The following speech was delivered by our party’s chairman, Ella Rule, in Southall on 9 November 2019.
We are meeting here this evening to mark the 102nd anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution led by the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, the Bolsheviks, headed by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.
The victory of this revolution enabled such a vast territory as that of the USSR to rid itself of feudalism and capitalism and to establish a planned economy designed to maximise production for the benefit of the masses of the people.
It lifted millions of people out of grinding poverty, it introduced widespread social facilities to improve the quality of life for workers and their families, and it enabled the Soviet Union to become a superpower, notwithstanding the constant attempts by imperialism to undermine it, including massive military intervention, economic sanctions, infiltration of provocateurs and saboteurs, and constant threats of violence.
More than that, it drew millions of people who had previously been disenfranchised into the business of actively influencing their own future by personal participation in the system of Soviets.
The example of the Soviet Union, with its emancipation of the masses and its gigantic achievements in the fields of production, education, the advancement of science, public welfare, etc, was a clarion call to the exploited and oppressed masses all over the world, giving tremendous impetus to movements against colonialism.
Despite all its massive achievements, including the victory over the allegedly invincible Nazi war machine in the second world war, after the Soviet Union was brought to collapse by Khrushchevite revisionism, we are told (by the imperialists and their toadies) that Soviet communism proved to be a failed system and this siren song has lured many a would-be anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist workers into a feeling of futility.
The most tragic example is that of anti-imperialists in the middle east, who, rejecting communism, turned to religious fundamentalists, supposedly to fight imperialism but who ended up as the bone-headed tools of imperialism for attempting to overthrow governments prepared to put obstacles in the way of the imperialist looting of their countries.
All over the world there have been popular uprisings that ultimately have fizzled out for want of Bolshevik leadership.
The fact is that the real ‘failed system’ is capitalism. Undoubtedly it has great achievements to its credit, but it has come to the end of the road. Yes, it can still come up with extraordinary technical advances, but nowadays the cost is far exceeding the benefits that could and would in any event be delivered under a socialist system in a far more consistent way.
What marks capitalism as a failed system is that for a country to be economically successful, it must impoverish its masses.
We have a prime example of this in Chile today. Chile is a success story as far as its economy is concerned, but only because the masses of its people are impoverished.
The average monthly salary in Chile is $807, the median salary $540, no less than a fifth of which goes on transportation costs. Of the total salaries earned in Chile, half go to one tenth of employees, with the other nine-tenths having to make do with sharing the other half.
In these circumstances, one can understand why a proposed increase of 3p on the average subway fare of $1.20 was capable of causing a mass uprising. It was not just the 3p rise, but the fact that prices for everything have been rising while wages are stagnant.
Chile also introduced one of the first defined-contribution pension schemes, which leaves pensioners struggling on a median pension of $200 a month. The result, as pointed out by Sky News economics editor Ed Conway, is “The lingering resentment generated by decades of record-high inequality, by fury with market-friendly reforms which promised much but failed to deliver, and by an economy which is no longer growing at breakneck rates have built up and are too much to resist.” (Chile’s chaos should be a warning to Britain, The Times, 1 November 2019)
It’s a similar story in other countries. In Ecuador, Haiti, Peru, Lebanon, Iraq, Sudan, Algeria and Bolivia, the people are taking to the streets. Many of these protests are in fact inspired by the massive demonstrations that imperialism has instigated in Hong Kong against the Chinese government and publicised all over the world with the aim of denigrating China and communism.
In fact, however, they are spreading inspiration and know-how for anti-government protests to many countries ruled by imperialist puppets implementing IMF programmes that are designed to boost the profits of imperialist bankers at the expense of the poorest of the poor.
Although these uprisings often do give rise to the governments in question making concessions, they do not lead to the overthrow of the system that causes the misery which motivated the uprising in the first place. Sooner or later the protests peter out, leaving the system intact and the protesters convinced that the problems are not endemic to the system but are due to the personal corruption of various individual members of the government – when in actual fact it is the system that is the cause of that corruption.
It is of course the case that some of these uprisings are taking place against anti-imperialist governments such as that of Evo Morales in Bolivia, and other relatively progressive governments. These uprisings are greeted with great enthusiasm by, and attract support from, imperialism, which hopes that the governments that attempt to resist its depredations will be overthrown and replaced by ‘responsible’ yes-men.
It is important, however, to bear in mind that a capitalist system will poison the economic atmosphere of even the most anti-imperialist country. Under capitalism, it is not possible to prevent the rich becoming richer while the poor get poorer; it is not possible to bring about full employment; it is not possible to avoid the crippling effects of debt.
Because of this, imperialism is sometimes able to take advantage of some people’s disillusion to foment trouble in anti-imperialist countries.
The people of Argentina were taken in by such propaganda, as a result of which they used the country’s elections to overthrow a relatively progressive Peronist government in favour of Mauricio Macri, a willing tool of imperialism. He soon disabused the Argentine people of their illusions and they have now voted back a Peronist government. But, because of capitalism, the problems remain.
Our party’s annual celebration of the October Revolution is designed to remind people that there is only one solution to the problems caused by capitalism and that is proletarian revolution, proved to be the necessary first step in a cure for chronic underdevelopment, unequal income distribution and mass destitution.
The second step is setting up, as soon as is practicable, a planned economy that ensures work for everybody and puts the wellbeing of the masses as the motivator of production in place of the profits of the few multibillionaires.
It also emphasises the fact that a revolutionary movement cannot be successful without the leadership of a skilled revolutionary party to organise and direct it, and we would urge everyone to help in our efforts to build such a party for Britain and to spread its influence far and wide among the British masses, who are becoming increasingly restless as their living standards and public services relentlessly deteriorate.