Lenin Trotsky Bolshevik Russian Revolution

Bolshevism is Alive and Well

The February 1917 Russian Revolution that overthrew the tsar was welcomed by the French, British, and American imperialists. After all, a bourgeois government in Petrograd was just the thing to ensure the continuation of World War I and the paying back of the foreign debt. But the Russian workers, peasants, soldiers, and oppressed nationalities had had enough of imperialist privations and slaughter, and by October 1917, the Bolsheviks had won the support of the overwhelming majority of the population and were thrust into power.

The idea that ordinary workers could run society was met by the world’s capitalists with ridicule, fear, and loathing—followed by relentless sabotage and military intervention. A century-long effort to repress and discredit the ideas of Marxism, socialism, and revolution followed. From the Red Scare and McCarthyism to “the end of history,” the ruling class has spared no effort to spread confusion about what socialism is and what it isn’t. But you can’t kill an idea whose time has come.

All the material conditions for the socialist transformation of society are present. Not only is the world working class is more numerous than ever, but capital is concentrated to an unprecedented degree. By taking a handful of companies into public ownership, we can collectively assert democratic control over the key levers of the economy. The technology exists to provide every human on the planet with an extraordinary standard of living on a sustainable basis, in harmony with the environment. The need for a repressive state apparatus—required to ensure the domination of a minority over the majority—will quickly disappear once the majority win political and economic power. With the end of the profit motive, unimaginable new heights of productivity and understanding of the workings of nature will follow, accompanied by a dizzying explosion of art and culture. In a world of superabundance, humanity’s beautiful diversity will be celebrated and unite us.

Only one thing is missing, the very reason why, in a hundred years, the Russian workers alone have succeeded in winning and holding power: a mass revolutionary party. It is precisely the lack of such a party that led to the failure of the German Revolution, which in turn led to the isolation and degeneration of the USSR.

Our organizational tasks and priorities must flow from our political perspectives and program. If we foresee the continued precipitous decline of the capitalist economy and the institutions of its rule—and who can deny this is happening?—we must begin now to build the structures that can positively fill the void. A modern-day Bolshevik Party will not be a carbon copy of the original. But in all fundamentals, the political tasks before us remain the same. Likewise with the organizational methods and structures that can ensure a vibrant and democratic internal regime, as well as maximum unity in action.

The path to such a party will not be linear; many currents will rise, fall, divide, and combine before something truly massive and viable sinks its roots among the American workers and youth. DSA, with its spectacular growth over the last year, is in a unique and historic position to give this process a boost. Along with organized labor—including the APWU’s Mark Dimondstein, who came out at the recent AFL-CIO convention in favor of a labor party—and the millions of disaffected Democrats inspired by Bernie Sanders’s campaign, there is enormous potential for a mass, independent socialist party.

Capitalist winter is coming, and the world socialist revolution is long overdue. Building a mass socialist party is the historic task of our generation—if we don’t do it, no one else will!

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