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The Universal and Particular Essence of the October Revolution and the Strategy of the International Socialist Revolution

by MLPD, Contribution No. A07 to the „International Internet discussion on the significance of 100 years October Revolution“, 29 June 2017


We are living in the epoch of imperialism and proletarian revolution. In the 100 years since the October Revolution new manifestations and essential changes have emerged in the development of the imperialist world system.

The modern revisionists and neorevisionists negate that capitalism in the era of imperialism is dying capitalism. They negate the universally valid lesson of the October Revolution that the revolutionary proletariat must smash the bourgeois state machine, the crucial power organ of the dictatorship of finance capital, and establish instead the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The dogmatists in turn see quantitative changes at most. They deny that new manifestations and essential changes have occurred in imperialism since it came into existence, and deny the necessity of theoretical work in order to qualify them accurately and in good time.

In the pre-imperialist epoch Marx and Engels assumed that the international revolution is essentially a single act as a world revolution and that it requires the joint action of the proletariat of all advanced countries or at least of the majority of these countries. On the basis of the development of capitalism of free competition to imperialism and the law of uneven economic and political development of capitalism analyzed by Lenin, Lenin concluded that “the victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in one capitalist country alone” (Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 21, p. 342; emphasis added). This was a creative further development of the strategy of the international revolution in accord with the changed social conditions. Contrary to Lenin's expectations of a chain reaction, further successful revolutions did not follow the October Revolution at first. Despite that he saw no reason for pessimism and resignation and defended “that we staked our chances on world revolution, and were undoubtedly right in doing so” (Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 31, p. 398). He saw the construction of socialism in the Soviet Union as creating a strong bulwark to promote the international communist movement, which got organized together in the Communist International.

The leadership of the CPSU under Lenin and Stalin was fully justified in repudiating every form of capitulation and in the following decades proved that in Russia not only the proletarian revolution could prevail, but also that socialism could be built up successfully. Confronting the capitulation of the Trotskyites before the construction of socialism, Stalin unequivocally defended the relation of the October Revolution and socialist construction in a single country to the international proletarian revolution. “The characteristic feature of that danger is lack of confidence in the international proletarian revolution; lack of confidence in its victory...” (Stalin, Works, Vol. 7, p. 169). All the same, dogmatic forces defame the strategy of the international revolution as Trotskyite. However, in its general content this strategy neither originates from the Trotskyites nor from the MLPD. In the book, Dawn of the International Socialist Revolution, we proved: “It was established by Marx and Engels and advanced by Lenin, Stalin and Mao Zedong according to the changed conditions of their time. At the most, the Trotskyites misused the concept in an eclectic way in order to justify their capitulation before the revolutionary class struggle in their own country” (p. 135).

On the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution in 1927, Stalin explained: “It has created a powerful and open centre of the world revolutionary movement, such as the latter never possessed before and around which it can now rally, organising a united revolutionary front of the proletarians and of the oppressed peoples of all countries against imperialism.” (Stalin, Works, Vol. 10, pp. 244; 250–251) However, this fundamental significance for promoting the revolutionary movement in all countries changes nothing in the fact that, in its concrete essence, in its form, the October Revolution remained a revolution of national character. Under the leadership of the Bolsheviks it resulted in the construction of socialism in one country, based on the firm confidence in the working class, the masses and worldwide international solidarity.

Aside from the generally effective law of uneven economic and political development, the fact that it was possible to build up socialism in one country in the Soviet Union for many decades in spite of imperialist encirclement also had further special material prerequisites. “The country had a gigantic potential of labor, fertile soils and sources of energy as well as all essential raw materials required for a modern industrial production. After the Second World War the Soviet Union together with other socialist states created a great single market that facilitated an international division of labor for mutual benefit on the basis of equal rights. Such conditions are hardly to be found in individual countries today. Furthermore, the mutual dependency even of the largest national economies, due to the internationalization of production and the international division of labor, is developed to such an extent that even economic setbacks must be expected if the socialist economy does not succeed in utilizing the advantages of an internationally optimized production.

From this fact one must not, of course, draw the conclusion that the possible realization of a proletarian revolution in any country should be abandoned. The only appropriate conclusion is that the proletariat in each country must do everything before, during and after the seizure of political power to promote the proletarian revolution also in other countries.” (Dawn of the International Socialist Revolution, pp. 142–143).

The internationalization of the capitalist mode of production, which led to a reorganization of international production starting in the 1990s, has brought forth a new stage of socialization and ushered in a historical period of transformation. Those who deny this significant qualitative leap noting that the world market already existed in Lenin's day overlook an elementary difference to which Lenin already drew attention in his analysis of the development of capitalism in Russia: From merchant's it turns into industrial capital, from a dominant force on the market into a dominant force in production…(Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 1, p. 481). Today the capitalist mode of production prevails worldwide, organized worldwide mainly through an international division of labor. The material prerequisites for a new worldwide upswing of the struggle for freedom and democracy, for genuine socialism have matured in a way that is unprecedented in history. The majority of the world population are oppressed by solely ruling international finance capital. In the worldwide systems of production an international industrial proletariat has emerged, which is objectively the main carrier of a perspective of the revolutionary overcoming of imperialism and the united socialist states of the world. At the same time the internationalization of production leads to complex interrelations between the national and international sides of class struggle. The Program of the MLPD, updated in 2016, states: “The international socialist revolution is generally a proletarian revolution. It is an interactive process of revolutions which take place at different times and differ in their particular character in the individual countries. In this world revolutionary process, mass strikes, mass demonstrations, anti-imperialist, democratic and revolutionary struggles and uprisings will be in mutual, inseparable interaction.(Chapter G, pp. 87–88)

Notwithstanding all differences in the class struggles of the individual countries, the international proletariat, in alliance with all oppressed, needs a common point of reference: the international socialist revolution. It is the common fundamental strategic goal of the international working class and the oppressed. A new upswing of the worldwide struggle against reaction and imperialism as well as for freedom and democracy and for genuine socialism can only develop on the basis of a new quality of proletarian internationalism. The campaign “100 Years October Revolution” is an excellent signal for the necessary strategy debate, for the strengthening of the Marxist-Leninist forces and parties in all countries as well as of ICOR.

Dieter Ilius (member of editorial team of MLPD theoretical organ, Revolutionärer Weg)

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