09) BACK IN THE USSR
- CELEBRATING GREAT OCTOBER IN LENINGRAD AND MOSCOW
By an odd coincidence, when
Communist Party of Canada leader Liz Rowley and I travelled to Russia last
month, our flight had a stopover in Zurich - the city where Vladimir Lenin and
other revolutionary exiles lived before the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II
allowed them to return home. Three hours later, we were disembarking in Leningrad (as Petrograd
was renamed after his death), the city where Lenin and his comrades became the
key figures in the “ten days that shook the world”.
As described above on this page, we
were in Russia as delegates
representing the Communist Party of Canada at the 19th annual gathering
of fraternal Communist and Workers’ parties. The main work of this year’s IMCWP
was an intense two-day meeting where most of the attending parties spoke about
the relevance of the October Revolution, and the struggles for socialism today.
The timing was also a unique
opportunity for over 200 delegates and many other unofficial foreign
participants to take part in a range of other activities to mark the centenary
of the October Revolution.
On the directly political side, this
included a special “Forum of Left Forces” held a few days later at the Moscow hotel where
delegates stayed for the second half of the trip. Many of the speakers at this
event represented prominent international progressive movements, such as the
World Peace Council, the World Federation of Trade Unions, the World Federation
of Democratic Youth, and the International Federation of Resistance Fighters.
Others were present on behalf of
liberation movements which won victories over their colonial and imperialist
masters in large part due to the fraternal assistance of the USSR and other socialist states.
These included SWAPO from Namibia,
the ANC from South Africa,
Special gala cultural celebrations
were organized by the Communist Party of the Russian
Federation (CPRF), at a major downtown theater in St. Petersburg, and at the Luzhniki
sports complex in Moscow.
Both events featured a wide range of stunning dance and music performances,
paying tribute both to the October Revolution, and to highlights of seventy
years of the successes of socialism in the USSR.
Delegates were taken on several
tours to places associated with the history of the revolutionary movement in Russia,
such as the Aurora Cruiser, from where the blank shot signalling
the uprising against the Provisional Government was fired. We toured the Smolny, which was the headquarters of the Bolsheviks during
the October Revolution, and the IMCWP itself was held in the same building
where meetings of the Petrograd Soviet
convened during 1917.
In Moscow, delegates toured the Kremlin, joined
a special ceremony to lay flowers at the tomb of the unknown
soldier just outside its walls, and visited the Lenin Mausoleum.
November 7 was the 76th
anniversary of the famous 1941 military parade in Red Square, from which Red
Army troops marched directly to the outskirts of the city to battle the Nazi
invaders. On this occasion, IMWCP delegates and other visitors witnessed a
special re-creation of that parade, organized to represent the war against
fascism, the defeat of Napoleon’s armies, and other notable episodes from
Russian military history.
Later that afternoon, the CPRF held
a street demonstration attended by thousands in downtown Moscow, using the
occasion of the October Revolution centenary to recall the working class gains
achieved during and after 1917, and to raise demands for progressive change in
today’s capitalist Russia.
One feature of all these activities
was the presence of large numbers of young people. After the overthrow of
socialism in the USSR,
pro-capitalist critics crowed that once the “older generation” were gone, there would be no communists left in Russia.
But the CPRF reports that it has recruited 27,000 young members so far this
year, and wherever one goes in Moscow or St. Petersburg, young
people wearing radical t-shirts and buttons can be seen. Clearly, for them, the
Great October Socialist Revolution is not just a page from the dusty past, but
the beacon of a future socialist Russia.
above article is from the December 1-31,2017, issue of
People's Voice, Canada's leading socialist
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