In February 1917, in the midst of bloody war, Russia was still an autocratic monarchy: nine months later, following Lenin’s Bolshevik coup in October, it became the first socialist state in world history. How did this unimaginable transformation take place? How was a ravaged and backward country rocked by not one but two revolutions? What is the legacy of Vladimir Lenin, one of the most misunderstood and exemplary leaders of the twentieth century? From the first stirrings of revolutionary fervour, Lenin sought the right answer to a series of dilemmas that he faced and that still resonate with us today: Is terrorism ever a useful tactic? Can imperial wars ever be supported? What sort of political party do we need? What is the moral justification for seizing power? How does one overcome the burden of history? What role does friendship or love play in revolution?
On the centenary of the Russian Revolution, Tariq Ali, China Miéville, Helen Rappaport and chair Alex von Tunzelmann explore the stories and the voices that shaped the seismic events of 1917 – the year that turned the world upside down. The panel examines how the revolutionary ideals of 1917 map best onto our contemporary situation, and discuss how, a hundred years on, the Russian Revolution continues to raise important questions around political representation and the popular institutions necessary to challenge capitalism today.