Letter: Russian civil war: not just red and white

Submitted by Matthew on 6 December, 2017 - 11:50 Author: Len Glover

Numerous commentators on the Russian Revolution also make comment and offer analyses of the civil war that followed. In his reply to Eric Lee (Solidarity 455) Paul Vernadsky mentions how “...the Bolsheviks fought a civil war against the White generals and the imperialist powers”.

I have no disagreement with what Paul Vernadsky has written (and I note it was a short letter not a full-length article), but it is necessary to add more detail. The Russian civil war that followed the revolution was a very complicated often confusing affair.

Letter: Failed strategy

Submitted by cathy n on 24 November, 2017 - 9:26 Author: Paul Vernadsky

Sadly Eric Lee’s response to my review of his book on Georgia (Solidarity 454, 15 November) avoids the substance of my critique.

Lee’s book argues that the Georgian Menshevik strategy between 1917 and 1921 was better than the Bolsheviks in Russia. Yet in Marxist terms, Bolshevik politics were far superior:

The Bolshevik-led Russian workers made a socialist revolution in October 1917; the Georgian Mensheviks did not lead a revolution.

Letters Matthew Wed, 11/15/2017 - 10:41

Paul Vernadsky in his review of my book, The Experiment: Georgia’s Forgotten Revolution 1918-21 (Solidarity 453), is right to highlight the importance of this period for today. And he comes to the heart of our disagreement at the very end of his essay when he refers to the idea that “an impoverished, backward society cannot skip historical stages”. He calls this “Menshevik dogma”. No, Paul, that’s not “Menshevik dogma”. That’s Marxism.

An alternative to the Bolsheviks?

Submitted by Matthew on 8 November, 2017 - 10:38 Author: Paul Vernadsky

Paul Vernadsky reviews The Experiment: Georgia’s Forgotten Revolution 1918-21 by Eric Lee.

Eric Lee’s mischievous new book, argues that the Georgian Menshevik republic was an alternative to the Bolshevik-led workers’ government, which came to power in October 1917.

This is absolute fantasy, which confuses discussion of working-class politics at the time and the importance of the Russian revolution for today’s class struggles.

The October revolution: taking power and holding on

Submitted by Matthew on 18 October, 2017 - 11:51 Author: Paul Vernadsky

In the early hours of 24 October the soviet seizure of power began. This was not a response to the government’s ill-conceived decision to launch punitive action against the Bolsheviks. The blueprint had already been drawn up by the Military Revolutionary Committee; insurrectionary forces were to seize the Marinskii Palace and disperse the pre-parliament. Then the Winter Palace was to be surrounded, ministers arrested and the Provisional Government overthrown.

The Revolution Betrayed

Submitted by Matthew on 18 October, 2017 - 11:38 Author: Max Shachtman

The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 opened up a new epoch for humanity. What no other social upheaval before it had ever dared to hope for, the Russian Revolution proclaimed boldly and confidently. Not the great French revolution, not even the Paris Commune of 1871, not even the rehearsal of the Russian Revolution in 1905, dreamed that it was the immediate forerunner of international socialism.


Submitted by Matthew on 18 October, 2017 - 10:50

The BBC should hang its head in shame. Their documentary (aired 9 October) about the Russian Revolution was appalling.

Anyone wanting to know what happened and why in 1917 will need to go elsewhere, consulting the Oracle at Delphi would be more rewarding. No kind of analysis or narrative of the events of 1917 was offered, nor any attempt to tackle important questions and certainly no attempt to offer a range of views for debate. Instead the viewer was bombarded with a venomous and, at times, monumentally stupid, lambasting of the Bolsheviks, particularly Lenin and Trotsky.

1917 was a revolution, not a coup Matthew Wed, 10/04/2017 - 11:43

The British Trotskyist group Socialist Resistance has published a book, October 1917 — Workers in Power (Merlin 2016), which defends the key decisions of the Bolsheviks, while making some reasonable criticisms of the regime created after the civil war. The collection of essays is useful in many respects, but feels somewhat stale and has a number of notable gaps.