On Friday 27 January the Left Student's Forum at the University of Cape Town invited Ben Morken from the International Marxist Tendency to present a talk about the Russian revolution of 1917 and the lessons for South Africa.
The event at the Leslie social science building at the Upper Campus of the university. This the same campus where the famous #RhodesMustFall student movement started in 2015 and which later morphed into a nationwide student uprising for free education under the #FeesMustFall movement. This movement shook the whole country to its foundations and showed that the youth are currently some the most politically active layers in society.
Although the event was held a few weeks ahead of the official start of the academic year, more than a dozen activists mostly from Left Student's Forum attended.
The topic of the Russian revolution enormous importance. 100 years after the October revolution the capitalist system is breaking down on all levels - socially, economically and politically. We are living in the most turbulent period since the 1930's. The global crisis of Capitalism has prompted the ruling class to launch one assault after another against the working class. This has prompted huge movements in one country after another as the masses are forced to fight back against the assault by the capitalists.
Ben spoke about the history of Russian revolution and the processes involved which led to the successful October revolution. He also spoke about the similar processes which were involved in the development of Capitalism in Russia and countries like South Africa today. Unlikely the advanced capitalist countries of Western Europe, Russian Capitalism skipped many of the intermediate stages which were present in countries such as England and France.
Instead, the system developed through a process of combined and uneven development where the most modern machinery were introduced in backward conditions. This meant that capitalist relations were developed in a very condensed period. It meant that social relations were very exploitative but also very explosive - similar to countries like Turkey and South Africa today. In the end Capitalism broke at its weakest link in Russia where the working class of a backward country came to power before the working class of the advanced capitalist countries.
However, although there are similarities between with the situation of Russia in 1917, there are also big differences. Today the working class is much stronger than that of the Russian working class 100 years ago. But the big difference is that a century ago the Russian working class had the Bolshevik party, a genuine revolutionary party with a genuine Marxist leadership. This is ultimately the difference between today and Russia of 1917. Therefore the task of revolutionaries today is precisely to build such a leadership.
The subject of the Russian revolution is important for Marxists because of the lessons it contain for Marxist today. Therefore this is going to be a theme for Marxists in South for the year. The task of the South African revolution is to educate the cadres with genuine Marxist ideas and methods ahead of the coming storms. If you want to discuss these ideas please contact us and join the Marxist forces of Marxism in South Africa.