The dog that didn't bark: 100th Anniversary of the Great October Revolution gets no celebration in Russia
Today is the 100th anniversary of Russia's Great October Revolution, one of the defining events of the 20th century. The most salient thing about it is that no one wants to celebrate it in Russia.
Russians endured communism for more than 70 years until rejecting it utterly in 1990. Given the numbers of leftists in the West who adore socialism, shouldn't this be big news?
It goes to show how little the existing left really knows about what happened in that country. Communism there was a horrible failure, as it has been everywhere it has been tried. It brought material, intellectual and worst of ll, spiritual, poverty onto what had been one of Europe's great nations, the fastest-growing and and most promising upcomer of the time. The Bolshevik takeover ended that and brought a horrific civil war, created a man-made famine, and exchanged real progress for an all-powerful state. It was a police state where neighbor spied upon neighbor, Christianity was shut down and largely banned, Jews were persecuted, and more than a hundred million people, in Russia and beyond, were killed. Millions of Russians, and others, fled their homelands, sometimes as huddled refugees over borders, sometimes in leaky boats, sometimes across crossbow-shot wires over the Berlin Wall. Walls (and Gulags) were ubiquitous in Russia. Like the Mongol invasion, the October Revolution held Russia, and all its 14 empire states back. At the same time, communism unleashed war and strife throughout the rest of the world.
That's a vast and memorable legacy, and mercifully enough recognized by Russians as nothing to celebrate.
As Yuri Maltsev, one of Russia's great economic reformers of the Gorbachev era, has pointed out, not even Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to celebrate it. The Russian president has some authoritarian tendencies, and might be expected to play along to communist fantasies of past glories, such as its propagandists might project, but he's not a fool, and he's having none of it. He writes:
Russian President Vladimir Putin would like to ignore the Bolshevik Revolution, which marks its 100th anniversary this month. Putin reportedly told his advisers that it would be unnecessary to commemorate the occasion. He knows better—it is nothing to be proud of.
The Moscow Times reports an indifferent reaction on the streets of Russia:
President Vladimir Putin has called the collapse of the Soviet Union the “geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” But speaking about the revolution he has said, “We know well the consequences that these great upheavals can bring.”
Celebrations on the centenary, Nov. 7, are expected to be muted. Instead, the country officially celebrated Unity Day on Nov. 4 — which Putin instituted in 2005 to replace the Soviet holiday.
Interviews with Russians at Pushkinskaya Square in central Moscow on Monday painted a similarly confused picture. Some of those questioned wished the nation would officially observe the centennial. Some are happy that the event will go largely unnoticed. And some simply don’t care.
The reality is, Russians endured this virulent religious-level variety of socialism for more than 70 years. They know it better than anyone. And frankly, their refusal to celebrate it ought to be big news, a major story. It says more about socialism and communism, as it is practiced by experts and believers than anyone.
It barely registers a mention much of anywhere in the mainstream press.