October 2017 marks the centenary of the great Russian Revolution of October 1917. Working class and poor people all over the world should be celebrating this great historical victory. As we state in our booklet (link below), it represents the greatest moment in the history of working class struggle. It was the first time that the working class wrested power from the Russian ruling class (Czarist autocracy and the bourgeoisie) via a process of revolutionary struggles through their own organs of power (Soviets). It highlighted the critical role of leadership and the revolutionary party in the process of revolution, central to which was the Bolsheviks and its leadership. The Russian Revolution had immediate international ramifications in all parts of the world and has a legacy that still lives with us today.
For us in South Africa, its legacy, especially during the period of political degeneration of the Russian Revolution, was mediated through the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) that was founded in 1921. In 1928, the CPSA adopted the controversial “Native Republic Thesis” (NRT) after a severe internal struggle that saw leading members purged from the party. This position of the party promoted a two-stage theory of political and social change – a first stage of democratic black majority rule that would gradually open up spaces for “radical reform” evolving towards the second socialist stage. The NRT eventually laid the basis for the reformed South African Communist Party (SACP) and its “Colonialism of a Special Type” and “National Democratic” (NDR) theses which argued a similar position. This two-stage conception of revolutionary struggle has been the central contradiction of the international socialist movement since the 19th century and still bedevils debate and strategy today, not least of which South Africa. It ensured the SACP and later Cosatu’s unconditional support for the ANC and tail-ending this bourgeois national party in the first stage.
The rest as they say is history, and today the masses of South Africa and indeed the world are suffering as a consequence with imperialism continuing to plunder and destroy the world and its people.
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Watch out for our special shows on the centenary of the Russian Revolution on the SAFM Workers on Wednesday show next week (18 October at 10.00) and CTV on Thursday 26 October at 21.00 on DSTV Channel 263.