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Nov
2017
Friday 3rd
posted by Morning Star in Features

RON BROWN and MOLLIE STEVENSON were so inspired by the Russian Revolution that they got married that day. They tell their story


RON BROWN and MOLLIE STEVENSON, members of the Durham, Darlington and Teesside branch of the Communist Party of Britain, tied the knot on November 7 2015 in the ballroom at the Wallsend People’s Centre and Memorial Hall (soon to host the North-East Russian Revolution Centenary Celebrations — find out more at mstar.link/1917NE.

Growing up, Wallsend People’s Centre had a vital impact on Mollie’s political life. Both Mollie and Ron are still heavily involved in the movement.

Ron, being a teacher of music and a musician, represents the Musicians Union (MU) on Newcastle trades council and is currently standing for the MU regional committee.

Mollie is studying for a criminology degree at Durham University, also volunteers at the People’s Bookshop Collective between lectures (a socialist bookshop in the centre of Durham run by a collective of activists).

They are both active in the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, Newcastle Unites and Tyne and Wear Mayday Committee. Read on to learn how the Russian Revolution of 1917 inspires and spurs them on both politically and in everyday life.

RON’S TALE

UP UNTIL my mid to late twenties I still thought, as one or two tend to in our part of the world, that communism was “the one where everyone gets the same.”  

That pay was the same however challenging your job, and nothing else changes: we all work the same long hours, and everything is still expensive, but in order to level the playing field everyone gets paid pennies.  

A society that doesn’t work because work doesn’t pay.  
Why would anyone go to all the trouble of having a revolution for this?! And how ironic it is that this description is perfect for capitalism in 2017.

I was brought up in Tyne and Wear by working parents who weren’t active politically.  

As a child I knew my dad voted Conservative (though I could never understand why) and I think my mam was too busy bringing me up to worry about the class struggle and such like.  

How they produced a communist I’m not quite sure, but what I do know is that I never liked the Conservatives when I saw them on the telly.  

Somehow, I knew then that they didn’t represent me and the people around me — and I was right!  

The fact that there is injustice in the world was apparent to me then and I suppose I’ve never been happy about it since.

Most of the people I went to school with were white. Some were of Chinese or Pakistani heritage.  

We were all working class and just grew up and shared our childhoods together.  
It would never have occurred to me at that age that people could

be divided on grounds of creed or colour. Fast forward a few years to September 11 and the rise (and fall) of the BNP.  

Fast forward a few more years to the so-called “credit crunch” and its aftermath. I would think by that point it’s normal for a person to want to know why there is such a thing as terrorism and what makes the world of money go around.  

Why is everyone blaming immigrants for everything and what really is the cause of all this hate, misery and destruction in the world? 

My racist friends didn’t have the answer and neither did Gordon Brown.  

My partner before I met Mollie thought I was weird for spending time trying to figure all this out — buying odd newspapers such as the Morning Star, questioning private education and such like.  

I did have one friend who listened to me — he was (and still is) a socialist. He was a breath of fresh air and an inspiration.  

It’s worth mentioning all this because there must be so many isolated and bewildered socialists out there in our capitalist society!

We all have our own backgrounds and experiences and although many aspects of these are shared we don’t all come out with the same interpretation.  

You may get little sympathy from your close friends and family but there are people out there who think like you do and many of them are working together all the time to make a difference.  

They don’t always agree on everything, but they find common ground and make a stand.

If you take that brave first step of joining a protest or going to a meeting you might just find that in a few months’ time you’re calling these people your comrades.

By the time I met Mollie I’d discovered Marx was right (because I actually read some of what he had to say!) and that communism is a very different kind of society to what I’d been conditioned to believe.  

One in which we are all richer in every way and every individual commands respect as our equal.  

If only we could all grasp this and work together then this would be achievable very quickly! Without doubt though, this will always be the inspiration of 1917 — it showed that when people do grasp this and work together they CAN begin to work toward this goal, and for the first time ever they DID!

Since then, although there have been setbacks — it was never going to be easy — the communist movement has achieved miracles and got its hands dirty in curbing the enthusiasm of imperialism for a century.  

No wonder it’s got a bad name for itself. That’s why I call myself a communist and why I joined the Communist Party here in Britain.

To become an activist, you don’t have to marry one — although it helps! You don’t even have to join the Communist Party although I would recommend you do.  

You just have to know that there are others out there, like you, whose main drive in life is to be done with the madness of today’s world and bring a better, saner one into being. If you haven’t met them yet — go and meet them. You will make friends for life and whatever contribution you can make will make a difference.

FOR THE LOVE OF MANKIND

Ronnie wrote a song about the revolution, available online at youtube.com/watch?v=z7v_ykBi5pg

Ministers, fine men of incorruption
Let us stand you one drink, you’d better sit down
Here’s to your reign of destruction
Now run along and get out of this town
So long, dasvidaniya
Thanks for nothing, you can’t win em all can ya?
Workers of the world unite
For the love of mankind and fight

Citizens come gather for we bring you
Peace, bread and land to share in
Who would have thought you’d ever have it in you
To show the world the little man can win

Madmen, criminals, crusaders
With blood of every colour on your hands
The world is turning in our favour
And your guns shall not liberate this land

Comrades among the living
You know now what is to be done
The road may be long and not forgiving
But our journey has only just begun

MOLLIE’S TALE

I’VE been surrounded by politics from a very young age, from my father’s work at Wallsend People’s Centre and my mother’s work in a community project, as well as their own political beliefs.

No way was I indoctrinated! It’s more the case that I was given the basic facts on how the country works and how politics seeps into every part of life.

If you are given the information, then you can see the world through a different lens. It enabled me to see that the society we live in is unequal and unjust and this was something that I believed needed to be not only understood by others but that tremendous change was needed.

In short, that is how I became a member of the Communist Party, growing up in the Thatcher years as a child followed by Blair as a young adult taught me that although the Labour Party is vital to bring about change, it still failed to recognise the class struggle in society.

It was and still is my opinion that the only political party that can fulfil that role is the Communist Party.

Although very active from an early age canvassing, campaigning and volunteering in Wallsend People’s Centre, my activism took a back seat while I had my three children and struggled with single parenting and working full time to make ends meet. As time went on, not only did I still have a firm grasp of the growing disparity in the classes, I was now a victim of that injustice.

This led to me joining the Communist Party, and although I was not very active at the time meeting my husband Ron in 2012 changed all that. His passion inspired me to become more active after he himself also joined the party.

Since then I have become an activist in many organisations, not only as a member of the party executive and women’s officer for my local district but also in the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, Newcastle Unites, the Tyne and Wear Mayday Committee but also my involvement in the National Assembly of Women (NAW) which I have now represented on separate occasions from speaking at a public meeting to addressing an anti-racism rally.

When I was asked to speak on behalf of the NAW at a public meeting on International Women’s Day I found myself doing a lot of research into the liberation of women and where the movement stemmed from.

The liberation of women ties directly to the 1917 Russian Revolution. Not only that but women were a pivotal feature of the revolution.

Women were deeply oppressed during tsarist rule, not only in the workplace where they were forced to agree to atrocious working conditions, up to 18-hour days for scanty pay.

Women were the property of men, first their fathers, then their husbands, it was very much a patriarchal society. At the time of the war in 1914 the oppression and exploitation of women in industry increased, this would see the onset of change.

When the women of Russia came out on strike on International Women’s Day in 1917, not only did this action organised by Bolshevik women contribute greatly to the revolution, it was the prelude of advancement of women all over the world.

After the overthrow of the tsarist rule life for women in Russia changed dramatically, they were given equal status. Following the revolution, the gender gap started to close.

Women were given high-ranking posts within government. Divorce and abortion laws were liberalised, as well as permitted co-habitation. These are victories gained by Russian women that we take far too much for granted today.

The inspiration that the women of the revolution have on me in my political life is immeasurable, the understanding of this movement in everyday society is so inadequate.

When you hear a fellow female say that they don’t believe in feminism, that they would much rather be able to stay at home and be a housewife while the husband goes out to work, that the “feminist movement” has taken that away from them, you realise how little some women have been educated on the emancipation of women.

When chairing a women’s workshop a while back it took me by surprise how many women asked how they become a feminist. It’s not about burning your bras or hating men (as many still believe), it is simply getting active in your communities, starting a petition to save your local library, being active in the struggle of the gender pay gap, protecting workers’ rights and joining a union.

Being a feminist is not just about protecting the rights of women alone, but protecting the rights of the working class against exploitation. The women of Russia should not only be an inspiration to us, but also a motivation.

The motivation to educate, challenge inequality and capitalism, continue the struggle of women’s oppression and exploitation all over the world, the fight for global emancipation of women is far from over.

I do feel that being a member of the Communist Party, the only political party that has this global vision, places me in a better position to challenge inequality worldwide. It is the duty of female activists to follow in the footsteps of the women involved in the revolution and bring about that change.

Being active in the Communist Party has developed not only my political understanding, but has given me the confidence and ability to educate others. Sharing my life with someone who not only understands my frustrations with the world, but also wants to work with me to put things right makes it a much easier task.

 




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