30 September 2017
More than 80 delegates representing 27 organizations coming from 22 countries around the world participated in the study conference “The Continuing Validity of the October Revolution in the 21 st Century”, commemorating the Centennial of the social upheaval of November 1917 which shook the world and established the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the first socialist state in the world.
The conference was co-organized by the global anti-imperialist alliance International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), activist think-tank People’s Resource for International Solidarity and Mass Mobilization (PRISM), and the revolutionary united front National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), and held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on 23 – 24 September 2017.
It brought together Marxist-Leninist, socialist, and anti-imperialist parties and organizations as well as progressive individuals to share papers and discuss points of continuing relevance on four major topics:
- Achievements of the October Revolution: Celebrating the historic significance of the October Revolution; (2) Revisionist betrayal and consequences: Drawing lessons from the reversal of the October Revolution; (3) The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution as counter to the rise of modern revisionism; and (4) Continuing validity of the principles of the October Revolution against imperialism and for socialism.
Theo Droog, Chairperson of the ILPS Netherlands Chapter, and Pio Verzola Jr., Global Coordinator of PRISM, welcomed the delegates to the conference. Verzola gave a short backgrounder to the broader October Revolution Centenary campaign and how the conference would be structured. He explained that the conference would have keynote speakers and oral contributions for each topic. Participants could raise questions and comments on the various speeches.
Malcolm Guy, ILPS General Secretary, steered the two-day Conference through its plenary sessions and much-needed breaks.
Prof. Jose Maria Sison, Founding Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines and Chairperson of the ILPS provided the Keynote Speech of the Conference. He gave an overview of the four major topics, highlighting the most important principles and lessons to be drawn from the history of the international communist movement from the October Revolution to the present, thereby setting the framework for the whole conference and giving a preview of the presentations of the succeeding keynote speakers and the discussions that followed.
In making the connection between the first successful socialist revolution to present day circumstances, Sison pointed out, “The most resolute and militant revolutionary parties and seminal party groups are those guided by the theory of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. They are in various industrial capitalist and undeveloped countries. They are the best motivated and best equipped ideologically to carry forward the world proletarian revolution, combat the counterrevolutionary and anti-socialist campaigns of imperialism, revisionism and other counter-revolutionary currents.“
In this regard, they can avail of the theory of continuing revolution under proletarian dictatorship through cultural revolution in socialist society. They are in various stages of development in arousing, organizing and mobilizing the proletariat and broad masses of the people.”
Irina Malenko delivered the keynote speech on the topic, Achievements of the October Revolution. Born and raised in the USSR, she still considers herself a communist and a Soviet woman. She is the author of the trilogy, Sovietica, which chronicles her life in the Soviet Union and in the West where she presently resides.
In her speech, Malenko confided a very personal insight on what she thought was one of the reasons for the socialist reversal in the Soviet Union. “We were spoiled. Our generation of young people was so spoiled we did not realize that socialism was being corroded by the revisionists in the Soviet Party until it was too late.”
She said that their parents were so busy building the economy. “They did not tell us the stories about the sordid life they experienced before the revolution. They worked so hard so we would not go through the same hardships. We were so spoiled that we did not appreciate how we should work and fight for socialism. Ideological work was not given too much value and was neglected,” Malenko stressed.
The keynote speech for the topic on Revisionist Betrayal and the Reversal of the October Revolution was delivered by Stefan Engel, Chief Editor of the Revolutionärer Weg and Former Chairman of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD).
Engel pointed out that, “the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking has become a mass phenomenon for disorienting, disorganizing and demoralizing the working class and people’s movement.”
He said one of the foci of the MLPD is “the promotion of generation change [within the Party structure] as well as the promotion of workers and women… to develop a new generation of leading personalities [in the Party].”
Prof. Fred Engst (Yang Heping) delivered the keynote speech on the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution as Counter to Revisionism. He presented his view on how socialism was corroded and subverted by modern revisionism in Chinese society, in the economy, in the state and in the Party. He presented what he termed the four phases in the process of the socialist reversal in China.
He said that Mao’s method in correcting errors and mistaken ideas within the Party was the rectification movement in which he mobilized the masses in a movement from down to the top. The Cultural Revolution was such a rectification movement in a great campaign in socialist education and in targeting the bureaucrats and capitalist roaders who were in positions of authority within the Party.
Per-Gunnar Skotåm of the Red Party of Norway delivered the keynote speech on the Continuing Validity of the Principles of the October Revolution against Imperialism and for Socialism.
Skotåm argued that Europe continues to be dominated by US imperialism economically and militarily, citing several examples. He said that contradictions among the imperialists are sharpening as a result of the economic expansion of China, Russia asserting its own agenda on the world stage, and the sharp decline of the US dollar economy. The continuous crisis of overproduction and meltdowns in the capitalist world would eventually lead to the intensification of inter-imperialist contradictions, he argued.
He stressed that, “Workers parties must take the opportunity as the Bolsheviks did under conditions of the first inter-imperialist world war to intensify party building, the organizing work among the workers and other toiling masses, and lead the struggle.”
Mr. Alvaro Enrique Sanchez Cordero, Chargé d’ Affaires of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in The Hague, attended as a special guest of the conference. In his speech, he called for international solidarity against US threats of military action against Venezuela and the Venezuelan people. Conference participants expressed their firm unity with the Venezuelan people and vowed to support actions to counter US-led imperialist intervention, international smear propaganda, and economic and political destabilization of Venezuela.
After each presentation of the keynote speakers on the main topics, an open forum followed in which participants either raised questions or made comments. There were very spirited debates and exchanges in which the delegates presented their own views based on their concrete experiences in revolutionary work in their own countries.
Throughout the discussions, everyone affirmed the continuing validity of the most important propositions and lessons of the October revolution and confirmed by the subsequent practice in the successful revolutions in China and other countries.
They also affirmed that modern revisionism, which caused the restoration of capitalism in the former socialist countries, was able to do so because while pretending to uphold Marxism-Leninism, it actually smuggled in bourgeois-liberal notions repackaged as “creative application of Marxism” while betraying the principles and lessons of the Great October Socialist Revolution.
Additional speeches were delivered in each of the four topics by delegates representing the following organizations:
- Fronte Popolare (Italy)
- Maoist Communist Party – France
- Marxist–Leninist Communist Party (Turkey / Kurdistan)
- Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany
- Nepalese People’s Progressive Front Europe
- New Communist Party of Italy
- Party of the Committees to Support Resistance – for Communism (Italy)
- Proletari Comunisti (Italy)
- REBELL Youth League (Germany)
- Redspark (Netherlands)
- Rete dei Comunisti (Italy)
- Revolutionary Unity (Netherlands)
The conference debated on and agreed upon three resolutions: (1) Resolution condemning US-led intervention in Venezuela and supporting the people of Venezuela; (2) Resolution in support of North Korea against escalating interventionism by US imperialism; and (3) Resolution on Rojava.
A General Declaration was drafted and presented to the conference for deliberation. However, due to time constraints, the General Declaration was not passed. The participants decided to circulate the draft after the conference for study and concurrence by their parties and organizations.
Several other organizations expressed their interest in the conference but for various reasons were unable to send a delegate. Their messages of solidarity were acknowledged, and several of these were printed or read during the conference.
Mr. Luis Jalandoni, Chief International Representative of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines gave a fitting end to the conference. He first requested the participants for a minute of silence to honor the martyrs and heroes of the October Revolution, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, and other revolutions in history. He then challenged everyone “to play an effective role as the exploited and oppressed masses rise up in their millions to resist the imperialist aggressions.”
“We cannot waste any time! We have to move, plan and take effective collective action. The inspiration and lessons of the October Revolution and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution must be made alive in our mass actions.”
The conference was also suffused by revolutionary culture derived from or inspired by the October Revolution. This included a solidarity night on the evening of the first day, in which the various delegations and individual participants performed cultural numbers such as revolutionary songs, poetry and video clips. Posters recalling the socialist revolution in the USSR and banners from the participating organizations adorned the conference hall. A number of tables were also filled with books, magazines, t-shirts, pins and buttons for sale or giving away to the participants.
The conference was concluded by a cultural number by the Netherlands-based Willem Geertman Cultural Brigade which ended with a rousing mass singing of the “Internationale” by the delegates, simultaneously in their respective languages.
October Revolution Centennial Conference