6/12/98 THE OCTOBER REVOLUTION, THE PEOPLES REVOLUTION The October Revolution was no more than a well planned military coup carried out with out the knowledge and against the wishes of the people. This statement is entirely false, the October Revolution was wished for and very necessary for the people of Russia, to bring more power back to the people. The events of 1917 were crucial for the Bolsheviks, they represented their rise in power and their rise in popularity with the people. It was these events that rallied the Russian people behind the Bolshevik party and gave them the idea that a revolution was necessary. With this argument I will first look back at the events in Russia that lead us to the October Revolution and their effect on the people. There were many events in Russian history before the October Revolution that gave the Russian people less hope in their government, and made the idea of a revolution seem inviting.
Russia under the Tsarist system gave no power or rights to the people. The autocratic system gave only the tsar rights and consequently all the power. In fact, it was the tsar who told people what rights they had. The power in the autocracy flowed from top to bottom, the top being the tsar and the bottom being people.
During the system of Tsarist the peoples of Russia were systematically incited against one another. (pg. 66, Daniels) During the Time of Trouble between 1598 and 1613 society fell and there was no tsar to represent the people, Russia was under governed. During this time, the Poles and the Swedes both invaded Russia.
There is a battle going on over lands between the nobles and the peasants who constitute 95% of Russias population. With Russia being an agricultural society, the peasants first concern was surviving from on harvest to the next. By this time society wants a dramatic change but the government does not. The industrialization of Russia brought about the need for many workers, these workers were mostly peasants working part time, and these same peasants eventually became radicals. Marxist Revolutionaries targeted these unsatisfied workers to start a revolution. Even during this time the thought of revolution was growing throughout Russia.
During the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-1905 everything went wrong for Russia. Russia failed to win even a single battle, despite the fact their army was five times the size of the Japanese army. The Russian government felt the war would unify Russia and its people, but this did not happen. They also felt the war would be a good distraction for the people, but it was the government who was distracted, and the people who lost more hope and trust in their government. The Bolsheviks offered a change for the people of Russia and a chance to win back control in their government. The first sign for the Russian people that a revolution could be necessary was January 9, 1905 Bloody Sunday.
This is when the Cossack Cavalry shot and killed between 1-2000 striking workers. As a consequence of this, laborers and owners unite. In mid January anti-government street demonstrations begin in support of the workers strike. Leon Trotsky became a member of the Bolshevik part in 1917, and soon became the partys most articulate speaker, rallying support for the revolution and the Bolsheviks. Leon Trotsky the Marxist Revolutionary and spokesman of the Soviet gave speeches and got workers riled up. This led to the Great October Strike of RR workers and in turn the October Manifesto, which was viewed as a loss for the government.
The October Manifesto splits the liberal movement and leads in part to the Peasant Revolts of 1905. The peasants chose this time to revolt because they felt they could get away with it with the government in turmoil and after the October Manifesto. All of the upheavals of 1905 gave the sense that a mass Russia had awakened. Out of the revolutions came the Social Democrats in two factions the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. While the Mensheviks had a working class mentality, the Bolsheviks wanted worker to be unhappy to lead to revolt. Lenin the leader of communism and the Bolsheviks led the charge to revolt and to overthrow Capitalism.
The Bolsheviks were the majority party and only took in members who would devote their lives to the cause. In the April Theses Lenin wanted a peaceful end to the war and felt that Capitalism must be done away with, as it was the cause of the war. He also wanted all power to shift to the Soviets, this included the workers, the soldiers and the peasants. For this reason the people of Russia trusted Lenin and the Bolsheviks and thought of them as a breath of fresh air, and as a vehicle to needed change in Russia. The people of Russia knew full well the revolutionary intentions of Lenin whos slogan clearly mapped out their intentions, All power to the Soviets through armed insurrection. The events of 1917 were crucial in the rise of the Bolsheviks in power and in popularity with the people.
Their campaign slogan was Peace, Land and Bread, which is exactly what the Russian people needed at this time, the soldiers wished for peace, the peasants wished for land, and the hungry masses needed bread. The Bolsheviks already had the support of the workers and worked to protect their rights. January 9, 1917 the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, 300, 000 Petrograd workers demonstrated. Between January and February in 1917 the strike movement is moving towards revolution.
Tsarist authority ended when the Petrograd Garrison refused the tsars order to restore order in Petrograd through violence if necessary. Now there is a dual power, which consists of the Petrograd Soviet and the Provincial Government. Any separation of power in Russia was viewed as bad. During the summer, the Bolsheviks take over the Soviet from the Mensheviks.
The Petrograd Soviet saw its role as speaking for all of Russia, it represented the workers, the peasants and the soldiers. The Petrograd Soviet now wanted to protect the revolution and the workers. The Soviet issues Order #1 saying that all armed forces including the Petrograd Garrison must take their orders from the Soviet. The Bolsheviks used their mastery of propaganda to gain support for their cause. The workers were now ready for the Bolsheviks to take power, but they were not ready.
During the July Days the Bolsheviks try to seize power but fail, most of the party leadership is arrested including Trotsky. After this the Bolsheviks rise seems to be dead. However, on October 10 the Bolshevik Central Committee places armed uprising on the agenda. Trotsky presents his 5- point plan saying the Soviet should be used to overthrow the government and that they should mask the uprising as a defense of the Soviet. This meant they would delay the uprising until an excuse for a defense was found. The Bolsheviks had the support of the majority of workers and a good number of soldiers.
The mass of the soldiers support us not because of the slogan of war, but because of the slogan of peace. (pg. 57 Dane ils) Lenin managed to lead his party into action by October 21. The Provincial Government remained passive even while being aware of the Bolshevik preparations. On October 22, 1917, the headquarters of the Petrograd Military District failed to recognize the Military Revolutionary Committee and refused to conduct its work in cooperation with the soldiers section of the Soviet. By this act headquarters breaks with the revolutionary garrison and the Petrograd Soviet of Workers and soldiers Deputies, which made headquarters a direct instrument in counter-revolutionary forces.
An order was issued on October 24 to ban the Bolshevik party and arrest its leaders. However, this proved to be to little to late, and on October 25 the Bolsheviks uprising had begun under Lenin slogan All power to the soviets through armed insurrection. The slogan showed the people of Russia full well what Lenin and the Bolsheviks intentions were, and the slogan gained them more supporters. The October Revolution was a relatively bloodless affair with only six casualties. The operation consisted of the seizure of the Winter Palace and the arrest of thirteen members of the Provincial- Government. Party historians insisted that the Bolshevik triumph was the inevitable consequence of Russian domestic conditions and at the same time, an integral segment of the international struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie.
(pg 87, Dziew) In conclusion the October Revolution was carried out with the support of most Russians and it was a necessary trend in Russian History. The events leading up to the October Revolution such as Bloody Sunday and the Peasant Revolts of 1905 and especially the workers strikes gave Russia and its people a sense that a revolt was necessary. The leadership of Lenin and Trotsky whose speeches helped gain support for the Bolsheviks along with their excellent use of propaganda is what gave them the support of the Russian people. Those events along with the struggling domestic conditions in Russia led to the October Revolution. According to Soviet historiography, the October Revolution was the product of a clearly discernible, irresistible trend in Russian history. (pg.