In this latest blog I will look at the first Russian revolution of February 1917. I will look at the October 1917 revolution later in the year. I will argue that the failure of the new government and soviets to end Russia,s involvement in world war one in February 1917 led to the collapse of a promising experiment in socialist democracy and to the later establishment of an authoritarian state under the control of the Bolshevik party.
The 1914-1917 first world war had a disastrous affect on Russia like it did on all of the other countries involved in the war. But perhaps Russia more so than the other countries. Millions of dead and wounded and widespread famine.
So it was perhaps not surprising that in Petrograd on the 22/2/1917 an insurrection broke out. Bread riots,widespread strikes and demonstrations and troop mutinies. The uprising in the city was spontaneous. The Tsar tried to surpress the mutiny but the soldiers sent to surpress the uprising joined the revolt. The uprising quickly spread throughout Russia so on the 2/3/1917 the Tsar was forced to abdicate and on the 3/3/1917 a new provisional government was formed led by Prince Georgy Lvov. The government drew up plans for the election of a constitutional assembly.
At the same time workers soviets sprang up throughout Russia. This led to the establishment of dual power between the provisional government and the soviets which were dominated by the major socialist political party,s.
Unfortunately the provisional government under pressure from the western allied powers kept Russia in the first world war after February 1917. This was a disastrous mistake. So discontent with provisional government quickly spread. As a result the Bolshevik party led by Lenin who returned to Russia in April 1917 attempted a coup in July 1917. So the new Russian premier Kerensky introduced harsh measures in July 1917. The death penalty was reintroduced, strict military discipline was introduced and strikes banned.
A right wing general Kornilov tried to stage a military coup in August 1917. However due to widespread troop mutinies the coup failed. As a result of the hatred and fear of a right wing coup and discontent with Russia,s involvement in the war the Bolshevik party was able to stage a coup in October 1917 which led to the eventual establishment of the one party Bolshevik state and the banning of other socialist political party,s.
The failure of the February 1917 revolution was in my opinion a great tragedy leading to the collapse of a genuine attempt at socialist and workers democracy. In my opinion the reason for this tragedy was the failure of Russia to end it involvement in world war one in February 1917. The blame for this must be put on the soviets and all three major socialist party,s mensheviks, bolsheviks and socialist revolutionaries in not forcing and end of the war in February 1917.