Speech by Andreas Fakontis, AKEL Pafos District Secretary, at the event marking the Great October Socialist Revolution
7th November 2019, Nicosia
Comrade General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL,
Comrades and friends,
We are honouring today the anniversary of the Great Socialist October Revolution, this universally historic event which changed humanity and marked the struggle of the peoples for their liberation from oppression and exploitation.
As Lenin wrote “… The important thing is that the ice has been broken; the road is open, the way has been shown.” The October 1917 revolution is considered to be the Revolution of Revolutions, given that through it the poor and the oppressed broke off their chains demanding that they be the masters of their own fate and destiny. Through the Revolution, the path to socialism was paved, with the ultimate goal of building a classless communist society that would abolish the class exploitation of the common people of labour and toil.
The Great October Socialist Revolution was and remains the foremost of the uprisings as it demonstrated that the transition to a Socialist society is not a mere slogan, but that it can become a reality. It proved that it represented a historical necessity for capitalist contradictions to be overcome which victimize millions of people.
Socialism, despite the mistakes and weaknesses that were recorded in the efforts to implement it to date, continues to be the great hope of humanity. Socialism today is the only alternative in a world characterized by acute social inequalities, ongoing wars, misery and destruction, hunger and unemployment.
The existing capitalist system has failed to satisfy elementary human needs. The world cannot continue to march on the capitalist path. It is a utopia to believe that our planet will survive with the uncontrolled exploitation of nature and the wealth of its resources, with wars and the nuclear threat. The peoples cannot go on impoverished, starving, oppressed, humiliated, losing their basic democratic rights, living in conditions of acute social inequality. People will revolt, dream of a world of justice, equality, solidarity. A world that will serve society and not a world where the many will serve the privileged few.
The Great October Socialist Revolution was no accident. It was not some impulse of the moment. The decision for the October uprising had been preceded by preparations based on the socio-economic and political given conditions of the time. It arose from the sharpening of the contradictions experienced by Russian society, but also the people at large.
In the years before the October Revolution, Russian society was suffocating under the authoritarianism of Tsarism and feudalist remnants. The First World War exacerbated these contradictions even more and accelerated the revolutionary processes.
Despite economic growth, Russia lags far behind in all areas. Production is increasingly socialized, but its results are enjoyed by a privileged minority. Powerful feudal remnants remain in the country, given that a large percentage of arable land belongs to a small aristocracy. On the other hand, a multitude of industries and factories are established and monopoly capitalism emerges and develops rapidly.
Power belongs to the feudal lords and the Tsar. The ruling class has the economic, but not the political power. At the same time, the working class is growing numerically and many millions of people live in the political and economic centres of the country. The people, workers and landless peasants, are the great victims. They suffer, live in poverty and hunger, and are deprived of elementary political and democratic rights.
From the summer of 1917 onwards, the working class and militant peasants, frustrated by the petty bourgeois parties and appreciating the positions, consistency, militancy and the vision of the Bolsheviks for a new world, begun to turn massively towards the Party of Lenin. By October 1917 the Bolshevik Party had won a majority in the Soviets. The proletariat, the truly revolutionary class, went from theory to practice. The slogan “All power in the Soviets!” won the majority of the working class and quickly attracted millions of peasants and soldiers. The awareness that only socialism could get the country out of its deep crisis and open up new prospects, drove the whole Russian people into the battle of the revolution.
At dawn on 24th October (6th November according to the old calendar) the armed uprising begins. The Red Guards made up of workers and soldiers occupies all the key spots in the capital city of Petersburg. By the following evening, the only place outside the control of the revolutionary forces is the Winter Palace itself, the seat of the provisional bourgeois government. The armed revolution in Petersburg was almost bloodless. The Aurora battleship with a canon shot fired gives the signal for the attack on the Winter Palace, which is seized from midnight on 25th October to 26th October.
Meanwhile, the Second Pan-Russian Congress of the Soviets declares that power has passed over entirely to the Soviets. On Lenin’s proposal, the Congress adopts the Decree on Peace, which terminates Russia’s participation in the imperialist war and proposes to all warring sides a democratic peace without compensations and territorial annexations. On Lenin’s proposal the Decree on Land was also approved, which nationalizes the land of the landlords and gives it to peasants.
The first Soviet government, led by Lenin, was formed, with the participation of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, besides the Bolsheviks. This fact completely refutes the distortion spread by bourgeois propaganda that socialism by definition supposedly means the establishment of a one-party system.
At the same time, the Soviet government proclaims the right of the peoples of Russia to self-determination.
Overnight, then, the socialist revolution put into practice the central demands of the popular masses for peace and the redistribution of land. Furthermore, it granted the right of self-determination to the peoples of Russia. Overnight, the Soviet government did what the Provisional Government could not and did not want to do.
The issue of peace, the issue of land and the issue of self-determination were not issues of a socialist character. But they became the vehicle of the socialist revolution. This is another great timeless lesson of Leninism. The revolutionary party moves forward by resolving the issues which at the given time historical development itself sets, the issues that concern and trouble the people. It doesn’t just move forward by projecting visions and issuing declarations and slogans, but also with the struggle for the real problems people face.
The October Revolution was and remains the pinnacle of the revolutions because it dared to seek the new. It showed the oppressed masses that only they themselves can change their lives and destiny with the power of their own class, through their organization and struggle. For the first time the working class arrives on the centre stage of history and puts at the forefront of its struggle the abolition of human exploitation, as well as the building of a society where the wealth produced is distributed fairly and equitably; where fundamental human rights such as health, education and housing are guaranteed for all, without discrimination on the basis of race, colour or gender.
The political and trade union movements of the capitalist states took examples from the progressive profound radical changes in Soviet society and won substantial gains and rights by waging fierce struggles. For example, universal suffrage, the recognition of civil and trade union freedoms, eight-hour working day and social insurance.
The example of the Soviet Union served as a motivating force for the working class, but also as a bastion of support and international solidarity for the peoples struggling against colonialism, for national independence, freedom and self-determination.
Cyprus also received this support and solidarity, as the Soviet Union and the entire community of socialist states have been steadfast and consistent in their solidarity towards our struggle for a viable solution based on the UN resolutions and the principles of International Law. This support on the part of the Russian Federation continues today too. However, this support is under threat, since the damage and problems which the Anastasiades government is causing due to its contradictions, dogmatism and other foreign policy approaches is great.
The government’s overall geopolitical choices, such as its stance on the Menendez-Rubio bill, prove that the government ruling forces either cannot or do not want to pursue a multidimensional foreign policy.
Comrades and friends,
The final outcome of the Soviet Union, despite the tremendous achievements for its people, but for other peoples too, did not vindicate expectations. The enormous external pressures exerted and fierce campaigns launched against it by the capitalist states, as well as domestic weaknesses, distortions, omissions and mistakes committed, led to its dissolution, writing a painful page in the history of the Soviet Union, but of the world as a whole.
However, under no circumstances whatsoever can aphorisms and the departure from the idea of socialism, but also the falsification of history, be accepted. We rejected and do reject the nullification of the 70-year history of Socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, but also of its leading and pioneering contribution to the Anti-fascist victory in the Second World War and to the crushing of Hitler fascism.
No matter how much the EU’s ruling circles are trying in a coordinated way to either criminalize communism, or equate it with fascism and Nazism, they won’t succeed. The recent resolution approved by the majority of the European Parliament seeking to equate communism with fascism, rewrite and revise the history of the Second World War and criminalize communist ideology is an insult. It is an attack on Democracy, History and reason.
The attempt to identify the philosophy and values of socialism with the merciless ideology of inhuman Nazism can only be characterised as an insult.
It is an insult to the Soviet people who fought and crushed militarism.
It is an insult to the 20 million Soviet citizens who sacrificed their lives in defense of the socialist homeland, freedom, humanity, against the barbarity of Nazism.
At the same time, we point out to everyone, even to those forces and circles who disagree with us ideologically, that History has shown that such persecutions “First they came for the communists/and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist/Then they came for the trade unionists/and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist/Then they came for the Jews/and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew/Then they came for me/and there was no one left to speak out for me” as the poem by the German pastor Martin Niemöller says, but sooner or later they subsequently turn against every progressive and democrat person.
We acknowledge the achievements of the first attempt to build socialism and the social, scientific and cultural progress it has given, as well as the principles, values and ideals that have the common people at the centre of their attention.
At the same time, we acknowledge that mistakes were committed throughout this process, which led to a deviation from the ideas born in October 1917, as well as to a bureaucratic mechanistic conception of Marxism-Leninism. Communists not only do not avoid recognizing their mistakes, but they must first identify, analyze and correct them, and subsequently draw conclusions.
AKEL, having timely taken on board the messages conveyed by our contemporary era, choses to dialectically analyze and draw those lessons that will help us keep the vision for a better tomorrow, for social justice, liberation and socialism alive. We refused to reject socialism and abandon the banners of class struggle, as the capitalist system’s advocates demanded from us back then.
However, at the same time we refused the calls for a “humane capitalism” or to be stagnant. For that reason, we have proceeded to formulate “Our own concept of Socialism”, modernizing and renewing our own ideological approaches – always with the same purpose and measure: to serve the common people and their needs.
The whole of Marxist Theory aims at one key objective: human liberation. The liberation of every human being from the exploitation of capitalist society, from the superstitions and prejudices capitalism creates. This can only be achieved through the transition to a qualitatively more advanced society, namely Socialism.
Socialism means real freedom and full democracy. Socialism is the answer to the challenges our era poses. It is the path to the future of humanity. The fact that the perspective of socialism is objectively the only alternative to today’s deadlocks will remain a mere theoretical position for the Communists as long as the broad masses of working people do not see this horizon before them. And this is achieved only by the pioneering actions of the Parties of the Working Class in every country, in the struggles for immediate goals and through the small and big assertions. It will be achieved through the example of selflessness, modesty, integrity and dedication to ideals and principles of its militants.
That’s how the trust of the people and the workers is earned.
Our Party, the Communist Party of Cyprus-AKEL, is a product of the October Revolution as well that awakened the minds and lit up the hearts of the working people of Cyprus. We, as a Marxist-Leninist Party, are guided by the worldview “which develops with the relentless progress of knowledge and economic and political development”.
AKEL with self-criticism, renewal, hard work and the constant effort to improve remains a class-based and ideologically-oriented Party.
A Party always in the front line of the struggles to serve the interests of the working people and low-income strata.
A Party consistent to its timeless positions and policy for Cyprus, the people, the working people, the youth, the elderly and the common people in general.
A united and politically, organizationally and ideologically strong Party.
A Party with a strong voice that asserts for reunification, peace, progress and prosperity for all Cypriots.
A Party that has a strategy linking today’s struggles with the vision for tomorrow.
A Party that links the struggle for fulfilling our immediate strategic goal, namely the liberation and reunification of our homeland and people, the daily demands for working people’s rights, for progressive radical changes in society and the state together with the vision for a socialist tomorrow for our country, Europe and the world.
This is precisely what we serve: historical evolution, social progress, the vision and the perspective of another alternative, qualitatively advanced world and society.
We know that after 1990 the apologists of the capitalist system announced the “end of History” and the eternal domination of imperialism. Each and every one can draw their conclusions as to whether the world has been made better without the community of socialist states.
We, however, refuse to accept that human history ends with the triumph of capitalism, a system that gives birth and regenerates exploitation, poverty, hunger, destitution, gender inequality, discrimination, wars, ecological destruction and fascism.
A system that secures opportunities and rights for the privileged few.
A system that socializes production to the greatest possible degree by forcing billions of people to work with the result of their labour enjoyed by a handful of exploiters.
A system that has aged, but refuses to die.
Today, capitalism is in fact becoming more and more aggressive and harsh towards working people, crushing their standard of living, with the sole aim of maximizing the profits for the privileged few.
A tragic example is Cyprus, where the dogmatic obsessions of the neoliberal policy pursued by the Anastasiades-DISY government have put the burden of the capitalist crisis on to the backs of the working people, the middle strata and the poor. For the past 7 years no effort whatsoever has been made to distribute the growth and wealth it generates more equitably. Profits are up, while wages remain stagnant. Working people, the elderly and the young people of our country are suffering an unprecedented decline in their standard of living, living and working conditions. Popular gains and rights won through sacrifices and fierce struggles are being abolished by the DISY-Anastasiades government. Our country ranks among the prominent places in the EU table on social inequality. Our people are suffocating because of the corruption and interwoven interests, conservatism, authoritarianism and the arrogance of power.
Capitalism is the same system, where its big industries and monopolies have provoked and are provoking such an ecological catastrophe that Climate Change is threatening the very future of the human species.
It is the same system which is waging imperialist wars and unleashing military interventions that are drowning millions of people in blood, with children and women as their principal victims.
It precisely this system with its big industries and monopolies that has caused and is generating such an ecological disaster where Climate Change threatens the very existence of the human species on our planet. The contradictions, crises and explosive deadlocks in the cycle of capitalism are making socialism timelier than ever before.
All these years many forces and circles have sought to discredit the attempt to construct a socialist society. However, the flame of those ideas is still a guide and beacon for the struggles that today’s working people, the “wage slaves”, have to wage. Since then, Great October Socialist Revolution has remained the guiding light showing the path for humanity towards progress. It is a beacon of hope and expectation.
102 years onwards, Red October remains a source of inspiration for working people’s struggles to free themselves from exploitation and assert a better world.
It remains the orientation for the parties of the working people; the constant and daily reminder that the position of a vanguard force is won in the people’s hearts and minds through the waging of daily struggles for the good of the common people, for a world of justice, equality, socialism.
It remains the undeniable proof of History that life and people can indeed change, that a truly human, just and peaceful society and world can be achieved.
For sure, socialism in the future will be different to the one we knew in the past. It is however equally certain that the future belongs to socialism. We shall continue with dedication and militancy to defend our ideology and vision in practice.
Long live the Great October Socialist Revolution!
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