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Our presentation of the ICT text 1917, The Proletariat Takes Power

We reproduce here an article of the ICT about the seizure of power by the proletariat in Russia in October 1917. Actually, this article is a chapter of a pamphlet of the Communist Workers Organization that the comrades have decided to re-publish parts on their web site (www.leftcom.org). This chapter deals only with the October days, the very ones of the workers insurrection and of the seizure of power by the "Soviets" or "workers councils" - organs of the proletarian insurrection and of the exercise of power, it means the dictatorship of the proletariat, as Trotsky defined them.

We want to underline the merit of this text for its capacity to present, concretely, how the soviets as forms of organization of the whole Russian proletariat, were able to realize their historical task under the leadership of the Communist Party (the Bolshevik Party), genuine political vanguard of the proletariat. And how this one could pull itself up at the level of its task only thanks to the revolutionary mobilization of workers and soldiers masses and at the cost of internal political struggles within the very Party. In short, one of the qualities of the text is to highlight and to emphasize the "dialectical relationship" which concretely established at that moment between the Party and the whole revolutionary class and which guaranteed the success of the workers insurrection.

Thus, this text ruins the thesis ceaseless repeated according to which October 1917 was a simple "coup d'Etat" organized by a minority of professional revolutionaries led by Lenin's iron hand. One of the arguments of this thesis is that the insurrection, more particularly the storming of the Winter Palace, Kerenski's government building, occurred in a city where calm was prevailing and that it has been a success because the weakness of the armed defenders of the bourgeois government. The ICT text responds, it could not be clearer, to this problem. It shows that it is precisely the strength and the massive mobilization of the proletariat, politically regrouped around the Bolshevik Party, and even sometimes being ahead of this one or of important fractions of this one, which enabled that the State bourgeois power felt down then as a ripe fruit, with few confrontations and victims. This "easiness" of the insurrection is, all the contrary, the expression of the strength and the high consciousness of the great masses of the proletariat at that very moment and of their direct and massive participation to the seizure of power ; it is the anti-thesis of the "coup d'Etat" imposed by a minority.

As well, the text rejects the mystification of an homogeneous and decided Bolshevik Party or being under one single man's iron rule, it means under Lenin's. All the contrary, it highlights how the vanguard Party itself was living through the same kinds of hesitations and contradictions as the whole class and how the political fight to win the Party to the insurrection has been difficult and even could have been lost. And how it is precisely the strength and revolutionary mobilization of the proletarian masses, on which Lenin and some fractions of the Party leaned on, which enabled to lead the struggle against those who opposed to the insurrection within the very organs of the Bolshevik leadership.

Finally, and lesson as much important, the ICT comrades' article enlivens how Lenin and the Party were guided by two essential class principles which enable them to be at the level of the situation : the first one can be defined as the need of the destruction of the bourgeois State and the setting up of the Dictatorship of the proletariat ; this principle directs and defines all the communist politics in the revolutionary periods as well as in the periods when the classes struggle is less acute and more "daily", included when the proletariat is not massively mobilized1 ; the second one, as well permanent and fundamental, is proletarian internationalism. Just a word on this : it is precisely the Bolsheviks' internationalist vision, which can't be reduced to the only denunciation of the imperialist war but which includes the call for civil war, for the destruction of the bourgeois State and to the setting up of the Dictatorship of the proletariat - here is the genuine and consequent class internationalism - which enables them to understand the absolute necessity to set up the power of the soviets as first pressure point for the whole international proletariat while the imperialist war, the 1st World War, was carrying on2 ; and as concrete, material, factor with above all the international dimension of the struggle against the imperialist war and for the international revolution.

We can see it, the article of the ICT comrades is not an "historical" text about a past experience whose lessons could eventually been drawn and then "passing to other thing". At the very moment capitalism is falling into deep crisis which obliges the bourgeoisie to attack fiercely the proletariat in all countries and, at the same time, to prepare the only outcome it can present in front of its economical bankruptcy, it means the generalized war, the lessons of October 1917 become again essential for the very development of the class fight of today ; and for presenting the proletarian and communist alternative to capitalist barbary. The ICT text comes to recall us the actuality of the Russian Revolution, of its principles and its lessons, and the flagship it is for the historical struggle of the international proletariat.

March 2012, la FICL.

1 We can't develop here on this question. Let's just mention that the experience of the Bolshevik Party and above all Lenin's - we could also to some extent quote Trotsky  - since the beginnings of the Russian Social-Democracy is marked by their ability to judge every situation and to determine the communist intervention in relation to this principle, in relation to the relationship to the bourgeois State, it means the necessary and inescapable political class confrontation with this one and at all moment, at all steps, of the classes struggle.

2The concrete and real dimension of the internationalism of the Bolshevik Party is particularly to be underlined here since it is challenged by the new "innovators" who call it into question as we underline it in the presentation we make of Onorato Damen's text, The Russia we love and defend, written in 1943 and that we reproduce in this issue of our bulletin.

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