শতাংশ আসন ছিল তাঁদের ।

মিলিউকভের বক্তব্যে ক্রোনস্তাদে তুমুল আলোড়ন হয়। নগর সোভিয়েতে নতুন নির্বাচন হয়ে বলশেভিক, বামপন্থী সোশ্যালিস্ট রেভল্যুশনারী ও নৈরাষ্ট্রবাদীরা মিলে সংখ্যাগরিষ্ঠতা লাভ করে১৩ মে নতুন ক্রোনস্তাদ নেতৃত্ব সোভিয়েত রাজ ঘোষণা করে দেয়। ১৪ মে বলশেভিক ও মেঝরায়ঙ্কা নেতৃত্বের পক্ষে ট্রটস্কী ক্রোনস্তাদে গেলেন। তিনি সেদিন এবং দুদিন পরে আবার তাদের কাছে আহ্বান করেন, জঙ্গী লড়াই লড়তে, কিন্তু সারা রাশিয়া থেকে বিচ্ছিন্ন হয়ে একা অভ্যুত্থানের চেষ্টা না করতেপরে যখন ক্রোনস্তাদের বিদ্রোহীদের বিচার করার কথা ওঠে, তখন সোভিয়েত কার্যনির্বাহী কমিটিতে তিনি বলেন, যখন কসাক ফাঁসুড়েরা আসবে, তখন এই জঙ্গী যোদ্ধারাই কিন্তু সোভিয়েতকে বাঁচাবার জন্য প্রাণ দেবে। অর্থাৎ বলশেভিকরা জঙ্গী লড়াইয়ের মেজাজকে ধরে রাখতে চেয়েছিলেন, কিন্তু কোথাও এককভাবে যাতে সংখ্যালঘু বিদ্রোহ না হয়, তার জন্য সচেষ্ট ছিলেন।

এর পর নতুন সংকট আসে জুন মাসে। ৩ জুন প্রথম সারা রাশিয়া সোভিয়েত কংগ্রেসের অধিবেশন শুরু হয়। জমায়েত হন ২ কোটি শ্রমিক ও সৈনিকের (এবং কিছু ক্ষেত্রে কৃষকের ) প্রতিনিধিরা। বলশেভিক দল ও তার মিত্রেরা ছিলেন প্রতিনিধিবর্গের পাঁচ ভাগের এক ভাগেরও কম। কিন্তু রাজধানী পেত্রোগ্রাদে তাঁদের প্রভাব ক্রমেই বাড়ছিল। পৌর নির্বাচনে ৮০১ টি আসনের মধ্যে ১৫৬ টি পান তাঁরা, এবং বুর্জোয়া ক্যাডেট দলকে বাদ দিলে, বামপন্থীরা মোট যত ভোট পেয়েছিলেন তার এক  তৃতীয়াংশের বেশী তাঁদের দিকে পড়েছিল। সোভিয়েত কংগ্রেসে আসা দেশের প্রতিনিধিদের সামনে বলশেভিকরা প্রলেতারীয় পেত্রোগ্রাদের মেজাজটা তুলে ধরতে চাইলেন। ইতিমধ্যে প্রথম অস্থায়ী সরকারের পতন ঘটেছে, দশজন বুর্জোয়া ও ছ’জন সমাজতন্ত্রীকে নিয়ে জোট সরকার তৈরী হয়েছিল। বলশেভিকরা স্লোগান হিসেবে রাখেন,  ‘দশজন পুঁজিবাদী মন্ত্রী নিপাত যাক’ ‘সর্ব রুশ সোভিয়েতের হাতে সব ক্ষমতা’ ইত্যাদি।

যে মেনশেভিক- সোশ্যালিস্ট রেভল্যুশানারী জোট তখন সোভিয়েতের নেতৃত্বে, তাঁরা সমস্ত ক্ষমতা নিয়ে আদৌ রাজী ছিল না। তাঁরা কংগ্রেসে প্রস্তাব আনলেন, এই দাবিতে কোনো প্রকাশ্য মিছিল চলবে না। কারণ হিসেবে দেখালেন, তাঁদের কাছে খবর আছে, রাজতন্ত্রীরা ষড়যন্ত্র করছে এর সুযোগে গোলযোগ করার। এই অবস্থায় বলশেভিক নেতৃত্ব গভীর আপত্তি সত্ত্বেও একটি বিবৃতি দিয়ে মিছিল রদ করেন। বিবৃতিতে বলা হয়, রাজতন্ত্রী ষড়যন্ত্র হচ্ছে এই দাবীর পরিপ্রেক্ষিতে মিছিল স্থগিত রাখা হল, কিন্তু সোভিয়েত কংগ্রেসের সিদ্ধান্তকে প্রকৃত সরকারের সিদ্ধান্ত হিসাবে গ্রহণ করা সম্ভব নয়, যতক্ষণ না বুর্জোয়া মন্ত্রীদের হঠিয়ে সোভিয়েতের কাছে দায়বদ্ধ সরকার গঠিত হচ্ছে। অর্থাৎ মিছিল স্থগিত রাখা হলেও, সোভিয়েত আইন ও শ্রেণী- সংগ্রাম  দুইয়ের উপর সমান জোর দেওয়া হল

পেত্রোগ্রাদ সোভিয়েতের সভা


আর কিছু দিন পর বলশেভিকদের পক্ষেও অসন্তোষকে সংহত  রাখা অসম্ভব হয়ে পড়ল। প্রতি পদে  তাঁদের ভয় ছিল, পেত্রোগ্রাদ যেন গোটা দেশের চেয়ে বেশী এগিয়ে না যায়। জুলাই মাসের গোড়ায় তাই ঘটল। প্রথম মেশিনগান রেজিমেন্টের বিদ্রোহী মেজাজকে তাতিয়ে তোলে পার্টির সামরিক সংগঠন। পার্টির পিটার্সবুর্গ কমিটিও লেনিনের সমালোচনা করে, কারণ তিনি লিখেছিলেন, জাতীয় স্তরে সংখ্যাগরিষ্ঠের মত তখনও মেনশেভিক-এস আর জোটের পক্ষেঅবশেষে ৩ জুলাই, প্রথম মেশিনগান রেজিমেন্ট স্থির করে ,তারা অস্ত্র হাতে বেরিয়ে আসবেই। ট্রটস্কী পরে লেখেন, ৩ জুলাই রাতে বলশেভিক ও মেঝরায়ঙ্কা নেতৃত্বের যৌথ সভা হয়, ষড়যন্ত্রমূলক অভ্যুত্থানের উদ্দেশ্যে নয়, বরং মিছিল আটকানো হবে, না তাকে সুশৃঙ্খল রূপ দেওয়ার জন্য তার শীর্ষে থাকতে হবে, সেই আলোচনার জন্য। কিন্তু রিপোর্ট আসতে থাকে, ভাইবর্গের শ্রমিক, ক্রোনস্তাদের নাবিক, সকলেই তাতে যোগ দেবেন। লেনিন পরে লিখেছিলেন, ঐ পরিস্থিতিতে স্বতঃস্ফূর্ত গ্ণ-আন্দোলনকে সমর্থন করতে অস্বীকার করার অর্থ হত প্রলেতারিয়েতের প্রতি বিশ্বাসঘাতকতা করা।

বলশেভিকদের এই ভূমিকা লক্ষণীয়। পারী কমিউনের সময় মার্কস, বা জার্মান বিপ্লবে জানুয়ারী ১৯১৯-এ বার্লিন অভ্যুত্থানে রোজা লুকসেমবুর্গের মতই, তাঁরা ঘটনা ঘটার আগে পর্যন্ত শ্রমিকশ্রেণী ও অন্য  সংগ্রামী জনতাকে সাবধান করতে চেয়েছিলেন, যে অসময়ে অভ্যুত্থান করলে বিপদ হবে, কিন্তু শ্রেণী যখন তা সত্ত্বেও লড়তে আরম্ভ করেছে, তখন শ্রেণীর লড়াইয়ে অংশ নেওয়াই কর্তব্য বলে মনে করেছেন। তফাৎ একটাই ছিল। বিগত কয়েক মাসের রণনীতি, অর্থাৎ পার্টি ও শ্রেণীর মধ্যে ক্রমাগত আদান-প্রদান বাড়ানো, পার্টিকে এমন এক নৈতিক কর্তৃত্ব দিতে পেরেছিল যে তাঁরা ঘটনাটাকে সশস্ত্র মিছিলের স্তরে ঠেকিয়ে রাখতে পারলেন, সামরিক অভ্যুত্থানে পরিণত হতে দিলেন না। পরবর্তী ঘটনাবলী দেখিয়ে দিল, তাঁদের এই কাজ কতটা ঠিক ছিল। এমন কি মস্কোতেও, অধিকাংশ শ্রমিক ও সৈনিক সংহতিমূলক লড়াইয়ে নামেন নি। উপরন্তু, হাতে অস্ত্র ধরলেও সৈনিকরা তখনো মেনশেভিক-এসআর নেতাদেরই ক্ষমতা হাতে নিতে বলেছিলেননরমপন্থীদের সম্পর্কে এই মোহ না কাটলে ক্ষমতা দখলের লড়াই সম্ভব ছিল না

মেনশেভিক-এস আর নেতৃত্ব বিদ্রোহী শ্রমিক ও সৈনিকদের ঠেকাতে কসাক ফৌজ ডাকেনবিদ্রোহী জনতাকেপ্রতিবিপ্লবীআখ্যা দেন, আর লেনিন সম্পর্কে বুর্জোয়া সংবাদপত্রগুলিতে এবং সৈনিকদের একাংশের কাছে প্রচার করা হয় যে লেনিন জার্মানীর চর, তাঁকে তথা বলশেভিক দলকে জার্মান সরকার টাকা পাঠায়  খুন করা হয় এক বলশেভিক কর্মীকেগ্রেপ্তার হন ট্রটস্কী সহ বহু বলশেভিক নেতাআত্মগোপনে যেতে বাধ্য হন লেনিনবলশেভিকরা এই প্রথম সিদ্ধান্ত নিলেন, যে অভ্যুত্থান ছাড়া ক্ষমতা দখল হবে না, কারণ ফেব্রুয়ারী যে গণতান্ত্রিক বাতাবরণ এনেছিল, তাকে ধ্বংস করা হচ্ছেএরপর কী?’ শীর্ষক পুস্তিকায় ট্রটস্কী লেখেন, “ ৩-৫ জুলাইয়ের দিনগুলো মোড় ঘোরালো ... তারা দেখিয়ে দিল, পেটিবুর্জোয়া গণতন্ত্রের নেতৃস্থানীয় দলগুলি ক্ষমতা হাতে নিতে সম্পূর্ণই অপারগ’’। এই পরিস্থিতিতে বিকল্প “ নিরন্তর বিপ্লব অথবা নিরন্তর হত্যা কাণ্ড ”। এটা যে নিছক বাগ্মীসুলভ গরম কথা ছিলনা, তার প্রমাণ কর্ণিলভের ষড়যন্ত্র, যাতে শুধু ক্যাডেট দল নয়, কেরেনস্কীও অনেকটা জড়িত ছিল। তাদের লক্ষ্য ছিল শক্তিশালী সরকার ( অর্থাৎ এক রকম বোনাপার্তবাদ ) কায়েম করে কড়া হাতে বলশেভিক ও সবরকম বিদ্রোহী জনতাকে দমন করা[xi]

যে রাজনৈতিক দল কোনো মৌলিক শ্রেণীর (বুর্জোয়া, প্রলেতারীয়) দল, তারা অবশ্যই মনে করে, তারা ক্ষমতায় যাবে। কিন্তু কী ভাবে? বলশেভিকরা নিশ্চয় ভবিষ্যতে গবেষকদের কথা মাথায় রেখে কথা বলতেন না তাই বিভিন্ন সময়ে “ আমরা ক্ষমতা দখল করতে চাই ’’ এমন কথা বলা আশ্চর্যের নয়। কিন্তু নিশ্চিতভাবেই, তাঁদের কাজের বিবরণ দেখায়, তারা শ্রমিকশ্রেণীর অংশ হিসেবেই ক্ষমতা চেয়েছিলেন, শ্রমিক শ্রেণীর সংগেই ক্ষমতা চেয়েছিলেন।

শ্রমিকশ্রেণী, সোভিয়েত, ফ্যাক্টরী কাউন্সিলঃ

কিন্তু তবু, তাঁরা কি শ্রমিকশ্রেণীকে নিছকব্যবহার করতেচেয়েছিলেন? অর্থাৎ শ্রেণীকে উসকানি দিয়ে তাঁরা একক ক্ষমতা চেয়েছিলেন কি? এর উত্তরে শ্রমিক শ্রেণীর ভুমিকার পর্যালোচনা করতে হয়

১৯১৭-র ফেব্রুয়ারি থেকে রুশ শ্রমিকশ্রেণী ও অন্যান্য শ্রমজীবিরা যেমন নানা প্রতিষ্ঠানে সংগঠিত হচ্ছিলেন, তেমনি, সবরকম প্রতিষ্ঠানেই বিভিন্ন রাজনৈতিক দলও হাজির ছিলসোভিয়েত ও ফ্যাক্টরী কাউন্সিল শ্রমিকের সংগঠন, এবং বলশেভিকরা শ্রমিকশ্রেণীরবহির্ভূত, এই দাবি অর্থহীনদুই মার্কিন গবেষক, ডায়েন  কোয়েনকার ও উইলিয়াম রোসেনবার্গ, এক বিপুল সংখ্যক ধর্মঘটের বিশ্লেষণ করে এই ধর্মঘটগুলির সঙ্গে রাজনৈতিক স্তরে লড়াইয়ের একটা সম্পর্ক দেখাতে চেয়েছেন[xii]গবেষক মাইকেল মেলাসঁ রুশ বিপ্লবের মহাফেজখানা থেকে একটি ফাইল পেয়েছেন, যাতে এপ্রিল থেকে অক্টোবর, কেন্দ্রীয় সোভিয়েত নেতৃত্বের কাছে পাঠানো স্থানীয় সোভিয়েতদের প্রস্তাবসমূহ রয়েছেএমন শতশত প্রস্তাব থেকে একটি ছবি স্পষ্ট ফুটে ওঠেতা হল অক্টোবরের মধ্যে, এমনকি যেসব সোভিয়েত তখনো মেনশেভিক নেতৃত্বাধীন কার্যনির্বাহী সমিতির সাথে চিঠিপত্র লিখছে, তাদেরও বৃহদাংশ সোভিয়েতদের কাছে দায়বদ্ধ সমাজতন্ত্রী সরকারের জন্যই লড়াই করছিল

১৬ সেপ্টেম্বর থেকে ২৫শে অক্টোবরের মধ্যে কমপক্ষে ১২ লক্ষ শ্রমিক ধর্মঘট শুরু করেনঅন্যদিকে, লড়াইয়ের চরিত্র পাল্টাচ্ছিলঅগাস্ট-সেপ্টেম্বরের চেয়ে অক্টোবর মাইনের দাবিতে ধর্মঘটের সাফল্যের হার কমছিলঅর্থাৎ বুর্জোয়া কাঠামোর মধ্যে যে সব দাবী, মালিকরা সেগুলিকে বেশি বেশি করে অগ্রাহ্য করছিল

অন্য দিকে, ফ্যাক্টরী কাউন্সিলগুলির প্রভাব বাড়ে, উৎপাদন নিয়ন্ত্রণের লড়াই বাড়েমার্কসের কাছে, সমাজতন্ত্র মানে শুধু উৎপাদন ব্যবস্থার রাষ্ট্রায়ত্ত্ব রূপ নয়, বরং শ্রমিক শ্রেণীর বিচ্ছিন্নতা বোধের অবসানতেমনি, ১৯০৫-এর বিপ্লবে ট্রটস্কী জোর দিয়েছিলেন, বিপ্লবের সময়ে ন্যূনতম আর পূর্ণ কর্মসূচীর প্রাচীর ভেঙে পড়বে এবং তার প্রধান কারণ হবে, মালিকেরা ন্যূনতম কর্মসুচী রূপায়ণে বাধা দিলে শ্রমিকরা উৎপাদন নিজের হাতে তুলে নেবেন, শিল্প জাতীয়করণ আর শ্রমিক শ্রেণী পরিচালিত সরকারের মাধ্যমে উৎপাদন বাড়ানোর প্রশ্ন তুলবেন[xiii]  

১৯১৭-তে কমবেশী এরকমই ঘটেছিলফেব্রুয়ারী বিপ্লবের সূচনা হয় পূর্বপরিকল্পিত পথে বিপ্লব করার জন্য নয়, যুদ্ধকালীন পরিস্থিতির প্রতিবাদ হিসেবেতাই শ্রমিকরা শুধু জারের পতনে খুশী হন নিতাঁরা ৮ ঘণ্টার শ্রমদিবস, ফ্যাক্টরীতে শ্রমিক ও প্রশাসনের সম্পর্কের গণতন্ত্রীকরণ, শোষণের মাত্রা হ্রাস এবং নূন্যতম অধিকারের দাবীতে লড়াই চালিয়ে যানশ্রমিকের কাছে সংবিধান শুধু ভোটের অধিকারের প্রশ্ন ছিল নাতাঁরা যখন সংবিধানসম্মত  ফ্যাক্টরীর দাবী তোলেন, তখন তাঁরা মনে করেন, সমাজে শ্রমিকের পরিস্থিতি ও মর্যাদা বাড়ানোর জন্য ফোরম্যান ও ম্যানেজারদের স্বৈরতান্ত্রিক ক্ষমতার বিলুপ্তি ছিল আবশ্যকএই গণতন্ত্রীকরণের লড়াই ছিল তীব্রপ্রথমেই, সবচেয়ে ঘৃণিত ফোরম্যান ও প্রশাসকদের তাড়ানো হয়, বা তারা ভয়ে পালিয়ে যায়পুতিলভ ওয়ার্কসের শ্রমিকরা আধা- ফ্যাসিবাদী ব্ল্যাক হান্ড্রেড নেতা পুজানভকে মালের ঠেলায় চাপিয়ে তার মাথায় লাল সিসে ঢেলে তাকে নিকটবর্তী খালে ফেলে দেওয়ার হুমকি দেনএর পর আসে একের পর এক ফ্যাক্টরীতে পুরোনো শৃঙ্খলার বিধি পোড়ানোতারপর আসে, এর পাল্টা হিসেবে, ফ্যাক্টরী কমিটি গঠন[xiv]

বলশেভিকবিরোধী ইতিহাসবিদরা যখন বলেন, ফ্যাক্টরী কাউন্সিল আন্দোলন বলশেভিকরা সৃষ্টি করেন নি, তাঁরা ঠিকই বলেনস্তালিন রচিত সেই অপূর্ব রচনা, হিস্ট্রি অফ দ্য সি পি এস ইউ (বি)- শর্ট কোর্স ও তার অনুকরণগুলি ছাড়া, এমন দাবী কোথাও নেই যে গোটা লড়াইটা এককভাবে বলশেভিক নেতৃত্বের নিয়ন্ত্রনে ঘটেছিলকোনো দল একক চেষ্টায় একটি দেশব্যাপী লড়াইয়ের পূর্ণরূপ দেবে, তা হয়ও নাকিন্তু যখন দাবী করা হয়, ঐ আন্দোলন নৈরাষ্ট্রবাদীরা সৃষ্টি করেছিলেন, তখনও তা মানা যায় নাশ্রমিকশ্রেণী তার জীবন্ত সমস্যার মোকাবিলা করতে গিয়ে এই আন্দোলনের জন্ম দেয়আর তাঁদের আন্দোলনের অভিজ্ঞতা তাঁদের উত্তরোত্তর ক্ষমতা দখলের রণনীতির দিকে ঠেলে দেয়ফলে তাঁরা বলশেভিক নেতৃত্ব গ্রহণ করেনফ্যাক্টরী কমিটিগুলি যখন নির্বাচিত হতে থাকে, তখন দাবী করা হয়, তারাই ফ্যাক্টরীর অভ্যন্তরীণ শৃংখলা রক্ষা করবেপ্রথমে এর বেশী তারা যায় নিকিন্তু লক-আউট, সাবোতাজের সন্দেহ ইত্যাদির ফলে উৎপাদন প্রক্রিয়ার উপরও তাঁরা নিয়ন্ত্রণ কায়েম করতে শুরু করেএকদিকে, মালিকপক্ষ          দৃঢ়প্রতিজ্ঞ ছিল, কঠোর শ্রম-শৃংখলা ছাড়া পথ নেইঅন্যদিকে শ্রমিকরাও নিশ্চিত ছিলেন, পুঁজির বল্গাহীন স্বাধীনতা খর্ব না করলে অর্থনৈতিক সংকট কাটানোর পথ নেই

ফ্যাক্টরী কমিটিগুলি এবার একই সঙ্গে ফ্যাক্টরী স্তরে ম্যানেজারদের উপর নিয়ন্ত্রণ, আর জাতীয় স্তরে রাষ্ট্রীয় নিয়ন্ত্রণের দাবী করতে থাকেঅস্থায়ী সরকার এর উত্তরে প্রস্তাব করে, ফ্যাক্টরীগুলোকে কাঁচামালের এলাকায় সরানো হোকতাদের উদ্দেশ্য ছিল, পেত্রোগ্রাদের সামাজিক ও রাজনৈতিক ক্ষমতা ভাঙাশ্রমিকরা এই প্রস্তাব প্রত্যাখ্যান করেন

১ জুন, ফ্যাক্টরী কমিটিদের প্রথম পেত্রোগ্রাদ সম্মেলনে বলশেভিকরা প্রস্তাব আনেন, অর্থনীতিকে চাঙ্গা করতে প্রতিষ্ঠান স্তরে এবং জাতীয় স্তরে একই সঙ্গে নিয়ন্ত্রণ আনা দরকার এবং সেই সঙ্গে দরকার সোভিয়েতদের হাতে রাষ্ট্রক্ষমতা অর্পণেরযারা ফ্যাক্টরী কমিটি আন্দোলনকে বলশেভিক বিরোধী, বা নৈরাষ্ট্রবাদী বলে দাবী করেন, বা তার দাবীদাওয়ার মধ্যে অ-বলশেভিক, খাঁটি প্রলেতারীয় প্রতর্ক খুঁজে পান, তাঁরা এই প্রস্তাবের উপর ভোটাভুটির কথা ভুলে যান। বলশেভিকদের আনা প্রস্তাবটি পায় ২৯৭ ভোট, অর্থাৎ দুই- তৃতীয়াংশের সামান্য বেশি। নৈরাষ্ট্রবাদীদের প্রস্তাব পায় ৪৫ ভোট, মেনশেভিক প্রস্তাব ৮৫ ভোট।[xv] অর্থাৎ ফ্যাক্টরী কমিটির কাজের অভিজ্ঞতা থেকে শ্রমিকরা ক্রমেই মনে করছিলেন, ক্ষমতা দখল না করলে, এবং কেন্দ্রীয় স্তরেও শ্রমিকশ্রেণীর রাষ্ট্রের নিয়ন্ত্রণ না থাকলে শুধু ফ্যাক্টরী স্তরে লড়াই যথেষ্ট নয়।

ক্ষমতা দখল পর্যন্ত, এমনকি তার পরেও, বলশেভিকদের এ বিষয়ে দলগতভাবে কোনো ঐক্যবদ্ধ মত ছিল না। তাঁদের রচনায় ও কথায় শ্রমিকদের নিয়ন্ত্রণ, শ্রমিকদের স্ব-শাসন এবং জাতিয়করণ, বিভিন্ন প্রস্তাবের সহাবস্থান লক্ষ্য করা যায়। লেনিন মনে করেছিলেন, বেশী দ্রুত শিল্প অধিগ্রহণ ঠিক হবে না বরং, একদিকে শ্রমিক রাষ্ট্র, আরেক দিকে ফ্যাক্টরী কাউন্সিল, মালিকদের নিয়ন্ত্রণ কড়া নজরে রাখবে। জাতীয়করণের দাবী সীমাবদ্ধ ছিল ব্যাংক এবং কিছু একচেটিয়া সংস্থাকে ঘিরে। বামপন্থী বলশেভিকরা, যথা ক্রিপনিক, চুবার, আন্তিপোভ প্রমুখ মনে করেছিলেন, স্থানীয়ভাবে ফ্যাক্টরী কমিটির মাধ্যমে নিয়ন্ত্রণটাই বড় কথা আর ট্রেড ইউনিয়নের নেতারা, যথা রিয়াজানভ, লঝভস্কি, শ্লিয়াপনিকভ প্রমুখ কেন্দ্রীয় পরিকল্পনার উপর জোর দেন।[xvi]

অতএব, শ্রমিকশ্রেণী এই প্রশ্নে বিভক্ত ছিল, বলশেভিক দলও তাই। কেউই ভাবেনি রাতারাতি সব জাতীয়করণ করতে হবে। এমন কি ১৯১৮-র মার্চ পর্যন্ত যত ফ্যাক্টরী জাতীয়করণ হয়, তার ৯৪ শতাংশ হয়েছিল স্থানীয় উদ্যোগে। এই  পরিস্থিতি পাল্টেছিল গৃহযুদ্ধের ফলে। যে ইতিহাসবিদরা দাবী করেন, শ্রমিকদের ঠকিয়ে বলশেভিকরা পার্টি স্বৈরতন্ত্র কায়েম করল, তাঁরা ঐ গৃহযুদ্ধের ভয়াবহ বাস্তবতার কথাটুকু ভুলে যান।

সোভিয়েত কংগ্রেস ও অভ্যুত্থানের রাজনীতি

১৯১৭-র শ্রেণী-সংগ্রামে শেষ চালগুলি চালা হয়েছিল অক্টোবরে। অস্থিতিশীল দ্বৈত ক্ষমতা- হয় বুর্জোয়া স্বৈরতন্ত্র অথবা সোভিয়েত রাজ, এই দুই বিকল্পের যে কোনো একদিকে যেতে বাধ্য ছিল। যাঁরা মনে করেন বা দাবী করেন যে গণতান্ত্রিক পরিবেশকে “বলশেভিকরা কলুষিত করেছিল” তাঁরা বুর্জোয়া শ্রেণীর রণনীতি কি ছিল তা দেখন না। প্রথম অস্থায়ী সেনাপ্রধান জেনারেল আলেকসিয়েফকে লেখা চিঠিতে খেদ প্রকাশ করেন, যে সোভিয়েতের চাপে পড়ে তাঁকে সেনাবাহিনীর গণতন্ত্রীকরণ মেনে নিতে হয়েছে। অক্টোবর অভ্যুত্থানের অনেক আগেই, নৌ-দপ্তরের সহকারী মন্ত্রী ক্যাপ্টেন দুদারেভ বাল্টিক নৌ-বন্দরের প্রধান অ্যাডমিরাল ভেরদেরভস্কিকে নির্দেশ দেন, ডুবোজাহাজ ব্যবহার করে বলশেভিকপন্থী ব্যাটলশিপ (সবচেয়ে বড় যুদ্ধজাহাজ) গুলিকে দরকার মত ডুবিয়ে দিতে।

৩-৪ জুলাইয়ের ঘটনার পর মিথ্যা দলিলে প্রচার করা হয় যে লেনিন জার্মান চর। ট্রটস্কী, রাসকোলনিকভ ও অন্যান্যদের গ্রেপ্তার করা। বিশেষ “অ্যাকশন স্কোয়াড” তৈরী শুরু হয়। এই প্রেক্ষাপটে কেরেনস্কী ও কর্নিলভ হাত মেলায়। মার্চ মাসেই, শিল্পপতি পুতিলভ নেতৃস্থানীয় ধনিকদের এক গোপন কমিটি তৈরী করেন। এতে যুক্ত হন ক্যাডেট দলের নেতা কাটলার, রুশ-এশীয় ব্যাঙ্কের ডিরেক্টর ঝাভোইকো ও অন্যরা। জেনারাল আলেক্সিয়েভ, জেনারাল দেনিকিন ও বহু জেনারাল মিলে তৈরী করে সেনাবাহিনী ও নৌবাহিনীর প্রধানদের এক সংগঠন। ১৯১৮-র মধ্যভাগে এরাই শ্বেতরক্ষী বাহিনীর নেতৃত্ব দেয়।

কর্ণিলভ এদের নেতা হিসেবে দেখা দিয়েই, প্রতিক্রিয়াশীল অফিসারদের নিয়ে স্বেচ্ছাসেবক বাহিনী গড়তে শুরু করে। তার উদ্দেশ্য ছিল পেত্রোগ্রাদে সামরিক আইন জারী করা, সোভিয়েত ভেঙে দেওয়া, বলশেভিকদের বে-আইনী ঘোষণা করা এবং সরকারকে নিজের নিয়ন্ত্রণে আনা। আর, তার সঙ্গে শতকরা ৯৫ ভাগ পথ একত্রে হাঁটেন “গণতন্ত্রী” কেরেনস্কী[xvii]

এই অবস্থাতে, গণতান্ত্রিকতা বলশেভিকরাই দেখিয়েছিলেন। কর্ণিলভের যড়যন্ত্র ব্যর্থ হওয়ার পর আরো একবার সুযোগ আসে, বিনা যুদ্ধে সোভিয়েত ক্ষমতা প্রতিষ্ঠা করার। তখনও, সোভিয়েতদের কেন্দ্রীয় নেতৃত্বে মেনশেভিক ও সোশ্যালিস্ট রেভল্যুশনারীরা থাকা সত্ত্বেও তাঁরা প্রতিশ্রুতি দেন, সোভিয়েত-ভিত্তিক সমাজতন্ত্রী সরকার প্রতিষ্ঠা করা হলে তাঁরা শান্তিপূর্ণ প্রচারে নিজেদের সীমাবদ্ধ রাখবেন। কিন্তু ঐ দুই দল এই প্রস্তাব অগ্রাহ্য করে। জুলাইয়ের শেষ থেকে বলশেভিকদের পিছনে গণসমর্থন বাড়ছিল। ৩ আগস্ট, ওল্ড লেসানার এবং নিউ লেসানার ফ্যাক্টরীর চিকিত্‍সা ফান্ড কমিটির নির্বাচনে তাঁরা ৮০ শতাংশ ভোট পান। ২০ আগস্ট পেত্রোগ্রাদের পৌর নির্বাচনে তাঁরা পান ১,৮৪,০০০ ভোট আর মেনশেভিকরা ২৪,০০০। মস্কোতে বরো নির্বাচনে সেপ্টেম্বরে বলশেভিকরা এককভাবে ৫১ শতাংশ ভোট পান। ৩১ আগস্ট--১ সেপ্টেম্বর রাতে পেত্রোগ্রাদ সোভিয়েতে বলশেভিকদের আনা প্রস্তাব যে অস্থায়ী সরকার নয়, সোভিয়েত হোক ক্ষমতার কেন্দ্র, ২৭৯-১১৫ ভোটে গৃহীত হল। ঐ সোভিয়েতের কার্যনির্বাহী কমিটি ইস্তফা দিল। ৯ সেপ্টেম্বর দুপক্ষ পূর্ণশক্তি এনে লড়াই করল, সোভিয়েতের সভাপতিমন্ডলী কার হবে তা স্থির করতে। বলশেভিকরা ৫১৯-৪১৪ (৬৭ ভোটদানে বিরত) জয়ী হলেন। ৬ সেপ্টেম্বর মস্কো সোভিয়েত অস্থায়ী সরকার ও কেন্দ্রীয় সোভিয়েত কার্যনির্বাহী কমিটিকে নিন্দা করে ৩৫৫-২৫৪ ভোটে প্রস্তাব পাশ করে। কিয়েভ সোভিয়েতে ৮ সেপ্টেম্বর বলশেভিক প্রস্তাব জয়ী হয় ১৩০-৬৬ ভোটে। ২১ সেপ্টেম্বর সারাতোভ প্রাদেশিক সোভিয়েতে বলশেভিকদের ছিল ৩২০ ভোট, এস. আর.-দের ১০৩, মেনশেভিকদের ৭৬, পার্টি পরিচিতিহীন ৩৪ জনক্রোনস্তাদে নরমপন্থীদের কার্যত প্রতিনিধিত্বই ছিল না রেভাল, দোরপাত, ওয়েনডেন, তালিন সর্বত্র বলশেভিক-বমপন্থী সোশ্যালিস্ট রেভল্যুশনারী জোট সংখ্যাগরিষ্ঠতা পায়।

এই পরিস্থিতিতে, পোত্রোগ্রাদ সোভিয়েত ট্রটস্কীর প্রস্তাব গ্রহণ করল, যে প্রথম সোভিয়েত কংগ্রেসের সিদ্ধান্ত অনুযায়ী তিন মাস পরে পরে সোভিয়েত কংগ্রেস ডাকতে হবে। কেন্দ্রীয় কার্যনির্বাহী কমিটির নরমপন্থী নেতৃত্ব পাল্টা চাপ দিতে থাকে, সোভিয়েত কংগ্রেস না ডাকার জন্য। মস্কো আঞ্চলিক কংগ্রেস, সর্ব-সাইবেরিয় কংগ্রেস, বিয়েলোরুশ কংগ্রেস (মিনস্ক), উত্তর ককেশাস কংগ্রেস, ভ্লাদিমির ও তভারের প্রাদেশিক কংগ্রেস এবং উত্তরাঞ্চলের সোভিয়েত কংগ্রেস (পেত্রোগ্রাদ, মস্কো, আর্কেঞ্জেল, রেভাল, হেলসিংফোরস, ক্রোনস্তাদ, ভাইবর্গ, নারভা, গ্যাটচিনা,জারস্কোয়ে সেলো, বাল্টিক নৌবহর, পোত্রোগ্রাদ কৃষক সোভিয়েত এবং উত্তর পশ্চিম, দক্ষিণ-পশ্চিম ও রুমানীয় ফ্রন্টের সোভিয়েতদের সম্মেলন) সোভিয়েত কর্তৃক ক্ষমতা দখলের দাবী তোলে। অন্যদিকে গণতান্ত্রিক সম্মেলন নাম দিয়ে যে সম্মেলন ডেকে নরমপন্থীরা নিজেদের জন্য নতুন ভিত তৈরী করতে চান, তা ছিল সম্পূর্ণ অগণতান্ত্রিক। বলশেভিকদের তীব্র সমালোচক, মার্ক ফেরোকেও বলতে হয়েছে, এই সম্মেলনে প্রকৃত সংখ্যাগত শক্তির প্রতিনিধি ছিল না। ১২৫০ জন প্রতিনিধির মধ্যে সোভিয়েতরা পেল ৪৬০টি আসন, সমবায়রা ১৬১টি (যার প্রতিনিধি হল বাণিজ্যিক সমবায়ের কর্মকর্তারা), আর জারের যুগের জেমস্তভোরা ২০০ ও পৌরসভারা ৩০০। এই সম্মেলন যে প্রাক-পার্লামেন্ট বা সাধারণতন্ত্রের পরিষদ তৈরী করল, তাতে উচ্চ শ্রেণীদের জন্য আসন সংরক্ষণ করে তাদের প্রাধান্য বাড়ানো হল। লেনিন একে প্রতিবিপ্লবের পরিষদ আখ্যা দেন।

এই পরিপ্রেক্ষিতে লেনিন ও ট্রটস্কী অভ্যুখানের প্রসঙ্গ তোলেন। সোভিয়েত কংগ্রেসকে সফলভাবে অনুষ্ঠিত করার জন্যও বলপ্রয়োগের বিকল্প ছিল না। এ প্রসঙ্গে অনুস্টুপে পরেশ চট্টোপাধ্যায়ের উক্তি লক্ষণীয়। তিনি বলেন, দেশের পরিষদগুলির এক বৃহৎ সংখ্যা এই দ্বিতীয় কংগ্রেসে প্রতিনিধি পাঠায় নি, তার কারণ তাঁরা ছিলেন বহু প্রতীক্ষিত সংবিধান সভার বৈঠকের পর্বে পরিষদীয় কংগ্রেস ডাকার বিরোধী।

সংবিধান সভা ডাকতে কদিন লাগে? ফেব্রুয়ারী থেকে অক্টোবর, তা কেন ডাকা হয় না? কিন্তু কোনো বৈপ্লবিক পদক্ষেপ না দিতে চাইলে সংবিধান সভা ছিল ভাল অজুহাত। জমি দখল? সংবিধানসভা স্থির করবে। শান্তি প্রতিষ্ঠা (তখনও প্রথম বিশ্বযুদ্ধ চলছে)? সংবিধান সভা স্থির করবে। সংবিধান সভা দীর্ঘজীবি হোক, যাতে তাকে দিয়ে সোভিয়েতদের ঠেকানো যায়। তারপর তাকেও ফেলা যাবে। ২৬ সেপ্টেম্বর, কেন্দ্রীয় কার্যনির্বাহী সমিতিতে মেনশেভিক নেতা দান প্রস্তাব করলেন, সংবিধান সভার নির্বাচনের স্বার্থে সোভিয়েত কংগ্রেস মুলতুবি রাখা হোক। যে সংগঠনের তাঁরা নেতা, তার নিয়মাবলী অগ্রাহ্য করে ক্ষমতা আঁকড়ে থাকাটাই তাহলে গণতন্ত্র! আর এযুগের বামপন্থী বুদ্ধিজীবীরাও তাতে গদগদ হয়ে পড়েন। যখন ট্রটস্কী উত্তরে বললেন, সোভিয়েত কংগ্রেস ডাকা হবেই – বিধিসম্মতভাবে না হলে তলা থেকে নতুন উদ্যোগ ণিয়ে – তখন মেনশেভিকরা পিছু হঠলেন। কিন্তু সেই সঙ্গে তাঁরা তীব্র প্রচার চালাতে থাকলেন, যেন কংগ্রেস বয়কট করা হয়। এই কারণেই, প্রথম কংগ্রেসের চেয়ে দ্বিতীয় কংগ্রেসে প্রতিনিধি সংখ্যা কিছুটা কম ছিল। কিন্তু দেশের প্রায় সমস্ত জনবহুল এলাকা থেকে প্রতিনিধি এসেছিলেন। অর্থাত্‍, বড় শিল্পাঞ্চল, সেনাবাহিনী, এরা সবাই হাজির ছিল। উপস্থিত আনুমানিক ৬৫০ প্রতিনিধির মধ্যে ৩৯০ জন ছিলেন বলশেভিক সমর্থক, এবং ১৭৯ – ৮০ জন অভ্যুখানের সমর্থক বামপন্থী সোশ্যালিস্ট রেভল্যুশনারী। কিছু দক্ষিণপন্থী সোশ্যালিস্ট রেভল্যুশনারী ও মেনশেভিক প্রতিনিধি আসেন নি ধরে নিয়েও বোঝা যায়, প্রতিনিধিত্ব বাড়লে ক্ষমতা দখলের প্রশ্নে সংখ্যাগরিষ্ঠের মত একই থাকত।   

        উপরন্তু, কৃষক সোভিয়েতদের কার্যনির্বাহী সমিতি অভ্যুখানের এবং সোভিয়েত রাজের বিরুদ্ধে হলেও চাপে পড়ে তারা ২৩ নভেম্বর এক জরুরী কংগ্রেস ডাকতে বাধ্য হয়। এর ৩৩৫জন প্রতিনিধির ১৯৫ জন ছিলেন বামপন্থী সোশ্যালিস্ট রেভল্যুশনারী, ৩৭ জন বলশেভিক এবং ২২জন নৈরাষ্ট্রবাদী। ৯-২৫ ডিসেম্বরে অনুষ্ঠিত নিয়মিত কৃষক কংগ্রেসের ৭৮৯ জন প্রতিনিধির মধ্যে ৩৫০ জন বামপন্থী এস. আর. এবং ৯১জন বলশেভিক ছিলেন। অর্থাৎ গ্রামাঞ্চলেও সোভিয়েত রাজের পক্ষেই মত বেশী ছিল।

তাহলে কেন অভ্যুখান আবশ্যক ছিল? প্রশ্নটা যখন স্বঘোষিত মার্কসবাদীরা করেন, তখন কিন্তু বুঝতে হয়, প্রশ্নটি উদ্দেশ্যপ্রণোদিত। অভ্যুখান কেন দরকার – তার উত্তর হল, সেনাবাহিনীর প্রধানরা, বিচার বিভাগ, ব্যাঙ্ক, সকলেই আনুগত্য ঘোষণা করছিল অস্থায়ী সরকারের প্রতি। কেরেনস্কী যেহেতু স্বেচ্ছায় ক্ষমতা ছাড়বে না, তাই তাকে যে সত্যিই হঠানো হয়েছে, তা দেখাতে পারলে তবেই সার্বভৌম ক্ষমতা সোভিয়েতদের হাতে যাবে। এবং শত্রু শ্রেণীও তা মানতে বাধ্য হবে। বিপ্লব ও শ্রেণী-সংগ্রাম পার্লামেন্টে ভোট নয়। বুর্জোয়াশ্রেণী একটা রাজনৈতিক দল নয়, যারা ভোটে হেরে সঙ্গে সঙ্গে স্পীকারের রুলিং মেনে চুপচাপ বসে পড়বে। পুরানো রাষ্ট্রযন্ত্রের কেন্দ্রীয় সংগঠন তাদের হাতেই থাকে। চিলিতে আলেন্দের সরকার, বা স্পেনের পপুলার ফ্রন্ট সরকার (১৯৩৬) এই ভুলই করেছিল। তারা মনে করেছিল, তারা নির্বাচিত সরকার, তাদের রুখবে কে? কিন্তু বুর্জোয়াশ্রেণীর টাকার থলেতে টান পড়লে তারা তখন সংসদীয় রেওয়াজ মেনে চলে না।

এরপরও মিথ্যা প্রচার রয়েছে, কুয়াশা সৃষ্টির চেষ্টা রয়েছে। খুব সংক্ষেপে কয়েকটির দিকে তাকানো যাক।

প্রচার ১ : লেনিন পার্টির হাতে ক্ষমতা চেয়েছিলেন।

উত্তর : এ প্রচার অবান্তর। একটি বিশেষ প্রসঙ্গে লেনিন বলেছিলেন, সোভিয়েত কংগ্রেসদের জন্য অপেক্ষা না করে পার্টির উচিত অভ্যুত্থানের ডাক দেওয়া। তাঁর এই মত ভুল ছিল, কারণ সোভিয়েতকে এড়িয়ে পার্টি ডাক দিলে সংখ্যাগরিষ্ঠ অংশ পথে বেরিয়ে আসত না। কিন্তু কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটি এ ক্ষেত্রে লেনিনের মতকে অগ্রাহ্য করেছিল। যে প্রস্তাব গৃহীত হল না, সেটাই আসল নীতি, এ কেমন কথা? বাস্তবে, যে পন্থা গৃহীত হল তার স্রষ্টা ছিলেন ট্রটস্কী। পেত্রোগ্রাদ সোভিয়েতের সভাপতি হিসেবে তিনি সোভিয়েত ক্ষমতাকে ব্যবহার করে সোভিয়েতের নামেই অভ্যুত্থান সংগঠিত করেন। দ্বিতীয় সোভিয়েত কংগ্রেস বসবে কার তত্ত্বাবধানে – কেরেনস্কী না শ্রমিকশ্রেণী? এই প্রশ্ন তুলে সেনাবাহিনীকে জয় করে তিনি অভ্যুত্থানের ভিত্তি রচনা করেন।

প্রচার ২ : অভ্যুত্থান সোভিয়েত করে নি, করেছিল হঠাত্‍ গজিয়ে ওঠা সামরিক বিপ্লবী কমিটি।

উত্তর : পেত্রোগ্রাদ সোভিয়েতের সভায় গণতান্ত্রিক ভাবে স্থির হয়েছিল, প্রতিবিপ্লবী বিপদের মোকাবিলা করার জন্য একটি সামরিক বিপ্লবী কমিটি তৈরী হবে। সুতরাং, ঐ কমিটি সোভিয়েতেরই কমিটি। এই কমিটিকে রাজধানী রক্ষার দায়িত্ব দেওয়া হয়। কমিটির সভাপতি হন বামপন্থী সোশ্যালিস্ট রেভল্যুশনারী লাজিমির। পেত্রোগ্রাদ সোভিয়েতের প্রতিনিধিদের ছাড়াও এতে টানা হয় নৌবাহিনী, ট্রেড ইউনিয়ন, ফ্যাক্টরী কমিটি, লাল রক্ষীবাহিনী ও ফিনল্যান্ডের আঞ্চলিক কমিটির প্রতিনিধিদের। মেনশেভিক ও দক্ষিণপন্থী এস. আর. রা এই সব পথে, এবং দলীইয় প্রতিনিধি পাঠিয়ে, নিজেদের উপস্থিতি বজায় রাখাতে পারতেন। তাঁরা স্বেচ্ছায় তা করেন নি। যদি এই কমিটিকে ষড়ষন্ত্রের সদর দপ্তর করারই পরিকল্পনা থাকত তাহলে কি এতটা গণভিত্তি রাখা হত, না মেনশেভিকদের জন্য জায়গা ছাড়া হত?

প্রলেতারিয়েত যে ক্ষমতা দখল করবে, তা তারা খালি হাতে করতে পারে না। তাদের চাই সংগঠন। সেই সংগঠন হল সোভিয়েত ও ফ্যক্টরী কমিটি। চাই রাজনৈতিক নেতৃত্ব। সেটা দিল বলশেভিক পার্টি, এবং অংশত বাম এস. আর.রা। চাই অস্ত্র, যা এল সামরিক বিপ্লবী কমিটির মাধ্যমে। এই সব সংগঠনের বাইরে, শুধু কি পানশালায় শ্রমিকশ্রেণীকে খুঁজতে হবে, যেমন বলতে চেয়েছেন হালে, অর্ল্যান্ডো ফাইজেস?[xviii] না হলে, বিপ্লবটা শ্রমিকরা করে নি, বলশেভিকরা করেছিল, এমন মেকী বৈপরীত্য তৈরীর অর্থ কি? তার চেয়ে সহজে বলে দিলেই হয় – বলশেভিকরা জিতলে কিন্তু খেলব না। কিন্তু শ্রেণী-সংগ্রাম তো বাচ্চাদের খেলা নয়। তাই এই উক্তিগুলিও একটা শ্রেণীর দিকেই যায়, আর সে শ্রেণী শ্রমিকশ্রেণী নয়।

সোভিয়েত গণতন্ত্র ও সংবিধান সভা

অক্টোবর অভ্যুখানের পর সোভিয়েত ব্যবস্থা অনেক গভীরতা ও ব্যাপ্তি লাভ করে। গৃহযুদ্ধ শুরু হওয়া পর্যন্ত গণতান্ত্রিক পদ্ধতিতে মানুষ নিজের জীবন চালায়। এমন কি, গৃহযুদ্ধ সত্ত্বেও নীচের দিকে সোভিয়েতগুলি ১৯২০-২১ পর্যন্ত প্রাণবন্ত থাকে। উয়েঝদ্ কংগ্রেসগুলিতে নির্বাচিত কার্যনির্বাহী সমিতিতে বলেশেভিকদের অনুপাত ছিল ১৯১৯-এ ১২.২. শতাংশ, ১৯২১-এ ৭.৬ শতাংশ। পেত্রোগ্রাদের প্রথম নগর জেলা সোভিয়েত ১৯১৭-র নভেম্বর থেকে ১৯১৮-র জুন পর্যন্ত পৌরসভাকে তো বটেই; কেন্দ্রীয় সোভিয়েত কতৃর্পক্ষ-কেও হঠিয়ে দিয়ে পরিষেবা ইত্যাদি সংগঠিত করতে থাকে। এপ্রিল ১৯১৮ থেকে তারা নিজেদের এলাকার সংবাদপত্র প্রকাশ করে। গৃহযুদ্ধের প্রথম সাড়ার মধ্যেও মে-জুনে ঐ সোভিয়েতের শ্রমিক সম্মেলনে আসেন ১৩৪ জন বলশেভিক, ১৩জন বাম এস আর, ৩০ জন মেনশেভিক ও ২৪ জন এস.আর।[xix] লেনিন যখন বলছিলেন, যে সোভিয়েত, অর্থাত্‍ প্রলেতারীয় গণতন্ত্রের সমাজতন্ত্রী চরিত্র নিহিত হয়েছে এই তথ্যে যে এই প্রথম গোটা জনগণ প্রশাসন শিখতে শুরু করেছেন[xx], তখন তিনি ভাঁওতা দিচ্ছিলেন না।

এই সময়ে সমালোচকরা আবার রণহুঙ্কার দেন। তাঁদের হাতে পতাকা-সংবিধান সভা। তাঁদের মুখে এই শতাব্দীর মহত্তম বিপ্লবী শহীদদের অন্যতম, রোজা লুক্সেমবুর্গের নাম। লুক্সেমবুর্গও তো সংবিধান সভা ভাঙার সমালোচনা করেছিলেন, তাই নয় কি?

অবিভক্ত সোশ্যাল ডেমোক্রেটিক দল তার দ্বিতীয় কংগ্রেসে, ১৯০৩ সালে, নারী ও পুরুষের সর্বজনীন ভোটাধিকারের ভিত্তিতে সংবিধান সভার নির্বাচন দাবী করেছিল। ১৯১৭-তেও এই দাবী বলশেভিক কর্মসূচী থেকে বাতিল হয় নি। তার দুটি কারণ ছিল। প্রথমত, ট্রটস্কী ছাড়া ১৯১৭-র আগে কেউই মনে করেন নি যে রুশ বিপ্লব বুর্জোয়া সীমানা ছাড়িয়ে যাবে। দ্বিতীয়ত, ১৯১৭-তেওযতক্ষণ না সমাজতান্ত্রিক বিপ্লবের বাস্তব রূপায়ন হচ্ছে, ততক্ষণ বুর্জোয়া গণতান্ত্রিক বিপ্লবের সর্বোচ্চ রাজনৈতিক স্লোগান হিসেবে সংবিধান সভার দাবী রাখা আবশ্যক ছিল। উপরন্তু, সংবিধান সভাকেও তখন ক্যাডেট, এস. আর এবং মেনশেভিকরা বানচাল করতে চাইছিল। রয় মেদভেদেভ তাঁর দ্য অক্টোবর রেভল্যুশন বইয়ে এস. আর. নেতা বোরিস সকো্লভের স্বীকারোক্তি তুলে ধরেছেন – যে এস. আর. –রা বাস্তবে সংবিধান সভা বসাতে চাইছিল না, আর যে ক্যাডেট দল কর্ণিলভের অভ্যুখানের পক্ষে দাঁড়িয়েছিল, তারা তো সংবিধান সভা অবশ্যই চায় নি। সুতরাং, যতক্ষণ না উন্নততর, সোভিয়েত গণতন্ত্র আসছে ততক্ষণ বুর্জোয়া স্বৈরতন্ত্রের প্রতিতুলনায় বুর্জোয়া গণতান্ত্রিকতার নিদর্শন হিসেবে সংবিধান সভার একটা আপেক্ষিক প্রগতিশীলতা ছিল।

        সংবিধান সভার নির্বাচন হয় ১৯১৭-র নভেম্বর-এ। ফল ঘোষিত হয় ৩০ ডিসেম্বর। ৭০৭ জন প্রতিনিধির মধ্যে দলগত ভাগ ছিল নিম্নরূপ :

মোট প্রতিনিধি                   : ৭০৭

এস. আর                       : ৩৭০

মেনশেভিক                      : ১৬

পপুলার সোশ্যালিস্ট               : ০২

ক্যাডেট                         : ১৭

বলশেভিক                       : ১৭৫

বাম এস. আর                   : ৪০

সংখ্যালঘু জাতি                   : ৮৬

অজ্ঞাত                          : ০১


এই পরিসংখ্যান দিয়ে করা হয়, এস. আর-রা এখানে নিরঙ্কুশ ক্ষমতা পেয়েছিল। কিন্তু এস. আর দলের ইতিহাসবিদ র‍্যাডকি মনে করেন, সংখ্যালঘু ৮৬ জনের একটা বড় অংশ, এবং বিভিন্ন প্রশ্নে এস. আর-দের একাংশ, বলশেভিক-বাম এস. আর জোটের দিকে যেত, ফলে কোনো স্থিতিশীল অবস্থা হত না।[xxi]

দ্বিতীয়ত, ভোটের ইতিহাস উল্লেখযোগ্য। কোন কোনো এলাকায় ভোট হয়নি। যুদ্ধ এলাকায় সেনাধ্যক্ষরা অস্থায়ী সরকারের পতনের খবর পর্যন্ত লুকিয়ে রেখেছিল। তৃতীয়ত, এস.আর. দের প্রতি যে কৃষক সমর্থন, তার মূলে ছিল, এস. আর –দের পুরোনো কর্মসূচী১৯১৭-তে চের্নভ, আভকসেন্তিয়ভ প্রমুখ সেই কর্মসূচী বর্জন করেছিলেন। পুরোনো কর্মসূচী নিয়ে লড়াই করেছিলেন বামপন্থী সোশ্যালিস্ট রেভল্যুশনারীরা। তারাই ছিলেন ব্যাপক কৃষক জনতার কাছে বিপ্লবী বলে পরিচিত। কিন্তু সাংগঠনিক কাঠামোতে তাঁরা ছিলেন দুর্বল। তাই দলীয় প্রার্থী মনোনয়নের সময়ে তাঁরা বাদ পড়েন। আনুষ্ঠানিকভাবে এস, আর দল ভেঙে তাঁরা আলাদা দল তৈরী করেন ভোটের সামান্য আগে, এবং মাত্র কয়েকটি এলাকায় তাঁরা নিজস্ব প্রার্থী দিতে পেরেছিলেন | কৃষক কংগ্রেসের সঙ্গে সংবিধান সজায় তাঁদের প্রতিনিধির সংখ্যার তারতম্য দেখায় এই ব্যাখ্যা সঠিক | যেখানে স্বতন্ত্র  বাম এস. আর তালিকা ছিল , সেখানে ছবি অন্যরকম |

সারণী – ২

মোট প্রদত্ত ভোটের শতকরা অংশ হিসেব


বাম এস, আর-দের ভোট

দক্ষিণপন্হী এস. আর ভোট



বাল্টিক নৌবহর








আরেকটা বিষয়ের উপরও জোর দেওয়া দরকারবুর্জোয়া নির্বাচনী ব্যবস্থায় একজন নাগরিক একা গিয়ে শুধু ভোট দেন সোভিয়েত ব্যবস্থায় শুধু ভোট নয়, স্ব-শাসন চলে তাই যে শ্রমিক বা কৃষক সংবিধানসভায় আপাত নিস্পৃহ, যেখানে নিজে কাজ করছেন, ক্ষমতার অংশীদার হচ্ছেন, সেখানে কিন্তু তিনিই অন্য অবস্থান নিয়েছেন বোরিস সোকোলভ লেখেন যে একটি সৈনিক কংগ্রেসে, এস. আর. – রা দুই-তৃতীয়াংশ সংখ্যাগারিষ্টতা লাভ করেন, কিন্তু ঐ কংগ্রেসেই সোভিয়েত রাজ্যের পক্ষে প্রস্তাবও গৃহীত হয়[xxii]

উপরে বর্ণিত কারণগুলি ব্যাখ্যা করে বলশেভিকরা সংবিধান সভা ভেঙে দেওয়ার সিদ্ধান্ত নেন একদিকে, প্রলেতারীয় বিপ্লবের পর এই বুর্জোয়া প্রতিষ্ঠানের দরকার নেই (কারণ বিকল্প গনতান্ত্রিক প্রতিষ্ঠান রয়েছে) এই দাবী এবং অন্যদিকে নির্বাচন প্রত্রিূয়ার ত্রুটি, ও বিশেষত এস. আর দলের ভাঙন সংবিধান সভায় প্রতিফলিত না হওয়ার কথা তোলেন তাঁরার‍্যাডকি দেখাচ্ছেন, বলশেভিকদের ঐ মূল্যায়ন ভুল নয় তিনি লিখেছেন, “খবর যত দেরীতে পৌঁছেছে, তত বলশেভিকদের প্রতি সমর্থন কম তাই, সিদ্ধান্তটা অনস্বীকার্য যে দূরবর্তী ফ্রন্টগুলির পিটার্সবুর্গ গ্যারিসনের মত হয়ে ওঠার জন্য শুধু সময়ের দরকার ছিল[xxiii]

সংবিধান সভা ভাঙা মানেই স্বৈরতন্ত্রের সূচনা, এই দাবীর জনক সমাজতান্ত্রিক মহলে কার্ল কাউটস্কি। তিনি এমনকি সংবিধান সভার নির্বাচন যে অস্থায়ী সরকার পিছিয়ে দিয়েছিল, তাকেও সমর্থন করেন তিনি লেখেন, সোভিয়েতগুলিকে  প্রলেতারীয় গনতন্ত্রের প্রতিষ্ঠান বলা যায় না তাঁর মতে, গণতন্ত্র একরকমই হয়, আর তা হল পার্লামেন্টারী ব্যবস্থা।[xxiv]

রোজা লুক্সেমবুর্গের সমালোচনা (Zur Russischen Revolution) একটি অসমাপ্ত পান্ডুলিপি। সংবিধান সভা ভাঙা প্রসঙ্গে তিনি লিখেছিলেন, যদি গণচেতনা পাল্টে গিয়ে থাকে, তা হলে আরেকবার নির্বাচন করলেই তো হত। সোভিয়েত বনাম পার্লামেন্ট, এই প্রশ্নে তিনি তখন কোনো স্পষ্ট অবস্থান নেন নি।


Whatever a party can, at a historic hour, provide in the way of courage, drive in action, revolutionary farsightedness, and logic, Lenin, Trotsky, and their comrades gave in full measure. All the revolutionary honor and the capacity for action that were lacking in the Social-Democracy in the West, were to be found among the Bolsheviks. Their October insurrection not only in fact saved the Russian Revolution, but also saved the honor of international socialism.

কিন্তু লুক্সেমবুর্গের এই সমালোচনা আজ ব্যবহার করা ভন্ডামী। ১৯১৮-র শেষে যখন জার্মানীতে বিপ্লব হয়, তখন তিনি ও কাউটস্কি একেবারে উল্টো অবস্থা নিলেন। সমাজতন্ত্র ও গণতন্ত্রের নামে কাউটস্কি জাতীয় সভার (জার্মান সংবিধান সভা) পক্ষে ওকালতি করলেন। আর লুক্সেমবুর্গ স্লোগান তুললেন, শ্রমিক ও সৈনিক পরিষদগুলির হাতে সব ক্ষমতা চাই। জাতীয় সভা এবং জাতীয় সভা ও শ্রমিক পরিষদ শীর্ষক গুলি প্রবন্ধ তিনি স্পষ্টভাবে তুলে ধরেন, বৈপরীত্যটা আসলে দুটি শ্রেণীর ক্ষমতা কাঠামোর মধ্যে। শ্রেণী-সংগ্রামের তীব্রতম মুহুর্তে দুটি শ্রেণীর ক্ষমতা কাঠামোতে একই সঙ্গে চেপে বসার চেষ্টা করলে হয় যাঁরা প্রচেষ্টা করছেন, তাঁদের পতন হবে, অথবা তাঁরা শ্রমিকশ্রেণীকে ঠকাবেন, বুর্জোয়া আধিপত্যকেই সমাজতন্ত্রবলে চালাবেন, যেমন চালিয়েছিল জার্মান সোশ্যাল ডেমোক্রাটিক দল ১৯১৯-২০-তে, লুক্সেমবুর্গ-লিবকনেক্টদের হত্যা করার পরও। অক্টোবর অভ্যুত্থান ও সংবিধান সভা ভাঙার বিরোধীদের জায়গা লুক্সেমবুর্গের সঙ্গে নয়; তাঁর হত্যাকারীদের সঙ্গে।

উপসংহার :- সম্পূর্ণ শান্তিপূর্ণ, নিছক নির্বাচনভিত্তিক কোনো রাস্তায় এক শ্রেণীর হাত থেকে আরেক শ্রেণীর হাতে ক্ষমতা যায় নি –বুর্জোয়া শ্রেণী থেকে শ্রমিকশ্রেণীর হাতে তো অবশ্যই নয়। খাঁটি সমাজ বিপ্লব হলেই শান্তি থাকবে, এই দাবী তাই ইতিহাসে প্রমাণিত নয়। আর, সম্পূর্ণ স্বতঃস্ফূর্ত অভ্যুত্থান পুরোনো নড়বড়ে জারতন্ত্রকে ফেলতে পারে, কিন্তু পাল্টা ক্ষমতা কাঠামো তৈরী করতে হলে সচেতনতা চাই, নেতৃত্ব চাই। বলশেভিক দল শ্রমিকশ্রেণীর উপর চেপে বসা বুদ্ধিজীবী বাহিনী ছিল না। তার ছিল জঙ্গী, রাজনৈতিকভাবে অগ্রসর শ্রমিকদের অন্যতম প্রধান কেন্দ্রঅন্যান্য কেন্দ্র ছিল সোভিয়েত, ফ্যাক্টরী কাউন্সিল, ইত্যাদিএদের মিলিত উদ্যোগে অক্টোবর অভ্যুত্থান হয়। পরে গৃহযুদ্ধ, বলশেভিকদের পদস্খলন, স্তালিনীয় প্রতিবিপ্লব সব সত্ত্বেও এই ইতিহাস ও তার আজকের জন্য তাত্‍পর্য অক্ষত রয়েছে।

১  ড্যানের বক্তৃতার জন্য দেখুন, Mark Jones (Ed), Storming the Heavens: Voices of October, Atlantic Highlands, London, 1987, p.85. শ্যাপিরোর ব্যাখ্যা আছে Leonard Schapiro, The Origins of the Communist Autocracy, Bell, London, 1955.

Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution 1899-1919, Collins Harvill, London, 1990, p. 491; Marc Ferro, The Bolshevik Revolution, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1985, pp. 257-8; Eric Hobsbawm, ‘Waking from History’s Great Dream’, Independent on Sunday, 4 February, 1991;  পরেশ চট্টোপাধ্যায়, অনুস্টুপ, শারদ সংখ্যা, ১৯৯১, Charles Bettelheim, Class Struggles in the USSR: Third Period 1930-1941, Part One: The Dominated, T.R. Publications, Madras, 1994.

[iii]Ralph Carter Elwood (Ed), The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party 1898 – October 1917, volume 1 of R. H. McNeal, General Editor, Resolutions and Decisions of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1974, p. 200; L. Trotsky, The Stalin School of Falsification, Pathfinder Press, New York, 1979, pp. 236-9;

[iv] V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, Volume 24,

[v]Pravda, 7 April 1917.

[vi]স্তালিনের ঐ অবস্থান গোপন করার জন্য ওই সম্মেলনের বিবরণী বহুদিন মুদ্রিত হয় নি। ট্রটস্কী প্রথম তাঁকে বহিস্কারের পর তা ছেপে দেন। ১৯৮৮ সালে অবশেষে সোভিয়েত ইউনিয়নে স্বীকার করা হয়, The Stalin School of Falsification গ্রন্থে মুদ্রিত দলিলগুলি সঠিক।

[vii]Sed’maia (Aprel’skaia) Vserossiskaia Konferentsiia RSDRP (bolshevikov), Moscow, 1958, p.372.

[viii] V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Volume 25, p.81.

[ix] Voprosy Istorii KPSS, no.2, 1958.

[x] V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Volume 24, pp. 145-6.

[xi]এ প্রসঙ্গে এখনো সেরা বিবরণ L. Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution, Volume 2, Aakar, Delhi, 2013.

[xii] Diane P. Koenker and William G. Rosenberg, Strikes and Revolution in Russia, 1917, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J., 1989.

[xiii]  L. Trotsky, Permanent Revolution and Results and Prospects, Pathfinder Press, New York, 1976, pp 194-5, 200.

[xiv]S.A. Smith, ‘Petrograd in 1917’, in D. H. Kaiser (Ed), The Workers’ Revolution in Russia 1917, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1987, p.63.  এছাড়া দেখুন  S.A. Smith, Red Petrograd, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1983, এবং David Mandel, Factory Committees and Workers' Control in Petrograd in 1917 , International Institute for Research and Education, Amsterdam, 1993.

[xv] P.N. Amosov et al (Eds), Oktyabrskaya revoliyutsia I Fabzavkomy, Komissiya po izucheniu istorii professional’nogo dvizheniya v SSSR, Moscow, 1927, vol 1, p. 107.

[xvi]S.A. Smith, Red Petrograd, pp. 258-9.

[xvii]কর্নিলভের অভ্যুত্থান প্রচেষ্টা ও তাতে কেরেনস্কীর ভূমিকার জন্য ট্রটস্কীর বই ছাড়া দ্রষ্টব্য, J.L. Munck, The Kornilov Revolt: A Critical Examination of Sources and Research. Aarhus University Press, Aarhus, 1987; H. Asher, ‘The Kornilov Affair: A Reinterpretation’. The Russian Review. 29 (3): 286–300, 1970.


[xviii]Orlando Figes, A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1891–1924, Random House, New York, 1996.

[xix] Alexander Rabinowitch, ‘The Evolution of Local Soviets in Petrograd, November 1917 – June 1918: The Case study of the First City District Soviet’, Slavic Review, 46:1, Spring 1987, pp. 20 22-4, 30-32, 37.

[xx] V.I. Lenin Collected Works, vol. 27, p. 272.

[xxi] O. H. Radkey, The Elections to the Russian Constituent Assembly of 1917, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1950.

[xxii]Roy Medvedev, The October Revolution, Constable, London, 1979, p.108.

[xxiii] O. H. Radkey, The Sickle Under the Hammer, Columbia University Press, New York, 1963, pp. 301, 344.

[xxiv]Karl Kautsky, The Dictatorship of the Proletariat, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1964, pp 26, 161, 72-87.

NTUI Statement on Unchahar Tragedy


Bhopal…Rana Plaza … and now Unchahar


 The New Trade Union Initiative expresses its deep anguish at the huge loss of life at the National Thermal Power Corporation Limited’s power plant in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday, 1 November 2017 and strongly condemns the criminal negligence on the part of NTPC, BHEL and the Governments of India and Uttar Pradesh.


 A boiler explosion in the Unchahar Plant of the NTPC in Rae Bareli has already claimed the lives of 29 workers, with over a 100 others suffering 70%+ burns. The incident occurred at 3:30 pm when the newly commissioned Unit 6 of the plant was undergoing a trial-run when a pipe leaked of the boiler releasing steam at high pressure. According to NTPC management, ash gathered in the furnace of the boiler, which caused pressure to build up and the boiler burst. The equipment was supplied by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited. The Unit has a capacity of 500 MW and has around 870 employees. Anomalies had been found in the boiler and it was to be shut down for rectification on 28 October but was still kept running. At the time of the incident about 300 workers were working at the unit. Most of the victims were cleaning the ash collected at the site as a result of burning of the coal.  It is still not clear how many bodies are still buried under the ash. The National Disaster Relief Force was called in.


 The injured workers were taken to the NTPC hospital but are now being transferred to Lucknow and Rae Bareli hospitals while the two injured managers have been flown to Delhi for treatment.  


 Dismantling Regulation to allow Ease of Business – an Attack on Right to Life

The Indian Boiler Regulation, 1950 required all boiler manufacturers to be certified by the Central Boiler Board. PM Narendra Modi in a speech while introducing self-certification in 2014 had said “When we purchase a new car, do we require a government inspector to check if the brakes, the accelerator and the gears function as they should? No, we don’t. We very well know that to maintain our car, its brakes and gear box is in our own interest — it is a question of our own life and death.” The PM then went on to suggest that the same applied to the maintenance of a boiler in a factory. A factory owner knows it is a matter of life and death and hence, government needs to have confidence in him and trust that he is capable and will act responsibly. Therefore, the factory owner should be allowed to self-certify that his boiler functions properly and that the factory is compliant with respect to all standards. With this logic, within a few days of coming to power, the Prime Minister had called for a new national approach to boiler safety and written to states, that companies should be allowed to “self-certify” industrial boilers, or hire credible third-party evaluators. Further, in violation of ILO Convention 81, the BJP government had removed statutory inspection for industrial workplaces for provisions of industrial safety and workers health. These moves were an early signal to the current phase of labour reforms.


 The majority of the workers killed and injured in the disaster are contract workers. In both the public and the private sector the most unsafe jobs go to those with least employment security. These workers work clearly under hazardous conditions, are paid substantially lower than the regular workers and have no social security coverage. This disaster will only get worse if the new amendments to the Contract Labour Act are enacted that will allow for more flexibility in hiring irregular workers and short term contractors who do not even meet standard requirements for a project while absolving the principal virtually of al responsibility.


 Both the BJP’s Government of Uttar Pradesh and the Government of India have announced monetary compensation for dead and injured workers ranging from Rs. 50,000 upto Rs. 20 Lakhs. Having diluted the law and having made workplaces more unsafe, the BJP government is now displaying largess. The costs of compensation is far less than the costs of safe workplaces. The BJP government is paying out this compensation from the exchequer while allowing the employer to get away. This is a signal from the BJP to all employers that they can get away with anything while it will bear the cost.  


Thirty three years have elapsed since the world’s worst industrial disaster due to corporate criminal negligence occurred at Bhopal that led to an amendment of the Factories Act to ensure higher accountability of employers for workers’ safety and health hazards. The amendment to the Boiler Regulation along with the proposed amendments to the Factories Act, the Contract Labour Act and the 4 codes on Labour have magnified the vulnerability of the workers. The Unchahar disaster is a symbol of the BJP government’s promise of ‘minimum government, maximum governance’. It is time for more regulation and not less.


 The NTUI stands with the affected workers and their families and we demand:


 ·           Charge of criminal negligence be brought against the management of the NTPC and BHEL and all third party agencies and contractors involved in the manufacture, installation, operation and maintenance of the boiler.

·           NTPC bear all medical and rehabilitation expenses of all affected workers and provide employment to next of kin of deceased workers.

·           The Chief Inspector of Boiler, UP and the Director General of Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes conduct a complete safety audit of the plant at the earliest.

·           Immediate withdrawal of the proposed amendments to the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act

·           Ensure equal pay for equal work and equality in all conditions and standards of work for all workers


 An Injury to One Is an Injury to All


Gautam Mody

General Secretary

One Hundred Years - Poem by Steve Bloom

Download PDF: One Hundred Years by Steve Bloom

Greece, a story without the distorting prism of SYRIZA

Greece, a story without the distorting prism of SYRIZA

APTOPIX Greece General Strike

Protesters chant slogans in Athens during an anti-austerity nationwide general strike on May 17, 2017. Greek workers walked off the job across the country. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)


— ATHENS — During recent years, the debate on Greece has not been just a debate among the other ones. The particular intensity of the crisis, of the capitalist attack and of the social fightback, as well as the emergence of a party of reformist origin that finally managed to take power, in coalition with a nationalist right-wing party—all these have made Greece the point of reference for five years. The catastrophic experience of SYRIZA has marked not only the end of an era for the workers’ movement in Greece, but also the impasse of the political strategy that advocated a “broad left party” and an “anti-austerity government”.

Unfortunately, this strategy was not only promoted by reformist parties, but also by the majority of the anti-capitalist left around the world. Most left leaderships were so enthusiastic about the perspective of a SYRIZA government that they wouldn’t even discuss the possibility of an independent anti-capitalist formation in Greece or listen to what Greek revolutionary organizations had to say about the character and role of SYRIZA.

SYRIZA was the undisputed model for a strategic project in the context of which political, organizational, and electoral unity with reformists was absolutely instrumental. Now that this project has collapsed on the heads of the Greek working class, the vast majority of the proponents of this strategy is stubbornly avoiding an honest balance-sheet. After SYRIZA imposed the harsh 3rd austerity pact (memorandum) in July 2015, most of them wrote hasty articles blaming their former hero, Tsipras, for being either a traitor or so naïve as to think that he could negotiate with the lenders, and then just left Greece aside and started envisioning the same project as SYRIZA in other countries.

As a leader of the Fourth International said in the International Committee of February 2017, “If something proves wrong at some point, it doesn’t mean it was already wrong in the first place.” According to that, one can claim that nothing is ever wrong. Things just change.

If we need a clear balance sheet of the Greek experience, though, this is exactly because the same strategy is attempted in other countries. We think that comrades who are trying to draw their conclusions from Greece may find it useful to read what the members of the Greek Section of the FI, OKDE-Spartakos, have supported during all those years and why they have opted from the very beginning to not follow or “critically” support SYRIZA, but to build an independent anti-capitalist project, ANTARSYA, instead. Anyone who follows the evolution of our positions step by step can ascertain that, unlike the vast majority of left narratives, our opposition to SYRIZA is not a post-,Christum prophecy.

Recent stories about Greece are like modern fairy-tails, full of inaccuracies, myths and “wishful thinking”. This is our modest contribution to the demystification of the recent political history of this country.

Has SYRIZA been an expression of the rise of the social movement?

Most international left people would reply “yes” with no hesitation. SYRIZA represented the mass movement, and this is why we should have all supported it. However, this is not exactly true. SYRIZA did receive the majority of the votes of the working class and the poor strata, and this could not have happened if it wasn’t for the mass movement that developed in the country. However, SYRIZA was never organically linked with the movement.

The party had always a very small membership, with particularly few workers and unionists. SYRIZA did never lead a single mass movement or workers’ strike, and its intervention in class struggles was always marginal. To present SYRIZA as a party of the mass movement is a myth. Its relation with the working class and the oppressed was a relation of electoral representation. Even this relation, though, was consolidated not during, but after the culmination point of the mass movement.

During the hot period 2010-2012, SYRIZA was only polling poor results. It skyrocketed not before the spring of 2012, when the mass movement had already retreated. Struggles, sometimes important ones, went and are still going on; however, the movement never reached the level of the period between May 2010 and Feb. 12, 2012, which was the last really huge demonstration. One reason for this setback was definitely the easy solution that SYRIZA proposed: wait for the election to vote for a left, anti-austerity government. SYRIZA has not been an expression of the rising mass movement, but an expression of its fatigue and deceleration. And it has also been a reason for this deceleration.

Was there any strategic alternative to the proposal for a left government?

During the peak of the mass movement in Greece, and especially after June 2011, both SYRIZA and the Communist Party (KKE) rushed to ask for elections. SYRIZA finally proved to be more convincing, because, unlike KKE, they promised a left government that would abolish the austerity agreements (memoranda). This promise was not only fraudulent, but also harmful, as it fostered passive anticipation and the assignment of the struggle against austerity to a parliamentary leadership. Ever since 2011, SYRIZA has been declaring that the mass movement has shown its limit, and it is time to give a “political” (that is electoral) solution.

But no government can save the people, if the people are not organized and determined to save themselves. The calls of OKDE-Spartakos and other anti-capitalist groups for generalized self-organization was confronted with skepticism or sarcasm by the majority of the left, who argued that it would be invented and utopian to speak of councils or soviets in a situation where such things simply don’t exist. Soviets, or anything else, will never exist if nobody proposes them.

However, self-organization structures existed. The Syntagma square hosted a daily people’s assembly for nearly two months. The assembly formed sub-committees charged with various tasks. A self-organized radio station was installed on the square. Several everyday popular assemblies were created in different neighborhoods of Athens and in almost all relatively big cities of the country. People were asking: what if we had not a parliament that we vote for every four years? How else could power be organized?

It was possible to build an alternative proposal based on those, limited but actual and important, experiences of self-organization. It was possible to call for assemblies in workplaces as well. It was possible to propose that local assemblies elect their revocable representatives and turn the Syntagma Square into a national assembly. It was possible to explain that this assembly represents working people much better than the parliament and the government, and should thus claim power for itself. It was possible, even if very hard, to put forward a concrete revolutionary perspective. But SYRIZA could only fiercely oppose this perspective, and the Communist Party as well. The anti-capitalist left did try, but it was still weak and not well prepared.

Was SYRIZA something different from a reformist party?

Militants coming from revolutionary Marxism have developed a large spectrum of theories to deny the reformist character of SYRIZA before it took power, in order to justify their support to the party. They were those who saw an anti-capitalist party in SYRIZA. Alan Thornett (of the British FI section) was definitely not the only one who could claim that “the leadership of SYRIZA wants to trigger the overthrow of capitalism” as late as the eve of the accession of the party to power in 2015 (http://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article3358). Today, the experience of the SYRIZA-ANEL government makes it needless to confront the embarrassing idea that the leadership of SYRIZA ever wanted to overthrow capitalism.

A different idea was that SYRIZA represents a new kind of reformism where “bureaucratic crystallization is not as strong as it is in the leaderships of the Communist parties of Europe” (F. Sabado, April 25, 2013, http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article2951)).

Our remarks that this is not exactly true were ignored. In terms of party bureaucracy, the leadership around Tsipras proved much more indisputable than the leaderships of the social-democratic PASOK or the right New Democracy. “But it lacked links to the state bureaucracy,” the same comrades retorted. This was no more correct. In relation to its small size, SYRIZA had a large number of long-time national or local deputies, municipal councilors, cadres in the state apparatus, in the administration of universities, etc. The only reason why the party was not more actively involved in the management of the system is that it was very small, and nobody would offer them this opportunity. However, as soon as SYRIZA appeared ready to win the election, it immediately adopted entire sectos of the social-democratic state, local government, and unionist bureaucracy. As for its will to manage the system, there was nothing exceptional in the reformism of SYRIZA.

Was the program of SYRIZA a “grain of sand in the machinery” of the system?

The program of SYRIZA was getting more and more conservative and rudimentary before the party came to power. The celebrated Thessaloniki program of 2014 already rejected a large part of the program of 2012, and the program of January 2015 already refrained from the promises of the Thessaloniki program. But, of course, none of the modest promises of this last program were applied by the SYRIZA government. The international supporters of SYRIZA for “no sacrifice for the euro” and failed to see that behind the refuection of the demand for rupture with the euro and the EU, there was no anti-nationalist purpose but only unwillingness to break with any capitalist institution.

As soon as it won the elections, SYRIZA made it clear that its real slogan was “any sacrifice for the euro.” As for their supposed anti-nationalist sentiments, SYRIZ formed a government with the nationalist right party of Independent Greeks (ANEL).

The enthusiasm of the international SYRIZA supporters made them see promises as already accomplished facts. Wishful thinking turned into pure fiction! According to a member of the Fourth International Bureau, SYRIZA was a “grain of sand in the machinery,” as it “returned the legal minimum wage to its former level (751 euros,” “dissolved the entity created by the Troika to manage privatizations” and “canceled the sale fo the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki” (E. Toussaint, Feb. 12, 2015, http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article3862).

Of course, none of these ever happened, and the government never claimed any of those reforms. As soon as it was elected, theSYRIZA government started negotiating with the bourgeois class and the international capitalist institutions, and soon totally aligned with them. This was dictated by its reformist character, and was thus absolutely predictable. There is nothing exceptional in the reformism of SYRIZA regarding this issue as well; in the crucial moment, reformism backs the capitalist camp.

On the IV website, we have read several times that “the comrades of the KKE and ANTARSYA made an elementary error in seeing SYRIZA’s proposal for a left government as something that would simply manage capitalism” (R. Fidler, 17 Aug 2015, http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article4176). Now, in the light of the experience of the SYRIZA government, who made an “elementary error”?

Would the election of a left government bring self-confidence and combativity to the people?

Another usual justification for the support to SYRIZA was that, even if a SYRIZA government could not confront austerity, it could raise class self-confidence and trigger mass mobilizations, or even a pre-revolutionary situation. In the words of a comrade who was convinced that a “Syriza-led anti-austerity government of the left” would be “a workers’ government in Marxist parlance,” “a pre-revolutionary situation could quickly emerge if Syriza is elected and implements its programme (A. Thornett, June 16, 2012, http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article2654).

This abstract scenario was utterly refuted by facts. No progressive reforms or “emergency” measures were implemented. SYRIZA’s broken promises did not bring combativity but disillusionment and confusion. Passivity and parliamentary expectations, both nurtured by SYRIZA and its supporters, had rendered the people unprepared for a new round of strikes.

The resistance of the working class against the introduction of the third austerity pact (memorandum) in July 2015 was weaker than the one against the first and second memoranda. The situation got worse afterwards. The pension reform of 2016 and the fourth austerity pact of May 2017 were imposed with almost no reaction. Social anger will probably explode again, and we are counting on that. But it is undoubted that the SYRIZA government did not favor workers’ mobilization. On the contrary, it was the government that managed to restrain, and thus suppress, social and workers’ reactions more than any previous one amid the crisis.

Do workers and the people trust those who stand alongside them in reformist projects?

One of the innumerable arguments that always concluded that everybody should support SYRIZA is that, if SYRIZA fails to deliver on its promises, its base will revolt and follow the left wing of the party. People would trust the left wing more than the anti-capitalist opposition outside SYRIZA, because it is with the former that they have fought together for years.

A very old and dogmatic concept was repeated here: revolutionaries should stand alongside the working class in labour parties so as to gain their trust, and be ready to lead them out of those parties when the leadership betrays them. However, SYRIZA was never a massive party, with a vivid internal life and strong bonds between the leadership and the rank and file.

The period is not the same anymore, neither are parties. The above abstract scenario failed altogether. The Left Platform of SYRIZA did create a split and leave the party after the third memorandum to create Popular Unity. But they only attracted a small minority of the SYRIZA members. A large part among those who left SYRIZA is not in Popular Unity.

Even more, Popular Unity has been in a constant state of crisis ever since its creation. Organizations and tendencies abandon the project one after another, and the party is in no position to take any substantial initiative. The rank and file of SYRIZA did not trust them—and why would they, since the leadership of Popular Unity has always been an organic part of SYRIZA, including four first-class ministers in its first cabinet.

The crisis of the Popular Unity is far worse than the pressures that ANTARSYA (the anti-capitalist left front), the Communist Party, or anarchist groups suffer because of the setback in the mass movement. Being long-time members of SYRIZA did not help the Popular Unity be a massive party. On the contrary, to not have been in SYRIZA is not an obstacle when we approach former SYRIZA militants in the mass movement. We respect militants who left SYRIZA to join Popular Unity and want to work with them in the mass movement, but we don’t approve their political project for a “patriotic anti-austerity front” and for a second, honest SYRIZA.

Did the leadership of the Fourth International support SYRIZA?

It has been recently claimed by members of the Fourth International Bureau that the FI leadership never officially supported SYRIZA. However, this is unfortunately not correct. In fact, all international revolutionary leaderships with some influence, with maybe only a couple of exceptions, supported SYRIZA.

The CWI and IMT did it in every official way possible, since being part of broad reformist parties is an instrumental element of their politics. However, currents that are typically building a project for independent anti-capitalist formations have also actually backed SYRIZA in Greece, even contrary to the position of their Greek sections.

Although the Greek IST section (SEK) participates in ANTARSYA and never joined or voted for SYRIZA, pronounced members of the British SWP expressed their direct or indirect support to SYRIZA. Even after the formation of the SYRIZA-ANEL government, Alex Callinikos maintained that “revolutionary socialists should celebrate the new government’s victory and support the progressive measures it takes” (even if it took none), and thought that it is “great” to have “senior ministers coming from the left wing of SYRIZA,” although recognizing it is also risky (A. Callinikos in a debate with Stathis Kouvelakis, http://greece.trendolizer.com/2015/02/syriza-and-socialist-strategy—stathis-kouvelakis-and-alex-callinicos.html).

Even Altamira of the Argentine Partido Obrero and the CRFI called for a vote to SYRIZA “under the banner of a rupture with the EU, for the United Socialist States, for a workers’ government” in the 11th Congress of the PO, although the Greek section of the CRFI followed an independent project.

Unfortunately, the case was even worse with the Fourth International leadership. Renowned members have repeatedly visited Greece as invited speakers in SYRIZA meetings, without consulting or even informing the Greek section. FI cadres served as economic advisors to Tsipras and as close collaborators to the former SYRIZA President of the Parliament Zoe Konstantopoulou. The current Minister of the State and Government Spokesperson, Tzanakopoulos, takes pride in having been a member of the British section a few years ago, while being a first-class cadre of SYRIZA at the same time.

The official positions of the Fourth International Bureau were more cautious, but in fact no less explicit. The Bureau’s permanent position was that anti-capitalists should join SYRIZA or an alliance led by SYRIZA, for a left anti-austerity government. In May 2012, it stated clearly that everybody should unite under the emergency programme of SYRIZA: “The Fourth International calls on the whole of the international workers’ movement, on all the indignant, on all those who defend the ideals of the Left, to support such an emergency programme … we call for the coming together of all the forces which are fighting against austerity in Greece—Syriza, Antarsya, the KKE, the trade unions and the other social movements—around an emergency plan” (FI Bureau Statement, 24 May 2012, http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article2626).

In its reply to the letter of the Greek section, who complained for this statement, the FI Bureau was clear: “Our answer, like that of almost all the sections of the International, is clear: it is necessary to support Syriza” (June 9, 2012).

The FI leadership position was not much different in 2015. Before the January election that brought SYRIZA to power, a series of top FI cadres, including Bureau members, co-signed an international call titled, “With the Greek people, for a change in Europe—A call launched in the Spanish State,” which was actually a call for a vote to SYRIZA and did not even mention ANTARSYA, the project in which the Greek section is engaged (9 Jan 2015, http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article3795).

The statement of the Secretariat of the Bureau a few days afterward said: “The various components of Syriza, their members in the trade unions—in collaboration, often, with militants of the Antarsya coalition, the student movement, etc.—are the vectors of these mobilizations. Syriza and Antarsya have particular responsibility in building a unitive project” and urged “to do everything so that the Greek left, of which Syriza is the main component, wins these elections, in order to create a social and political dynamic for a left government” (Jan. 12, 2015, http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article3804). There is no doubt that this equals an official call for a vote to SYRIZA and a suggestion that ANTARSYA should also join its project. After the election of the SYRIZA government, the FI leadership advocated a policy of “critical” support to the government, and the decision of the Greek section to build a working-class left opposition was rejected, on the pretext that only the bourgeois class opposes SYRIZA.

Even on the eve of the SYRIZA “betrayal” and after the experience of six months of shameful negotiations with the capitalist and imperialist institutions, the Fourth International Bureau could not draw a clear conclusion about the nature of the SYRIZA-ANEL government. The Greek section’s warning that SYRIZA would introduce a new austerity pact no matter the result of the referendum of July 5 was ignored.

The Greek section fought for the NO with all its forces, but it simultaneously declared no confidence to the government. On the contrary, the statement of the FI Bureau praised the SYRIZA government and called the people to support it once again: “the interests of the exploited classes in Europe do not lie behind the governments who run the European Union, but on the side of the Greek people and of Syriza, who are fighting austerity. Resistance to austerity is possible. The victories of Syriza, like the advances of Podemos in the Spanish state, show the road to take in all the countries of Europe.” It invited the workers of all Europe to “mobilize alongside the Greek social and political movement in opposition to austerity, alongside the Greek government” (July 7, 2015, http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article4113).

This statement was relentlessly ridiculed less than one week afterwards, when the SYRIZA government approved the new austerity pact (third memorandum). No balance sheet was ever drawn of this huge mistake. On the contrary, the majority of the leadership of the FI shifted its support to the Popular Unity, once again ignoring the suggestions of the Greek section that the newly formed party wants to repeat the SYRIZA project anew (see the joint statement of O. Besançenot, M. Urbán, and A. Davanellos of the Popular Unity for the September 2015 elections, Sept. 19, 2015, http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article4225).

Unfortunately, we have to admit that the FI leadership, as well as the leaderships of most international revolutionary currents, have uncritically supported SYRIZA, and thus bear their own responsibility for having helped SYRIZA hegemonize the social current that arose against austerity, which induced passivity among the working class, false electoral expectations and, finally, a disaster.

This development could be foreseen, and the Greek section foresaw it. This is why the section dedicated its modest forces to an independent anti-capitalist current that remained out of SYRIZA, its crisis and its degradation. This project has helped avoid a situation of complete collapse of the left and workers’ organizations, as happened in other countries which experienced governments of the left or with the participation of the left. The independent anti-capitalist left in Greece is a first material to start our counter-attack with.

Greece calls for a balance sheet. But no balance sheet will be honest, in as far as it avoids the main conclusion: the need for political and organizational independence from reformism.



The new era and the tasks of revolutionaries



The new era and the tasks of revolutionaries


Thursday 27 July 2017

This resolution was submitted by Jakob, member of the IC, and of the leadership of the ISO-German section, and Yvan, member of the IC, of the leadership of the NPA and of the French section.

A turn in the neoliberal and imperialist globalisation

1) The year 2016, with the vote for Brexit, Donald Trump’s election, and the fall of Aleppo retaken by the troops of the bloody dictator Assad with the support of Russia and the complicity of the great powers of the coalition, marks the beginning of a turn in the neoliberal and imperialist globalisation.

The bourgeoisie’s attempt to construct a myth of "happy globalization" in which the market would bring democracy, peace and well-being, a myth president Obama tried to embody, is in tatters.

Until the beginning of the 21st century, technological advances combined with the massive proletarianization of the ruined peasantry in the so-called emerging countries like China, India and Brazil lowered production costs and fuelled the profit machine, the financial casino. But at the cost of a generalized debt and an "exuberant" financial bubble. The anticipation of profits gave rise to unbridled speculation.

The accident triggered by the subprime crisis in the US was inevitable.

The real shock that propelled Trump and all the reactionary far-right and populist currents to the forefront, was the crisis of 2007-2008.

The balance of power has changed, the combination of economic neoliberalism and imperialist militarism has destabilized the entire planet. The first world power no longer has the supremacy it enjoyed: a new rival, China, is emerging in a multipolar world. The instability of international relations can no longer be contained by a single power which, in turn, feels threatened.

Behind the slogan “Make America great again”, Trump has, in his own way, defined a perspective which meets the imperialist needs of the US and which is shared by a large fraction of the establishment he claimed to oppose. Behind this slogan lies the defence of the interests of American capital faced with global competition, against the peoples and against its own working class. Nationalist and protectionist rhetoric aims at associating peoples with the politics of the bourgeoisie faced with exacerbated competition, to create the illusion that the policies of the ruling classes might address the anxieties and meet the demands of the popular classes.

The workers’ movement is confronted with this new attempt to turn the dissatisfaction and revolt of the popular classes against themselves in order to subjugate and subordinate them to the politics and defence of the interests of the ruling classes by dividing them and making them scapegoats in the name of nationalism, racism and xenophobia.

Our orientation, in response, is organized around class independence and its corollary, internationalism in the perspective of socialism, of communism.

2) The second major capitalist globalization – a century after the first which led to the development of imperialism and two world wars – has deeply transformed capitalism, the planet and the very conditions of class struggle worldwide. We are witnessing a new phase of capitalist development.

The upheavals resulting from what is known as the great tilting of the world have been accelerated, accentuated by the crisis that began in 2007-2008 and seem to turn into a chronic crisis, a long process of stagnation and decomposition of capitalism.

The exacerbation of international competition resulting from the crisis has led to a strengthening of the role of States, which are as many instruments of security and militarist policies, a growing instability, geopolitical chaos, and a multiplication of military conflicts.

This second great globalization took place after a long period of defeats and decline of the labor movement. After its betrayal by social-democracy, the labor movement was choked, crushed, its leadership physically eliminated by the Stalinist bureaucracy allied with the capitalist reaction. This left the revolt of the oppressed peoples the prisoner of nationalism in the aftermath of World War II.

The proletariat was unable to give it an internationalist perspective. This revolutionary wave, however, shook the world by enabling millions of oppressed people to break the yoke of colonial and imperialist oppression. But far from moving towards socialism, the new regimes sought to integrate the world capitalist market. Cuba was the last state born of this revolutionary wave to stand up to the world’s leading power, a challenge that testifies to the strength of peoples when they dare to confront the dominant classes and states.

Capitalism has triumphed worldwide. By disintegrating the old frameworks of domination of the great powers and capitalist classes, it brings only crisis, social and democratic regression, wars, ecological disasters and opens a period of wars, instability and revolutions.

3) This new stage of capitalist development combines the old imperialist relations with the new balance of power of global neoliberalism. One can speak of imperialist and neoliberal development.

In Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Lenin shows that imperialist development is linked to the very nature of capitalism. “Imperialism emerged as the development and direct continuation of the fundamental characteristics of capitalism in general. But capitalism only became capitalist imperialism at a definite and very high stage of its development, when certain of its fundamental characteristics began to change into their opposites, when the features of the epoch of transition from capitalism to a higher social and economic system had taken shape and revealed themselves in all spheres.” We can take up this reasoning to explain the new phase of capitalist development we are now facing.

“The monopolistic stage of capitalism” has given birth through neoliberal globalization to that of multi- and transnational companies and the global financialization of the economy. This new stage results from the development of the properties and contradictions of capitalism, which it accentuates and brings to a higher level, an “epoch of transition from capitalism to a higher social and economic system”, the objective conditions of which have matured and strengthened worldwide.

4) The imperialist development and the struggle between the imperialist powers to carve up the world triggered a first imperialist war and a revolutionary wave which was defeated and broken by the Fascist and Stalinist reaction and was unable to prevent the second barbarous moment in the fight to carve up the world – the second world war through which the American imperialist power established itself as the only force capable of managing the capitalist world order. Then came twenty years of wars and revolutions, the uprising of the colonial peoples.

A new phase begins in the late 70s with the neoliberal offensive under the leadership of the first great world power, the US and its ally Britain. Then begins the second globalization in response to the declining rate of profit, with capitalism established as a global mode of production reaching the limits of the planet.

This neoliberal offensive at the end of the post-war boom led to the collapse of the USSR, the collapse of the bureaucracy, which had both played a part in the national liberation struggles while maintaining global equilibrium in the name of peaceful co-existence, that is to say the defence of the interests of the bureaucracy.

The end of the USSR marks a further offensive of the capitalist classes under the leadership of the USA. The neoliberal and imperialist euphoria prevails during the Bush era, capitalism triumphs on a worldwide scale but the myth of the “end of history” will not stand the test of time. The first Iraq war opens a long period of offensives against the people to impose globalized neoliberalism, a strategy of chaos that leads to a new destabilized world order and new wars.

At the end of the Bush era, Obama vowed to turn the page. But unable to provide a political solution to the situation created by “the strategy of chaos”, he had no other choice but to adapt to it.

Since the financial crisis of 2008, this period of international neoliberalism tends to give way to a phase of reorganization of international relations while the global economy is unfettered since no power has the means of implementing any regulation. The contradiction between the instability caused by the globalized competition and the need for a common framework to ensure the production and trade is increasing.

In 30 years, the balance of power has shifted, the BRICS and mainly China, all the peoples are striving, despite the crisis, to participate in the global economic development. While the US remains in all areas the first world power, it must compromise and find allies. Half of global manufacturing is now conducted by the emerging countries.

The contradiction between nation states and the internationalization of production and trade is stronger than ever while no dominant power is able today to regulate international relations. Both factors combine and destabilize international relations.

Cartels and international monopolist associations cope with free global competition. Monopolies have grown into transnational corporations with a diversified industrial, commercial and financial activity to a point where 147 multinational companies own 40% of the economic value of all the multinational corporations worldwide. If they keep a national basis, they are engaged in interdependent relationships worldwide.

The parasitic growth of finance capital has led to a considerable amount of speculative capital and a fall in productive investments.

The debt economy and the fact that the USA are net importers of capital (along with other old imperialist powers to varying degrees) express the parasitic nature of finance capital. The import of capital is a way to drain the wealth produced by the working class in developing countries to the old imperialist countries.

We are witnessing an unprecedented concentration of wealth. Through public debt, a banking oligopoly which controls finance has put the states under its heel.

A new international division of labor is taking place through the economic development of former colonial or dominated countries, especially the emerging ones – a globalization and not a mere internationalization of production, “an integrated world economy” in Michel Husson’s words.

The territorial division of the world which was challenged by the two world wars and the wave of national liberation movements was replaced by free international competition shaped by multinational corporations. The division of the world has given way to a struggle for the control of trade routes, of places of production, of energy supply... In Harvey’s words, capitalist logic and territorial control combine in new ways.

The growing instability of the world that results of this situation leads to a rise of militarism, to growing tensions that have forced the US to redeploy its forces while seeking the support and involvement of the old powers, Europe, Japan and the emerging countries to maintain the world order. This policy is a failure which has led to growing instability and the development of religious and terrorist fundamentalism, a factor of permanent instability.

6) At the same time that global capitalism reaches the limits of the planet, it causes an unprecedented global ecological crisis which raises the question of the future of humanity. The logic of profit leads to a worldwide organization of production which completely disregards the people and the ecological balance.

The combination of the ecological and climate crisis with the economic and social crisis represents unprecedented challenges for humanity. There is no way forward without the end of capitalism, no solution within one country, without democratic planning based on worldwide cooperation according to social and ecological needs.

The crisis encourages an internationalist awareness, not only in the sense that “our homeland is humanity” but also in the sense that, locally and globally, the struggle against the threats that endanger the planet is one that transcends borders. A struggle which is part the fight for socialism in connection with the social and political class struggle.

The ecological question and the social question are related, both must be tackled together.

7) The tragedy of the migrants epitomizes in a shocking way the effects of the process of social decomposition caused by wars, economic neoliberalism, the control of transnational corporations, the dispossession of land and the destruction of large sections of the peasantry, the rise of fundamentalist reactionary forces along with the ecological and climate crisis.

These extreme and irreversible trends have reached a point not seen since World War II. They feed on the instability generated by capitalist globalization, the permanent state of war to answer the ongoing instability in which it has plunged both the Middle East and a large part of Africa. They also feed on the acute competition between old great powers and new ones, between regional powers, such as the Middle East, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Also, on the social war major financial groups and their states are waging against the workers and peoples. The focus of the crisis is in Europe and reveals the failure of the construction of a capitalist Europe.

We are facing a grave humanitarian crisis. Our response must take into account the solidarity movements that take place especially in Europe. If our policy cannot restrict itself to humanitarian aid, it is nonetheless part of our action in particular in trade unions or labor organizations.

Migrants are part of the proletariat of Europe, of the USA and elsewhere.

This crisis generates more and more fear and xenophobic rejection and impacts all political forces. It can be a revolutionary ferment in the sense that international solidarity is the only solution against those who promote war and police repression to contain the dramatic instability caused by their policies.

8) Expanded financial accumulation based on the exponential growth of credit and debt has reached such limits that it leads, in Harvey’s words, to the development of “accumulation by dispossession”. Unable to develop the economy to increase the mass of surplus value needed to feed the appetites of capital, capitalism finds a way out of its accumulation difficulties in a double offensive against the workers and against the peoples to impose an increasingly unequal wealth distribution.

This results in a bitter struggle for the control of territories, of sources of energy, raw materials and trade routes... Free global competition turns into a struggle to control wealth, reshape the world, but with power relations that are radically different from those of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

The development of the crisis since 2007-2008 has exacerbated tensions.

The situation in the Middle East demonstrates that the US can longer impose its hegemony on other powers and nations. The US is forced to adapt to new power relationships both to maintain its own hegemony and world stability. The two are linked. The hegemony of the USA is conditional on its ability to maintain world stability, “global governance”. It requires that the dominant power gives credibility to its claim to act in the public interest.

But today it is no longer able to do so. No power is able to. Hence the rising tensions and militarism. The emergence of new powers with imperialist views or regional powers which defend their own interests increasingly undermines America’s leadership capacity and makes the international situation more chaotic. The US response is Trump’s policy “Make America great again”, to assert their economic and military supremacy through trade war, protectionism and militarism.

How far can the tensions and imbalances go? In the long run, nothing can be ruled out. We need to understand the possible evolution of the world situation to formulate a solution to the crisis we are being dragged into by the ruling classes. There is no reason to rule out the worst hypothesis, a globalization of local conflicts or a widespread conflagration, a new world war, or rather a globalized one. The evolution of the war in Syria is another example of that as was the war in Ukraine.

The key issue is the nature and possible developments of Chinese-US relations.

A more aggressive imperialist policy of China could result from its internal contradictions, from the inability of the Chinese ruling classes to address social issues, to perpetuate the social order without providing an outlet for social discontent. We are not there, but nothing allows us to rule out the possibility that a war for global leadership may be the outcome.

The answer is conditional upon the ability of the proletariat and the peoples to intervene directly to prevent the worst from happening. The question is not to predict but to base our own strategy on the understanding of the development of class and international relations.

The ruling classes and countries face a crisis of hegemony which opens a revolutionary period. It creates the conditions for the birth of another world.

The rise of a powerful international working class

9) The world working class has grown considerably within a global labor market in which workers compete, jeopardizing the gains of the “labor aristocracy” in the old imperialist countries and undermining the material basis of reformism of the last century.

The working class is more numerous than ever: in South Korea alone, there are more wage-earners than there were in the whole world at the time of Marx. The working class forms between 80 and 90% of the population in the most industrialized countries and almost half of the world population. Overall, the number of industrial workers rose from 490 million worldwide in 1991 to 715 million in 2012 (the data is from the International Labor Organization). The industry’s rate of growth was even higher than that of services between 2004 and 2012! It is not the industrial sector that has declined, but the agricultural sector whose overall workforce has dropped from 44% to 32%. If the industrial working class has shrunk in the old capitalist powers its role in the class struggle remains preponderant. The proletarianization of services has created new wage-earning sectors in the old capitalist countries, workers who have started to struggle, in cleaning, retail and fast food companies with the Fight for 15 movement in the United States.

10) It is not true that the development of part-time work makes the working class unable to wage important struggles and play its revolutionary role. In the past, at a time when the workers’ condition was much less secure, and in the absence of big industries, the Parisian workers were able to “storm heaven” during the Paris Commune… and today, workers find a way to fight back despite all the obstacles created by the capitalist onslaught. The biggest strike in France in several decades, in terms of numbers and in length, was the 2009-2010 strike of undocumented workers. That strike involved 6 000 strikers, including 1 500 short-term contract workers, organized in a strike committee, over a period of ten months. By reorganizing industry worldwide, capitalist globalization has created new working classes in southern countries, whose strength was shown recently with the wave of strikes in China since 2010, the massive strikes in Bursa, Turkey, in 2015, the formation of important trade unions in Indonesia, the role of the trade-union movement and mass strikes in the resignation of South Korea’s Prime Minister at the end of 2016...

Never has the world’s working class had such power, one that makes it the class capable of bringing together all the oppressed to end capitalist domination. It is necessary to contribute to its political organization on the basis of class independence and to develop a systematic political intervention in relation to it. We must make our main concern the task of rebuilding or building a class consciousness.

11) “The proletariat goes through various stages of development. With its birth begins its struggle with the bourgeoisie”, wrote Marx in the Communist Manifesto describing the unceasing fight of the proletariat to organize itself “into a class, and, consequently into a political party”. Today, this fight takes place on an international scale and the proletariat’s activity is felt daily on the whole of society even if its old parties have collapsed or integrated the bourgeois order and even if its trade unions are mired in class collaboration. The competition between workers on a global scale undermines the social benefits enjoyed by workers in the most developed capitalist countries on which the bourgeoisie and the states relied in order to reach a consensus on the basis of their policies and maintain class collaboration. That era is over.

Today, the bourgeoisie and the states seek to involve the proletariat in their economic and commercial war in the name of protectionism and nationalism, of national neoliberalism.

The labor movement is on the defensive but is engaged in a long and deep process of reorganization we want to help and contribute to its organization as a class, “as a party”.

Defining a revolutionary strategy

12) Strategic questions have to be considered in a new light at a time when the proletariat is the target of a global and reactionary drive after the collapse of the political movements born from the workers’ movement and the nationalist currents that led the colonial revolutions.

The evolution of capitalism has several implications in terms of revolutionary strategy. We can try to summarize the main trends of this evolution.

It tends to undermine the material basis of reformism because it limits imperialist superprofits, which were once the cement of class collaboration at a time when we witness a considerable concentration of wealth, growing inequalities and impoverishment. Whether they serve it or not, the dictatorship of capital leaves no leeway to states or politicians who stay within the system. The tragedy of Greece and the capitulation of Tsipras illustrate this fact.

It gives internationalism a concrete expression rooted in the daily life of millions of proletarians. Social issues and international issues are perceived as much more interdependent than in the past. The increasing instability of international relations is as much the result of domestic tensions as that of the rivalry between major powers, or between major and regional powers. An instability which opens new opportunities for the intervention of the exploited classes.

The neoliberal and imperialist offensive has completely changed the old political relations even in the oldest and most stable countries of capitalist Europe. The French presidential election has illustrated this further. The parties like the institutions are fully under the control of capital, with no independence or room to manoeuvre whatsoever. The old left-right parliamentary divide is devoid of any content.

The only relevant divide is a class divide, the irreconcilable opposition between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, between the exploited classes and the capitalist class.

The fight against the rise of reactionary, nationalist, neo-fascist, or religious fundamentalist forces generated by the social decomposition produced by the policies of the capitalist classes is now the central political issue. The solution lies in a class policy for the revolutionary transformation of society.

13) Terrorism and Jihadism, the most radical forms of religious fundamentalism, spring from the policies of the great powers but are more broadly the child of liberal policies that generate poverty and exacerbate inequality as never before.

In rich countries, it would be a mistake to prioritize threats. The threat of religious fundamentalism feeds the threat of neo-fascism in western countries. Both are the enemies of progress, of democracy and freedom, enemies of the workers and the peoples they would like to dominate.

The fight against the rise of reactionary, right-wing, fascist and religious fundamentalist forces requires a global struggle against the social and political decomposition generated by the policy of the capitalist class.

Such a situation where national and international problems, social and political issues are bound together in a complex manner renders Manichean, campist or moralistic stances inadequate, if not dangerous. We fight everything that may or might, one way or another, trap us in a clash of civilizations, in communitarianism. We determine and develop our policy with the interests of the international working class in mind, a policy of class independence capable of giving substance to the democratic aspirations, solidarity, of the popular classes, against all forms of racism.

Our approach aims to reveal the objectives pursued by the great powers, the link between class-war and the war against the peoples, between global competition and international rivalries between countries.

We denounce the so-called fight against terrorism and radical Islam by the Western powers which leads to war and encourages religious fanaticism which seeks to subject populations.

We condemn these forces unambiguously and fight them, we are in solidarity with the progressive movements that oppose or resist them while denouncing at the same time the propaganda of the great powers invoking a new version of the “clash of civilizations” to justify their policy. This solidarity cannot be confused in any way with the policy of the great powers.

Our struggle for peace, democracy, for the rights of peoples is inseparable from our fight for socialism.

14) In this context of rising reactionary forces caused by the effects of capitalist globalization, women’s struggle for gender equality and women’s rights is of particular importance. It represents a major revolutionary factor. We are fully involved in all aspects of this struggle be it in the workplace or in the living places or in education. We make our own the democratic demands against male domination and the patriarchal family, a corollary of private property, which is a form of oppression and domination of women and youth more and more at odds with the modern world and social progress.

Women are the first victims of exploitation as well as the victims of the devastating consequences of neoliberal globalization. At the same time, more and more women are wage earners. Their struggle is that of all the exploited and oppressed people. Far from dividing oppressed people, far from opposing the women’s and men’s struggles, we campaign for the entire labor movement to make feminist struggles its own, for the political and social emancipation of women. The two struggles are one and the same. If the woman is the proletarian in the home, men can only be truly emancipated when they treat women as their equals.

The struggle for gender equality is inseparable from the struggle against fundamentalism and prejudice promoted by religions, all of which justify and support the subordination of women.

15) Our solidarity with the peoples cannot appeal to the so-called “international community” nor the UN, whose role is to provide a democratic screen to the policies of great powers, a role which is increasingly neglected. Our position is to underline again and again the necessary solidarity between the workers and the peoples. It is the only way to put an end to the aggressive and militaristic policies of the great powers that manipulate the peoples and set them against each other.

Being an internationalist means striving to define an independent policy for the working class combined with the struggle against our own bourgeoisie.

16) The experiences made and the results of the strategy of building “broad parties”, without clear programmatic and strategic delimitations lead us to question it. Such a strategy was based on the perspective of a process of recomposition that could have been boosted by the collapse of the former USSR and Communist parties. Independently of the assessment that we can have of it, it no longer takes into account the new trends of the period.

This evolution underlines the idea that to get rid of this odious dominant order the working class needs to organize and fight capitalism utterly, and to commit itself to a revolutionary transformation of society.

The experience of the workers’ movement of at least a century and a half teaches us that this struggle demands a party that is both radical and well-formed, having endorsed the conceptions of Marxism, in short a socialist, revolutionary communist party.

There is no third way. Either the workers or organized youth are aware not only of the threats that the continuity of capitalism poses to all mankind but also of the necessity and possibility for the working-class to conquer the right to decide and to control the future of society, in a word, power, or society will be caught in the trap of the various dead-ends of reformism as it has been repeatedly paving the way for the reactionary forces, for the far right.

A revolutionary party cannot be proclaimed. It is formed in the struggles and will only play a decisive role when it becomes a mass party and has the political and organizational means of putting forward a consistent revolutionary orientation, of organizing mass struggles and of leading broad sectors of the working class.

If struggles and mobilisations are the necessary conditions for the growth of revolutionary forces, this development requires an organized nucleus, united by a common consciousness based on the vision of the future of human society, on a transitional approach and program.

Aware that this mass party cannot be the result of a linear development of any small organization whatsoever, we seek to bring together and unite the revolutionary forces, organizations and militants who fight against capital and the bourgeois order, for the abolition of the capitalist system and for socialism.

We know the price paid by the exploited class because of reformist illusions, the dangers represented by the various reformist ways, including their modern form of leftist populism. We know that the proletariat has always paid dearly for the experiences of the impasses of reformism. Consequently, our efforts of political and organizational regroupment can in no way allow any misunderstanding: an association of revolutionary and reformist forces can ultimately only weaken the strength of our program and our intervention. At best, this can lead to centrist organizations, which are also incapable of building a revolutionary party ready to seize power. Failing to have the strength and the will to put forward a revolutionary perspective, we adapt to electoral policies at the risk of postponing indefinitely our objective of overthrowing the capitalist system.

Experiments with so-called broad parties (including revolutionary and reformist parties) have nowhere contributed to the creation of a revolutionary party, a prerequisite for the decisive struggle of the working class. Being clear about what we want is a sine qua non for regrouping revolutionary forces, training cadres, convincing newly politicized forces and converging greater forces into common fronts, into new organizations and - ultimately - a mass revolutionary party.

Moving in this direction implies that we should define the central elements of a transitional program for the twenty-first century and its declination according to the different regions of the world, especially at the level of Europe, and from there, the bases and the framework from which we could combine construction policy and initiatives for regrouping anti-capitalists and revolutionaries.

It is a political and programmatic work which can only be collective and requires time and energy but it is an indispensable and unavoidable task.

17) The great global shift is no mere rhetorical formula. It is written in drama and blood and forces us to reconsider everything. How can we help emerge a revolutionary movement on a national, European and international level? The question is raised again in new terms.

We must promote a strategy to regroup anti-capitalist and revolutionary forces on the basis of a program for the revolutionary transformation of society, rooted in the basic demands of the exploited, the guarantee of decent wages and pensions, the end of unemployment by the sharing of work among everyone, the defence of public services, which raises the question of the conquest of power to cancel the debt, of the creation of a public banking monopoly and the socialization of the major industrial and commercial groups.

If this strategy and this program are adapted to each situation and country, they are organized around a transitional approach that raises the question of the workers’ and the population’s power, that of the 99 %, to abolish the debt and to ensure that banks and multinationals can do no further harm.

We must identify from past defeats and setbacks as well as from current upheavals the elements that contribute to the revolutionary transformation of society, to help the independent organization of the working class to enable it to express the social, democratic, ecological demands of other social classes, of all society.

In response to the ravages of globalization, the reactionary forces exploit the despair and fear of the working classes to develop their xenophobic and nationalist propaganda. At the opposite, we must unify the working class against capitalism and its institutions.

We work for the unity of the exploited classes, their organizations on the basis of this class independence.

We are well aware what difficulties we face. The collapse of the old parties born from the struggles of the workers’ movement sows demoralization, disorientation and disarray while the bourgeois and reactionary forces are on the offensive. But we believe that in this context of fragmentation of the anti-capitalist and revolutionary forces the IV has an important role to play.

Building a new international, regrouping the anticapitalists and the revolutionaries

18) The Fourth International, like all other international groupings, cannot claim to represent by itself the future of the revolutionary movement. It must strive to build other regroupings in order to pave the way for a new revolutionary international.

The future depends on those who want to gather revolutionary forces in the same movement by breaking with the past sectarian and undemocratic practices that have divided the revolutionary movement.

In the short and medium term, the great instability in the world opens opportunities the new anti-capitalist and revolutionary movement must seize.

We cannot embody revolutionary internationalism alone. We must seek to bring together revolutionaries from different traditions, based on a shared understanding of the situation and tasks.

To help the gathering of forces claiming to be revolutionary Marxists we need to work on the development of strategic and programmatic answers for the movement as a whole, to put on the agenda the discussion of a socialist program, a revolutionary communist one.

Beyond the diversity of tactics adopted by the revolutionaries in the construction of their party depending on countries and situations, building revolutionary parties, parties for the seizure of power, for socialism and communism remains the strategic objective.


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Seize the Opportunities, build an international for revolution



Let’s seize the opportunities, and build an international


for revolution and communism


Thursday 27 July 2017

This text was submitted by IC members Manos (Greece), Jeff M. (SA USA) and supported at the IC by permanent guests: Gaël, Mathilde (NPA and French section).

We leading members of FI sections submit this text, in order to present an alternative to the documents proposed by the majority of the IC. The alternative platform is meant to be put to the vote in all national congresses preparing the incoming World Congress, and in the World Congress itself.

We want to build this alternative with all comrades in the FI, whose views are similar to those that we have collectively expressed in the document below, which we have submitted to the IC of February 2017. We also want to discuss with all those that share our concerns about the future of our International, even if they don’t completely share our formulations. This is why we call for a conference in Paris, on November 11-12, where all comrades who agree with our basic views, as expressed below, are warmly invited to work on an alternative platform. We invite all those comrades to contact us for this purpose.

In such a historic circumstance, the next World Congress has to be a really political debate, involving all members and sections of the FI. This is why, all documents have to be discussed in national congresses or conferences in all countries, put to the vote and be proportionally represented among the delegates in the World Congress, and the FI Bureau should help organize this process.

I- The current state of the Fourth International

A) The “broad parties” policy: balance sheet of a catastrophe

The FI leadership replaced the strategic goal of building revolutionary parties with the building of “broad parties”. A century after the Russian Revolution, some ask: Is the principle “no revolution without a revolutionary party” outdated? We do not believe it is. Over the last few congresses, the FI leadership has been explicitly aiming at building “broad” parties, without clear programmatic and strategic boundaries. What are the results of this policy?

In recent times, we’ve seen major failures. In the Spanish state, Anticapitalistas is preparing to form a joint majority with Pablo Iglesias, thus adapting to a bureaucratic leadership that explicitly seeks to govern in the framework of capitalist institutions. By trying to gain electoral or mainstream media influence, we are led to sacrifice our goal — the overthrow of the capitalist system.

The Syriza experiment was embraced to such an extent that the Greek FI section, which refused to support it, was even accused in the IC of being counterrevolutionary. Syriza was presented as a model for some time, yet it amounted to a catastrophe. It was introduced as an “anti-austerity” party and government. But it revealed itself to be a destructive machine against workers and the people. The worst onslaught we have seen in decades has been led by Syriza against youth and the working class.

But these are only two examples in a series of catastrophes, and no serious analysis of these disasters has been undertaken to help draw conclusions. The list of failures is long: in Brazil, the FI section participated in the Lula government; in Italy, the FI comrades supported in Parliament the formation of a Prodi government and voted for the war budget; in Portugal, the section recently supported the SP government agenda. The common feature in all these failures is the support of political forces or governments acting in the framework of capitalist management, resulting in the dislocation of the FI sections.

The policy of building “broad parties” instead of revolutionary parties did indeed lead to the dissolution of our forces into reformist coalitions. Indeed, why build a revolutionary current if there is no revolutionary communist program to stand up for? The situation is alarming. Over the years we have seen FI sections disappear, dissolve or adapt at an accelerating rate. Our ability to defend either the principle of class independence or to maximize the ability of our social class to act independently from the bourgeoisie and its State, is undermined when support is given to a politician linked to a bourgeois party, like Bernie Sanders, or to a personality with no ties to the labour movement, like Pablo Iglesias.

B) “New situation, new program...” or the present relevance of the revolution and a revolutionary communist program?

Why has the FI leadership been steadily pursuing this policy for years in spite of the series of failures? It implicitly gave up on the relevance of revolution, seeing it as something to be accomplished in the distant future. In its view, the balance of forces is so unfavourable that the task of the hour is to rebuild an elementary class consciousness, based on the struggles of the oppressed in reaction to the ruling class onslaught. There is no need for a revolutionary compass, no need for an organized battle for a transitional program, and no need for a communist program. It is sufficient for them to regroup all those who are ready to resist, reformists and revolutionaries alike, to slowly accumulate experience and strength, and to wait for better days. In order to accomplish that goal, the adequate tool is indeed the “broad party”.

This becomes a justification for allying everywhere with social forces who are not even reformist in the classic meaning of the term. They look to forces with no communist programmatic basis and with no social basis in the working class.

Yet the present relevance and necessity of a revolutionary program was demonstrated by the revolutionary processes south of the Mediterranean Sea and by the situation in Greece: the rising and more radical forms of class conflict call for revolutionary responses. Wasn’t it absolutely necessary to stand for the abolition of the debt, the nationalization of the banks and key sectors of the economy under workers’ control? These demands are not reserved for contemplation in history books of the Russian Revolution. The FI leadership did not support its Greek section who, with its modest forces, tried to implement such a revolutionary policy. This of course implied a political battle against the Syriza leadership. That precise battle wasn’t waged. In the name of the necessity of a “new program” and “new parties” adapted to the “new situation”, the FI leadership supported Alexis Tsipras right up to the 11th hour (quote from the FI declaration of August 2015). The example of Greece is extremely telling. It demonstrates the impossibility of reformism as a solution in periods of capitalist crisis. Not only did the Syriza-led government prove to be one of the harshest of bourgeois governments, but Syriza itself switched almost totally, in just about one year, from left reformism to bourgeois social democracy. The formation of the government along with the nationalist bourgeois ANEL party — which was never protested by those who later formed the Popular Unity party, currently the party that the FI leadership supports in Greece — the inclusion in it of many former political and administrative personnel from both main bourgeois parties, ND and PASOK, and above all the break with the vast majority of its youth and militant base, have irreversibly changed the character of Syriza party. This is a fate that is shared by all reformist parties that wish to handle the crisis inside the framework of capitalism, despite the intentions of their leadership. This is a conclusion that the FI leadership never reached. Instead, it refers to an unexplained "capitulation" of Tsipras, deprived of any class content. The practical consequence is the FI leaders’ eagerness to repeat the same mistakes. It continues to ally with and to adapt to Iglesias’ policy today, via the majority of the Spanish section.

C) A militant deficiency and a serious democratic problem

FI International Committee meetings are now reduced to debates of analysis of no practical consequence. The debates go on without any internationally coordinated campaign being defined or planned. Yet, all around the world we have comrades leading struggles in direct confrontation with capitalism. Theoretical discussions must be informed by practice: balance sheets of the sections’ activities should feed the discussion. The confrontation of ideas should lead to defining common tasks. Without common goals, on an international scale, and without political and material mutual support, it is impossible to grow our organizations beyond a certain point in each country. But above all, our international has to be more than a discussion club; it must be a tool for revolutionary action. Tackling the political problems of worldwide class struggle together, and thinking about the problems we encounter in each of our countries, and trying solve them together – that is what a “world party” should do. Building such an international party, at least taking steps in that direction is today’s task.

The recent expulsion by the majority of the Spanish State section of the Anticapitalistas minority, which enjoyed 20 per cent support at the last congress, and which now constitutes IZAR, reveals a serious democratic problem. The leadership refuses to allow criticism of the majority orientation of the Fourth International. Worse, the refusal to allow the Spanish minority current to address the IC, on the pretext of a veto by the section, is contrary to all of our principles of workers’ democracy. That includes the possibility of defending oneself in the process of an expulsion. The principle exists in many reformist organizations. But it didn’t exist in the FI for the IZAR comrades. So it became acceptable for the majority of a section to expel its minority at will... without any opportunity of appeal. Fortunately the majority of the French section comrades, members of the NPA, do not hold this authoritarian view of political differences and did not act that way towards its minority! Our Socialist Action Canada comrades were expelled, and still are victims of the same kind of exclusion now. Of course there is a political logic at work behind those expulsions. Basic democratic rules are cast aside when it concerns comrades who disagree, to the left of the leadership’s policy. At the same time, heads of the FI favour working with groups outside of the International, and apply pressure on the section to isolate it, as happened in Greece. The FI leadership often introduces our international organization as the “most democratic” international tendency. Indeed, confronted with situations of split caused by political differences, the IST in the Spanish State and the IWL in Brazil showed more openness by maintaining, in both cases, relations with the various groups that emerged from the splits.

We cannot avoid drawing the balance sheet of the policy advocated by the majority at the latest (2010) congress of the FI. The next IC must set the date and launch the discussion leading to the world congress, which must be held in 2018.

II- A situation with opportunities for the revolutionaries and for communist ideas to grow stronger

We do not share the FI leadership’s appreciation of the current situation. While it does feature an increasingly violent onslaught by the bourgeoisie, it is nonetheless contradictory and holds possibilities for revolutionary communists to be heard and to gain strength.

A) The tendency of the rate of profit to fall: the root of the crisis

The fundamental problem for capitalists still is the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. The ecological crisis is combined with the economic crisis, and thus capitalism is in a situation of protracted crisis, which it cannot escape spontaneously. To restore the rate of profit, capitalists are forced to turn their mode of domination upside down, by inflicting an historical defeat on the working class. That is the meaning of the ongoing capitalist onslaught. Inter-imperialist tensions are rising and military interventions are multiplying. The number of refugees is exploding, racism and xenophobia are openly encouraged by the governments of every great power. Barbarism is not just a predictable possibility for the future; it is the reality for a major part of humanity.

B) Traditional leaderships and the “new reformism” — Adapting to the current capitalist onslaught

Far from fighting the capitalist offensive, the labor movement traditional leaderships are adapting to it. Social-democracy is completely integrated into the state apparatus and the leaders that arose from Stalinism go along with the national bourgeoisie’s policies.

The massive retreat of the social democracy and labor party-type formations is not limited to Europe. It is worldwide. In Canada, for example, we saw the trade union-linked New Democratic Party (NDP) leadership pledge, in the campaign culminating in the October 2015 federal election, a "balanced budget" come-what-may. Implementation of that policy would prevent an NDP government from reversing most of the harsh austerity measures introduced by the previous Stephen Harper-led Conservative Party regime. The political default of the NDP, and the "strategic voting" stance of much of the union bureaucracy, funnelled workers’ discontent with austerity into a victory for the Liberal Party of Justin Trudeau, which briefly feinted to the left of the NDP.

As far as the so-called “populist” currents in South America go, they demonstrated their inability to change the situation to any important degree, and they reject any clear break with imperialism and domestic capital.

The so-called “new reformisms” are a symptom of rising political awareness, a reflection of the rise of struggles. But Syriza’s policy in power shows the extent to which these forces adapted to capitalism in crisis, in record time, and are ready to implement the bourgeois agenda themselves, even lacking the mass working class roots the “old” reformists had acquired.

The anarchist or autonomous currents manage to channel part of the youth revolt. We must have a policy to address these currents, sometimes with possibilities of tactical agreements with some of them. In any case, we should not abandon the field of radicalism to them, while explaining why their policy is at an impasse.

C) Chronic instability of the system, mass resistance and politicization

The balance of forces is very unfavourable to us. But mass resistance shakes every continent. The crisis of the system feeds a chronic political instability.

The brutality of the capitalist onslaught feeds phenomena of social and political regression. The traditional left, when it comes to power, leads the capitalist onslaught, thus opening a space for the far-right. But this is far from being the majority sentiment in the working class. In the electoral base of these far-right currents, we can nonetheless find a significant number of workers, who have been among the first victims of capitalism. A solid fightback of the working class, winning significant victories, could regain many of those who have been temporarily captivated by far-right demagogy.

The effect of the onslaught, in the context of crisis, is not one-sided. It also spurs mass resistance movements and a new politicization. The dynamic of polarization is well illustrated by Trump’s election. Although he symbolizes the increasingly reactionary policy of the ruling class, he was elected in a situation where mobilizations are on the rise and the interest in socialist ideas is higher than in decades inside the main global power. In the same way, worldwide possibilities for social explosions and collective struggles are rising.

Among significant sectors of youth and the working class, there is a perception that this is a rotten system leading to failure. Most of the time, struggling masses know what they do not want anymore, and have profound disgust for the capitalist system, without knowing with what to replace it, and how. But we are not only observing struggles as a mechanical response to the attacks, but also processes of accumulation of experience, politicization, regroupment and organization. Massive national mobilizations against the challenge to the Labor Law in France, the struggle of low-wage workers for the right to form a union and win a $15/hour minimum wage, and the rise of Black Lives Matter in the United States, the unprecedented student mobilizations in Quebec, the massive workers’ strikes in Asia, particularly in China and India, are renowned. But we also see the renewed interest in socialism illustrated by Jeremy Corbyn’s double leadership victory in the British Labour Party, and the renewed interest in socialist ideas in the United States. All these signs indicate that the elements for anti-capitalist awareness are present. It is, nonetheless, a very uneven and limited process. Currents hostile to socialism are reaping the fruits of the deep discontent. The electoral audience of the FIT in Argentina, the recomposition of the union movement in South Africa, despite the limitations of both experiences, and above all, the renewed interest in “socialism” in the United States indicate that anti-capitalist ideas can acquire a mass audience.

III - The working class always plays a central role

A commonly held view in militant circles feeds scepticism concerning the present relevance of revolution. It contends that the neo-liberal onslaught supposedly eliminated full time work and weakened the working class so badly that it no longer plays a central role.

In fact, the working class is globally more numerous today than ever. In South Korea alone there are as many wage-earners today than there were in the whole world at the time of Karl Marx. The working class, which in our view is composed of wage workers who do not exercise management power, today constitutes between 80 and 90 per cent of the population in the most industrialized countries, and almost half of the total global population.

Globally, the number of industrial workers worldwide went from 490 million in 1991 to 715 million in 2012 (ILO data). Industry even grew faster than services between 2004 and 2012! The industrial sector did not shrink, but the agricultural sector did, from 44 to 32 per cent of the global workforce.

It is true that the industrial working class dropped numerically inside the old capitalist powers. But its role in class struggle is far from being secondary, as was proved for example by railroad and oil refinery workers in France in the mass strikes of 2010 and 2016. And the proletarianization of services created new wage-earning sectors in the old capitalist metropolises who recently proved their combativity. Cleaning workers, for example in the historic strikes in Netherlands in 2010 and 2012, and retail and fast-food workers involved in the Fight for $15 movement in the United States, reflect this trend.

It is not true that the rise of part-time work made the working class unable to lead significant struggles and play a revolutionary role. In the past, much less job security and the absence of big industries did not stop the Parisian workers from taking power during the Commune of 1871. Today, workers find the path to mobilization in spite of the obstacles created by the capitalist onslaught. The biggest strike in decades in France, biggest in numbers and length, was the strike of undocumented workers in 2009-2010, which involved 6000 strikers, including 1500 short-term contract workers organized in a strike committee, over 10 months. The 2009 general strike in Guadeloupe showed the ability of workers to unite the oppressed and threaten the power elite.

By reorganizing industry worldwide, capitalist globalization created new working classes in the southern countries, whose potential was shown by the recent mobilizations: the wave of strikes happening in China since 2010, the 2015 massive strikes in Bursa, Turkey, the formation of mass militant unions in Indonesia, the role of the union movement and of mass strikes demanding the resignation of South Korea’s Prime Minister in late 2016.

These struggles develop, for the most part, despite the union leaders. For these struggles to end up challenging the system, it is necessary to rebuild a worldwide class struggle workers’ leadership. Building a class struggle wing of the labor movement, independent of the official union leaderships, particularly able to launch the building of organs of self-organization, strike committees, is a central task for a revolutionary international. Differentiation or breaks inside the labor movement indicate the opening of new possibilities. Examples include the process of creation of a new union confederation, breaking with the ANC in South Africa, differentiation inside the CGT in France, and discussions on the prospect of forming a class struggle “workers’ block” after the Labour Law Reform movement.

If we take into account all these factors, the global working class never had such a potentially powerful role. Every sector of the working class does not have the same objective weight in the production apparatus and is not able to play the same role. And we have to take that into account in our efforts to organize and recruit. But the revolutionaries have to take seriously the central role of the working class, and develop a solid political intervention in relation to it. This task should be taken on not only by the national sections, but be the subject of regular discussions at the international level.

IV- Our proposals

A) Building revolutionary vanguard parties — the present relevance of Leninism

Here is how Lenin in Left Wing Communism, An Infantile Disorder defined party discipline, how a party of cadres for the revolution is built, the opposite of the Stalinist caricature:

“The first questions to arise are: how is the discipline of the proletariat’s revolutionary party maintained? How is it tested? How is it reinforced? First, by the class-consciousness of the proletarian vanguard and by its devotion to the revolution, by its tenacity, self-sacrifice and heroism. Second, by its ability to link up, maintain the closest contact, and—if you wish—merge, in certain measure, with the broadest masses of the working people—primarily with the proletariat, but also with the non-proletarian masses of working people. Third, by the correctness of the political leadership exercised by this vanguard, by the correctness of its political strategy and tactics, provided the broad masses have seen, from their own experience, that they are correct. Without these conditions, discipline in a revolutionary party really capable of being the party of the advanced class, whose mission it is to overthrow the bourgeoisie and transform the whole of society, cannot be achieved. Without these conditions, all attempts to establish discipline inevitably fall flat and end up in phrase-mongering and clowning. On the other hand, these conditions cannot emerge at once. They are created only by prolonged effort and hard-won experience. Their creation is facilitated by a correct revolutionary theory, which, in its turn, is not a dogma, but assumes final shape only in close connection with the practical activity of a truly mass and truly revolutionary movement.”

“No revolution without a revolutionary party.” This means that beyond the diversity of tactics revolutionaries may adopt in building their party according to the country and the situation, building revolutionary parties, parties to take the power and for communism, is still the strategic goal.

In order to build revolutionary organizations who are not content with proclaiming principles, our goal is to build a party of cadres capable of giving life to the programmatic principles, which means trying to give each of our members the means to acquire the highest possible level of education, to be able to play a part in the destruction of capitalism and the building of another society. But education must be consistent with our political militant practice. To be able to get rid of the system that generates exploitation and oppression, we have to narrow the gap between the private sphere and the public sphere as much as we can. That gap is the product of the capitalist system we live in. Against that logic of “separation”, we consciously pursue the prospect of revolution and are consistent in our choices and ways of life. It’s the complete opposite of individual frustration. On the contrary, it is a freely agreed emancipation and association against the dominant ideology disseminated by the state, school and family. It is designed to regroup in order to reach a common goal — the destruction of the capitalist system, based on exploitation and oppression, to build another society, the communist society.

Seeking to plant roots in the working class and in oppressed sectors is instrumental. It must be systematically discussed and conducted with dedicated tools. The present relevance of the insurrectionary general strike as the main “strategical hypothesis” in most of the world, our analysis of the central role of the working class thus must have immediate consequences in practice, in our sections and internationally. What does it mean? It means that we have an active approach to gaining a base in the key sectors of the capitalist economy. An effort must be made in that direction, in each section, but also that the International should help to reach that goal, and participate in the effort. Through theoretical input, but also centralization of information. It also means that we systematically develop an independent political intervention to address our class.

Every revolutionary must think about how we can fight back against both the austerity policies and the capitalist-patriarchal system. The only way to defend our social achievements and to gain new ones is still the mobilization of the working class and the youth. Every social achievement has been reached as a result of the mobilization. Twentieth-century history demonstrates it. Workers’ and women’s rights have not been gained at the polls but through strikes and demonstrations. In that sense, our main task is to re-build class consciousness. The most effective way to do so is still by the struggle of the working class interest against that of the bourgeoisie. Rallies, demonstrations, occupations, assemblies, strikes — those are still the best tools for raising the consciousness of the oppressed. This does not mean that we ignore parliamentary elections. But we do subordinate them to mobilization. In our strategy, the elections cannot be a goal but a means for strengthening our class’s mobilization towards raising class consciousness. The workers and the youth must adopt the struggle against every kind of oppression and link it to their struggle for class emancipation. For doing so, it is necessary that the working-class mass organizations include in their platforms elements like equal pay for equal work, respect for LGBTQI rights and the socialization of domestic labour.

The strategic hypothesis we advance to end capitalism and patriarchy is a non-stop series of mobilizations that make the working class aware of the necessity of taking power for real social change. Strikes are not a fetish but an essential route to raise workers’ reliance on their own potential power. Strikes are "schools of class struggle" because they are moments in which the working class can self-organize. It is by means of conflict that workers create automatic responses and mechanisms to resist the bourgeoisie’s policies. Revolutionaries should not ignore today’s struggles, even if they are small. To the contrary, we must take part in them. Therefore, we need to find solutions to our deficiency in having a strong presence within the working class and taking part in its battles.

A revolutionary International that does not prioritize youth is doomed to disappear

Youth still plays the role of tactical vanguard. The theory developed by Ernest Mandel is still relevant today. Whether we look at the processes of the Arab revolutions, or at the mobilizations in Latin America, in Mexico and Chile, or in France in the mobilization against the CPE, and in all likelihood soon in the USA with the anti-Trump mobilizations, we see this. Its role in struggles is always paramount, and recruiting youth is plainly vital for any revolutionary organization. To be consistent with that stance, we reaffirm our current’s theoretical, practical, and militant hallmarks. We stand up for youth autonomy, an autonomy subordinated to the proletariat and its historical interests but with forms of organization that are not independent but autonomous from the labor movement organizations and the parties we build. So we set as a goal, when it is possible, the building of revolutionary youth organizations. The youth sectors in our parties are a mediation to achieve that goal. We should also have a specific orientation to address students. It is a part of youth that actively participates in the overturns during revolutionary processes. So the international youth camp plays a fundamental role for this policy. But it should not become a space where voicing disagreement with the FI leadership is excluded. Forbidding the participation of the NPA youth sector in the last camp shows a worrisome theoretical and practical/political weakness. Similarly disturbing was the refusal to allow four IZAR comrades into the camp to have a workshop. Some of them have been building the FI for 15 years. They had to host their workshop in the parking lot, with over 70 young comrades who wanted to understand, debate and share, in attendance. These episodes are symptomatic of a paralyzing and fearful sectarianism. It is a de facto form of mis-education, as young comrades become accustomed to such exclusionary practices on the pretext of ideological purity and struggle against “factionalism”.

There is no Chinese Wall between the project for the society we advocate, communism, and the party we are trying to build. There has to be consistency between those two forms. Our party won’t be an island of communism because it lives and develops in a framework of social relations determined by patriarchy and the capitalist system. But we must get as close as we can to our goal. This of course regards the relations between members, which have to abide by democratic principles and not contradict our program of struggle against all oppression. But beyond that, it is the freely agreed association of men and women struggling for communism and abiding by relations which cannot be in contradiction with these emancipation principles. We oppose every form of “separation” forged by Capital between intellectual work and manual work, between men and women, between nationals and foreigners, between the private and public spheres. We reject every form of taboo inside the organization, but instead build a programmatic and practical/militant unity of all the comrades, through debate and verification in practice.

B) Advocating for a transitional program for the 21st century

The FI should advocate a set of key measures, a transitional approach, starting with everyday issues and demands, linking them to the question of power and to the aspiration for a new society. Eventually, the connection of the current struggles is established to the aim of challenging the pillars of the capitalist system.

A primary focus of this program is the expropriation of the key sectors of the economy. The bank crisis and bail-outs provided a new opportunity to explain and popularize the need for bank nationalization. Company bankruptcies, massive lay-offs, and the struggles to which they give rise, also offer an occasion to bring the struggle for workers’ control up to date and explain the need to requisition the great means of production, distribution and exchange. A transitional approach is embodied in the demand “No layoffs, for workers’ control over hiring.”

Fossil and mineral resources are not infinite. The maximum peak of extraction will soon be reached. Capitalism with its structural logic aims always to increase consumption — to utilize more raw materials and energy. The goal of capitalism is to always produce more and maximize profit. Capitalism cannot be “green”. Capitalism destroys the environment and species. It destroys our planet. But, once again, there cannot be a consistent ecological policy without a consistent struggle against capitalism and without understanding that the only subject able to end capitalism, and the ecological disaster it provokes, is the working class. If we share this analysis, we should draw the conclusions from it, in terms of our social basis, our intervention and our orientation. Indeed, the working class, allied with other sectors, is the one force, in the face of the ecological catastrophe, that is capable of imposing a program of anti-capitalist ecological transition. Such a transition will focus on replacing fossil and nuclear energy with green, sustainable alternatives, and on the need for a worldwide planned economy.

The capitalist world still is structured and organized by imperialism whose interests are never bound by any commitment to any people. This is notwithstanding the fact that Capital can sporadically choose to support a specific struggle with its own methods and goals.

Anti-imperialism should be a central focus of our propaganda and activity. We are against all imperialist interventions and for the withdrawal of all imperialist troops. By standing in solidarity with, for example, the Kurdish people, we do not avoid pointing to the central responsibility of imperialism for the development of reactionary currents such as ISIS, and for the horrendous conditions experienced by the peoples of the region. Even so, recognizing that the reactionary currents also have their own logic and autonomy, we participate in demonstrations to defend the Kurdish people, while linking our unconditional defence with our clear-cut rejection of imperialist intervention. That is why we do not endorse calls to action that ask our government to provide weapons to the Kurds. We do not foster the illusion that our bourgeoisie could defend the peoples of the region.

Facing our own imperialism, it is not our role to create illusions on the theme: arms, not bombs. That is exactly what happened when the Red Green Alliance members of parliament voted for the war budget on the pretext that it would allow sending weapons, but who were very quickly faced with the second step, the only important one for the Danish government, and the others, sending Danish F-16 jets which are today bombing Iraq, in alliance with France and the United States.

Insurgent working classes will have to confront both “their own” national state apparatus and international imperialist institutions such as the European Union. “The main enemy is at home" means that we fight simultaneously against the international imperialist coalitions in which "our own" bourgeois class takes part. While firmly opposed to any nationalist, capitalist alternative, we know that an anti-capitalist revolutionary policy is incompatible with membership in the EU.

We know that the struggle against imperialism, racism, austerity and capitalist domination is not a struggle to be waged only at the level of a single country. But neither can it be waged without breaking with the capitalist policies of the EU, the ECB, with European finance capital, with the xenophobic, anti-immigrant policies of “fortress-Europe”. To attack the national bourgeoisie’s power is to break with all the institutions of the EU. Against the Europe of the Troïka we defend international solidarity, we strive for a free socialist alliance of the workers and peoples of Europe.

Inseparable from the imposition of worldwide austerity is the corresponding rise in imperialist wars and interventions. Led by U.S. imperialism, the world’s sole superpower, and its historic imperial European counterparts, we are almost daily witness to wars of saturation bombing, mass murder, wars of privatized or mercenary armies, drone wars, sanction and embargo wars, and near-secret wars, as is the case with the U.S. Africa Command’s re-colonizing and plundering of Africa. French imperialism too, as well as other former European colonizing powers, increasingly intervene in Africa and elsewhere to maintain and expand their interests.

There are no “humanitarian wars” conducted by the imperialist beast. There never have been. The term itself is repulsive to revolutionaries, whose raison d’etre is opposition to all imperialist interventions and wars. Unconditional support for the right of oppressed nations and peoples to self-determination is a fundamental revolutionary socialist principle. The FI must unconditionally reject any and all calls on imperialism to aid in the defeat of local tyrants and dictators. Such “aid” inevitably comes with strings attached – lethal strings that are more akin to the hanging rope than to any kind of “benign” or “democratic” assistance.

The liberation of the oppressed can only be achieved through their own independent mass organizations and through the construction, in time and regardless of the difficult circumstances, of revolutionary socialist parties of the Leninist type. Rejection of imperialist intervention in all its variations is the prerequisite for successful national liberation struggles, and for all other gains. Free from the imperialist yoke, oppressed nations are best positioned to determine their own future and to effectively challenge their own bourgeoisie.

In the face of imperialism’s incessant wars of conquest, the FI’s central demands should focus on “Bring the Troops Home Now!” and “Right to self-determination for all oppressed nations!”

We defend the peoples’ right to self-determination. But we do not follow the leadership of any national bourgeoisie, even if it comes from an oppressed nation. In the oppressed nations we support a balance between the democratic fight for the right to self-determination and the fight for a society without classes. It means that, according to our strategy, the struggle for national freedom can be useful for working class emancipation only when led by the working class itself. Thus, we fight for working class independence from the bourgeoisie in the oppressed nations. For example, the struggle for the right to self-determination of the nations oppressed by the Spanish State would be useful if linked to the fight against capitalism and lead by our class.

This program is not an electoral platform, a program for government. It can only be realized by a joint mobilization of the working class and the oppressed, bringing a Workers’ Government to power, to destroy the bourgeois state by relying on self-organized organs arising from the mobilization of our class in alliance with all sectors of the oppressed.

C) Building a revolutionary international

We insist, we have to set as a goal the building of a militant international, an organization capable of leading internationally coordinated campaigns. Even with modest forces, an organization based in several countries, acting in coordination, can magnify the effectiveness of its political intervention.

Our international must renew its discussion of a revolutionary communist program that addresses the reality of 21st century capitalism, instead of holding disjointed theoretical discussions with no real link to political practice.

We, alone, cannot embody the revolutionary communist international. We must try to unite revolutionaries from various traditions, based on an agreement on the current situation and the tasks. It is through common practice that political discussions may lead to principled unity. Regroupment of revolutionaries internationally should be one of the goals to be discussed in the FI. Building a revolutionary international capable of having a significant influence will not happen only by recruiting to our organization. The FI should invite other revolutionary national or international groups to start discussing the need for a common response to the crisis of capitalism, common campaigns, and to address what type of organization can and should be built.

We know that a policy of seeking discussion with militants from other political traditions won’t lead to unity in the short term. We realize that leaders of each of the various Trotskyist “internationals” are convinced that they are correct in their programmatic, strategic and tactical stance. Moreover, it is the rule that each group is convinced of the need to build an “international” around its own group exclusively. Even so, we have to recognize that we won’t build an international for revolution and communism simply by primitive accumulation around our own nucleus. There is always something to learn from the various Trotskyist revolutionary traditions, and even from forces beyond that sphere. There are different experiences and activists of value in many currents and organizations. It is through theoretical and programmatic debates, in creative combination with intervention in the field of class struggle, that the national and international explosions, regroupments and recomposition of forces will occur.

Temporary conclusion

This contribution is the basis of a first unified effort to launch a debate leading to the next FI world congress. We defend the present relevance of an international that grasps the opportunities in the present situation, and that builds an international for revolution and communism. Based on the political key points of this contribution, we want to foster a broad debate addressed to revolutionary currents both inside and outside of the FI. We will advocate our ideas at the International Committee meeting, and beyond, anticipating and insisting that the next FI congress, which cannot reasonably be postponed any longer, and really must be held in 2018! From that point of view, we will initiate a debate with every FI comrade and section willing to communicate with us. We intend that this debate be respectful of differences, and for the unfolding process to help reinforce our international in a context of global capitalist crisis. To that end, we will organize an international conference as a further step in that direction, and to promote a political regroupment inside the FI in relation to providing an alternative to the current FI majority. Our over-riding aim is to build a political current as broadly as possible to defend the prospect and to affirm the present relevance of building an international for revolution and communism.

Submitted to the FI by :

Xavier Guessou, Comité Politique National NPA, Armelle Pertus, Comité Exécutif NPA, Gaël Quirante, Comité Exécutif NPA, Juliette Stein, Comité Politique National NPA, Jeff Mackler, National secretary Socialist Action, Michael Schreiber, editor, Socialist Action newspaper , Christine Marie, political committee, Socialist Action, Kleanthis Antoniou, Political Bureau OKDE-Spartakos, Taxiarhis Efstathiou, Central Committee OKDE-Spartakos, National Coordination Body ANTARSYA, General Council of ADEDY (public sector workers’ national confederation), Fani Oikonomidou, Political Bureau OKDE-Spartakos, Manos Skoufoglou, Central Committee OKDE-Spartakos, Central Coordination Committee ANTARSYA, Kostas Skordoulis, Control Commission OKDE-Spartakos,

A number of FI comrades from various countries have already expressed their support to the views expressed above. Not all of them have been permitted by the FI Bureau to formally sign the text, as they are not formally members of FI sections, in most cases (Spanish State, Canada) because they have been undemocratically excluded from those sections. Since they are still comrades of the FI political project and since they have participated in its elaboration, we have to mention their names here.

Mariajo Teruel, dirección política estatal (IZAR-Malaga), Javier Castillo, dirección política estatal (IZAR-Madrid), Tomás Martínez, dirección política estatal (IZAR-Almería), Rubén Quirante, dirección política estatal (IZAR-Granada), Barry Weisleder, federal secretary, Socialist Action/Ligue pour l’Action Socialiste, Elizabeth Byce, federal treasurer, SA/LAS, Julius Arscott, central committee member, SA/LAS, Giuseppe Caretta, Collettivo Guevara, Italy Angelo Cardone, Collettivo Guevara, Italy,