"Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you." – William Blake (1757-1827) from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Tuesday 7 November 2017

The Enduring Legacy of the Great October Socialist Revolution, 100 Years On

Commemorations being held across the world to mark the 100th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution bear testimony to the important regard that these events are held, not just in the hearts and minds of millions but, indeed, in the history of humankind, representing what, for the time, was a vital stepping stone in stages by which human beings seek to transform their way of life and mode of living. Such celebrations confirm that the transformations given rise to by events of over 100 years ago are now firmly stitched into the very fabric of our social being, at all levels and can only be undone by the tearing of that society asunder – a useless folly that, nevertheless, some still entertain, for reasons of fanatical delusion or cold, calculating, self-serving interest.

The fact that these events are not being officially commemorated in the country (Russia) that gave rise to them, nor even, the fact that the country (the Union or Soviet Socialist Republics or USSR) that came into being as a result no longer exists, has no bearing on the significance of this legacy to today's context. The Great October Socialist Revolution brought forward the most profound, ongoing social transformations that the world has yet experienced. Its tremors are still being felt; its lessons remain invaluable.

From the beginning, the transformations that the Great October Socialist Revolution gave rise to were recognised for the worldwide significance and vitally important opportunity that they represented. Their origins lie, not merely in the events that took place on this day in 1917, in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) and other cities of the Russia Empire. Nevertheless, these events represent a certain watershed moment, sending out a call around the world that was answered by millions around the world. They constituted the opening salvo, ushering in of the new era (the era that is still upon us) – that of imperialism and proletarian revolution.

Assemblée du soviet de Petrograd en 1917
By User Kristallstadt on en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Of course, like all great revolutions (and even some not so great), the October Socialist Revolution also gave rise to counter-currents, enlisting to their side those most entrenched and reactionary forces, opposed (quite violently, in many cases) to the revolutionary current, seeking to halt and even turn back the very necessary process of social transformation now unleashed.

Eastern Phoebe nest / Brown-headed Cowbird egg
By Galawebdesign
(Own work by uploader
[CC BY 3.0],
via Wikimedia Commons
At this juncture in history, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, we can say definitively that it represents the singular event of the 20th century: the event that heeded the demands of the time, allowing for their realisation. Even if the fullest transformation has yet to be achieved, those transformations that have been achieved may now be regarded as complete and irrevocable from an historical perspective. This is evidenced, not least, in the manner that those forces and counter-currents who were and are opposed to these trends, now seek to take credit for the advances and gains that have been made, even so daring as to wallow and luxuriate in them. In this sense, imperialism can be observed in the same light as a brood parasite – the cuckoo that lays its eggs in the nests of the unsuspecting; its offspring waiting for the moment to reveal its true nature, before devouring every thing and one around.

Reed warbler cuckoo
By Per Harald Olsen (Own work)
[GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0],
via Wikimedia Commons
The process of social transformation that took its first steps 100 years ago today is far from extinguished. As has been pointed out before, it can only be extinguished through the common ruin of all contending classes and the destruction of all human society. It stands to reason therefore, that now it must continue on its path, towards the full realisation and completion of its goals, in all spheres, culminating in the dawning of an entirely new era, hitherto unknown (unfathomable perhaps, by reference to today's standards) in human history.

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