Socialism and Revolutions in the USSR and USA (Part 2)

By Neil Paterson

9/2/2020

The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 ended with Lenin's party assuming power over Russia and its political institutions. The revolution itself took place in October and November. Lenin establishes a Soviet government called the "Council of the People's Commissars" (in which he himself acted as the chair), Lenin appoints his intellectual elites (Trotsky, Stalin, and many other radicals) to high offices of this new government, and finally, he implements a communist system by nationalizing nearly every facet of the economy and ridding the people of private ownership. He also creates the “Extraordinary Commission to Combat Counterrevolution, Sabotage, and Speculation,” also known as the “Cheka.” This secret police force would seek out, capture, and often execute those that were seen as a threat to the government. Lenin would use this to enforce his zero-tolerance policy for disagreement. 1


In the summer of 1918, civil war broke out between Lenin’s party of revolutionaries, "the Reds," and the counterrevolutionaries, "the Whites." Many battles were waged throughout the future Soviet empire, even drawing in international support for either side. The communist system that was implemented stagnated the economy and government action, leading to more unrest. 1 Politically, Lenin was exercising absolute authority, since this was necessary to get anything done in the current circumstances. Lenin had the intent of implementing democracy but had conditions on which it would function; essentially, the “proletariat dictatorship” would exclude the capitalists from participating in the democracy. 2 The Bolsheviks gained power, and Lenin quickly began to centralize all of that power in the hands of "the Party." 3 Russian historian Nicholas Riasanovsky writes: "In effect, the Communist Party, particularly its Central Committee and Political Bureau headed by Lenin, from the beginning dominated the government apparatus and ruled the country." 1 The unrest continued until 1922 when Lenin finally established the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). 1


This Socialist Republic system was implemented and enforced by what would quickly become a totalitarian regime under Stalin. Again, the ultimate end of these systems is totalitarianism—no matter the means, the party's goals demand such an extreme form. Approximately 20 million lives were lost during the period surrounding the civil war, due to famine, violence, sickness, and executions. 1 A look into other revolutions possessed and fueled by progressivism had similar results throughout the 20th century. 


The founding of the USSR centered on establishing a body of power that did not allow for disagreement or exercise of free thought. The modern socialist in America, for the most part, embodies the same perspective of absolutism. They are willing to fundamentally destroy the foundation of the country for the sake of implementing socialism. The Bolsheviks (formally known as the "Social Democratic Party") used a violent revolution followed by civil war to get their wish. The modern socialist in America employs more gradual tactics of electing radicals in hopes of eradicating certain political institutions, such as the Electoral College 4. Ultimately, however, this radical and progressive ideology fosters the actions of the horrific rioting, looting, and violence seen across the country. The groups responsible for these demonstrations, namely Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Antifa (the American anti-fascism movement), are often seen supporting or receiving support from progressive candidates. 5 For these groups and their supporters to pull off the system they wish to establish (i.e., a Socialist America and radical egalitarianism), it will require not only a revolution but a totalitarian regime to enforce it. Lenin, it seems, has created a perfect template for them. 


Currently, there are several radical demands in the political sphere in America aimed at completely changing the country. In a campaign speech in 2007, just before the election, former president Barack Obama said: "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." (emphasis added) To "fundamentally" change something is to destroy its foundation; Obama never explicitly stated that he was willing to upend the founding principles of this country completely, however, he was appealing to the progressive mindset and was showing that he wanted to support a more radical approach to change in general. Today, many elected officials hold views that are moving to more extreme ends. The "Abolish the Police"/" Defund the Police" movement started by Black Lives Matter receives support by some who currently hold office, including "The Squad" of young progressive congresswomen; this group went so far as to raise money to bail out BLM activists who were arrested for rioting in Minneapolis 6. It is becoming challenging to narrow down who in public office does not support the likes of these extremist groups and views. 


During a congressional hearing on the use of federal agents to arrest Antifa and BLM activists for destroying federal property, representatives attempted to "reclaim their time" to stop the Attorney General, William Barr, from answering any of their questions; this effectively silenced him and forced Republican representatives to forfeit their time for him to speak. 7 This is an example of an attempt to silence opposition at the highest levels of government. Nearly all of these elected officials support these groups. They are sponsoring radical legislation, such as the Green New Deal and various Police Reform bills 8, which seek to implement more socialist policies and fundamentally transform the underlying political, economic, and social structures of the country. It's not too much of a stretch to assume that these riots and political unrest could potentially culminate in a revolution, followed by a civil war between progressive extremists and originalist conservatives.


The desire to implement socialism, in any capacity, requires an extremist perspective and demands an absolutist stance on the ideals of the system. As with many collectivist systems, socialism and communism must have zero tolerance for dissent if intended to be successful. It starts with having a progressive perspective regarding the approach of changing the current system. Socialist policies such as mass redistribution of wealth, centralization of industries, establishments of "workers councils" can be implemented in a progressive platform. Over time, this will ultimately lead to the Marxist conclusion of the complete abolition of private property, the abolition of exchange in the market, and common ownership of all goods and trade; in other words, an attempt to realize true Communism. As we saw in the USSR, this requires the same sort of totalitarian regime to enforce these ends and a zero-tolerance policy to stifle any disagreement. The fundamental principles on which this country was founded, individual liberty and limited government, are wholly incompatible with such ends. To quote an election sermon from 1776 by Reverend Samuel West: "…tyranny and arbitrary power are utterly inconsistent with, and subversive of the very end and design of civil government, and directly contrary to natural law, which is the true foundation of civil government and all politick law." 9 Should these progressive extremists succeed in their goals, they will undoubtedly abdicate all authority to an absolute, centralized government, and the people will be left to live under abject tyranny. 


Sources:

1. Riasanovsky, Nicholas V. A History of Russia, Second Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1969.

2. Lenin, Vladimir. State and Revolution. 1918.

3. Pipes, Richard E., et al. "Soviet Union, Historical State." Encyclopedia Britannica (2018). 

9. Long, Hamilton Albert. The American Ideal of 1776, The Twelve Basic Principles. Philadelphia: Your Heritage Books, Inc., 1976.


About Neil

Neil Paterson is a Contributing Writer for Young Americans Against Socialism. Neil works in Human Research Protection and has backgrounds in Psychology, Music, and Research Compliance.


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