October Revolution

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A poster of the Russian Civil War, 1918-1922 says: Long Live World October [revolution]! Workers conquered power in Russia. Workers will conquer power in the entire world.

The October Revolution of 1917 was the world's first modern socialist revolution. It occurred in Russia, replacing a temporary capitalist Provisional Government which had come to power after the overthrow of the Tsar (king) in February 1917.

The October Revolution is one of the most important events in 20th century history. After the revolution, Russia was joined by several other countries in a socialist federation called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Soviet Union or USSR). It became the world's second most powerful state (next to the USA), and put in place many important changes, empowering the working class and women, and supporting the decolonization struggles of people around the world who had been subjugated by capitalist imperialism. Much of 20th century political history revolved around the struggle between the socialist ideology of the Soviet Union and the capitalist ideology of the United States and the other Western powers.

The official name for the October Revolution in the Soviet Union was Great October Socialist Revolution (in Russian, Великая Октябрьская социалистическая революция, or Velikaya Oktyabr'skaya sotsialisticheskaya revolyutsiya). This became the official name on the tenth anniversary celebration of the Revolution in 1927.

Initially, the October Revolution was referred to as the October uprising (Октябрьский переворот) or the Uprising of 25th, as seen in contemporary documents (the first editions of Lenin's complete works, for example). It is also known as the Bolshevik Revolution.


In the October Revolution, dissatisfied workers and soldiers overthrew the ineffective Provisional Government in Russia which had replaced the Tsarist monarchy eight months earlier. They were encouraged and organised by a Marxist party, the Bolsheviks, which was led by Vladimir Lenin.

The principal events in the capital, Petersburg, occurred on October 24th and 25th, 1917. Soldiers and workers, organised into bands called Red Guards, and directed by the Military Revolutionary Committee (MRC) of the Bolshevik party, took over key points in the city, including bridges, road entrances to the city, railway, telegraph, government offices, and banks. Although warned of the insurrection, the Provisional Government put up little effective resistance and there was little bloodshed.[1] The takeover was essentially completed when Bolshevik regiments and other Red Guards entered the former Tsarist winter palace and arrested Provisional Government members who had gathered there.[2]

Although the above events are best known, the Provisional Government had already lost power in some parts of the country. For example, the Soviet (Soviets were workplace-centered popular committees) in Kazan had overthrown the government there.[3] And besides this, for several months peasants all over the country had been spontaneously seizing the lands of the nobility, against the wishes of the Provisional Government.

After the 24th, other cities all over the country went over to the new power, usually with a minimum of armed turmoil.

The most serious conflict was in the nation's largest city, Moscow. The hard fight for the streets there lasted from Oct. 25th until Nov. 2nd and cost about 500 casualties on each side.[4]

The Bolsheviks were formally put in power by the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets, which was in session in Petersburg from the 25th until the 27th and had a majority of Bolshevik delegates (about 382 out of 562 ).[5] It elected a Council of People's Commissars as an executive to govern in the periods between Congresses.[6] Before the end of the year, the Bolsheviks had issued a decree approving the takeover of land by the peasants; abolished the privileges of the nobility; limited the working day to eight hours; set wage standards; instituted partial worker self-management of enterprises[7]; given women the right to divorce; nationalised the banks; and effectively taken Russia out of World War I, although they had to give up a large amount of land to Germany.

Early in 1918, fourteen capitalist countries, including England, France the United States, and Japan, invaded Russia in an attempt to destroy the new socialist government. At the same time, forces loyal to the former monarchy, forces loyal to the former Provisional Government, some rival socialists, and some anarchists began attacking the Bolsheviks at various places. This was the beginning of a period called the Foreign Intervention and Civil War, which did not end until the early 1920s. It was a period of famine, great wreckage of materials of production, and occasional acts of terrible harshness or even atrocity by both sides.

After the Intervention and Civil War, the country consolidated under the New Economic Policy. In 1922 it joined with several surrounding nations to become the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Under the Five Year Plans, beginning in 1928, it moved to more complete central planning of the economy, which enabled it to achieve the massive industrial growth necessary for it to defend itself against renewed threats of external attack.[8] This forced pace, though, caused grave internal strains. A maximum of surplus had to be extracted from the labouring population, growth in agriculture and consumer goods had to be sacrificed, and in order to achieve these things an authoritarian style of leadership was resorted to. This exacted a price in terms of alienation and loss of inspiration.

Despite the enormous external and internal pressures, the U.S.S.R. lifted its large population out of illiteracy, servitude, and frequent hunger;[9] grew to become the world's second most economically and militarily powerful country (next to the USA); and was a leader of the world socialist movement which played an important role in the liberation struggles of capitalism's colonies in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and helped to keep in check, to a degree, the level of capital's exploitation and domination of the labourers in the main capitalist countries themselves.

However, the path of revolution is a difficult one, and in 1990, vulnerable in the midst of a difficult and destabilising process of trying to move closer to socialist ideals by reducing the levels of authoritarianism and alienation mentioned earlier, the state was pounced on by internal and external enemies and collapsed.[10] Under the authoritarian capitalist state that has replaced it, economic output and the standard of living of the average citizen have fallen drastically, a chasm of inequality has opened between rich and poor, and the economic security of the individual has vanished.[11] Meanwhile it is doubtful whether the average person is any less alienated than she was in the 1980s.

(One positive thing that can be said is that, with the crash in Russian industrial output since 1990, CO2 emissions have fallen by almost twenty percent.[12])


After the reforms of the 1860s and 1870s, which affected all aspects of society, the development of capitalism in Russia accelerated. But while promoting industrial growth, the monarchy sought to prevent the increasing political influence of the bourgeoisie, and to save the archaic system of land tenure. As a result of the (partial) revolution of 1905-1907, Tsarism granted a number of concessions: political parties, as well as trade unions and other public organizations were allowed; a legislature, the State Duma, was established , and freedom of the press was expanded. However, once the threat of rebellion had passed the monarchy began undermining those rights. The Tsar's government obtained a French loan of 3,350 million francs which made the Duma irrelevant in financial matters, and the franchise was narrowed so that by 1908 a single landed proprietor had as much share in the election of deputies to the State Duma as over five hundred urban workers.[13] Although capitalism was expanding in Russia, it was largely foreign capital. Big industry: the railways, mines and electric power system, were preponderantly foreign-owned. This put the Russian state in a semi-colonial relation to big Western capital. Russia's own bourgeosie were secondary and lacked the strength to wrest power from their monarchy, as other European bourgeoisies had done long before. Russia's backwardness made possible the maintenance of low wages and strenuous working conditions – ie., the superexploitation of labour. This was a big attraction to Western capital, just as similar situations in the Global South are to it today. A noteable feature of Russia's imported-style development was that large, technically advanced factories came suddenly. There was no gradual transition from small- to large-scale. As a result, hundreds of thousands of peasants, newly displaced from the land by the capitalisation of agriculture since the serf  `emancipation' of 1861, were thrown together in very large workshops, slums, and dormitories, with the traditions of pre-industrial life and the village commune still alive in their minds. This turned out to be an explosive combination.

The First World War strained Russia's archaic dynasty nearly to the breaking point. By mid 1916, industrial and agricultural output were in serious decline. And in the army, the death rate was so high and the class division between the imperious officers and their peasant troops so wide that desertion and insubordination had become rife.[14]

February bourgeois-democratic revolution and the overthrow of the autocracy

With food shortages and the economic crisis worsening, and horrified by the slaughter of their relatives and friends under the incompetent Russian leadership in the war, workers in Petrograd began in mid-February 1917 to strike their factories and demonstrate in the streets; and by the 28th the monarchy had lost control of the capital. The Tsar abdicated on March 2. A period of dual power ensued, with a Provisional Government, headed initially by Prince Lvov and then by Alexander Kerensky, being formally in charge and favoured by the Russian bourgeoisie as well as foreign governments; but with the Petrograd Soviet and other Soviets around the country, all comprised of worker's and soldier's representatives, holding the real power because they had the ear of the masses. That the Soviets did not resolve the situation in short order by taking the whole power to themselves was the result of two factors: First, their leading members were more conservative than the rank and file delegates, and hesitated at the prospect of a thorough-going class upheaval. Second, they at this point adhered to the theory – or perhaps excuse – that the bourgeois revolution has to precede the proletarian revolution, an interval for the ripening of objective conditions being necessary in between, so that it was not yet `time' for the working-class organ, the Soviets, to rule.

The period of dual power

On the first day of its existence (3 March 1917) the Provisional Government declared its desire to bring the war to an end, promised to introduce a range of political freedoms, promised to make preparations for the convening of a Constituent Assembly, and promised to implement economic reforms. In the coming months it was to do none of those things, always postponing them on a principle of: first victory at the front, then - reform. But that is to look ahead; in March the leaders of the Petrograd Soviet, basing themselves on the thesis of Russia's immaturity for socialism, took a position of conditional support for the Provisional Government.

The Bolsheviks, though they had been active in the February mass movement, were initially less popular than the Mensheviks and SRs; they had, for example, only two of fifteen positions on the executive committee of the Petrograd Soviet. Until Lenin arrived in early April and changed their minds, the Bolshevik leaders in the Soviet followed the Mensheviks and SRs in conditionally supporting the Provisional Government.

Lenin returned to Russia from exile on 3 April. He was greeted by an approving crowd of several thousand at the train station where he disembarked.[15] Before leaving the station he climbed atop an armoured car and called for world revolution. He afterwards, meeting Kamenev, rebuked that comrade for the lack of a strong position in the party organ, Pravda, against Russian involvement in World War I. On 4 April he promulgated his famous April Theses, which sketched out the line that was eventually bring about his party's victory. In these he

  • declared that the Provisional Government was capitalist, therefore imperialist, and that it was illusory to think that it could give up imperialist war aims;
  • stated that the revolution was passing from a first stage, which put power in the hands of the bourgeoisie, to a "second stage, which must place power in the hands of the proletariat and the poorest sections of the peasants";
  • declared that the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies should become the government;
  • prescribed an economic policy featuring:
    • confiscation of all estates, all land to be redistributed by the local Soviets of Agricultural Labourers' and Peasants' Deputies;
    • officials not to be paid more than the average skilled worker;
    • production and distribution of goods to be under the control of the Soviets of Workers' Deputies;
  • identified tasks for the Party including the creation of a new International, and changing the Party name to 'Communist' because 'Social Democratic' was now associated with reformism and support for the war;
  • said that since his Party was presently a minority in the Soviet, that the Party's present focus must be on 'patient, systemmatic and persistent explanation' to the workers of the error in the present policies of the Soviets, and the correctness of th Bolshevik's position.[16]

This militant, stark rejection of the Provisional Government and Russian war involvement was greeted by Lenin's comrades with amazement, and by the SR and Menshevik leaders with hostility and derision. But by the time of the Party conference of April 24-29, Lenin's party had swung behind him, and historian W H Chamberlain says that he had correctly judged the popular mood – not that of April, but the mood that would evolve by September and October.[17]

April crisis

The April Crisis was an event in which the Provisional Government lost face because of a revelation that the Foreign Affars minister, Miliukov, was secretly pursuing aggressive war aims, including total defeat of Austria and Germany and annexation of their borderlands and overseas colonies. This was contrary not only to public opinion but to the government's own publicly professed principles. The statements that embarassed Miliukov were made by him in a telegram to the Allies on April 18th. When the telegram was leaked, outrage erupted, and tens of thousands of armed soldiers demonstrated in Petrograd on April 20th against the government's war policy .[18] On the 21st, skirmishes occurred between large demonstrations and counter-demonstrations. These events forced the Provisional Government to issue an `explanatory note', to the public and to the Allied ambassadors, which retracted the offending utterances of Miliukov. Shortly afterward Miliukov and the war minister, Guchkov, resigned. A new `Coalition' Provisional Government was formed on May 5 which included six socialists: the already-present socialist, Kerensky, plus five new socialist members. The five were all from the Soviet and it was agreed that they represent and are accountable to the Soviet.[19]

The Bolsheviks, meanwhile gaining popularity.

The first All-Russian Congress of Soviets was held on 3 June 1917.[20]

Numbers of deputies to First All-Russian Congress of Soviets
Bolshevik 105
Menshevik 200 to 248
SR 285

Source: Golikov (1962), p 180, Cliff (1987), p 3.

During this Congress, Lenin explicitly stated that his party "is ready to take the whole power." This statement was backed up by a powerful demonstration under the slogan "All power to the Soviets."

July crisis and the dictatorship of the Provisional Government

On June 18, war minister Kerensky sent the reluctant army on a poorly-prepared offensive on the South Western front. The government hoped that a military success would raise its credibility in Russia as well as with the Allied governments. But the offensive bogged down. Combined with continuing worker anger over economic hardship, this caused a period of demonstrations and political tumoil that are called the `July days'.

Shortly before midnight on July 3rd, a party of anarchists seize the printing plant of the Novoye Vremya, stop the work on the newspaper, and cause to be printed an appeal which says: "Let the people come out armed and demand the over- throw of the Provisional Government and the con- fiscation of all bourgeois newspapers. Comrades, our side has the physical strength, therefore let us without hesitation take into our hands all factories, shops, land, and other tools of production. . . . Comrades, forward without fear! Long live the social revolution !" – Quoted in Ross, p 163.

By July 4 in Petrograd, Moscow, Kiev, and other cities there had been anti-government demonstrations of workers and soldiers. In Petrograd the demonstration attracted half a million people. There was spontaneous gunfire in the streets. This enabled the Provisional Government to declare the city under matial law. It closed the Bolshevik's newspaper, Pravda, and on July 6 ordered the arrest of Lenin, Grigory Zinoviev, and some other leaders of the Party. Zinoviev and Lenin went into hiding (Lenin in nearby Finland, from whence he could easily return if opportunity arose).

Meanwhile the `Coalition' Provisional Government crumbled. On July first the Kadet ministers resigned over differences of point of view with the socialist ministers.[21] The premier, Prince Lvov, resigned July 8th over Chernov's proposal to expropriate the rural aristocracy and nationalise their fields. Kerensky rose to predominance and on the 24th put together a new Provisional Government consisting of five Socialist Revolutionaries (S.R.s), three Mensheviks, four Kadets, and five others.

Government of 24 July:

  • S.R.: Kerensky, Savinkov, Lebedev, Avksentiev, Chernov.
  • Menshevik: Skobolev, Nikitin, Prokopovitch.
  • Socialist-Populist: Reshekhanov.
  • Kadet: Kokoshkin, Oldenburg Yurienev, Kartashev.
  • Radical: Efremov.
  • independent members: Zaroudny, Tereschenko, Nekrassov.

Although the Bolshevik party had to operate semi-legally throughout July and August, their position was consolidated. Radical anti-war social democrats, who had joined the Mezhraiontsy earlier in the year, merged with the Bolsheviks in August, and many of them, particularly Trotsky, Joffe and Konstantin Yurenev, played important parts in the Bolsheviks' eventual success.

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Cruiser Aurora.

“Peace, Bread, Land!” was a Bolshevik slogan which summarized their program: the land of the aristocracy to be redistributed amongst the peasants, factory control given to the workers (with price control of food, or "bread", which was to be available to all the people); and, finally, the soldiers would have peace and be allowed to return home.


The government, seeking to enlist the support of the public, convened in Moscow, August 12-15, a State Conference, which was attended by about 2.5 thousand representatives of various organizations. The meeting confirmed the growing popularity of the Supreme Commander of the Russian Army General Lavr G Kornilov. In early August, Lavr G demanded from premier Kerensky militarization of factories, railways, and the death penalty in the rear. By agreement with Kerensky Kornilov on August 25 moved troops from the front to Petrograd. But soon after appointing Lavr Kornilov as his Commander-in-Chief, Kerensky accused him of trying to set up his own military dictatorship. It is still uncertain as to whether or not Kornilov, in favour of the return of the monarchy, did engineer a plot of this kind. Kornilov, convinced that Kerensky was acting under the duress of the Bolsheviks, responded by issuing a call to all Russians to "save their dying land!" and began trying to put down the Bolsheviks. Unsure of the support of his army generals, Kerensky was forced to ask for help from other quarters (including the Bolshevik "Red Guards") and even provided them with arms. They were all too happy to help. Lavr G Kornilov's performance was paralyzed by the mass mobilization of workers, in which the Bolsheviks took an active part. Bolshevik Red Guards blocked railways and sent agitators. Kornilov's ostensible attempt to seize power collapsed without bloodshed as his Cossacks deserted him, fearing that he might restore the Tsar. Kornilov and around 7,000 of his supporters were arrested, and the coup failed. Kornilov was removed from his position, but his actions had served to illustrate just how fragile and insecure the provisional government was. Real power, it was obvious, lay in the hands of the Petrograd Soviet -- at the head of which was Trotsky.

The fight against Kornilov contributed leftward shift of the masses: August 31, Petrograd, September 5, the Moscow Council adopted the Bolshevik resolution on the transfer of all power to the Soviets. Petrograd led Leon Trotsky, the Moscow - VP Nogin. As a result, the right Kerensky accused of treason, the left did not forgive him "compromise" with the bourgeoisie.

The Kornilov Affair was a catalyst to Revolution.

`The mobilization of the proletariat against Kornilov showed that an abortive counter-revolution can be as disastrous for the bourgeoisie as the failure of an insurrection is for the workers.' (Serge 1930, ch. 2)

Red Guards

The initiative in forming the Red Guards in Petrograd came from the factory workers, who began it instinctively after the fall of Tsardom. In disarming the old order they had to begin to arm themselves. In April, two of the Bolshevik militants, Shlyapnikov and Yeremeyev, began to put the spontaneous organization of the Red Guards into a systematic shape. The first regular units, if they can be called such, of’ this workers’ militia were formed in the outlying proletarian districts, principally in Vyborg.[22]

In September, the use of weapons was being taught in seventy-nine Petrograd factories. In a good many factories all the workers carried arms. The military organization of the Bolshevik party could not find enough instructors for these masses. On the eve of the October rising, the Red Guard numbered 20,000 men, organized in battalions of 400 to 600 each divided into three companies, a machine-gun section, a liaison section and an ambulance section. Some of the battalions had an armoured car. Non-commissioned officers (workers) headed the battalions and the companies. Duties were performed on a rota system, with two thirds of the workers at their jobs in the factory at any time, and the other third ‘on guard’, with wages at their job rate paid for time on duty. The rules of the Red Guard required, for admittance, sponsorship from a Socialist party, a factory committee or a trade union. Three absences without excuse were grounds for expulsion. Infractions of discipline were tried by a jury of comrades. Unauthorized use of arms was an offence, and orders had to be obeyed without discussion. Each Red Guard carried a numbered identity card. The officers were elected; in practice, though, they were often selected by factory committees and other working-class bodies, with nominations for senior posts always submitted to the ward Soviets for approval. If the officers had not already received military training they were obliged to take special courses.[23]

In Moscow, it proved to be much harder to establish the Red Guard. The authorities, who were headed by S-Rs and Mensheviks, succeeded in virtually disarming the workers and part of the garrison. Grenades had to be manufactured in secret and explosives obtained from the provinces. The organization of the command and of communications was deplorably late. These weaknesses and delays were to cost the proletariat of Moscow a bloody street battle lasting six days (Serge 1930, ch. 2).

October armed uprising in Petrograd

On September 1st, the Provisional Government, after several months of unsuccessful attempts to establish a constitutional monarchy, proclaimed Russia a republic, and convened a meeting of representatives of public organizations. This All-Russian Democratic Conference Kerensky , feeling decline of its influence in the Soviets tried to oppose the authority of the II All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers 'and Soldiers' Deputies, scheduled for October.

However, anti-war, strikes and peasant movement continued to spread. Under pressure from Lenin's Bolshevik Central Committee on October 10 decided to prepare an armed uprising. _On 10 October, the Central Committee of the Bolshevik party (present: Lenin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Stalin, Trotsky, Sverdlov, Uritsky, Dzerzhinsky, Kollontai, Bubnov, Sokolnikov and Lomov) voted ten to two in favour of immediate preparation for the insurrection. The work of preparation was assigned to a Political Bureau consisting of Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Stalin, Kamenev, Sokolnikov and Bubnov (Serge, 1930, ch. 2). Under the pretext of protecting the capital from the advancing German army Bolsheviks offered the Petrograd Revolutionary Committee of the Council to establish a defense. Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet on October 12 approved a regulation on the Petrograd Military Revolutionary Committee (MRC) , which gave him a very wide powers.

The conflict between the two powers (Kerensky’s Provisional Government and the Soviet) entered a new, sharp phase from 16 October, when the Military Revolutionary Committee, headed by Antonov-Ovseyenko, Podvoisky and Chudnovsky, was formed by the Soviet. The garrison in Petrograd had now been won over to the Bolsheviks. The government tried to send the most revolutionary regiments off to the front, arguing that a German offensive was imminent. The MRC, now with its own communications, intelligence and munitions departments, began by appointing commissars in every unit of the troops. The bourgeoisie was arming – but the appointment of commissars at the arms depots put a stop to that. The delegates of the MRC were welcomed warmly by the soldiers, who knew that the Committee was determined to prevent them being sent off to the front. The MRC in effect refused to countersign the order for the departure of the Red regiments, pleading that it needed further information on the defence forces now available. The MRC now assumed the functions of a General Staff for the Red Guards, and issued definite instructions to the troops not to pay any attention to orders proceeding from their regular commanders. From then on, the insurrection was, as it were, latent. Two powers took the measure of one another, and two military authorities, one of them insurrectionary, deliberately countermanded each other’s orders (Serge 1930, ch. 2).

The Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets was due to meet in Petrograd on 15 October. The Mensheviks succeeded in having it postponed until the 25th (7 November, New Style), thus gaining a respite of ten days for the bourgeoisie’s Provisional Government. Nobody could doubt that the Congress, where the Bolsheviks were certain of a majority, would vote for the seizure of power. ‘You are fixing the date of the revolution!’ said the Mensheviks to their Bolshevik opponents. In order that the predetermined conclusion of the Congress should not be a simple pipe-dream, it was necessary to support that decision by force of arms. Concerning the date of the uprising, two points of view were manifested: Trotsky wanted to link the action to the Congress itself, believing that an insurrection conducted on the party’s own initiative would have less chance of winning mass support; Lenin believed it ‘criminal’ to temporize until the Congress, since he feared that the Provisional Government would forestall the insurrection by a vigorous offensive. This fear, though legitimate, was not justified by the actual march of events: the enemy was caught napping (Serge 1930, ch. 2).

October 16 at a meeting of the Central Committee of the RSDLP (B) to lead the uprising created the Military Revolutionary Party center, which includes the Bubnov, F. Dzerzhinsky , Yakov Sverdlov, I. Stalin , MS Uritsky. October 21 elected offices RMC Bolsheviks - N. Podvoiskii, VA Antonov, AJ Sadowski, Left Socialist Revolutionaries - PE Lazimir, GN Sukhar'kov. MRC sent his commissioners in military units , the warehouses of weapons and ammunition to the fortress, and industrial facilities, railways, offices, the headquarters of the Petrograd Military District. In response to the refusal of the Petrograd military district commander GN Polkovnikova recognized authority commissioners RMC October 22 called Petrograd garrison commanders not to obey orders without his sanction. Since that time, without the permission of commissioners RMC does not hold one instruction.

October 24, speaking at the Pre-Parliament, A. Kerensky announced the start of the Bolshevik uprising and demanded the emergency powers to suppress it. Evening of October 24 the delegation of moderate socialist groups Preparliament visited Kerensky and reported the resolution, the Interim Government refuses to strong support. Kerensky announced that tomorrow interim government to resign. One of the leaders of the Mensheviks and the SR-Menshevik Central Executive Committee FI Dan said Kerensky its intervention prevents them to negotiate with the Bolsheviks on the Elimination of rebellion. Meanwhile, MRC units, consisting of revolutionary soldiers, sailors and workers of Red began to occupy key points of the capital: railway stations, bridges, telegraph, power plants and other strategic institutions. The attempts of the Provisional Government to resist without success.

_On the morning of October 25th, the revolutionary forces at Kronstadt received orders to go to Petrograd to guarantee the defence of the Soviet Congress being held there. This was in fact also an order to move into position for offence, ie., to take part in the insurrection; but that was not stated, for at this time the Bolsheviks were covering all of their insurrectionary preparations under a pretext of defence. The following account of the revolutionary sailors' activities at Kronstadt is from one of the participants, I. Flerovsky:

The work of preparation for our intervention at Petrograd was carried on entirely at night. . . . The Navy Club was crammed with soldiers, sailors and workers, all of them obviously ready for battle. ... The night was one of strenuous work. The following ships were selected to take part in the operation: the torpedo-boat and minelayer Love, the old cruiser Dawn of Liberty (formerly Alexander III), the monitor Vulture. Love and Vulture were to land troops in Petrograd. The cruiser was to take up a position at the entrance to the maritime canal, commanding the coastal railway with its guns. In the streets an intense but noiseless activity went on. Army detachments and squads of sailors marched towards the harbour. Only the serious, resolute faces of the leading ranks could be seen by the light of the torches. There was no laughter, and no talk. The silence was broken only by the military tread of marching men, by brief commands, and by the grinding of the lorries as they went past. At the harbour, the ships were speedily loaded. Detachments of men waited in line on the quay patiently awaiting their turn to embark. Is it possible, I could not help thinking, that these are the last few moments before the great revolution? – quoted in Serge, 1930, ch. 2.

Another significant scene may be borrowed from Flerovsky’s memoirs. It is on board a ship steaming towards the insurrection. The delegate from the revolutionary headquarters enters the officers’ mess.

Here, the atmosphere is different. They are worried, anxious, disoriented. As I enter and salute, the officers rise. They keep standing while they listen to my brief explanation, and the orders I give. ‘We are going to overthrow the Provisional Government by force. Power is being transferred to the Soviets. We are. not relying on your sympathy: we have no need of it. But we do insist that you remain at your posts, going about your duties punctually and obeying our orders. We shall not give you any unnecessary trouble. That is all.’ ‘We understand,’ the captain answered. The officers went off immediately to their posts, and the captain mounted the bridge. A numerous flotilla came to the assistance of the workers and the garrison. Up the Neva sailed the cruisers Aurora, Oleg, Novik, Zabyika and Samson, two torpedo-boats, and various other ships. – quoted in Serge, 1930, ch. 2.

By the morning of October 25 the Winter Palace , where the Provisional Government was located, was completely isolated, allowing the Petrograd Military Revolutionary Committee to address with an appeal "To the Citizens of Russia", written by Lenin, which said that the interim government has been overthrown and the government was taken over by RMC - organ of the Petrograd Council. Happy October 25 revolutionary forces occupied the Mariinsky Palace, where the pre-parliament, and dismissed him, the sailors were busy with military port and the Admiralty, where he was arrested by the Maritime Staff. At 14:35 opened an emergency meeting of the Petrograd Soviet. The Board was informed that the interim government has been overthrown. A report on the current situation by Lenin. By 6 pm the revolutionary troops began to move toward the Winter Palace. At 21:40 on a signal from the fortress thundered blank shot "Aurora", stormed the Winter Palace. Kerensky fled before the assault on Petrograd . At 2 am on October 26 Winter Palace was fully occupied with the rebels. Provisional Government were arrested. When the assault on the Winter Palace was at its height, in Petrograd, in the Smolny opened II All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers 'and Soldiers' Deputies, which was attended by 649 members, of which 390 Bolsheviks, 160 SR, 72 Mensheviks. Group of the Mensheviks and Right Socialist announced declaration of protest "against the military coup and the seizure of power" by the Bolsheviks, and then left the Congress. Congress adopted a Decree on Peace (with an offer warring countries to begin negotiations for a peace without annexations and indemnities) and the Decree on the ground (all land declared national property, without compensation, passed the peasants), chose All-Russian Central Executive Committee (CEC). At the Congress, as a new government - the Council of People's Commissars (SNK, CPC). It was headed by Lenin, the People's Commissar of Internal Affairs, was elected AI Rykov, Foreign Affairs - Leon Trotsky, for nationalities - Stalin. In November 1917, the CPC also included the Left SRs.

Armed uprising in Moscow

October 25th early in the morning, even before receiving the message about the incident from Petrograd coup, a meeting of the Moscow Committee of the Bolshevik, which established military center of the party and it was decided to create a center of the Moscow military council - the Military Revolutionary Committee. On the night of October 26, the Moscow Military Revolutionary Committee ordered the enforcement of the Moscow garrison on alert. Simultaneously with the ongoing plenary councils held a meeting in Moscow vowels Moscow City Duma, which, contrary to RMC, he was elected representative of the Mensheviks, Socialist Revolutionaries, Cadets and other parties "Committee of Public Safety." October 27th commander of the Moscow Military District Ryabtsev presented RMC ultimatum for 15 minutes to eliminate the RMC, the revolutionary garrison to withdraw from the Kremlin and hand recovered from the Arsenal arms. MRC rejected the ultimatum and called on the workers and soldiers to fight against the counter-revolutionary rebels. In the evening, at an extraordinary general meeting of the minds of district vowels Bolsheviks adopted a resolution on the full confidence BPK as the only authority in Moscow. Mensheviks, Socialist Revolutionaries and the Cadets did not participate in the vote and pointedly left the meeting. On the night of October 28 in view of the transition Ryabtseva offensive revolutionary troops clashed with cadets. Detachments of the cadets took the city center, including the Kremlin, Arbat, Smolensk market, Borodino bridge, Bryansk station Ostozhenka Crimean Bridge. In response, the MRC urged the workers for a general political strike. The next day the Moscow revolutionary troops occupied the Little Theatre, the governor's house in the Leontief Lane Simonovsky powder magazine, the Crimean area with stores and quartermaster Katkovsky Lyceum, the Kursk, Nizhny Novgorod and Alexander stations, post offices and main telegraph. Moscow Bureau railwaymen made an offer to RMC to stop fighting and to conclude with the "Committee of Public Safety" truce. The armistice was signed for 24 hours and started at 12 o'clock at night. However, in connection with violations of the armistice on October 30-31, RMC and the Red Guards resumed fighting and won Alekseevskoe military school; Bryansk station, where the Whites were expecting reinforcements from the front; Krutitskaya barracks hotel "Metropol" and Food council. Was captured by the "Battalion of Death", Ukrainian regiments joined the revolutionary forces. In Moscow RMC at 6 pm Oct. 31 delegates arriving from the Soviet of Peasants' Deputies for negotiations to end the armed struggle. The negotiations came to nothing lead. Council of Peasants' Deputies, which is under the leadership of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, sought reinstatement overthrown bourgeois power. Starting negotiations, the Social Revolutionaries sought guy war approach to the White Guard reinforcements. Meanwhile, by November 1, the revolutionary forces have controlled almost all of Moscow. At 12 am on November 2 Menshevik and SR delegation arrived in Moscow to clarify RMC cessation of fighting. RMC put forward the following conditions: All power to the Soviets, "Security Committee" should be disbanded; white guards and cadets must be disarmed, they are guaranteed security of the person. Prior to the adoption of these conditions RMC refused any negotiations were. As a result of the "Committee of Public Safety" was forced to accept all the conditions of RMC. At 9:00 pm Moscow MRC ordered troops to cease hostilities. November 3 was dissolved Moscow City Duma, and on November 13 elections called. At the urging of the Moscow Military Revolutionary Committee and the Council of Trade Unions over the general political strike in Moscow in connection with the victory of the revolutionary uprising. Also released by the order of WRC 135 revolutionary soldiers and peasants, who were arrested by the Provisional Government.

On October 23, 1917 (by the Julian calendar still in use in Russia at the time; November 5 by the current Gregorian calendar), Bolshevik leader Jaan Anvelt led his leftist revolutionaries in an uprising in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. On October 25 (November 7), 1917, Vladimir Lenin led his forces in the uprising in Petrograd, the capital of Russia, against the ineffective Kerensky provisional government. For the most part, the revolt in Petrograd was bloodless, with the Red Guards, led by the Bolsheviks, taking over major government facilities -- these included public buildings, railway stations, telephone exchanges and power stations -- with little opposition, before finally launching an assault on Kerensky's headquarters at the Winter Palace on the night from 25 to 26 October. This "Palace Coup", led by Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko, was launched at 9:45 p.m., signalled by a blank shot from the Cruiser Aurora. (The Cruiser was placed in Petrograd [later Leningrad and now St. Petersburg] and still stands there today.) The Winter Palace was guarded by the Cossaks, the Women's Battalion, and the cadets' (or military students) corps. It was taken at about 2 a.m. The earlier date was made the official date of the Revolution, when all offices except the Winter Palace had been seized.

The insurrection was timed and organised to hand state power to the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, which began on October 25 or 26.[24]

Numbers of Deputies to Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets
Menshevik60 - 70
SR160 - 190 Mostly left-SR, "which was pro-Bolshevik at the time" (Cliff)
total seats650

Source: Cliff (1987) p 3.

The Congress elected a new executive consisting of: Bolsheviks 14; SRs 7, Mensheviks 3, United Internationalist (from Maxim Gorky's group) 1.[25] Near the beginning of the congress, the right Mensheviks and the leaders of the right SRs walked out. Martov, the Menshevik, urged the Bolsheviks to be conciliatory toward them. The Bolshevik's response was given by Trotsky:

Now we are told: renounce your victory, make concessions, compromise. With whom? I ask: with whom ought we to compromise? With those wretched groups who have left us or who are making this proposal? But after all we've had a full view of them. No one in Russia is with them any longer. A compromise is supposed to be made, as between two equal sides, by the millions of workers and peasants represented in this Congress, whom they are ready, not for the first time or the last, to barter away as the bourgeoisie sees fit. No, here no compromise is possible. To those who have left and to those who tell us to do this we must say: you are miserable bankrupts, your role is played out; go where you belong: into the dustbin of history![26]

The meeting also elected a new Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Congress (VTsIK), whose purpose it was to make legislation between sessions of the Congress. The Bolsheviks received 67 seats, left-SRs 29, United Internationalists 6, minor groups 14.[27]

The first Council of People’s Commissars – the term had been suggested by Trotsky to avoid the discredited title of ‘ Ministers’ – was composed solely of Bolsheviks, as follows: Chairman, N. Lenin; Interior, A.I. Rykov; Agriculture, V.P. Milyutin; Labour, A.G. Shlyapnikov; War and Navy, a committee of three (V.A. Antonov-Ovseyenko, N.V. Krylenko, P.E. Dybenko); Commerce and Industry, V.P. Nogin; Education, A.V. Lunacharsky; Finance, I.I. Stepanov-Skvortsev; Foreign Affairs, L.D. Trotsky; Justice, G.I. Oppokov (Lomov); Food, I.A. Teodorovich; Posts and Telegraphs, N.P. Glebov-Avilov; Nationalities, J.V. Dzugashvili (Stalin). No People’s Commissar for Transport and Communications was appointed, doubtless because of the strained relations that existed with the All-Russian Railway Workers’ Committee. – Serge, chap. 3.

On the second day of the Congress, the Soviets elected a Council of People's Commissars (Sovnarkom), with Lenin as chairman, to serve as a government. The Council passed a veritable flood of decrees, the first of which were those on Peace and Land. The Decree on Land ratified the actions of the peasants. Throughout Russia, they had seized private land and redistributed it among themselves. The Bolshevik party viewed itself as one which represented an alliance of workers and peasants (smychka), and it memorialized that understanding by placing the the Hammer and Sickle on the flag and coat of arms of the Soviet Union.

Other decrees were as follows:

  • The Russian banks were all nationalised.
  • Control of the factories was to given the Soviets.
  • Wages were fixed and an eight-hour working day introduced. During the war, people had worked far too long for far too little.
  • All foreign debts were repudiated, the Bolsheviks flatly refusing to pay. Their reasoning was that they were a new government and, as such, did not have to pay the debts accrued by the Tsar and Kerensky's brief regime. Naturally, this damaged severely Russia's foreign relations. Britain and France, for example, had given lent amounts to help Russia, and future dealings between them looked bleak.

The triumph of Soviet power

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Soviet power was established in most of the former Russian Empire from the end of October 1917 to February 1918. Since power had passed to the Soviet government relatively easily and with almost no resistance, this process was called by Lenin, "triumphal march of Soviet power" and was the name entrenched in Soviet historiography.

More prolonged, compared with the uprising in Petrograd , the Bolsheviks had led an armed uprising in Moscow. Here it is with a lot of casualties on both sides. Most of the large industrial centers passed into the hands of the Soviets in late October - early November 1917 without major clashes. Of the 84 cities, in just 15 was Soviet power established as a result of armed struggle.

Thus, the Soviet government was installed:

October 25 - Ivanovo-Voznesensk, Shuya, Kostroma, Tver, Bryansk, Yaroslavl, Ryazan, Vladimir, carpets, Serpukhov and Podolsk;

October 26 - in Dvinsk, Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk, Rostov-on-Don, Ufa and Kozlov;

October 27 - in Izhevsk and Samara;

October 28 - Syzran;

October 29 - in Saratov, Irkutsk, Kiev;

October 30 - Krasnoyarsk, perovskite, Voronezh;

November 1 - in Tashkent, Belgorod;

November 2 - in Minsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Yaroslavl, Baku;

November 4 - in Tsaritsyn;

November 5 - in Sevastopol;

November 25 - Orel;

November 26 - Kursk;

November 28 - in Kaluga;

November 29 - in Vladivostok and Irkutsk;

December 4 - in Samarkand;

December 6 - Barnaul and Tomsk;

December 7 - in Tula.

In November-December 1917, the Soviet government received support at the front. The first attempts to fight the counter-revolution on the basis of the Cossack troops - performances in 1917, the Corps of General Krasnov outside Petrograd, chieftains Cossack troops AM Kaledin on the Don and AI Dutov in Orenburg province - were suppressed relative easily.

Early directions

In late 1917, Trotsky was asked whether it was the intention of the Soviet government to dispossess the owners of industrial plants in Russia. His reply outlined the government's general approach to economic control at that time:

"No, we are not yet ready to take over all industry. That will come in time, but no one can say how soon. For the present, we expect out of the earnings of a factory to pay

the owner 5% or 6% yearly on his actual investment. What we aim at now is control, rather than ownership…

"[By control] I mean that we will see to it that the factory is run not from the point of view of profit, but from the point of view of the social welfare democratically conceived. For example, we will not allow the capitalist to shut up his factory in order to starve his workmen into submissiveness or because it is not yielding him a profit. If it is turning out economically a needed product, it must be kept running. If the capitalist abandons it, he will lose it altogether, for a board of directors chosen by the workers will be put in charge…

"Again, 'control' implies that the books and correspondence of the concern will be open to the public, so that henceforth there will be no industrial secrets. If this concern hits upon a better process or device, it will be communicated to all the other concerns in the same branch of industry, so that the public will promptly realise the utmost possible benefit from the find. At present, it is hidden away from other concerns at the dictate of the profit motive, and for years the article may be kept needlessly scarce and dear to the consuming public…

"‘Control’ also means that primary requisites limited in quantity, such as coal, oil, iron, steel etc., will be allotted to the different plants calling for them with an eye to their social utility…

"[This will be done not] according to the bidding of capitalists against one another, but on the basis of full and carefully gathered statistics." (In Defence of the Russian Revolution, Workers’ Control and Nationalisation by Leon Trotsky).[28]

Border nationalities

Harder to establish Soviet power on national outskirts.

On November 2nd or 3rd, 1917, the Soviet goverment proclaimed a `Declaration of Rights of the Peoples of the Russian Empire'. This gave the peoples of the border territories equal rights, and the right to self-determination, including the right of secession. `At once the nationalities along the periphery of the Russian state became play-things of world politics.' (Chris Hill, 1947, p 160.)

An independent Ukrainian government was recognized by Germany `for the purpose of embarrassing the Bolsheviks in the negotiations at Brest-Litovsk', (According to Chris Hill, p 160) and of establishing German control in the Ukraine by the forcible restoration of the old order. The same Ukrainian government was already receiving encouragement from the Entente. The Bolsheviks in their turn helped the miners of the Donetz Basin and the workers of the industrial eastern Ukraine to establish a Soviet government in Kharkov. The Ukrainian government in Kiev became increasingly a German puppet.

An Anglo-French Agreement of December 10, 1917, (o.s.) assigned the Ukraine as a zone of influence and intervention to France; and North Russia, the Baltic States and the Caucasus to England. In January 1919 (after Germany's defeat) the Allied Command in south Russia published a manifesto to the effect that "both the Germans and ourselves have come here not as conquerors but as champions of right. Hence their objects and ours are identical."

In the Baltic States "bourgeois" governments were set up with the aid first of German, then of British arms. The Soviet government recognized the independence of Finland, even under a bourgeois government, in January 1918; German military support helped to keep it in power. In Georgia an independent Menshevik government established itself in November 1917. (Text adapted from Chris Hill, pp 160-1.)

Elsewhere, many nationalities proclaimed allegiance to the Soviets. These included Belarus in October 1917, Turkestan in November 1917, and Kazakhstan in January-February 1918.

A nationalist government stayed in power in the Caucasus.

On January 3, 1918 the Central Executive Committee declared Russia the Socialist Federal Republic of Soviets of Workers' and Peasants' Deputies (RSFSR). The Bolsheviks set the policies of the Soviet government, with the Left SRs cooperating, up to March 1918. Faced with fierce resistance from the bureaucracy (sabotage by employees in state institutions), business (closing of factories, withholding of documents and funds in defiance workers' self-management), bourgeois parties (attempts to organize conspiracies), responses were not long in coming. Freedom of the press was restricted, the Cadet Party was declared an enemy, {? stimulate grassroots initiative of the masses: the nationalization of the pressure of working a large number of industries, "black" egalitarian redistribution of land in the village?} .

The dissolution of the Constituent Assembly

Given the popularity of the slogan of the Constituent Assembly, the Soviet government in November held elections to the Constituent Assembly, and January 5, 1918 it convened. Since the elections were held on party lists prepared by authorities of the Provisional Government, and at a time when there just went the establishment of Soviet power and its decrees were not known to much of the population, most of the deputies of the Constituent Assembly were the representatives of the parties (Mensheviks, Socialist Revolutionaries, Cadets, nationalist parties and organization), overthrown by the October Revolution. The composition of the Constituent Assembly does not reflect the new balance of class forces in the country. Counter-revolutionary sentiments of the majority of the Constituent Assembly refused to recognize the Soviet government to approve the Declaration of Rights of the Working and Exploited People. Therefore, the decision of 6 January to the All Constituent Assembly was dissolved. This act met widespread support workers, soldiers, peasants and their advice.


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Petrograd Milrevcom proclamation about the deposing of the Russian Provisional Government

The Second Congress of the Soviets consisted of 650 elected delegates: 390 were Bolsheviks and nearly a hundred Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, who also supported the overthrow of the Kerensky Government. When the fall of the Winter Palace was announced, the Congress adopted a decree which transferred power to the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies, and thus ratified the Revolution. The transfer of power was not without disagreement, however. The center and Right wings of the Socialist Revolutionaries, as well as the Mensheviks, believed that Lenin and the Bolsheviks had illegally seized power and they walked out of the congress before the resolution was passed. As they exited, they were taunted by Leon Trotsky: "You are pitiful, isolated individuals; you are bankrupts; your role is played out. Go where you belong from now on -- into the dustbin of history!" Their departure gave the Bolsheviks all but total control, with Kerensky and his provisional government now totally out of the picture.

Bolshevik-led attempts to seize power in other parts of the Empire were largely successful in Russia proper -- the fighting in Moscow lasted for two weeks, though -- but they were less successful in those parts of the Empire which were ethnically-non-Russian. These parts had been clamoring for independence since the February Revolution. The Ukrainian Rada, for example, which had declared autonomy on June 23, 1917, created the Ukrainian People's Republic on November 20, and this was supported by the Ukrainian Congress of Soviets. It led to an armed conflict with the Bolshevik government in Petrograd and, eventually, a Ukrainian declaration of independence from Russia on January 25, 1918.[29] In Estonia, two rival governments emerged: the Estonian Diet declared independence on November 28, 1917, while an Estonian Bolshevik, Jaan Anvelt, was recognized by Lenin's government as Estonia's leader on December 8, although forces loyal to Anvelt only controlled the capital.[30]

A coalition of anti-Bolshevik groups subsequently attempted, unsuccessfully, to unseat the new government in the Russian Civil War, which lasted from 1918 to 1922. The United States did not recognize the new Russian government until 1933 and would later send 10,000 troops to Siberia. Most European powers recognised the Soviet Union in the early 1920s and began to engage in business with it comparatively early.


Preoccupied with problems at home the young Soviet government could no longer take part in the First World War, especially after his own statements about the necessity of Russia's withdrawal from the imperialist war. Arose an urgent need for a truce was granted in December 1917 in Brest-Litovsk. However, Germany's demands to give her the territory of 150 000 square meters. km (Poland, part of the Baltic states and Belarus) have caused controversy in the government. A smaller part of it, led by Lenin, insisted on unconditional acceptance of German terms. Big - supported Bukharin, calling for a "revolutionary war" against Germany by all means possible. LT Trotsky, who led the delegation, and to act in accordance with their own views, in fact, caused a powerful German offensive. As a result, the Soviet government had to make predatory Brest Peace March 3, 1918 to a much more severe conditions, passing Germany 750,000 square meters. km area and ordered to pay a huge indemnity.

Civil War and intervention

Gone underground after the establishment of Soviet power counterrevolutionary forces were not going to just give up the privileges and lost, using a revolt of the Czechoslovak Corps, launched an offensive in the South Urals, and thus provoking prolonged until the end of the civil war in 1920. The first attack of General Krasnov were successfully repulsed. However, after the end of World War II, the Allied countries, taking advantage of the weakness of exhausted by war and revolution in Soviet Russia to subject it to himself, landed their landings in the South and in the Far East. Staked on the White generals. As a result, by the fall in Siberia installed dictatorship of Admiral Kolchak, the north has a major role to play General Miller in the north-west - General Yudenich in the south strengthened the power of the commander of the Volunteer Army of General Denikin. Allied attempts by force to overthrow the Soviet government has triggered a wave of outrage among the labor movement throughout the world. In Europe and America have been mass demonstrations under the slogan "Hands off Soviet Russia." In the spring of 1919, well armed and equipped by the Allied armies surrounded the Soviet Republic Whites ring fronts. However, the White generals acted very inconsistently. Moreover, their desire to establish order in the territories under the control of Tsarist Russia has caused a storm of discontent on the part of the masses, which was manifested in the partisan movement. At the same time the Soviet government was able to stabilize the situation in the rear, finally establish manned and combat ready Red Army, adopting a policy of "war communism": requisitioning and labor conscription, put on a war footing and the centralization of industrial management. Because of this, Kolchak, was heading to the Volga, was stopped and dropped troops on the Eastern Front, which then went on the offensive in Siberia. Denikin was defeated and began to retreat, which was completed in the spring of 1920 in the Crimea. In April 1920, the Soviet-Polish war, which ended in the Riga peace, to which Poland received a significant part of the Ukraine and Belarus. The final event of the Civil War was the defeat of General Wrangel in the Crimea.

Formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Main article : Union of Soviet Socialist Republics After the Soviet power was restored to most of the former Russian Empire, the Soviet republics of friendly management initiated the creation of the Union State. In this process, 30 December 1922 I Congress of Soviets proclaimed the formation of the new state - the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics . Union state was established on the basis of the RSFSR , Transcaucasian SFSR , Ukrainian and Byelorussian SSR. Over time, the number of union republics reached 15.

Third (Communist) International

Almost immediately after the declaration of the Soviet regime in Russia leadership of the RCP (b) took the initiative to design a new International to bring together and unite the working class of the world. In January 1918, in Petrograd was a meeting of representatives of left-wing groups in several countries of Europe and America. A March 2, 1919 in Moscow, I was launched founding Congress of the Communist International. Comintern set himself the task to support the labor movement throughout the world to implement world revolution which would completely replace the capitalist economy of the world system of communism. It is largely thanks to the Communist International, the Communist parties were formed in many countries in Europe, Asia and America, which ultimately led to their victory in China, Mongolia, Korea and Vietnam and the establishment of the socialist system in them. Thus, the October Revolution, which created the first socialist state - the Soviet Union , initiated the collapse of the capitalist system in the world.

Soviet in memoriam of the event

The term Red October (Красный Октябрь, Krasny Oktyabr) has also been used to describe the events of the month. This name has, in turn, been lent to a tractor factory made notable by the Battle of Stalingrad, a Moscow sweets factory that is well-known in Russia, and a fictional Soviet submarine.

Red October is also known as the Red Revolution.

See also


  1. `It is strange that the Provisional Government did not take alarm at a conspiracy hatched almost in the open.' (Ross, p 283.) Kamanev and Zinoviev, in an act of dissent from the rest of the Bolshevik leadership, announced the Bolshevik's plans for the insurrection in a Menshevik newspaper on Oct. 18 (Marxists.org `Timenline').
  2. Serge, chapter 2, says there were 13 Provisional Government Ministers arrested; Antonov of the M.R.C., who is quoted by Ross, p 279, says there were 16 – that is, the whole government except Kerensky who had slipped away from the palace earlier.
  3. Serge, 1930, chapter 2. He cites K. Grasis, `October in Kazan', Proletarskaya Revoliutsiya, No.10 (33), 1924.

    Christopher Hill, in Lenin and the Russian Revolution (1947, p 114) writes: `In Petrograd and Moscow the Soviets enjoyed as much respect as the organs of the Provisional Government. Soviets were even more firmly established in some at least of the provincial towns than in the capitals, and their range of activity in the provinces was frequently greater. In many places food distribution was in their hands, and they exercised partial control over production.'

  4. `25th': marxists.org `Timeline'; 2nd: Serge chap. 2; Ross says there were about 700 or 800 killed, mostly workers.
  5. Serge, 1930, chap. 2
  6. `It was the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets, convened on the very day the Winter Palace was attacked, that laid the foundations of the Soviet system. The executive power – as well as a limited legislative power – was vested in a Council of People 's Commissaries, corresponding to our Cabinet or min- istry. A Central Executive Committee of two hundred and fifty persons selected by the Congress of Soviets and the Peasants' Congress constituted a kind of parliament. The decree creating the council named Lenin as its president and Trotsky as Commissary of Foreign Affairs.' (Ross, p 292.) Kamenev, at least as translated in Ross, p 282, uses the spelling, `Commissaries'
  7. Lenin's `Draft Regulation on Workers' Control' (Oct. 1917) formed the basis of the worker self-management decree
  8. Strauss, 1941, part V, chapter XVI
  9. Edward Alsworth Ross (1921), Chapter II: `The Background of the Toiling Masses' has some information on pre-revolutionary conditions in Russia, including a mention that `since the memorable visitation of 1891 scarecly a year has passed that there has not been famine in some part of Russia' (p 14).
  10. This might have been avoided if the leadership had not become so distanced from the massses. Lenin understood the importance of the connection: `In the eyes of the bougeoisie, strength is manifested when the masses go blindly to the slaughter. The only government which the bourgeoisie recognize as strong is one which can use all the power of the state machine to push the masses anywhere it pleases. Our conception of strength is different. In our eyes, a government is strong in proportion to the consciousness of the masses. It is strong when these masses know everything, judge everything, accept everything consciously.' (Collected Works, London, 1969, Vol.26, p.256. Quoted in Serge, 1930.)
  11. The following data from the World Bank show the degree of Russia's deterioration since its return to capitalism.
    • Gross domestic product. After 1989 Russia's gross domestic product fell rapidly. Per capita GDP, in inflation-adjusted terms (constant 2005 $US as calculated by the World Bank), was 5,884 in 1989. By 1998 it had fallen to 3,300. Since then it has recovered, reaching 6,834 in 2012. The overall growth, 1989-2012, is 16% over the 23-year period, which is 0.65% per annum, a very low average. The following table compares it to that of some oher countries:
      Per capita GDP (const. 2005 $US)
      19892012average annual % increase
      Saudi Arabia11,65617,5911.81
    • Industrial output. Value-added in industry (in 2005 constant $US) was 341 billion in 1990 (the earliest figure available). By 1998 it had fallen to 149 billion, a mere 44 percent of the 1990 figure. It has still not recovered to the 1990 level, standing at 281 billion in 2012.
    • Depopulation. In 1989, the population of Russia was 147.7 million. It bottomed at 141.9 million in 2009; in 2012 it was 143.5 million, still below the 1989 level.
    • Income inequality. The GINI index is a standard measure of income inequality. A GINI index of zero indicates perfect equality; an index of one indicates the maximum possible inequality: one person receiving all of the income and the rest of the population receiving nothing. The GINI index for Russia in 1988 was 0.24, one of the lowest in the world. (The World Bank does not give a figure for 1989.) The 2009 figure, the most recent available, is 0.40.

    All data are for the Russian Federation, as given in World Bank, World Development Indicators, data retrieved January 2014.

  12. Russian Federation CO2 output in kilo-tonnes, from World Bank, World Development Indicators: 1992 (earliest data available), 2,139,720; 2010 (most recent datum), 1,740,776. Decrease: 18.6%.
  13. On the loan: `In April 1906 a syndicate of bankers, mainly French and with the backing of the French government, granted the tsar's government a loan of 3,350 million francs "the largest loan yet made in the history of mankind," the Russian Prime Minister proudly called it. Henceforth Nicholas could snap his fingers at the State Duma.'– Chris Hill (1947: p 12). Chris Hill quotes the former Prime Minister, Witte, as saying the government sought ways to effectively annull the reforms (1947: p 101). The statement on the relative representation of proprietor and worker in the Duma is from Chris Hill (1947: p 72).
  14. In 1900, 79% of capital invested in Russian industry was of foreign origin, according to Serge, chapter I: `From Serfdom to Proletarian Revolution', section: `1907-14: Reaction and Franco-Russian Imperialism'. He cites M.N. Pokrovsky, `How Did the War of 1914 Begin?', Proletskaya Revoliutsiya 7(30), 1924. See also Ross (1921), chapter II on conditions in the army, and on foreign ownership in industry, the largeness of the firms, and work conditions.
  15. Ross (1921) pp 102-4 describes the large welcome for Lenin.
  16. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol 24. Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964. Ed. Bernard Isaacs. Pp 21-24.
  17. Chamberlain, p 119
  18. Ross, p 119.
  19. Ross, chapter XII: `The May Crisis' (he uses new-style dates).
  20. Golikov, p 180.
  21. Ross, p 181.
  22. Some of the passages on the Red Guards has been taken veratim from Serge (1930). Marxists.org provides the following footnote on Shlyapnikov: `An engineering worker from the Bolshevik emigration, Shlyapnikov undertook illegal activity in Petrograd in the last months of Tsarism, on which he has written some interesting memoirs: The Eve of 1917 (Kanun Semnadtsatogo Goda) (Moscow, no date). He became one of the organizers of the Russian Metal Workers’ Union and then, in October 1917, Commissar for Labour. In 1921 he was one of the leaders of the ‘Workers’ Opposition’ in the Russian Communist party. [He capitulated to Stalin in 1926, was expelled from the party in 1933, was sent to an ‘isolator’ in 1935, and died obscurely in 1943.]'
  23. Material from Serge (1930, chap 2). He cites G. Georgievsky, Essay on the History of the Red Guard (Ocherki po Istorii Krasnoi Gvardii) (Moscow, 1919).
  24. Cliff, p 3, says 26th; previous version of article says 25th -- Earhtmonkey, March 2013.
  25. Cliff, p 3.
  26. Quoted in Cliff (1987) p 4; also earlier (pre-2013) version of article.
  27. Cliff (1987) p 4.
  28. Quoted in Rob Lyon, `Workers' Control and Nationalisation – Part 2.
  29. See Encyclopedia of Ukraine online
  30. See the article on Estonian independence in the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia online


Online histories

Christopher Hill, Lenin and the Russian Revolution. London, England; 1947. About 245 pp. This is sort of the opposite of a timeline. Has a summary of times and events but is mostly about the ideas and social forces at play. Author sounds like he might be a Marxist. archive.org: text (about 350 kB) , .pdf and other formats also available from archive.org.

Marxists.org, 2005, `Timeline of the Russian Revolution'. (Compiled by Brian Bagson.) Free on their website

Edward Alsworth Ross The Russian Bolshevik Revolution. 1921. American writer. Liberal in some ways. Very critical of Lenin's dissolution of the Constituent Assembly. archive.org

Victor Serge, Year One of the Russian Revolution. 1930. Marxist perspective. Translated from the French by Peter Sedgewick. Avilable free from marxists.org

Spark Notes, 2006, The October Revolution(timeline). Anti-communist point of view. Also contains simple factual errors. sparknotes.com. Accessed Jan 2014.


Maurice Brinton, The Bolsheviks and Workers' Control (Solidarity: 1970), `The Russian Revolution', `1917'. marxists.org

Tony Cliff, Lenin, Revolution Besieged. Bookmarks; London, England; 1987.

G N Golikov, "Historical Outline, Epoch of Socialism," in Robert Maxwell (ed.) Information USSR. Pergamon; New York City, USA; 1962.

Vladimir Lenin, Draft Regulation on Workers' Control. 1917. marxists.org

Rob Lyon, `Workers' Control and Nationalization – Part Two`. 2006. marxist.com

Erich Strauss, Soviet Russia: Anatomy of a Social History. 1941. marxists.org

Ronald Grigor Suny, The Soviet Experiment: Russia, the USSR, and the Successor States. Oxford University Press; Oxford, England; 2011.

World Bank, World Development Indicators databank.worldbank.org Retrieved January 2014.

External links

ru:Великая Октябрьская социалистическая революция