The historical and cultural origins of ‘Red October’

October 2, 2018 - 1:52 PM
Communist flag in the Philippines
A protester is silhouetted behind a Communist sickle and hammer banner as members and supporters of an underground Communist movement march along a street in Manila, Philippines on March 31, 2017. (Reuters/Erik De Castro)

Opposition members continue to deny the administration’s allegations of the ‘Red October’ ouster plot to unseat President Rodrigo Duterte, deriding the use of the phrase ‘Red October’ itself.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Tuesday announced that they had received further details on the “Red October” ouster plot, the latest among many ouster plots the Duterte administration has floated in recent years.

Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade of the AFP said that military intelligence received information about five sub-operation plans that will target military, police and civilian personnel involved in the Oplan Tokhang anti-drug operation.

He said the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing the New People’s Army, who have been accused of masterminding the alleged plot, originally intended to heighten their attacks around the second week of October 2018.

The AFP however has cleared some leading opposition figures including Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and members of the centrist and liberal democratic Liberal Party following allegations of an alliance between the leading opposition party and the leftist CPP to overthrow the administration.

Some activist groups, however, continue to denounce the administration for its insistence on the ouster conspiracy’s existence.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in a statement on Tuesday called the military’s report on the supposed plot an attempt at “red-tagging legitimate dissent.”

Other administration critics and activist groups have used the term to counter the administration’s allegations and point to other pressing concerns in the country.

What was ‘Red October’?

Use of the term “Red October” can be traced to the Bolsheviks’ uprising against the Romanov Dynasty that ruled Russsia in October 1917.

While the revolution was officially completed in early November that year, the “October Revolution” as it came to be known is seen as the most crucial stage of the uprising with the capture of the Romanov’s Winter Palace by the Bolsheviks and their supporters.

“Red October” is also the name of the fictional submarine in the 1990 action thriller ‘”The Hunt for Red October,” an adaptation of a novel by Tom Clancy with the same name.

The story, set in the final days of the Soviet Union, focuses on a Soviet submarine captain who seeks the help of American intelligence operatives in defecting from the communist nation in the last days of the Cold War.

Some historians and scholars on the Soviet Union, however, have argued that “The Hunt for Red October” was based on the real-life story of Valery Sablin, a Soviet Navy officer who attempted to start a mutiny against the bureaucratic Soviet government in 1975 but was captured and later executed.

Some believed that the Soviet leadership prevented the story of Sablin’s mutiny from reaching the West so as to mask the presence of dissenters within their ranks.