A century after the Bolsheviks seized power from the soviets, libcom.org choose some of the best texts about an uprising that changed the world forever
The Guardian has just published a listicle by Tariq Ali promoting his new Verso book, where he claims Lenin synthesised 'anarcho-terrorism and social democracy'. Rather than read Ali's book for £16.99 why not try some of our extensive collection of free literature on the class character of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath.
1. The Bolsheviks and Worker's Control - Maurice Brinton
A remarkable pamphlet by Maurice Brinton exposing the struggles over the running of workplaces between workers and the new state in the Russian Revolution. In doing so it demolishes the romantic Leninist 'history' of the relationship between the working class and their party during the years 1917- 21. It also provides a backbone to understanding why the Russian revolution failed in the way it did.
2. Factory Committees in the Russian Revolution - Rod Jones
Alongside the Russian workers' attempts to create socialism -- not as some abstract far-off utopia in a political party program, but through confronting and changing the concrete reality of their everyday life -- were the activities of socialist parties, supposedly sympathetic to working class aspirations. This pamphlet tells the story of the Russian workers' struggle, in particular the efforts of the factory committees.
3. Red Petrograd: revolution in the factories 1917-1918 - S.A. Smith
Well researched and detailed study of the factory-level impact of the Russian Revolution in Petrograd, dealing in particular with implementation of workers' control by the factory councils.This book explores the impact of the 1917 revolution on factory life in the Russian capital. S.A. Smith traces attempts of workers to take control of their working lives from the February Revolution through to June 1918, when the Bolsheviks nationalised industry.
4. Soviets and Factory Committees in the Russian Revolution - Peter Rachleff
Peter Rachleff traces the development of the Factory Committees from early 1917 until the beginnings of the Bolsheviks' suppression of these organisations shortly after October.
5. Subsistence riots in Russia during World War I - Barbara Engel
Food riots, mostly by women, during World War I helped spark the Russian revolution. Barbara Engels' article provides crucial information on proletarian women's often ignored role in initiating the revolution.
6. Russian Labour and Bolshevik Power after October - William Rosenberg
William G. Rosenberg analyses the relationship between the working class and the Bolsheviks between 1917 and 1918, emphasising the role of strikes, protests and demonstrations during the period before and after October.
7. The unknown revolution, 1917-1921 - Volin
Volin's extensive work on the Russian Revolution, its usurping by the Bolsheviks and on workers' rebellions against the new dictatorship. Volin follows the development of the Russian revolutionary movement from the mid-19th century, through the 1905 revolution and into 1917: the revolution, the relationship between Bolsheviks and anarchists, and, finally, the repression of revolutionaries.
8. History of the Makhnovist movement, 1918-1921 - Peter Arshinov
Peter Arshinov's definitive history of the revolutionary Ukrainian guerrilla movement led by anarchist Nestor Makhno. It was in prison in 1911 that Peter Arshinov established a close personal and political friendship with Makhno, which continued after their release following the February Revolution in 1917. In 1919 Arshinov became Makhno's secretary, and remained with the Makhnovists until 1921.
9. Kronstadt 1917-21: The fate of a soviet democracy - Israel Getzler
The first major study of revolutionary Kronstadt to span the period from February 1917 to the uprising of March 1921. Israel Getzler's book focuses attention on Kronstadt's forgotten golden age, between March 1917 and July 1918, when Soviet power and democracy flourished there before discussing the controversial events of 1921, Kronstadt's 'third revolution', this time against the Bolshevik regime they had previously fought alongside.
10. From the Russian revolution of 1917 to Stalinist totalitarianism - Agustín Guillamón
A historical essay by Agustín Guillamón on the transition from Russian Revolution of the Soviets to bureaucratic dictatorship under Stalin, with special emphasis on the period extending from the February Revolution to the period of War Communism.