by Vassilis Andreoulakis

by Jessica Dean

October 1917

by Vassilis Andreoulakis February 03, 1999


    All of Lenin's persuasive power over his lieutenants was required on October 10th, 1917 in order for them to overcome their fears. That's when 12 members of the Bolshevik central committee desided about the attack on the government.

Two members of the committee, Zinoviev and Kamenev, were opposed to this "rebelion" and since they were outvoted, they told the press about the Bolshevik plans. The Provisional government was in a "deep coma" though. By the 23rd of the month they had taken some small countermeasures. For instance, they closed down Bolshevik newspapers. On October 24th, the council of the Republic condemned both sides, the Bolsheviks as well as Kerensky, stating that any coup d'etat would be caused by those countermeasures.



That was the day that Russian democracy ceased to be. However, that does not imply that October 25th was the day that the soviet state was created. Nevertheless, it was a day that a number of history altering events took place. The city of Petrograd was seized by forces under the leadership of the Military revolutionary committee. Kerensky fled and the Provisional government collapsed easily. The Red Guards occupied the winter palace, a place where some remaining ministers were hiding. Moreover, the 390 Bolshevik members of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, from a total of 650, supported the revolution and overpowered the will of the Anti-Bolshevik left.



 But again, thepeople witnessed the collapse of a system without the rebirth of another. It was not until March 1918, when the new rulers demonstrated their ability to bring peace by taking the country out of war, that a new powerfull system was flourishing. This new authority was to be exclusive for all the country, despite oppositions. The structure of the system was to shread any democratic beliefs, and moreover, the question of power could be solved by force and not ideological formulas.




After the provisional government was history, the Bolsheviks had  to figure out a way to stay in power, a task far more difficult than gaining it at first. Unlike Petrograd, the seizure of Moscow would be bllody, but the Bolsheviks did not wish to gain power by use of armed forces. They believed that propaganda and revolutionary tactics worked better.


   On October 26, Lenin read two "decrees" to the congress of  soviets. The declaration of peace and the decree of land. The first found great support from soldiers that were fed up with war. Lenin was ready to secure any kind of peace, quickly. The second decree, abolished private ownership of land but the peasants could use their holdings freely. The peasants did not realize that their holdings would eventually   be nationalized. Moreover, Lenin ordered the seizure and redistribution of state, church and landlord's estates to the poor peasants. All this went against Marxism and the idea that mass cultivation would be economically beneficial. But at this point, Bolsheviks simply needed to keep the peasants neutral in their plans of maintaining power.


  Food shortages now, where a cause for the dissolving of the army. Bolsheviks were able to buy more time to establish themselves. Both decrees were approved by the congress of Soviets, as well as the composition of the new government. Ministers became commissars. Lenin was the chairman of the council of commissars. Some of its members are names that made history. Trosky, commissar of foreign affairs, Alexei Rykov of interior, Alexander Shlyapnikov of labor and Joseph Stalin of nationalities.


  To some of Lenin's followers, the one party government as well as the one party state seemed un-marxian. Some left socialist revolutionaries that had fought on the Bolshevik side, such as Kamenev, Zinoviev and Rykov asked for a government coalition. They simply suggested that one party with 300,000 members could nor run a country of 150 million. Lenin was threatened by the Railwaymen's union that unless he formed a coalition of all proletarian forces, they would go on strike. But in the end his view prevailed. Coalitions meant endless discussions and compromises, things of the past as Lenin thought.



Kowalski, Ronald: The Bolshevik party in conflict, London, Center for Russian and East European studies University of Birmingham, 1991.

Reshetar, John: A concise history of the Communist party of the S.U., New York, Praeger, 1964.

Carr, Edward: A history of Soviet Russia, New York, Macmillan, 1951.



The New Russia: 
The Bolshevik
and its Implications.

by Jessica Dean

February 1998  


Russian Revolution of March 1917 by a parliamentary provisional government dominated by parties made up of primarily leftist members. This was a drastic indicator of the mood of the people who wanted change in their governments as well as in their lives. People were angry because of declining economic conditions that were worsened by their involvement in World War I. Furthermore many did not understand why they were giving their lives to this war. Thousands were losing their lives in a war that the government gave them no moral or economic reason to fight. When the provisional government took over they wanted to increase freedom for the people but were not ready to back out of the war. The new progressive government in Petrograd wanted to honor the military and diplomatic engagements of the old regime.



As the war waged on, economic conditions in Russia worsened and the Russia people were paying a high price to hold off the German offensive. The public still did not find reason to fight this bloody war. The Bolshevik leader V.I Lenin came from exile in neutral Switzerland to the Russian capital to offer a solution. Severe food shortages, the maldistribution of arable land, and the mounting casualty rate at the front collectively represented a sufficient incentive for large sections of the Russian population to respond favorably to Lenin's enticing slogan of "bread, land, and peace" (Keylor, 62). The new provisional government did not provide the radical changes that the Russian people were anticipating. This made the overthrow of the Russian provisional government by the Bolshevik movement possible on November 7, 1917 only months after the Romanov dynasty came down.


When in power Lenin wanted to 'place power in the hands of the proletariat and the poorest sections of the peasants' (Lenin, 2). He believed that above all else the Russia had to be at peace from the European conflict. He believed that the governments of capitalists were the worst enemies of peace and socialism (Lenin, 3). Only one day after gaining power, Lenin announced over the radio his intention for immediate cessation of the war, if necessary by a separate peace with the Central Powers. Next the new Russian government repudiated the czarist regime's debts to foreign lenders, thereby wiping out roughly a quarter of France's foreign investment portfolio. The Bolshevik further demonstrates its antagonism to capitalist nations when they published secret agreements concerning the postwar redistribution of enemy territory. This caused considerable embarrassment to Britain, France and Italy. The ally nations responded by ignoring the Bolshevik announcement and refusing to recognize the new government. In response Russia opened separate peace negotiations with the Central Powers in the city of Brest-Litovsk on December 3, 1917 (Carr, 18).


Three months later in March 3, 1918 the Brest-Litovsk peace agreement was signed by German and Russian emissaries that officially removed Russia from the war. According to the treaty the Bolshevik regime was forced to cede virtually the entirety of its non-Russian territories in Europe: Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland in the north, Ukraine and the provinces of Transcaucasia (Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan) in the south (Keylor, 62). These territories were not annexed but represented the new policy of 'association' which made these providence's German nation states. This had server implication for Russia who became cut off from the Baltic Sea. Russia lost mass amount of people, resources, industry, vital minerals, raw materials and food supplies due to the peace agreements. Russia lost mass iron resources, food, Caucasus, cotton and wool from Ukraine alone. Lenin quickly learned there would be a high price to pay for a separate peace.


The result of the Bolshevik revolution had international implication. Russia's absence in the war allowed Germany to put all of its resources and men on the western front. Furthermore, German gained the territory and resources from Russia in which they employed for their war effort. In response there was an inter-American alliances sent to monitor Russia to make sure Germany did not retrieve further Russian goods to aid them in the war. The United States, Britain, France and Japan all had a station in Russia. This had implication in the civil war that Russia would soon face and for the reshaping of international politics. The Bolshevik revolution of November 7, 1917 was a turning point in international history.


Works cited:

  • Carr, E.H. A History of Society Russia: 1 The Bolshevik Revolution, Trinity College, Cambridge, 1978.

  • Keylor, William R. The Twentieth Century World: An International History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

  • Lenin, V.L. The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution. Pravda, No. 26, April 7, 1917.





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