Empire Files: What the Russian Revolution Proved Possible

Veteran U.S. activist Brian Becker speaks about the longstanding significance of the Russian Revolution.

In the latest edition of The Empire Files, Abby Martin pays homage to the centennial anniversary of the Russian Revolution.

She referred to it as “one of the biggest events in human history” and a shift in the global balance of power, ushering in a socialist revolution organized by workers and peasants.

Martin interviewed Brian Becker, a longtime U.S. organizer and co-author of the new book, “Storming the Gates: How the Russian Revolution Changed the World,” which underscores the significance of the Russian Revolution.

He noted that just prior to the success of the revolution, when Russia continued to be dominated by the Tsarist monarchy, 75 percent of the country was inhabited by peasants and 96 percent of the peasants were illiterate. Two subsequent revolutions, as Becker noted, were supported by this oppressed group.

The first transpired on International Women’s Day in February 1917, when tens of thousands of women took to Nevsky Prospekt, the main avenue of the Russian capital Petrograd, to protest living conditions.

“Surprisingly, within three or four days, the Tsar was vanquished,” Becker said.

“That wasn’t carried out by the Bolsheviks, or the Mensheviks, or the social revolutionaries, or any political party, it was an entirely spontaneous mass movement.”

The Bolsheviks, who formed an urban revolutionary grouping, “threw its lot in” with the majority peasant uprising aimed at seizing land and the means of production from the big landowners. From that point on, “workers and peasants began marching step-by-step, shoulder-to-shoulder with each other against a common enemy, first the Tsar and, nine months later, against the bourgeoisie that had taken the place of the Tsar,” Becker added.

He emphasized that the importance of the Russian Revolution, which culminated in the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics, must also be gauged by its geographic immensity, stretching “from Poland to the Pacific Ocean, in other words, the largest land mass of any country in the world.”

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