Comrades! You might have seen the invitation on Twitter, but just in case you haven’t the Whitstable Labour Club would like to invite you to celebrate 100 years since the glorious Russian revolution, that peaceful transfer of power that ushered out the Tsar, replacing him with a workers paradise.
They’ll be beer, prosecco, and maybe more depending on whether the darts team show up.
Here’s the poster.
Call me old fashioned, but I’m curious which bits of the Russian Revolution were worth raising a glass to. Which part did the great many Labour activists and councillors, tagged in the club’s tweets, like best?
To help, I drew up a short list. Feel free to play along at home.
Was it Dekulakisation?
De-what now? This resulted in the deaths of approximately five (some say more) million Ukrainians, most from famine, in a classicide of the kulaks, and ordered by the Soviet regime. Class war has never so effective. Those who didn’t starve to death were either executed or deported. But most simply starved.
Perhaps it was the Gulag?
Some 60 million men, women, and children were murdered by what Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn dubbed the Gulag Archipelago. This vast array of camps stretched from the Caucuses to Siberia. Millions were sent to their deaths without discrimination (Lenin was evidently big on equality) — the most loyal party member was as likely to be given the standard ten year sentence (“a tenner”) as a school child.
Solzhenitsyn wrote at length of the horrors he lived through, having committed most of it to memory during his ten years and subsequent exile. The book was instrumental in bringing an end once and for all to any credibility left in Marxist ideology. Well almost.
“For us in Russia, communism is a dead dog, while, for many people in the West, it is still a living lion.” – Solzhenitsyn.
Or was it the morbid corruption of Russian society?
All of the above required institutional levels of corruption, not just among the ranks of party officials but in the populous, who were depended on to look the other way, which they did, for fear of having their own lives snuffed out. After all speaking out would get you deported, or more likely shot, along with your family.
As Solzhenitsyn wrote…
“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”
So you too looked away as the trains rattled by. You looked away when your friend or neighbour was taken, and when their family, now homeless, begged you for help.
We can only assume favourites such as these will be discussed over bread crusts and thin gruel during the celebrations this Thursday, so do join your Labour councillors and MP, as well as local Labour activists. Fancy dress optional.
One last quote by Solzhenitsyn before signing off…
“Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years.”
Anyway… join Labour in raising a glass. Just remember when the clapping starts don’t be the first to stop.
Follow me on Twitter: @CllrBartley.