Lenin in 1923, shortly before his death.Karl Marx was not a utopian — that is, he did not pull out of his head the concept of what an ideal society would look like.Rather, he analyzed capitalism, as well as earlier forms of class and pre-class societies, to understand what gives rise to new social forms and the passing away of older ones.Why did private property and the development of classes take over from the early, communal form of human society, which had existed around the globe for tens of thousands of years?How is it that capitalist development, which has led to a spectacular increase in productivity in pursuit of profits for the ruling class, has also laid the material basis for realizing socialism? By abolishing private ownership of the means of production, socialism is the only system that can carry out plans to use the wealth created by the workers to benefit everyone.Marx also studied revolutions as the necessary catalyst to make such a transformation possible. He wrote that people “make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past.” (The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte)What happened in Russia in 1917, and later in all the nations under the heel of the vast czarist empire, confirmed this important concept of Marx. The revolution came because of unbearable poverty and repression, but it came to the weakest of the capitalist countries, not the most advanced. While the Russian revolutionaries had counted on the revolution spreading in Europe because of the desperate conditions created by World War I, that didn’t happen. There were soldiers’ and workers’ rebellions in several European countries, but they were crushed, leaving the Bolshevik Revolution surrounded by stronger capitalist powers bent on its destruction.Lenin on world revolutionV.I. Lenin, the great revolutionary thinker and fighter, recognized the terrible dangers facing the besieged Bolshevik Revolution. In a resolution for the 7th Congress of the Russian Communist Party on March 6, 1918, he wrote: “The Congress considers the only reliable guarantee of consolidation of the socialist revolution that has been victorious in Russia to be its conversion into a world working-class revolution.”Six weeks later, in a speech to the Moscow Soviet on April 23, he said: “We are a revolutionary working-class contingent that has advanced to the forefront, not because we are better than other workers, not because the Russian proletariat is superior to the working class of other countries, but solely because we were one of the most backward countries in the world. We shall achieve final victory only when we succeed at last in conclusively smashing international imperialism which relies on the tremendous strength of its equipment and discipline.“But we shall achieve victory only together with all the workers of other countries of the whole world. … Our backwardness has put us in the forefront, and we shall perish unless we are capable of holding out until we receive powerful support from workers who have risen in revolt in other countries.”The Bolshevik Revolution survived for another 74 years, a testament to the enormous potential of a workers’ state, even one born out of underdevelopment and devastating imperialist war. But from the beginning it had to make concessions in order to exist.Need for skilled personnelTake the question of personnel to run the new society. In the civil war and invasion by 14 imperialist countries that followed the actual seizure of power by the Bolsheviks, the most advanced workers committed to the revolution rushed to the battle. Many never came back. They died of war wounds, epidemics and even famine. Lost were the most dedicated communists with skills, both political and practical, desperately needed to get production going again and also to win over the masses to enlightened views on women’s rights, the rights of oppressed nationalities, how to collectivize agriculture, how to take over and run the factories and other workplaces under new worker management, etc.Sam Marcy, the founder and theoretical leader of Workers World Party, wrote on this in a pamphlet called “Soviet Socialism: Utopian or Scientific?” The Bolsheviks could not make history out of their own materials, he said, referring to Marx, but had to make do with the conditions that prevailed in Russia.“First and foremost among these conditions,” wrote Marcy, “was that the workers’ state in the USSR only succeeded because of its alliance with the much more numerous peasantry. The alliance was correct, principled and indispensable in the overthrow of czarism. But it presented an enormous problem. The proletariat as a class is supremely interested in the socialization of property and production, which the bourgeoisie has in fact already started. But the peasants are concerned with private property, their private plots. The alliance showed its difficulties right from the start of the revolution. How to keep the loyalty of the peasants?”Wolves in sheep’s clothing“This led to the next problem. It was not a pure workers’ state in the sense that the proletariat was a majority of the population or was able to organize a new social system on its own. The truth of the matter, as Lenin, Trotsky, Bukharin and Stalin all saw and agreed, is that it was necessary to rely to a large extent on the old czarist administrative apparatus — a bitter pill to swallow. This was true even in the military sphere. Former czarist officers were recruited, even though they had to be guarded by communist civilian cadre, the commissars. …“Relying upon elements of the old state apparatus in all fields of life held not only obvious dangers but a hidden one: These elements knew how to show eagerness and servility to the state, as in czarist times. The Communist Party, which they had previously scorned and feared — not to speak of imprisoned and banished — now could become a source of privilege if they showed support for the government and party.“The question before the Bolsheviks was how to deal with these layers — the old bureaucracy, the officialdom, remnants of the old educated classes — who now sensing the victory of the revolution tried to find an easy entrance into it.”How to feed the people? During the civil war the Bolsheviks had to requisition grain from the peasants to avert an even greater famine. In 1921, shortly after the counterrevolution was finally defeated, Lenin advocated a temporary return to market relations in agriculture — the New Economic Policy — in order to stimulate food production, which had fallen to a disastrous low. It was another necessary step backward, and one that led some rich peasants, known as kulaks, to become richer while the majority remained poor.Lenin’s death in 1924 was a terrible blow to the party and the revolution. As the acknowledged leader, he had participated in vigorous debate and discussion at every step along the way, usually, but not always, winning over the rest of the party leadership to his point of view.Without Lenin, how to collectivize agriculture became a bone of contention in the party. To win over the poorer peasants and try to neutralize the kulaks, the government needed to supply the collectives with material support. The lives of the peasants would be vastly improved if the collectives could offer them electrification, education and less back-breaking agricultural work by providing at least horses and, even better, tractors and mechanized harvesters.The 15th Congress of the Communist Party in 1927 resolved to proceed with collectivization at a gradual pace and let the peasants join the collectives voluntarily. Soviet industry was still only on the verge of being rationalized by the first five-year plan, which began in 1928. It was not yet producing the machinery needed to run many large-scale collectives.But by the end of 1929, peasants were being forced to join the collectives, many of which had not yet been supplied with either horses or farm machinery. This led to resistance on their part, the slaughter of livestock and destruction of farm equipment, with many peasants abandoning the collectives. Another famine followed in the countryside in 1932-33.Women and gay rights set backOther setbacks occurred in this period. Legal breakthroughs won soon after the revolution regarding the rights of women and gay men were partially rolled back.The Soviet Union had been the first country in the world to remove restrictions on divorce and abortion, as well as same-sex love. But Soviet law was changed in 1936 and again in 1944 to put restrictions on divorce in order to “strengthen the family.” A decree of July 8, 1944, also imposed a fee of at least 100 rubles to obtain a divorce. While the rationale given was concern over the fate of children, the result was to put wives more firmly under the control of their husbands.In 1936, abortions, which had been made free on demand in 1920, were banned except in cases involving danger to the mother’s health. It became a crime for anyone to provide an abortion other than authorized doctors.All restrictions on same-sex love had been removed just months after the 1917 revolution. But on March 7, 1934, a decree was issued criminalizing same-sex love between men and setting a punishment of up to five years of hard labor in prison.Of course, we cannot forget that in even the most advanced capitalist countries, similar and often much more repressive laws were the norm at that time. Where they have been changed since then, it is because of the strength of the women’s and LGBTQ movements and not the enlightened goodwill of the capitalist ruling class.Soviet Union survived and inspiredThese concessions to social conservatism, serious as they were, did not undo the revolution or restore the old ruling classes. In fact, they came at a time when the Soviet Union was pulling ahead in industrial production after the initiation of its first five-year plan. The capitalist world, on the other hand, was in the depths of the Great Depression, a crisis caused by the inner contradictions of the system itself.To millions of workers and oppressed peoples around the world, the Soviet Union remained a beacon of hope. Great communist parties sprung up in both the imperialist countries and the colonies their rulers exploited. Among the latter, the parties in China, Korea and Vietnam eventually managed to carry out socialist revolutions based on both national liberation from imperialism and the struggle of the workers and peasants against class oppression and exploitation.Even the outbreak of another disastrous world war failed to undo the 1917 Revolution. In June 1941, the Nazi regime launched Operation Barbarossa, sending 4 million German troops to invade the USSR along an 1,800-mile front. It was then, and continues to be, the largest invasion the world has ever seen.The Germans captured 5 million Red Army troops in the war that followed. A majority of these POWs never returned alive. The Nazis deliberately starved and killed 3.3 million prisoners, as well as a huge number of civilians, through their “Hunger Plan,” intended to replace the Slavic peoples with German settlers. Nazi death squads and gassing operations also murdered over a million Soviet Jews.But the enormous heroism of the Soviet people in defending the gains of their revolution won the day. The war in Europe ended with soldiers of the Red Army planting the hammer-and-sickle flag on the roof of the Reichstag in Berlin.Next: Revolution in the belly of the beast? 100th anniversary of Bolshevik RevolutionPart 1: From Marx’s view of social evolution to Lenin’s ‘Imperialism’Part 2: Social gains in early years of Soviet powerPart 3: ‘Whose state? Our state’ – meaning all nationalitiesPart 4: External and internal problems, strengths and setbacksPart 5: To the 0.001 percent: You are cheering too soonFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this
Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The quaint slice of rural America in and around Senoia is home to Bedrosian, his father Steve (the 1987 National League Cy Young Award winner), Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Will Smith, and many of the filming locations for the hit AMC series “The Walking Dead.”The first episode of the series aired in October 2010. Recently, AMC renewed it for a seventh season. Now, Bedrosian watches every week. So does Smith.“Halfway through the first or second season you go, ‘This is unbelievable’,” Smith said.Like the good studio insiders they are, Bedrosian and Smith know some industry people. Bedrosian’s friend is Ryan Childs, a former catcher from Middle Georgia College who is now part of the show’s lighting crew.“His mom actually owns The Walking Dead Café shop,” Bedrosian said of Childs. “She sells all the props from the studio that they use in the show. When they’re done they give ’em to her, and she gets to sell ’em.”Two of Smith’s friends were cast as extras, one a zombie and the other a soldier.“My mom wants me to do it,” Smith said. “I’m like, ‘No, Mom, I’m not going to be an extra in ‘The Walking Dead.’’”When Bedrosian goes home for the winter, he said the filming activity has usually died down. Equipment trucks and portable sets have been replaced by tour buses, carrying tourists from around the world who have come to see The Prison, Hershel Greene’s farm, and other familiar scenery from the show.Among locals, Bedrosian admits the reaction could have skewed negative. Senoia is the sort of place one goes to escape tour buses and souvenir shops, right?“It seems like everybody there’s pretty happy with it so far,” he said. “They haven’t brought in any bad crowds or anything like that.”Angels rotation hurtingAngels pitchers Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson find themselves headed in opposite directions.Weaver met with a spine specialist Monday. According to the team, the tests confirmed mild degenerative changes in Weaver’s cervical spine compared to his most recent MRI. Weaver will continue throwing “as tolerated” and he will continue to focus on adding flexibility and strength.Meanwhile, Angels manager Mike Scioscia told reporters left-hander C.J. Wilson will be limited to throwing on flat ground. Wilson experienced discomfort in his left shoulder when he threw off a mound Saturday. He hasn’t faced live hitters all spring and will begin the season on the disabled list.Dodgers, Angels make cutsDodgers manager Dave Roberts will have eight fewer names to remember in the clubhouse. Pitcher Jharel Cotton was optioned to the club’s minor league camp, while another seven players were reassigned: Lisalverto Bonilla, Chase De Jong, Caleb Dirks, Jacob Rhame, Chris Anderson, Alex Hassan, Kyle Farmer.The Angels optioned pitcher Victor Alcantara to their minor-league camp.Players who are on the 40-man roster must be optioned.AlsoDodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu threw 20 pitches, all fastballs, in his first bullpen session since he was restricted to throwing on flat ground earlier this month. The left-hander, who’s rehabbing conservatively from shoulder surgery last year, reported no pain. … Dodgers pitcher Scott Kazmir allowed five hits and hit two batters in his first three innings of a “B” game against the Chicago White Sox. The left-hander came back to retire the final six batters in order, a 69-pitch effort that left him feeling upbeat. He’s scheduled to start against the White Sox in a Cactus League game Saturday. … Justin Turner played four innings at third base, went 1-for-1 with a walk and a double, and scored two runs in his Cactus League debut against the Milwaukee Brewers. Turner had been restricted from the outset of camp following off-season knee surgery. … Yasmani Grandal caught Kazmir’s game and is expected to return Wednesday from a bruised forearm. … Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is leaving the club Wednesday to participate in a World Baseball Classic with Team Mexico in Mexicali. He’ll return to the Dodgers Sunday night, Roberts said.The gamesAngels 10, Cincinnati 2The Angels (7-6-1) racked up 15 hits, led by Johnny Giavotella, who finished 2 for 3 with a triple. Cliff Pennington, Rafael Ortega and Todd Cunningham also had two hits apiece. Huston Street, Javy Guerra and Jose Alvarez threw scoreless innings in relief of spot starter Nate Smith. Dodgers 6, Milwaukee 2Trayce Thompson hit his second Cactus League home run and Mike Bolsinger tossed four scoreless innings for the Dodgers (9-2-2). J.P. Howell, Pedro Baez and Louis Coleman each threw a scoreless inning out of the bullpen, while Kenley Jansen was touched for one run by the Brewers (6-6-1). This is a Hollywood story that takes place in a Georgia town called Senoia, population 3,307. When Angels pitcher Cam Bedrosian was growing up there, he remembers two things in downtown Senoia: a Mason lodge and a redneck café called Redneck Café. “Now it’s got its own little main street,” he said proudly.Bedrosian blames his town’s transformation on zombies. They’re everywhere.