Evolution and revolution are terms that have been confused by people over the years since they appear to address similar concepts, but in reality, a huge difference exists between the two. Evolution can be described as a gradual process in which something changes from one stage to another.Revolution, conversely, is a radical, sudden, or complete change in something. In history, the world experienced a period called ‘Age of Revolution.’ This era witnessed drastic changes as nations were moving from absolute monarchies to becoming republics and constitutional states. Notable revolutions that occurred during this period included the American Revolution, Haitian Revolution, Irish Revolution, and the French Revolution which later inspired the Russian Revolution and the rise of communism. The Russian Revolution occurred when the Bolshevik Party Forces under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin took over the government offices. Focal reasons that led to the Russian Revolution was widespread suffering under an autocratic government led by Czars, weak leadership by Czar Nicholas II, and the defeat of Russia in the Russo-Japanese war among others.
Vladimir Lenin was the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia; considered to be one of the greatest revolutionaries. Though he led a revolution, he also took part in trade unions. As such, the entire international trade movement has been influenced by Lenin`s conception of trade unions. Lenin helped the American Left-wing Trade Union to get rid of a threat that was manifesting itself as dual unionism. This made the Left-wing Trade Unionlack an understanding of what conservative mass trade unions were about.
Further, the Left-WingUnion had misconceptions on tactics to be adopted when dealing with such trade unions.As such, Left-wing militants devoted their energies to building new trade unions based on ideal lines. Left-wing militants became isolated from trade unions, and, thus, this made them not to participate in the mass struggle for workers. This had consequences on the Left-wing Trade Union as it lacked prestige from workers. At that time, there was a massive movement of the working masses against employers and the autocracy(“Lenin and the Trade Union Movement”).
Russian economists at that time developed a concept limiting trade unions to undertake tasks put before them by the movement of workers. Lenin, however, was opposed to this concept by the economists since he viewed trade unionism as a movement that does not go beyond the everyday needs of the worker. To him, trade unions were not platforms aimed at achieving any political objectives. Lenin emphasized on the need for trade unions becoming politically neutral.Lenin asserted that the actions of the working class would result in “trade consciousness” rather than a revolution in Russia. It is worth noting that most of the Russian peasants had moved to urban areas, and, thus, they were unfamiliar with the discipline of industries. According to Lenin, Russian peasants developed from the narrow conviction that there was a need to combine unions, fight employers, and compel the government to pass legislation(LENON, 1902).
According to Sheila Fitzpatrick`s article “The Russian Revolution,” while other groups were fighting forpositions in government, the Bolveshiks denounced politics of compromise and coalition. Radical politicians were calling for restraint and expression of statesmanlike behaviors while the Bolveshiks stayed out in the streets with the revolutionary crowd. The events in Russia necessitated other countries to consider getting rid of trade unions. The German Communist Party, for instance, was in favor of revolutionary workers, the division of reformist unions, and setting up of new unions.
The October Revolution greatly inspired the German Revolution. Eugene Levine, a member of the German Communist Party, ordered the confiscation of luxury flatsto be given to the homeless. He also proposed that industries be run by a joint council of workers. Further, plans were made to abolish paper money. As the Bolsheviks had done in Russia, Levine established Red Guards to protect the revolution. Levine was in favor of the creation of revolutionary workers’ unions from factory committees and the huge number of unemployed people (“German Revolution”)
According to Rose Luxemburg criticisms of democratic institutions by Lenin and Trotsky, it was apparent that they rejected the principle of universal suffrage since they wanted to sordid themselves to the Soviets. Rosa also points out that there was no instance that universal suffrage was exercised during the revolution. The right of suffrage should not be measured by some abstract scheme of justice, but by the economic and social relationships for which it is designed. According to the interpretation of dictatorship provided by Lenin and Trotsky, voting is available to those who live by their labor, and, thus, everyone else is denied this right. This resulted in the middle class boycotting the government for several months, thus crippling the economy (Cliff). The Bolsheviks were responsible for the slogan ‘right of determination of peoples,’ which was a foreground for all their policies.
It is worth noting that freedom for only government supporters; however substantial it may be, it is not considered as freedom. The Lenin-Trotsky theory of dictatorship assumes that the formula for social transformation lies with the revolutionary party and only needs to be practiced with lots of energy. This is however far from the truth as a realization of socialism is an economic, juridical, and social system that is hidden in the mists of the future. Rosa asserts that countries that lack freedom are faced with poverty, and are rigid because exclusion of democracy prevents the progress of people.
For socialism to become a reality, everyone must participate. Public control is, however, necessary.Other resources will only be available to a closed circle of people; hence corruption becomes inevitable. The Lenin-Trotsky theory opposed dictatorship over democracy. The two supported dictatorship in contradistinction to democracy, thereby in support of dictatorship by a small number of people. Rosa was not in agreement with how the Bolveshiks handled their policies regarding the democratic rights of workers, nationalities problems, land question, and constituent assembly.
On the land question, Rosa was of the view to encourage socialization on agricultural production. The Bolveshiks were in favor of land seizures and redistributing them to peasants, which itself was not a socialistic measure. Rosa argued that the distribution of land among peasants would improve the power of private property in rural areas, thus making it difficult to achieve agricultural socialization in the future.Luxemburg was also critical to the question of nationalities. She proposed the union of revolutionary forces throughout Russia and the inseparability of proletarians in all lands. Had the Bolsheviks listened to her advice, then the ruling class of nations formerly oppressed by Russia would have rallied the masses to enhance isolation of Soviet power.
Luxemburg was also of the view that a social organization should have all its emphasis based on the proletarian masses. For socialism to be achieved, then it must be decided by the masses, and not by the leadership. The role of leadership, in this case, is providing a framework of socialist issues and driving forward various objectives. Although she was in support of working-class dictatorship directed towards enemies of socialism, she argued that consistent democracy ensured the rule of the working class. According to her, the Bolsheviks had deviated from this concept. Rosa`s criticism of the Russian Revolution was a guide to people who wanted thescience of working-class action alive(Cliff).
It is clear that in everyrevolution, the party that is in power dares to introduce slogans that would drive the revolution forward. Lenin`s party was the only one that understood its duty as a revolutionary party, and came up with the slogan “All power is in the hands of proletariat and peasantry.” The main aim of the Bolsheviks was to seize power and to adopt a dictatorship of the proletariat to achieve socialism. The October Revolution was not only salvation to the Russian Revolution, but redemption to the honor of international socialism.Lenin’s role in the International Labor Movement did not go unnoticed as well. He views trade unions as a school for educating the masses and putting them to action. He considered trade unions to be of value if they were incorporated with the spirit of communism.
In a nutshell, the Russian Revolution had a great international impact. It affected the nationalism, imperialism, democracy, economy and even socialism. Russia was the first country to establish communism, which later spread throughout the world. This meant that the revolution brought an end to autocratic rule in Russia. Russian Revolution was also a tool by which the socialists were against the capitalists of the west.
“Lenin And The Trade Union Movement.” Marxists.Org, 1924, https://www.marxists.org/archive/lozovsky/1924/14.htm.
Cliff, Tony. “Tony Cliff: Rosa Luxemburg (Bolsheviks In Power).” Marxists.Org, 2019, https://www.marxists.org/archive/cliff/works/1969/rosalux/7-bolpower.htm
“German Revolution.” Spartacus Educational, 2019, https://spartacus-educational.com/GERrevolution.htm.
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