- Capitalism and Alternatives -

The philosophy that guided the October Revolution

Posted by: Barry Stoller on February 18, 19100 at 00:48:07:

In Reply to: More for BS. (And Chuck) posted by Red Deathy on February 17, 19100 at 13:26:04:

First off, RD, I'd like to thank you for your research:

At the time of the October Revolution, the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies represented all that was alive and dynamic in Russian society. The working class voted for the Bolsheviks in the soviets, which were much more democratic that any parliament. At the same time, the soldiers, of whom a big majority were peasants also voted overwhelmingly for the Bolsheviks:

Party (Votes, June; Votes, September; %, June; %, Sept [immediately preceding the revolution]).

Social Revolutionaries (974,885; 54,375; 58; 14).
Mensheviks (76,407; 15,887; 12; 4).
Kadets (168,781; 101,106; 17; 26).
Bolsheviks (75,409; 198,230; 12; 51).

(Source, Anweiler, p. 188.)

You have proved MY claim: that the Bolsheviks had the support of the majority of Russia at the time of the revolution.

You also previously elaborated on Marx's statement:

No socialist," remarked the Doctor, smiling, "need predict that there will be a bloody revolution in Russia, Germany, Austria, and possibly Italy if the Italians keep on in the policy they are now pursuing. The deeds of the French Revolution may be enacted again in those countries. That is apparent to any political student. But those revolutions will be made by the majority. No revolution can be made by a party, But By a Nation."


And, as the above figures demonstrate, the Bolsheviks, who were the leading party of the proletariat and the poor peasantry, led the proletariat and the poor peasantry to victory BECAUSE they had the majority support of the proletariat and the poor peasantry:

The task of the Communist Party is to lead the proletarian revolution. In order to summon the proletariat for the direct conquest of power and to achieve it the Communist Party must base itself on the overwhelming majority of the working class.(1)

To expatiate:

The idea of replacing the will of the masses by the resoluteness of the so-called vanguard is absolutely impermissible and non-Marxist. Through the consciousness and the will of the will of the vanguard it is possible to exert influence over the masses, it is possible to gain their confidence, but it is impossible to replace the masses by this vanguard... [T]he most important and unpostponable task [is] the demand that the majority of the toiling masses be attracted to our side.(2)

In order to do this, the Bolsheviks had to subordinate some of their ideological preferences to the preferences of the masses they wished to attract. One of these subordinations was the land issue---although the Bolsheviks (being consistent Marxists) believed that agriculture should be modernized and collectivized, they knew that the peasantry wanted independent holdings. The Bolsheviks deferred:

[W]hen enforcing the land socialization law---the 'spirit' of which is equal to land tenure---the Bolsheviks most explicitly and definitely declared: this is not our idea, we do not agree with this slogan, but we think it our duty to enforce it because this is the demand of the overwhelming majority of the peasants. And the idea and demands of the majority of the working people are things that the working people must discard of their own accord: such demands cannot be either 'abolished' or 'skipped over.'(3)

Which led to this general principle:

[Communist parties] must soberly follow the actual state of the class-consciousness and preparedness of the entire class (not only its communist vanguard), and all the working people (not only their advanced elements.(4)


Victory cannot be won with a vanguard alone. To throw only the vanguard into the decisive battle, before the entire class, the broad masses, have taken up a position either of direct support for the vanguard, or at least sympathetic neutrality towards it and precluded support for the enemy, would be not merely foolish but criminal.(5)

Therefore! The Bolsheviks openly acknowledged that their destiny as leaders of the proletarian revolution were tied to the interests and support of the MAJORITY.

Therefore! They were consistent in their application of Engels' definition of a vanguard:

The task of the leaders will be to bring understanding, thus acquired and clarified, to the working masses, to spread it with increased enthusiasm, to close the ranks of the party organizations and of the labor unions with ever greater energy.(6)

Moving on to your other erroneous statements...

Stoller: Note your continuing use of the same UNSUBSTANTIATED Trotsky one-liner again and again, the whole edifice of your prejudice against the Bolsheviks... Again: let's see the WHOLE quote IN CONTEXT, or withdraw it, thank you. I could fill pages with quotes of Trotsky saying the opposite (and I have, to little effect).

: That quote is from Lenin's what is to be done, my exact source is a Rosa Luxemburg Pamphlet published by the ILP entitled 'Marxism or Leninism', but which is a translation of her 'Questions of tactics in Russian Social Democracy' (IIRC).

: LENIN! Said that, it is a line from Lenin, and one I have seen Leninist organizations use to describe their theories often enough to know its a well known phrase...

No, let's clear this up. You said here:

: But not *making* them, not in Trotsky's sense of the revolution being made by the minority...

THAT'S the quote---Trotsky allegedly claiming that a minority 'makes' (leads, perhaps?) a revolution. You have attributed that line to him before and I have challenged the veracity of that attribution before. You have NOT YET substantiated your attribution. I say---in light of the two Trotsky quotes above which counter your assertion---cite your line properly or withdraw it.

On to the Lenin quote...

: Lenin's model was 'Jacobins indissolubly connected to the class conscious sections of the working class', Jacobins, i.e. a small band who make the revolution for us...

Let us peruse Lenin's reply to Luxemburg on that issue:

Comrade Luxemburg says that I characterized my standpoint more acutely, perhaps, than any of my opponents could have done when I defined a revolutionary Social-Democrat [later Bolsheviks] as a Jacobin who has identified himself with the organization of the class-consciousness workers. Yet another error of fact. It was P. Axelrod, not I, who first started talking about Jacobinism. He was the first to liken our party trends to those of the days of the great French Revolution. I merely observed that the parallel could only be allowed in the sense that the division of present-day Social-Democracy into a revolutionary and an opportunist wing corresponded to some extent to the division of into Montagnards and Girondists.(7)

Now return, if you will, to Luxemburg's 'Organizational Questions of Russian Social Democracy,' and you will see that she cites Lenin's 'One Step Forward, Two Steps Back' (NOT 'What Is To Be Done' as you claimed). Once you have done that, you will then see that Lenin nowhere mentions the Jacobins or Jacobinism.

Luxemburg was wrong. And so are you.

It is true, however, that Lenin and the Bolsheviks did occasion to compare their situation to the situation of the Jacobins. The comparison, please note, was most different than the one you erroneously ascribe to Lenin:

The 'Jacobins' of the twentieth century [the Bolsheviks] would not guillotine the capitalists---to follow a good example does not mean copying it. It would be enough to arrest fifty to a hundred financial magnates and bigwigs, the chief knights of embezzlement and of robbery by the banks. It would be enough to arrest them for a few weeks to expose their frauds and show all exploited people 'who needs the [First World] war.'(8)

In conclusion: you attribute to the leadership of the Bolsheviks the criminal rule of Stalin's bureaucratic distortion of the Soviet state. Such blatant misrepresentation is not necessary, RD---there are plenty of procapitalist morons willing to make such ideologically contrived conflations in the name of discrediting communism. The Bolsheviks---as I've said many times before---made plenty of mistakes after their premature seizure of the faltering bourgeois dictatorship BUT they were, at the time of the revolution, supported by the majority of Russia (a material precondition, as they insisted, for successful revolution).


1. Trotsky, 'On the United Front,' The First Five Years of the Communist International volume two, Pioneer Publishers 1953, p. 91.

2. Trotsky, 'Report on the "Balance Sheet" of the Third Congress of the Communist International,' The First Five Years of the Communist International volume one, Pioneer Publishers 1945, p. 301.

3. Lenin, 'The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky,' Collected Works volume 28, Progress Publishers 1965, p. 309.

4. Lenin, '"Left-Wing" Communism---An Infantile Disorder,' Collected Works volume 31, Progress Publishers 1966, p. 58.

5. Ibid., pp. 92-3.

6. Engels, The Peasant War in Germany, International 1926, p. 29.

7. Lenin, 'One Step Foward, Two Steps Back: Reply to Rosa Luxemburg,' Collected Works volume 7, Progress Publishers 1965, pp. 476-7.

8. Lenin, 'Enemies of the People,' Collected Works volume 25, Progress Publishers 1964, pp. 57-8.

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