On the Extreme Margins of the Centennial of the October Revolution: The Legacy of 1917 We Can Affirm
Publisher: Insurgent Notes
Date Written: 03/10/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX22469
The year 1917 is most closely associated with the Russian Revolution, but it is important to locate that revolution in the global tidal wave of working-class struggle from 1917 to 1921 (continued up to 1927 in China), which forced the end of the first inter-imperialist world war (191418).
These struggles in the semi-colonial and colonial world continued after World War I with the long period of ferment in China, culminating in 192527, the Japanese rice riots of 1919, the (rather problematic) South African general strike of 1922, a left-wing officers' coup in Brazil in 1922, the wave of struggles in Turkey up to 1925, the Gilan soviet in northern Iran, and a left-leaning, pro-Soviet coup in Afghanistan.
I see the best legacy to the present of these revolts and revolutions as the so-called left communists, of both the German-Dutch and Italian variants, most closely associated with figures such as Herman Gorter, Anton Pannekoek and Amadeo Bordiga. What both variants had in common was their assertion that, unlike the worker-peasant alliance which made the "dual revolution" in Russia, the working class in the west stood alone, and could not ally with the peasantry, which already had land. There were also Russians who agreed with the western currents, such as the Workers' Group around Miasnikov.
(Assessing in any depth the ambiguous roles of Lenin and Trotsky, who were indeed great strategists, but whose theories and practice of organization gave the counter-revolution its point of departure, would unfortunately double the length of this short essay.)