Communist Essentials

The Russian Revolution is truly inspirational. We should certainly celebrate, study and, above all, learn from it, says MARY DAVIS.

WHY and how should we mark or celebrate the centenary of the Russian Revolution? It is easy to see why many seemingly unlikely organisations are keen to get involved in a commercially exploitable event.

But for those of us who understand that the October Revolution marks the first time in human history that the majority class (workers and peasants) took and held state power, this centenary holds a special significance. Hence the way in which we commemorate it is quite different, ideologically, from that of the British Establishment and its cultural institutions.

Thus, Marx Memorial Library (MML) was pleased to receive a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a project examining the impact of the Russian Revolution enabling us to project a Marxist vision of the event. This includes a travelling exhibition (currently on display at MML), a website, publications and lectures.

How the Russian Revolution Influenced the Left in Britain & Scotland

with Professor John Foster 

This video lays out how the Left across Britain (and Scotland) organised together in the time when the Russian Revolution rocked the world. This led ultimately to the formation of the Communist Party in Britain, a Party which brought together working class activists armed with experiences of struggle which were fully expressed by the emerging Marxism-Leninism in theory and practice.

The Russian Revolution, which began with the downfall of the tsar in February and climaxed with the overthrow of the Provisional Government in October, is a historic event that cannot be confined to the past. Reverberations from October 1917, a political earthquake that gave rise to the world’s first socialist state, are still felt around the globe today.

Recorded as part of the 2017 Novemeber Scottish Labour History Society Conference on the Centenary of the Russian Revolution, which Prof Foster couldn't attend in person as he was in attendence at the national official Russian Revolution Centenary commemoration in London, looking after international comrades from across the world as part of his role as the International Secretary of the British Communist Party .

The organised labour & trade union movement has a strong history in Scotland. Class politics was what gave the movement that strength, and class politics remains the key to rebuilding an effective fightback against Austerity, whether is comes from the government in Westminster or Holyrood or the powerful pro-business EU. 

In 2016, Raymond Mennie from the Scottish CP leadership committee, stood in the elections as a Communist candidate. This is a talk which he delivered in Dundee, which exposes the extent to which neoliberal austerity politics has become the mantra for almost every Party in power.

Raymond gives a clear analysis of where the Scottish and British people are at, and what needs to be done by our movement to combat those who seek to retain the power of Capital in the hands of the few, at the expense of the many. He gives a blistering critique of the lack of talk in Westminster or Holyrood of "public ownership" or "wealth redistribution" - both fundamental tenets of socialism. He also shows how the European Union political project is a club for big business, and fundamentally against the interests of working people at it's core.


The Communist Party was founded in Britain in 1920. From its inception it drew great inspiration from the young Soviet republic and was a constituent part of the international communist movement. But its roots were deep in the British working class, among the various socialist parties and societies and the militant shop stewards’ movement of the time. For all of them, the establishment of a unified, revolutionary party in Britain was the pressing need after the First World War.

Communism did not start with Karl Marx, or with the Russian Revolution of 1917. In Britain, a rich historical seam of communist ideas dates back to the Middle Ages and beyond. The desire for a future based on peace, cooperation, community and common, wealth has long inspired the peoples of England, Scotland and Wales.

At times of great crisis, such as the Peasants' Revolt (1381), the English Revolution (1640), and the Chartist uprisings of the 1830s and 1840s, communist ideas have come to the fore, voicing the hopes of working people.

The Communist Party continues that living, revolutionary tradition. It is a product, first and foremost, of the British labour movement. Its roots lie deep in Britain's trade unions, socialist societies and in other working class organisations.


When founded in 1920, the Party brought together militant socialists and trade unionists who understood the need for a revolutionary change in society. They were inspired by the world's first workers' state, Soviet Russia, led by VI Lenin. But they were also repelled by the mass slaughter of the 1914-1918 Great War. Britain needed a party that would fight capitalism and imperialism, unlike the labour leaders who preferred collaboration and surrender.

Since then, the Communist Party has been in the frontline fighting for the interests of the working class. Despite its small size and the imprisonment of its leadership, it played an outstanding role in the 1926 General Strike.