Final reflections on the centennial year of the October Revolution


Final reflections on the centennial year of the October Revolution

30 December 2017

At the very beginning of the year that is now drawing to a close, the World Socialist Web Site wrote: “A specter is haunting world capitalism: the specter of the Russian Revolution.” This statement has been richly confirmed by the manner in which the centenary of the October Revolution was observed by bourgeois historians and journalists. In the first months of the year, the commentary was cynical and dismissive, exemplified by historian Sheila Fitzpatrick’s flippant remark, published this past March in the London Review of Books: “Nothing fails like failure, and for historians approaching the revolution’s centenary the disappearance of the Soviet Union casts a pall. In the rash of new books on the revolution, few make strong claims for its persisting significance and most have an apologetic air… Socialism is so much a mirage that it seems kinder not to mention it.”

But as the year dragged on, amidst the growing threat of a cataclysmic war and daily manifestations of global political instability and intensifying social tensions, the tone of the commentary began to assume an ever-darker character. The dissolution of the Soviet Union by the Stalinist bureaucracy in 1991 had supposedly banished the specter of socialist revolution for all time. But as the precise centennial anniversary of the revolution led by Lenin approached, the bourgeoisie found itself asking, like Lady Macbeth, “Yet who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him?”

In an essay published in the New York Times on November 6, right-wing historian Simon Sebag Montefiore wrote: “The October Revolution, organized by Vladimir Lenin exactly a century ago, is still relevant in ways that would have…

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