ONE HUNDRED YEARS AFTER THE OCTOBER REVOLUTION:
FORWARD TO A NEW WAVE OF REVOLUTIONS
One hundred years ago the workers and peasants in Russia rose up against the oppressive Tsarist regime and overthrew it. In its place the Soviet Union was established and began the difficult process of building socialism. Much was achieved and the lives of the people were transformed in many positive ways. Eventually the Soviet Union degenerated as a result of its own internal contradictions and capitalism was restored. Nonetheless this great revolutionary experience showed that it is possible for oppressed and exploited people to defeat their masters. In fact the Great October Revolution sparked off a whole series of revolutionary uprisings which continue right up to the present day, for example the people’s war in India.
DO WE NEED REVOLUTION?
Revolution is a very serious business and should not be lightly undertaken. People get hurt, so is it worth it?
Growing inequalities In both the developed imperialist countries and in the less developed countries dominated by imperialism differences in income and wealth are widening. For example, in Britain the income and wealth of the rich have been rapidly increasing while a growing number of working class people can’t afford basic necessities such as food and housing as is evidenced by the increase in food banks and homeless people. This is ridiculous given the massive productive power of modern technology.
In some less developed countries capitalism is rapidly developing but in such a way that a few people, the capitalists and their functionaries, are enriched while vast numbers of workers and peasants are impoverished, e.g. in India.
Sharpening imperialist rivalry The capitalist system under which we live brings about sharp competition between the ruling classes of different countries. In the past this resulted in two major world wars in which millions were killed. At present there is growing contention between the USA, Russia and China over the control and exploitation of different parts of the world, e.g. in Africa. Eventually this will lead to new major wars unless revolutionary upheavals prevent it.
Environmental degradation Pollution, exhaustion of natural resources and planetary warming are being driven by the insatiable appetite of capitalist economies to grow. The capitalist system has to endlessly expand in order to function at all. Otherwise it starts to die. If capitalism is allowed to continue then it will massively degrade our natural environment, cause an enormous number of deaths and throw us back into more primitive social systems, e.g. feudalism.
THE NECESSITY OF REVOLUTION
Long experience has shown that capitalism cannot be reformed so as to make it less destructive. If we don’t destroy it, then it will destroy us. The overthrow of capitalism and the building of socialism leading onto communism is an urgent necessity. Socialist revolution is the only possible way forward for humanity.
Revolutionary opportunities usually take people by surprise. This why we must start preparing for revolutionary insurrection now. That means establishing a really revolutionary party which is prepared and ready to seize the initiative when the right circumstances emerge. Join with us in Revolutionary Praxis in this great project!
SOVIET MUSIC CONCERT
In this 100th anniversary year of the Russian Revolution the BBC Promenade Concerts programme included a number of performances relating to this great world-historical upheaval. In particular, works by Soviet composers Dmitri Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev were included. The latter’s ‘Cantata for the Twentieth Anniversary of the October Revolution’ was performed on 3rd. September
RADIO THREE’S ANTI-SOVIET CAMPAIGN
On BBC Radio 3 hardly a day passes without at least one derogatory reference to the former socialist Soviet Union. The playing of any piece of music from the Soviet era, especially ones by Shostakovich and Prokofiev, is used as an occasion to denigrate the new society that was being built by the Soviet people in conditions of great adversity. Particular venom is directed at Joseph Stalin who was the leader of the USSR at that time. He is mentioned so often that perhaps the station should be renamed Radio Stalin!
Much of this reactionary commentary is ill-informed and often simply factually inaccurate. The BBC claims to uphold a policy of objectivity and impartiality in its broadcasting. Clearly this is not the case with respect to its coverage of Soviet music. There is a very reactionary person in Radio Three who writes this venomous political propaganda. He/she should be prevented from being allowed to do so. Go to the BBC Complaints Website to object to their anti-Soviet bias.
MUSICAL LIFE IN THE SOVIET UNION
The three “Titans” of Soviet music: Sergei Prokofiev, Dimitri Shostakovich and Aram Khachaturian
From the nineteen twenties onwards it was the policy of the socialist Soviet state to encourage the development of a flourishing musical life throughout the new society being created. Music was a significant part of the educational curriculum, many new orchestras were established and amateur musical activity was encouraged. Composers in the Soviet Union were very well rewarded and in return they were expected to create works which would appeal to and be accessible to the great mass of the people, the workers and peasants. The Armenian Aram Khachaturian was particularly successful in this respect and his works also found a popular audience abroad, particularly in Britain.
The Soviet leaders, especially Stalin, took a close interest in the music being produced and did at times make explicit criticisms of some works, e.g. Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. The composer’s response was his Symphony Number Five which became one of his most popular and widely acclaimed works in the Soviet Union and internationally.
During its socialist period the Soviet Union produced many outstanding composers and performers with worldwide reputations. This has not been the case since the dissolution of the USSR.
Members of Revolutionary Praxis went to the concert on 3rd. September and distributed leaflets with the above content to audience members waiting to enter the auditorium. Many of them read and welcomed the content of the leaflet. Also we gave out small hammer and sickle flags for people to wave at the end of the performance of Prokofiev’s Cantata. We waved hammer and sickle flags and shouted out the slogan “Long Live the Memory of the Great October Revolution” and this was well-received by the audience.
CLEANERS PROTEST AT MILLIONAIRE CAR DEALERSHIP
Two cleaners, originally from Ecuador, who have been working at the exclusive Ferrari dealership HR Owen have been suspended without pay after they threatened to strike when their request to be paid the London living wage was rejected. For over five years both Freddy Lopez and Angelica Valencia Bolanos have been cleaning the Ferrari showroom in Kensington, the richest area of London and Britain, yet they are paid a measly £7.50 an hour in the most expensive city in the world!
Cleaners Freddy Lopez and Angelica Valencia Bolanos outside H.R. Owen’s Ferrari showroom
The pair had joined the independent militant union United Voices of the World. They requested a wage increase (the living wage in London is £9.75 per hour) and were suspended without pay. Lopez and Bolanos are employed to clean the showroom by cleaning contractor Templewood which has a contract from H.R. Owen, a luxury car dealership which made a profit of £48 million in the year ending April 2016. Its biggest shareholder is Malaysian millionaire Vincent Tan. Yet the dealership and Templewood will not dip into their profits to pay even the inadequate London living wage. This is an example of the irreconcilable contradiction between the capitalists and the working class. They will try anything to decrease the value of our labour and make more profits for themselves!
As a result of the suspension of the workers the United Voices of the World union organised a demonstration of over a hundred people to shut down the Brompton Road showroom on October 1st.. Many workers, including members of Revolutionary Praxis, attended with members of Unite, Unison, United Voices of the World, Class War and the Revolutionary Communist Group. The luxury dealership lost a whole day’s quota of customers and the demo shut off the Old Brompton Road to traffic. It was great to see workers protesting and singing songs of resistance in the richest area of a city which has obscene wealth and obscene poverty side by side.
Living wage protesters block Old Brompton Road
INTERNATIONAL UNITY IN ACTION
Many of the big unions today avoid sticking their necks out to defend their members or take on the employer class directly. Many of the migrant workers who are now employed in some of the worst paid jobs have had enough and have formed independent unions such as United Voices of the World to fight for a decent wage. Migrant workers such as Lopex and Bolanos are often paid much lower rates than indigenous workers because the capitalists deem their labour is less valuable than workers born in this country. This sort of tactic is the means by which the ruling class divides workers, pretending some are of less value, and then using this as a bench mark to pay others less. We must oppose such division and fight for workers to be paid what they are worth and what they require to meet their needs whatever their nationality. Migrant workers do not drive down wages, capitalists do! United Voices of the World has now taken legal action against the employer of the cleaners.
An injury to one set of workers is an injury to all. International solidarity means defending any workers in Britain whatever their nationality!
WORKERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!
BRAKING NEWS 02/11/17
Revolutionary Praxis is delighted to hear that this dispute has now been won. United Voices of the World has issued this statement:
” Following productive and positive consultations between UVW and Templewood today, 2nd. November 2017, we have reached an agreement which will settle this current industrial dispute to the satisfaction of all parties concerned.
It has been agreed that the (London) Living Wage will be paid effective immediately to our members, and annual increases will also be made in the month following the Living Wage announcement in the first week of November of each year. Due to the terms of this agreement no further comments will be made in public about this matter.”
The Labour Party’s Trajectory
In the General Election the Labour Party almost took the Tories to defeat. Their manifesto was mild but did address some of the worst aspects of austerity and projected Corbyn’s reputation as a left winger. This appealed to many working and middle class people who are now being crushed by merciless pay restraint, rent rises and public sector cuts.
Is Labour the answer though? Supposedly the party to represent working class interests but throughout its history in power they have not represented us or given us any real control over society at all. Sure many important public services were introduced by them after the war, e.g. the NHS, but this was a response to great popular anger after the 1930’s depression and the ruling class’s fear of revolution. Yet ever since they introduced such concessions to us they have clawed back something else along the way with the Tories.
The three main political parties always blame each other for our problems but it is the capitalist system itself which is to blame. Labour will never really challenge it, whatever they say, as they are firmly part of the establishment. The whole governmental apparatus is there to defend the interests of our rulers, the capitalist class, who exploit workers. Labour are presenting a left face at the moment in response to huge anger at austerity but all they propose is managing capitalism better.
We say the time has come and is long overdue for capitalism to go! In a different way to the Tories, Labour wants to cover this fact up. They would rather keep us down than allow us to take control. Corbyn has attacked social cleansing and yet Labour councils all over Britain, along with the Tory and SNP councils, continue this policy of expelling working class people from urban centres and throwing many into homelessness and poverty.
The working class must organise a party which is truly fit for the purpose of bringing workers to power and in control of our resources in order to reorganise society on a socialist basis. That means waging a war against our rulers, whether they have a Tory or Labour government doing their dirty work. The working class in Britain has a great history of rebellion against the capitalist class from the Chartists onwards to the Poll Tax revolt. The job given to the Labour Party by our rulers is to divert our anger into the useless circus of elections which give us no real power at all.
Don’t trust Labour, just another bosses’ party!
Experience has proved that, on certain very important questions of the proletarian revolution, all countries will inevitably have to do what Russia has done.