This October was the 100th anniversary of one of the greatest moments of the 20th Century – the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in October, 1917. I recently rewatched the movie Reds. If you want to know what really happened at this time in Russia, you ought to watch that movie. There had been an election and the Mensheviks or Social Democrats had won. The Bolsheviks also took part, but they did not gain a majority. Despite antisemites ranting about how Jews caused Communism in Russia, in this election in 1917, 70% of Russian Jews voted for a Zionist party that was running at the time. So the vast majority of Russian Jews did not support the Bolsheviks (or even the other socialist parties for that ). So much for “Jewish Communism.”
Yes, Trotsky was a Jew, but he was a secular atheist Jew. He actually refused to identify as Jewish and said instead that his ethnicity was world proletarian. Lenin was 1/4 Jewish, but a lot of people have a bit of Jew in them and it doesn’t make them Jewish. In Germany they have a saying, “There’s a little bit of Jew in every German.” This was actually such a problem in the Nazi era that they had to make all sorts of strict rules about who was a Jew. Nevertheless, ~150,000 half-Jews (not considered Jewish by the Nazis) not only served in the Wehrmacht but were actually members of the genocidally antisemitic SS!
There were a number of Jews heading the revolution but as you can see they did not even have the support of the majority of Russian Jews, or at least did not have that support in the earlier election. And there were as many Latvians of all people leading the revolution as Jews.
The Bolsheviks actually seized power by force. They had the help of masses of demobbed soldiers, home from the Front where they were running out of food, clothing, ammunition, everything. To say they were disenchanted would be an understatement. Rallies were being held all over Moscow and Saint Petersburg. These rallies were often joined by large numbers of industrial workers who also helped take part in the coup. So it was not a democratic takeover. It was actually a putschist regime. However, I would say that they had huge and possibly even majority support at least when the Civil War got started. The Reds only won the Civil War because huge numbers of peasants went over to their side.
The Bolshevik Revolution was both good and bad. I agree that there were some bad things about it. I am appalled at how Lenin’s Cheka started murdering people very early on. An early Bolshevik, a Jew at that, was an attorney. After a prominent contra had been arrested, he visited the man in jail and then went to Lenin and asked what his plans were for the man.
The attorney, who worked for the Bolsheviks, thought the man would be granted the protections of the rule of law. He was shocked when Lenin was outraged that the attorney thought that the man deserved such protections in the first place. Lenin said the man, along with all of the rest of the contras, should be executed. This was a Revolution! It was time for revolutionary justice. There was no time for the niceties of the rule of law and so forth. The attorney was stunned at Lenin’s brutality.
The Cheka executed a number of people in the early days by firing squad. Anti-Communist kooks give very high figures in the hundreds of thousands (including 50,000 Orthodox priests) but that cannot be correct. Instead a better figure may be ~4,000 executions.
While I am not happy at all with the brutal turn of the Revolution, I think there were some good things about the Russian Revolution. It definitely changed the course of history and humanity has not been the same since. It was surely one of the great events of the 20th Century.
I think most Alt Leftists, at least those on the Leftist (not the liberal) wing of the movement, would find at some positive things about the Russian Revolution. It is part of our heritage on the Left, for better or for worse.