The October Revolution, officially known as the Great October Socialist Revolution and commonly referred to as Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a seizure of state power instrumental in the larger Russian Revolution of 1917. It took place with an armed insurrection in Petrograd traditionally dated to 25 October 1917 (by the Julian or Old Style calendar, which corresponds to 7 November 1917 in the Gregorian or New Style calendar).
The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917 was initiated by millions of people who would change the history of the world. When Czar Nicholas II dragged 11 million peasants into World War I, the Russian people became discouraged with their injuries and the loss of life they sustained. The country of Russia was in ruins, ripe for revolution.
The revolution was led by the Bolsheviks, who used their influence in the Petrograd Soviet to organize the armed forces. Bolshevik Red Guards forces under the Military Revolutionary Committee began the takeover of government buildings on 24 October 1917 (O.S.). The following day, the Winter Palace (the seat of the Provisional government located in Petrograd, then capital of Russia), was captured.
The long-awaited Constituent Assembly elections were held on 12 November 1917. The Bolsheviks only won 175 seats in the 715 seat legislative body, coming in second behind the Socialist party, which won 370 seats. The Constituent Assembly was to first meet on 28 November 1917, but its convocation was delayed until January 5, 1918 by the Bolsheviks. On its first and only day in session, the body rejected Soviet decrees on peace and land, and was dissolved the next day by order of the Congress of Soviets.
As the revolution was not universally recognized, there followed the struggles of the Russian Civil War (1917’22) and the creation of the Soviet Union in 192
EVENTS LEADING TO OCTOBER REVOLUTION
The Bolsheviks were a revolutionary party, which was the idea of Karl Marx. They believed that the working classes would, at some point, liberate themselves from the economic and political control of the ruling classes. Once they had achieved this, a genuine socialist society based on equality could be established. According to there view, this process was bound to take place, sooner or later.
The Bolsheviks was formed and was led by the Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov – known as Lenin. Pitiless and single-minded, Lenin decided that the conditions in Russia in 1917 were ripe for revolution.
At the beginning of 1917, however, the Bolsheviks were still a minority organisation within Russia. Most of their leaders, including Lenin, were in exile in Switzerland and the chances of the Bolsheviks ever attaining power in Russia seemed pretty remote.
At the time of the February Revolution, which overthrew the Tsar, the Bolsheviks were still relatively weak. Yet, by the end of the year, the Bolsheviks were the government of Russia. Clearly, important developments had taken place in the intervening months.
The Bolsheviks were given a strong boost by a number of factors:
As the name implied, the Provisional Government was meant to be a temporary affair. Following the fall of the Tsar, Russia needed a government to run things until proper elections could be held. These elections were delayed.
At the same time, the Provisional Government took major decisions, such as remaining in World War I and postponing land reforms, which greatly affected the Russian people. This made the Provisional Government increasingly unpopular and allowed Lenin to attack it for these reasons, and for the fact that it had never been elected to power.
Economic difficulties had played a major role in Nicholas II’s fall from power. The Provisional Government had very limited success in dealing with these problems. Prices went on rising, food was in short supply and the peasants’ desire for control of more land was not met. Inevitably, the continuing economic crisis discredited the Provisional Government, and strengthened the appeal of the Bolsheviks.
The Russian people wanted the war to come to an end. The country was exhausted and the people had had enough. Incredibly, the Provisional Government could not see this. They persisted in trying to continue with the military campaigns. A final, unsuccessful offensive against the Germans was attempted in June 1917 with the remaining loyal troops. The collapse of the army’s morale continued, with desertion being encouraged by the Bolshe.
As Bolshevik leader, Lenin had very clear objectives for what he wanted to achieve. First of all, the Bolsheviks had to gain control of the Petrograd Soviet. Then they would seize power in the name of the Soviet. This process would be repeated in other cities. It was due to Lenin’s energy and drive that the Bolsheviks agreed on this course of action.
The first step was to increase Bolshevik support within the Soviets. Lenin developed Bolshevik policies in line with this aim in mind. The slogan “peace, bread and land” summarised Bolshevik policies at this time.
Lenin could see that the Russian people wanted an end to the war. The Bolsheviks were offering what they wanted.
Lenin claimed that the Bolsheviks could solve the food shortages – the Provisional Government had made them worse.
This was a shrewd move by Lenin. The Bolsheviks were a party of the cities and the industrial areas and they had very little support among the peasants. However, with the peasants being the vast majority of the population, Lenin could not risk them turning against the Bolsheviks. By offering them land, Lenin ensured that the peasants stayed neutral when the Bolsheviks made their bid for power.
Lenin was actively supported by Leon Trotsky. Trotsky had superb skills of organisation and improvisation. He created the Red Guards, a Bolshevik militia formed from armed factory workers, soldiers and sailors. Trotsky took charge of the detailed planning of the actual Bolshevik takeover at the end of October, to make sure that all the vital areas of Petrograd were effectively in Bolshevik hands.
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