FRDH Bolshevik Revolution 100th Anniversary Thoughts


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The Bolshevik Revolution is to political change, what nuclear weapons are to warfare: the ultimate deterrent. The question on this 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution is what happens to a society when you take violent overthrow of the government by the governed as a last resort out of the equation. How does it affect a society’s ability to respond to the inevitable changes wrought by the passage of time? Economic, political, social pressure’s build up as decades pass. These pressures weaken and deform the political system, certainly it deforms the politicians who work in that system. What happens then? To paraphrase Langston Hughes, do Generations of dreams deferred, dry up like raisins in the Sun, or fester like sores … or do they explode? Is it even possible to hold off the explosion? The overwhelming violence in which the Soviet Union was born and its ultimate failure, has obscured our ability to think about revolution clearly. It is wrong to judge revolutions by whether they succeed or fail. Virtually all revolutions fail. Either they fail literally and are reversed by forces of reaction or they fail metaphorically by compromising their lofty goals. The fairest way to assess the impact of a revolution is by the fact that it happened at all. Revolutions represent tectonic shifts in society, terrible rupturings that create decisive breaks with the past. Michael Goldfarb asks Does the Bolshevik Revolution mean there will never be another revolution in a major country like the US?

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