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(en) France: Debate on the Russian Revolution at La Gryffe, Lyons, 27/11/04 (fr)

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 19 Nov 2004 07:24:44 +0100 (CET)

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Debate wil René Berthier at the La Gryffe bookshop, Saturday 27th November
2004 at 3.00pm. The title of the debate is "Russia 1917-1921: the soviet
revolution and the bolshevik counter-revolution".
René Berthier is well-known as the author of "Octobre 1917,
le Thermidor de la révolution russe", published by CNT-RP this autumn.
Over 80 years ago, there took place an event of unprecedented size which would
upset the world and lastingly guide the destiny of the world revolutionary
movement: the Russian revolution.
In February 1917, soldiers, women, workmen and peasants, said no to the war, to
poverty and hunger, and swept away Czarism. The country was dotted with Soviets
(councils) of all kinds which tried to regulate the problems of provisions,
wages, production and social organization while the war continued.

This revolution also benefitted the revolutionary groups which originated in
social democracy (the Mencheviks and Bolsheviks), in populism (the
Socialist-Revolutionists), and in anarchism.

The Bolshevik party, under the drive of Lenin and Trotsky would make great
strides between February and October 1917, throwing to the wind its entire
programme from before 1917 (support for the bourgeoisie, nationalization of
land and businesses). This party suddenly claimed the land for the peasants,
the factories for the workers and all power to the Soviets. Its goal was the
conquest of power for itself and by itself.

>From this point of view, the October Revolution was a coup d'etat by a minority
party which went against the revolutionary movement and Russian society.

After this date, the history of the Revolution would be that of keeping in
power a political-military-police apparatus of State against Russian society
which it then decided to terrorize (the Cheka, the re-establishment of the
death penalty, concentration camps...), to turn into robots (attempts at
militarization of labour by Trotsky in 1919, orders given to workers "to
subject themselves to the sole dictatorial power" of company managers), to
oppress (the elimination of opponents and protestors both inside and outside
the party, the liquidation of the Soviets, the Kronshtadt massacres of 1921) in
order to bring the joys of dictatorship of the proletariat (or more exactly the
"State Capitalism" that Lenin wanted).

Shortly afterwards, Stalinism would complete what had been started so well by
Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev and Bukharin. René Berthier's book, "October
1917, Thermidor of the Russian Revolution" (published by CNT) on the one hand
retraces the principal events which, from February 1917 to 1921, would lead to
the defeat of the Revolution of the Soviets and, on the other hand, asks
important questions about authoritarian practices in revolutions past and
future, but also in the social struggles. Indeed, the victors of October
imposed a model and their ideology - "Marxism-Leninism". Its Stalinist variety
dominated labour and political movements for a long time. The other varieties
(Maoism and especially Trotskyism) seemed more presentable, more modern, but
questions about their strategies and practices are all too legitimate.

Of the extraordinary crucible of the Russian Revolution, there remains very
often only the vision which the victors imposed by choking the incredible
vitality, the diversity of practices and experiments of this period, so much so
that it is necessary to rediscover many things: the free Soviets and the war in
Ukraine, anarcho-syndicalism, the internal opposition within the Communist
Party (Workers' Opposition, Democratic Centralists) as they form part of the
heritage that this great attempt at individual and collective emancipation left

Together with René Berthier we will re-examine the current significance of the
Russian Revolution and Leninism in practice from 1917 to the present.

*La Gryffe - libertarian bookshop*,
5 Rue Sébastien Gryphe, 69007 LYONS.
Open Monday to Saturday 2.00pm - 7.00pm.
Tel: 04 78 61 02 25.
E-mail: librairie -A- lagryffe.net
Web Site: http://www.lagryffe.net

Translation by nmcn/ainfos

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