Armed soldiers carry a banner reading Communism, Nikolskaya Street, Moscow
|Date|| February Revolution:|
8–16 March 1917
(O.S. 23 February – 3 March)
7–8 November 1917
(O.S. 25 – 26 October)
|Participants||Russian society, bolsheviks, mensheviks, SRs, etc.|
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The Russian Revolution was a pair of revolutions in Russia in 1917 which dismantled the Tsarist autocracy and led to the rise of the Soviet Union. The Russian Empire collapsed with the abdication of Emperor Nicholas II and the old regime was replaced by a provisional government during the first revolution of February 1917 (March in the Gregorian calendar; the older Julian calendar was in use in Russia at the time). Alongside it arose grassroots community assemblies (called 'Soviets') which contended for authority. In the second revolution that October, the Provisional Government was toppled and all power was given to the Soviets.
The Revolutions of 1917–1923 were a period of political unrest and revolts around the world inspired by the success of the Russian Revolution and the disorder created by the aftermath of World War I. The uprisings were mainly socialist or anti-colonial in nature and were mostly short-lived, failing to have a long-term impact. Out of all the revolutionary activity of the era, the revolutionary wave of 1917–1923 mainly refers to the unrest caused by World War I in Europe.
The Russian Empire, also known as Imperial Russia or simply Russia, was an empire that existed across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.
Tsarist autocracy is a form of autocracy specific to the Grand Duchy of Moscow, which later became Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire. In it, all power and wealth is controlled by the Tsar. They had more power than constitutional monarchs, who are usually vested by law and counterbalanced by a legislative authority; they even had more authority on religious issues compared to Western monarchs. In Russia, it originated during the time of Ivan III (1440−1505), and was abolished after the Russian Revolution of 1917.
The February Revolution (March 1917) was a revolution focused around Petrograd (now Saint Petersburg), the capital of Russia at that time. In the chaos, members of the Imperial parliament (the Duma) assumed control of the country, forming the Russian Provisional Government which was heavily dominated by the interests of large capitalists and the noble aristocracy. The army leadership felt they did not have the means to suppress the revolution, resulting in Tsar Nicholas's abdication. The Soviets, which were dominated by soldiers and the urban industrial working class, initially permitted the Provisional Government to rule, but insisted on a prerogative to influence the government and control various militias. The February Revolution took place in the context of heavy military setbacks during the First World War (1914–18), which left much of the Russian Army in a state of mutiny.
The February Revolution, known in Soviet historiography as the February Bourgeois Democratic Revolution, was the first of two revolutions which took place in Russia in 1917.
Saint Petersburg is Russia's second-largest city after Moscow, with 5 million inhabitants in 2012, part of the Saint Petersburg agglomeration with a population of 6.2 million (2015). An important Russian port on the Baltic Sea, it has a status of a federal subject.
The Russian Provisional Government was a provisional government of Russia established immediately following the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II of the Russian Empire on 2 March [15 March, New Style] 1917. The intention of the provisional government was the organization of elections to the Russian Constituent Assembly and its convention. The provisional government lasted approximately eight months, and ceased to exist when the Bolsheviks gained power after the October Revolution in October [November, N.S.] 1917. According to Harold Whitmore Williams the history of eight months during which Russia was ruled by the Provisional Government was the history of the steady and systematic disorganisation of the army.
A period of dual power ensued, during which the Provisional Government held state power while the national network of Soviets, led by socialists, had the allegiance of the lower classes and, increasingly, the left-leaning urban middle class. During this chaotic period there were frequent mutinies, protests and many strikes. Many socialist political organizations were engaged in daily struggle and vied for influence within the Duma and the Soviets, central among which were the Bolsheviks ("Ones of the Majority") led by Vladimir Lenin who campaigned for an immediate end to the war, land to the peasants, and bread to the workers. When the Provisional Government chose to continue fighting the war with Germany, the Bolsheviks and other socialist factions were able to exploit virtually universal disdain towards the war effort as justification to advance the revolution further. The Bolsheviks turned workers' militias under their control into the Red Guards (later the Red Army) over which they exerted substantial control.
"Dual Power" was a term first used by communist Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin (1870–1924), in the Pravda article titled "The Dual Power". which described a situation in the wake of the February Revolution, the first of two Russian Revolutions in that tumultuous year of 1917. Two powers coexisted with each other and competed for legitimacy: the Soviets, particularly the Petrograd Soviet, and the continuing official state apparatus of the Provisional Government of democratic socialists.
Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership of the means of production and workers' self-management, as well as the political theories and movements associated with them. Social ownership can be public, collective or cooperative ownership, or citizen ownership of equity. There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them, with social ownership being the common element shared by its various forms.
Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy. It typically involves a concern for those in society whom its adherents perceive as disadvantaged relative to others (prioritarianism) as well as a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished. The term left-wing can also refer to "the radical, reforming, or socialist section of a political party or system".
In the October Revolution (November in the Gregorian calendar), the Bolsheviks led an armed insurrection by workers and soldiers in Petrograd that successfully overthrew the Provisional Government, transferring all its authority to the Soviets with the capital being relocated to Moscow shortly thereafter. The Bolsheviks had secured a strong base of support within the Soviets and, as the now supreme governing party, established a federal government dedicated to reorganizing the former empire into the world's first socialist republic, practicing Soviet democracy on a national and international scale. The promise to end Russia's participation in the First World War was honored promptly with the Bolshevik leaders signing the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany in March 1918. To further secure the new state, the Cheka was established which functioned as a revolutionary security service that sought to weed out and punish those considered to be "enemies of the people" in campaigns consciously modeled on similar events during the French Revolution.
The October Revolution, officially known in Soviet historiography as the Great October Socialist Revolution and commonly referred to as the October Uprising, the October Coup, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Bolshevik Coup or the Red October, was a revolution in Russia led by the Bolshevik Party of Vladimir Lenin that was instrumental in the larger Russian Revolution of 1917. It took place with an armed insurrection in Petrograd on 7 November 1917.
Moscow is the capital and most populous city of Russia, with 13.2 million residents within the city limits, 17 million within the urban area and 20 million within the metropolitan area. Moscow is one of Russia's federal cities.
The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, previously known as the Russian Soviet Republic and the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, as well as being unofficially known as the Russian Federation, Soviet Russia, or simply Russia, was an independent state from 1917 to 1922, and afterwards the largest, most populous and most economically developed of the 15 Soviet socialist republics of the Soviet Union (USSR) from 1922 to 1991, then a sovereign part of the Soviet Union with priority of Russian laws over Union-level legislation in 1990 and 1991, during the last two years of the existence of the USSR. The Russian Republic comprised sixteen smaller constituent units of autonomous republics, five autonomous oblasts, ten autonomous okrugs, six krais and forty oblasts. Russians formed the largest ethnic group. The capital of the Russian SFSR was Moscow and the other major urban centers included Leningrad, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod and Samara.
Soon after, civil war erupted among the "Reds" (Bolsheviks), the "Whites" (counter-revolutionaries), the independence movements and the non-Bolshevik socialists. It continued for several years, during which the Bolsheviks defeated both the Whites and all rival socialists and thereafter reconstituted themselves as the Communist Party. In this way, the Revolution paved the way for the creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1922. While many notable historical events occurred in Moscow and Petrograd, there was also a visible movement in cities throughout the state, among national minorities throughout the empire and in the rural areas, where peasants took over and redistributed land.
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war in the former Russian Empire immediately after the two Russian Revolutions of 1917, as many factions vied to determine Russia's political future. The two largest combatant groups were the Red Army, fighting for the Bolshevik form of socialism led by Vladimir Lenin, and the loosely allied forces known as the White Army, which included diverse interests favoring political monarchism, economic capitalism and alternative forms of socialism, each with democratic and antidemocratic variants. In addition, rival militant socialists and nonideological Green armies fought against both the Bolsheviks and the Whites. Eight foreign nations intervened against the Red Army, notably the former Allied military forces from the World War and the pro-German armies. The Red Army eventually defeated the White Armed Forces of South Russia in Ukraine and the army led by Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak to the east in Siberia in 1919. The remains of the White forces commanded by Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel were beaten in Crimea and evacuated in late 1920. Lesser battles of the war continued on the periphery for two more years, and minor skirmishes with the remnants of the White forces in the Far East continued well into 1923. The war ended in 1923 in the sense that Bolshevik communist control of the newly formed Soviet Union was now assured, although armed national resistance in Central Asia was not completely crushed until 1934. There were an estimated 7,000,000–12,000,000 casualties during the war, mostly civilians. The Russian Civil War has been described by some as the greatest national catastrophe that Europe had yet seen.
The White movement and its military arm the White Army, also known as the White Guard, the White Guardsmen or simply the Whites, was a loose confederation of anti-communist forces that fought the Communist Bolsheviks, also known as the Reds, in the Russian Civil War (1917–1922/1923) and to a lesser extent continued operating as militarized associations insurrectionists both outside and within Russian borders in Siberia until roughly World War II (1939–1945).
A counter-revolutionary or anti-revolutionary is anyone who opposes a revolution, particularly those who act after a revolution to try to overturn or reverse it, in full or in part. The adjective, "counter-revolutionary," pertains to movements that would restore the state of affairs, or the principles, that prevailed during a prerevolutionary era.
The Russian Revolution of 1905 was said to be a major factor contributing to the cause of the Revolutions of 1917. The events of Bloody Sunday triggered nationwide protests and soldier mutinies. A council of workers called the St. Petersburg Soviet was created in this chaos.While the 1905 Revolution was ultimately crushed, and the leaders of the St. Petersburg Soviet were arrested, this laid the groundwork for the later Petrograd Soviet and other revolutionary movements during the lead up to 1917. The 1905 Revolution also led to the creation of a Duma (parliament), that would later form the Provisional Government following February 1917.
Bloody Sunday or Red Sunday is the name given to the events of Sunday, 22 January [O.S. 9 January] 1905 in St Petersburg, Russia, when unarmed demonstrators led by Father Georgy Gapon were fired upon by soldiers of the Imperial Guard as they marched towards the Winter Palace to present a petition to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.
The Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies was a city council of Petrograd, the capital of the Russian Empire. For brevity, it is usually called the Petrograd Soviet.
The outbreak of World War I prompted general outcry directed at Tsar Nicholas II and the Romanov family. While the nation was initially engaged in a wave of nationalism, increasing numbers of defeats and poor conditions soon flipped the nation's opinion. The Tsar attempted to remedy the situation by taking personal control of the army in 1915. This proved to be extremely disadvantageous for the Tsar, as he was now held personally responsible for Russia's continuing defeats and losses. In addition, Tsarina Alexandra, left to rule in while the Tsar commanded at the front, was German born, leading to suspicion of collusion, only to be exacerbated by rumors relating to her relationship with the controversial mystic Grigori Rasputin. Rasputin's influence led to disastrous ministerial appointments and corruption, resulting in a worsening of conditions within Russia. This led to general dissatisfaction with the Romanov family, and was a major factor contributing to the retaliation of the Russian Communists against the royal family.
After the entry of the Ottoman Empire on the side of the Central Powers in October 1914, Russia was deprived of a major trade route through the Dardanelles, which further contributed to the economic crisis, in which Russia became incapable of providing munitions to their army in the years leading to 1917. However, the problems were primarily administrative, not industrial, as Germany was able to produce great amounts of munitions whilst constantly fighting on two major battlefronts.
The conditions during the war resulted in a devastating loss of morale within the Russian army and the general population of Russia itself. This was particularly apparent in the cities, owing to a lack of food in response to the disruption of agriculture. Food scarcity had become a considerable problem in Russia, but the cause of this did not lie in any failure of the harvests, which had not been significantly altered during wartime. The indirect reason was that the government, in order to finance the war, printed millions of ruble notes, and by 1917, inflation had made prices increase up to four times what they had been in 1914. Farmers were consequently faced with a higher cost of living, but with little increase in income. As a result, they tended to hoard their grain and to revert to subsistence farming. Thus the cities were constantly short of food. At the same time, rising prices led to demands for higher wages in the factories, and in January and February 1916, revolutionary propaganda, in part aided by German funds, led to widespread strikes. This resulted in a growing criticism of the government, including an increased participation of workers in revolutionary parties.
Liberal parties too had an increased platform to voice their complaints, as the initial fervor of the war resulted in the Tsarist government creating a variety of political organizations. In July 1915, a Central War Industries Committee was established under the chairmanship of a prominent Octobrist, Alexander Guchkov (1862–1936), including ten workers' representatives. The Petrograd Mensheviks agreed to join despite the objections of their leaders abroad. All this activity gave renewed encouragement to political ambitions, and in September 1915, a combination of Octobrists and Kadets in the Duma demanded the forming of a responsible government. which the Tsar rejected.
All these factors had given rise to a sharp loss of confidence in the regime, even within the ruling class, growing throughout the war. Early in 1916, Guchkov discussed with senior army officers and members of the Central War Industries Committee about a possible coup to force the abdication of the Tsar. In December, a small group of nobles assassinated Rasputin, and in January 1917 the Tsar's uncle, Grand Duke Nicholas, was asked indirectly by Prince Lvov whether he would be prepared to take over the throne from his nephew, Tsar Nicholas II. None of these incidents were in themselves the immediate cause of the February Revolution, but they do help to explain why the monarchy survived only a few days after it had broken out.
Meanwhile, Socialist Revolutionary leaders in exile, many of them living in Switzerland, had been the glum spectators of the collapse of international socialist solidarity. French and German Social Democrats had voted in favour of their respective governments' war efforts. Georgi Plekhanov in Paris had adopted a violently anti-German stand, while Alexander Parvus supported the German war effort as the best means of ensuring a revolution in Russia. The Mensheviks largely maintained that Russia had the right to defend herself against Germany, although Julius Martov (a prominent Menshevik), now on the left of his group, demanded an end to the war and a settlement on the basis of national self-determination, with no annexations or indemnities.
It was these views of Martov that predominated in a manifesto drawn up by Leon Trotsky (at the time a Menshevik) at a conference in Zimmerwald, attended by 35 Socialist leaders in September 1915. Inevitably Vladimir Lenin, supported by Zinoviev and Radek, strongly contested them. Their attitudes became known as the Zimmerwald Left. Lenin rejected both the defence of Russia and the cry for peace. Since the autumn of 1914, he had insisted that "from the standpoint of the working class and of the labouring masses the lesser evil would be the defeat of the Tsarist Monarchy"; the war must be turned into a civil war of the proletarian soldiers against their own governments, and if a proletarian victory should emerge from this in Russia, then their duty would be to wage a revolutionary war for the liberation of the masses throughout Europe.
An elementary theory of property, believed by many peasants, was that land should belong to those who work on it. At the same time, peasant life and culture was changing constantly. Change was facilitated by the physical movement of growing numbers of peasant villagers who migrated to and from industrial and urban environments, but also by the introduction of city culture into the village through material goods, the press, and word of mouth.
Workers also had good reasons for discontent: overcrowded housing with often deplorable sanitary conditions, long hours at work (on the eve of the war, a 10-hour workday six days a week was the average and many were working 11–12 hours a day by 1916), constant risk of injury and death from poor safety and sanitary conditions, harsh discipline (not only rules and fines, but foremen's fists), and inadequate wages (made worse after 1914 by steep wartime increases in the cost of living). At the same time, urban industrial life had its benefits, though these could be just as dangerous (in terms of social and political stability) as the hardships. There were many encouragements to expect more from life. Acquiring new skills gave many workers a sense of self-respect and confidence, heightening expectations and desires. Living in cities, workers encountered material goods they had never seen in villages. Most importantly, workers living in cities were exposed to new ideas about the social and political order.
The social causes of the Russian Revolution can be derived from centuries of oppression of the lower classes by the Tsarist regime and Nicholas's failures in World War I. While rural agrarian peasants had been emancipated from serfdom in 1861, they still resented paying redemption payments to the state, and demanded communal tender of the land they worked. The problem was further compounded by the failure of Sergei Witte's land reforms of the early 20th century. Increasing peasant disturbances and sometimes actual revolts occurred, with the goal of securing ownership of the land they worked. Russia consisted mainly of poor farming peasants and substantial inequality of land ownership, with 1.5% of the population owning 25% of the land.[ citation needed ]
The rapid industrialization of Russia also resulted in urban overcrowding and poor conditions for urban industrial workers (as mentioned above). Between 1890 and 1910, the population of the capital, Saint Petersburg, swelled from 1,033,600 to 1,905,600, with Moscow experiencing similar growth. This created a new 'proletariat' which, due to being crowded together in the cities, was much more likely to protest and go on strike than the peasantry had been in previous times. In one 1904 survey, it was found that an average of 16 people shared each apartment in Saint Petersburg, with six people per room. There was also no running water, and piles of human waste were a threat to the health of the workers. The poor conditions only aggravated the situation, with the number of strikes and incidents of public disorder rapidly increasing in the years shortly before World War I. Because of late industrialization, Russia's workers were highly concentrated. By 1914, 40% of Russian workers were employed in factories of 1,000+ workers (32% in 1901). 42% worked in 100–1,000 worker enterprises, 18% in 1–100 worker businesses (in the US, 1914, the figures were 18, 47 and 35 respectively).
|Years||Average annual strikes|
World War I added to the chaos. Conscription across Russia resulted in unwilling citizens being sent off to war. The vast demand for factory production of war supplies and workers resulted in many more labor riots and strikes. Conscription stripped skilled workers from the cities, who had to be replaced with unskilled peasants. When famine began to hit due to the poor railway system, workers abandoned the cities in droves seeking food. Finally, the soldiers themselves, who suffered from a lack of equipment and protection from the elements, began to turn against the Tsar. This was mainly because, as the war progressed, many of the officers who were loyal to the Tsar were killed, being replaced by discontented conscripts from the major cities who had little loyalty to the Tsar.
Many sections of the country had reason to be dissatisfied with the existing autocracy. Nicholas II was a deeply conservative ruler and maintained a strict authoritarian system. Individuals and society in general were expected to show self-restraint, devotion to community, deference to the social hierarchy and a sense of duty to the country. Religious faith helped bind all of these tenets together as a source of comfort and reassurance in the face of difficult conditions and as a means of political authority exercised through the clergy. Perhaps more than any other modern monarch, Nicholas II attached his fate and the future of his dynasty to the notion of the ruler as a saintly and infallible father to his people.
This vision of the Romanov monarchy left him unaware of the state of his country. With a firm belief that his power to rule was granted by Divine Right, Nicholas assumed that the Russian people were devoted to him with unquestioning loyalty. This ironclad belief rendered Nicholas unwilling to allow the progressive reforms that might have alleviated the suffering of the Russian people. Even after the 1905 Revolution spurred the Tsar to decree limited civil rights and democratic representation, he worked to limit even these liberties in order to preserve the ultimate authority of the crown.
Despite constant oppression, the desire of the people for democratic participation in government decisions was strong. Since the Age of Enlightenment, Russian intellectuals had promoted Enlightenment ideals such as the dignity of the individual and the rectitude of democratic representation. These ideals were championed most vociferously by Russia's liberals, although populists, Marxists, and anarchists also claimed to support democratic reforms. A growing opposition movement had begun to challenge the Romanov monarchy openly well before the turmoil of World War I.
Dissatisfaction with Russian autocracy culminated in the huge national upheaval that followed the Bloody Sunday massacre of January 1905, in which hundreds of unarmed protesters were shot by the Tsar's troops. Workers responded to the massacre with a crippling general strike, forcing Nicholas to put forth the October Manifesto, which established a democratically elected parliament (the State Duma). Although the Tsar accepted the 1906 Fundamental State Laws one year later, he subsequently dismissed the first two Dumas when they proved uncooperative. Unfulfilled hopes of democracy fueled revolutionary ideas and violent outbursts targeted at the monarchy.
One of the Tsar's principal rationales for risking war in 1914 was his desire to restore the prestige that Russia had lost amid the debacles of the Russo-Japanese War. Nicholas also sought to foster a greater sense of national unity with a war against a common and old enemy. The Russian Empire was an agglomeration of diverse ethnicities that had demonstrated significant signs of disunity in the years before the First World War. Nicholas believed in part that the shared peril and tribulation of a foreign war would mitigate the social unrest over the persistent issues of poverty, inequality, and inhumane working conditions. Instead of restoring Russia's political and military standing, World War I led to the slaughter of Russian troops and military defeats that undermined both the monarchy and Russian society to the point of collapse.
The outbreak of war in August 1914 initially served to quiet the prevalent social and political protests, focusing hostilities against a common external enemy, but this patriotic unity did not last long. As the war dragged on inconclusively, war-weariness gradually took its toll. Although many ordinary Russians joined anti-German demonstrations in the first few weeks of the war, hostility toward the Kaiser and the desire to defend their land and their lives did not necessarily translate into enthusiasm for the Tsar or the government.
Russia's first major battle of the war was a disaster; in the 1914 Battle of Tannenberg, over 30,000 Russian troops were killed or wounded and 90,000 captured, while Germany suffered just 12,000 casualties. However, Austro-Hungarian forces allied to Germany were driven back deep into the Galicia region by the end of the year. In the autumn of 1915, Nicholas had taken direct command of the army, personally overseeing Russia's main theatre of war and leaving his ambitious but incapable wife Alexandra in charge of the government. Reports of corruption and incompetence in the Imperial government began to emerge, and the growing influence of Grigori Rasputin in the Imperial family was widely resented.
In 1915, things took a critical turn for the worse when Germany shifted its focus of attack to the Eastern front. The superior German army – better led, better trained, and better supplied – was quite effective against the ill-equipped Russian forces, driving the Russians out of Galicia, as well as Russian Poland during the Gorlice–Tarnów Offensive campaign. By the end of October 1916, Russia had lost between 1,600,000 and 1,800,000 soldiers, with an additional 2,000,000 prisoners of war and 1,000,000 missing, all making up a total of nearly 5,000,000 men.
These staggering losses played a definite role in the mutinies and revolts that began to occur. In 1916, reports of fraternizing with the enemy began to circulate. Soldiers went hungry, lacked shoes, munitions, and even weapons. Rampant discontent lowered morale, which was further undermined by a series of military defeats.
Casualty rates were the most vivid sign of this disaster. By the end of 1914, only five months into the war, around 390,000 Russian men had lost their lives and nearly 1,000,000 were injured. Far sooner than expected, inadequately trained recruits were called for active duty, a process repeated throughout the war as staggering losses continued to mount. The officer class also saw remarkable changes, especially within the lower echelons, which were quickly filled with soldiers rising up through the ranks. These men, usually of peasant or working-class backgrounds, were to play a large role in the politicization of the troops in 1917.
The army quickly ran short of rifles and ammunition (as well as uniforms and food), and by mid-1915, men were being sent to the front bearing no arms. It was hoped that they could equip themselves with arms recovered from fallen soldiers, of both sides, on the battlefields. The soldiers did not feel as if they were valuable, rather they felt as if they were expendable.
By the spring of 1915, the army was in steady retreat, which was not always orderly; desertion, plundering, and chaotic flight were not uncommon. By 1916, however, the situation had improved in many respects. Russian troops stopped retreating, and there were even some modest successes in the offensives that were staged that year, albeit at great loss of life. Also, the problem of shortages was largely solved by a major effort to increase domestic production. Nevertheless, by the end of 1916, morale among soldiers was even worse than it had been during the great retreat of 1915. The fortunes of war may have improved, but the fact of war remained which continually took Russian lives. The crisis in morale (as was argued by Allan Wildman, a leading historian of the Russian army in war and revolution) "was rooted fundamentally in the feeling of utter despair that the slaughter would ever end and that anything resembling victory could be achieved."
The war did not only devastate soldiers. By the end of 1915, there were manifold signs that the economy was breaking down under the heightened strain of wartime demand. The main problems were food shortages and rising prices. Inflation dragged incomes down at an alarmingly rapid rate, and shortages made it difficult for an individual to sustain oneself. These shortages were a problem especially in the capital, St. Petersburg, where distance from supplies and poor transportation networks made matters particularly worse. Shops closed early or entirely for lack of bread, sugar, meat, and other provisions, and lines lengthened massively for what remained. Conditions became increasingly difficult to afford food and physically obtain it.
Strikes increased steadily from the middle of 1915, and so did crime, but, for the most part, people suffered and endured, scouring the city for food. Working class women in St. Petersburg reportedly spent about forty hours a week in food lines, begging, turning to prostitution or crime, tearing down wooden fences to keep stoves heated for warmth, and continued to resent the rich.
Government officials responsible for public order worried about how long people's patience would last. A report by the St. Petersburg branch of the security police, the Okhrana, in October 1916, warned bluntly of "the possibility in the near future of riots by the lower classes of the empire enraged by the burdens of daily existence."
Tsar Nicholas was blamed for all of these crises, and what little support he had left began to crumble. As discontent grew, the State Duma issued a warning to Nicholas in November 1916, stating that, inevitably, a terrible disaster would grip the country unless a constitutional form of government was put in place. Nicholas ignored these warnings and Russia's Tsarist regime collapsed a few months later during the February Revolution of 1917. One year later, the Tsar and his entire family were executed.
At the beginning of February, Petrograd workers began several strikes and demonstrations.[ citation needed ] On 7 March [ O.S. 22 February], workers at Putilov, Petrograd's largest industrial plant, announced a strike.
The next day, a series of meetings and rallies were held for International Women's Day, which gradually turned into economic and political gatherings. Demonstrations were organised to demand bread, and these were supported by the industrial working force who considered them a reason for continuing the strikes. The women workers marched to nearby factories bringing out over 50,000 workers on strike. 10 March [ O.S. 25 February], virtually every industrial enterprise in Petrograd had been shut down, together with many commercial and service enterprises. Students, white-collar workers, and teachers joined the workers in the streets and at public meetings.[ citation needed ]By
To quell the riots, the Tsar looked to the army. At least 180,000 troops were available in the capital, but most were either untrained or injured. Historian Ian Beckett suggests around 12,000 could be regarded as reliable, but even these proved reluctant to move in on the crowd, since it included so many women. It was for this reason that on 11 March [ O.S. 26 February], when the Tsar ordered the army to suppress the rioting by force, troops began to revolt. Although few actively joined the rioting, many officers were either shot or went into hiding; the ability of the garrison to hold back the protests was all but nullified, symbols of the Tsarist regime were rapidly torn down around the city, and governmental authority in the capital collapsed – not helped by the fact that Nicholas had prorogued the Duma that morning, leaving it with no legal authority to act. The response of the Duma, urged on by the liberal bloc, was to establish a Temporary Committee to restore law and order; meanwhile, the socialist parties established the Petrograd Soviet to represent workers and soldiers. The remaining loyal units switched allegiance the next day.
The Tsar directed the royal train back towards Petrograd, which was stopped on 14 March [ O.S. 1 March], by a group of revolutionaries at Malaya Vishera. When the Tsar finally arrived at in Pskov, the Army Chief Nikolai Ruzsky, and the Duma deputies Alexander Guchkov and Vasily Shulgin suggested in unison that he abdicate the throne. He did so on 15 March [ O.S. 2 March], on behalf of himself, and then, having taken advice on behalf of his son, the Tsarevich. Nicholas nominated his brother, the Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich, to succeed him. But the Grand Duke realised that he would have little support as ruler, so he declined the crown on 16 March [ O.S. 3 March], stating that he would take it only if that was the consensus of democratic action. Six days later, Nicholas, no longer Tsar and addressed with contempt by the sentries as "Nicholas Romanov", was reunited with his family at the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. He was placed under house arrest with his family by the Provisional Government.
The immediate effect of the February Revolution was a widespread atmosphere of elation and excitement in Petrograd. 16 March [ O.S. 3 March], a provisional government was announced. The center-left was well represented, and the government was initially chaired by a liberal aristocrat, Prince Georgy Yevgenievich Lvov, a member of the Constitutional Democratic Party (KD). The socialists had formed their rival body, the Petrograd Soviet (or workers' council) four days earlier. The Petrograd Soviet and the Provisional Government competed for power over Russia.On
The effective power of the Provisional Government was challenged by the authority of an institution that claimed to represent the will of workers and soldiers and could, in fact, mobilize and control these groups during the early months of the revolution – the Petrograd Soviet Council of Workers' Deputies. The model for the Soviets were workers' councils that had been established in scores of Russian cities during the 1905 Revolution. In February 1917, striking workers elected deputies to represent them and socialist activists began organizing a citywide council to unite these deputies with representatives of the socialist parties. On 27 February, socialist Duma deputies, mainly Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries, took the lead in organizing a citywide council. The Petrograd Soviet met in the Tauride Palace, the same building where the new government was taking shape.
The leaders of the Petrograd Soviet believed that they represented particular classes of the population, not the whole nation. They also believed Russia was not ready for socialism. They viewed their role as limited to pressuring hesitant "bourgeoisie" to rule and to introduce extensive democratic reforms in Russia (the replacement of the monarchy by a republic, guaranteed civil rights, a democratic police and army, abolition of religious and ethnic discrimination, preparation of elections to a constituent assembly, and so on).They met in the same building as the emerging Provisional Government not to compete with the Duma Committee for state power, but to best exert pressure on the new government, to act, in other words, as a popular democratic lobby.
The relationship between these two major powers was complex from the beginning and would shape the politics of 1917. The representatives of the Provisional Government agreed to "take into account the opinions of the Soviet of Workers' Deputies", though they were also determined to prevent "interference in the actions of the government", which would create "an unacceptable situation of dual power."In fact, this was precisely what was being created, though this "dual power" (dvoevlastie) was the result less of the actions or attitudes of the leaders of these two institutions than of actions outside their control, especially the ongoing social movement taking place on the streets of Russia's cities, factories, shops, barracks, villages, and in the trenches.
A series of political crises – see the chronology below – in the relationship between population and government and between the Provisional Government and the Soviets (which developed into a nationwide movement with a national leadership). The All-Russian Central Executive Committee of Soviets (VTsIK) undermined the authority of the Provisional Government but also of the moderate socialist leaders of the Soviets. Although the Soviet leadership initially refused to participate in the "bourgeois" Provisional Government, Alexander Kerensky, a young, popular lawyer and a member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party (SRP), agreed to join the new cabinet, and became an increasingly central figure in the government, eventually taking leadership of the Provisional Government. As minister of war and later Prime Minister, Kerensky promoted freedom of speech, released thousands of political prisoners, continued the war effort, even organizing another offensive (which, however, was no more successful than its predecessors). Nevertheless, Kerensky still faced several great challenges, highlighted by the soldiers, urban workers, and peasants, who claimed that they had gained nothing by the revolution:
The political group that proved most troublesome for Kerensky, and would eventually overthrow him, was the Bolshevik Party, led by Vladimir Lenin. Lenin had been living in exile in neutral Switzerland and, due to democratization of politics after the February Revolution, which legalized formerly banned political parties, he perceived the opportunity for his Marxist revolution. Although return to Russia had become a possibility, the war made it logistically difficult. Eventually, German officials arranged for Lenin to pass through their territory, hoping that his activities would weaken Russia or even – if the Bolsheviks came to power – led to Russia's withdrawal from the war. Lenin and his associates, however, had to agree to travel to Russia in a sealed train: Germany would not take the chance that he would foment revolution in Germany. After passing through the front, he arrived in Petrograd in April 1917.
On the way to Russia, Lenin prepared the April Theses, which outlined central Bolshevik policies. These included that the Soviets take power (as seen in the slogan "all power to the Soviets") and denouncing the liberals and social revolutionaries in the Provisional Government, forbidding co-operation with it. Many Bolsheviks, however, had supported the Provisional Government, including Lev Kamenev.
With Lenin's arrival, the popularity of the Bolsheviks increased steadily. Over the course of the spring, public dissatisfaction with the Provisional Government and the war, in particular among workers, soldiers and peasants, pushed these groups to radical parties. Despite growing support for the Bolsheviks, buoyed by maxims that called most famously for "all power to the Soviets," the party held very little real power in the moderate-dominated Petrograd Soviet. In fact, historians such as Sheila Fitzpatrick have asserted that Lenin's exhortations for the Soviet Council to take power were intended to arouse indignation both with the Provisional Government, whose policies were viewed as conservative, and the Soviets themselves, which were viewed as subservients to the conservative government. By some other historians' accounts, Lenin and his followers were unprepared for how their groundswell of support, especially among influential worker and soldier groups, would translate into real power in the summer of 1917.
On 18 June, the Provisional Government launched an attack against Germany that failed miserably. Soon after, the government ordered soldiers to go to the front, reneging on a promise. The soldiers refused to follow the new orders. The arrival of radical Kronstadt sailors – who had tried and executed many officers, including one admiral – further fueled the growing revolutionary atmosphere. Sailors and soldiers, along with Petrograd workers, took to the streets in violent protest, calling for "all power to the Soviets." The revolt, however, was disowned by Lenin and the Bolshevik leaders and dissipated within a few days. In the aftermath, Lenin fled to Finland under threat of arrest while Trotsky, among other prominent Bolsheviks, was arrested. The July Days confirmed the popularity of the anti-war, radical Bolsheviks, but their unpreparedness at the moment of revolt was an embarrassing gaffe that lost them support among their main constituent groups: soldiers and workers.
The Bolshevik failure in the July Days proved temporary. The Bolsheviks had undergone a spectacular growth in membership. Whereas, in February 1917, the Bolsheviks were limited to only 24,000 members, by September 1917 there were 200,000 members of the Bolshevik faction.Previously, the Bolsheviks had been in the minority in the two leading cities of Russia—St. Petersburg and Moscow behind the Mensheviks and the Socialist Revolutionaries, by September the Bolsheviks were in the majority in both cities. Furthermore, the Bolshevik-controlled Moscow Regional Bureau of the Party also controlled the Party organizations of the 13 provinces around Moscow. These 13 provinces held 37% of Russia's population and 20% of the membership of the Bolshevik faction.
In August, poor and misleading communication led General Lavr Kornilov, the recently appointed Supreme Commander of Russian military forces, to believe that the Petrograd government had already been captured by radicals, or was in serious danger thereof.[ dubious ] In response, he ordered troops to Petrograd to pacify the city. To secure his position, Kerensky had to ask for Bolshevik assistance. He also sought help from the Petrograd Soviet, which called upon armed Red Guards to "defend the revolution." The Kornilov Affair failed largely due to the efforts of the Bolsheviks, whose influence over railroad and telegraph workers proved vital in stopping the movement of troops. With his coup failing, Kornilov surrendered and was relieved of his position. The Bolsheviks' role in stopping the attempted coup further strengthened their position.
In early September, the Petrograd Soviet freed all jailed Bolsheviks and Trotsky became chairman of the Petrograd Soviet. Growing numbers of socialists and lower-class Russians viewed the government less as a force in support of their needs and interests. The Bolsheviks benefited as the only major organized opposition party that had refused to compromise with the Provisional Government, and they benefited from growing frustration and even disgust with other parties, such as the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries, who stubbornly refused to break with the idea of national unity across all classes.
In Finland, Lenin had worked on his book State and Revolution and continued to lead his party, writing newspaper articles and policy decrees.By October, he returned to Petrograd (present-day St. Petersburg), aware that the increasingly radical city presented him no legal danger and a second opportunity for revolution. Recognising the strength of the Bolsheviks, Lenin began pressing for the immediate overthrow of the Kerensky government by the Bolsheviks. Lenin was of the opinion that taking power should occur in both St. Petersburg and Moscow simultaneously, parenthetically stating that it made no difference which city rose up first, but expressing his opinion that Moscow may well rise up first. The Bolshevik Central Committee drafted a resolution, calling for the dissolution of the Provisional Government in favor of the Petrograd Soviet. The resolution was passed 10–2 (Lev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev prominently dissenting) promoting the October Revolution.
The October Revolution, night to Wednesday 7 November 1917 according to the modern Gregorian calendar and night to Wednesday 25 October according to the Julian calendar at the time in tsarist Russia, was organized by the Bolshevik party. Lenin did not have any direct role in the revolution and due to his personal security he was hiding. The Revolutionary Military Committee established by the Bolshevik party was organizing the insurrection and Leon Trotsky was the chairman. However, Lenin played a crucial role in the debate in the leadership of the Bolshevik party for a revolutionary insurrection as the party in the autumn of 1917 received a majority in the soviets. An ally in the left fraction of the Revolutionary-Socialist party, SR, with huge support among the peasants who opposed Russia's participation in the war, supported the slogan 'All power to the Soviets'.
Liberal and monarchist forces, loosely organized into the White Army, immediately went to war against the Bolsheviks' Red Army, in a series of battles that would become known as the Russian Civil War. This did not happen in 1917. It was not before the autumn of 1918 that the civil war took off with supplies of weapons, ammunition and logistic equipment from the main Western countries but this was not at all coordinated. Germany did not participate in the civil war as it surrendered to the Allied. Source:
Of more interests is the anarchist movement of Nestor Makhno in Ukraine who fought against the White generals, saved Moscow in 1919 from an attack by the general Denikin and in November 1920 helped the Bolshevik to defeat general Wrangel. The Bolshevik looked upon the anarchist Makhno movement as an enemy first of all because Makhno fought to establish a more democratic Ukraine. However, 26 November 1920 the Bolshevik government invited headquarters staff and many of Makhno's subordinate commanders to a Red Army planning conference in Moscow only to have them imprisoned and executed. At that time was there already a decision to eliminate the Makhno movement. Nestor Makno escaped the hunt by the Red Army and in August 1921 he and 77 of his followers managed to escape into Romania and further to Poland, Germany to reach France where Makno died in 25 July 1934.
The provisional government with its second and third coalition was led by a right wing fraction of the Socialist-Revolutionary party, SR. This non-elected provisional government faced the revolutionary situation and the growing mood against the war by avoiding elections to the state Duma. However, the October revolution forced the political parties behind the newly dissolved provisional government to move and move fast for immediate elections. All happened so fast that the left SR fraction did not have time to reach out and be represented in ballots of the SR party which was part of the coalition in the provisional government. This non-elected government supported continuation of the war on the side of the allied forces. The elections to the State Duma 25 November 1917 therefore did not mirror the true political situation among peasants even if we don't know how the outcome would be if the anti-war left SR fraction had a fair chance to challenge the party leaders. In the elections the Bolshevik party received 25% of the votes and the Socialist-Revolutionaries as much as 58%. It it possible the left SR had a good chance to reach more than 25% of the votes and thereby legitimate the October revolution but we can only guess.
Lenin did not believe as Karl Marx that a socialist revolution presupposed a developed capitalist economy and not in a semi-capitalist country as Russia. Russia was backward but not that backward with a working class population of more than some 4-5% of the population, rather some 4-5 times more if we take into account all the family members of the class.
Lenin also dismissed Marx' concept that the liberation of the working class (population) was their own task. In his book 'What is to be Done?' from 1903 he claimed the working class (population) is a reformist and trade unionist class which only can succeed under the leadership of a centralized revolutionary party of radical intellectuals from the upper bourgeois classes and only to a lesser degree by intellectual workers who surprisingly should leave their jobs to be professional party officials. This was a break with Marxism and identical to a Jacobin ideology from the French Revolution which also defended an elitist concept of the few leading the many from the top.
Though Lenin was the leader of the Bolshevik Party, it has been argued that since Lenin was not present during the actual takeover of the Winter Palace, it was really Trotsky's organization and direction that led the revolution, merely spurred by the motivation Lenin instigated within his party.Critics on the Right have long argued that the financial and logistical assistance of German intelligence via their key agent, Alexander Parvus was a key component as well, though historians are divided, since there is little evidence supporting that claim.
Soviet membership was initially freely elected, but many members of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, anarchists, and other leftists created opposition to the Bolsheviks through the Soviets themselves. The elections to the Russian Constituent Assembly took place 25 November 1917. The Bolsheviks gained 25% of the vote. [ citation needed ] The Bolsheviks dissolved the Constituent Assembly in January 1918. Not surprisingly, this caused mass domestic tension with many individuals who called for another series of political reform, revolting, and calling for "a third Russian revolution," a movement that received a significant amount of support. The most notable instances of this anti-Bolshevik mentality were expressed in the Tambov rebellion, 1919–1921, and the Kronstadt rebellion in March 1921. These movements, which made a wide range of demands and lacked effective coordination, were eventually defeated along with the White Army during the Civil War.When it became clear that the Bolsheviks had little support outside of the industrialized areas of Saint Petersburg and Moscow, they simply barred non-Bolsheviks from membership in the Soviets.
Besides some few speeches where Lenin and Trotsky talked about power to the working class they actually did not mean that the employees were to be in collective charge of the economy organized from factory to factory, district to district, region to region. Instead they used the dogmatic phrase 'the dictatorship of the proletariat'. It was an ill elected phrase used some few times by Karl Marx to underline that all class societies are dictated as he wrote in 'The Paris Commune' where he favoured a state but not a party dictatorship. The Bolshevik leadership took this phrase and understood it as a rule of the party itself. Not once did Lenin and Trotsky support that the employees were to have majority on the boards of the corporations. Instead the Bolshevik established a one-man-rule through the technical manager who took orders from the government of the party state, i.e. Sovnarkom. All was about putting the political institutions and the factories with other economic institutions in firm hand of a party state which dismissed free and democratic elections to the soviets, unions, factory committees and other so-called grass root structures:
"The irrefutable experience of history has shown that... the dictatorship of individual persons was very often the vehicle, the channel of the dictatorship of the revolutionary classes". "Large-scale machine industry - which is the material productive source and foundation of socialism - calls for absolute and strict unity of will...
How can strict unity of will be ensured? By thousands subordinating their will to the will of one." "Unquestioning submission to a single will is absolutely necessary for the success of labour processes that are based on large-scale machine industry . . . Today the Revolution demands, in the interests of socialism, that the masses unquestioningly obey the single will of the leaders of the labour process." (V.I.Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. VII, pages 332-333, 340-342)
"To our program will we add the following: we must fight the ideological confusion of the elements of the opposition who are not aware and do not mind to reject all 'militarization of the economy' and not only reject 'the method of appointment', which has been the dominating up to now, but all appointments. This means in fact a rejection of the leading role of the party in relation to the masses who have no party." (V.I.Lenin, januari 21, 1921, Selected Works, Vol IX, page 57)
"They have come out with dangerous slogans. They have made a fetish of democratic principles. They have placed the workers right to elect representatives above the party. As if the party was not entitled to assert its dictatorship even if that dictatorship temporarily clashed with the passing moods of the workers' democracy!" (Party Congress, 8–16 March 1921.)
"Is it true that compulsory labour is always unproductive? . . . This is the most wretched and miserable liberal prejudice: chattel slavery too was productive" . . . "Compulsory slave labour . . . was in its time a progressive phenomenon". "Labour . . . obligatory for the whole country, compulsory for every worker, is the basis of socialism." "Wages . . . must not be viewed from the angle of securing the personal existence of the individual worker"... "measure the conscientiousness, and efficiency of the work of every labourer." (Third All-Russian Congress of Trade Unions, stenographic report, Moscow 1920, pages 87–97.)
"A competent, hierarchic organized civil administration had its advantages. Russia did not suffer from too big, but too small and ineffective bureaucracy." "The militarization of the unions and the transport system was in need of an inner ideological militarization." (Sochineniya, XV, s. 422-423)
The Russian Civil War, which broke out in 1918 shortly after the October Revolution, resulted in the deaths and suffering of millions of people regardless of their political orientation. The war was fought mainly between the Red Army ("Reds"), consisting of the uprising majority led by the Bolshevik minority, and the "Whites" – army officers and cossacks, the "bourgeoisie", and political groups ranging from the far Right, to the Socialist Revolutionaries who opposed the drastic restructuring championed by the Bolsheviks following the collapse of the Provisional Government, to the Soviets (under clear Bolshevik dominance). The Whites had backing from other countries such as Great Britain, France, the United States, and Japan, while the Reds possessed internal support, proving to be much more effective. Though the Allied nations, using external interference, provided substantial military aid to the loosely knit anti-Bolshevik forces, they were ultimately defeated.
The Bolsheviks firstly assumed power in Petrograd, expanding their rule outwards. They eventually reached the Easterly Siberian Russian coast in Vladivostok, four years after the war began, an occupation that is believed to have ended all significant military campaigns in the nation. Less than one year later, the last area controlled by the White Army, the Ayano-Maysky District, directly to the north of the Krai containing Vladivostok, was given up when General Anatoly Pepelyayev capitulated in 1923.
Several revolts were initiated against the Bolsheviks and their army near the end of the war, notably the Kronstadt Rebellion. This was a naval mutiny engineered by Soviet Baltic sailors, former Red Army soldiers, and the people of Kronstadt. This armed uprising was fought against the antagonizing Bolshevik economic policies that farmers were subjected to, including seizures of grain crops by the Communists.This all amounted to large-scale discontent. When delegates representing the Kronstadt sailors arrived at Petrograd for negotiations, they raised 15 demands primarily pertaining to the Russian right to freedom. The Government firmly denounced the rebellions and labelled the requests as a reminder of the Social Revolutionaries, a political party that was popular among Soviets before Lenin, but refused to cooperate with the Bolshevik Army. The Government then responded with an armed suppression of these revolts and suffered ten thousand casualties before entering the city of Kronstadt. This ended the rebellions fairly quickly, causing many of the rebels to flee seeking political exile.
During the Civil War, Nestor Makhno led a Ukrainian anarchist movement, the Black Army allied to the Bolsheviks thrice, one of the powers ending the alliance each time. However, a Bolshevik force under Mikhail Frunze destroyed the Makhnovist movement, when the Makhnovists refused to merge into the Red Army. In addition, the so-called "Green Army" (peasants defending their property against the opposing forces) played a secondary role in the war, mainly in the Ukraine.
Revolutionary tribunals were present during both the Revolution and the Civil War, intended for the purpose of combatting forces of counter-revolution. At the Civil War's zenith, it is reported that upwards of 200,000 cases were investigated by approximately 200 tribunals.These tribunals established themselves more so from the Cheka as a more moderate force that acted under the banner of revolutionary justice, rather than a utilizer of strict brute force as the former did. However, these tribunals did come with their own set of inefficiencies, such as responding to cases in a matter of months and not having a concrete definition of "counter-revolution" that was determined on a case-by-case basis. The "Decree on Revolutionary Tribunals" used by the People's Commissar of Justice, states in article 2 that “In fixing the penalty, the Revolutionary Tribunal shall be guided by the circumstances of the case and the dictates of the revolutionary conscience." Revolutionary tribunals ultimately demonstrated that a form of justice was still prevalent in Russian society where the Russian Provisional Government failed. This, in part, triggered the political transition of the October Revolution and the Civil War that followed in its aftermath.
The Bolsheviks executed the tsar and his family on 16 July 1918. 24 kilometres (15 mi) south of Petrograd. In August 1917 the Kerensky government evacuated the Romanovs to Tobolsk in the Urals, to protect them from the rising tide of revolution. However, Kerensky lost control after the Bolsheviks came to power in October 1917, and the conditions of their imprisonment grew stricter and talk of putting Nicholas on trial increased. As the counter revolutionary White movement gathered force, leading to full-scale civil war by the summer, the Romanovs were moved during April and May 1918 to Yekaterinburg, a militant Bolshevik stronghold.In early March, the Provisional Government placed Nicholas and his family under house arrest in the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo,
During the early morning of 16 July, Nicholas, Alexandra, their children, their physician, and several servants were taken into the basement and shot. According to Edvard Radzinsky and Dmitrii Volkogonov, the order came directly from Lenin and Sverdlov in Moscow. That the order came from the top has long been believed, although there is a lack of hard evidence. The execution may have been carried out on the initiative of local Bolshevik officials, or it may have been an option pre-approved in Moscow should White troops approach Yekaterinburg. Radzinsky noted that Lenin's bodyguard personally delivered the telegram ordering the execution and that he was ordered to destroy the evidence.
The Russian Revolution became the site for many instances of symbolism, both physical and non-physical. Communist symbolism is perhaps the most notable of this time period, such as the debut of the iconic hammer and sickle as a representation of the October Revolution in 1917, eventually becoming the official symbol of the USSR in 1924. Although the Bolsheviks did not have extensive political experience, their portrayal of the revolution itself as both a political and symbolic order resulted in Communism's portrayal as a messianic faith, formally known as communist messianism.Portrayals of notable revolutionary figures such as Lenin were done in iconographic methods, equating them similarly to religious figures, though religion itself was banned in the USSR and groups such as the Russian Orthodox Church were persecuted.
The revolution ultimately led to the establishment of the future Soviet Union as an ideocracy; however, the establishment of such a state came as an ideological paradox, as Marx's ideals of how a socialist state ought to be created were based on the formation being natural and not artificially incited (i.e. by means of revolution).Leon Trotsky said that the goal of socialism in Russia would not be realized without the success of the world revolution. A revolutionary wave caused by the Russian Revolution lasted until 1923, but despite initial hopes for success in the German Revolution of 1918–19, the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic, and others like it, no other Marxist movement at the time succeeded in keeping power in its hands.
This issue is subject to conflicting views on communist history by various Marxist groups and parties. Joseph Stalin later rejected this idea, stating that socialism was possible in one country.
The confusion regarding Stalin's position on the issue stems from the fact that, after Lenin's death in 1924, he successfully used Lenin's argument – the argument that socialism's success needs the support of workers of other countries in order to happen – to defeat his competitors within the party by accusing them of betraying Lenin and, therefore, the ideals of the October Revolution.
The Russian Revolution inspired other communist movements around the world in regions such as South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Latin America.
The Chinese Communist Revolution began in 1946 and was part of the ongoing Chinese Civil War. Marx had envisioned European revolutions to be intertwined with Asian revolutions in the mid-19th century with his 1853 New York Tribune article, "Revolution in China and Europe," in which he references the Chinese as people in "revolutionary convulsion," brought about by British economic control.The May Fourth Movement is considered a turning point where Communism took root in Chinese society, especially among intellectuals. China was officially made a communist country on October 1, 1949, resulting in the establishment of the People's Republic of China (which still remains to this day) with Chairman Mao Zedong at its head. China's current leaders retain that Mao "developed the theory of revolutionary socialism" whilst reformer Deng Xiopeng "developed the theory of building socialism with Chinese characteristics."
Cuba experienced its own communist revolution as well, known as the Cuban Revolution, which began in July 1953 under the leadership of revolutionary Fidel Castro. Castro's 26th of July Movement and Cuban Revolution followed in the footsteps of the Sergeant's Revolt in Cuba in 1933, similarly to how the 1905 Revolution in Russia preceded the October Revolution.Castro's movement sought "political democracy, political and economic nationalism, agrarian reform, industrialization, social security, and education." Similarly to the October Revolution, the Cuban Revolution removed a more traditional, hierarchical regime with the aim of establishing greater overall equality, specifically in the removal of former authoritarian president Fulgencio Batista. Cuba's revolution contributed to escalating tensions between the United States and USSR during Cold War, such as the CIA's failed Bay of Pigs Invasion by Cuban exiles in April 1961, and the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. Today, Cuba is moving more towards Capitalism and a free-market economy, as the Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA) believes Castro's policies during his rule fostered "an acceptance that market forces can play a role in economic policy and that economic growth must be the central criterion to judge economic success."
The August Revolution took place on August 14, 1945, lad by revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh with the aid of his Viet Minh. During the Second World War, the French and Japanese fascists in Indochina (now known as Southeast Asia) began to experience significant resistance to their colonial rule. Due to the fact that both France and Japan were engaged in World War II, the Vietnamese people realized an opportunity to engage in an uprising, resulting in the bloody August Insurrection, ending colonial rule in Vietnam.Marxism was manifested in Vietnam as early as the Spring of 1925 when the Vietnamese Revolutionary Youth League was established, with the league being described as "first truly Marxist organization in Indochina" The domino effect caused more concern among Western countries in regards to Communism in Southeast Asia. One interpretation of the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War is "America had lost a guerrilla war in Asia, a loss of caused by failure to appreciate the nuances of counterinsurgency war." Since the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, Vietnam has remained a communist country.
Few events in historical research have been as conditioned by political influences as the October Revolution. The historiography of the Revolution generally divides into three camps: the Soviet-Marxist view, the Western-Totalitarian view, and the Revisionist view.Since the fall of Communism (and the USSR) in Russia in 1991, the Western-Totalitarian view has again become dominant and the Soviet-Marxist view has practically vanished.
A Lenin biographer, Robert Service, states he "laid the foundations of dictatorship and lawlessness. Lenin had consolidated the principle of state penetration of the whole society, its economy and its culture. Lenin had practised terror and advocated revolutionary amoralism."
Dates are correct for the Julian calendar, which was used in Russia until 1918. It was 12 days behind the Gregorian calendar during the 19th century and thirteen days behind it during the 20th century.
|1874–81||Growing anti-government terrorist movement and government reaction.|
|1881||Alexander II assassinated by revolutionaries; succeeded by Alexander III.|
|1883||First Russian Marxist group formed.|
|1894||Start of reign of Nicholas II.|
|1898||First Congress of Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP).|
|1900||Foundation of Socialist Revolutionary Party (SR).|
|1903||Second Congress of Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. Beginning of split between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.|
|1904–5||Russo-Japanese War; Russia loses war.|
|1905||Revolution of 1905.|
|1905||January||Bloody Sunday in Saint Petersburg.|
|1905||June||Battleship Potemkin uprising at Odessa on the Black Sea (see movie The Battleship Potemkin ).|
|1905||October||General strike, Saint Petersburg Soviet formed; October Manifesto: Imperial agreement on elections to the State Duma.|
|1906||First State Duma. Prime Minister: Petr Stolypin. Agrarian reforms begin.|
|1907||Third State Duma, until 1912.|
|1912||Fourth State Duma, until 1917. Bolshevik/Menshevik split final.|
|1914||Germany declares war on Russia.|
|1914||30 July||The All Russian Zemstvo Union for the Relief of Sick and Wounded Soldiers is created with Lvov as president.|
|1914||August–November||Russia suffers heavy defeats and a large shortage of supplies, including food and munitions, but holds onto Austrian Galicia.|
|1914||3 August||Germany declares war on Russia, causing a brief sense of patriotic union amongst the Russian nation and a downturn in striking.|
|1914||18 August||St. Petersburg is renamed Petrograd as 'Germanic' names are changed to sound more Russian, and hence more patriotic.|
|1914||5 November||Bolshevik members of the Duma are arrested; they are later tried and exiled to Siberia.|
|1915||Serious defeats, Nicholas II declares himself Commander in Chief.|
|1915||19 February||Great Britain and France promise Russia Istanbul and other Turkish lands.|
|1915||5 June||Strikers shot at in Kostromá; casualties.|
|1915||9 July||The Great Retreat begins, as Russian forces pull back out of Galicia and Russian Poland into Russia proper.|
|1915||9 August||The Duma's bourgeois parties form the 'Progressive bloc' to push for better government and reform; includes the Kadets, Octobrist groups and Nationalists.|
|1915||10 August||Strikers shot at in Ivánovo-Voznesénsk; casualties.|
|1915||17–19 August||Strikers in Petrograd protest at the deaths in Ivánovo-Voznesénsk.|
|1915||23 August||Reacting to war failures and a hostile Duma, the Tsar takes over as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, prorogues the Duma and moves to military headquarters at Mogilev. Central government begins to seize up.|
|1916||Food and fuel shortages and high prices. Progressive Bloc formed.|
|1916||January–December||Despite successes in the Brusilov offensive, the Russian war effort is still characterised by shortages, poor command, death and desertion. Away from the front, the conflict causes starvation, inflation and a torrent of refugees. Both soldiers and civilians blame the incompetence of the Tsar and his government.|
|1916||6 February||Duma reconvened.|
|1916||29 February||After a month of strikes at the Putílov Factory, the government conscripts the workers and takes charge of production. Protest strikes follow.|
|1916||20 June||Duma prorogued.|
|1916||October||Troops from 181st Regiment help striking Russkii Renault workers fight against the Police.|
|1916||1 November||Miliukov gives his 'Is this stupidity or treason?' speech in reconvened Duma.|
|1916||29 December||Rasputin is killed by Prince Yusupov.|
|1916||30 December||The Tsar is warned that his army will not support him against a revolution.|
|1917||Strikes, mutinies, street demonstrations led to the fall of autocracy.|
|Gregorian Date||Julian Date||Event|
|January||Strikes and unrest in Petrograd.|
|8 March||23 February||International Women's Day: strikes and demonstrations in Petrograd, growing over the next few days.|
|11 March||26 February||50 demonstrators killed in Znamenskaya Square Tsar Nicholas II prorogues the State Duma and orders commander of Petrograd military district to suppress disorders with force.|
|12 March||27 February||* Troops refuse to fire on demonstrators, deserters. Prisons, courts, and police bombs attacked and looted by angry crowds.|
|14 March||1 March||Order No.1 of the Petrograd Soviet.|
|15 March||2 March||Nicholas II abdicates. Provisional Government formed under Prime Minister Prince Lvov.|
|16 April||3 April||Return of Vladimir Lenin to Russia. He publishes his April Theses.|
|3–4 May||20–21 April||"April Days": mass demonstrations by workers, soldiers, and others in the streets of Petrograd and Moscow triggered by the publication of the Foreign Minister Pavel Miliukov's note to the allies, which was interpreted as affirming commitment to the war policies of the old government. First Provisional Government falls.|
|18 May||5 May||First Coalition Government forms when socialists, representatives of the Soviet leadership, agree to enter the cabinet of the Provisional Government. Alexander Kerensky, the only socialist already in the government, made minister of war and navy.|
|16 June||3 June||First All-Russian Congress of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies opens in Petrograd. Closed on 24 June. Elects Central Executive Committee of Soviets (VTsIK), headed by Mensheviks and SRs.|
|23 June||10 June||Planned Bolshevik demonstration in Petrograd banned by the Soviet.|
|29 June||16 June||Kerensky orders offensive against Austro-Hungarian forces. Initial success only.|
|1 July||18 June||Official Soviet demonstration in Petrograd for unity is unexpectedly dominated by Bolshevik slogans: "Down with the Ten Capitalist Ministers", "All Power to the Soviets".|
|15 July||2 July||Russian offensive ends. Trotsky joins Bolsheviks.|
|16–17 July||3–4 July||The "July Days"; mass armed demonstrations in Petrograd, encouraged by the Bolsheviks, demanding "All Power to the Soviets".|
|19 July||6 July||German and Austro-Hungarian counter-attack. Russians retreat in panic, sacking the town of Tarnopol. Arrest of Bolshevik leaders ordered.|
|20 July||7 July||Lvov resigns and asks Kerensky to become Prime Minister and form a new government. Established 25 July.|
|4 August||22 July||Trotsky and Lunacharskii arrested.|
|8 September||26 August||Second coalition government ends.|
|8–12 September||26–30 August||"Kornilov mutiny". Begins when the commander-in-chief of the Russian army, General Lavr Kornilov, demands (or is believed by Kerensky to demand) that the government give him all civil and military authority and moves troops against Petrograd.|
|13 September||31 August||Majority of deputies of the Petrograd Soviet approve a Bolshevik resolution for an all-socialist government excluding the bourgeoisie.|
|14 September||1 September||Russia declared a republic.|
|17 September||4 September||Trotsky and others freed.|
|18 September||5 September||Bolshevik resolution on the government wins majority vote in Moscow Soviet.|
|2 October||19 September||Moscow Soviet elects executive committee and new presidium, with Bolshevik majorities, and the Bolshevik Viktor Nogin as chairman.|
|8 October||25 September||Third coalition government formed. Bolshevik majority in Petrograd Soviet elects Bolshevik Presidium and Trotsky as chairman.|
|23 October||10 October||Bolshevik Central Committee meeting approves armed uprising.|
|24 October||11 October||Congress of Soviets of the Northern Region, until 13 October.|
|2 November||20 October||First meeting of the Military Revolutionary Committee of the Petrograd Soviet.|
|7 November||25 October||October Revolution is launched as MRC directs armed workers and soldiers to capture key buildings in Petrograd. Winter Palace reportedly attacked at 9:40pm and captured at 2am. Kerensky flees Petrograd. Opening of the 2nd All-Russian Congress of Soviets.|
|8 November||26 October||Second Congress of Soviets: Mensheviks and right SR delegates walk out in protest against the previous day's events. Congress approves transfer of state authority into its own hands and local power into the hands of local Soviets of workers', soldiers', and peasants' deputies, abolishes capital punishment, issues Decree on Peace and Decree on Land, and approves the formation of an all-Bolshevik government, the Council of People's Commissars (Sovnarkom), with Lenin as chairman.|
George Orwell's classic novella Animal Farm is an allegory of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath. It describes the dictator Stalin as a big Berkshire boar named, "Napoleon." Trotsky is represented by a pig called Snowball who is a brilliant talker and makes magnificent speeches. However, Napoleon overthrows Snowball as Stalin overthrew Trotsky and Napoleon takes over the farm the animals live on. Napoleon becomes a tyrant and uses force and propaganda to oppress the animals, while culturally teaching them that they are free.
The Russian Revolution has been portrayed in or served as backdrop for many films. Among them, in order of release date:
The Russian Revolution has been used as a direct backdrop for select video games. Among them, in order of release date:
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The history of Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union reflects a period of change for both Russia and the world. Though the terms Soviet Russia and Soviet Union are synonymous in everyday vocabulary, Soviet Russia, in the context of the foundation of the Soviet Union, refers to the few years after the abdication of the crown of the Russian Empire by Tsar Nicholas II, but before the creation of the Soviet Union in 1922. Early in its conception, the Soviet Union strived to achieve harmony among all people of all countries. The original ideology of the state was primarily based on the works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. In its essence, Marx's theory stated that economic and political systems went through an inevitable revolution based upon class struggle, by which the current capitalist system would be destroyed or abolished before achieving international cooperation and peace in a "Workers' Paradise," creating a system directed by what Marx called "Pure Communism." Marx favoured abolishment of the bourgeois state and to establish a new state, however not a copy of the old. A state is not supposed to exist forever and defend development of new class structures. The aim was to create a system with an internal logic and direction based upon spreading the class-struggle worldwide simply because the working class and working population just as the capitalist mode of production is international. Engels at first agreed with the aim to abolish the bourgeois state – but later in London 6 of March 1895 in the introduction to Marx' book 'Class struggle in France 1848–1850' he dismissed the idea of revolution. Engels instead favoured to reach socialism through elections in the capitalist parliaments and not in socialist revolution confronting the capitalist state.
The April Theses were a series of ten directives issued by the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin upon his return to Petrograd from his exile in Switzerland via Germany and Finland. The Theses were mostly aimed at fellow Bolsheviks in Russia and returning to Russia from exile. He called for soviets to take power, denounce liberals and social revolutionaries in the Provisional Government, called for Bolsheviks not to cooperate with the government, and called for new communist policies. The April Theses influenced the July Days and October Revolution in the next months and are identified with Leninism.
Soviets were political organizations and governmental bodies, primarily associated with the Russian Revolutions and the history of the Soviet Union, and which gave the name to the latter state.
The history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union is generally conceived as also covering that of the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party from which it evolved. The date 1912 is often identified as the time of the formation of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union as a distinct party, and its history since then can roughly be divided into the following periods:
The Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, commonly known as the Ispolkom was a self-appointed executive committee of the Petrograd Soviet. As an antagonist of the Russian Provisional Government, after the 1917 February Revolution in Russia, Ispolkom became a second center of power. It was dissolved during the Bolshevik October Revolution later that year. Ispolkom is known for the controversial "Order No 1" which stipulated that all military units should form committees like the Petrograd Soviet and that the military from every political perspective should not contradict to Ispolkom. The socialists at the Petrograd Soviet feared that officers were the most likely counter revolutionary elements and the intention of the Order was to limit their power, but these orders rendered the officers powerless at the Russian front lines of World War I, which had led to confusion, disastrous military discipline, and desertions.
The July Days were a period of unrest in Petrograd, Russia, between 3–7 July 1917. It was characterised by spontaneous armed demonstrates by soldiers, sailors, and industrial workers engaged against the Russian Provisional Government The demonstrations were angrier and more violent than those during the February Revolution months earlier.
Various factions fought over Ukrainian territory after the collapse of the Russian Empire following the Russian Revolution of 1917 and after the First World War ended in 1918, resulting in the collapse of Austria-Hungary, which had ruled Ukrainian Galicia. The crumbling of the empires had a great effect on the Ukrainian nationalist movement, and in a short period of four years a number of Ukrainian governments sprang up. This period was characterized by optimism and by nation-building, as well as by chaos and civil war. Matters stabilized somewhat in 1921 with the territory of modern-day Ukraine divided between Soviet Ukraine and Poland, and with small ethnic-Ukrainian regions belonging to Czechoslovakia and to Romania.
Joseph Stalin was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee from 1922 until his death in 1953. In the years following Lenin's death in 1924, he rose to become the authoritarian leader of the Soviet Union.
In Russia, communism began after Tsar Nicholas II lost his power during the February Revolution. The Provisional Government was established under Prince Lvov, however, the Bolsheviks refused to accept the government and revolted in October 1917, taking control of Russia. Vladimir Lenin, their leader, rose to power and governed between 1917 and 1924. The Bolsheviks formed the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, marking the beginning of the Russian Civil War between the revolutionary Reds and the counter-revolutionary Whites. In 1922 the Communist Reds were victorious and formed the Soviet Union. Lenin died in 1924, starting a power struggle which ended with Joseph Stalin seizing power. He was the leader of the Communist Party until 1953. He encouraged political paranoia and conducted the Great Purge to remove opponents of his dominance. Stalin died in 1953, and the Soviet Union went through "De-Stalinisation" under the new leader Nikita Khrushchev, though his attempts to improve the lives of ordinary citizens were often ineffective. Khrushchev ruled through the years of the Cold War. Leonid Brezhnev was appointed leader in 1964. Brezhnev governed the era without economic reforms, which led to a national economic decline by the mid-1970s.Yuri Andropov gained power in 1982 and tried to improve the economy by increasing management effectiveness but without making changes to the principles of a socialist economy. Andropov later died in 1984, fifteen months after gaining power.
The All-Russian Congress of Soviets was the supreme governing body of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic from 1917 until 1936, effectively. The 1918 Constitution of the Russian SFSR mandated that Congress shall convene at least twice a year, with the duties of defining the principles of the Soviet Constitution and ratifying peace treaties. The October Revolution ousted the provisional government, making the Congress of Soviets the sole, and supreme governing body. It is important to note that this Congress was not the same as the Congress of Soviets of the Soviet Union which governed the whole Soviet Union after its creation in 1922.
The left-wing uprisings against the Bolsheviks were a series of rebellions, uprisings, and revolts against the Bolsheviks by oppositional left-wing organizations and groups that started soon after the October Revolution, continued through the years of the Russian Civil War, and lasted into the first years of Bolshevik reign of the Soviet Union. They were led or supported by left-wing groups such as some factions of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, and anarchists. Generally, the uprisings began in 1918 because of the Bolshevik siege and cooptation of Soviet Democracy, the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litvosk which many saw as giving huge concessions to the Central Powers, and opposition to Bolshevik socioeconomic policy. The Bolsheviks grew increasingly hard-line during the decisive and brutal years following the October Revolution, and would suppress any socialist opposition whilst also becoming increasingly hostile to inner-party opposition. These rebellions and insurrections occurred mostly during and after the Russian Civil War, until approximately 1924.
The Petrograd Military Revolutionary Committee was a militant group of the Petrograd Soviet and one of several military revolutionary committees that were created in the Russian Republic. Initially the committee was created on 25 October 1917 after the German army secured the city of Riga and the West Estonian Archipelago. The committee's resolution was adopted by the Petrograd Soviet on October 29, 1917.
The All Russian Constituent Assembly was a constitutional body convened in Russia after the October Revolution of 1917. It met for 13 hours, from 4 p.m. to 5 a.m., 18–19 January [O.S. 5–6 January] 1918, whereupon it was dissolved by the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, making the Third All-Russian Congress of Soviets the new governing body of Russia.
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