ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
-A A +A

The Bolsheviks Come to Power in Petrograd

Centennial Reflections

Alexander Rabinowitch ( is Emeritus Professor, Department of History, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, and Associate Research Scholar, St Petersburg Institute of History, Russian Academy of Sciences.

How did the Bolsheviks win out in the struggle for power in 1917 Petrograd? The author, among the world’s leading historians on the Bolsheviks, the Russian Revolution of 1917, and the Russian civil war, revisits the conclusions of two of his major works, Prelude to Revolution: The Petrograd Bolsheviks and the July 1917 Uprising (1968) and The Bolsheviks Come to Power: The Revolution of 1917 in Petrograd (1976), to grapple with this still thorny and deeply politicised question.

In my essay for this special centennial issue, I want torevisit the main conclusions of my writings on 1917,1 especially as they relate to the key, still thorny and deeply politicised question of how the Bolsheviks won out in the struggle for power in 1917 Petrograd. However, let me start with just a few words about the views of other historians on this issue.

To Soviet historians, of course, the October 1917 revolution was the legitimate expression of the will of the revolutionary Petrograd masses—a popular armed uprising in supportof Bolshevik power in Russia and worldwide revolution led bya highly disciplined vanguard party, brilliantly directed byV I Lenin. An elaborate, precisely orchestrated myth was constructed around this interpretation to which Soviet historians were obliged to adhere.2 (Parenthetically, I should addthat during this centennial year, I have participated in several international centennial conferences in Moscow and inSt Petersburg and can report that most serious historians in Russia today have abandoned this myth; significant numbers of them are now conducting valuable research on the revolutionary era.)

Western historians, on the other hand, have tended to view the Bolshevik success as the consequence of the Provisional Government’s softness towards the radical left; a historical accident or, most frequently, the result of a well-executedmilitary coup, lacking significant popular support. This coup, they assert, was carried out by a small, united, highly authoritarian and conspiratorial organisation controlled by Lenin and subsidised by enemy Germany. To Western historians holding the latter view, the structure and practice of the Bolshevik party in 1917 were the inevitable progenitor of Soviet authoritarianism. This view, as you know, remains quite strong to this day.

The conclusions of my research on 1917 departed in significant ways from these common Soviet and Western interpretations. To illustrate this point, let me point to a few important, still often overlooked moments during the crucial summer and fall of 1917 that seemed to me to be of special importance in understanding the character and course of the “October revolution” in Petrograd. I will then summarise how “RedOctober” looks to me today.

The July Uprising

The first of the moments to which I want to turn is the failed “July uprising,” which appeared to many observers at the time, and to most Western historians since, as an unsuccessfulattempt by Lenin to seize power and as a dress rehearsal for “Red October.” In my first book, Prelude to Revolution, I concluded that the chaotic, bloody, ultimately unsuccessful July uprising was an accurate reflection of unwillingness on the part of soldiers in the war-inflated Petrograd garrison to accept transfer to the front in support of the June 1917 Russian offensive. It also reflected genuine, widespread, spiralling impatience and dissatisfaction on the part of the large mass of Petrograd factory workers, soldiers, and Baltic fleet sailors with the continued maintenance of the war effort and the meagre social and economic results of the February 1917 revolution. With regard to the Bolshevik role in the preparation and organisation of the July uprising, I concluded that the eruption was partly the outgrowth of four months of steady Bolshevik propaganda and agitation; that factory and unit-level file Bolsheviks played leading roles in starting it; and that extremist leaders of two major auxiliary arms of the party, the Bolshevik Military Organization and the Bolshevik Petersburg Committee, responsive to their new, impatient constituencies, encouraged it against the wishes of Lenin and a majority of the Bolshevik Central Committee.3

From my study of the July uprising, I also ventured several broader generalisations with important implications for subsequent events. One set of generalisations concerned massattitudes in Petrograd towards the Provisional Government, soviets, and the Bolsheviks at that time. Studying the evolution of popular opinion between February and July, I concluded that among Petrograd workers, soldiers, and sailors who acted politically in any way, the Provisional Government was already then—that is by mid-summer of 1917—widely perceived as an organ of the propertied classes, opposed to fundamental political and social change, and cold to popular needs. On the other hand, although the lower classes of the Petrograd population were increasingly critical of the moderate socialistsfor their support of the Provisional Government and the war effort, they nonetheless viewed soviets at all levels as genuinely democratic institutions of popular self-rule. Hence, the enormous and ever growing popular attraction of two of the Bolsheviks’ chief political slogans, “All Power to the Soviets!” (that is, pending convocation of a Constituent Assembly), and “Immediate Peace!” As to the Bolsheviks, the abortive Julyuprising ended in a painful, seemingly decisive defeat for them.4 Nonetheless, what appeared most significant to me was the great popularity of the radical Bolshevik programme demonstrated before and during the July uprising. At a time when the popular expectations for meaningful change were sky high, and when almost all other major political groups were demanding patience and sacrifice in the interests of the war effort, the radical Bolshevik political programme, and the party’s apparent responsiveness to the needs and aspirations of ordinary citizens, contributed significantly to the very considerable influence and strength it managed to acquire in just a few months.

This led me to a second set of generalisations reflected in the July experience. These generalisations related to the traditional image of the Bolshevik party in 1917 as an essentially united, authoritarian, conspiratorial organisation, tightly controlled by Lenin. Based on exhaustive empirical research, I concluded that this image bore precious little relation to reality. It was not simply that from top to bottom, from March 1917 on, the Bolshevik organisation included left, right, and centristfactions, each of which helped shape the party’s politics. No less important, it seemed to me, was the fact that amid the unstable, locally varying, constantly changing conditionsprevailing in revolutionary Petrograd in 1917, not to speak of Russia as a whole, the Bolshevik Central Committee was simply unable to control nominally subordinate agencies. Lower-level party organisations were relatively free to tailor their appeals and tactics to their perception of the developing situation on the ground. The importance of this factor in interpreting the Bolshevik party’s behaviour during the 1917 revolution was, I concluded, difficult to overestimate.

Further, I found that Lenin’s pre-revolutionary conception of a small, professional, conspiratorial, revolutionary vanguard had become obsolete after the “February Revolution.” In fact, the party’s doors were quickly opened wide to tens of thousands of new members who also helped influence policy.Consequently, to a significant degree the Bolshevik organisation in Petrograd was both open to and responsive to the concerns of the popular masses. Undisputedly, this caused great difficulty in July. However I concluded that in the longer run, the Bolsheviks’ extensive, carefully cultivated connections in plants and factories, in a myriad of local worker organisations (in soviets, factory shop committees, trade unions, and the like), and of course in military units, were an important source of the party’s strength and ultimate ability to take power.

The Reaction

The second revealing moment in 1917 that I want to touch on is the brief period of reaction in Petrograd that followed the collapse of the July uprising. This was the time when theinitially successful Russian offensive on the Eastern front was turned into a most terrible rout of the Russian army, and when Alexander Kerensky first became Prime Minister. Kerensky headed a liberal-moderate socialist coalition government overwhelmingly concerned with suppressing the Bolsheviks, restoring domestic political authority and order domestically (if necessary by force), and somehow shoring up the collapsing front. Momentarily, it appeared that a lull had been reached in the revolutionary workers’ movement. Public opinion in Petrograd seemed to have swung decisively rightward. Yet despite a constant barrage of flamboyant, hard-line rhetoric by Kerensky, incessantly echoed by temporarily resurgent conservative civil and military groups, it was clear that none of the repressive measures loudly proclaimed by Kerensky were either fully implemented or achieved their objectives (which is not to say that they could have successfully restored order). More than this, the apparently increasing danger of counter-revolution reflected in such events as the Moscow Conference—a grand, much ballyhooed gathering of conservative forces at the Bolshoi theatre in mid-August 1917—heightened popularsuspicion of the Provisional Government and stimulated the desire to let bygones be bygones and to unite more closely in defence of the revolution. This mass response to what were popularly perceived as dangerous threats to the revolution was reflected in numerous, mutually re-enforcing documents of the time.5

If hostility towards the Bolsheviks on the part of ordinary citizens dissipated in the face of the apparent threat of counterrevolution within a few weeks after the July uprising, then already by the second half of August—before General Lavr Kornilov’s failed rightist putsch—there were increasing signs that the party, with its apparatus essentially intact, hadembarked on a new period of striking, rapid growth. I found that a clear indication of the degree to which the party’s fortunes were again on the rise was reflected in the results of mid-August elections to the Petrograd City Duma. In these citywide elections, the Bolsheviks scored a resounding triumph.6

The Kornilov Affair

Inevitably, perhaps, with the very existence of the Russian state immediately threatened by military forces from outside and by political, social, and economic disintegration within, and with the Kerensky government so obviously unable to stem still accelerating instability, liberal and conservative groups would look to the high command of the army for salvation. The efforts of some of these elements culminated in theso-called “Kornilov affair” of late August. As I think about Kornilov’s failed rightist putsch today, my primary concern is not the still disputed questions of Kornilov’s objectives and personal ambitions, or of Kerensky’s possible complicity in wresting authority from the soviets and re-establishing order by means of a strong military dictatorship. The aspect of this revealing historical moment that interests me most now is what the struggle against Kornilov in Petrograd revealed about the attitudes and power of ordinary citizens then, and about the impact of the Kornilov experience on the stature of the Bolsheviks.

With this in mind, I will briefly recall what occurred in Petrograd following Kerensky’s announcement on 27 August, that Kornilov had refused to recognise his authority and, indeed, that troops supporting Kornilov were aboard trains and already nearing the capital. The Constitutional Democratic or Kadet Party, the main Russian liberal party sympathetic to Kornilov’s objectives, and distrustful and scornful of Kerensky, refused to support him. For the briefest time, it appeared that Kornilov’s troops could not be prevented from occupying the capital and that the Provisional Government would surely fall. But all political groups to the left of the Kadets—Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs), Anarchists, literally every labour organisation of any importance, and soldier and sailor committees at all levels—immediately banded together in defence of the revolution. Under the direction of the Union of Railway Workers, communications between Kornilov in southern Russia and his forces advancing on Petrograd were cut, and trains carrying insurgent troops were derailed. Wherever Kornilov’s forces were stranded, officers were forced to stand by helplessly as crowds of delegates from mass organisations, some dispatched from Petrograd and others from nearby towns and villages, quickly persuaded Kornilov’s troops, who had been selected for their supposed reliability and discipline, not to move further and to pledge loyalty to the revolution. The entire episode was over in a few days, without a shot fired.

In the first flush of this triumph over the counter-revolution, most organisations in Petrograd that had taken part in the anti-Kornilov movement expressed their views about thenature, make-up, and programme of a future government in a torrent of political resolutions. These resolutions had not been designed by any single agency for they differ significantly on specifics. Yet common to most of them was aversion to any kind of further political collaboration with the propertied classes and attraction for the immediate creation of somesort of exclusively socialist, multiparty coalition government that would end the terrible war.7 It was apparent that tomany, including many Bolsheviks, the swift defeat of Kornilov confirmed the immense political potential of all socialists working together. Indeed, briefly, even Lenin supportedthis idea.8

It seemed to me there were other noteworthy politicalramifications of the Kornilov experience. For the time being, the rightist movement was shattered—that was clear. Andbecause of their behaviour both before and after the crisis, the liberal Constitutional Democrats (the Kadets) werewidely suspected of having been in league with the general; they were now weakened and deeply demoralised. Moreover, because of bitter internal disputes over the character and composition of a future government, the Mensheviks and the SRs were scarcely in better shape. Each included rapidly growing left factions whose immediate political goals were closely aligned with those of moderate Bolsheviks. Meanwhile, the Russian economy continued to disintegrate. In Petrograd, food and fuel shortages became much more acute.

The Kornilov affair also did inestimable harm to Kerensky’s reputation. Among the competitors for power in 1917 Petrograd, the Bolsheviks were clearly the big beneficiaries of the failed rightist move. Yet it seemed questionable to argue, as many historians did and still do, that Kornilov’s defeat madeLenin’s victory and also a bloody civil war inevitable. To be sure, Kornilov’s failure testified to the great potential power of the left and demonstrated once again the enormous popular attraction of the Bolsheviks’ programme of radical change. However, the mass mood was not specifically Bolshevik in the sense of reflecting a desire for a Bolshevik government. That, it seemed to me, was the crucial point. For the fact is that the idea of a Bolshevik government had never been raised publicly before. In the eyes of Petrograd workers, soldiers, and sailors, the Bolsheviks stood for Soviet power—for multiparty Soviet popular democracy. This was now an impediment to theunilateral seizure of power. For as the flood of post-Kornilov political resolutions showed, the city’s lower classes wereattracted more than ever by the possibility of creating a Soviet government uniting all democratic socialist elements. In any case, the abortive July uprising and subsequent reaction demonstrated the risks inherent in over-reliance on the popular mood. This conclusion was also inescapable. Moreover, the history of the Bolshevik party from the time of the February revolution revealed the potential for programmatic discord and undisciplined, disorganised activity within party ranks. So in the aftermath of the Kornilov affair, it was still an open question whether the party would find the requisite strength of will, organisational discipline, and sensitivity to the complexities of the fluid and potentially explosive prevailing situation to take power.

Red October’

This then was my reading of a few significant, often overlooked historical moments during the summer of 1917 that seemed to me to be of particular importance in understanding “Red October.” Framed against this background, let menow suggest how the Bolshevik success in October 1917 played out. In mid-September, Lenin, then still hiding out in Finland, sent two historically momentous letters to the party leadership in Petrograd. In these letters, which came like a bolt out of the blue, Lenin demanded that Bolsheviks in Petrogradorganise an armed uprising and overthrow the Provisional Government “without losing an instant.”9 However, Lenin’s directive was quickly rejected by unanimous vote of theCentral Committee.10

There were several reasons for this wholly negative, indeed horrified response. For one thing, the receipt of Lenin’s shocking directive coincided with the start of the Democratic State Conference. This was a time when party leaders in the capital, under the impression that they had Lenin’s blessing,11 were oriented towards convincing a majority of conference delegates that the conference itself should initiate the creation of a new, exclusively socialist government.12 This effort failed.13 The fact that the Bolshevik leadership ignored Lenin’s orders even after it became clear that the Democratic State Conference would not abandon coalition politics was partly due to the influence of moderate Bolsheviks led by Lev Kamenev. However, most significant is that even Bolshevik leaders like Trotsky, who in principle shared Lenin’s fundamental theoretical assumptions regarding the necessity and feasibility of an early socialist revolution in Russia, were sceptical of mobilising workers, soldiers, and sailors behind the “immediate bayonet charge” demanded by Lenin.

The situation was similar to that during the heyday of the reaction in the immediate aftermath of the July uprising. At that time, most party leaders on the spot in Petrograd ignored Lenin’s demand that they abandon soviets as revolutionary organs.14 Now, towards the end of September, once again, these Bolsheviks seemed to have had a more realistic appreciation than Lenin of the limits of the party’s influence and authority among ordinary citizens, and of the continuing popular attachment to soviets as legitimate democratic organs in which all genuinely revolutionary groups would collaborate to fulfil the revolution. Consequently, together with the Left SRs, they began to associate the seizure of power and the creation of an all-socialist coalition government publicly with the early convocation of another national Congress of Soviets in order to take advantage of the legitimacy of soviets at a popular level.

The impact of this Bolshevik tactic on the outlook ofworkers, soldiers, and sailors was most pronounced during the two weeks preceding the overthrow of the Provisional Government. To be sure, at the historic secret session of the Central Committee on 10 October in which Lenin participated, it was resolved to make an armed insurrection “the order of the day.”15 Yet despite this green light for organisation of an armed uprising, the Petrograd masses were not called to arms. Once more, this was partly due to the frantic efforts of influential Bolshevik moderates led by Kamenev and Zinoviev to head off violence against the government.16 However inthe wake of the Central Committee’s historic decision of10 October, militantly inclined party leaders in closest touch with workers and lower ranking military personnel, in other words Bolsheviks who sided with Lenin in principle, earnestly explored the possibilities for organising a popular armeduprising. After several days of circulating in “the districts” (in plants and factories and in military barracks), significant numbers of them were forced to conclude that the party was technically unprepared to initiate immediate military action against the government. They also concluded that most ordinary citizens would not be responsive to a call by the party to rise before the fast approaching congress of soviets, which, after all, the Bolsheviks themselves had touted as revolutionary Russia’s highest political authority pending convocation of a Constituent Assembly.17

Some militantly inclined Bolshevik leaders responded to these problems by insisting that the start of an uprising simply be delayed pending completion of further military preparations. This was the view of leaders of the Bolshevik Military Organization, still bruised by their experience in July. However, another approach ran along the following general lines—that soviets, because of their stature at a popular level, not party organs, should be employed for Kerensky’s overthrow; therefore, that any attack on the government should be masked as a defensive operation on behalf of the soviet; that everyopportunity should be utilised to undermine the Provisional Government’s power peacefully; and that the formal overthrow of the government should be linked with and legitimised by the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets. Bolshevik leaders sharing these views were more confident than Lenin that a majority of delegates at the congress of soviets would support the formation of an inclusive, all-socialist coalition government. This outlook was shared by many leading Petrograd Bolsheviks (most prominently by Trotsky).

In The Bolsheviks Come to Power, I tried to reconstruct the Bolsheviks’ successful pursuit of these tactics rather than Lenin’s. In particular, this involved their utilisation of a counter-revolutionary threat to help create an ostensibly non-party organ, the Military Revolutionary Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, which under the guise of protecting the revolution, gained control of virtually the entire Petrograd garrison. In the process, the government was effectively disarmed. After Kerensky responded to the Military Revolutionary Committee’s usurpation of command authority over the garrison by initiating a military crackdown on the Bolsheviks, the armed action against the government that Lenin had been demanding for over a month began. This occurred late on the night of 24–25 October, only hours before the scheduled opening of the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets. By then, only demoralised, meagre, and constantly dwindling numbers of Cossacks, cadets, and women soldiers still defended Kerensky’s cabinet, huddled and isolated in the Winter Palace.

In his book Red October, the influential American historian Robert V Daniels concluded that the belated “uprising” of24–25 October was of crucial historical importance because by prompting Mensheviks and SRs to withdraw from the national soviet congress, it eliminated the possibility that the congress would form a representative socialist coalition government in which moderate socialists would likely have had a significant voice. In this way, it paved the way for the formation of an exclusively Bolshevik Soviet government, the Sovnarkom. Analysis of the arriving congress delegates’ political identity and their position on the government question and of the dynamics of the congress’s opening, decisive session indicated that this was indeed the case.18 However, a more important point was that only after Kerensky’s understandable but hopeless military attack on the Bolsheviks did the armed action advocated by Lenin become feasible. The Petrograd workers and soldiers who supported the Bolsheviks in the subversion and overthrow of the Provisional Government did so because they were persuaded that the revolution and the congress were in imminent danger. Only creation of a multiparty, exclusively socialist government by the soviet congress pending decisions on Russia’s permanent political future by a representative Constituent Assembly—which is what the Bolsheviks stood for at a popular level—seemed to offer the hope of avoiding death at the front and of achieving a freer, better, more just life.


Let me end by suggesting what seem to me to be the implications of all this, in answering the question of “how the Bolsheviks won?” It is clear that the answer to this question is far more complex than traditional Soviet and Western interpretations suggest. To be sure, it was and remains as difficult for me, as it has been for virtually all historians of the Russian revolution, to envision the Bolshevik success in the absence of Lenin’sultimately decisive interventions (most importantly his callto continue the revolution upon his return to Petrograd in April 1917, and his appeals for the immediate seizure of power beginning in mid-September 1917). These bold interventions by Lenin are a vivid example of the sometimes decisive role of the individual in history.19

Nonetheless, as crucial as leadership to the rapid rise of the Bolsheviks, and to their ultimate success, was the correspondence between the Bolsheviks’ public programme and popular aspirations at a time when the Provisional Government was blamed for rapidly deteriorating economic conditions, pursuit of the war effort, and tolerance, if not support of the counterrevolution; and also when the three other major Russianpolitical parties—the Constitutional Democrats (Kadets), Mensheviks, and SRs—were widely discredited by their apparent support of Kerensky and his domestic and foreign policies. The most fundamental difference between me and most historians of the “October revolution” is that in my view the ability of the party to accommodate divergent theoretical views and a significant degree of initiative and tactical independence on the part of nominal subordinate agencies, as well as the party’s decentralised structure and responsiveness to the prevailing popular mood, had as much, if not more, to do with the party’s success as did revolutionary discipline, organisational unity, and obedience to Lenin.20 For it is apparent that the successful tactics of the Petrograd Bolsheviks in the fall of 1917 emerged out of a continuing interchange of ideas regarding the development of the revolution, and a constant interplay between party members at all levels and factory workers, soldiers, and sailors.

As we have seen, in mid-July, mid-September, and inOctober 1917, Lenin issued directives which, if followed, would probably have been disastrous.21 Each time, party agencies and Bolshevik leaders on the spot, attuned to rapidly fluctuating political realities and responsive to shifting popularopinion, either rejected Lenin’s orders or adapted them to fit prevailing circumstances. From this perspective “Red October” in Petrograd was largely a genuine expression of popular forces, as much a complex political struggle as a militarycontest, in which the fate of the Provisional Government, though not the composition and character of the new Soviet regime, was sealed before the military operations emphasised in most accounts.

To conclude, has my understanding of the Bolshevik success in Petrograd changed significantly today? Having recentlyreviewed the new evidence now available for study, my answer remains firm—“no, not fundamentally.” If I could, I would change the title of my first book, Prelude to Revolution. With the perspective of a full century, the July uprising, the February and October revolutions, and even the terrible Russian civil war appear as key phases of one long, fundamental political and social process that might properly be called “The Great Russian Revolution, 1917–1921.” The fresh data have shed useful light on many long neglected topics, among them the revolution in the provinces, and they have added valuable detail to our knowledge of developments in Russia’s centre.22 However, they have not undermined my overall sense of the importance of the Bolshevik party’s structure and the popular attraction of democratic soviet power in explaining “how the Bolsheviks came to power.”


1 Alexander Rabinowitch, Prelude to Revolution: The Petrograd Bolsheviks and the July 1917Uprising (Bloomington 1968); AlexanderRabinowitch, The Bolsheviks Come to Power: The Revolution of 1917 in Petrograd (New York, 1976). For updated American, French, and Italian centennial editions of the latter work see Alexander Rabinowitch, The Bolsheviks Come to Power: The Revolution of 1917 in Petrograd (Chicago, 2017), Alexander Rabinowitch, Les bolcheviks prennent le pouvoir: La revolution de 1917 a Petrograd (Paris, 2016) and Alexander Rabinowitch, 1917. I bolscevichi al potere (Milan, 2017).

2 This is not to suggest that there were no valuable 1917 studies published in the Soviet Union. A particularly important work was the two-volume Oktiabr’skaia vooruzhonnoe vosstaniie: Semnadsatyi god v Petrograde, published by the Leningrad Section, Institute of History, Academy of Sciences SSSR, on the 50th anniversary of the revolution. Such still useful studies, however, were the exception.

3 At this time, the Central Committee was fearful that immediate violent action against the Provisional Government would be opposed by soldiers on the nearby Northern front and by peasants in the countryside.

4 In July, the Bolsheviks were temporarily badly discredited even with the Left because of their role in helping trigger the mass movement into the streets and seemingly valid but false charges by the Kerensky government that Lenin was an agent of enemy Germany.

5 In the published protocols of Petrograd district soviets (the lowest rung of the soviet hierarchy, most immediately responsive to the popular mood), we can see how this alarm spreadand how, under its impact, left deputies—Menshevik-Internationalists, future Left SRs, and Bolsheviks—gained in stature and influence at the expense of more conciliatory groups [Akademiia nauk SSSR, Leningradskaia otdelenie instituta istorii, Raionnye sovety Petrograda v 1917 godu, 3 vols (Leningrad 1964–66)].

6 In their energetic campaign, the Bolsheviks avoided any mention of the more controversial aspects of the theoretical and tactical program adopted by the party’s sixth congress a few weeks earlier. Simply put, their message was that “a vote for the Bolsheviks was a blow in favour of the revolution against the counterrevolution.” It was also a vote for immediate peace and an end to economic injustice.

7 Rabinowitch, The Bolsheviks Come to Power,pp 154–59.

8 V I Lenin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii (Moscow 1958–65), Vol 34, p 135.

9 Ibid: 239–47.

10 Rabinowitch, The Bolsheviks Come to Power,p 181.

11 Lenin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, Vol 34, p 135.

12 Rabinowitch, The Bolsheviks Come to Power,pp 175–78.

13 Ibid: 181–83.

14 Ibid: 59–62, 66–70.

15 Lenin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, Vol 34, p 393.

16 Rabinowitch, The Bolsheviks Come to Power,pp 212–13.

17 See A Abrosimova et al (eds), Peterburgskii komitet RSDRP (b) v 1917 godu: Protokoly i materialy zasedanii (Petersburg, 2003), pp 504–08;Institut marksizma-leninizma pri TsK KPSS, Protokoly Tsentral’nogo komiteta RSDRP (b): Avgust 1917-fevral 1918 (Moscow, 1958),pp 93–105.

18 An overwhelming percentage of delegates to the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets, roughly 505 out of 670 delegates, came to Petrograd firmly committed to transfer of “All Power to the Soviets,” that is to the creation of a Soviet government reflecting the party composition of the congress [M N Pokrovskii and Ia A Iakovlev (eds), Vtoroi vserossiiskii s’ezd sovetov R. i S. D. (Moscow-Leningrad 1928), pp 144–53.]

19 A Rabinovich, A F Kerenskii i V I Lenin kak politicheskie lidery perioda krizisa, in Politicheskaia istoriia Rossii: K 80-letiu professora V. I. Startseva (Petersburg 2011), pp 209–16.

20 The disastrous July uprising was an exception to this rule.

21 I have in mind July 1917, in the aftermath of the failed July uprising; mid-September, when Lenin ordered the immediate seizure of power; and during much of October 1917 when Lenin constantly pushed for the organisation of a mass armed uprising without further delay.

22 The most ambitious and valuable document publication project has been the exhaustive, multi-volume series Politicheskie partii Rossii konets XIX-pervaia tret’ XX veka, Dokumental’noe nasledie, directed by V V Shelokhaev.

Updated On : 7th Nov, 2017


(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top