Russian Revolution maintains relevance to student activists

Politically active students on-campus can look to the past for inspiration in their social activism.

The Geneseo chapter of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution by hosting a lecture by Joseph Kishore titled “Why Study the Russian Revolution?” on Tuesday Dec. 5. 

Kishore is the National Secretary of the Socialist Equality Party and the person in charge of the World Socialist Website, a leading news site for Marxist information. He is also a writer who has extensively researched the history of the socialist movement. 

“We usually try to have a big speaker come in once a year, and we really wanted to get as many members out as we could,” IYSSE president sophomore Alex Findeis said. “An opportunity to have such a prominent member in the socialist movement is a great honor.” 

The lecture drew mostly members of the IYSSE, but also included those who simply wanted to know more about Russia and its infamous revolution.  

“What my major is all about is knowing what is going on in the world internationally,” international relations major freshman Sarah Michel said. “I just want to learn more about the Russian Revolution, since I don’t really know much about Russia the country, and I hope this will be an opportunity to learn more about it.”

Kishore introduced the lecture by explaining why the October Revolution is so important to world history.

“It is impossible to understand what happened in the 20th century without understanding the events of the Russian Revolution … it was an event that changed history,” Kishore said. “It had implications that extended far beyond the borders of Russia, which is a critical reason to study the event.”

From there, the lecture was split into two parts: a brief overview of the revolution and a summary of media misconceptions about the revolution and socialism. 

“This was really an extraordinary political event,” Kishore said. “Masses of soldiers and workers took to the streets and seriously escalated strikes and demonstrations against the state.” 

Kishore talked about themes in current mainstream understandings of the Russian Revolution and their effects today. These included dismissals of the revolution because of its violence and the idea that nothing like this event will ever happen again. Kishore, however, pointed out similarities between times of the Russian Revolution and today.

“One of the most important lessons from the Russian Revolution is that revolution is objective,” Kishore said. “I think we’re entering a period in which social struggles will erupt … we will see in the coming period that [frustration with the current regime] will take form.”

Kishore’s lecture offered a unique perspective on the lasting impacts of the Russian Revolution and its similarities to the present—both important lessons to remember one century after its occurrence.u