John Reed, the great American labor journalist and a founder of the Communist Party USA, was the first to bring this country the news of what had happened in Russia on Nov. 7, 1917. In “Ten Days that Shook the World,” he wrote that the workers, led by Lenin, and carrying the banner of “peace, bread and brotherhood,” had seized power. The “Great October Revolution” (in their calendar, it was October) set itself the task of transforming an oppressive empire into a socialist society.
During the 20th century the seed planted by that revolution grew into a world socialist movement that transformed backward societies, won important economic and social rights for countless millions, assisted countries breaking free of colonialism, defeated fascism, constituted a pressure on the rulers in the capitalist world to make concessions to their workers and democratic movements, and countered the aggressive aims of U.S. imperialism for nearly 50 years.
It is appropriate on this 90th anniversary of that revolution to keep in mind how similar the aspirations of Americans today are to the aspirations of the masses of Russian people who made the 1917 revolution.
Like those revolutionaries, working people and democratic forces in the U.S. seek a future without war, exploitation, inequality and poverty. Americans today, like the revolutionaries in 1917, want the great wealth of this country to be for the benefit of all the people. Americans today, like the Russian revolutionaries then, want a foreign policy based on peace and cooperation. Americans today, like the revolutionaries in 1917, seek an expansion of democracy and social equality.
Our urgent political task today is to defeat the ultra-right, ending its grip on our country and the world. But the problems of war and corporate globalization that we have faced over the past decades underscore the profound significance of the Great October Revolution in opening a new chapter in the struggle for a better world. The future of peace and social justice sought by the revolutionaries then and most Americans now will ultimately be realizable only with socialism. For working people and their allies socialism is not a dream, but a necessity.