Workers Vanguard No. 1108

24 March 2017


The Bolshevik Revolutionary

(Quote of the Week)

The crucial factor in leading the working class to victory in the Russian October Revolution of 1917 was the Bolshevik Party of V.I. Lenin. Writing in 1926, Victor Serge, who at the time identified with Leninism and its continuity in the Left Opposition of Leon Trotsky, described how the Bolshevik cadre was forged through years of conscious preparation and experience in struggle.

The great Russian Bolsheviks choose to describe themselves as “professional revolutionaries.” It is a description perfectly suited to all real agents of social transformation. It rules out from revolutionary activity all dilettantism, amateurism, playing about and posturing; it locates the revolutionary irrevocably in the world of labour, where there is no question of “airs,” nor of finding interesting ways to fill up one’s leisure time, nor the spiritual or moral pleasure of holding “advanced” ideas. For those who do this work, their job (or profession) fills the best part of their life. They know it is a serious business and that their daily bread depends on it; they also know, with varying degrees of consciousness, that the whole social life and destiny of men depends on it too.

The job of a revolutionary requires a long apprenticeship, gaining purely technical knowledge, as well as love for the work and understanding of the cause, the means and the end. If, as often happens, he is obliged to take another job—in order to live—it is the job of being a revolutionary which fills his life, and the other job is only something secondary. The Russian Revolution was able to triumph because in twenty-five years of political activity it had formed strong teams of professional revolutionaries, trained to carry out an almost superhuman labour.

—Victor Serge, What Everyone Should Know About Repression (New Park Publications, 1979)