David North, chairman of the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site, delivered the concluding lecture in the ICFI series marking the centenary of the Russian Revolution, "The Place of the October Revolution in World History and Contemporary Politics."

About the lecture:

In the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, there emerged a new consensus among bourgeois academics that the Russian Revolution was little more than a political accident, an illegitimate and even criminal departure from the “normal” – i.e., capitalist – course of historical development. The monumental international political impact of the October Revolution and immense economic, social and cultural achievements of the Soviet Union were ignored and dismissed.

And yet, despite these claims, the October Revolution will live in history as the most significant political event of the twentieth century. The study of this revolution is an essential prerequisite for finding an answer to the worldwide crisis of the twenty-first century.

The full text of the lecture is posted here.

About the lecturer:

David North is chairman of the WSWS International Editorial Board. He has been a leader of the socialist movement for four decades. He is an expert on the history of the Russian Revolution and the author of numerous works, including In Defense of Leon Trotsky and The Russian Revolution and the Unfinished 20th Century.

Previous Lectures

11 March 2017 • 5pm EST

Why Study the Russian Revolution?

The Russian Revolution of 1917 ranks among the most significant events in world history. One hundred years after the overthrow of the Tsarist autocracy and the coming to power of the Bolshevik Party, the bitter controversy that still surrounds discussion of the revolution testifies to its enduring impact and its intense political relevance. 

The lecturer is David North, chairperson of the Socialist Equality Party (US) and the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site. The recording of his lecture is now available here, and the text is posted here.

25 March 2017 • 5pm EDT

The Legacy of 1905 and the Strategy of the Russian Revolution

The 1905 Revolution has entered into history as the “dress rehearsal” for the events of 1917. The lessons of 1905, the first great revolutionary upheaval of the twentieth century, formed the basis for the elaboration of Leon Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution.

The lecturer is Fred Williams, translator of many Russian-language works of history and literature, and a long-time member of the SEP (US). The recording of his lecture is now available here, and the text is posted here.

8 April 2017 • 5pm EDT

World War and Revolution: 1914-1917

The eruption of World War in August 1914 arose out of deep-rooted contradictions in the capitalist nation state system. The opportunist leaders of the Second International repudiated the principles of international working class solidarity and endorsed the war. Against the background of the global conflagration, Lenin, emerging as the principal leader of the struggle against the betrayal of the Second International, insisted that the catastrophe of imperialist war was setting the stage for the eruption of world socialist revolution.

The lecturer is Nick Beams, a founding member of the Australian section of the International Committee and leading authority on the Marxist theory of imperialism. The recording of his lecture is now available here and the text is posted here.

22 April 2017 • 5pm EDT

Spontaneity and Consciousness in the February Revolution

The Romanov Dynasty, which had ruled for 300 years, was overthrown within five days by a massive revolutionary movement of the working class in the Russian capital of Petrograd. The violent entry of the masses into the making of history raised the central political question of the relationship between the apparently “spontaneous” outbreak of social revolution and the role of conscious political leadership.

The lecturer is Joseph Kishore, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (US). The recording of his lecture is now available here and the text is posted here.

6 May 2017 • 5pm EDT

Lenin’s Return to Russia and the April Theses

The sudden eruption of the February Revolution occurred while Lenin was living in exile in Switzerland. In his absence, the Bolshevik Party, led by Stalin and Kamenev, advocated support for the new bourgeois Provisional Government and for the continuation of Russia’s participation in the world war. This course was bitterly opposed by Lenin, who, after his return to Russia in a “sealed train,” launched an extraordinary struggle to reorient the Bolshevik Party toward the overthrow of the capitalist government by the working class. The adoption of the strategy of permanent revolution prepared the ground for the socialist uprising of October.

The lecturer is James Cogan, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (Australia). The recording of his lecture is now available here, and the text is posted here.

14 October 2017 • 5pm EDT

Lenin’s The State and Revolution

The Provisional Government’s brutal suppression of the mass demonstrations of workers and soldiers in Petrograd (the “July Days”) drove the Bolshevik Party into illegality. In order to escape arrest and assassination, Lenin was compelled to flee Petrograd. Working in illegality, Lenin wrote one of his most important political tracts, The State and Revolution. This detailed exposition of the views of Marx and Engels on the historical origins and class significance of the state established, theoretically and politically, the necessity of the conquest of political power by the working class. 

The lecturer will be Barry Grey, the US national editor of the World Socialist Web Site and member of the national committee of the Socialist Equality Party. He has been active in the Trotskyist movement for more than 45 years. The recording of his lecture is now available here, and the text is posted here.

21 October 2017 • 5pm EDT

On the Eve of Revolution: The Bolshevik Party, Factory Committees, and the Mass Movement of the Working Class

Despite the repressive measures of the Provisional Government, the Bolshevik Party experienced an explosive growth in August-September 1917. Serious historical scholarship has documented the emergence of mass support for the Bolsheviks’ demand for the transfer of power to the Soviets and the working class. The development of a nationwide network of rank-and-file factory committees provided a critical base for the growth of Bolshevik influence in the working class. 

Tom Carter, a member of the SEP national committee, will be the lecturer. During the past year, Tom has served as the principal editor of the World Socialist Web Site’s on-going series, “This Week in the Russian Revolution.” He has translated from the original Russian many of the historical documents used in the preparation of the series. The recording of his lecture is now available here, and the text is posted here.

28 October 2017 • 5pm EDT

Lessons of October: The Political Crisis within the Bolshevik Party on the Eve of the Seizure of Power

In 1924, seven years after the October Revolution, Leon Trotsky recalled the conflict that erupted within the Bolshevik Party on the very eve of the overthrow of the Provisional Government. “If tactical turns usually lead to internal friction in the party, how much deeper and fiercer must be the friction resulting from strategical turns!” Opposition within the central leadership of the Bolshevik Party to Lenin’s call for an insurrection against the Provisional Government threatened to derail the revolution.

The lecturer will be Chris Marsden, the national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party in Britain. Chris has been a leading member of the International Committee since 1985, and has served as the British SEP’s national secretary for the past 20 years. The recording of his lecture is now available here, and the text is posted here.