The Soul of the Russian Revolution
Crowds demonstrate in support of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies during the Russian Revolution. | Library of Congress

Eugene V. Debs, leading American socialist of early 20th century and frequent Socialist presidential candidate, wrote “The Soul of the Russian Revolution” for The Call magazine. It was originally published on April 21, 1918. Though the revolution in Russia eventually succumbed to pressures from both within and without, this article offers a view into the excitement and inspiration that radicals around the world drew from Russia in the early days of its transformation. The text presented here, for the revolution’s anniversary, is from Philip S. Foner’s documentary study, “The Bolshevik Revolution: Its Impact on American Radicals, Liberals, and Labor,” available from International Publishers.

This text, along with nearly 200 other U.S. responses to the Revolution from those first years, can be found in Philip S. Foner’s documentary study, “The Bolshevik Revolution,” available from International Publishers.

The world stands amazed, astounded, awe-inspired, in the presence of Russia’s stupendous historic achievement.

The Russian Revolution is without precedent or parallel in history. Monumental in its glory, it stands alone. Behold its sublime majesty, catch its holy spirit and join in its thrilling, inspiring appeal to the oppressed of every land to rise in their might, shake off their fetters, and proclaim their freedom to the world!

Russia! Russia! Thy very name thrills in our veins, throbs in our hearts, and surges in our souls! Thou art, indeed, the land of miracles, and thy humble peasants and toilers stand forth the world’s triumphant liberators!

Russia, domain of darkness, impenetrable, transformed in a flash into a land of living light!

Russia, the goddess of freedom incarnate, issuing her defiant challenge to the despotisms of all the world!

Think of the Ages Russia groaned in the agony of her travail, the deluge of blood and tears poured out in the long night of peace and love upon the world.

The heart of Russia in this hour of her glorious resurrection is the heart of humanity disenthralled; the soul of her people, the real people, the only people—glows with altruistic fervor, throbs with international solidarity, and appeals with infinite compassion to the spirit of worldwide brotherhood.

Not a trace of national selfishness has stained Russia’s revolutionary regeneration. The Bolsheviki demanded nothing for themselves they did not demand in the same resolute spirit for the proletariat of all the world, and if history records the failure of their cause it will be to the eternal shame of those for whom these heroes offered up their lives and who suffered them to perish for the lack of sympathy and support.

But the revolution will not, cannot, fail. It may not completely fulfill itself without reaction, but the mighty change that has been wrought is here to stay, and because of it every throne is tottering, every bourgeois sees the handwriting, and the old order throughout the world is being shaken to its foundations.

All the forces of the world’s reaction, all its dynasties and despotisms, all its kingdoms and principalities, all its ruling, exploiting classes and their politicians, priests, professors, and parasites of every breed—all these are pitted openly or covertly against the Russian Revolution and conspiring together for the overthrow of the victorious Russian proletariat and the destruction of the new-born democracy.

But, whatever may be the fate of the revolution, its flaming soul is immortal and will flood the world with light and liberty and love.



Eugene V. Debs
Eugene V. Debs

Eugene Victor Debs was a U.S. socialist, political activist, trade unionist, one of the founding members of the Industrial Workers of the World, and five times the candidate of the Socialist Party of America for President of the United States