Belfast Telegraph

Home Life

One hundred years after the Russian Revolution... it's real good to see Putin leading a capitalist utopia

By Mark Steel

It's 100 years since the Russian Revolution, which some people are celebrating, though, if you were to be picky, you could argue it hasn't gone entirely to plan. If you set up a holiday resort, you might not be happy if the most favourable review on TripAdvisor was: "After a picturesque drive (slightly spoilt when we reached for our camera and armed guards yelled 'No photo', and pointed a Kalashnikov at our children), we arrived in good time, but the food was disappointing as we had to queue three days for a frozen potato."

When the Soviet Union was intact, you would sometimes meet Communist Party members who'd been over there on a trade union delegation. They'd tell you it was a wonderful place and, if you replied that their government had murdered millions of people, they'd say: "But you should see the beautiful lamp-posts in Ekaterinburg."

The image of communism is made even worse by modern far-Left groups, who give out leaflets with statements such as: "We in the Movement for Workers Dominant Communist Dominance hail Michael Fallon's calamitous resignation as an historic and unprecedented illustration of the final collapse of capitalism, which will inevitably disintegrate by Saturday morning. Or three in the afternoon at the latest."

The greatest contempt for the communist regimes that ruled Russia and Eastern Europe is usually thrown at Lenin and the Bolsheviks, who led the revolution 100 years ago. Most historians suggest there was no conflict between the ideals of the original revolution and those of Stalin's tyranny later on.

But one clue there may have been a difference is that Stalin had almost all the original Bolsheviks shot and, sometimes in history, having everyone shot can indicate a difference of opinion of some significance on certain key issues.

Or maybe the historians are right and next time someone in America goes berserk with a rifle, they'll write: "Once again, we are forced to ponder who is to blame for this dreadful act, though the main culprits are all those dead people in a shopping mall, so let's hear no more excuses."

It may be true that the Bolsheviks created the tools later used by Stalin, but then you might as well blame the Wright Brothers for jihadist plane hijackers, or Alexander Graham Bell for cold callers from call centres.

The Bolsheviks of 1917 were mostly labourers and sailors from cities in which people were starving and wanted to end the rule of the Tsar, who'd cost his country a million lives in a war.

On top of that, one key figure in the Tsar's government was Rasputin, a character so discredited that while speaking on behalf of the military, he was in disgrace for sordid lecherous behaviour towards women that became too much even by his own government's shady standards. And no government can carry on in that state.

You can see just how extreme the Bolsheviks were from their slogan: 'Bread, peace and land.'

How did they expect to get anywhere with demands that unrealistic?

A more reasonable slogan surely would be: 'Obviously, we don't expect to eat, have somewhere to live and not get killed, but if you could see your way to two out of three we'd be grateful.'

Lenin and the Bolsheviks did introduce a series of restrictions that are often assumed to be proof he was a maniac. But as soon as the Bolsheviks took over, Russia was invaded by 14 armies, leaving the entire place ravaged.

Whether you agree or not with Lenin's measures, it's probably fair to mention they were in the context of a brutal war, isn't it?

But, thankfully, those days are over and Russia is now ruled by kindly capitalist Vladimir Putin, who had very little contact with the Communist Party except for being a KGB intelligence officer for 20 years, and saying recently: "I liked communist ideas very much - and still do."

So, finally we have an ideal mix of the two systems, in which equality of wealth is taken very seriously, as all the oligarchs own a roughly equal number of shipping lines and football clubs each.

Just as Karl Marx would have wanted.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph