In the light of the renewed references on opednews to Bush and his cronies as Busheviks, apparently with the negative connotation in the transparent association of the Bolshevik coup in Russia in 1917 with Bush’s coup in Y2000, also relaying of the totalitarism in Russia to Bush’s neo- fascism, etc, etc, I have decided to republish my diary entry from Y2006 on the topic to set the record straight and protect the right people from the smear.
Those negative references are, of course, based on the perceptions about the Russian Revolution cultivated patiently and carefully in the US public opinion since the times of Wilson. Funny as it seems the only reasonably honest book about that time and those people was written in 1917-18 and it was the famous “Ten Days That Shook the World” by John Reed. Since then there were no honest books in the US about Russia and there still aren’t, whether we are talking American-born or Russian-born authors. The most famous of those books, 'The Gulag Archipelago' though citing many true facts and details is dishonest in principle: it deliberately distorts the social truth, the one which can be achieved only by comparison with other nations and their ‘achievements’ in the abuse of human freedoms.
1. The Term
Bolsheviks mean ‘the members of the majority’. In1903 when the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party split in two; the Bolsheviks were the ones who constituted a majority. The minority was called the Mensheviks. The disagreement was about the primary goal of the party: Bolsheviks were for preparation for revolution and Mensheviks were for the traditional economic Marxism first. That simple.
2. Who were they from
The overwhelming majority of the leading Bolsheviks (I am not considering the mass influx after they won) were the descendants of the professionals: teachers, doctors, professors, engineers and merchants. Lenin’s father was a Superintendent of the Public Schools and for his relentless work was granted nobility for him and his family. Lenin’s mother was a daughter of the physician. There were nearly none of them from the rich, really wealthy families.
In fact, the original group of them had not so many real factory workers and in time Lenin organized a party school near Paris for the Russian workers in immigration to study there.
As for the racial and other origins, they were internationalists, fiercely anti- racist and there were many people among them, who could be considered as ‘minorities’, like Jews, Caucasians, Armenians, also people of foreign origins. The actual charter of the party prohibited any form or discrimination and there were many women among the founding group and further on too.
By the time the 1917 October Revolution took place, Lenin was 47. Most of the other leading people were even younger than that. The first Bolshevik government formed by Lenin even in the foreign press was called ‘the most intelligent government in Europe’. The first members of the Council of People’s Commissars overwhelmingly had High Education, except maybe for Stalin (ironic, isn’t it?) and two- three others. Lenin himself had a law degree from the former University of St. Petersburg. He could talk, read and write in three foreign languages: English, German and French.
The first Commander-In-Chief of the new Russian forces, Krylenko had even two degrees, Krasin, one of the first Soviet diplomats was an electrical engineer. Lunacharski, the Comissar on Education wrote books. Many of the left social- revolutionaries who joined the first government were also very bright and highly educated people. Lots of military Bolsheviks were the former war veterans and had military education.
They were certainly much more qualified to govern, than Dubya or Condi, that clueless doll.
4. What did they achieve
I am not here arguing about whether Bolsheviks were good or bad. I am just listing some specific state-related facts which did take place due to them and only to them, the founders of the Revolution, and the consequences of which are still available for everyone to see. Again, I am not judging or making conclusions about human toll, system sustainability, etc. Neither do I consider the atrocities and wars: those did happen and with tragic consequences for the nation, including yours truly. But still these are the obvious facts:
The Communist government promised to the Russian people to stop the war unilaterally and make the land the property of the people. Both promises were fulfilled in the first year. Brest Treaty took Russia out of the WWI, The land was nationalized. Eventually, when Stalin took over, he turned that initiative upside- down, but the initial promise was fulfilled, no doubt about that.
The Communist government promised people that all the natural resources will belong to them; they promised free medicine, free education and a right to work. Those promises not only were fulfilled- some remnants of those are still available and only due to those the majority of the Russian population still does not die in the oblivion of total poverty they now ‘enjoy’. One of the most powerful legacies is the electrical infrastructure which still works despite all the abuses of privatization and still delivers power.
The Communist government proclaimed the right of the nations to claim Independence. In 1918 that government accepted the petition for Independence from Finland and due exactly to that act independent Finland still exists and flourishes. Finnish war in 1940 though brutal did not have a goal to take over Finland and we all know that.
The Communist government explicitly prohibited racial, gender, national, religious and other forms of discrimination. Religion was separated from the state. And yes, children were secularly taught. But in about 10 years the 90%-illiterate population gained full literacy. Tell that to our public schools.
The Communist government did not start the Russian Civil War. There are numerous evidences that in the beginning the Red Guard regiments were fighting with cautiousness, trying not to spill the Russian blood. But when the foreign forces helped to organize and send into battle the counterrevolutionary forces, the Reds responded with utmost efficiency and cruelty. The Civil War was won in a river of blood. Of course, now we can and should criticize them for the utmost cruelty. But although 600000 young people who died on the battlefields of the US Civil War were a horrible casualty for the US nation, we still call Lincoln, Grant and Robert E. Lee the great Americans.
By the year 1940 Russia became one of the most industrial powers in the World. In 1948 they built their own nuclear bomb (please, people I do not want to hear that nonsense about spies; it is for the half- wits and not for the ones who know how brilliant Russian scientists were). In 1961 they sent the first man into Space.