Celebrating the October Revolution? A Socialist Dilemma: France, Italy, 1945-1956

Issue: 
Autumn 2017
Author(s): 

Tackling the issue of the October Revolution celebration through the angle of a dilemma conveys the idea that socialists necessarily have a special bond with the Russian revolution. The Partito Socialista Italiano (Italian Socialist Party or PSI) and the Section Française de l’Internationale Ouvrière (French Section of the Worker’s International or SFIO) were both refounded in the 1940s after a period of clandestine activity, and both insisted on their Marxist identity. Most of the time, they presented themselves as revolutionary parties, as representatives of the working class, and they called for a social transformation of society. After the political revolutions of the nineteenth century and the political equality that was achieved through them, the goal was to put the working classes in power through a social revolution that would establish equality in the economic sphere. At the time, for its partisans as much as for its opponents, the Russian revolution was the ultimate embodiment of a social revolution. The French might have tried to bring up the example of the Paris Commune, whose symbolic legacy they fought over with the communists by organising rival commemorations; but it clearly did not have the same symbolic power, especially after Stalingrad, nor the great prestige the Soviet Union then enjoyed.

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Twentieth Century Communism Journal Issue 13: October, the Cold War and Commemoration: Solidarity at a Safe Distance?