Articles, recommended reading and other resources documenting and analysing events and consequent developments leading up to the socialist Revolution in Russia.

Since 1999, communist and workers’ parties from across the world have met every year to exchange news and views, hold bilateral discussions with one another and endorse statements setting out common positions on particular issues.

A working group meets in between meetings to prepare the agenda and issue the appeals and declarations agreed by all present at the event. It also recommends acceptance or rejection of applications by more parties every year to join the proceedings.

The host party is responsible for providing all necessary facilities for the hundreds of representatives who arrive from all corners of the world — some of them in defiance of their illegal status at home, where communist parties are persecuted and banned.

Past venues for the annual gathering have included Athens, New Delhi, Lisbon, Johannesburg, Istanbul, Sao Paulo, Minsk and Beirut.

On November 2-3 this year, fittingly enough, representatives from 103 parties in 78 countries converged on Leningrad (now known by its pre-1914 name of St Petersburg), which as the Russian capital Petrograd was the epicentre of the 1917 Socialist Revolution.

This 19th annual meeting was opened by Gennady Zyuganov, first secretary of the central committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF). The CPRF is the second largest party in Russia, behind President Putin’s United Russia, with numerous Duma and regional deputies and local mayors and councillors in its ranks.

Zyuganov outlined the enormous achievements of the Soviet Union after the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917 in economic, social and cultural life. He pointed out that Soviet socialism had made it possible for working people — and not only the sons of the wealthy and powerful — to develop and share their skills and talents with society as a whole.

The CPRF leader then recited the names of famous political figures, scientists, writers, artists, composers, musicians, military generals and astronauts in the Soviet Union who had come from working class and peasant backgrounds — and who would never have been allowed to achieve distinction in Tsarist Russia.

He was followed by scores of speakers addressing the theme of the meeting, “On the 100th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution: the ideals of the Communist movement; strengthening the struggle against imperialist wars; for peace and socialism.”

The European Union came under attack from within and beyond Europe, as a force for capitalist globalisation and imperialist expansion alongside Nato.

Ceferino Alonso of the Communists of Catalonia apologised for the absence of his party’s general secretary. He faces charges in Madrid of threatening the integrity of the Spanish state and fomenting rebellion. Although the Catalan communists prefer a federal solution to the national question rather than Catalan separation, they also uphold the right of Catalonia to decide its own future.

Not only was this biggest meeting of its kind so far. Refreshingly, there were significantly more women and younger representatives on this occasion, notably from eastern Europe and some of the Latin American countries.

Everyone present agreed the draft final appeal, recognising Lenin and the Bolshevik Party as a continuing “source of inspiration and priceless experience” for the world’s communists and other revolutionaries.

They paid tribute to the Soviet Union as the “world’s first state of workers and peasants” which, within an historically short period of time, achieved unprecedented successes in all economic, social, cultural, political, scientific and technological fields; stimulated the struggle of the workers in the capitalist countries and the development of the international communist and workers’ movement; contributed decisively to the victory over fascism and became a guarantor of peace; and assisted peoples oppressed and colonised for centuries achieve national liberation.

At the same time, the communists acknowledged that they face a special task of “conducting research and drawing the right conclusions on the causes that led to the disintegration of the USSR.”

Nevertheless, facing capitalism’s “deep structural crisis” and imperialism’s “dangerous, exploitative and aggressive offensive,” socialism remains the essential objective. Therefore, the meeting saluted the struggles of workers and peoples across the planet against imperialism and for sovereignty, national independence, peace, social progress and socialism.

 

The appeal issued at the end of proceedings urged all communist and workers’ parties to take and coordinate action in a number of specific areas, and in particular to:

  • step up the battle against anti-communism and anti-Sovietism, strengthening solidarity with parties facing persecution such as the Communist Party of Ukraine.
  • organise and exchange scientific research and views on the causes of counter-revolution and capitalist restoration in the Soviet Union and socialist camp.
  • promote wide-scale study of the works of Lenin, explaining their historic significance and modern-day relevance.
  • hold events to mark and popularise the 100th anniversary of Lenin’s work The State and Revolution.
  • use Russia’s Victory over Nazi-Fascism Day (May 9) and the 75th anniversary of the victory at Stalingrad (February 2) to combat fascism, racism and “Russophobia” and to defend democratic rights and freedoms.

Furthermore, the appeal demanded an end to the US blockade of Cuba and supported the right of the Palestinian people to a “free sovereign and independent state.” It also expressed solidarity with peoples confronting imperialist intervention and occupation and attacks from “fanatical reactionary religious forces,” notably in Syria, Ukraine and Bolivarian Venezuela.

Reaffirming their opposition to Nato, nuclear weapons, foreign military bases, militarism and imperialist war, the parties called for the peaceful and just resolution of international conflicts based on the principles of international law.

On the Korean peninsula, for instance, US intervention should end as Korea engages in “peaceful reunification.”

At its close, the 19th international meeting approved proposals to hold next year’s event in Athens and to add representatives from the Communist Party of Vietnam, the Chinese Communist Party and the Workers Party of Korea to the body’s working group.

Thanks were given to this year’s hosts, the CPRF, who had arranged guided tours of the Smolny Institute in Leningrad where Lenin proclaimed the victory of the October Revolution, and of the battleship Aurora which had fired the opening shots.

In Moscow, the overseas communists were shown around the Kremlin, attended the Putin government’s “official” celebration of the 1941 military parade (which was itself a celebration of October 1917) before joining thousands of Russian communists on a march through the city.

In both cities, gala performances by an extraordinary cast of singers, dancers, musicians and actors against stunning film and poster back-drops drew huge crowds, confirming that the communists of the CPRF and the world will continue to draw inspiration from the Great October Socialist Revolution in the struggles — and revolutions — to come.

 

Robert Griffiths is general secretary of the Communist Party of Britain.

This article appeared in The Morning Star, Thursday 16th November 2017

 

MANIFESTO PRESS has brought us a treasure that has never before appeared in English. ( first published in English (2017) by Manifesto Press Co-operative Ltd translation: Mick Costello )

The Woman Worker will be of interest to historians, sociologists, political theorists and educationalists.

But most of all it will be of interest to the women and men who continue in 21st-century Britain the struggle in their workplaces and in their communities for the defeat of capitalism and for a more just and equal society.

Fresh and vibrant, it is as relevant today to our fight for women’s freedom from oppression and exploitation as it was in pre-revolutionary Russia almost 120 years ago.

A quarter of a century after it had first been published, Nadezhda K Krupskaya revisited the pamphlet she had written in 1899 while exiled in the village of Shushenskoye in Siberia with her husband, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.

At the time she had not been confident that she could manage to produce what was to be her first pamphlet.

Now she was being asked to agree to its reprinting and wide redistribution. Thinking that what it raised might be worth reconsideration in the post-revolution Soviet Union, she gave her consent, writing a brief reflective introduction.

Looking back at the pages “paled with age,” it was clear how far things had moved forward following the taking of power by the working class in 1917.

Conditions had changed in so many ways for the woman worker and woman peasant.

“With each passing day, women workers and peasant women are becoming more politically conscious, self-confident and partaking ever more in the building of a new life,” she said.

Yet so much work still remained to be done to enable women to achieve full emancipation.

It is a testimony to the clarity and penetration of Krupskaya’s writing and the simplicity and contemporary relevance of her message that not a single addition or amendment was needed 25 years after she first put pen to paper.

The work is set out in three sections. The first addresses the reality of women workers’ lives in the workplace, as members of the working class, and of the nature of the struggle of workers against the bourgeoisie in which women and men must be involved together.

Thus, from the outset, Krupskaya asserts that the deplorable condition in which women labour under capitalism and their fight for freedom from this is fundamentally rooted not in gender but in class.

The second section considers women workers in the family, showing that women not only suffer as members of the working class but from the gender-based oppression arising from their dependency on men who keep them as property, shut away from society, poor, abused and without means of escape — because without men “bread-winning” for them, they could not survive.

Krupskaya argues step by step that the independence and hence the freedom of women can never be achieved under the present capitalist order.

“Thus, we see that a woman has a double interest in the workers’ cause — as a worker and as a woman,” Krupskaya argues.

In the final section the writer looks at women workers in their role as mothers, burdened by poverty, drudgery and ignorance.

She demonstrates that what is needed for the upbringing of cultured, educated, healthy children into citizens who value productive labour and social co-operation can only be provided when the current conditions are overthrown and society takes responsibility for the next generation — planning, dedicating resources and organising to meet all its needs.

This is yet another compelling reason why women workers must fight with their class for a socialist future.

The first part of each section sets out in graphic detail the situation and experience of women and, crucially, why it is as it is.

Readers and listeners — for its simple message was clearly intended also for those who were illiterate and could not access the written word — encounter peasant women, those engaged in cottage industries, women in mills and factories, women used as chattels, women suffering at the hands of husbands in communities where abuse was endemic, women forced into prostitution, children sick and dying.

The writing is reminiscent of Engels’s The Condition of the Working Class in England. As you read you see, hear, smell and taste the poverty and degradation.

But this is only the starting point. Wherever Krupskaya takes you, she shows you not only why the material situation is as it is but also explains what workers need to do to change things and tells how it is possible to sweep away the old order and build something new.

At the same time she tackles the ideological barrage to which women and men are daily exposed, setting out the arguments and challenges of those who consciously or otherwise stand in the way of change — the things they tell you at school and in church, what the supposedly “kind gentlemen” say.

And then Krupskaya clearly and systematically refutes them. Women will get nothing from the tsar, the bourgeoisie or god! She draws her listeners in, skilfully bringing them close to workers already engaged in struggle, telling of the part women have played and the progress already made. She shows that another world is possible if, and only if, women and men struggle “arm in arm” together.

The Woman Worker is especially valuable to us because of the insight it brings us of this truly remarkable woman and because not only was this Krupskaya’s first booklet, it was also the first Marxist work on the situation of women in Russia.

Krupskaya was a revolutionary, a politician, an educator and an activist committed throughout her adult life to the cause of socialism. She played a leading role in the Soviet Union from the beginning, including in the setting up of the Komsomol and Pioneers and as deputy to the people’s commissar of education and enlightenment with responsibility for adult education.

Finally, for the last 10 years of her life until her death in 1939, she was the deputy minister of education for the whole Soviet Union.

The Woman Worker, written in the harsh circumstances of internal exile and published and distributed in secret under a pseudonym, testifies to the deep theoretical understanding and early promise of a very gifted and courageous revolutionary.

The contribution she went on to make shows the importance to the movement of its recognition and fostering of that early potential.

What might have been lost had the young woman not received the encouragement her comrades gave her?

In 1933, Krupskaya wrote a preface to Lenin’s work, The Emancipation of Women. Here she details the achievements of the Soviet government which had been celebrated a year earlier, in October 1932 on the 15th anniversary of Soviet power.

This later essay forms a perfect sequel to The Woman Worker, demonstrating now in practice that “the emancipation of women is inseparably bound up with the entire struggle of workers for the workers’ cause, for socialism.”

The new Manifesto Press publication includes Mick Costello’s translation of The Woman Worker and of Krupskaya’s introduction to the reprint of her work 25 years on.

It also carries an introduction by Dmitriy Kolesnik and Alex Gordon, together with archive photographs. This must surely be one of the best short Marxist tracts to have been added to this corpus of literature in English in recent years.

This article appeared in The Morning Star Monday 30th October 2017

 • Liz Payne is chair of the Communist Party of Britain and its women’s organiser.

 • The Woman Worker by Nadezdha Krupskaya costs £3.50 + P&P and is available from the Marx Memorial Library & Workers’ School, 37a Clerkenwell Green, London EC1R 0DU.

This week marks a very special centenary within our celebrations marking the events of the great October socialist revolution in Russia in 1917, one which is of crucial significance in respect of our struggles against the devastation brought about by imperialism and its catastrophic interventions and wars in our own time

On November 8 1917, the day following the establishment of the workers’ and peasants’ government, the second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies in Petrograd, which now had state power, issued its “Decree on Peace.”

So fundamental was the ending of the inter-imperialist first world war to the future of the peoples of Russia and the peoples of all belligerent countries that it was articulated as a first priority of the first workers’ state in the first 24 hours of its existence.

The issuing of the decree was supremely revolutionary and the initial act of internationalism of the workers’ government.

For the first time in the history of the world, the will of workers, soldiers and peasants with state power in their hands was being expressed in respect of the resolution of conflict and the rights of peoples.

By means of the decree, the true character of imperialist war and the nature of peace as defined by the working class were plainly set out, thus demonstrating the inherent link between the struggle for peace and that for socialism.

The stark contrast between the approach of the new government and that of the preceding “government of landowners and capitalists” could not have been greater. It was at a stroke put before not only the ruling classes of the warring countries but all the people too.

The decree described continuation of the imperialist war, motivated by the issue of division of conquered territories between the richest and most powerful countries, as “the greatest of crimes against humanity.”

The people in the warring countries involved were exhausted, tormented and wracked with suffering. The call was for an immediate, just and democratic peace.

What this meant was simply and unequivocally stated. There were to be no annexations and no indemnities. Peace terms were to be equally just for all nationalities without exception.

All troops of the aggressor armies were to leave occupied territories. Only after this had taken place could the people of those nations determine the future of their states by a free vote “without the least pressure being brought to bear.”

The decree declared the abolition of secret diplomacy and the government’s intention to reveal the contents of all secret treaties.

It was emphatic that the workers’ government would not be bound by anything they contained that was to the benefit of Russian landowners and capitalists or pertained to the retention or expansion of the annexations of the Russian empire. From now on, all negotiations would be carried out openly and transparently for all to see.

True to its word, only two days later, on November 10, the government began publishing in the press (Pravda and Isvestia) the secret treaties of the Tsar’s dictatorship and the provisional government and by February 1918 seven volumes of such had been collected and exposed, including those which demonstrated Britain’s complicity with tsarist Russia and its own aggressive war aims.

The appeal for peace would be to the governments and peoples of all warring countries. It recognised that the governments concerned could not be ignored if peace was to be rapidly concluded.

However, universally, the peoples’ interests were different from those of their governments and for the new workers’ and peasants’ government in Russia, it was imperative to “help the peoples to intervene in questions of war and peace.”

The decree made a special appeal to the working class of the three leading imperialist countries participating in the war — Britain, France and Germany.

It noted that the workers of these countries had made “the greatest contributions to the cause of progress and socialism” — including the Chartist movement, historically significant revolutions and the creation of mass working-class organisations respectively. Now they had a duty to save humanity from the horrors of war and its consequences.

This mass action would be an essential contribution to the conclusion of the peace. It would also support the workers’ state in Russia in the freeing of its working people “from all forms of slavery and all forms of exploitation.”

Looking back over the century that has followed the issue of the decree, it is clear that the principles of workers’ diplomacy and international relations enshrined within it and the development of these principles in practice over the decades by the peace-loving peoples of the world have exposed and challenged the forces of imperialism, now led by the US and its Nato and EU allies, for what they are — the primary source of conflict, war and human suffering across the globe.

War and conflict are inherent in global capitalism’s quest for profits and these have become all the more terrible in the wake of the irresolvable and ongoing economic crisis, threatening regional conflagration and potentially world war on a scale hitherto unknown.

We should be clear on this — there is no peaceful means of snatching the resources of the world; exploiting the labour of billions; creating, expanding and monopolising markets, seeing off competitors and, above all, ensuring that all advances on the road to socialism anywhere in the world are thwarted and crushed.

At the same time, we who know that another world is possible, must say no to war, no to Nato and yes to peace and socialism.

It is only together in solidarity with the peace-loving peoples of the world in true internationalist struggle that we will secure a peaceful, just and democratic future.

But in this, as the Decree on Peace in 1917 made plain, we as the working class of a leading imperialist power have the special primary responsibility of taking on, challenging and ultimately defeating our own ruling class — for the sake not only of the people of Britain but for the enslaved, exploited and war-torn people everywhere.

 This article written by Liz Payne,  South West District Chair, and appeared in The Morning Star  8th November 2017

• Liz Payne is the convener of the British Peace Assembly, the only affiliate from Britain to the World Peace Council.