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Mainstream, VOL LV No 46 New Delhi November 4, 2017

Red Star Glows Brighter

Monday 6 November 2017, by Nikhil Chakravartty

From N.C.’s Writings

November 7 this year marks the centenary of the October Revolution that heralded a new dawn in the world. Today a hundred years later the Soviet Union, the product of that Revolution, has ceased to exist. Yet the significance of the Revolution remains undiminished. To mark the occasion we are reproducing some pieces from this journal, including the following write-up by N.C., written fifty years ago at the time of the fiftieth anniversary of the October Revolution, and articles that are of relevance in today’s changed context.

The Red Star over the Kremlin spires will shine brighter this week when on November 7 the world celebrates the grand jubilee of the greatest revolution in history.

The pilgrimage to Moscow today is indeed the triumphant proclamation of man’s unending quest for building a better and a nobler world, in which the blood and toil of the many can never be turned into the greed and gold of a few, where the meek and the humble shall inherit the earth. Those who will gather in the Red Square on this sacred day—and those in distant corners of the world who will be joining them in spirit—shall remember that with this revolution man set out to buiuld a many splendoured edifice of civilisation—more enduring and purposeful than any that history has witnessed. For, it is a civilisation that truly translates into reality the motto of the greatest good for the greatest number.

In this respect, this great revolution has been the inexhaustible treasure-house for all peoples striving to build a new and better life, striving to break the chains of slavery in any form. Here was a revolution which did not come like an accident, whatever the apologists of Reaction might have said. It was the most magnificent operation of human ingenuity, a planned revolution, a revolution which has vindicated the claim of Marx that social developments, the forces at work in human society, are subject to laws of nature, and therefore can be mastered. A revolution that did not just come, it was made.

And it was made by men and women whose labour has created all the riches of the world. The working class, the producer of all the world’s wealth, was its conscious author, with its advance detachment, armed with the science of revolution, leading and guiding it.

That is why it did not just come and go like a thunder-clap. Its guns have boomed through-out these fifty years and they have come in aid of every people fighting for the common man. From the barricades in Berlin to the walls of Madrid, from the underground in Shanghai to the maqui’s hide-out in France, from the picket-lines in Detroit to the villages in Telangana—and today from the Suez Canal to the Vietnam swamps—every soldier of freedom acknow-ledges the power and the glory of that Red Star of Revolution.

Calumniators have worked overtime through decades to malign and mislead, but they have always failed, because the toiling men and women recognise their friend, philosopher and guide. They can never be confounded by the traducers from Washington nor by the howling dervishes from Peking. The Great Revolution is majestic in its spreme confidence in the final victory of the working man.

This has been a unique revolution. Its wheels have never stopped in these fifty long years: it has never ceased to advance. Not even the mighty phalanx of Hitler could halt its march forward nor could the war-machine of the dollar overawe it. The more difficult the task the greater has been the challenge for it—and that has always been true of its votaries, whether fighting on the war front or in the fields and factories. One unrelenting struggle for the building of a better world is the saga of this mighty endeavour of socialism.

The frontiers of this revolution have never ceased to extend. From the defence of the first socialist state fifty years ago, it freed new states and millions of humanity from the thraldom of capital in less than three decades, and today its serried legions can be counted in every country. For, the Russian Revolution, the honoured heirloom of the Soviet people, is the common heritage of every land wherever men and women toil and strive. That is why it has always inspired countless martyrs to face the gallows or the firing-squad, confident in the ultimate liberation of man from the bondage of class society. And today its domain literally extends to the kindgom of the stars.

As the world this week will salute the fiftieth anniversary of this great revolution, it will pay its homage to the millions of martyrs who have given their dearest possession, life, at its clarion call. Such martyrs have come from all nations, transcending all barriers of clime and community. And everyone of those noble martyrs knew, in the words of Gabriel Peri as he faced the Fascist firing squad, that Communism shall usher in the Morrow of Song.

And the men and women in the Soviet Union, who are the worthy custodians of the priceless treasure of the Great Revolution, are toiling hard in the confidence that they, as the true followers of Lenin, shall lead the world to that beautiful Morrow of Song.

The Red Star shall glow brigher—for ever.

(Mainstream, November 4, 1967)

When I look

for the grandest day of my life,

rummaging in all

I’ve gone through and seen.

I name without doubt or internal strife

October 25, 1917.

Vladimir Mayakovsky

    (from the poem ‘Vladimir llyich Lenin’)

[November 7 was October 25 as per the old Russian calender.]

Birth of a New World

Evening, November 6

At 9.00 pm from the apartment in Vyborgskaya Storona in Petrograd in which he was in hiding, Lenin sent a letter to the members of the Party Central Committee, calling for an immediate attack.


“I am writing these lines on the evening of the 24th (November 6)... We must not wait! We may lose everything! ...Under no circumstances should power be left in the hands of Kerensky and Co. until the 25th (November 7)—not under any circumstances; the matter must be decided without fail this very evening, or this very night...

“...To delay action is fatal.”

Night, November 6-7

Lenin moved secretly to the Smolny Institute, the headquarters of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party, the Petrograd Soviet and the Revolutionary Military Committee, and assumed leadership of the armed uprising of the Petrograd workers, soldiers and sailors. Commanders of the Red Guards and the rebellious units came to Smolny from all parts of the city. The Bolshevik Party Central Committee discussed the com-position of a Soviet Government.

Morning, November 7

By morning actually the entire city was in the hands of the revolutionary forces. They had taken the Central Telephone Exchange, the railway termini, the city post office, and the power station.

At 10.00 am the Revolutionary Military Committee published the appeal, “To the Citizens of Russia”, written by Lenin, annoucing the overthrow of the Provisional Government and the transition of power to the Soviets.

In the afternoon, at an emergency session of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, Lenin made a report of the tasks of Soviet power.

He made the following historic pronouncement: “The workers’ and peasants’ revolution, about the necessity of which the Bolsheviks have always spoken, has been accomplished.”

The working class of Petrograd, led by the Bolshevik Party, had overthrown the counter-revolutionary Provisional Government.

November 8

Lenin wrote draft decrees on peace, land and the formation of the Soviet Government.

At the evening session of the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets he made a statement on peace and land, and submitted draft decrees on these questions. The Congress approved the proposed composition of the Council of People’s Commissars led by Lenin.

The overwhelming majority of Soviets attended the Congress and there were many delegates from peasants’ Soviets. The Congress acted according to the will of the great majority of workers, soldiers and peasants.

November 8 or 9

Lenin wrote: “Draft Regulations on Workers’ Control”.

He attended a session of the Central Council of Factory Committees of Petrograd which debated the question of introducing workers’ control over production and establishing a steering economic body.

November 9

Lenin presided over a session of the Council of People’s Commissars which approved as the basis of a government bill Lenin’s “Draft Regulations on Workers’ Control”, and passed the “Decree on the Press”, and the “Decision of the Government on Calling a Constituent Assembly at the Appointed Time”.

Night, November 9-10

The Central Committee of the Party and the Council of People’s Commissars set up a commission led by Lenin to put down the Kerensky-Krasnov counter-revolutionary revolt.

Lenin went to the headquarters of the Petrograd Military Area to hear reports on plans to fight General Krasnov. On his suggestion a decision was taken to use ships of the Baltic Navy in the operation.

November 10

Lenin held a conference of delegates from Party organisations, factory committees, trade unions, district Soviets, units of the Petrograd garrison at which the defences of the city were discussed.

He asked the workers of the Putilov Plant to provide several artillery batteries and an armoured train for the front.

November 11

In connection with the counter-revolutionary revolt started in Petrograd on the night of October 28 (November 10) Lenin held a conference of the Revolutionary Military Committee.

He also addressed a meeting of regimental deputies from the Petrograd garrison, speaking of the current situation, the equipment of the troops and the establishment of order in the city.

November 12

Lenin spoke at a session of the Petrograd Soviet on the agrarian policy of Soviet power.

He wrote a radio message on behalf of the Council of People’s Commissars on the transition of state power to the Soviets and the decisions of the Second Congress of the Soviets, on putting down the cadets’ revolt, and on measures to defeal the Krasnov-Kerensky troops.

November 13

At the headquarters of the Petrograd Military Area Lenin presided over a conference that discussed military aid to the Moscow uprising.

November 14

Lenin made a speech at a sitting of the Party’s Central Committee explaining the meaning of Soviet power and exposing the capitulatory position of Kamenev and Zinovyev who wanted to make a deal with the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries on the question of establishing a “uniform socialist government”.

November 15

Lenin signed “The Declaration of Rights of the Peoples of Russia” which proclaimed complete equality for all nationalities inhabiting the country.

He attended a sitting of the Party’s Central Committee which discussed the capitulatory stand taken by Kamenev, Zinovyev, and others. The Central Committee passed the resolution on the opposition within the Central Committee written by Lenin.

November 16

Lenin wrote the “Ultimatum from the Majority on the Central Committee of the RSDLP (B) to the Minority” and familiarised the members of the Central Committee with the text.

“At any rate, we do not doubt for a moment that the submission of our differences.. to the people’s judgement will ensure for our policy the unreserved and devoted support to the revolutionary workers, soldiers and peasants, and will very soon condemn the wavering opposition to impotent isolation,” the document said.

November 17

And the Night of November 17

Lenin wrote the “Draft Resolution on Freedom of the Press”.

During the day he talked with Baltic sailors who were being sent to the southern provinces to carry out revolutionary propaganda.

He also received the chairman of the revolutionary headquarters of the Ivanovo-Voznesensk Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, asking him in detail about the state of affairs in the city and region.

He addressed a session of the Petrograd Soviet which was attended by representatives from the frontline units. His speech was about the programme for action and the tasks facing the Soviet Government.

November 18

Lenin wrote the appeal “To the Population”.

“Comrades, working people,” the appeal ran in part, “remember that now you yourselves are at the helm of state. No one will help you if you yourselves do not unite and take into your hands all affairs of the state. Your Soviets are from now on the organs of state authority, legislative bodies with full powers.”

Lenin talked to delegates from the Sverdlovsk Soviet of the Saratov Region and wrote the “Reply to Questions from Peasants” because deputies from peasants were coming to the Council of People’s Commissars. A typed copy of the “Reply” signed by Lenin was addressed to peasants in the particular province from which the deputies came and given to the deputies.

The young Soviet power became stronger and more confident every day. The Bolshevik Party and the working class were getting increasing support from the working people in town and countryside. The powerful popular movement followed the path Lenin charted. The Bolshevik Party became the guiding force of the world’s first socialist state of workers and peasants.

In your eyes shines the red star,

Your arms raised, your fixed fists hold fire,

The demons of all lands are distraught

And crippled run amok in despair here and there.

In vain they spread red streams of blood! 

Over villages and towns everywhere the red star of birth

Burns on with the patter of your footsteps,

Burns in that land and this with wings’ beating.

Your horse’s hooves never came off,

Its adventure has been hammered with life and steel.

That is why from your wrists ring and roar

Mighty songs of victory in this land of your timid friend.

Bishnu Dey


(from the poem ‘Red Star’)

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