Tomorrow, it will have been 100 years since the start of the Bolshevik coup in Russia. In agreement with the plan, cruiser Aurora fired a blank shot in the harbor of St Petersburg, Bolsheviks began to occupy the palace, and the provisional government quickly surrendered. Long years of a civil war followed to confirm the transition to the regime of Lenin's muzhiks.
To some extent, the Chinese lantern marches were the communist counterparts of the Halloween events and their cancellation meant we became further both from communism and from America. ;-)
These days, we're surrounded by acronyms. It sounds sort of incredible that just 30 years ago, the Czech acronym VŘSR (Velká říjnová socialistická revoluce, Great October Socialist Revolution) was among the 5 most important ones – it surely doesn't make it to the top 100 today. ;-)
In Czechoslovakia, we the kids would be forced to go to a Chinese lantern march in the evening. Search Google Images for the Chinese lantern march for VŘSR. It was a relatively boring event. The lanterns don't emit much light so they're not spectacular. The fireworks at the end was the only thing that was worth mentioning.
But these marches played the same role as the May Day parades – except that May Day parades took place during the day and all industries as well as communist apparatchiks were proudly attending. For VŘSR anniversaries, kids had to draw pictures of Lenin or stuff like that. The generally promoted belief stated that the communism was there forever. In the mid 1980s, we wouldn't believe that there was going to be no celebration of the 75th anniversary let alone 100th anniversary of VŘSR.
It's particularly impressive that there's no official celebration or holiday in Russia. Putin and pals say that there's nothing to celebrate. Lots of Russians disagree. But Putin tries to be silent in order to "preserve the national unity", to avoid a similar civil war that started 100 years ago, or even less dramatic tensions of the same kind. There's nothing to celebrate because the VŘSR has divided the Russian nation, the most likely explanation would say. Putin has said that Lenin had placed an atomic bomb beneath Russia and he also asked: "Why couldn't they have achieved the same outcomes through the mild Summer evolution, instead of the October Revolution, and within the limits of the law?" I have improved his question a little bit. ;-)
Even though the very word "revolution" lost its attractiveness among most Russians – because it's been associated with various recent colorful "revolutions" in Ukraine and elsewhere, often ignited by the likes of George Soros – there are tens of millions of Russians that are still huge fans of the communist revolution. Some of them have been brainwashed, some of them have liked that Russia became a superpower of a sort when it was the core of the Soviet Union. This is an advantage of communism that is absent in all other post-communist nations, with a partial exception of Serbia and perhaps a few others. Communism has been positively linked to "Russia's superpower status". And that is attractive – despite the fact that the superpower status was largely about the arms races and milking of other "socialist" countries only. That's why so many Russians worship Stalin, too.
On the other hand, there are lots of people on the other side who really think that communism was bad and it has hurt Russia – and Russians. It's not just about the negative feelings towards communism. The Tsarist dynasty has enjoyed some revival in Russia, it's rather popular again. The Bolshevik revolution was organized against the Tsar family – which was mass-murdered by the commies – so a fan of the Tsar family pretty much has to be anti-communist to some extent.
In Spring 1918, after the Bolshevik coup began but before Czechoslovakia was declared as a new country, Czech and Slovak units in foreign countries – later retroactively named the Czechoslovak Legions – were fighting against Austria-Hungary, our old homeland, but they soon switched to new pro-democratic missions. One of them was the fight on the side of the Whites – against the Red Bolshevik dumplings – in Russia. The Legions managed to win the Battle of Zborov and control the main railroad through Siberia which effectively meant the control over a huge fraction of Siberia – not bad for Czechoslovakia, a vastly smaller country. These guys were soon called home and the Bolsheviks were destined to win.
But the world could have been very different without the Bolshevik revolution. I think that Russia would be more advanced today. It could be on par with France and other countries. Lots of the stereotypes associated with Russia because of communism and related events wouldn't exist. The Central and Eastern Europe would have avoided communism, too. The likes of Hitler couldn't have become strong because they would probably face a clear democratic alliance that would include Russia at all times. So I generally think that the rest of the 20th century would have been better for so many reasons. But I can't be sure. Some other, bad – perhaps even worse – events could have happened instead. Who knows.
Thank God, the slogans "eternally with the Soviet Union and never differently" turned out to be wrong. Happily, children no longer have to celebrate Lenin and his coup. Sadly, they are led to celebrate some culturally Marxist holy cows that are less concentrated than VŘSR but from many viewpoints, they are just as toxic. Do the kids miss the Chinese lantern marches? Maybe – I guess the answer is No, however. Those events were rather boring, additional examples of the forced happenings whose main goal was to demonstrate the collective obedience of kids and everyone else to the communist regime.
Relatively to things that the kids consider fun today, including games on their tablets or social networks, the celebrations of VŘSR anniversaries were very boring. Celebrations of VŘSR represented a repeated event of my childhood and I could feel nostalgic about them but I really don't. It's great that this heavily overhyped, evil event has faded away. During the peak years, this ideology has controlled a third of the world – for several decades. But from a longer perspective, the October Revolution and communism were just short episodes in which some crappy people and lousy pseudointellectuals conquered a decent empire that could have been modernized in a much more balanced way if they stayed home.