By John Rees, with Robert Service, Sam Farber and Robin Blackburn.
The revolutions in Eastern Europe in 1989, though welcomed by many socialists, have allowed the right wing to argue that the end of Stalinism means the end of all socialism. Even among those left wingers who welcome the end of the Stalinist regimes there has been great confusion over how much of the socialist tradition it is still possible to defend.
The October revolution of 1917 is still the historical linchpin of such debates. To what extent were the Bolsheviks to blame for the degeneration of the revolution? What about the Red Terror, the Cheka and Kronstadt? Did Lenin lead to Stalin? John Rees's 'In Defence of October' reviews what socialists have been saying about the October revolution. He mounts a defence of the tradition that arose from the October revolution and shows it was crushed by the Stalinist counter-revolution.
When John Rees's 'In Defence of October' was originally published in International Socialism, it drew responses from some of the best known figures on the left—Robert Service (author of a biography of Lenin), Sam Farber (author of Before Stalinism) and Robin Blackburn (editor of New Left Review). The full debate, including John Rees's reply, is published here in one volume for the first time.