On The Anniversary Of The Russian Revolution Of 1905-
By Frank Jackman
For the attentive reader of this unabashedly left-wing publication which moreover not only takes history seriously but commemorates some historical nodal points worthy of attention today I have drawn attention this month of January to the 100th anniversary of the assassinations of key nascent German Communist Party leaders Rosa Luxemburg, the rose of the revolution, and Karl Liebknecht the heart of the left-wing German workers movement. In that commentary I noted that history in the conditional, especially when things turned out badly as they did in Germany with the failure of the Communists to take power within a few years of the Armistice and aid the struggling isolated and devastated Russian revolution, is tricky business. There were certainly opportunities closed off by the decimation of the heads of the early German Communist Party that were never made up. That failure helps in its own way to pave the road to the Nazi takeover and all that meant for Europe and the world later. I also cautioned against stretching such conditionals out too far without retreating to an idea that the rise of the Nazis was inevitable. Give it some thought though.
History in the conditional applies as well to events that would in the future turn out well, well at the beginning in any case, and that leads to the role played by what many parties including Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky referred to as the “dress rehearsal” for the October Revolution in Russia in 1917. That was the Revolution of 1905 which although it was shattered and many of the leading participants either killed, exiled or banished still provided some hope that things would turn on that proverbial historical dime in the end. The key organization structure set up in 1905, the Workers Soviets, councils, which in embryo provided the outline for the workers government everybody from Marx and to his left argued for to bring socialist order to each country, to the world in the end almost automatically was reestablished in the early days of 1917. Who knows in conditions of war and governmental turmoil what would have happened if that organizational form had not already been tested in an earlier revolutionary episode. Again, let’s not get too wide afield on history in the conditional on this end either. Think about those episodes though as we commemorate that 1905 revolution.