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Former President Donald Ramotar
Former President Donald Ramotar

OP-ED: THE GREAT OCTOBER SOCIALIST REVOLUTION REVERBERATES TODAY

November 7, 2017, marked the centenary of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia. With the possible exception of the French Revolution, no other event has impacted and influenced world developments so profoundly. Indeed, the October Revolution gave even greater content to the slogan of the French Revolution, ‘Liberty, Fraternity and Equality’.
In fact, its influence is still being felt today even though the Soviet Union, which emerged as a direct result of this revolution, collapsed almost three decades ago.

It occurred at a time when the First World War was still raging. It is important to note that among the first acts by the leaders of this revolution, led by V.I. Lenin, was the Decree on Peace.

It released all the secret agreements that they found between the big powers of the day. It was in those papers that the world first learnt of the betrayal of the Palestinian people.
Throughout its existence the Soviet Union promoted peace between countries and peoples everywhere.

A testimony to its peaceful drive is the fact that the world has become a much more dangerous place. The spread of wars has become much more prevalent than when the Soviet Union existed.

The October Revolution inspired peace and freedom loving peoples everywhere to stand up for their rights and justice. It gave hope to oppressed peoples everywhere that freedom was possible and that a better world could arise.

That Revolution had to really fight for its existence from the first days.

While still in its infancy, it was attacked by fourteen countries. At the sametime, it had to deal with a civil war at home. It came through a baptism of fire.

Having overcome those early attempts to ‘strangle Bolshevism in its cradle’, the Soviet Union made remarkable achievements. At the time of the revolution Russia was some seventh place in the world as far as economic measures were used. It grew rapidly to occupy the number two place for quite a while.

Its economic decline began in the 1970s when it did not adopt to the tremendous scientific and technological revolution that was accelerating rapidly. The bureaucracy was stifling.

However, its impact and legacy remain powerful sources of inspiration to peoples everywhere.

Most notable was its role in the defeat of Hitlerite Fascism.

When Hitler attacked the Soviet Union in 1941, it did so after conquering all of Western Europe. It had the might of Europe’s industry behind it and the Soviet Union was young and still recovering from ravishes of wars, including a civil war.

At a great human sacrifice the Soviet Union broke the back of fascism. It threw back the fascists hordes and went all the way to its den in Berlin.

That victory came at very great costs. In the process, the country lay in ruins. It lost more than twenty million people. Those were its young and strongest people.

Yet, it once again rose from the ashes to build a powerful state and played a central role in all aspects of international life.

It was most responsible for the dismantling of the colonial system, taking millions of people out of bondage. It sponsored the UN Resolution on Decolonialisation.

Its acts so inspired peoples everywhere that shortly after the war, in 1947, India became the first in recent history to break the colonial bondage. China too, then a semi-colonial state experienced a profound revolution in 1949.

The rest of the colonies and semi-colonies including Guyana, won their political freedom.
It is apposite to recall some of the epic battles in which Soviet solidarity made the difference.
The collapse of the Apartied regimes in South Africa and Rodisia (now Zimbabwe) was due to struggles of those peoples with moral and material support from the Soviet Union.

In the west, the ANC and Mandela were still regarded as terrorists. That analysis saw the US and Europe doing business with the Apartied regimes, thus supporting them.
Soviet support for the liberation movements in Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bessau and Nambia was decisive to those people’s struggle for freedom.

The most memorable was the support it gave to Vietnam in its epic war for freedom and the right to self-determination. It was Soviet weapons, economic assistance and moral support that proved to be decisive.

Soviet solidarity with Cuba was also vital to the survival of the Cuban Revolution. That’s the main reason Cuba have withstood the blockade and economic and military attacks.
The impact on the developed countries in Europe and North America was very powerful as well.

Its advances in providing free education at all levels, free health services to all its people, coupled with other social gains had a profound impact, particularly in Europe.

The Welfare State was a major concession to working people in an effort to stave off revolutions in Western Europe.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union some of those countries have been withdrawing some of those gains won by the Trade Union Movement. However, it is still strong in the Nordic European states and held up as an example to other peoples in developed countries.

Recall the campaign of Bernie Sanders for the nomination of the Democratic Party. His call had a powerful impact and he used the welfare system in the Nordic European countries and Canada to register his points. Those too were the indirect benefits of the October Revolution.

It is true that some serious mistakes were made. It is also true that some violation of human rights and even serious crimes were committed in the Soviet Union.

Most of this occurred during the Stalinist era. Many people were executed or exiled very unjustly. Those acts have been condemned by all freedom loving people.

Despite this though, the achievements made by the whole world as a result of the October Revolution are indisputable. The crimes that were committed during the Stalinist era, and some even later, have cast a shadow on the Revolution but they cannot extinguish them.
Serious mistakes were made in the Gorbachev period as well. His administration dismantled the system before creating new structures to accommodate the growth of the production prices in the economy.

Those changes, as mentioned above, were spurred on by the rapid scientific and technological revolutions.

This created the growth of anarchy and dislocation which developed into a political crisis and eventual collapse.

However, thousands of persons in Asia, Africa and Latin America had the good fortune to be educated in Russia during the time of the Soviet Union. Most went home to their respective countries, including Guyana, to make their contribution to development.
This was at a time when leaders of developing countries were complaining about a brain drain to the West.

The impact of the October Revolution was felt in Guyana and the Caribbean. It was the ideas of freedom and equality that inspired Cheddi and Janet Jagan, Ashton Chase and Joslyn Hubbard to form the Political Affairs Committee that grew into the People’s Progressive Party.

Apart from the original four, others like Martin Carter, Eusi Kwayana, Brindley Benn and others were moved by this great revolution.

Later, Walter Rodney views were also influenced by the Great October Socialist Revolution.

The ideas of freedom that sparked the October Revolution are still alive.

It continues to grow in China that is building its country into a strong socialist country with Chinese characteristics. China is now the second largest economy in the world and its contribution to the international life is immense.

It is strong in Cuba and Vietnam as they push ahead in constructing societies in which all the people can benefit. They are doing so while correcting past mistakes and improving on governance issues.

The victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution one hundred years ago, continues to reverberate throughout the world.
Donald Ramotar, Former President

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