From a Marxist point of view, the Bolshevik Revolution was the greatest single event in world history. Why? Because here, for the first time, if we exclude the heroic but tragic episode of the Paris Commune, the masses overthrew the old regime and began the great task of the socialist transformation of society.
Ninety years ago, on 21st January 1924, Vladimir Lenin, the great Marxist and leader of the Russian Revolution, died from complications arising from an earlier assassin’s bullet. Ever since then there has been a sustained campaign to slander his name and distort his ideas, ranging from bourgeois historians and apologists to various reformists, liberals and assorted anarchists. Their task has been to discredit Lenin, Marxism and the Russian Revolution in the interests of the “democratic” rule of bankers and capitalists.
Sometimes decades pass and not much happens. At other times more events take place in days than those that occurred in decades. After the collapse of the Soviet Union twenty years ago we were relentlessly told the great political and economic questions had all been settled and that liberal democracy and free-market capitalism had triumphed. Socialism had been consigned to the dustbin of history. The strategists of capital were exultant. The “end of history” was proclaimed by Francis Fukuyama.
The Moscow Trials, which lasted from 1936 to 1938 will go down as the greatest frame-up in history. Their aim was to liquidate the entire remaining Bolshevik old guard and act as the means by which Stalin could consolidate his power as head of the bureaucratic caste that ruled the Soviet Union. Seventy-five years on, Jim Brookshaw - a former member of the British Communist Party - looks back at what happened and asks: why?
On the 16th November 1927, scarcely ten days after the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution, Adolf Joffe shot himself. At his bedside he left a letter to Leon Trotsky, a translation of which we are publishing today for our readers (1) together with a brief explanatory introduction. These are the words of a genuine Bolshevik and victim of the Stalinist terror.
Today marks the anniversary of Leon Trotsky’s assassination. Struck down 72 years ago by an ice-pick to the head from a cowardly Stalinist assassin, he soon fell into a coma and died the following day, 21st August 1940.
The year 1999 marks the 75th anniversary of the death of the man who, together with Leon Trotsky, made a decisive contribution to the cause of socialism and the working class in this century, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. To mark the occasion, we are republishing this article which was originally written to commemorate the Lenin centenary in 1970. The early symptoms of bureaucratic degeneration in Russia were already noted by Lenin in the last two years of his politically active life. He spent his last months fighting against these reactionary tendencies, leaving behind a vital heritage of struggle in his last letters and articles. The struggle of the anti-Stalinist Left Opposition, led by Trotsky after Lenin's death, really begins here.
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