Socialism is genuine freedom

Speech by the Chairman of the CC CPRF Gennady Zyuganov at the 19th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties



Dear fellow-countrymen and guests of our country,

The centenary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, the occasion that brought us together, is being marked by the whole world. Few exploits and accomplishments known in History can be compared in their grandeur and significance to the October 1917 Revolution.

Today there are people in every corner of the Earth who reflect on the significance of the Great October, people whose hearts beat faster at the words Lenin, Bolshevik Party and Soviet Power.

A hundred years ago the working people of our country raised a Red Banner over Russia. Those were the fateful “ten days that shook the world.” Concise slogans that all ordinary people understood spread across the world: “Peace to the Peoples,” Bread to the Hungry,” “Land to the Peasants,“ “Factories to the Workers,” “Power to the Soviets.” They were heard by everyone, especially those whose brains and talent create the main values on Earth. They were heard by the oppressed peoples of the colonies which Capital was bleeding white and by the soldiers who were languishing in the world war trenches.

The searchlights of the Aurora cruiser did not only put the spotlight on the Winter Palace. They pierced the darkness of capitalist slavery. They gave hope to millions of people. They could all subscribe to thewords of the poet Vladimir Mayakovskyaddressed to theRevolution: “Four times glory to you, blessed.”

But what happened in Russia was not only the greatest of all social revolutions. It gave birth to the first state that embodied the cherished dream of humankind, the dream of justice, equality and brotherhood. The dream that seemed impossible until Lenin and his comrades-in-arms roused the people to rebel against age-old oppression and humiliation.

Therefore the October Revolution was not simply a step toward unheard-of political and social change. It is imbued with the light of great moral transformations which changed the world and influenced people’s view of the world in various parts of the planet.

We are reminded of this by the leader of the national liberation struggle and the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru who said that “The Soviet Revolution has advanced human society by a great leap and has lit a bright flame which could not be smothered, and it has laid the foundation for that new civilisation towards which the world could advance.”

As the General Secretary of the CC of the Communist Party of China noted,” A hundred years ago the salvoes of the October Revolution brought Marxism-Leninism to China. The foremost brains of China found the solution to the country’s problems in the scientific theory of Marxism-Leninism. The Chinese people thus found a buttress in its quest of national independence, freedom, prosperity and happiness.”

In previous epochs even the boldest political transformations could not change the fact that big proprietors and their servants remained in power. Rulers and ruling clans changed, monarchies crumbled, borders were redrawn and constitutions were rewritten. But power invariably remained in the hands of the minority which exploited the absolute majority of people. In the hands of those who profited by the labour of millions, those who conferred the status of law on class inequality. It was only the October Revolution that for the first time made the working people the masters of their land and turned them from a disfranchised labour force into makers of the new world, and new history.

Until that time humanity was in the vice of exploitation and appalling injustice. Most people were born and died in this vice having no chance to break out of it. This lot and this curse passed on from generation to generation. Whatever emblems were displayed on the banners of various states, whatever slogans were inscribed on them, the stamp of injustice loomed over the world and humanity lived according to its cruel and immoral laws. Only the Communists who took power in Russia in October of 1917 managed to break this vicious circle. Now the people instead of being a hostage to the interests of the ruling elite, became the master of the state and its main creator.

The talented Russian poet Alexander Blok wrote: “Only one thing makes man human: awareness of social injustice.” Today, as we pay tribute to the great accomplishments of the October Revolution we can say with confidence: only that power is genuinely people’s power and truly progressive power that seeks to overcome social inequality and is able to put this aspiration into practice.

The puny efforts of those who try to “cancel” the significance of Great October are ridiculous and false. Russia suffered its way to its revolution. It covered a long and arduous road of dreaming and aspiration to arrive at socialism. This was truly a great leap. Our answer to the First World War was the Decree on Peace. Our answer to foreign intervention was the Red Guard units. Our answer to hunger and economic disarray was the Decree on Land, the NEP and GOELRO plan. Our answer to runaway inflation was the gold-backed Soviet chervonets. The Soviet Land responded to the Fascist invasion by the heroic defense of the Brest Fortress, the heroism and courage of Leningrad and Stalingrad, the ten Stalin strikes and the Red Banner over the Reichstag. The foundation of the 1945 victory was laid in October of 1917.

As Pablo Neruda wrote, “Lenin embodied the great dream of human kind by making it real in the Soviet land.” The October Revolution ushered in a new era. Its main principles were labour and solidarity, equality, brotherhood and collectivism. The course of events acquired a totally new direction. A country appeared on the world map where the working man took power in his hands. The results stunned the whole planet. “The Soviet miracle” was the Leninist-Stalinist modernization which increased the country’s potential by 70 times within 20 years.It was thousands of the best factories. Liquidtion of illiteracy and advanced science, the conquest of outer space and a powerful defense shield. It was unique guarantees in the sphere of education, healthcare and social security. The emergence of the New Man, the creator who was ahead of his time. It was concern about children, women and old people which the state had made its sacred duty.

The Soviet Land demonstrated that socialism alone could fully unlock the people’s creative gifts. Yes, even before the Revolution Russia had produced many scientists, writers, artists and composers. But almost all of them were members of the nobility. A gifted person who did not belong to the privileged class and was born into a poor family had next to zero chance of fulfilling his talent and sharing its fruits with society.

True creative freedom gave a chance to many wonderful authors from Russia and the other Union Republics to represent the 20th century in magnificent works of literature, music, theatre and cinema. Mikhail Sholokhov, Alexei Tolstoy, Leonid Leonov, Konstantin Fedin and Alexander Fadeyev are just some of the great names that came into prominence in the early post-Revolutionary decades. They were followed by Alexander Tvardovsky, Konstantin Simonov, Yuri Bondarev, Valentin Rasputin, Vasily Belov, and Fyodor Abramov. The galaxy of Soviet film-makers was no less impressive: Sergey Eisenstein, Sergey Bondarchuk, Grigory Chukhray, Georgy Danelia, Marlen Khutsiyev, Vladimir Menshov. For themajority of them such a successful creative career would have been impossible without the social and cultural changes brought about by the Great October.

Albert Einstein, the scientific genius, said that such creative people as Lenin renew humanity’s conscience. His work “Why Socialism” written in 1949, was the subject of a brilliant lecture about the future of the new generation delivered at the State Duma by Nobel Prize winning scientist Zhores Alfyorov.

One could subscribe to the words of the remarkable Soviet writer Alexei Tolstoy who said that socialism meant “the fulfillment of human genius in the conditions of the highest social freedom.” Echoing him the famous German writer Heinrich Mann wrote: “For the Soviet Union socialism is the path to a complete liberation far greater than merely economic liberation. Through equality to freedom.”

The freedom that socialism gave every man and enshrined in its constitution is the freedom not to be a beggar and not to be exploited. Freedom from the fear of losing one’s job tomorrow, of being unable to pay for one’s housing, food, clothing and vital medicines. Of not being able to pay for the education and feed one’s children. Not being able to support elderly parents. A freedom to feel a full individual and not a human good sold in the labour market. A freedom that was granted to all regardless of their background, nationality or profession. To workers, peasants, scientists and artists. Only such freedom can be recognised as true freedom. Its absence makes all the other freedoms meaningless.

The exercise of people’s power through the soviets, the transfer of the social wealth and public property into its hands played the decisive role in the country’s development and in moulding the new man. This was what united people during the Great Patriotic War in the face of the colossal danger that threatened the Soviet Union and the entire planet. This terrible war could only have been won by a people which had a common cause, a common idea, a common faith, a common culture and common property. Without the victory of the October Revolution of 1917 the Great Victory over Fascism in 1945 would have been impossible. Zhukov, Rokossovksy, Konev, Vasilevsky and others would not have become great military commanders. …

That Victory finally proved to the world that our people followed the behests of Lenin and the ideals of socialism. It vindicates that choice today. After that Victory the world socialist system, the Socialist Commonwealth was formed around the USSR. Socialism won many new supporters on all continents. Its ideas inspired the freedom and independence struggles of outstanding political leaders of the new epoch, Mahatma Gandhi, Ernesto Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Gamal Abdul Nasser, Nelson Mandela, Hugo Chavez and many other champions of people’s happiness. Occupying 26% of the Earth’ territory, the socialist world by 1985 accounted for nearly half of the world industrial output. History has vindicated the words of the French Communist writer Jean Richard Bloch who said: “I consider the Russian Revolution and its accomplishments to be one of the main elements of civilization.”

World capital would stop at nothing to preserve its dominance and to restore the absolute sway of capitalist laws in the world. It went out of its way to undermine the socialist system. The onslaught of world capital brought its ugly fruit in the later 20th century. This was facilitated by the fact that in the 1980s power in the Soviet Union was seized by avowed turncoats, traitors and bribe-takers who dismantled people’s power. It is our profound conviction that this was only a temporary success of world capital. It merely delayed its inevitable collapse.

True, capitalism now felt itself free of the competition between the two systems and proceeded to curtail the social guarantees the West had granted its citizens under the pressure of the October Revolution. Capital resorted to open and unbridled arbitrary behavior all over the world. In recent years Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya became its victims. Today world capital tries to strangle Syria and is bringing colossal pressure on Venezuela and North Korea.

Modern globalism is the highest form of imperialism. The onslaught of capital on workers’ rights is mounting fast. Imperialism is becoming more aggressive in the world and the threat of a new large-scale war is growing. The financial and economic crisis is worsening with each new wave being more grievous and painful. One side effect of the crisis is the groundswell of nationalist and separatist sentiments in contemporary Europe.

The world is witnessing growing social stratification and mass impoverishment. “The middle class” is rapidly shrinking even in the most prosperous capitalist countries. Only the incomes of the super-rich continue to grow at a fabulous rate.

According to the international organization Oxfam, today 1% of the planet’s population owns greater wealth than the remaining 99%. The onset of liberalism constantly increases tension and social divisions in the world. The number of billionaires grew 6-fold since 2000. Meanwhile whole countries suffer from hunger. According to the UN data, the number of people suffering from hunger increased by a further 38 million in 2016.

These destructive trends are fully in evidence in Russia. Several authoritative think tanks put our country in first place in terms of the level of social inequality. 10% of Russian citizens say they suffer from hunger. One in every three persons cannot afford to buy new clothes. Meanwhile 200 of the country’s richest people increased their fortunes by another 100 billion dollars during the past year concentrating nine-tenths of the national wealth in their hands.

The financial-oligarchic capital ever more openly relies on the most reactionary forces. It is not above cooperating with terrorist groups in the Middle East and with avowed fascists who have seized power in Ukraine. All this shows that the world capitalist system is mortally ill. In its death throes it may destroy the whole world. This makes the current stage of world history particularly dramatic and worrisome.

In the last century two systemic crises of capitalism triggered two world wars. The great October Revolution in 1917 rescued humanity from the first war. The Great Victory of May 1945 rescued it from the second war. The current world crisis may either lead to a catastrophe in which civilization will destroy itself, or to new massive transformations on the basis of socialism. This is the choice facing modern mankind. We are actively involved in this struggle.

In this struggle we are inspired by the example of those countries where staunch supporters of the socialist option are in power. They are China which has the world in awe of its spectacular successes in the economy and the social sphere. Cuba, which the US imperialism has vainly tried to strangle for six decades. The dynamically developing Vietnam. These countries challenge capitalist globalization, refuse to submit to their diktat and score successes on the socialist path. The experience of fraternal Byelorussia is highly instructive.

Comrades, friends,

Our main common task is to broaden resistance to the aggressive offensive of capitalism. To form a united front in support of the countries that come under imperialist pressure. To constantly expose the essence of capitalism which cannot exist without terrorism, wars, crises, destruction of nature and the suffering of millions.

Today the great achievement of the October Revolution – the Soviet Union – is no more. We have failed to preserve it. It has been treacherously destroyed. But the march of time cannot be stopped. Socialism alone offers a way out of the impasse. Being the successors to the Great October Revolution we are fighting to bring the country back to the path of justice. Like the Bolsheviks 100 years ago, the CPRF proposes a salvation strategy, a constructive “Ten Steps Towards A Decent Life” program. Together with like-thinking people we oppose Fascism, nationalism and Banderovism.

Truth is on our side. The invincible logic of history, the power of the ideas of Marxism-Leninism are on our side. The centenary of the Revolution is a celebration of the future, not of the past.

The lights of October are directed toward tomorrow. New sprouts of creation and progress will grow under its life-giving rays.

We are confident that the sun of socialism will again rise over Russia and the whole world. The working people will triumph.

It is a great joy and honor for me to greet you all, those who have gathered here to celebrate the centenary of the October Revolution. Those who, in the most difficult of conditions, do not give up and continue the struggle for our common cause, the cause of socialism, justice, peace and friendship among the peoples. By your example you prove that the cause of Lenin, the cause of October has not been left in the past. It is alive. It steadfastly leads us into the future. We believe that through common effort we will manage to attain a bright, joyful and worthy future.

I congratulate you on the holiday, the jubilee of the Revolution,

Long live Great October,

Long live Socialism,

Long live the hard-working people,

Long live the victorious people!