Thread: The 1917 Bolshevik coup d'etat - Socialist Studies - Sunday 8 October

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    Default The 1917 Bolshevik coup d'etat - Socialist Studies - Sunday 8 October

    The 1917 Bolshevik coup d'etat:
    Its causes and consequences: 100 years of Socialist opposition
    Marchmont Community Centre, Marchmont Street London
    Socialist Studies - Sunday 8 October
    2pm-5pm

    Is anyone going to this?
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    How much of a reactionary would one have to be to attack the October revolution in times like ours.
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    The October Revolution was the defining moment of the 20th century. With that said, it's flaws were that it was soon squashed by Stalin and his bureaucratic oligarchy of dictatorship rule. He said, "I'll take all the power for myself and call it communism". I wish that Trotsky came to power and continued on towards a democratic form of Communism and Permanent Revolution. He would have made communism a prevailing idea in the march for freedom from the bourgeoisie.
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    Say what you will about Stalin, but his policies were the direct result of necessities brought about by revolution isolated from its inception in a socially and economically backward state, with fascism at its gates within a generation. Had Trotsky led the USSR, he would not be able to wave a magic wand and make the conditions right for the immediate global spread of revolution in a "democratic form (if by this you mean, what, direct democracy?)." Nor would such rapid industrialization have been made an easy transition simply by switching leaders.

    Further. it takes some serious mental gymnastics to consider exposing communists before an anti-communist American committee as the act of a serious revolutionary. Had Trotsky been the leader, there would not have been an absence of bureaucracy, but merely a different set of bureaucrats. He wouldn't have been any friendlier to those who would organize an opposing faction to undermine him, and the idea that no successor of his would introduce liberal reforms is just speculation.

    In any case, on the larger point: It's very easy to criticize the USSR in hindsight, but a more nuanced position is needed than dismissing the whole revolution from the start. There were socialists who predicted the restoration of capitalism years beforehand, but who had a more nuanced perspective than outright dismissal of Eastern bloc achievements.

    The Bolshevik Revolution provides many historical lessons for socialists, and no, not all of them are about "what not to do."
    "I'm a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will." - Antonio Gramsci

    "If he did advocate revolutionary change, such advocacy could not, of course, receive constitutional protection, since it would be by definition anti-constitutional."
    - J.A. MacGuigan in Roach v. Canada, 1994
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    There are many nuanced lessons to learn from the history of the socialist movement, the Bolshevik coup in 1917 is not one of them, it is a stain on socialism. It still finds support in times like ours from the utmost reactionaries and the centenary is as good a time to expose this for its irrelevancy to socialism today.
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    Had Trotsky been the leader, there would not have been an absence of bureaucracy, but merely a different set of bureaucrats.

    The objective, empirical challenges at the time were catch-up industrialization, and collectivization -- it's inaccurate to portray Trotsky's Left Opposition as being qualitatively equivalent to the prevailing Stalinism since the Left Opposition was internationalist, compared to Stalin's policy of 'socialism-in-one-country'.



    The Left Opposition was a faction within the Bolshevik Party from 1923 to 1927, headed de facto by Leon Trotsky. The Left Opposition formed as part of the power struggle within the party leadership that began with the Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin's illness and intensified with his death in January 1924. Originally, the battle lines were drawn between Trotsky and his supporters who signed The Declaration of 46 in October 1923, on the one hand, and a triumvirate (also known by its Russian name troika) of Comintern chairman Grigory Zinoviev, Communist Party General Secretary Joseph Stalin and Politburo chairman Lev Kamenev on the other hand.

    Trotsky and his supporters [...] refused to capitulate to Stalin and were exiled to remote areas of the Soviet Union in early 1928. Trotsky was eventually expelled from the country in February 1929, sent into exile in Turkey. Trotsky's supporters remained in exile, but their resolve began to waver in 1929 as Stalin turned against Bukharin and Rykov and adopted the policy of collectivization, which appeared to be close to the policies that the Left Opposition had advocated earlier.

    ---



    There are many nuanced lessons to learn from the history of the socialist movement, the Bolshevik coup in 1917 is not one of them, it is a stain on socialism.

    It's incorrect to term the Bolshevik ('October') Revolution as being a coup since it wasn't merely a military faction within the Russian state, and also because it was popularly supported:



    The Bolsheviks had secured a strong base of support within the soviets and, as the now supreme governing party, established a federal government dedicated to reorganizing the former empire into the world's first socialist republic, practicing soviet democracy on a national and international scale.


    Insurrection[edit]

    Planning[edit]

    On 23 October 1917, the Bolsheviks' Central Committee voted 10–2 for a resolution saying that "an armed uprising is inevitable, and that the time for it is fully ripe".[11][dubious – discuss]

    The Bolsheviks created a revolutionary military committee within the Petrograd soviet, led by the soviet's president, Trotsky. The committee included armed workers, sailors and soldiers, and assured the support or neutrality of the capital's garrison. The committee methodically planned to occupy strategic locations through the city, almost without concealing their preparations: the Provisional Government's president Kerensky was himself aware of them, and some details, leaked by Kamenev and Zinoviev, were published in newspapers.[12][13]

    Onset[edit]

    On 25 October 1917, Bolsheviks led their forces in the uprising in Petrograd (modern day Saint Petersburg), then capital of Russia, against the Kerensky Provisional Government. The event coincided with the arrival of a flotilla of pro-Bolshevik marines, primarily five destroyers and their crew, into the St. Petersburg harbor. At Kronstadt, sailors also announced their allegiance to the Bolshevik insurrection. In the early morning, the military-revolutionary committee planned the last of the locations to be assaulted or seized from its heavily guarded and picketed center in Smolny palace. The Red Guards systematically captured major government facilities, key communication, installations and vantage points with little opposition. The Petrograd Garrison and most of the city's military units joined the insurrection against the Provisional Government.[13]

    ---



    It still finds support in times like ours from the utmost reactionaries and the centenary is as good a time to expose this for its irrelevancy to socialism today.

    True revolutionaries are *not* reactionaries, by definition, so your usage is incorrect.

    The average person in the world today will think 'USSR' when 'socialism' is mentioned, so it's obviously the quintessential historical example of real-world 'socialism', as distorted as it was in that country, due to Stalinism.
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    True revolutionaries are *not* reactionaries, by definition, so your usage is incorrect.
    Trotsky, was a ruthless military leader, he would have been as bad as Stalin.
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    True revolutionaries are *not* reactionaries, by definition, so your usage is incorrect.


    True revolutionaries are *not* reactionaries, by definition, so your usage is incorrect.
    Trotsky, was a ruthless military leader, he would have been as bad as Stalin.

    No, because the distinction is in *scale* -- Stalin constrained his version of 'the revolution' to the isolated nation-state of Russia (USSR), while Trotsky and the Left Opposition were *internationalists*. The turning point was the lack of the Russian Revolution spreading to Germany, to curtail mass nationalist participation on the side of the German state in World War I.
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    The Revolution Betrayed narrative is false, there was no betrayal, it was compromised from the start. The butcher of Kronstadt was ruthless in bloodshed to liquidate his opponents and former comrades alike.
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    The Revolution Betrayed narrative is false, there was no betrayal, it was compromised from the start. The butcher of Kronstadt was ruthless in bloodshed to liquidate his opponents and former comrades alike.
    Considering Kronstadt was in 1921, and the revolution started 1917, that's not a good argument.

    If it was compromised from the start, does that mean you support Kerensky government and WWI?
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    If it was compromised from the start, does that mean you support Kerensky government and WWI?
    No, why would opposing the Bolshevik coup mean supporting Kerensky? Anyone can support whoever they want and socialists don't support any minority coup d'etat including the Bolshevik one.
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    No, why would opposing the Bolshevik coup mean supporting Kerensky? Anyone can support whoever they want and socialists don't support any minority coup d'etat including the Bolshevik one.
    Because you can't pick and choose in a vacuum what's the best, there are real circumstances that you have to take into account, if you are against the Bolsheviks then it must be because there were better alternatives, what were those for you? You can't cover your ears and your eyes complaining everything sucks and refuse to take a side. What is your position on the matter?

    If anyone can support whoever they want why is it so hard for you to accept that it was the working class that gave power to the Bolsheviks? That no other party were as connected as to their base as the Bolsheviks?
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    Who is in a vaccuum? I'm real. My circumstances are real. The alternative to the Bolsheviks was socialism, the object of the socialist movement predating the Bolsheviks by some time. This is real, as real as all unprecedented circumstances are real before they happen. No-one is covering their ears and eyes complaining everything sucks, but since when did socialists have to 'take a side' other than for socialism, this isn't your favorite sports team?

    Working-class people giving power to the Bolsheviks or being 'connected to their base' has little to do with socialism I'm afraid, and I'm no more obligated to support working-class repeatedly returning Conservatives (or the GOP) to power than I am the working-class doing this to the Bolsheviks. Why must you defend the Bolsheviks, as a hundred year old model in semi-feudal circumstances as the only one suitable for today?
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    Who is in a vaccuum? I'm real. My circumstances are real. The alternative to the Bolsheviks was socialism, the object of the socialist movement predating the Bolsheviks by some time. This is real, as real as all unprecedented circumstances are real before they happen. No-one is covering their ears and eyes complaining everything sucks, but since when did socialists have to 'take a side' other than for socialism, this isn't your favorite sports team?
    Holy fuck, this hurts.

    "The alternative to Bolshevism was socialism", this is meaningless, all the major parties called themselves socialists, but as we know they acted differently from each other, even inside the same party there were disagreements (Lenin saw himself as a minority in his own party at times), it was an open moment in history and the Bolsheviks seized it. So if you reject the Bolsheviks where would your so called socialism come from? Wishing and claiming for socialism does not make it true, anyone can call themselves socialists, I'd even wager most who do so don't actually believe in it.

    Working-class people giving power to the Bolsheviks or being 'connected to their base' has little to do with socialism I'm afraid, and I'm no more obligated to support working-class repeatedly returning Conservatives (or the GOP) to power than I am the working-class doing this to the Bolsheviks. Why must you defend the Bolsheviks, as a hundred year old model in semi-feudal circumstances as the only one suitable for today?
    It has everything to do with socialism, because they choose to do so in a situation where "normal" daily life was not taken for granted, they took a side, something you're refusing to do. You're removing agency from the workers themselves.

    Not sure what you mean by "Bolshevik model", it's not so much as defending a "model", but the communist tradition embodied by the Bolsheviks better than by any other party, Lenin and his comrades recognized the openness of their situation and acted accordingly as the situation presented itself, they dedicated their lives for the revolution at a time where nothing was inevitable, they knew there was nothing to fall back on, they were making history consciously, they were willing to sacrifice themselves and even Russia for the victory of the German (and consequently world) revolution, how can you have a problem with this? The saddest thing is that if other European countries had parties as dedicated as the Bolsheviks and leaders as dedicated as Lenin maybe they'd have been successful, yet, here you are badmouthing the closest we ever got to go beyond capitalism. You do not even present a critique of the Bolsheviks, it's literal shit talking in the name of "socialism".
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    The objective, empirical challenges at the time were catch-up industrialization, and collectivization -- it's inaccurate to portray Trotsky's Left Opposition as being qualitatively equivalent to the prevailing Stalinism since the Left Opposition was internationalist, compared to Stalin's policy of 'socialism-in-one-country'.
    ...Which conveniently ignores a crucial point:

    Had Trotsky led the USSR, he would not be able to wave a magic wand and make the conditions right for the immediate global spread of revolution
    "Socialism in one country" isn't just the result of a mere lack of will on Stalin's part to expand the revolution. The point wasn't to compare Stalinists and Trotsky's Left Opposition. It was just the opposite. Objective conditions such as those in Germany, for example, curbed the spread of the revolution irrespective of how Trotsky's expressed aspirations differed from Stalin's.

    It's certainly arguable that adoption of "socialism in one country" as a deliberate policy undermined revolutions later on (as did factionalist disputes within the Internationale over which "socialist state" would get to steer the course). What we're concerned with here is the revolution's initial failure to spread in 1917 and its failure amidst the rise of fascism in Europe.
    "I'm a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will." - Antonio Gramsci

    "If he did advocate revolutionary change, such advocacy could not, of course, receive constitutional protection, since it would be by definition anti-constitutional."
    - J.A. MacGuigan in Roach v. Canada, 1994
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    Holy fuck, this hurts.

    "The alternative to Bolshevism was socialism", this is meaningless, all the major parties called themselves socialists, but as we know they acted differently from each other, even inside the same party there were disagreements (Lenin saw himself as a minority in his own party at times), it was an open moment in history and the Bolsheviks seized it. So if you reject the Bolsheviks where would your so called socialism come from? Wishing and claiming for socialism does not make it true, anyone can call themselves socialists, I'd even wager most who do so don't actually believe in it.
    This is meaningless and basically amounts to the Bolsheviks called themselves socialists and took power, therefore they were socialists carrying out socialism.

    It has everything to do with socialism, because they choose to do so in a situation where "normal" daily life was not taken for granted, they took a side, something you're refusing to do. You're removing agency from the workers themselves.
    Why are you obsessed with taking a side? I am for socialism. The Bolsheviks weren't. There doesn't have to be a nascent groups of socialists at the ready as an alternative, in order for you to refuse to support the Bolshevik's false claims of being socialists.
    Not sure what you mean by "Bolshevik model", it's not so much as defending a "model", but the communist tradition embodied by the Bolsheviks better than by any other party, Lenin and his comrades recognized the openness of their situation and acted accordingly as the situation presented itself, they dedicated their lives for the revolution at a time where nothing was inevitable, they knew there was nothing to fall back on, they were making history consciously, they were willing to sacrifice themselves and even Russia for the victory of the German (and consequently world) revolution, how can you have a problem with this? The saddest thing is that if other European countries had parties as dedicated as the Bolsheviks and leaders as dedicated as Lenin maybe they'd have been successful, yet, here you are badmouthing the closest we ever got to go beyond capitalism. You do not even present a critique of the Bolsheviks, it's literal shit talking in the name of "socialism".
    If you don't know what the Bolshevik model is and how it differs from socialist parties, don't support the Bolsheviks and trash-talk the alternative. What dedication has to do with it is very little, plenty of neo-Bolsheviks have been dedicated and utterly failed everywhere to even take power.
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    This is meaningless and basically amounts to the Bolsheviks called themselves socialists and took power, therefore they were socialists carrying out socialism.

    Why are you obsessed with taking a side? I am for socialism. The Bolsheviks weren't. There doesn't have to be a nascent groups of socialists at the ready as an alternative, in order for you to refuse to support the Bolshevik's false claims of being socialists.

    If you don't know what the Bolshevik model is and how it differs from socialist parties, don't support the Bolsheviks and trash-talk the alternative. What dedication has to do with it is very little, plenty of neo-Bolsheviks have been dedicated and utterly failed everywhere to even take power.
    So you don't want to take sides? You'd rather wait until "socialism" falls on your lap (by work of whom? God)? Saying you're for socialism means shit, why are you so obsessed with what you and parties call themselves.

    What was the alternative you piece of shit? Don't fucking say "Socialism", it's easy to take positions when you're living in wonderland, you cannot oppose to everything, you have to engage with the world as it exists, and I fail to see, and you fail to explain your opposition to the Bolsheviks in relation with the rest. What's really your problem then? If you want me to defend the Bolsheviks I'll do so, but first you have to tell us what exactly you oppose other than saying "they weren't really socialists like I am".
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    So you don't want to take sides? You'd rather wait until "socialism" falls on your lap (by work of whom? God)? Saying you're for socialism means shit, why are you so obsessed with what you and parties call themselves.
    No, just because I refuse to support the Bolsheviks, doesn't mean I would rather wait until socialism falls on my lap. Marx's view (and the conventional socialist view) was the emancipation of the working class will be the act of the working class themselves, Lenin's was the opposite, that this sort of consciousness would come "from without". I'm not bothered about what parties call themselves, I'm less bothered about nomenclature and more about Nomenklatura.
    What was the alternative you piece of shit? Don't fucking say "Socialism", it's easy to take positions when you're living in wonderland, you cannot oppose to everything, you have to engage with the world as it exists, and I fail to see, and you fail to explain your opposition to the Bolsheviks in relation with the rest. What's really your problem then? If you want me to defend the Bolsheviks I'll do so, but first you have to tell us what exactly you oppose other than saying "they weren't really socialists like I am".
    I'm not living in wonderland or opposed to everything but what Marx was proposing was not what Lenin and the Bolsheviks were doing. Engaging with the world as it exists, insofar as this has any meaning, is what I am doing. Ironically its something Lenin could have been criticised for, and along the same lines he could have been asked himself, what's the alternative. Anyway, the burden of proof is on neo-Bolsheviks to explain why the Bolsheviks failing to engage with socialism made them socialists or why they are relevant today (they're not).
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    Default The 1917 Bolshevik coup d'etat - Socialist Studies - Sunday 8 October

    Idler: Lol "from without"? Again with this? A contextual reading of that shows that it's not the elitist straw-man you make it out to be.

    His argument there... that Marxism (a specific tradition that did not emerge from Russian workers, but came "from without") is important to the workers movement is part of his view of how workers can lead other classes... that without a worker-ideology, common sense ideas fall back to reaction or default capitalist ideas. In context Lenin was saying, cool there's a worker's movement but radicals shouldn't just cheerlead for the movement, socialist politics (Marxism specifically) needs to be the ideology of those workers if the class movement is to advance.

    It would be as elitist today as saying: let's not develop cliques of college student radicals who read theory over here while thinking it's enough for workers if they focus on unions because the student radicals decided workers don't need theory because the students think workers will eventually just rise up as a reflex to bread and butter workplace issues.

    Lenin was talking some pre-Gramsci ideological hegemony type shit. We need to actively work to replace "common sense" with working class power ideas.

    Besides, Lenin replied to you in 1904:
    The basic mistake made by those who now criticise What Is To Be Done? (1901) is to treat the pamphlet apart from its connection with the concrete historical situation of a definite, and now long past, period in the development of our Party.
    Besides isn't holding a lecture about an ideological view of the Russian Revolution done "from without" the class? It's not exactly a trending issue on working class social media pages. What kind of autocratic elitist tries to tell workers about history and theory? Lol.
    Last edited by Jimmie Higgins; 19th October 2017 at 02:24.

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