The Young Communist League of South Africa is a Marxist-Leninist youth wing of the SACP.

The YCL stands for:

Non Racism
The socialisation of the ownership and control of the means of production
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Communist University - Political School Material

Issue 11, Vol 14: 12 October 2017

In this issue:


Viewpoint by Mluleki DlelangaThe Great October Socialist Revolution and Lessons for the Youth

By Mluleki Dlelanga

The Great October Socialist Revolution is the best known revolution in the world, whereas its influence over the development of mankind is the greatest among all revolutions known. Whatever the attitude to the Russian Revolution might be, any more or less literate human in the world has at least an idea of what happened in Russia in 1917 and who Lenin was.

As a young communist, I want to argue very strongly that the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917 in Russia left its mark on every corner of the planet for many decades. The Great October Socialist revolution demonstrated the working class's potential and capacity to implement its historical mission as the only truly revolutionary class, to lead the first attempt to construct socialism-communism. At the same time, the Great October Socialist Revolution showed the irreplaceable role of the guiding force of the socialist revolution, the communist party, the enormous strength of proletarian internationalism.

In accordance with the law of social development discovered and described by Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels "the replacement of the declining capitalist social order by a new one that is more progressive, socialist, should inevitably take place". In Russia it happened in 1917 and exactly as a result of October Revolution. The October Revolution was a continuation of the Paris Commune of 1871. Paris Commune of 1871 was the first successful establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Paris Commune of 1871 was the first state of workers and peasants that has so far demonstrated the stability among the rest of known socialist states.

Nevertheless, we as current communists are facing the jubilee of October not on the rise, but suffering temporary defeat of the October revolution cause in the land of October Revolution, i.e. in the state of retreat. The best way of celebrating the Great October Socialist Revolution jubilee would be to focus upon the tasks yet unresolved and for the youth to draw lessons and be fully aware that all revolutions experience moments or regress or moments of progress. Young people therefore no matter the difficulties the struggle may be but should know that a genuine revolution is never defeated. The chief main task of the youth is that they must continue to learn the revolutionary trends and continue to self-cultivate themselves by the theory of Marxism-Leninism.

As communists young and old should focus upon the tasks yet unresolved. To do this, communists should with utter honesty review and reconsider the results of their movement in the last century. Such analysis should be started with the recognition of the fact that in the struggle for masses communists were not always victorious and appeared to be defeated by counterrevolution in the land of October Revolution. We have to answer the following three questions:

  • Who or what temporary defeated communists in Russia?
  • How and why did it happen?
  • Was it a final and irreversible defeat or temporary defeat, whereas struggle continues?

To answer these questions one has to check the route against the map, to match practical experience against the basic concepts of revolutionary Marxism-Leninism theory, to pinpoint the drawbacks of the theory applied in case the practice necessitates this and to make theoretical corrections if necessary. Or we should make conclusions on our mistakes. Communists across the world should undertake joint steps to wave off the counterrevolutionary heritage and celebrate the Great October Socialist Revolution centenary with open heart. We should do so to portray confidence in our philosophy as the strength of Marxism-Leninism theory is that it gives the Party the ability in any situation to understand the inner connections of the events around it, to see the course of events will take, and recognize not only how and in which direction events are going, but also how and which direction they must develop in the future.

In order to make sure that communist cause is true and proved by practice, and to show again that it was worth fighting for it, let us start with the analysis of the preparations for the revolution and merits of the October Revolution.


The first victorious proletarian revolution in the world history and a proof of the Marxist - Leninist theory and scientific foresight of Marxism-Leninism. The October revolution was the first revolution that was predicted by Marxism as a natural and inevitable transition from the capitalist social formation to a more progressive, to the communist system. This revolution was not only predicted but also planned, prepared and carried out under the leadership of Bolsheviks.

Certainly, one should not understand getting ready for the revolution verbally, as if Bolsheviks had appointed and performed the revolution. It is well known that revolutions cannot be ordered as well as that we cannot set a time table for the revolution. Still, Bolsheviks paved the way to the revolution by means of all their activities, first of all by getting ready for the revolution themselves. Lenin used to argue that "whether or not there will be a revolution does not depend on us alone. But we shall do our work, and this work will never be in vain"
Revolution was foreseen and prepared by way of ingenious and titanic theoretical work of V.I Lenin, by way of the most purposeful political activities of Bolsheviks and heroic struggles of the Russian working class.

Lenin’s work "Imperialism as the highest stage of Capitalism "in which he analyzed the development of capitalism in its highest, monopolistic stage is undoubtedly of special importance for the theoretical preparation of the revolution. In this work he elaborated the theory of Imperialism while revealing its main features and the direction of its development as a parasitic and decaying capitalism in the verge of socialist construction. By the words on the verge, Lenin proved that there is no new phase of progressive development of capitalism following the stage of imperialism. Lenin determined the historical place of imperialism exactly this way despite all opportunistic interpretations of Marxism - Leninism like those of Kautsky, Plekhanov and others, who believed that imperialism should be followed by ultra-imperialism and that revolutionary social-democrats should exceed the limits of the bourgeois-democratic revolution.

Lenin proved that socialist revolution in Russia was possible and that the country was ready for it at that historical moment. Of course Lenin was not the first to discover imperialism itself, but it was he who formulated and explored it as the highest stage of capitalism. In his analysis of objective reality he was the first to point out at the dialectic contradiction arising with the essence of capitalism at the stage of imperialism "some its fundamental characteristics began to change into their opposites and Marx wrote - economically, the main thing in this process is the displacement of capitalist free competition by capitalist monopoly. Free competition is the basic feature of capitalism and commodity production in general. Monopolies , which have grown out of free competition , do not eliminate the latter , but exist above it and alongside it ,and thereby give rise to a number of very acute, intense antagonisms, frictions and conflicts. Monopoly is the transition from capitalism to a higher system"

It was absolutely clear to Lenin that the question regarding whether it is possible to reform the basis of imperialism, whether to go forward to the further intensification and deepening of the antagonisms which it engenders or backward , towards allaying these antagonisms , are fundamental issues in the critique of imperialism . Since the specific political features of imperialism are overall reaction and increased national oppression due to the establishing of the colonial system and oppression on part of the financial oligarchy and the elimination of free competition , a petty - bourgeoisie -democratic opposition to imperialism arose at the beginning of the twentieth century in nearly all imperialist countries. Kautsky neither cared nor was able to oppose this petty-bourgeois reformist opposition , which is really reactionary in its economic basis, on the contrary , he became merged with it in practice, and this is precisely where Kautsky and the broad international Kautskian trend deserted Marxism -Leninism.

In particular that Lenin remarked that "Imperialism significantly changes the relations between bourgeoisie and working class. Some of the working class strata, sometimes considerable ones, move over to the side of bourgeoisie because the latter improves their state at the expense of millions of people in dependent countries and colonies. A part of working class adopt bourgeoisie ideology. In politics, the interests of the above strata are represented by bourgeoisie workers Parties"

It is important to note and understand that within the workers movement, the struggle between revolutionary and reformist wings does occur and get sharper. In Russia, this struggle was shaped as a confrontation between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.

Lenin further predicted and demonstrated how economic crises of capitalism bring about revolutionary situations. He formulated the concept of revolutionary situation and described the main objective and subjective characteristics of the crisis situation developing on the eve of revolution:

  • The upper strata cannot rule as they did in the past.
  • The lower strata don’t want to live as they lived in the past.
  • The inevitable increase of the activities of masses above the usual level.

Meanwhile long before the revolution, Lenin mentioned that it was far from sure that any crisis or revolutionary situation would turn into revolution. He wrote "Neither the oppression of the lower classes nor a crisis among the upper classes can cause a revolution, they can only cause the decay of a country, unless that country has a revolutionary class capable of transforming the passive state of oppression into an active state of revolt and insurrection".

There is yet another condition necessary for the revolution, that condition is the presence of such a subjective factor as vanguard proletarian Party that arms itself with advanced theory and is capable of leading the insurrection of this revolutionary class. In this case Lenin developed the theory of proletarian party, the party of new type and created the party of Bolsheviks. While setting up the tasks of enabling proletariat to perform into dependent political force, that confronts all bourgeois parties simultaneously, directs all manifestations of its class struggle, reveals to proletariat implacable contradiction of interests existing between exploiters and exploited and clarifies the historical meaning and conditions of the forthcoming socialist revolution.

On the assumption of the law of uneven economic and political development in the epoch of imperialism, Lenin saw in the Russian Empire a weak link that could be torn. Lenin substantiated the possibility of the revolution’s initial victory in a separate country by putting forward a thesis of turning imperialistic war into a civil one. Hence, theoretically substantiated, predicted and practically implemented.

The Great October Socialist Revolution did not establish a sort of long-awaited genuine power of the people or a sort of real democracy, the Great October Socialist Revolution established proletarian dictatorship per se in the form of Soviet.


When speaking about Great October Socialist Revolution one should use both wider and narrower perspective. Wider perspective describes how the revolution and USSR have influenced other countries and the developments in the world, in particular what Soviet achievements gave an example to the rest of the world, what influence Russia affected over the whole world by way of its politics and achievements. In the narrowest sense as Lenin put it "taking international significance to mean the international validity or the historical inevitability of a repetition on an international scale, of what has taken place in our country. It must be admitted that certain fundamental features of our revolution do possess that significance". That is the narrow perspective presumes that we should consider the practice of our struggle, the methods and ways used by Bolsheviks and the first socialist country of the world. We should reveal this patterns, which will have to be followed by all other communist and workers party that are struggling for socialism as well as those that are constructing socialism. In particular, we should analyze the mistakes of Soviet communists to avoid them whenever possible, to prevent neglecting theory and moreover, developing revisionism and apostasy. It is of special importance for the current political situations we find ourselves in.

In 1921 Lenin wrote his most topical work: Left-Wing Communism: An infantile Disorder. That has been of great importance for communists of all times. This essay attacked the above issues of narrower perspective that had been revealed in the course of preparations for the revolution and in the first years of Soviet power. We should mention that these days the book is addressed not so much to ultra-leftists and too eager ultra-revolutionaries, but rather to parties and comrades suffering from syndromes of senile malady of opportunistic rightism. It was not for nothing that wise people used to call the Left-Wing Communism: An infantile disorder an encyclopedia of Bolshevism, It was really so!

As young people, as we celebrate the Centenary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, we are more encouraged and determined by the struggle that was waged by the Russian working class. Our encouragement further assert our trust in socialism. We will continue to rally and make our clarion call " Socialism in our lifetime" with great confidence for victory and with great confidence that we will hold high the red flag and the flag of October till we achieve Socialism in our lifetime , that’s the bottom line coz YCLSA Say So!

Long Live unity of the working class!
Long live the struggle for Socialism!
Long Live Marxism-Leninism!
Long live the spirit of the Great October Socialist Revolution!

* Cde Mluleki Dlelanga is the YCLSA National Secretary.