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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA Newsletter #105: November-December 2017

Publication of the Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA



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Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution: The October Revolution and the Communist International 




Over the past year, the Revolutionary Organization of Labor (ROL-USA) has persistently promoted commemoration of the hundredth anniversary of the most important revolution in modern human history, the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia (GOSR).

Last January, as 2017 began, I concluded ROL-USA’s first article on the centenary of the GOSR in Russia, as follows: This remarkable record of accomplishments of the GOSR and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to which it gave birth makes it unmistakably clear that capitalism is not “the end of history” as the imperialist propagandists have claimed. Nor socialism the “failed project” condemned by the social chauvinists, social pacifists, and social imperialists of our time. It is the social system whose time has come. It is up to us to continue this forward march of history in our own time. (“The World Historic Achievements and Historical Significance of the Great October Socialist Revolution,” Ray O’ Light Newsletter #100, January-February 2017)

As one of the few Leninist forces among the leftists in the USA and internationally over the past fifty years, the small group I’ve led has focused much effort on defending the immortal legacy of Leninism and on attempting to help rekindle the red flame of the GOSR in this most noble cause, the cause of the liberation of humanity. Hence, ROL-USA approached 2017 with great anticipation.

Yet, given the historical distance separating us in 2017 from the momentous revolutionary events in Russia and its impact far beyond its borders one hundred years ago, as well as the fact that its Leninist character was undermined and ultimately destroyed in the land of its birth more than fifty years ago, and, most significantly, given that Leninism was dismissed and abandoned by most of the rest of the world’s revolutionary forces in that same period, for most folks in the USA, the heartland of world capitalism, as well as for most of the international proletariat and the oppressed peoples of the world, the centennial year of the GOSR has been passing by with barely a notice on their part.

-The U.S. Ruling Class on the October Revolution’s Centennial-

Nevertheless, it is significant that the U.S. monopoly capitalist and imperialist ruling class, through its mass media hirelings, has felt the need to wage a relentless assault on the historical facts associated with this monumental achievement of humanity. A number of purported “historical documentary” videos have been “created by” and/or distributed by Netflix and other corporate media video platforms. One of the most ridiculous examples of these “docudramas” argued that the GOSR was motivated by a “dynastic” battle between the 300 year-long Tsarist dynasty of the “divinely ordained” Romanov family with its incredible wealth, moral decrepitude and parasitism on the one hand and Lenin’s industrious and close-knit Ulyanov family on the other! Underscoring the absurdity of the comparison between the autocratic Tsar and the long time immigrant revolutionary in exile: Lenin was such a modest person that, after successfully leading the Bolshevik Party and the Russian working class to state power in the largest country on earth, as the leader of Soviet Russia and then the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.), Lenin continued to refer to himself as simply a pupil of Marx and Engels.*

*Taking his lead from comrade Lenin, years after Lenin’s death, Stalin declared: “Lenin was, and remains, the most loyal and consistent pupil of Marx and Engels, and he wholly and completely based himself on the principles of Marxism.” (Stalin, Works, Volume X, p. 97) Stalin, like Lenin, had a real modesty. In a December 1931 interview with the German author, Emil Ludwig, a decade after becoming the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, comrade Stalin, the leader chiefly responsible for the day to day operations of the USSR, said, “As for myself, I am just a pupil of Lenin’s, and the aim of my life is to be a worthy pupil of his.”

The more serious print media of the U.S. Empire, too, from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal to Foreign Affairs magazine, all the “knowledgeable” media pundits, the enlightened, liberal imperialist bourgeois functionaries and intellectuals, especially in the weeks leading up to the actual anniversary (on November 7, new calendar), have unleashed poisonous venom against Lenin and Stalin and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union–Bolshevik (CPSU-B), the outstanding leaders of the Russian Revolution. These hired mass media guns of Wall Street have attempted to bury the immortal achievements of the Soviet Union, of the Soviet industrial working class and peasantry under communist leadership, during approximately forty years of unparalleled victories for the working people of the Soviet Union and the world (1917-1956).

Let us expose this mass deception, the “big lie,” by citing just one indisputable fact — the decisive fact about the most important political-military event of the past hundred years: it was Stalin and the Bolshevik Party-led Soviet Red Army, working people and youth who were the decisive factor in the defeat of Nazi German-led global fascism in World War II. Look it up!

To extend the mass influence of “the big lie” on this issue among the U.S. working people and the toilers throughout the rest of the world, just in the past few months there have been at least two major Hollywood films devoted to cultivating admiration and “hero-worship” for Winston Churchill, who was Britain’s Prime Minister during WWII. In their current rewrite of WW II history, the U.S. Empire seems to have chosen to make Churchill their “main hero” in the defeat of global fascism.*

*About a year earlier, a major Hollywood film focused on the British king and sympathetically portrayed his “noble” effort to overcome his stutter “in order to contribute to the war effort”–placing him, too, in the U.S. pantheon of popular World War II heroes.  

Incredibly, the Churchill film that I sat through never even mentioned the Soviet Union! A far cry from Churchill’s own assessment at the time: One example from Spring 1945 in the course of Nazi Germany’s surrender, “Future generations will acknowledge their debt to the Red Army as unreservedly as do we who have lived to witness these proud achievements.”

Meanwhile, the British people, whatever they thought of Churchill’s role during the war, stunningly and soundly defeated his Conservative Party and replaced it with a Labor government immediately after the war’s end! Accordingly, Churchill resigned as Prime Minister in July 1945 and was a private citizen of the United Kingdom when he traveled to the USA, to President Truman’s home state of Kansas in 1946, to deliver his poisonous “Iron Curtain” speech against the Soviet Union, on behalf of rising U.S. imperialism.

-The U.S. Petty-bourgeois Intelligentsia on the Soviet Union-

The “respected” petty bourgeois social-democratic and liberal-left media such as The Nation magazine carries the anti-communist message into situations and among “progressive” forces that the big bourgeoisie cannot reach directly. One particularly illuminating example of the shameful role played by such opportunist forces combined with their utter shamelessness appeared in the 11/13/17 issue of The Nation, the very issue that hit the streets in time for the hundredth anniversary of the GOSR! In an article entitled “The New Thinking,” Columbia University journalism professor Keith Gessen expresses shock that Gorbachev did not know that capitalism had a negative, non-productive and parasitic side as the Soviet revisionist leader “naively” gave away the country to Reagan and U.S. imperialism without getting anything in return. Furthermore, Gessen points out that Gorbachev’s “naivete” was “widely shared; many soviet people had come to believe what they’d heard on Voice of America about the freedom-loving peoples of the West.” And Gessen admits that he (and The Nation) had shared and promoted these illusions about U.S. imperialism and had “cheered on” Gorbachev. Moreover, he points out that the Soviet peoples have suffered greatly at the hands of the Russian oligarchs, whose path was paved by Gorbachev.

Gessen states tersely: “For Westerners, Gorbachev brought a period of peace, calm and prosperity; for Russians, he surrendered the empire without a fight.” Despite all this, really because of it, Gessen remains sympathetic to Gorbachev. Quite a contrast with Gessen’s cavalier treatment of Stalin whose alleged “crimes” he condemns in general, in lockstep with every reactionary in the world. (Evidently, one of his crimes was that, unlike Gorbachev, Stalin was not naive but quite clear about the negative features of capitalism in its dying imperialist stage. For he brilliantly and decisively led the world’s peoples in the global victory over Hitlerite fascism.)  

Gessen even speculates that the (revisionist) Soviet Union might still exist today had Gorbachev not openly betrayed the people of his country. Gessen has only a bit of remorse and absolutely no self-criticism!  As a bourgeois professor in the belly of the U.S. Empire, reflecting his great nation chauvinism and his deep ignorance of the immortal accomplishments of the Soviet Union, Gessen concludes his “timely article” with this punchline: “a poor and backward country was always going to be a terrible place to test out socialism.” Thus, he only adds to the fog of political confusion surrounding the great anniversary for the exploited and oppressed of the world who urgently need the proletarian truth about the wonderful triumphs of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the USSR.


-Leninism in Commemoration of the October Revolution’s Hundredth Anniversary-

Again, ROL-USA’s Leninist message to the international proletariat regarding the centenary of the GOSR in Russia emphasizes the “remarkable record of accomplishments of the GOSR and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to which it gave birth. This historical truth makes it unmistakably clear that capitalism is not ‘the end of history’ as the imperialist propagandists have claimed. Nor socialism the ‘failed project’ condemned by the social chauvinists, social pacifists, and social imperialists of our time. It is the social system whose time has come. It is up to us to continue this forward march of history in our own time.”

With a similar revolutionary spirit and with more organizational strength, in June 2017, the Ecuador-based International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO) issued Number 34 of their Journal, Unity and Struggle, devoted to the “Hundredth Anniversary of the October Revolution 1917-2017.” While the pieces vary in quality and breadth, the contributions from seventeen communist parties and organizations affiliated with this ICMLPO all reflect a serious attempt to rally proletarian forces across the world under the red banner of the Great October Socialist Revolution. For those who seek to return with the masses of humanity to the path of successful national democratic and proletarian socialist revolution, this 220 page book (Unity and Struggle No. 34) provides a positive model of modesty, of honest searching out and sharing of the experience of the working class movement in all countries (i.e. Marxist-Leninist theory) under the impact of the October Revolution.*

*The core organizations that formed the Unity & Struggle motion were the Latin American and European parties that had supported the Albanian Party of Labor when it made its principled break with the so-called Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China with its “Three Worlds Theory” in the mid to late 1970’s. We had already taken such a principled stand against Chinese revisionism in early 1968.
Some of the pieces discuss the outstanding contributions of the October Revolution on fundamental and universal questions of the revolution, including the proletarian vanguard party, the national question, the proletarian-peasant alliance, the woman question, the Leninist theory of the proletarian revolution, education and culture, and the significance of the Communist International. Others discuss the immediate practical impact of the October Revolution on the advancement of the revolutionary movement in their respective country, including Iran, Norway and Germany. And Mexican comrades compare the class character and results of the Mexican Revolution which just preceded the Russian Revolution of 1917, with the Bolshevik-led proletarian revolution. Two of my favorite pieces are “The Red Army and the Soviet People Saved Humanity from Nazism” passionately presented by the PCR of Brazil and “Red October and the Founding of the Communist International” by Communist Platform—for the Communist Party of the Proletariat of Italy. This latter piece is quite substantial on a vital subject for today’s proletarian revolutionaries. It has been of real help to me in working up the final installment of ROL-USA’s pamphlet, “Commemorating the Hundredth Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution.” Our concluding article can be found elsewhere in this ROL Newsletter #105 and is entitled, “The October Revolution and the Communist International.”

Unfortunately, beyond the Unity and Struggle book and our long pamphlet, we have not discovered much serious educational material and mass mobilization that modestly seeks to share and learn from the treasure-house of rich revolutionary experience that emerged with and sprang from the Great October Socialist Revolution 100 years ago. The Russian working class and toiling masses of Tsarist Russia proved in practice the triumphant wisdom of Leninism 100 years ago. For it was key to victory of proletarian revolution there and then.

Moreover, little more than twenty-five years after the victory of Red October, came the Soviet-led defeat of world fascism in World War II featuring the triumphant Soviet Red Army march through Europe driving the previously undefeated Hitler-led German fascist army all the way to Berlin, paving the way for the creation of peoples democracies across Eastern Europe in its wake. And just a few years later, little more than thirty years after the October Revolution, having received invaluable aid from the Soviet Union, the Chinese Communist Party led a victorious national democratic revolution over the U.S. imperialist-backed Chiang Kai-shek and his Kuomintang army and regime, liberating one-quarter of humanity.

By the early 1950’s, thirty-five years after Red October, approximately one-third of the world’s peoples still lived under direct capitalist rule, while one-third lived in the so-called “non-aligned” countries taking an allegedly third “neutral” path, and one-third lived in the newly created socialist camp. It seemed that nothing could stop the world’s peoples from creating a socialist world in short order. (See “The World Historic Achievements and Historical Significance of the Great October Socialist Revolution,” Ray O’ Light Newsletter #100, January-February 2017. Also, reprinted as Chapter II in the pamphlet entitled, “Commemorating the Hundredth Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution.”)

But not only have we not created a socialist world yet, but those victories have been sharply reversed. Today there is no socialist camp or even an international communist movement and little sign that either has ever existed! Nevertheless, because we are still living in the era of imperialism and the unfolding proletarian revolution, in our view, Leninism remains key to such victories in our time, one hundred years later. Hence, the revolutionary need for a profound rediscovery of the priceless treasures of the Great October Socialist Revolution.


-Leninist Commemoration or Opportunist Celebration?-

The assessment of our organization is that socialism in the USSR was overthrown in the mid 1950’s, not long after the death of great Stalin in 1953. The defeat of socialism in the USSR many decades ago means that any recognition of the October Revolution Centennial during 2017 would be more meaningful the more commemorative and less celebratory it is.

Quite problematic for the weak, divided and disoriented international communist movement of today, therefore, are those opportunists who pay lip service to “celebrating” the centennial of the GOSR but who are just going through the motions or those who are so taken with their own organization’s tiny accomplishments and/or are so ignorant of or dismissive of the monumental achievements of the GOSR that they serve to douse the red flame of revolution wherever they go.

Even before the mid 1950’s, beginning with Browderism in the USA in the 1940’s while the World War II alliance between the Soviet Union and U.S. imperialism was still functioning, — there have been many right opportunist forces and trends that claimed imperialism, especially U.S. imperialism, had the capacity to “peacefully co-exist” with socialist countries over an extended period as well as with bourgeois democratic regimes in the oppressed nations (and vice-versa). This was modern revisionism. Following Browderism, there emerged Titoism in Yugoslavia, then the Khrushchevites in the Soviet Union itself, followed by Euro-communism in Western Europe, pseudo-Marxist proponents of the “non-aligned movement” in the newly independent countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East and ultimately even modern revisionism in Vietnam and China as well. They all asserted that Leninism, the guide to proletarian and national democratic revolutionary victories, was now unnecessary.

Moreover, “left” opportunist forces, including many adherents of Maoism beginning with the so-called Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, of Che Guevarism or one or another form of anarchism or liquidationism have promoted the idea that Leninism/socialism is a “failed project.” This trend has gained currency as the historical memory of the great accomplishments that began with the October Revolution has faded with time. These radical (and individual) socialists and anarchists too have asserted that Leninism has been or needs to be replaced by “Mao’s Thought” or some other more “modern” theory. Again, as with the right opportunists, Leninism is allegedly outmoded.

By 2017, fifty years of almost unchallenged revisionist domination of the international communist movement now requires the rediscovery of Leninism and its amazing revolutionary fruits. 


Unfortunately, the two October Revolution “celebrations” that the Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA has participated in during the period leading up to the Centennial have been largely celebratory and self-congratulatory. They lacked the serious, modest and sober component that can serve the interests of the proletarian revolution in these difficult times. More significantly, in the name of “celebrating” the GOSR, they have been largely dismissive of the unprecedented revolutionary achievements of the GOSR.

The two-day event co-sponsored by the US Chapter of the International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS) with its non-governmental organization (NGO) “offshoot,” PRISM, was held in New York City at the beginning of July. On the first day, other than the welcoming speech of ILPS Chairman Jose Maria Sison (that was streamed on video from the Netherlands) and my address on behalf of ROL-USA and the positive Q&A role of ROL comrades in the morning panel discussion, and on the second day, other than the ROL-USA cultural presentation of comrade Pablo Neruda’s wondrous poem “Let the Railsplitter Awake,” his marvelous tribute to the Soviet Union, there was little attention paid to the actual October Revolution and its legacy—despite the fact that this was the “excuse” for the event!

I had warned in my opening address that the two-day event, with a schedule that provided little time focused on the October Revolution, might serve as “an inoculation against the comrades and friends present contracting October Revolution fever.” By the event’s end, it appeared that ROL-USA had been invited there to provide the small dose of the “live October Revolution virus” which most of the other panelists and participants (mostly “Mao’s thought” devotees, Workers World Trotskyites and anarchists) made sure to disparage, marginalize, ignore or otherwise dismiss.


The other celebratory event was held in Germany in late October.  This three-day event was sponsored mainly by ICOR (the International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organizations) with which we have been affiliated since its founding a half dozen years ago. It was scheduled so as to allow its participants the possibility to be in Russia for a touristic celebration around the November 7 anniversary.

The ICOR event was organized and led mainly by the Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD) and its former chairman Stephan Engel. He had been appointed by ICOR’s Chair, Monica Gartner-Engel, who was also serving as the MLPD leader at the time. This event was much more focused on political-ideological questions and was more seriously carried out than the New York event described above, with the involvement of serious organizations such as the CP of India (ML-Red Star) and the South African Communist Party (M-L) as well as the ILPS-European chapter. However, for the MLPD and a number of other parties, the challenge seemed to be how to address the historic achievements of the October Revolution of 1917, while avoiding facing up to the devastating defeats that the international communist movement has suffered one after the other over the past fifty years and more, the very period when most of the German comrades and international representatives present have been in responsible positions in vanguard and mass organizations in their respective countries.*

*The MLPD and CPI(ML-Red Star) in particular, have carried out positive work in the international arena through ICOR, including mobilizing approximately 150 volunteers to travel to Kobane to successfully build a maternity clinic in the war-ravaged Kurdish part of Syria. However, when Monika Gartner-Engel, the leader of ICOR, spoke with justifiable pride in this proletarian internationalist accomplishment, so rare these days, she immodestly overestimated its significance as compared with the magnificent proletarian internationalist deeds of the Bolshevik-led October Revolution, the Stalin-led Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Soviet-led world communist movement from 1917 until the early 1950’s. In underestimating and diminishing these Soviet accomplishments, comrade Gartner-Engel helped cover up the devastating defeats of the international communist movement of the past fifty years. By contrast, one of the highlights of Soviet achievements was passionately expressed by Sharmistha Chowdhury. This leading woman activist associated with the CPI (ML-Red Star), who was recently released from an Indian prison herself, raised the fact that when Jim Crow white supremacy and lynching were commonplace in the USA, white supremacy in all forms was already an enforced violation of the law in the Soviet Union.

Stephan Engel immodestly selected himself to provide both the opening and closing remarks of the Seminar. Furthermore, most of the half dozen comrades chosen by Engel to give the main address on the six themes (also formulated by Engel) and to serve on the presidium with Engel (though in practice he mostly ran the seminar himself) seemed selected mainly for the purpose of attempting to recruit their organizations to ICOR. In truth, the record of the most significant organizations and their leaders was quite deficient when it came to defense of Leninism and the immortal legacy of the GOSR. Half the organizations on the presidium making the main addresses on ICOR’s hundredth anniversary celebration of the October Revolution in 2017, including Stephan Engel and the MLPD itself, had in November 1993 led a Commemorative Seminar on Mao’s birth centennial and had published a book based on that seminar.

In its “General Declaration on Mao Zedong Thought,” published at the end of that book, the Stephan Engel-led MLPD, with other parties and individuals, declared as they had repeatedly done in the Mao Seminar: “This theory [of continuing revolution under proletarian class dictatorship] is of great historic significance for having inaugurated a new and higher stage in the development of the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism. This is the stage of Mao Zedong Thought or Maoism.”

Yet, William Hinton, author of the world famous book, Fanshen, admits in an article in that same official book of the 1993 Mao Seminar, “... it wasn’t until the reform had dismantled one sector after another of the socialist economic base in China ... that I began to understand what Mao meant by ‘capitalist road’ and ‘capitalist roader’ in China. Thus, the unfolding practice of reform since 1979 educated me ...” (Mao Zedong Lives, Volume I, p. 165) In other words, Mao and Mao’s Thought had not convinced or even enlightened Hinton during the so-called Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Furthermore, Hinton concedes that, “Few people, even among Mao’s strongest supporters, really understood it.”(!)  Karl Marx taught that “Our theory is not a dogma but a guide to action.” How good was this “new and higher theory” if no one could understand and act on it?! In fact, in conjunction with the shameful betrayal of the oppressed peoples and the international working class by the Soviet revisionists, those who had subjectively raised Mao and Maoism above Leninism played a major role of objectively pushing Leninism and the Great October Socialist Revolution into oblivion.

While a number of comrades, including representatives of the MLPD’s youth arm, Rebell, and MLPD comrades from the industrial working class, as well as comrades from parties and organizations from elsewhere in the world, made positive five minute presentations over the three day period, the majority of the contributions to the Seminar, mostly from MLPD members, suffered from a focus on what the weaknesses of the Russian Revolution were rather than its phenomenal strengths!

Having decades-old “hang-overs” from the GPCR, these opportunists were seeking an answer from eighty to one hundred years ago to the question why the movement in their own time, the recent decades, has gone from one defeat to the next! And they desired at all cost to avoid dealing with the fact that historical development has proved that the so-called Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China was not great, it was not proletarian, and it was certainly not a revolution!*

*One positive exception to this tendency among the Maoists: the Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist-Leninist (TKP-ML) published (in English and Turkish) a major article entitled, “On the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution – The teachings, importance and heritage of the October Revolution as a beginning of a new era in the history of the world.” With an appropriately modest, comradely and admiring approach to the October Revolution, the TKP-ML comrades declared that the Russian Revolution was mainly an international one and established a standard. The comrades also made a detailed concrete exposure of the internal and external policies of the Russian revisionists that enabled them to come to power in the USSR. The TKP-ML pamphlet is a serious and sober effort to commemorate the GOSR, despite being handicapped by a continuing effort to reconcile this positive work with support for the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

Let’s look at a brief overview of the history of proletarian revolution thus far.

1)  In 1871, the Paris Commune was victorious and heroically held power with tremendous creative initiative for seventy days. Then it was crushed by reaction.

2)  In 1917, during the First World War, the Great October Socialist Revolution was victorious (while several other proletarian revolutions in Europe arose and were defeated). The GOSR strongly held proletarian power for about thirty-five years, more than one hundred and seventy-five times as long as the Paris Commune, and had led the expansion of the Socialist camp to about equal numbers with the consolidated capitalist camp (with the non-aligned movement making up the other third). Moreover, with the death of Stalin in 1953, the October Revolution was not yet defeated.

3)  From approximately 1948 to 1972 global anti-revisionist struggle was waged over what direction the socialist cause was going to take. Initially, the Communist Information Bureau (Cominform), with Liu Shao-chi’s Internationalism and Nationalism playing an outstanding Marxist-Leninist role, led a positive struggle against the destructive, disintegrative bourgeois nationalist role played by Titoism.

In the forty-five years since 1972, U.S. imperialism consolidated its hegemonic imperialist power on the basis of the Nixon-Kissinger rapprochement with Russian and Chinese revisionism.

Certainly, the general outline indicates that the first twenty to thirty years after the October Revolution, when unprecedented advances were made, mistakes were not the main aspect of the work of the Soviet Union, the Communist International and other fruits of the Great October Socialist Revolution. The lessons we draw from this period need to be mainly about how we can emulate these impressive achievements in this time, condition and place.

The result of the Stephan Engel/MLPD-led bourgeois diplomacy in structuring and conducting the ICOR Seminar was that this event, too, failed to decisively put forward the immortal legacy of the GOSR and therefore failed to inspire in the participants the demand for the revival of Leninism in our time.

I consider the primary character of both of these events to have been as part of the multi-pronged attack on the October Revolution and its immortal legacy. Its secondary aspect, including our role, was as encouragement of the revival of Leninism required by the international proletariat and oppressed people today.


My conclusion: With Leninism, from 1917 until 1950 or so, despite an objectively unfavorable situation, mostly victories! Without Leninism, from 1957 onward, despite an objectively favorable situation (at least initially), mostly defeats!

Let us proudly raise the banner once again of the Great October Socialist Revolution!

Long Live Leninism—Key to Our Victories!


“Stalin did what winning leaders do: he articulated and drove toward a consistent goal, in his case a powerful state backed by a unified society that had eradicated capitalism and built industrial socialism ... Stalin galvanized millions. His colossal authority was rooted in a dedicated party, a formidable governing apparatus, and Marxist-Leninist ideology. But his power was magnified many times over by ordinary people, who projected onto him their ambitions for social justice, peace, abundance, and national greatness.”

Hint: The author of these words is no “Stalinist.” On the contrary, this is a remarkable tribute, for the author’s deep study of Stalin and his times is motivated by a desire to keep the old and dying system of monopoly capitalism and imperialism from being overthrown and replaced by socialism. And, under Stalin’s leadership, the international working class and the oppressed peoples of the world came close to ushering in such a socialist world.

–Still stumped?   See below for answer.

Stephen Kotkin is a chaired professor in History and International Affairs at Princeton University and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. The quote is from an essay entitled, “When Stalin Faced Hitler” in the current issue of Foreign Affairs (Nov/Dec 2017). The essay is adapted from Kotkin’s most recent book, the second in a three-volume biography of Stalin. The paragraph from which we drew Kotkin’s mystery quote concludes with the following: “Dictators who amass great power often retreat into pet pursuits, expounding interminably on their obsessions and paralyzing the state. But Stalin’s obsession was a socialist great power, and he labored day and night to build one. Stalin was a myth, but he proved equal to the myth.”

—the Editor 


Cindy Sheehan
 The Emancipation of Women


For the past year, I have been doing my best to study about the Great October Socialist Revolution (GOSR) on the centennial anniversary of that groundbreaking and historic event.

As a child of the Cold War, the lies I was told, indeed we all were told, about the Soviet Union take my breath away. When so many of us are trying to celebrate the gains of the GOSR, I find it not so coincidental that Russiaphobia is regaining undeserved popularity in the U.S. as the Russian president is being purposefully, unfairly, and incorrectly compared to Stalin—and this is by those on the “left.”

As part of my study, I recently read a compilation of writings and speeches about the emancipation of women by the Father of the Revolution, Vladimir Lenin.

Among many highlights of his very advanced thinking (more below) about the role of women in a revolutionary society, the thing that struck me time and again was how the great revolutionary philosopher, Lenin, decried how working women and peasant women on farms were still responsible for most of the housework, farm work and childcare.

“You all know that even when women have full rights, they still remain downtrodden because all house work is left to them. In most cases housework is the most unproductive, the most savage and the most arduous work a woman can do. It is exceptionally petty and does not include anything that would in anyway promote the development of woman.”  Lenin, Pravda No 213 September 1919.

As a mother/worker/revolutionary, I was touched by the Comrade’s perspective that women are “doubly oppressed under capitalism” (Lenin’s statement on International Working Women’s Day, 1921) and feel like this past year the burden of being a woman in a capitalist society has really affected me.

My dear sister Dede Miller who worked her entire life from the time she was 16 until she was diagnosed with cancer in March of 2015 passed away on January 22, 2017. Even with putting aside the terrible “Cancer Industrial Complex” that we had to struggle with the entire time and besides trying to deal with her disease, we were both thrust into very stressful socioeconomic situations.

In contrast to Lenin and the GOSR envisioning and implementing helpful things, such as childcare and catering kitchens, to ease the burden of women workers, here in the capitalist/imperialist state, there are very few social safety nets and the ones that there are, are filled with large holes and mostly insurmountable gaps.

For the last two years of Dede’s life, my life was consumed with taking care of her with the resources that we already had before Dede got sick. After she was diagnosed, based on the over four decades that she worked, she received a measly Social Security check every month because of her inability to continue working. If not for the kindness of our peace/revolutionary communities and the strength of our family, we would not have survived. It’s wonderful that we did get help from friends and family and it’s wonderful so many wanted to help, but why is something like that even necessary? What about people who don’t have such a vast network of compassionate comrades? Even so-called charities failed us. At the local American Cancer Society we were told that, even though Dede could barely walk in the door and our resources were stretched thin, she could find a wig and makeup tips to make her “feel better about herself!” That’s all the “help” they could give us!

Anyway, back to this wonderful book The Emancipation of


At a time when women in the U.S. didn’t even have the right to vote (and we still are not equal under the law, even if it is just bourgeois law), Lenin’s views were very far ahead of his time. I was thrilled that women were honored as very valuable fighters in the [Russian] Civil War and recognized as necessary for an advanced socialist society. In February of 1920, he wrote in Pravda: “The proletariat cannot achieve complete liberty until it has won complete liberty for women.”

As Lenin struggled against the bourgeois (neo-Malthusian) idea of not bringing children into oppressive societies (“we must fight for a better future for our children”), he also argued in favor of reproductive freedom and divorce rights for women.

“Down with this foul lie! There is no ‘equality’, nor can there be, of oppressed and oppressor, exploited and exploiter. There is no real ‘freedom,’ nor can there be, so long as women are handicapped by men’s legal privileges, so long as there is no freedom of the worker from the yoke of capital.” Lenin, Pravda #249, November 1919.

Lenin was a radical feminist before the label was even invented. We radical feminists do not want “equality” with our oppressors, we want emancipation from our oppressors through the overthrow of capitalism, imperialism, chauvinism, and, for our sisters of color, deeply ingrained racism.

Revolution is an ongoing struggle and even though many of the wonderful programs that were envisioned weren’t fully realized, or whether counter-revolutionaries and/or U.S. meddling undermined the real and positive gains of the GOSR, the struggle of emancipation for all oppressed peoples of the world is still a very worthy (and sadly still needed) cause that many people carry on to this day.

There is much “gold” to be mined from the Soviet Socialist process and much inspiration to be found there, also. This year of my personal struggle and continuing studies have inspired me to continue this profoundly necessary and principled fight.


Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution:
The October Revolution and the
Communist International


“Lenin never regarded the Republic of Soviets as an end in itself. He always looked on it as an essential link for strengthening the revolutionary movement in the countries of the West and the East, an essential link for facilitating the victory of the working people of the whole world over capitalism. Lenin knew that this was the only right conception, both from the international standpoint and from the standpoint of preserving the Republic of Soviets itself. Lenin knew that this alone could fire the hearts of the working people of the whole world with determination to fight the decisive battles for their emancipation. That is why, on the very morrow of the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, he, the greatest of  the geniuses who have led the proletariat, laid the foundation of the workers’ International. That is why he never tired of extending and strengthening the union of the working people of the whole world — the Communist International.” (Stalin, Works, Volume 6, p. 52) (My Emphasis)

These powerful words were proclaimed by comrade Stalin as he was coming to the end of his speech at the opening sitting of the Second All-Union Congress of Soviets on January 26, 1924. This keynote speech highlighted a day devoted by the Soviet Congress to the memory of beloved Lenin, who had died just five days earlier.

The Great October Socialist Revolution was generated out of the objective conditions of the First World War, the subjective leadership of Lenin and the Bolsheviks and the courageous struggles of the Russian proletariat, peasantry, soldiers and sailors. This great achievement, in turn, inspired proletarian and peasant masses throughout the world to “make history” as well.

As the Italian comrades from the Communist Platform correctly observe: “The huge ideological, political and moral impact of the October Socialist Revolution, in the concrete situation of the imperialist war, acted as a powerful catalyst that accelerated the unity of the genuine communists.” (“Red October and the Founding of the Communist International,” Communist Platform — for the Communist Party of the Proletariat of Italy, p. 159-160, Unity & Struggle #34, June 2017)

They continue: “During the last year of the imperialist war (1918), the revolutionary storm spread over all of Europe, also reaching other continents”: From Finland in January, to Japan in July, to Bulgaria and the Ukraine in October, to the revolution in Germany and the fall of the German Empire in November, to “the rebellion of the soldiers and sailors of the Allied Expeditionary Corps in the Russian Soviet Republic;” the general strike of the Czech, Swiss, Iranian and Canadian workers; and the development of the solidarity movement in England and the USA with Soviet Russia; “the development of a large movement of national liberation in China, India, Korea, Indochina, Turkey, Persia, Egypt, and other countries of Africa and Asia; the speedy growth of the trade unions; … and the formation of new parties that took up the name of communists.” (ibid, p. 160)

The Italian comrades conclude: “The victory of the proletarian revolution in Russia sped up the solution of the problem of the founding of the Third International.”


Lenin’s emphasis on and confidence in the Communist International (Comintern) was  fully vindicated.

1)  “From the standpoint of preserving the Republic of Soviets itself”:  In the midst of the Civil War and Imperialist Intervention (1918-1921), the Communist International was established on the soil of the Soviet land under attack from all sides, and under the leadership of the Bolshevik-led government that was the main target of the attack! What Leninist boldness and vision! As the authoritative History of the CPSU(B) recounts: “The Red Army was victorious because the Soviet Republic was not alone in its struggle against Whiteguard counter-revolution and foreign intervention, because the struggle of the Soviet government and its successes enlisted the sympathy and support of the proletarians of the whole world. While the imperialists were trying to stifle the Soviet Republic by intervention and blockade, the workers of the imperialist countries sided with the Soviets and helped them. Their struggle against the capitalists of the countries hostile to the Soviet Republic helped in the end to force the imperialists to call off the interventions.”

2)  “From the international standpoint”: The pivotal role of the Comintern was evident in the rapid global advance of proletarian organization and power and the upsurge in national liberation movements against imperialism for a full quarter of a century from its founding in 1919 until its dissolution in 1943. All these achievements and advances internationally contributed to the Soviet-led defeat of global fascism in 1945. This immortal accomplishment, in turn, paved the way for the explosive growth of national liberation movements against imperialism throughout Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East which took form as bourgeois democratic governments among one-third of the world’s population in the so-called “non-aligned movement between capitalism and socialism.” And it led to the creation of a socialist camp in which approximately another one-third of all human beings lived. The world-wide victory of socialism over the capitalist system then seemed  imminent!


Of course, at that time of Lenin’s death in 1924, the Comintern was new and rising, and a rapidly gathering force to be reckoned with — with strength, influence and prestige throughout the world, as the Bolshevik-led Soviet Union emerged victorious from its early battles for survival.*

*By late 1922 the Soviet Republic had survived the civil war and imperialist intervention and then quickly expanded to lead in the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The USSR was initially made up of the Russian, the Transcaucasian, the Ukrainian and the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republics. Later three independent Union Soviet Republics were formed in Central Asia – Uzbek, Turkmen and Tadjik and joined the USSR on a voluntary and equal basis. All the Republics reserved the right of freely seceding from the Soviet Union.

Thus it is perfectly understandable that Stalin does not mention in this 1924 speech that the Communist International was already present in 1917 in Lenin’s leadership of the initial victorious Great October Socialist Revolution itself. There was no urgent need to reflect upon how valuable the struggle to build the Comintern had been prior to the October Revolution. For the road ahead for the Comintern and its dialectical interconnection with the revolution in many countries was then bright indeed.

The knowledgeable reader may reasonably respond: “But you are mistaken, comrade Ray Light, for the October Revolution achieved victory on November 7, 1917 (new calendar). The Communist International was only established in March 1919, almost one and one-half years later!*

*Indeed, the first world conference of communist parties and social-democratic organizations began with Lenin’s opening speech on March 2, 1919. In the course of the four days that followed, a proposal was put forth by several European parties to transform the conference into a constitutive congress of the Communist International. Accordingly, there was an unanimous vote by 35 parties and organizations to establish the Third International, with the name of the Communist International. The vote’s outcome was announced with the Congress’ response of the singing of the Internationale. On March 6, 1919, the constituent assembly of the Communist International concluded its work. (See “Red October and the Founding of the Communist International,” Communist Platform — for the Communist Party of the Proletariat of Italy, pp. 162-164, Unity & Struggle #34, June 2017)

While this is formally correct, nevertheless, a closer examination of the historical process that led the Russian working class, peasantry and soldiers and sailors to “storm the heavens” reveals the existence of an organic Communist International under Bolshevik leadership.

On August 4, 1914, as the First World War broke out, both the German and French social-democratic deputies voted for war credits for “their” respective bourgeois governments. From that day onward, whatever proletarian internationalism had previously existed among the Parties of the Second International was ripped asunder.

On November 1, 1914, the organ of the Bolshevik Party (Sotzial-Democrat #33) published an important declaration by Lenin: “At this time of supreme and historic importance, most of the leaders of the present Socialist International, the Second (1889-1914) are trying to substitute nationalism for socialism ... . The leaders of the International committed an act of treachery against socialism by voting for war credits, by reiterating the chauvinist (‘patriotic’) slogans of the bourgeoisie of their ‘own’ countries, by justifying and defending the war, by joining the bourgeois governments of the belligerent countries, … . The collapse of the Second International is the collapse of opportunism, ... . The aims of socialism at the present time cannot be fulfilled and real internationalist unity of the workers cannot be achieved, without a decisive break with opportunism, and without explaining its inevitable fiasco to the masses ... The proletarian International has not gone under and will not go under. Notwithstanding all obstacles, the masses of the workers will create a new International.” (Lenin, “The War and Russian Social-Democracy,” Collected Works, Vol. 21) (My Emphasis)

Accordingly, Lenin led the “decisive break with opportunism” on a global basis during the years of the First World War. At the Conference of Zimmerwald, Switzerland in September 1915, Lenin was able to organize the internationalist Marxists and obtain a split from the social-chauvinists laying a foundation for international unity under the leadership of the “Zimmerwald Left.” Yet at Zimmerwald, the Kautskyan delegates triumphed with their centrist line of “peace” with the social-chauvinists and re-establishment of the opportunist Second International. Nevertheless, Lenin observed that the common Manifesto approved at Zimmerwald which included a number of revolutionary Marxist theses “signifies a step towards an ideological and practical break with opportunism.” (“The First Step,” Collected Works, Vol. 21) Moreover, during that conference, a Socialist International Commission (ISK) was formed that assisted in the ultimate founding of the Third International.

At the Second International Conference of Zimmerwald (Kienthal) in April 1916 a further step forward was taken. The resolution on war and peace was adopted unanimously and contained many Bolshevik positions, including the need to overthrow capitalist rule and build socialist society in order to put an end to capitalist wars. However, while there were severe criticisms of the leaders of the Second International, the majority of Kienthal delegates still resisted the break with the opportunists and hoped for a reconstitution of the collapsed Second International after the war.

In April 1917, after the Bolshevik-led workers, peasants, soldiers and sailors overthrew the three hundred year old Russian Tsarist monarchy, the bourgeoisie with cooperation from the petty-bourgeois opportunists (and taking advantage of the great joy, relief and political inexperience of the masses) was able to take power, ahead of the Bolsheviks. In this setting, while even many Bolsheviks were similarly disoriented, Lenin issued his famous April Theses. The tenth and last of these was: “10) A New International. “We must take the initiative in creating a revolutionary International, an International against the social-chauvinists and against the ‘Centre’ ...” The same month the Seventh Conference of the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party (Bolshevik) resolved that the party undertake the task of taking the initiative in creating a Third International.

In the Draft Party Program written in May 1917 Lenin analyzed the three trends in the international workers’ and socialist movement (the social-chauvinists, the centre and the internationalists) reasserting the need for a resolute break with the vacillation of the Zimmerwald organization and for the founding of the Third International. Said Lenin, “The thing is not to ‘proclaim’ internationalism, but to be able to be an internationalist in deed, even when times are trying.” And further, we “must found, and right now, without delay a new revolutionary proletarian International, or rather, we must not fear to acknowledge publicly that this new International is already established and operating ...” (“The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution,” Collected Works, Vol. 24) (My Emphasis)

Thus, from his “April Theses” on, Lenin functioned at the head of the Bolshevik Party and the Russian proletariat as if there already existed a new Communist International. And, it was on this basis, that the Bolshevik Party was able to lead the Russian industrial working class and the peasant and soldier masses, through their own experience to the revolutionary overthrow of the Russian bourgeois government, tied as it was to French and British imperialism and the First World War slaughter. The presence of the Third Communist International in the form elaborated above was a necessary ingredient on the path to the victorious Great October Socialist Revolution.


Shortly after Lenin’s death, Stalin wrote the masterful Foundations of Leninism and dedicated it to the 240,000 Soviet workers who came forward in the Lenin Enrollment. In “Chapter 3 Theory,” comrade Stalin taught: 

“Formerly, it was the accepted thing to speak of the proletarian revolution in one or another developed country as of a separate and self-sufficient entity opposing a separate national front of capital as its antipode. Now, this point of view is no longer adequate. Now we must speak of the world proletarian revolution; for the separate national fronts of capital have become links in a single chain called the world front of imperialism, which must be opposed by a common front of the revolutionary movement in all countries.

“Formerly, the proletarian revolution was regarded exclusively as the result of the internal development of a given country. Now, this point of view is no longer adequate. Now the proletarian revolution must be regarded primarily as the result of the development of the contradictions within the world system of imperialism ... .”

“The front of capital will be pierced where the chain of imperialism is weakest, for the proletarian revolution is the result of the breaking of the chain of the world imperialist front at its weakest link ...” (Foundations of Leninism, p. 26)

As long as the Comintern existed and was guided by the Leninist understanding that the proletarian revolution is “primarily” “the result of the development of the contradictions within the world system of imperialism,” and it requires “a common front of the revolutionary movement in all countries,” Leninism and proletarian internationalism were dialectically interconnected. Indeed, they were an unbeatable combination.

But that was long ago.

In April 1968, I observed: “Since the death of Stalin, the two main characteristics of the international situation have been 1) the intensification of the contradiction between the oppressed nations and U.S. imperialism; and 2) the development of a policy in most socialist countries of betrayal of the oppressed nations based on the ascendancy of the national bourgeois class in the socialist countries.” (“The Role of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat in the International Marxist-Leninist Movement — The October Revolution vs. the ‘Cultural Revolution’” by Youth for Stalin, p. 33, January 1978 Reprint)

Moni Guha, an outstanding veteran anti-revisionist comrade from Bengal, similarly observed: “... the post-Stalin developments took a different turn. The proletarian movement fragmented badly and could present no anti-imperialist front. Anti-imperialist wars were indeed fought and fought valiantly and covered themselves with glory and triumph. But alas there was no single front to oppose imperialism. The link between the world proletarian revolution and national liberation struggles was lost. They were not seen as reserves, as parts of a whole, part of a single world front of socialism. The whole question was posed abstractly, from the point of view of formal democracy, as one of abstract rights. No wonder then that the national liberation movements stopped short in their tracks and did not go over to socialism for there was no world front of socialism, no effort to build a world dictatorship of the proletariat. Victories turned into defeats and advantages into disadvantages. If today imperialism gloats over its triumph of being smuggled back into formerly liberated countries it is in no small measure due to the failure of the various communist contingents in their internationalist duties.” (“The National Liberation Movements in the World Proletarian Revolution,” Proletarian Path, New Series, Volume 1, Number 5, September 1994)


About eight or nine years ago, a half-day session of the different parties and groups assembled at the Western Europe-based ICLMPO five day International Seminar* discussed the experiences of the international communist movement with international organization, with a focus on the Third International. I had made the initial proposal for this subject as most of the organizations had at best a lukewarm approach to the Third Communist International. It was at the end of this very Seminar that Stephan Engel, then MLPD Chair, presented the MLPD plan for what became ICOR. And most of the organizations there responded quite favorably, evidently having been surprised by how positive most of the experience shared there on the Comintern had actually been.

*Not the Ecuador-based ICMLPO.

Nevertheless, a leading comrade from Argentina, a credible comrade, shared the following: In 1972, he was a youthful member of an Argentine party delegation that met with comrade Mao in China. Their delegation had gone to China with a positive stand in favor of multi-lateral meetings of parties. Mao countered that the Chinese party would only hold bi-lateral meetings. (And, at least partly because it was Mao himself advocating bi-lateral meetings, they dogmatically changed their position.)

Moreover, Mao had argued that there was no need for a Communist International, since, according to him, the Chinese revolution [of 1949] had taken place when there was no international [the Comintern had been dissolved in 1943] and that the October Revolution had been accomplished without an International (the Second International had collapsed at the beginning of the First World War under the pressures of its own betrayal of the international working class.)

I opposed this position, stating that anyone (whether Mao or anyone else) who would claim that the Chinese Revolution that won victory in 1949 had been accomplished without the Third International was expressing a bourgeois nationalist position. Interestingly, I don’t remember anyone else, MLPD or otherwise, either supporting my position or defending “Mao’s” position, as described. This was another manifestation of the prevailing bourgeois nationalist approach of most contemporary “M-L-M” organizations.

This indifference toward the lessons of revolutions other than “one’s own,” brings to mind another apt quote from comrade Guha: “One thought that the fight of the proletariat was a world-historic one. That is, a fight that wasn’t discrete and local. … Today, we behave like the despicable leaders of the Second International, like Titos; for us the national communist movements are supposed to have platonic relations with the world socialist revolution.” (Proletarian Path, New Series, Volume II, Number 1, December 1995)

But the Mao 1972 position on the October Revolution victory is more pertinent to this current article. When the Argentine comrade cited Mao’s comment on the absence of an International from the situation at the time of Red October, I countered that Lenin and the Bolshevik Party had struggled against the Second International and therefore had an International presence there and then. However, preparation for the current article on the Comintern and the October Revolution revealed, as I reported earlier, that “the Communist International was already present in 1917 in Lenin’s leadership of the initial victorious Great October Socialist Revolution itself.”

At this historical moment, one hundred years after the Victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia, one lesson we can draw from our Bolshevik predecessors who achieved victory even though there was no International supporting them is that for a proletarian party to be victorious it must carry its internationalist banner through good times and bad.

As I self-critically shared in 2005, “We and other internationalist-minded comrades have, for years, counter posed the concept of mutual support (earlier for Vietnam, current for Iraq and Afghanistan) to the bourgeois nationalist “self-reliant” concept of waging the class struggle that has dominated the world communist movement. But comrade Guha reminds us how low so-called “communist” standards have become. He reminds us that, “Our internationalism is not for ‘mutual benefit’ but the very precondition of our movement — communism is a world-historic goal.” (Document #31: “The Iraqi National Liberation Movement: Vital to the World Proletarian Revolution,” pp. 249-250, The Bush-led Global Imperialist War, From 9-11 to the Present. Originally published as Ray O. Light Newsletter #40, September 2005)


Finally, Comrade Guha’s reminder that “Communism is a world-historic goal and that internationalism is the very precondition of our movement”, leads us back to comrade Stalin’s teachings on Leninist Theory. Specifically, the proletarian revolution breaks out at the weakest link in the imperialist chain.  And, to advance this cause, the vanguard of the international proletariat needs to be working on all the fundamental contradictions of imperialism in a coordinated effort, in “a common front of the revolutionary movement in all countries.”  Which leads us back to the beginning of this article: Stalin’s speech in memory of comrade Lenin. Stalin concluded this famous speech with his final oath to Lenin:





Series of articles on the intense struggle culminating in the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution and on the world historic achievements that it produced under Bolshevik leadership.


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