What Can We Learn From The October Revolution, And Is It Relevant Today?
100th anniversary of a failed utopia
November 7th marks the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution of 1917 — november in the Gregorian calendar — making it one of the most important geopolitical events of the 20th century.
The October Revolution happened at a pivotal tumultuous age. A revolution powered by the lower class that shook the world. Their achievements should not be forgotten due to its historical and social character. No doubt at all, this event changed people’s lives at the time beyond recognition. The revolution laid the foundations of the social welfare system, labor and women’s rights as we know them today in the western world.
Before the revolution, Russia was an extremely backward empire, a semi-feudal territory with a predominantly illiterate population, devastated by poverty, war, and starvation. Subjugated by a dictatorial nobility. Who would have thought that a country of peasants will become the first workers’ state and power player in the world thanks to the collective efforts of their people?
Whether you are critical or not of the Revolution, what one cannot deny is that the October Revolution dramatically kicked and changed the world. Stirred up dissent with its bold ideas and brought people together, people who bravely took charge of their own destiny and fought for justice, equality, and freedom for workers and peasants who were oppressed and exploited.
Every revolution has its flaws, and revolutions are always inherently imperfect and chaotic. Bloodsheds, violence, and death often tend to tarnish their mission. To deny this, it would be hypocritical, yet one ought must not forget what revolutions have achieved and done for humanity.
The October Revolution taught us that a citizen movement, an ignorant and poor one has the ability to overthrow a regime with its own hands, no matter how difficult it may have seemed and how little power they had. A minority was brave enough to reach a drastic turning point. They were the force of change.
The realm of the people relied upon in their ability to fight faithfully and with the conviction for their rights and ideals of freedom and justice. This is true today and it was, back then.
The event gradually transformed the country in ways that it has never happened before in history. They went from an agrarian state into an industrial one in just a couple of years.
The October Revolution was a milestone in the struggle for workers’ rights, efforts were made to guarantee women’s emancipation as well. Immediately after its establishment, women won the right to vote, divorce and abortion. Homosexuality became legal and new art movements and culture across the nation flowered.
From the twenty-first century perspective these may seem like very ordinary measures, but back in 1917, these measures were pioneers worldwide, paving the way for advances in other countries.
Such astonishing advances for a a peasants’ country must give us pause for thought. One can sympathize with the ideals led by the Bolsheviks or oppose them, but such a remarkable transformation demands our attention as thinking individuals.
“No matter what one thinks of Bolshevism, it is an undeniable fact that the Russian revolution is one of the greatest events in human history, and the rule of the Bolsheviks is a phenomenon of worldwide importance” — John Reed
The October Revolution is still important and relevant today because it shows the power of the people and the importance of hope in times of grim austerity and darkness.
The revolution matters because it miraculously gathered people together for a common good. Undeniably, developments of the revolution still influence political paths around the world, and, it would be foolish to ignore such achievements.
“The history of a revolution is for us, first of all, a history of the forcible entrance of the masses into the realm of rulership over their own destiny” — Lev Trotsky
The October revolution and its course are certainly filled with detractors, and it’s not exempt from controversy. But one thing is for sure: the revolution showed how a driven society can move history forward. So, of course, the revolution still matters today and it always will.
What I can’t help but wonder is: Is it time for another world revolution? Can socialism still fix the deep problems of capitalism? And, are we desperately in need of a new world order?