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Bolshevism -  John Spargo -191

In the following pages I have tried to make a plain and easily understandable outline of the origin, history, and meaning of Bolshevism. I have attempted to provide the average American reader with a fair and reliable statement of the philosophy, program, and policies of the Russian Bolsheviki. In order to avoid confusion, and to keep the matter as simple and clear as possible, I have not tried to deal with the numerous manifestations of Bolshevism in other lands, but have confined myself strictly to the Russian example. With some detail too much-some of my readers may think I have sketched the historical background in order that the Bolsheviki may be seen in proper perspective and fairly judged in connection with the whole revolutionary movement in Russia. Russia. Whoever turns to these pages in the expectation of findng a sensational "exposure" of Bolshevism and the Bolsheviki will be disappointed. It has been my aim to make a deliberate and scientific study, not an ex-parte indictment.

Bolshevism-John Spargo-1919    

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Lenin's words to his readers... It is very painful, in these days of liberty, to read these cramped passages of the pamphlet, crushed, as they seem, in an iron vise, distorted on account of the censor. Of how imperialism is the eve of the socialist revolution ; of how social-chauvinism (socialism in words, chauvinism in deeds) is the utter betrayal of socialism, complete desertion to the side of the bourgeoisie ; of how the split in the labour movement is bound up with the objective conditions of imperialism, etc ., I had to speak in a "slavish" tongue, and I must refer the reader who is interested in the question to the volume, which is soon to appear, in which. are reproduced the articles I wrote abroad in the years 1914-17. Special attention must be drawn, however, to a passage on pages 119-202 In order to show, in a guise acceptable to the censors, how shamefully the capitalists and the social-chauvinist deserters (whom Kautsky opposes with so much inconsistency) lie on the question of annexations; in order to show with what cynicism they screen the annexations of their capitalists, I was forced to quote as an example-Japan! The careful reader will easily substitute Russia for Japan, and Finland, Poland, Courland, the Ukraine, Khiva, Bokhara, Estonia or other regions peopled by non-Great Russians, for Korea.    
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During the first months after the conquest of political power by the proletariat in Russia (October 25 [November 7), 1917) it might have appeared that the tremendous difference between backward Russia and the advanced countries of Western Europe would cause the proletarian revolution in these latter countries to have very little resemblance to ours. Now we already have very considerable international experience which very definitely shows that some of the fundamental features of our revolution have a significance which is not local, not peculiarly national, not Russian only, but international. I speak here of international significance not in the broad sense of the term: not a few, but all the fundamental and many of the secondary features of our revolution are of international significance in regard to the influence it has upon all countries. No, taking it in the narrowest sense, i.e., understanding international significance to mean the international validity or the historical inevitability of a repetition on an international scale of what has taken place here, it must be admitted that some of the fundamental features of our revolution do possess such a significance.    
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News of the outbreak of the revolution, the establishment of Soviets in Petrograd and Moscow, the abdication of the Tsar and the formation of the bourgeois Provisional Government reached Lenin in Zurich, Switzerland, through the extra editions of the local newspapers on March 15, 1917 . The following day he wrote to Alexandra Kollontai in Norway that "the `first stage of the first revolution' bred by the war will be neither final nor confined to Russia" and observed that, although the workers, supported by the revolutionary soldiers, had carried through the revolution, state power was seized by the bourgeoisie according to "the same `old' European pattern."    
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THE question of the state is acquiring at present a particular importance, both as theory, and from the point of view of practical politics. The imperialist war has greatly accelerated and intensified the transformation of monopoly capitalism into state-monopoly capitalism. The monstrous oppression of the labouring masses by the state-which connects itself more and more intimately with the all-powerful capitalist combines-is becoming ever more monstrous. The foremost countries are being converted-we speak here of their "rear"-into military convict labour prisons for the workers. The unheard-of horrors and miseries of the protracted war are making the position of the masses unbearable and increasing their indignation. An international proletarian revolution is clearly rising. The question of its relation to the state is acquiring a practical importance.    
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The Paris Commune of 1871 arose victoriously from the ruins of the Second Empire and, after seventy-two epoch-making days, it succumbed heroically under the hail of bullets of the Versailles counter-revolution. The Commune was, in a far higher sense than the June insurrection of 1848, the "most tremendous event in the history of European civil wars" (Marx) in the nineteenth century. It marked the violent conclusion of the "pre-history" of the proletarian revolution ; with it begins the era of proletarian revolutions. It was the brilliant culmination of the romantic "Sturm and Drang" period of the revolutionary proletariat, which was glorious in heroic deeds and bloody defeats, in bold initiative and growing attempts. But chiefly it was the first dress rehearsal in world history of the socialist revolution of the working class, which, at the head of all oppressed and exploited classes, for the first time set up its power by its own might with the purpose of setting the whole of society free from the system of enslavement and exploitation, as well as securing its own political and social emancipation.    
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Lenin arrived in Petrograd from his exile in Switzerland April 16, 1917. The following day he presented his views at a meeting of Bolshevik members of the national conference of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies in the form of theses published afterward under the title "The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution" (pp. 32-36). These theses, known in Bolshevik annals as the "April Theses," were in the main a succinct formulation of the views expressed in his "Letters from Afar." (See Little Lenin Library, Vol. 8.)    
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What Is To Be Done? is one of Lenin's outstanding revolutionary writings. It has long been a classic in its field. The first generation of Russian Bolsheviks, which includes many of the present Soviet leaders, have been brought up on this brilliant exposition of the policies and tactics of the revolutionary Socialist movement. Its uniqueness in Russian Marxist literature is due to the way it treats the role of the Party in the revolutionary struggle-a subject to which slight attention was paid up to that time. The subtitle, "Burning Questions of Our Movement," which Lenin gave to this brochure, indicates how deeply he felt the need of calling attention to the problem of organization.    
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The speeches delivered at the Seventh Congress of the Comintern, and the motions there and then adopted, clearly delineated the international position of Communism today.---It is now easy to trace the windings of the spiral-shaped action that has been developing for the last eighteen years, and ever since gaining more strength and power to impel the world towards further confusion. The basis of that spiral is the scheme of international relations.    
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