Ten Days That Shook My World

photo: Wikimedia Commons
photo: Wikimedia Commons

By Daysi Valera

One of the readings that most marked my life was the book Ten Days that Shook the World, by John Reed, an outstanding revolutionary and US journalist. For the brilliance with which he wrote his eyewitness account of the Bolshevik Revolution, and his great value as a communist, he is buried with other heroes alongside the Kremlin Wall in Moscow.

Reed must have felt every second of his story as a singular experience. In each page of his work, I found myself shoulder to shoulder with the people, who shouted and organized as they took each step toward what belonged to them. What they took would never again be surrendered to the Czar because it had been conquered with the roughened hands of workers and farmers.

People were mobilized throughout the entire Russian Empire. I could feel their fatigue, their rage, and that force that was intensified as they gained consciousness in each struggle that they won.

In each paragraph, I found myself alongside the main character, the people, the only protagonist possible in a revolution heading for socialism. I read about their debates, discussions and agreements, as the Bolshevik leaders advanced the slogan “All power to the Soviets,” which was the key that opened the door to a new road to follow.

I will never forget that concerned and tired Lenin, who never stopped for a moment. The Russian people, broke the ice, drew up the path and cleared the road.

After living these pages, how could I not try to walk that same path? Fighting for the advance of socialism and to feel around me the capacity for decision-making by this Cuban people to which I belong, struggling against bureaucracy and capitalism, building a system in which each one of our voices is respected.

While feeling the drive of that capable Soviet people, why not attempt to draw closer to their same goals and make them ours?

As Salvadoran communist Dalton Roque would say, “I have decided to be a communist, and this implies having a constant headache, but we will not rest until the realization of paradise on earth: Communism will be, among other things, an aspirin the size of the sun.”

5 thoughts on “<em>Ten Days That Shook My World</em>

  • I was going to mention “Reds” too — but someone beat me to it. Great movie — if you can get it. You can certainly find it online as a ‘bootleg’ copy to download. Maybe when Cuba and Venezuela get that fiber-optic cable running, huh..?

    Hard to say how to respond here to this blog entry. I think there’s too much tendency to want to jump on you for your enthusiasm, simply because of the less-than-perfect state of your own country. Frankly, I think some people should resist the urge to hector at every opportunity, simply because they have their own narrow ax to grind. It’s a bit selfish to do that, really. And there may even be some outright revisionism at work here, for that matter, for whatever ends.

    “Ten Days That Shook The World” is indeed an inspiring book, and I’m very happy to see a young cuban still inspired by such as it. Venceremos!

  • Daisy,
    Reading your writing, and the other diarists, I am filled with hope that the Cuban revolution can get back on a truly democratic socialist course. Reed is an inspiring figure. Have you seen the movie REDS? Is that available in Cuba? Great movie about American radicals in the early 20th century.

    Warren Beatty plays Reed and has a great line toward the end of the movie, I think he is confronting Zinoviev (sp), when he complains that the party is crushing dissent, “The revolution is dissent!” Reed proclaims. And so it is.
    Good luck in your quest and struggle for democratic socialist Cuba.


  • Daisy,

    I am pleasantly struck by your ardent reading of John Reed’s book. I remember too my enthusiasm when reading Reed. I must inform you, however, that Lenin eliminated the grrass roots democratic soviets. And Cuba did not continue such a democratic transformation to the people of your wonderful land.
    In solidarity, Ron

  • Estimada Daysi

    Que buena la idea de no encerrarnos en lo desgastante del cotidiano para pensar en nuestras herencias socialistas. La lucha por sociedades más libres, humanas y desenajenantes en el presente pasa por reconocer nuestra deuda con los revolucionarios de todos los tiempos, sean estos los bolcheviques, anarquistas, antimperialistas del Tercer Mundo, los del 68. Las lucha actuales contra el capital y las burocracias se alzan sobre ese legado de experiencias y errores y los jóvenes revolucionarios cubanos cómo tú no pueden perder la visión del bosque aún cuando los dramas del árbol nos parezcan absorbentes.
    Acompaño tu empeño y te felicito, me recuerdas mis pasiones de estudiantes y las preguntas y sueños de mis mejores muchachos de la Colina.
    un abrazo
    Armando Chaguaceda

  • Daisy, I’m curious as to whether Eric Homberger’s biography of John Reed is available in Cuba?

    Based on first hand interviews with Reed’s friends and colleagues, Homberger’s biography is a cautionary tale for idealistic and naive would be revolutionaries. Ten Days That Shook the World is undoubtedly a powerfully written first hand account of the Bolshevik Revolution. However, by the time of his death only three years later in 1920, Reed believed that the original ideals of the revolution had already been betrayed by the Bolshevik leadership. Reed was desperate to leave Russia to return to the United States. He never got the chance as we was stricken by typhus and died at the age of 32. Reed’s book was later banned in the Soviet Union by Joseph Stalin.

    Socialism without democracy leads only to tyranny and oppression.

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