John Harris

Journalist & Author

Revolutions are for zealots and fools – as the Brexit Bolsheviks will find out | John Harris

Leaving the EU was meant to be Thatcherism’s finale, but could turn out to be its death instead

• John Harris is a Guardian columnist

The centenary year of the Russian revolutions of 2017 highlights an accidentally topical question: what do revolutionaries do when they actually get their revolution? The immediate aftermath of the Bolshevik takeover of October 1917, wrote Leon Trotsky, often boiled down to “legislative improvisation”. In his autobiography, My Life, he explained the general idea as follows: “Everything had to proceed from the beginning. There were no ‘precedents’, since history had none to offer … As a rule, matters were brought up for consideration without previous preparation, and almost always as urgent business.”

Related: Why Jacob Rees-Mogg for Tory leader is no laughing matter | Michael Segalov

There is – or rather, was – another Conservatism, hostile to grand schemes, accepting of looking to the state for help

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