Learning from Bolshevism

What can the Bolshevik Revolution teach us about modern America?

Learning from Bolshevism

by Eric King


Last month was the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Partially because of that fact, I have been reading a great deal about the Russian Revolution and the rise of the Bolshevik party. What I have learned has surprised me. I am someone who studies revolutions. I thought that I understood the Russian Revolution but I had, in fact, missed two central elements of the revolutionary period: uncertainty and fear.

To begin with, during the early stages of the Russian Revolution it was uncertain as to who actually held power. The Bolsheviks seized control of many of the governmental buildings in Petrograd, including the Winter Palace, the former home of the Romanov Dynasty, but it wasn’t clear that this gave them the right or ability to rule Russia. There were still several other institutions of power within Russia, including the Duma (or legislature), which later became the Constituent Assembly (the Bolsheviks never held a majority of seats in either of them), the workers councils (called Soviets) which the Bolsheviks were also a minority in, and the soldiers councils, where the Bolsheviks had majority support, but most of the soldiers were still hundreds of miles away fighting at the front. Who actually had power in this chaotic political situation was determined by who was willing to assert it.

When the Bolsheviks claimed power on November 8th, 1917, they were bluffing. If any organized force had opposed them, they would have been immediately toppled. But, because the political situation in Petrograd and Russia as a whole was so disorganized, the Bolsheviks used that to their advantage and claimed power.  This seizure of power was able to succeed for two reasons. Firstly, the common enemy of the Monarchists and their White Army. Secondly, the promise, made by the Bolsheviks, of democratic participation for non-Bolshevik political parties. The Bolsheviks were able to pick up the mantle of fighting for the revolution against the White armies who wanted to restore the Romanov monarchy to power, which would topple the political dreams of everyone on the Left from the Social Liberals to the most stringent Bolsheviks.  The non-Bolshevik Left had a good sense of Russian history and they knew what happened to failed revolutionaries. They understood that if the White armies took power, it wouldn’t matter to the Whites if they had allied with the Bolsheviks or not. The entirety of the Left would be branded as traitors and be subject to execution. This is the way of Russia. If your coup or revolution fails, your entire political faction or ethnic group is subject to being brutally murdered.  Plus, they thought that they would be able to take part in the new revolutionary government, but as the civil war dragged on, every non-Bolshevik party was eventually banned.

There are a number of lessons that we can take from this understanding of the rise of Bolshevism and the Russian Revolution. Lesson number one is that being bold, confident, and self-assured in an age of confusion and fear is a type of power in itself. We have already seen this in our time. The rise of the Alt Right and identitarian movements has largely been due to the fact that we have been a certain and confident voice in a time of delusion and degeneracy. The Bolsheviks had a bold and inspiring ideology, and the writings and speeches of Richard Spencer come close to that level of inspiration. As the current Western form of government and society collapses, people will look for new ideas that are not only clear and confident but also inspiring. When people are living in filth and degeneracy, they don’t want someone to only remind them of how filthy and degenerate their society is. They want someone to show them a way out.

The second lesson that we can take from the rise of Bolshevism is that events rarely meet our expectations.  When the Bolshevik committee did not support his call for an immediate revolt after the Kernesky government took power, Lenin believed that he had lost out on the possibility for a revolution for the next hundred years.  He was wrong.  Events rarely play out how we expect them too.  Take action, whatever the conditions are, because action itself can create new possibilities. Do not shy away from action or from speaking the truth.  T.S. Elliot said, “There is no such thing as a Lost Cause, because there is no such thing as a Gained Cause.”  The fight for our ideas and for our people is eternal.

Let no one convince you that the future is written.  There is no future outside of that which we make.  All political orders fall. There has not been one yet that hasn’t.  And unless you believe that degenerate bug men have cracked the code and figured out how to make an eternally lasting political order, then we know at least one thing for certain—the political order that we currently live under will fall.  When it does, people will need, as the slogan says, a guiding light in a sea of degeneracy.

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