Lessons of Historic November Revolution in the Light of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh Thought


‘‘…there is a historically determined scientific process to change society. Marxism for the first time revealed this road to man. Again, in the present era, the era of moribund world imperialist-capitalist system and international proletarian revolution, those who call themselves Marxists add the word Leninism to Marxism and emphasize that Marxism-Leninism is the only weapon with which to accomplish social revolution in this era. This weapon does not mean cannons, guns, pistols or bombs—it is a weapon far greater in power. Once mastered, this weapon generates such mighty spirit, it creates such organizing ability and capacity to plan, it elevates consciousness to such high a level among the exploited toiling masses which goes to arm them with an invincible power to carry on protracted battles. Those who seek to obstruct the struggle of the exploited masses with the military might of guns and cannons are at a loss to understand the ‘mystery’ of the source of this strength….
…Marxism-Leninism teaches man to grasp and to realize where exactly the malady lies, where the root cause of the problems lies, and what is the law governing the changes in this changing society….Only with the grasping of this law can man direct the struggle to transform the society in the correct course just as scientists can harness a force of nature only when they have correctly found out and have known and grasped the inherent law of nature that guides a particular activity of nature; only when it has been possible to correctly understand the law governing a change can man control a force of nature, change a state of matter, or an order of society by exerting influence on it or accelerating the process of the change with his activities in accordance with the law governing the change.’’ (Science of Marxism is the Scientific Dialectical Methodology, SW, Vol. IV)
‘‘In fact, before the Russian revolution, people throughout the world could not even imagine that the ignorant workers-peasants and the illiterate toilers could ever overthrow the ruling bourgeoisie or the formidable monarchical rule like that of Czardom from power. Through the February Revolution of 1917 which overthrew the Czar or Czardom from power in Russia, it can be said that bourgeois democratic revolution was successful. But although Czardom could be overthrown through the February Revolution, the state power went into the hands of the bourgeoisie, the Russian bourgeoisie, which was a partner in the united struggle against Czardom. Thus, through the February Revolution the bourgeois Kerensky government was no doubt established in Russia, but side by side the Soviets of workers and peasants also existed almost in the form of dual power. The February Revolution of Russia not only failed to do away with feudalism-imperialism completely, but what is more, the bourgeoisie having come to power was found to be keeping intact the old feudal order and also maintaining at the same time a full-scale understanding with the imperialists. As a result, although the bourgeoisie captured state power overthrowing Czardom through revolution, if we analyze the phase of social revolution from the economic aspect, we find that the anti-feudal and anti-imperialist tasks of bourgeois democratic revolution remained unaccomplished.
This helped create a misconception among many, who were known as Marxists in the revolutionary movement of Russia—the Socialist Revolutionaries, the Menshevik party, etc., and even many within the Bolshevik party who for all practical purposes reduced Marxism to economic determinism. From an old understanding of Marxian theory—that is, the understanding that grew and developed following Marxism somewhat as a dogma and which was not the correct dialectical materialistic understanding of Marxism—they started saying that since in the course of progress and development of the society the stages of social revolution cannot be skipped over, the Soviets of workers and peasants should co-operate with the Kerensky government with the object of fulfilling the anti-feudal, anti-imperialist tasks of bourgeois democratic revolution, on the one hand, and organize people’s movements, on the other, to mount pressure on the Kerensky government to get these unfulfilled tasks realized. In this way, the workers-peasants, the proletariat would have to go along the path of parliamentary politics and through this process the bourgeois democratic revolution would have to be completed first. Till these tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution were completed, it was meaningless to strive for socialist revolution or, for that matter, any other revolution. Such a notion strongly prevailed in Russia after the February Revolution.
… Comrade Lenin was at the helm. He was not a Marxist of the type who took recourse to quotation mongering and picked up at random and out of context a few lines from here and a few from there to suit his own contention or to anyhow demolish his opponents’ arguments. He realized the basic truth that Marxism was not just what was enunciated in the Marxist classics. To him realization of Marxism meant acquiring the scientific methodology, that is, the Marxist dialectics and the philosophical outlook with the help of which Marx, Engels and other Marxists came to those conclusions, to apply that in practice and to grasp the essence of the concrete conditions in which these enunciations were made. Quotation mongering, citing analogies and drawing of historical parallels—none of these has anything to do with the Marxist methodological approach, that is, none of these conforms to the dialectical method of analysis of Marxism. In the name of Marxism all these are vulgarizations of Marxism. Lenin understood this perfectly. Because he understood this, he courageously struck at the root of the ideas prevalent through his famous treatise, The April Theses. He said and showed clearly to the communists of the world that Marxism is not economic determinism—on this stands the valuable teaching of Lenin that politics always supersedes economy. That means, with the uneven development of capitalism, the twists and turns, the zigzags and the ups and downs of the revolutionary movements—sometimes going ahead and sometimes retreating, in the midst of such tussles, politics and political events are strongly influencing economic development, so much so that these have become actually the determinant. If someone does not understand the mutual relation between politics and economy in this way, rather thinks that as the economic condition changes so changes the political condition, that is, the political condition changes only as reflection of the economic change—that means he has not understood Marxism, he has accepted something else in the name of Marxism.
… Lenin showed through this theory that, first of all, in the present era of imperialism and proletarian revolution, the bourgeois democratic revolutions in different countries had also become part of the world socialist or proletarian revolution.
Secondly, he said, in the present era of moribund capitalism when world capitalism had entered the stage of imperialism and turned out and out reactionary, the bourgeoisie in all the countries, even the bourgeoisie who were participating in the national liberation movements in colonial countries, ceased to have a revolutionary character which they had as a class during the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries. For, they are also part and parcel of international reactionary bourgeoisie.….
… One more essential point we are to bear in mind in this connection, that is, revolution cannot be achieved merely on the basis of organizational strength. For the success of revolution, not only a steel-strong organization of hundreds of thousands of people are needed but what is more, an overwhelming section of the population remaining outside the orbit of organization must become passive supporters of the revolution. If not passive supporters, they should at least be benevolently neutral to revolution and should not go against the revolution in any case. This condition is essential for the success of a revolution. Say, from a liberal estimate, if we accept that half-a-million of people is the combined strength of all the parties standing for revolution, even then it is an insignificant minority compared with the total population of India. If, therefore, we do not care for and are totally unconcerned about the ideas of morality and ethics, of decency and civility, of character of this vast multitude of our people, then we will simply be rootless.
By ideology we do not mean, therefore, some high-sounding words borrowed from outside. Norms and principles of movement, sobriety and ethics, taste and culture-ideology encompasses all these. Those who take part in the movement, those who lead the movement, they all move among the masses.…Hence, if some think that people are not going to bother about their personal lives and, therefore, they are free to lead their lives in whatever way they like and that revolution will come only from pulpit speeches about revolution, they would do well to remember that it is not that simple. Nowhere did revolution come in this way. …if the ideology is wrong, if the base political line is wrong, then even if someone has strength at one time, it will not last ultimately. …
If the base political line is muddled up then there is bound to be confusion on the tactical questions, the purpose, principle, practice and mode of democratic mass movements. …
The lesson that we must draw from the November Revolution is that for the success of a revolution there are three preconditions. The first is, on the basis of a correct revolutionary theory, ideology and base political line, the emergence of a genuine revolutionary party of the proletariat with adequate organizational strength to provide leadership. …
The second essential condition for revolution is the United Front. At the initial stage of democratic movement, building up of United Front of left and democratic forces and after passing this phase, giving birth to the proletarian United Front —a front essential for the anti-capitalist revolution….The third prerequisite for revolution is to develop through the united mass movements or joint struggles people’s own instrument of struggle, meaning thereby, giving birth to the political power of the people, which will be unlike the municipal committees or the local and district committees of the representatives of the constituent political parties of the United Front. These will be organizations, more or less like the Soviets of the workers and peasants in Russia, developed through united struggle of the workers and peasants having the competence to accept or reject any programme, as also having the initiative and capability to apply them concretely and independently. Unless these three essential preconditions of revolution are fulfilled, movements may come in wave after wave, millions of people may plunge in these movements and lay down their lives again and again, but there will be no revolution. Revolution and revolt or agitation are not one and the same. By revolution we mean the politically conscious, organized and armed uprising of the masses on the basis of a definite aim and object, a correct ideology and the genuine revolutionary political line of the proletariat. And the more the people will advance towards fulfilment of these essential conditions, the brighter will become the prospect of a radical transformation of the present situation in India and the more purposive will be the observance of November Revolution anniversaries in our life.’’ (Under the Banner of the Great November Revolution SW, Vol. III)
‘‘The end of the Second World War has brought a vital change in the international situation. The most important political change is that it has polarized the world social forces into two distinct camps, namely, the imperialist-fascist war camp led by the USA and the anti-imperialist socialist peace camp headed by the USSR. The emergence of the socialist camp after the Second World War has freed socialism from within the bounds of a single country and transformed it into a world system. This is no doubt the main feature of the present era, distinguishing the present from the past, the pre-war period.’’… (The Post-Second World War International Situation and Lessons of the November Revolution SW Vol. I)
‘‘Before the anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, peace-loving and freedom-loving peoples of the world, the Soviet Union very naturally stood as the leader of the socialist camp. Being the first working class state based on Marxism-Leninism and built up and reared by Lenin and Stalin, it enjoyed the unflinching confidence and high esteem of people across the world. Very naturally, it was for the Soviet Union to provide leadership to the socialist camp. It was its task then to co-ordinate the mass movements in different countries with the peace movement of the socialist camp against the imperialist war machinations. As the leader of the socialist camp, the main task of the Soviet Union was, on the one hand, to maintain the relative superiority of the socialist camp over the imperialist camp in nuclear arms which could act as the guarantee of world peace against ‘nuclear blackmailing’ by imperialism, and, on the other, not only to expose the real face of the imperialists’ nuclear blackmailing, or nuclear war threats, but also to unmask the nefarious US politics of engineering local and partial warfare here and there all over the world, of instigating one country to get embroiled in war with another, and its policy of ‘cash and violence’ and of wanton interference in the internal affairs of other countries through coup by stooges propped up by the CIA in the armies of different countries.’’
In the Second World War period, such a situation had arisen that once I opined that we had almost reached the threshold of world revolution, so to say—just a few yards from it. Just at that time the world communist movement slipped into a labyrinth. That is, the situation was such that there was a bright possibility of revolution becoming victorious from country to country. The power of resistance of imperialism was totally shattered. All the imperialist countries of Europe were then totally war-ravaged. They were producing below installed capacity. They were not able to feed their people. … many a country having now come out of the yoke of imperialism and the prospect of imperialist exploitation in those newly independent resurgent nationalist countries having declined owing to setting up of new industries there, naturally a tremendous pressure came upon the imperialist economy. In reality, the whole US economy stands on quicksand….
Its whole economic system rests on war economy. The type of war depending on which it has been maintaining its economic stability at present, is a local, partial, temporary affair—it cannot last long. And it can keep these local wars going because, in the main, the national liberation movements have not yet been victorious. Thus, the very moment the victory of national liberation struggles of different colonial and dependent countries would be completed, the opportunities for the imperialists to trigger off local wars would also diminish. Therefore, the task of the socialist camp under the leadership of the Soviet Union was to force them to pursue the policy of peaceful co-existence.’’ …‘‘But Khrushchev reduced the understanding of the policy of peaceful co-existence to such a state that it meant that … regarding the misdeeds perpetrated by the USA by aggressing on other countries … the Soviet Union would not confront and resist such actions actively…
It transpires that Khrushchev’s policy of peaceful co-existence virtually means that, sitting tight, the socialist countries would just sermonize like moralists and allow the US pirates to aggress on other lands. … The true purport of the policy of peaceful co-existence is that as the Soviet Union would not interfere anywhere, so it would not allow the USA, too, to do so.’’ …‘‘The present leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union could not grasp the real significance of the policy of peaceful co-existence. This they could not do because of their low level of ideological consciousness….
Someone’s capacity to understand is very high or consciousness is of a very high standard—this means that the thinking and knowledge are of a very high standard in a given situation…. But if the level of his consciousness remains static there—if he fails to uplift his standard continually keeping pace with the newer and newer problems that appear with the change of time and condition, then this high standard of today becomes low in the perspective of the changed situation, in relation to newer and newer problems’’. (The Post-Second World War International Situation and Lessons of the November Revolution SW, Vol. I)
‘‘November Socialist Revolution provides us with many lessons…We have to understand that if the base political line before the movement is not correctly determined, then, like the innumerable struggles in the past, in the future, too, the struggles for emancipation of the exploited people will inevitably end in a fiasco time and again…
…however difficult may be the situation today, you have to constantly bear in mind an important point which persons with intellect, the dialectical materialists and the devotees of science knew only, but common people, even if they could understand the reason of that, yet they could not wholeheartedly accept it….The November Revolution, for the first time in the history, proved to the world, not in theory alone, but by concrete instance that—yes, it was possible…’’ (Under the Banner of the Great November Revolution SW Vol. III)

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