A spent force?

 07 Nov 2017 - 10:39

The Peninsula

The Russian Revolution by the Bolsheviks under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin left an indelible mark not only on the Soviet Union, but across the world, popularizing Communism from Cuba to China. The anticapitalist movement worked to undermine the system in Russia, throwing out feudal lords and ending the practice of serfdom.

Lenin appeared as the leader of a movement that would create the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) that would go to define not only a system of governance based on Communism but a political philosophy which would be the rival of capitalism — largely supported by the West.

The break up of the USSR in 1991 brought about the death of a system that was blamed for suppressing freedoms and keeping the masses steeped in ignorance. The  West was anathema to a political philosophy based on Karl Marx’s premise: the history of all hitherto civilisations is the history of class struggle.

There are no official commemorations planned in Russia for the event that led to the introduction of Communism and brought about the birth of the Soviet Union. However, it is certain that the Revolution triggered instability and created chaos. It is believed that the upheaval led to severe economic setback to the country. Had Russia progressed sans the Revolution, the narrative would have been quite different.

Moscow’s low-key treatment of the centenary reflects rifts in Russia over the revolution. A nationwide poll last month by the research company VTsIOM showed opinions over the revolution split almost evenly, with 46 percent saying it served interests of the majority and the same number responding that only a few benefited; the rest were undecided. The poll of 1,800 people had a margin of error of no more than 2.5 percentage points.

During Soviet times, November 7 was known as Revolution Day and was celebrated with grand military parades and rallies on Red Square in Moscow. After the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia stopped celebrating it, although the Communists still marked it.

Though for the Russians, the legacy of the Revolution is controversial and divides society over its ideology and principles, the Chinese have used Marxism-Leninism to devise a system of government that is working for them. In the recently concluded 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China in Beijing, President Xi Jinping popularized the phrase ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics.

The Chinese brand of Socialism has combined Capitalism and Communism to introduce a unique blend of economic philosophy that the country has riden to become the second largest economy in the world. The success of the Belt and Road Initiative and the massive infrastructure expansion has given China the fillip to empower one of the fastest growing economies.