November 7th: A New Anniversary of the Russian Revolution

Atilio A. Borón

Contemporary history contains an unavoidable watershed: the Russian Revolution. It divided our era into a before and an after. Rebellions and revolts of oppressed peoples and nations have been a constant in human history. And one after another they were crushed by the weight of reaction, of the powerful and privileged, who inflicted atrocious and instructive punishments on those who had the audacity to disobey and insubordinate themselves. The established power intended to appease forever the hopes of a better, more human life, worthy of being lived.

Despite their attempts and the terrible punishments reserved for the insurgents, the rebellions of the condemned never ceased. They broke out again and again, like springtime, driven by the rejection of the inhuman order in force and the vision of a good society. Both the present injustice and the promise of a morally superior social order set the hearts and minds of millions of people throughout history ablaze. The uniqueness of the Russian Revolution lies in the fact that it was the first to achieve the complete defeat of the oppressors. The French Revolution simply changed them: the aristocracy of the nobility was decimated and expelled by the guillotine and emigration, and the bourgeoisie rushed to replace it and set itself up as the new ruling class. In Russia, on the other hand, under the leadership of Lenin and the Bolsheviks, it was the workers, peasants, soldiers, intellectuals, women, country people who became, for the first time in history, the ruling class, initiating a social, political and economic experiment of unprecedented proportions, the echoes of which are still heard today. The defeats, from that of Spartacus to that of the heroic Paris Commune, were avenged by Soviet power.

Humanity was beginning to write a new history. According to John Roemer, a Yale scholar and one of the most lucid minds of our time, he summed up in a few words the historical significance of the Russian Revolution when he wrote that “the Bolshevik Revolution was, I think, the most important political event to occur since the French Revolution because it made real for hundreds of millions, or perhaps billions, of people for the first time since 1789 the dream of a society based on a norm of equality rather than a norm of greed and ambition”. Subsequent history would confirm the scope of the historical turnaround opened in Russia in 1917, inaugurating the era of socialist revolutions that would definitively change the economic-social and political composition of China, Vietnam, Korea, Laos, Nepal and Cuba, as well as decolonization in Africa and Asia and the revolutionary processes still underway in a good number of countries. In spite of the fierce resistance of the forces of capital and imperialism there will be no turning back. The oligarchic-bourgeois restorations, however bloody they may be, will not succeed in stopping the upward dialectic of history. The era inaugurated by the seizure of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg cannot be reversed. Thanks to Russian events of 1917, oppressed classes and nations discovered that another world is possible, and they will not stop fighting until they build it.

Translation by Internationalist 360°