Monday, November 07, 2011

Red October, 1917-2011

Today is the 94th anniversary of the Russian October Revolution of 1917. If only the calendar modernization which put Red October a week into November was the last ignominy history would inflict on what was actually an amazing, transformative event. Now, twenty years after the Soviet Union birthed by that revolution bit the dust under its own corrupt, repressive weight, it might seem even less relevant to today's world. But the Russian Revolution, however wide the waters passing under the bridge of the last century, is still the story of a bunch of brave regular people bringing down one of the world's major corrupt empires under the banner of social justice, egalitarianism, human liberation, and people working together to determine our own future.

There's plenty of hairs that can be split over what happened next: I'm not even gonna try to condense the story of Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and their heirs into a neat little summary. Like all human achievement, there's plenty of good and plenty of bad in that story. But to dismiss it all as a mistake, or merely the opening of some kind of totalitarian pandora's box, is to miss out on some really important stuff. The bathwater might be low and lukewarm, but there's still a baby in there worth saving. One day we'll make good on that momentous occasion's promise.


  1. A very thoughtful, concise and principled defence of the Russian revolution. While not ignoring the deformations and corruption, we should learn from the successes and draw inspiration for a better world from its example.

    It is necessary to rescue the Russian Revolution from the buckets of vitriol hurled against it by its detractors.

  2. Thanks Rupen. The time has passed when we need to split hairs over 1917. There are some negative lessons mixed in with the positive, but it remains a shining example of what is possible.