a revolution in retreat

Adam Ford reviews The Russian Revolution in Retreat, 1920-24. Soviet workers and the new communist elite, by Simon Pirani, Routledge, 2008.

“I cannot be that sort of idealist communist who believes in the new God That They Call The State, bows before the bureaucracy that is so far from the working people, and waits for communism from the hands of pen-pushers and officials as though it was the kingdom of heaven.” – excerpt from the resignation letter of a Bolshevik Party member

Within what is usually labelled ‘the left’, your answer to the question ‘When did the Russian revolution go wrong?’ is a kind of touchstone. Each organisation seems to have its own One True Answer, and giving the wrong response at the wrong meeting can earn you the kind of scorn that the very religious reserve for those whose beliefs differ ever so slightly from theirs. Cue many weary Life of Brian jokes. Continue reading “a revolution in retreat”

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free valentin urusov!

by Simon Pirani

An international campaign has been launched for the release of Valentin Urusov, a Russian miner framed up and imprisoned after recruiting workmates to a union.  

Urusov, an employee of Alrosa, the diamond mining company, is serving six years’ hard labour for an obviously fabricated offence (possession of drugs).   Continue reading “free valentin urusov!”

‘uncaptive minds’ day school on the russian revolution

The historical experience of the Russian Revolution and revolutions in Eastern Europe – our tradition, dead-end or a perspective for today?

In 1917 the Councils of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, soviets, took power proclaiming a workers’ and peasants’ republic in Russia.  In the aftermath of the First World War revolutions established Soviet republics in Ukraine, Hungary, Bavaria and Slovakia in 1919.  A new Communist International was founded to unite the international struggle to overthrow capitalism and establish a communist society.   By 1921 the revolution was in retreat, a process which culminated in the triumph of counter-revolution and Stalinist totalitarianism.

The legacy of the revolutions remain with us to this day, but what does it mean for communists seeking to create a new society in the 21st century? Is it our tradition;  were these revolutions a dead end never to be repeated; or does it assist us with a perspective for today?The Commune is holding a summer school to discuss these questions and others.

12-5pm, Saturday 29th August, at the Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, near Old Street, London. Continue reading “‘uncaptive minds’ day school on the russian revolution”