The idea that we build something much better than capitalism had been around for generations but, 90 years ago in Russia, for the first time an alliance of workers and peasants made a revolution that was to frame the course of history ever since.
Fresh from the horrors of World War I, and still with the memory of bloody uprisings that eventually overthrew the Tsarist monarchy in the first few years of the 20th century, this alliance carried out an insurrection.
The October 1917 insurrection was almost bloodless, but that was not to last. The revolution was confronted by a terrible civil war, launched by dispossessed landlords and capitalists supported by 21 foreign armies. The civil war was won but in its wake a Stalinist counter-revolution from within triumphed and destroyed this first experience of people's power.
The main lesson was this: the rich and powerful are never going to relinquish their rule without a bloody fight to defend their privileges and their right to exploit.
Yet the dream of harnessing people's power, in order to get beyond capitalism, has persisted and 90 years later is being attempted in Venezuela, where once again an alliance of workers, peasants, urban poor and soldiers is making a revolution.
However, in this issue of Green Left Weekly there special reports from Federico Fuentes — our correspondent in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas — about deadly new challenges for the first socialist revolution of the 21st century.
In a message sent last week, Fuentes warned:
"November will be an intense period, some here say they feel this is as tense as 2002 [when popular President Hugo Chavez was kidnapped and a right-wing coup attempted], and more than the situation in the recall referendum in 2004. It is vital that we begin to step up dramatically our solidarity work right now!"
The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (<http://www.venezuelasolidarity.org>) is organising a response and we urge you to get involved.
Green Left Weekly is one of the foremost voices of solidarity with the attempt to build and consolidate people's power in Venezuela. The reason for this is simple. Every advance in the struggle to get beyond capitalism — a system that threatens humanity with war and ecocide — is an advance for the great majority all around the world.
But Green Left Weekly needs your help to keep going. Please make a donation to GLW's $250,000 Fighting Fund for 2007. The year is fast ending and while we have raised $183,136 through donations and numerous fundraisers (see calendar on p.23 for details of the next fundraising event near you), we need your help to raise the remaining $66,864.
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