Maziar Razi

The Russian revolution is still the most important revolution on the world scale; it’s the first socialist revolution on the basis of theories of Karl Marx. This revolution has many lessons to be learnt from.

There are three aspects I would like to highlight. The first lesson was that the revolution proved that Karl Marx’s theories based on that the revolution, (pointed out in the Communist Manifesto and Critique of the Gotha Programme, was correct. Contrary to the idea of some people who argue that Karl Marx talked about these matters about 150 years ago, and that they are irrelevant now (old fashioned or out dated). I quite disagree with that kind of arguments.

You know very well that about two years ago, we had a very deep economic crisis of the world banks and deep economic crisis of the capitalism on the world scale. Suddenly the interest in reading the Communist Manifesto and even Capital of Karl Marx went up by millions all over the world! Because most even ordinary people  saw that what Karl Marx was talking about hundred and fifty years ago, was so relevant to the present economic situation. I believe, this argument that this theory has been outdated is wrong. You explain why we have this situation in the world scale, why the capitalism has not resolved the basic problems of the societies, why they are worse still, why we are witnessing the war in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in many other countries, which has been in wars that had been created  and initiated by imperialism, why so much misery, so much pour layers in every society from latin American countries, to middle east, in Africa,. So what sort of changes has happened that can outdate this theories And this experience? In fact I want to stress that the Russian revolution should be read again in the detail by the young workers and young revolutionaries at this particular time to learn the lesson and implement the lessons and use their lesson again. One of the lesson precisely was that marx talked about in 1848 and again 1870 right after the paris commune, that the bourgeoisie is incapable of leading the basic even reform in the society, bourgeoisie has to be toppled and has to be smashed  the whole machinery has to be smashed, the bourgeoisie is not even having any progressiveness any more, and that is why in 1850 after witnessing for two years the bourgeoisie in the German revolution 1848 for two years they have been in power, Marx actually draw this lesson that this bourgeoisie is more afraid from the workers than any despotism or despotic government, so therefore they are incapable of leading the basic democratic tasks anymore, they are not anymore progressive, and that is in the address of the central committee of the communist league, marx talked about that our revolution is a permanent revolution, that means the working class has to take the power, and that is what is taken by 1850, so therefore of course now the situation is much worse than it was on that time for the bourgeoisie. Bourgeoisie had shown itself that it’s a force that does not care about the masses of people,  and it is just enriching very few people at the top and utilising all their mighty force in order to suppress the masses all over the world.  So therefore it is very important lesson, the first lesson we can draw from Russian revolution, is this that we have to prepare for the revolution that will topple the bourgeois state, the whole machinery of the bourgeois state, this experience was based on 1871, and the Russians,  actually Russian Bolsheviks, and the soviets in Russia, used this experience of 1871. And that is very important to stress, this is the first lesson we can draw from the Russian revolution, and we have to indicate and stress that Russian revolution actually was a proof of the theories of Karl Marx and was not irrelevant or detached from those theories.

The lesson I thin is also very important, it is the formation of the soviets in Russian revolution. The ideas of karl marx, specifically in 1860th is very specific towards that he actual stressed that the emancipation of the working class had to be done by the hand of the working class itself. And that was the basic theory that the Bolsheviks used in order to create their party and also help the soviets to take power in Russia. So some people unfortunately again in order to justify their new sort of policies, regarding to the revolution and creating the vanguard party and the soviets, the deny this sort of approaches,. They think for example, in europe there wont be any soviets, if there is a social upheaval, if there is a crisis, of course there is going to be soviets, this is the basis of self organisation formation of working class that has been used in many occasions and has been created even without the participation of the political parties. Even in Russia, in 1905, in that time, during the Lenin’s time, during the time that Bolsheviks were doing activity, the soviets were formed ….. in the Bolshevik party, and lenin was skeptical towards the soviets, and they even didn’t recognise it at the beginning, but they realise that the forces of the masses in their fight again the capitalism leads them to self organisation and that is the fundamental of any revolution and that happens as long as there is capitalism, as long as there is crisis of capitalism, as long as there is imperialism. When there is a social upheaval, when there is going to be a pre-revolutionary situation,  the soviets will be formed,  from USA to Europe, to Mideast, to anywhere that there is any movement that is going to lead toward socialist revolution. So therefore the formation of the soviets is a very important lesson to be drawn from the Russian revolution. And that can be exercised, that can be actually in our preparation for the future revolution, we have to conscious about this creation for the soviets and to stress the fact that only the workers can come in to power  based on their own organisation, and at the central of this organisation are the formation of the soviets. After the Russian revolution we have been witnessing many occasions that there is some revolution, fore example in Iran, at the beginning of the revolution, again we saw the formation of the soviets. Without any experience from the Russian revolution or any experience from their own past, the working class formed the soviets.  And tomorrow, in Europe, or any where else, when the crisis of the capitalism comes to the head, when there is pre-Revolutionary period, the formation of the soviets will be in the order of the day, as it was in Russian revolution.

The third lesson is also very important, is that before any revolution, there is a period that revolutionaries should prepare for revolution.  And this preparation is very important. the revolutions are not a sort of outburst, outburst can happen in a revolution, as I said pre-Revolutionary situation may happen,then what guarantees to some extend the success and the victory of the revolution, is the pre-preparation for this revolution.  And this pre-preparation of the revolution is also an experiment that can be utilised from the Russian revolution. And that is the creation of the vanguard party. Again we hear and listen to some comrades who are quite uncertain about the creation of the vanguard party, they think this is outdates, this is old fashioned,  to talk about this type of thing. vanguard party is for the third world countries, vanguard parties shouldn’t be mentioned, because it remain workers of the lenin, and lenin domination time, and working class, especially in Europe react to this. don’t talk about democratic centralism, because this topic creates some bad atmosphere, and they think we are communists or we are Satanists etc, therefore with this sort of justification pushing the idea of preparation of the revolution to aside, so therefore taking in practice some reformist policies in order to justify this. They reject the idea of vanguard party, and they detach themselves from the experience of Russian revolution. In fact I would like to stress that the one of the major development in the Marxism after karl marx was this idea of the vanguard party. It was obviously developed more fully by lenin, but before lenin , developed by Gramsci, and many other revolutionaries who actual stressed this factor. And that factor is very clear, that in bourgeois societies, the mass parties, because of the development of the capitalism, because the dominant ideology in this societies are bourgeois ideology, and its got influence upon the mass parties, these mass parties are incapable of preparing a revolution, at the final analysis, they will side with the, so therefore we have to create, as a preparation stage, a vanguard party, which means a party of the socialist, of socialist revolutionaries, of those who have no illusion on that capitalism, who believes the world young workers in particular in the process of production they will realise that much better than anybody else,  that his system, the system wether in Britain of in America or in Japan or in middle east or in Africa, anywhere, this system which is based on capitalist exploitation is no the right system for them. They gain socialist consciousness through their struggle and these elements in society are a minority, the minority of socialist, real revolutionary socialist who have gained socialist consciousness in every society, these elements, these layer, which are the minority, have to form their own revolutionary organisation before the upsurges arrive, before the formation of soviets arrive, in order to prepare themselves and prepare the masses of workers  for  the incoming revolution. So therefore one of the major lessons of the Russian revolution, and also one of the major theoretical development in Marxism after Karl Marx was this concept of the vanguard party, the creation of the vanguard party, without which, many revolutions have been defeated. So therefore this is again the third element of the russian revolution that can be used, understood, read about and be implemented in the future revolution.

loose transcription from part of an interview by Labour Fight

Lessons of the Russian Revolution

other relevant parts of interview:

What is a Revolution?

Defeat of the Russian Revolution lessons Part 1

Defeat of the Russian Revolution lessons Part 2

What is a Revolutionary?