It's just one of those strange little historical accidents that the October Revolution happened in November: the Russians were using a different calendar at the time.

American writer and journalist Bill Bryson once said that it was a shame such an important experiment had been left to the Russians when the British would have coped with it far better, and probably even made it work. As a Brit, I am not sure what to make of that assertion, except that Sunday lunches featuring boiled cabbage did figure prominently in my childhood. (Not because we didn't have any money, you understand, but because the British have this curious notion that boiled cabbage is an exciting accompaniment to roast beef.)

Like so many ideas, the Russian model of Communism works fantastically well in theory, but is a complete disaster in practice. In championing the cause of the underdog (which does, I confess, appeal greatly to traditional British values) and advocating equality for all, there's something almost Christian about it. But it falls down because it only works if nobody tries to take advantage of the system: it is the ruthless and the manipulative who rise to the top.

It's often been pointed out that Jesus' teachings on practical issues, such as sharing with those who have nothing, come very close to Communist ideology. One might say that heaven is a form of Communism that actually works. Should we Christians become Communists?

Not necessarily. As the fate of the huge majority of Communist regimes on earth has shown, what works for small communities doesn't necessarily work for whole nations. Our job as a church is to make sure that the system we have works: to support our governments when they get it right, and try to correct matters when they don't. Pending the arrival of God's kingdom, this is probably the best we can hope for. At least in our (admittedly hugely imperfect) system of democracy, we have that right — and that duty.

Andrew has his own website: Visit for articles on a wide range of subjects
By: Andrew Bossom, e-mail:, website:
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