A mass expression of public sentiments: popular celebration, anger, presentation of political demands, or protest (a march or meeting of some kind).
Before the victory of the socialist system, the political demonstration was a form of revolutionary struggle by the proletariat and the toiling masses. The development of the revolutionary movement was accompanied by political demonstrations; they were already a widespread phenomenon in the 17th- and 18th-century epoch of bourgeois revolutions, especially in the years of the Great French Revolution of 1789-94. In the 19th century, the political demonstration became an important form of working-class political struggle. Great political demonstrations took place during the struggle of English workers for electoral reform, the Lyon weavers uprising of 1831-34, the Chartist movement, the Revolution of 1848, and the Paris Commune of 1871.
Political demonstrations take on an especially sharp character in the imperialist epoch and are widespread in both the metropolitan centers and the colonies as a powerful form of struggle against imperialism, colonialism, racism and the unleashing of imperialist wars, and for peace and socialism.
The first political demonstrations in Russia took place in the 1860’s and 1870’s; the raznochintsy (intellectuals of no definite class) actively participated in them, and then growing numbers of workers (for example, the demonstrations of 1876, 1891, 1896, 1901, and 1902). The celebration of May Day was accompanied by political demonstrations. Large-scale demonstrations occurred in the course of the three Russian revolutions—the Revolution of 1905-07, the February Bourgeois-Democratic Revolution of 1917, and the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917. There were also major political demonstrations during the Revolution of 1905-07, such as the January demonstrations against the tsarist crimes of Jan. 9, 1905, the demonstration at the funeral of N. E. Bauman in October 1905, and the demonstrations during the October All-Russian Political Strike and the December armed uprising. In the period between the February and October revolutions of 1917, several large-scale demonstrations were held under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party, directed against the policies of the Provisional Government land mobilizing the working class for a struggle to transform the bourgeois-democratic revolution into a socialist revolution (the April, June, and July demonstrations).
After the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia and socialist revolutions in several European and Asian countries, the character of political demonstrations in the USSR and other socialist countries changed radically. There are demonstrations of millions of people annually in the USSR and the socialist countries on the revolutionary holidays-—May 1 (May Day), the anniversary of the October Revolution, and the anniversary of the national socialist revolutions. They are a solemn expression of the devotion of the peoples to the socialist system and a spectacular clear show of its successes and achievements. The workers of the USSR and other socialist countries have used and still use large-scale demonstrations to express their rage and protest against the maneuvers of international imperialism. They defend the struggle for peace, democracy, and socialism. At political demonstrations, the participants carry banners, flags, slogans, posters, and portraits.