From Workers’ International News, Vol.2 No.11, November 1939, pp.4-5.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
This month two anniversaries occur which are celebrated by the workers of Britain and of the whole world. The centenary of the Chartist “riots” in Monmouthshire and the victorious uprising of the Russian workers in 1917.
Chartism marked the dawn of the workers’ movement for emancipation. All the heroism, sacrifice and powers of endurance of the British proletariat, stirring to revolt against the slave conditions imposed by the capitalist class making enormous profits out of the suffering and toil of the masses, was for the first time demonstrated in action. The cold-blooded ferocity and the panic of the ruling class at the mere threat of the downtrodden “lower orders” even daring to think of themselves as human beings not inferior to their divinely ordained betters was expressed in the repression meted out to the violators of “law and order.”
By a combination of repression and concessions, made possible by the transfer of the inhuman exploitation to the colonial slaves overseas, the back of the Chartist movement was broken and no serious threat to the rule of capital in England for decades was evident. But it was the Chartist movement which paved the way for the building up and organisation of the a working class movement in Britain, the forerunner of the revolution of 1848 in the Europe on continent.
From Chartism, the beginnings of the workers movement, to the first victory in 1917 is a causal historical connection. The workers and peasants of Russia carried to a successful conclusion that the Chartist pioneers had been dimly striving for. But, for today the October revolution has an added significance. Coming in the midst of the last imperialist blood-bath it held out the hope to the weary masses of a better world in which poverty, hunger and war would be abolished for ever. It showed the road which the masses must take if the nightmare of famine and butchery were to be ended. Ended only by the action of the toilers themselves.
And it was the October Revolution, inspiring and regenerating the German Workers movement which led to the revolution in Germany and the ending of the imperialist war. However the hope and confidence which had led the Russian workers to expect aid very quickly from the masses in the West was doomed to disappointment by the betrayal of .the Second International which saved the capitalist regime from destruction.
The workers of the world are today reaping the harvest sown by the Social Democracy, a harvest of blood and tears. The capitalist regime, finding no solution to the imperialist contradictions on a capitalist foundation, has once again hurled the masses of the people to destruction.
The young workers’ republic, backward and isolated, has succumbed to internal degeneration, the usurping bureaucracy has seized the reins from out of the hands of the working class, infecting with its poison the Communist International which had been built as an instrument of working class liberation. Today the Comintern stands covered with ignominy once and for all by the shameful way in which they have betrayed the masses into the slaughter. The Soviet Union too, is under a cloud, through the confusion induced into the minds of the world working class by the Stalinist aid rendered to Hitler and the monstrous purges of the Russian bureaucracy.
Nevertheless the nationalist degeneration of the Soviet State does not negate the tradition of October. The October Revolution was achieved under the banner of international working class action as an answer to the chauvinism and slavery of the national capitalist states. Today when the masses arc confronting one another again behind steel and concrete the message of October rings out loud and clear.
Worker, your enemy is not your brother worker in another country. It is your own capitalist class at home. That message although faint and low at the moment will swell in volume as the casualties, the suffering and the misery of the masses grows from month to month.
For bread, for land, for peace, that was the tocsin call of the Russian revolution. It awoke an echo in the hearts of the whole of the international proletariat. The tortured peoples of Europe in the prison camps of capitalist militarism who grope for a way out of their intolerable plight, can find it only in the path of October. The Russian workers too can find release from the oppression of the bureaucracy only through a new, a political revolution. But the lesson of October was that only a Bolshevik Party can lead the masses to victory.
The Fourth International stands today as the heir of Bolshevism. The proletariat will sweep aside the traitor internationals of Citrine and Stalin. The path to the world October will be hewed through the building up and strengthening the organisation of the world party of the working class.
The British workers have a splendid tradition in the struggle of Chartism a century ago. In the coming storms the fight will be more ruthless, more stern than ever they had to face. With the guidance of Marxism, through the tradition of October, the British masses will give an account of themselves worthy of their revolutionary forbears.
Last updated on 17.11.2005