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  • Published in Opinion
Lenin by Hafteh7 (detail), 2017. Graphic: Pixabay

Lenin by Hafteh7 (detail), 2017. Graphic: Pixabay

Are Lenin’s Bolsheviks still the template for radical socialists in the 21st century, asks Vladimir Unkovski-Korica

Socialism is once again on the lips of hundreds of thousands.

Across Europe, movements of resistance have hit the streets and brought forward new parties and figures of the left.

Revolutionaries have been central to this resurgence, providing much of the groundwork for popular protests and strikes against attacks on welfare rights.

Recovering the true history of the Russian Revolution is important for struggles today precisely because in its early days it was all about mass working class consciousness and self-organisation.

It showed that a revolutionary party could act to shape and mould the self-confidence of the vast majority of working people.


The Bolsheviks were popular not because they sought a quick fix or had a charismatic leader. They gave workers tools to understand their plight and strategies to fight back. They gathered together the best experiences of the struggle and generalised across the working class. The most famous organs of popular power – Soviets, or worker’s councils – were in fact invented by workers themselves in the course of struggle.

The October Revolution saw the Bolsheviks win majorities in the Soviets. They also formed a coalition with another socialist group, the Left Socialist Revolutionaries.

It was isolation in a backward country under external threat which led to increasingly dictatorial methods – and Stalin’s later counter-revolution.


Whatever has changed in the last one hundred years, shaping popular struggles today still means being organised and bringing the best lessons of struggle to the movements.

To do this effectively, we need a group of people committed to radical change and no compromise with the status quo. We need a revolutionary party.

Vladimir Unkovski-Korica

Vladimir Unkovski-Korica

Vladimir Unkovski-Korica is a member of Marks21 in Serbia and a supporter of Counterfire. He is on the editorial board of LeftEast and teaches at the University of Glasgow.

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