Sergei Udaltsov: ''Lenin is a threat for the oligarchy even 100 years after the revolution''
The coordinator of the Left Front about the October, the burial of Lenin, and the ideological void in Russian society
On 7 November, the world marked the centennial of the October Revolution — the event that had a huge impact on the development of Russia and the world in the twentieth century. What would have happened to the country if the revolution hadn't not happened? Is it fair to call it a 'national disaster'? Is it necessary to remove Lenin's body from the Red Square in Moscow? Sergei Udaltsov, the leader of the movement Vanguard of Red Youth, the coordinator of the Left Front, answered to these and other questions in the interview with Realnoe Vremya.
''I concede that not Germany and Italy, but Russia would have been a pioneer of fascism''
Mr Udaltsov, what does this day, this date mean for you personally?
I think that for any thinking, sensible person it is the greatest, epoch-making day. One hundred years ago it took place the event, like John Reed wrote — 'Ten days that shook the world'. They really changed the course of history and influenced the whole world. And after 100 years it is still extremely relevant.
The revolution showed not only to Russia but to the whole world an alternative path of development: it showed that it is possible to get away from the imposed system of values, in which profit, money and brutal competition are at the head. It is possible to escape from this capitalist philosophy to other values, where the focus is put on brotherhood, solidarity, justice and equality (equality not in a primitive sense — I'm talking about the opportunity of each person to live with dignity and develop).
These events changed the way of life in Russia and the rest of the world in many ways. All the social achievements, for example, of the Western workers, are certainly the consequences of the October Revolution. The victory over fascism in 1945 — it is also a direct consequence of the events of 1917. Otherwise, I concede that not Germany and Italy, but Russia would have been a pioneer of fascism, because the alternative of coming of left forces to power was a far-right dictatorship. The Kornilov affair that failed (but it could be repeated), black-hundredists sentiments that were strong in the society…
''These events changed the way of life in Russia and the rest of the world in many ways. All the social achievements, for example, of the Western workers, are certainly the consequences of the October Revolution.'' Photo: wikipedia.org
I sincerely believe that the Revolution was a progressive event that has improved the world. Despite the temporary defeat of those ideas that occurred at the end of the twentieth century, they remain on the agenda as a global alternative. I am sure that sooner or later the world will come to this strategic direction.
What can you say to those who, by contrast, believes that the October Revolution was a national disaster that led to the backwardness of Russia from other states and the establishment in our country of totalitarian government system?
The thing is that the significance of the October Revolution and the whole Communist philosophy is to help the human beings to escape from their primitive instincts, from the animal state in which they originally are, and to develop — to grow spiritually, to care not only about themselves but also about others, to help the weak, the whole society and to become the Human Being with capital letters.
It is a difficult task, and obviously, the guts of the human opposed this greatly. It is much easier to live according to the schemes used for centuries, relying on their instincts. The whole philosophy of capitalism is built on these animal instincts and principles, and therefore they are easier accepted and absorbed by the minds. But the attempt to take the human to a new level of development was met with great resistance — it was natural.
The Bolsheviks, the initiators of this process, of course, had a big hope that the world processes would start — the world revolution, when the Western world, more developed at that time in industrial and technological terms, solidarily would help Russia to develop on common socialist principles. Of course, there would not have been those costs that we observed since 1917. But the life evolved differently. After a few months after the October Revolution, the Western capital sent all its forces, including the military, to suppress the Soviet project, realizing how dangerous it was for their hegemony. Instead of peaceful and constructive development of this socialist project, the Bolsheviks immediately faced with enormous challenges, when three-quarters of their territory was simply occupied by the Triple Entente, the White movement, which was fully supported by the West.
''The Bolsheviks, the initiators of this process, of course, had a big hope that the world processes would start — the world revolution, when the Western world, more developed at that time in industrial and technological terms, solidarily would help Russia to develop on common socialist principles.'' Photo: diletant.media
For these reasons, the planned development did not happen, so they had to create a mobilization model with huge costs — hence the infringement of democratic rights and imbalance in the economy. Unfortunately, all this was accompanied by the attempt to build a New world all the next 70 years while the Soviet Union existed because the Western world threw all its resources to resistance, counteraction and destruction of this disastrous dangerous alternatives. So nothing went smoothly.
I would like to note that the first months of the Soviet power were very peaceful. The Soviet power was established throughout Russia practically without bloodshed — this suggests that there was support, that the same Bolsheviks captured the sentiments of the people — they answered to those questions to what people could not get answers from the tsarist regime and the Provisional government. However, from the spring of 1918 intervention began, the white terror, this whirlwind of the Civil war started.
Then, after the Civil war and until 1941, it was a relatively peaceful period, but a threat of aggression still remained. Stalin's collectivization and industrialization because of this also were carried out in tough mobilization format, because all the time there was a feeling of military threat, there were fears that the country would not have time to prepare for a new war. Obviously, this imposed a negative impact on the development of the Soviet Union. Then there was a terrible war against fascism. The Great Victory was achieved at the expense of huge losses, the best and bravest perished in the battles — of course, this could not affect the further development of the country.
It should be clearly understood that the attempt to create a New world, a new human being aroused the hatred of the old world — the 'forces of evil', as I call them. Unfortunately, the tactical victory belonged to the forces of evil, although, of course, the world changed — the October influenced greatly, and, most importantly, this philosophy, this concept, this alternative have remained. I think the future is inextricably linked with this direction. The scientific-technical progress and the development of productive forces, which in 1917 still did not allow us to step into the Communist future, today, wittingly or unwittingly, are bringing us to it — to communism. The elite, Russian and foreign oligarchs, bankers, financiers cling to the old order — because they want to squeeze out from ordinary people all the juices, shamelessly exploit them. But it won't last forever.
Despite all the costs, the October paved the very light and progressive way. There were many casualties, it is a huge tragedy. There were mistakes — it's bad. But the new is never built easily.
Ksenia Sobchak has recently proposed to remove Lenin from the Red Square. What do you think about her statement?
Lenin — it is a strong irritant for the present bourgeois elite. These people believe that the current system of values is the cornerstone, they perfectly live and receive dividends from all this capitalist model. Sobchak is just from among ideological opponents of Lenin and socialism. Her father was anti-Communist, he was one of the first who proposed to bury Lenin, it should be borne in mind.
Well, the ideological anti-Communists are often joined by fans to advertise themselves on 'high-profile' issues. In my opinion, all this shows that Lenin even after 100 years after the Revolution is a threat to the oligarchy, inconvenient for the capitalists, that his ideas still excite the minds — they have both ardent opponents and most active supporters. By the way, on this backdrop, our government seems quite restrained when it says that now it [the burial] is not the relevant question. Putin understands that toughing this topic means to challenge a large part of the society.
''All this shows that Lenin even after 100 years after the Revolution is a threat to the oligarchy, inconvenient for the capitalists, that his ideas still excite the minds — they have both ardent opponents and most active supporters.'' Photo: mk.ru
''It's very unfair model when in the richest country in 2017 millions of people live below poverty line''
The program of the March of the Left Forces, scheduled on 7th November, provides a list of your basic requirements (to nationalize natural resources, credit amnesty for individuals, etc.). In your estimation, are these requirements feasible now?
The requirements announced by the Left Front and the left-wing movement in general are absolutely realizable. They would be for the benefit for the absolute majority of our population. Another question is that these ideas meet strong rejection and opposition from our government, the elite, which, of course, don't want any changes.
The thing is that the current state of affairs, when the elite group (conditionally 100 richest families) stuck like a leech to our natural resources, to strategic industries and unrestrainedly enriches, fully satisfies them. The main part of the profit goes into their pockets and ordinary people get the crumbs — our population is being in a half-starved condition. If the oil situation is better, people are given a little more from the 'master's table', and if it is worse, then, accordingly, they get less.
It's a very unfair model when in the richest country in 2017 millions of people live below poverty line (and it recognizes the power itself). This model is beneficial to the minority who says that, of course, social reforms are impossible, the redistribution of property is impossible that privatization cannot be reviewed. But totally other thing is in the interests of the people.
There is nothing unrealistic in our demands – the state does have money, economic opportunities, but it has no political will. Russia needs a change of social-economic policy, new people in the government, new president. The incumbent head of the country over these 17 years had all the opportunities to initiate these reforms, but it did not happen. How much longer will we be waiting? That is why the left-wing forces need to use the next presidential election to the maximum – to impose a struggle, not just imitate participation.
''Major part of the profit goes into their pockets and ordinary people get the crumbs — our population is being in a half-starved condition. If the oil situation is better, people are given a little more from the 'master's table', and if it is worse, then, accordingly, they get less.'' Photo: vestifinance.ru
''It has a feeling that some leaders of the Communist party have fully embedded in the system and everything satisfies them''
The Left Front is going to a meeting together with the Communist party: what do think about this party? In your opinion, does it have a real impact on the political situation or is it still ''controlled opposition''?
The Communist party is our closest ally, which represents the parliamentary sector of the left opposition. The Left Front is its non-parliamentary part, and we now aim to combine different non-systemic left-wing groups, which are still highly fragmented. Everyone should do their work: the parliamentary opposition focuses on legislative initiatives in the Duma, the non-systemic left-wing opposition works on the streets, in the protest groups on the Internet. Between ourselves we should have good interaction.
''In general they are our allies. If we have to criticize each other but only as allies, not allowing any hostility.'' Photo: Maksim Platonov
We often criticize the Communist party. I think that it is fair because even within the system it is possible to act more actively. Sometimes it has a feeling that some leaders of the Communist party have fully embedded in this system and everything satisfies them. Maybe it is a misconception, but externally there is such feeling. That is why the left moving is losing its popularity. But in general they are our allies. If we have to criticize each other but only as allies, not allowing any hostility. I think our opponents would be happy to disintegrate us, but we will not allow this.
Mr Udaltsov, some analysts believe that Vladimir Putin will continue to lead the country until 2024. If we accept this scenario, then, what do you think, what way will Russia develop after 2024?
I am an opponent of such predestination. Any political force that aims to struggle for power and to change the policy of the country should not become infected with such predetermination. The presidential election is about to take place, we should fight at them.
Already now we have launched an open vote on the Internet — primaries for the election of a single candidate from the left opposition. By the vote results, we will recommend the parliamentarian parties to run these people to have new faces at the election.
It is still early to predetermine – we are to fight in 2018. The more active the left movement will act at this election, the more chances are that changes will begin earlier than in 2024.
I look to the future with optimism. 'A left turn' is going to happen – it is necessary in economy and social policy. The changes are about to come, and we will do everything to let them happen as soon as possible.