In the last week of September, the editor of marxist.com, Alan Woods participated in a speaking tour organised by the supporters of the Russian Marxist tendency, the Rabochaya Demokratiya (Workers’ Democracy) group, that produces the 1917.com web site, the most successful site on the Left in Russia with the biggest readership after the site of the CPRF (the Communist Party of the Russian Federation).
The Museum of the History of the Revolutionary-Democratic Movement, where the first meeting was held, was actually the first of several museums in Petersburg connected with the revolutionary activity of Lenin. It is based on the flat where Lenin commenced his work with the Saint Petersburg League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class in the second half of the 1890s.
The curator of the museum bemoaned the fact that the new generation of Russian youth was taught nothing about Lenin or Bolshevism, and she welcomed the fact that a meeting was organised in the museum on the subject of the history of Bolshevism.
Alan spoke for one hour in Russian and without notes on the subject “Lenin and Trotsky, what they really stood for”, and after a lively discussion, signed copies of the Russian translation of the book of the same title, which he wrote together with Ted Grant in 1969.
The next day he gave another lecture at the university on the subject “Art and the French Revolution”. On the following day he gave a further talk for one hour on the subject “The historical destiny of the October Revolution”, where he dealt in detail with the reasons for the bureaucratic degeneration of the Russian revolution under Stalin and his successors. These talks were also given in Russian.
The discussion on this controversial subject was very lively, and many different views were put forward. In his reply, Alan was particularly scathing about the theory of “state capitalism”, which he described as “unscientific and anti-Marxist”. Later, he signed some more copies of “Lenin and Trotsky, what they really stood for”.
Finally, Alan gave a lead-off on the current world situation to the comrades of the Rabochya Demokratiya group, and informed them of the progress of the Marxist tendency internationally.
The forces of Russian Marxism are working under very difficult conditions. The workers movement has been temporarily thrown back and there is a lot of confusion and demoralisation. But this will not last. Under the surface there is enormous bitterness, anger and frustration that sooner or later must come to the surface.
The process will inevitably be drawn out over a long period because of the absence of the subjective factor – the revolutionary party and leadership. But the small forces of Russian Marxism are regrouping and preparing the ground for a new advance in the next period.
The bourgeois are celebrating too soon. They have no real understanding of history. They do not understand that Lenin and his comrades began their revolutionary work as a tiny group isolated from the working class. In the cramped little flat that is now a museum, they gathered together to read Das Kapital and argue endlessly over the theory and practice of the socialist revolution.
The bourgeoisie of those times also thought that these small groups of revolutionaries were no danger, that they were merely fanatics and utopian dreamers. Yet thirty years later they were in power.
In his speech in the Museum of Revolutionary History, Alan recalled that in January 1917, in a speech to the Swiss Young Socialists, Lenin said: “I am an old man and I will probably never live to see the Socialist Revolution.” A few weeks later, the tsar was overthrown and nine months later, Lenin, Trotsky and the Bolshevik Party established the Soviet Power.
History, as Lenin pointed out, knows all sorts of peculiar transformations. One thing is certain. After a decade of capitalist restoration, the masses are deeply disillusioned with capitalism. The present inertia will not last. Explosions are inevitable. All that is lacking is the subjective factor. The Russian Marxist tendency is working hard to build it.