Nov. 7: Russian Revolution Study Series – China Mieville’s “October”


Tuesday, November 7
7:00 p.m.
Common Good Cafe
(Downstairs at the University Temple United Methodist Church)
1415 NE 43rd St.
Seattle, WA 98105

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The Russian Revolution in October 1917, led by the Bolshevik Party, is the most important event in history for revolutionary socialists. For the first time, a revolution led by the working class won power in an entire country and began attempting to construct a socialist society based on the ideas of workers’ control and real democracy. For a brief period there was a glimpse of what such a society might look like, before the experiment was destroyed by civil war, foreign intervention, economic devastation, and—above all—the failure of revolutions to spread successfully to more economically advanced countries. This led by the late 1920s to the entrenchment of a bureaucratic dictatorship in the infant Soviet Union.

But despite its eventual defeat—indeed, partly because of it—the Russian Revolution remains a key event for all socialists to study. There are rich lessons to be learned concerning how it came about, its inspirational early successes, and why it eventually failed.

Join the Seattle ISO for a 3 part study series primarily using China Mieville’s book October to examine the history of the Russian Revolution and the lessons we can draw from it for today.

Recommended Reading from “October”: Chapters 4-7

If you want to read more for the meeting on the 7th, or if you haven’t yet picked up “October”, take a look at these additional readings:

Study questions:

  1. What was the initial attitude of the Bolshevik leaders in St. Petersburg toward the provisional government?
  2. How did Lenin’s ” April Theses” differ from this attitude? Did Lenin adopt Trotsky’s slogan of ” Permanent Revolution”? How did Lenin’s new approach differ from the previous Bolshevik goal of a ” Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Peasantry?”
  3. Why did some socialists want to have socialists as ministers in the provisional government? What did Lenin think of this?
  4. What was dual power?
  5. Lenin was for “patiently explaining” to the working class that “All Power to the Soviets” was the only solution for the crisis, yet he opposed the agitational slogan “Down with the Provisional Government”. Why? Why did he support the slogan “Down with the Ten Capitalist ministers”?
  6. In St. Petersburg, the majority of workers marched under Bolshevik slogans before the “July Days.” Lenin and other leaders opposed using this support to take power in July. Why?
  7. What was the role of women in the revolution?

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