The Russian Revolution, referred to as the ‘Great October Socialist Revolution,’ took place one hundred years ago on November 7 (October 25 on the calendar in force in Russia at the time). Although the revolution was inspired by noble ideas and ideals, mainly the elimination of exploitation and poverty and the creation of a party to represent the interests of the working class to do so, it did not survive the 20th century. China and Vietnam claim to be building ‘socialism’ with their own characteristics, while establishing capitalist economies. Once ‘progressive’ developing countries  have all been ensnared by globalization and neoliberalism.

The ideas of colonial liberation were given a substantial impetus by the Russian Revolution. The defeat of fascism in 1945, the Independence of India in 1947 and the liberation of China in 1949 set the stage for the dismantling of the remainder of the British Empire. These were the major events that inspired the leaders of liberation movements all over the world, including Guyana. Along the way many of them absorbed the ideas of Marx, the theorist, and Lenin, the practitioner.

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The founders of Independent Guyana made a solemn promise that they will deliver us from poverty and lead us not into political division. That’s right. The message carried a messianic fervor. At least so it was received.

The large body of the poor and disadvantaged had known that they were exploited. They also knew that until 1950, no one outside of their own class ever took more than a passing interest in their welfare. To be then elevated to the centre of attention, to be told that with the vote they will determine who governs them, to be told that they are the revolutionary class which will determine the future of the country, was heady stuff. It was a completely new experience for them. Also significantly new was the message of ethnic unity, which they were hearing in political, and witnessing in organizational terms, for the first time. They eventually saw the evidence of strength provided by 1953. It imbued them with a sense of pride, purpose and anticipation that has endured throughout the decades.

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