Russian revolution of 1917

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Russian revolution of 1917
DateNovember 7th, 1917
Post-Tsarist Russia
Result Bolshevik victory
Bolsheviks Russian Republic
Casualties and losses
Wounded soldiers Officers arrested

The October Revolution (also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, or simply the Russian Revolution) was a socialist revolution which took place in the Russian Empire on 7 November 1917, following the abdication of Tsar Nicholas Romanov and the establishment of the Russian Provisional Government in March 1917. Brought on by the popular support for the Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Lenin and the failure of the Provisional Government to exit the First World War, the situation of dual power between the government and the worker-led Soviets led to the overthrow of the state and the establishment of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) in the same year.

It received massive international attention at the time and initiated the events of the Russian Civil War, provoking military interventions from the United States, United Kingdom and other countries.



See also: February Revolution

The government of Kerensky failed to take up the task of necessary reforms and continued the imperialist war which was losing Russia its most class-conscious men and resulting in financial bondage to the Entente.

Revolution in Petrograd

The actual seizure of power from the Kerensky government was relatively bloodless. The Winter Palace was attacked and seized on the night of 7 November 1918, and the soviets seized power and dismissed the bourgeois parliament, ending dual power.[1] Key eyewitnesses to the event include John Reed.

Revolution in Russian Turkestan

The revolution took longer to build momentum in Russian Turkestan due to the lack of existing socialist influence in the region. Aside from territories under direct control of the Russian Tsar, the Tsar had vassalised the Emirate of Bukhara and the Khanates of Khiva and Kokand. The population composition consisted of segregated Russian kulak settlers and the local populace, whom were stratified into the clerical nobility of the theocratic regime and the peasantry. The region was highly underdeveloped in terms of agriculture, literacy and social progress and repression was reminiscent of the Medieval ages. The Russian occupation worsened the situation and landlessness among the peasants grew, doubling between 1909 and 1911.[2] However, the region was rife with activity of Djadidists (bourgeois nationalists), who went on to ally with the Bolsheviks.

Impact and aftermath

The Great October Socialist Revolution inspired a number of communist and anti-colonialist movements across the globe. Underlining the importance of the unity of the revolutionaries who broke with the social-chauvinism of the Second International, the Third International (Communist International)'s program united disjointed communist groups. The workers' state immediately showed solidarity by annulling unjust treaties imposed by the former Tsarist regime along with other colonial powers against China, Turkey and Iran and going on to assist Turkey in its liberation against the imperialist Treaty of Severing. Along with actively platforming and aiding third-world revolutionary movements in the Baku Congress of the Peoples of the East and Communist University for the Toilers of the East respectively, the Soviet state stood in solidarity with Weimar Germany against the imperialist Treaty of Versailles to subjugate the latter. Through its progressive nationalities' policy of the Soviet Union, the respect and trust of bourgeois nationalists struggling against imperialism was won.[3]


Bourgeois historiography pivots around denying the necessity of the October Revolution (Richard Pipes) insisting that Kerensky's liberal-democratic revolution sufficed and denying the general incompetence of the government resulting to susceptibility to a military coup, like the one which had already been staged by Lavr Kornilov. According to such historians, if the anomaly of the first world war and the Bolshevik Revolution had not struck, Russia may have progressed out of backwardness herself or achieved stability under a liberal democracy. These historians deny the historical materialist view of history and ignore the underlying superstructure , viewing instead the First World War as well, as a result of serendipities and breakdown of diplomatic relations. As outlined by Joseph Stalin, reforms are adopted and kept afloat in response to revolutionary social movements (the limited political reforms were a result of the 1905 revolution and were quickly rescinded over the years) and Russia constituted the weakest link in the imperial system – which was only exacerbated and catalysed by the conditions of the first world war.[4][5]

Trotsky and Trotskyist historians tend to exaggerate the role of Trotsky in the October Revolution and his military exploits. While he was a major figure responsible for the establishment of the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army, he joined the Bolshevik Party only 6 months prior to the revolution and continued to be involved in anti-party activities, like revealing party plans to a bourgeois newspaper and not following party directions for the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

Another source of contention within the bourgeois historiographical paradigm is whether or not Lenin and the Bolsheviks' actions during the Russian Civil War lead (inevitably) to 'Stalinism', a phenomenon of supposedly ossified bureaucracy, omniscient state and mass repressions, which is a caricature that is often painted of the Soviet history. Glossed over are the democratic advances made under Stalin. Stalin is presented as having usurped power when he held just the post of General Secretary even before Lenin's death. The humanist prison reforms aimed towards rehabilitation which were brought forth after relaxation of the Red Terror are missed as well.


  1. Vijay Prashad (2017). Red Star over the Third World: 'Red October' (p. 30). [PDF] New Delhi: LeftWord Books.
  2. Joshua Konitz, Dawn Over Samarkand
  3. See Amanullah Khan's letter to Vladimir Lenin available in Wikisource
  4. Stalin, Joseph (1924). The foundations of Leninism: The historical roots of Leninism.
  5. Walter Rodney, The Russian Revolution: A View from the Third World