October Revolution


August 19, 2022

The October Revolution is the final and decisive phase of the Russian Revolution that began in Russia in February 1917 of the Julian calendar, which first marked the collapse of the Russian Empire and then the establishment of Soviet Russia. After the overthrow of the monarchy, for a few months Russia was devastated by conflicts between political parties and increasing military and economic disintegration, and the Russian Social Democratic (Bolshevik) Workers' Party led by Lenin and Lev Trotsky decided armed action against the weak Provisional Government of Aleksandr Fëdorovič Kerensky to assume all power on behalf of the Soviets of Workers, Soldiers and Peasants. The insurrection, which started in the night between 6 and 7 November of today's Gregorian calendar (24 and 25 October of the Julian calendar) 1917 in Petrograd, ended successfully; the Bolsheviks formed a revolutionary government headed by Lenin and were able to progressively extend their power over much of the territories of the old Tsarist Empire. The armed reaction of the counter-revolutionary forces and the intervention of foreign powers triggered the start of a bloody civil war which ended with the Bolshevik victory in 1922. The October Revolution thus began the difficult and contested construction of the first socialist state in history and marked the entire twentieth century in a decisive way; the experiment of egalitarian socialism and communism in the theoretical tradition of Karl Marx and Lenin, as opposed to the capitalist model of social and economic development, ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the return of capitalism to the successor states of the Soviet state.


The insurrection of the workers and soldiers that constituted the February Revolution and overthrew the monarchy of the Romanov dynasty led to the birth of the Petrograd Soviet, the first of a large number of assemblies that would soon arise throughout Russia. The Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries obtained a predominant position in the organism, who handed over power to the bourgeoisie and to the Provisional Government headed by Prince L'vov, constituted in March. Even the Bolsheviks, who were then re-emerging from the phase of ferocious police repression suffered due to their opposition to the war, initially assumed collaborative positions towards the other revolutionary forces and the Government. However, their orientation changed radically after Lenin's return from exile in Switzerland. His April Theses, aimed at the transformation of the bourgeois revolution into a socialist revolution, were initially received very critically even within his own party, but they acquired ever greater consensus both among the masses and among the Bolshevik militants, up to be approved by a large majority by the VII Party Conference held in May. Meanwhile, strong tension had arisen between the government and the Soviet on the issue of continuing participation in the war, which led to the formation of a new cabinet, a coalition executive with the participation, alongside the bourgeois ministers, of Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries. In the following months the themes of peace, land and workers' control gained increasing diffusion, strikes multiplied and the Bolsheviks broadened their support for their ideas, especially within the factory committees. The revolutionary thrust was also strengthened in the army, especially after a failed offensive wanted by the government in June. In the meantime, the First All-Russian Congress of Soviets, with a Menshevik and Social Revolutionary majority, took office and elected the Central Executive Committee. Its leaders continued to carry out cautious positions, dictated by theoretical motivations for the Mensheviks, convinced of the impossibility of the immediate transition to the socialist revolution, and by ra