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Revolving off revolutions

Discounting the Utopian extreme of communism, principles of socialism coupled with a free market economy have borne favourable results across the world.

Revolving off revolutions

Red October paved the way for the birth of Soviet Union and marked the beginning of the era of transition from capitalism to communism. An entire century down the line, this event is more than a chapter in history for some very critical reasons that pertain to the triggers of a revolution, the shelf life and the afterlife of revolutions, and also the succession of events that unfold thereafter.

Let it not be forgotten that a revolution is always a collective outburst, a reaction the cause of which had been seething under a prolonged situation of suppression. It is a rationalised course of events only in the process and not from the beginning. Hence, such a concerted mass impulse gaining momentum, essentially a social phenomenon, serves the primary purpose of destabilising and dismantling an undesirable existing system. A revolution advances no alternate system.
When February Revolution ousted the autocratic Czar Nicholas II, the Provisional Government that consequently came up was but just a rush to fill up the vacuum thus created, in hope of replacing the overthrown regime. But this government had to be dissolved on account of being unable to deliver what it was supposed to. Russia's involvement in the War and the state of economic misery that was a constant, and most importantly, its failure to make policy decisions due to chaos and failure within the state structures were the main triggers for the October Revolution. October Revolution began with the armed forces occupying government buildings and political stability was eventually restored.
Communism, with its ideals, has an inevitable outcome that is poverty, to whatever degree. Since everything is to be owned by community, this system inherently denies any individual aspirations that may be distinct from the common, general good. Socialism is a more pragmatic variant of such a notion whereby means of production and distribution are state-owned, meaning that the result of state-regulated economy is not restrictive on its citizens as a matter of ideal. Besides the economic angle, a feature of socialism is welfare policies for the general good of the people. It is this feature of socialism that is established to be the most important one with regard to governance and statecraft.
Engendering from a desperate need for change, a mutiny-induced transformation, in order to sustain itself, must include an alternate method of functioning as a ready replacement. A revolution is a mere means to facilitate change but it does not guarantee that the intended change will materialise. The communism brought about in the Soviet region after abdicating the Czar lost its ground due to the incompetence of the Provisional Government. The Russian socialism sustained much better for its flexibility and effective implementation of policies.
China, officially socialist but in the last few decades, has been taking recourse to capitalist development patterns. China is a classic example of economic transformation enabled by the role of private sector in bringing about a remarkably high growth rate. This is an interesting trend indicating a tendency towards capitalist bent. But this approach still retains its essential socialism with respect to public policies to ensure welfare. This brand of mixed socialism with capitalist overtones is also a characteristic of Indian economy.
Discounting the utopian extreme of communism, principles of socialism coupled with a free market economy are known to have borne favourable results across the world. Finland is renowned for its best education system with a literacy rate of 100 per cent and one of the highest standard of living in the world. Denmark considers equality as the most important value in society (without any communist orientation). Netherlands has minimum government control over the economy, yet it has a socialist welfare system. Canada, too, despite a free market economy has extensive welfare system including free health and medical care. It all reflects on the general open-minded and liberal attitude of the citizenry and the quality of their progressive society.
It is observed and concluded that there is no decisive connection between economic performance and welfare expenditure. The above stated countries bear testimony to that. Despite their socialist orientation, their workforce is stronger. Capitalism in its entirety is a lop-sided method that always poses the risk of exploiting beyond limits. Socialism, on the other hand, with some flexibility, can ensure the most important pillar to hold a prospering economy: efficient human resource. Any ideology cannot survive in isolation, it needs to be integrated with counter-ideologies and approaches to extract the best out of it.
The Marxist revolution that Russia underwent hundred years ago is a grim reminder that "socialist revolutions" do not just happen automatically. The suppression of people can prepare grounds for the outbreak of political unrest but it takes a different skill-set of leadership to process the outcome of the revolution in one's favour from that which made the "revolution" happen. After all, India, too, has plenty of examples of revolutionaries setting the stage and political leaders taking over thereafter.
(The author is Editorial Consultant and Senior Copy Editor with Millennium Post. The views are strictly personal.)

Kavya Dubey

Kavya Dubey

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