Russian Revolution Centennial





ABSTRACT: The Russian Revolution of 1917 is universally recognized as one of the most important events of the twentieth century. We have assembled a group of scholars and activists to examine this world-shaking revolution from different perspectives. Their presentations reflect the speakers own views and do not represent a group consensus of members of The Institute for the Critical Study of Society.


As with the Russian Revolution, our Centennial begins in March with the February Revolution in which the women of Russia overthrew Tsarism and won the right to vote. We continue through the October Revolution which established the world's first Socialist Country, the Soviet Union. We consider the world-historical significance of this complex revolution. Our forums are listed in chronological order.


Sun, Mar 5, 2017: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm
In the Spirit of Alexandra Kollontai :
Socialism, International Women's Day,
and the February Revolution in Russia
ABSTRACT:    As Alexandra Kollontai noted, International Women�s Day is not a special day for women alone, it is a historic and memorable day for the workers and peasants of the whole world. On this day in 1917, the Russian women raised the torch of proletarian revolution and set the world on fire. The Russian revolution marks its beginning from this day, leading to the establishment of the Soviet Union and full legal equality of women. The working women of Petrograd began this revolution; it was they who first decided to raise the banner of opposition to Tsarism. And so, working women's day is a double celebration for us.
Our speaker, Eugene E Ruyle, independent Marxist and author of Rethinking Marxist Anthropology, will discuss the historical and contemporary significance of March 8, 1917 and 2017.


Sun, Mar 26, 2017: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm
Reclaiming the History of the Russian Revolution
ABSTRACT:    The Russian Revolution proved that workers could begin to build a new society. The many lies about Stalin prevent us from critically evaluating this experience. Errors made by Stalin and the Bolsheviks were the errors of pioneers. In this sense, then, these "errors" were part of the process of learning how to build communism. A new and better communist movement can only be rebuilt upon a sound foundation of historical truth, not upon the sand of anticommunist lies.
  Grover Furr will discuss his new book Yezhov vs Stalin and other anticommunist lies about the heroic "Stalin period."


Sun, Jun 4, 2017: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Creativity and Artistic Ferment in the Early Years of the Soviet Union: The Case of Chagall.

ABSTRACT: Lew Finzel will discuss this important topic.

Sun, Sep 17, 2017: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm
The Historical Context & Experience of Soviet women soldiers in The Great Patriotic War (WWII): A talk by Al Sargis.
ABSTRACT: While this would focus on WWII, I would also do a brief overview of Russian women combatants in WWI, the revolution and civil war.  Not many people know that Russian women fought in relatively large numbers, compared with other countries, in WWI and that after the revolution Soviet Russia was the first country to officially endorse and recruit women into the Red Army in both combat and support roles.  This was enthusiastically promoted by Lenin, as well as female Bolsheviks. A little known fact: women fought on BOTH sides during the storming of the Winter Palace

Sun, Oct 8, 2017: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm
Russian Revolution & the Moscow Trials: What the evidence showed
ABSTRACT:    In the western world, and it includes a majority those who identify themselves as Marxists, it is an article of faith today that the three 1936, 1937 & 1938 Moscow Trials of high Party and state officials and the military court martial of Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky and 7 other high level commanders were �Kangaroo Court� affairs; that the defendants in these three trials, a total of 68, were innocent of the charges to which most if not all themselves admitted. 
   Some of these defendants were posthumously rehabilitated by Khrushchev�s Commission and the rest by Gorbachev�s Commission, set up to examine these men, with the notable exception of Leon Trotsky. These men, it is prevailing wisdom, were eliminated so that Stalin could be the absolute dictator of the USSR or that he was a paranoid leader who damaged his own party, state and the military just as the USSR was facing a determined enemy in Hitler�s Nazi Germany. But what does the evidence show? We will examine that in this presentation by following the development of the revolution from 1903 onwards thru these trials.
Raj Sahai is a researcher long associated with NPML and has spent the past 26 years studying the history of the USSR, in particular the history of 1903 thru 1956.

Sun, Oct 15, 2017: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Sunday Morning at the Marxist Library

Moderator: Raj Sahai

          Sharat G. Lin: Centennial Legacies of the Russian Revolution: Triumphs, Flaws, and Alternatives

ABSTRACT: The Russian Revolution remains arguably the single most important event of the past century, casting its legacy on every revolutionary social experiment on the planet, carrying lessons for the struggle for the survival of the revolution, creating an alternative advanced socio-economic model to capitalism, providing an umbrella for national liberation movements to throw off colonialism, shaping the balance of forces to the present day, and setting a pattern of democratic centralism.  Each and every one of these aspects had its triumphs and its flaws.

Sharat G. Lin, PhD is a research fellow at the San Jos� Peace and Justice Center and an advisor to the Initiative for Equality.  He writes and lectures on global political economy, labor migration, the Middle East, South Asia, and public health.

Related article:

Sharat G. Lin, "On the Ninetieth Anniversary of the Russian Revolution: Why Socialism Did Not Fail", Monthly Review, 29 October 2007

          Gerald Smith: Art and the Russian Revolution

 ABSTRACT: The Russian Revolution led to a burst of artistic creativity. Gerald Smith, a member of the Creative Lens Collective, will discuss various aspects of this revolutionary period in artistic history.


Sun, Oct 22, 2017: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Sunday Morning at the Marxist Library

Moderator: Lew Finzel

          Eugene E Ruyle: The Russian Revolution: A Scientific Approach

NOTE: Guillermo Herrera was unable to give his talk on �The Status of Minority Nations within the USSR,� so we substituted a talk by Gene Ruyle.

ABSTRACT; The Russian Revolution gave birth to the Soviet Union, which remained a socialist country until it was overthrown by a counter-revolution in 1991. Unfortunately, many on the left approach this period through sectarian eyes and reject it because it does not correspond to their pre-conceptions about what they think should have happened. This paper recommends a scientific approach that is both dialectical and materialist, seeking to understand what actually happened, why it happened, and the results.

          Anthony D'Agostino: WWII as the Triumph of the Russian Revolution.

ABSTRACT: Some reflections on historians' views about the Russian Revolution.  Special reference to Stalin's 1946 speech on the causes of the victory of the USSR over fascism in world war two. The role of the Five Year Plans.  Can the capitalist states combine against the USSR?  Was Henry Wallace (and Oliver Stone) right?


Sun, Oct 22, 2017: 7:30 pm

Omni Commons, , 4799 Shattuck Ave. Oakland

Moderator: Gerald Smith

          Film: October: Ten Days That Shook the World, Soviet film by Sergei Eisenstein, 1928

ABSTRACT: In commemoration of the centennial of the Russian Revolution Liberated Lens is hosting the viewing of the classic feature film October by Sergei Eisenstein.  October is based on the first hand account of American journalist John Reed�s book, Ten Days That Shook the World. October was produced in 1927 as a celebratory dramatization of the 1917 workers revolution that was commissioned for the tenth anniversary of the world historic event.
   The Russian Revolution is arguably the most significant event to occur in the 20th Century.  It was the first successful attempt of the workers� to take and hold power on this planet.  As most of us know the 1% through their corporate media,  the Headfixing Industry, constantly tries to erase whole segments of human history.  For example: the actual cause of the American Civil War remains a mystery to too many own our fellow citizens.  The  results?  Unnecessary confusion the issue of these pathetic confederate monuments.  This unhealthy practice of erasing or distorting history should be fought at every turn.
   Is watching a film a form of resistance? Do bears shit in the woods?
   Liberated Lens id committed to bringing to the conscious public the very best films available to stimulate your intellect, lift your spirits, and stiffen your backbone.
   As usual there will be a discussion following the film. 
   The event is a fund raiser for our collective.  Freedom ain�t Free.  $5 Donation, but no one turned away. Dinner and drinks will be sold. 


Sun, Oct 29, 2017: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Sunday Morning at the Marxist Library

Moderator: Lew Finzel

          Richard Becker: The Bolsheviks in Power: Three Indispensable Tasks

ABSTRACT: Following the seizure of power, the Bolsheviks were confronted with three immense and immediate tasks: building the new Red Army to defend the Soviet republic against a war of annihilation by the imperialist countries and domestic counter-revolutionaries; addressing a deep economic crisis and widespread hunger; and, reorganizing the left-wing of the world working class movement on a revolutionary basis through the Communist International. How did the Revolution survive against seemingly overwhelming odds?

          A Marxist-Humanist Perspective: Lenin and Russian Revolution, especially "what happens after?"

ABSTRACT: One hundred years ago Russian workers and peasant masses shook the world as they overthrew the Tsar's regime and established a new order. What can today's movement, searching for revolutionary new beginnings in the face of the totality of the present crisis, learn from that history? Weighing heavily on today's mind is how events unfolded in the Russian Revolution and revolutions since. Indeed, the question, "What happens after the conquest of power?", preoccupied Lenin as he struggled to realize his vision of a new society, in which he sought to bring everyone "to a man, woman and child" into running the state and society. Let's examine the uniqueness and limits of Lenin's philosophic preparation for revolution and especially Lenin's struggles after the revolution from the 1920-21 Trade Union Debate to his 1922-23 Testament.


Sat, Mar 4, 2017: 2pm to 4:30 pm
Suds, Snacks, and Socialism at the Starry Plough

Presentation and Discussion of the Russian Revolution
ABSTRACT:    In process, forthcoming.

LOCATION: Starry Plough Pub, 3101 Shattuck Ave, at Prince St in Berkeley, 2 blocks from Ashby BART


Sun, Nov 5, 2017: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Sunday Morning at the Marxist Library

Moderator: Raj Sahai

          Lew Finzel & Urszula Wislanka: China Mieville's October: Book Review in Two Parts

ABSTRACT: October is still ground zero for arguments about fundamental radical social change. Its degradation was not a given, was not written in any stars. China Mieville, October. Science fiction writer, China Mieville, has just published October (Verso Press: London, New York, 2017), a story of the 1917 Russian Revolution from February to October. Unusually, October does not make the revolution a background for an adventure or love story. The revolution itself, contradictory as it was, is the main character of the book. As with any look at history, the point is not to re-live the past, but to see what can we learn from it. What do we learn from 1917 for today?

Lew Finzel will introduce China Mieville as a science fiction/fantasy writer.

Urszula Wislanka will take up several of the contradictions and ask where we stand on those questions now.


Sun, Nov 12, 2017: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Sunday Morning at the Marxist Library

Moderator: Lew Finzel

          Gary Hicks: The Comintern and the US and South Africa

ABSTRACT: I am going to try and express some ideas about how we might look at the role of the Comintern in the building of the CPs of of the US and South Africa in the 1920s. This activity consisted of a decade of organizing, discourse, polemic on the part of a most international cadre of West Indian, South African, Soviet, Finnish, British, and North American comrades, participating in various commissions, organizations congresses, conferences

          Raj Sahai: Dawn of a New Era: The Russian Revolution and the World

ABSTRACT: The presentation will argue that: The February and October 1917 Russian Revolutions together heralded a new era for humanity, not just for the multi-ethnic peoples of the Russian empire. It ended monarchy as an institution governing society all over the world, which end was heralded in the French Revolution of 1789 but which remained incomplete. It began the end of colonial ownership of the world's countries in Asia and Africa by the rich handful of European countries. It made the masses as active agents: makers of history on a global scale. It ushered in the era of liberation -- the world will never be same again -- Socialism is the future of the world despite the present reaction personified by Trumpism. (117 words)

Raj Sahai is a Socialist & Anti-Imperialist War Activist, and a member of ICSS.


Wed, Nov 15, 2017: 7-9 pm
China and the Russian Revolution: Maoist Perspectives
ABSTRACT: Our comrade, Sui Hin Lee, is bringing a delegation of young Chinese activists in a tour of the United States.  They will discuss their views, mostly Maoist, of the Russian Revolution and its Centennial. Sui Hin Lee will translate.


Sun, Nov 19, 2017: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Sunday Morning at the Marxist Library

          Round Table with all speakers.
Our panelists will lead an open discussion, giving everyone an opportunity to share their thoughts on the Russian Revolution

Moderator: Urszula Wislanka

Sun, Nov 26, 2017: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Sun, Dec 3, 2017: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm
Russian Revolution Centennial Continuing:
          Guillermo Herrera: The Status of Minority Nations within the USSR
The status of national minorities within the constituent republics of the USSR is a standard of human rights as compared to "Jim Crow" USA and British Empire. In 3 parts: 1) The Russian Empire; 2) The Stalin era (1927 to 1953); 3) The post-Stalin era (1954 to 1991)
         Antonio: A Trotskyist Perspective on the russian Revolution
An abstract will be available soon.

Sun, Dec 10, 2017: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm
North Korea: The Land of the Soft Spoken Women
Mehmet Bayram
made his bucket list come true when he visited the mysterious land of North Korea.  His visit coincided with the 7th Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea, an event not held since 1980. He will share his experience and photographs during the time he was in the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea.  Daily lives, human faces, personal interactions with North Koreans will be the topic of the presentation.

Sun, Dec 17, 2017: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm
More on The Russian Revolution Centennial
          Gary Hicks: The Comintern and the US and South Africa
ABSTRACT: I am going to try and express some ideas about how we might look at the role of the Comintern in the building of the CPs of of the US and South Africa in the 1920s. This activity consisted of a decade of organizing, discourse, polemic on the part of a most international cadre of West Indian, South African, Soviet, Finnish, British, and North American comrades, participating in various commissions, organizations congresses, conferences


All forums will be at the Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave, Oakland 94609, unless otherwise noted.

The Institute is funded by the working class through cash donations at our forums, not the capitalist class though their foundations or rich donors.


For info, or to join our email list, contact:

Eugene E Ruyle

cuyleruyle [at] mac [dot] com