Russian Revolution of 1917

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The Russian Revolution of 1917 consisted of the February Revolution, which overthrew the autocratic rule of Russian Tsar Nicholas II and replaced him with a provisional government, and the subsequent October Revolution which established a soviet republic. It is widely recognised as a social revolution, although some Marxists argue, given the lack of capitalist development, that it was a bourgeois-republican revolution from the start.


February Revolution

The February Revolution[a] overthrew the tsardom and replaced it with a situation of dual power: on the one hand, the bourgeois provisional government; and on the other, the workers and soldiers' soviets. Lenin and other Marxists considered the revolution to be Russia's long awaited version of the bourgeois revolution, and one of the primary points of disagreement among the Russian left was whether or not a proletarian revolution could or should immediately follow.

October Revolution

In October of 1917[a], the Bolshevik-aligned Red Army deposed the provisional government and established the soviet republic that would later become the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. On the first meeting of the Congress of Soviets as the new ruling state organ, the 649 delegates to which were elected by the soviets (workers' councils), the Bolsheviks obtained 390, and the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, 100. Lenin was elected by the Congress as the head of government.[1]


Debate exists about when the counter-revolution had set in. Especially left-wing currents in communism tend to argue that since a social revolution is defined as the transformation of the social relations of production, the counter-revolution began in 1917 or 1918 with the Bolshevik-led seizure of power (which bypassed the Second Congress of Soviets) or the reversal of workers' control in favour of one-man management in 1918 with the introduction of 'war communism'.[2]

Others identify the isolation of the Revolution as the source for its degeneration. Failing to spread, the Revolution was condemned to assume a capitalist form.

Left Communist Amadeo Bordiga argued that the Russian revolution was politically socialist, but owing to the lack of capitalist development, the Stalinist counter-revolution was the victory of the economic base over the superstructure.[3]


Lenin Era

Stalin Era

After Vladimir Lenin died, Joseph Stalin took power in the Soviet Union.

Soviet Union


  1. All-Russian Congress of Workers' and Soldiers' Soviet Deputies, Second. A. M. Kulegin. Encyclopaedia of St. Petersburg.
  2. Paresh Chattopadhyay, the Marxian Concept of Capital and the Soviet experience, p. 156-157
  3. Paresh Chattopadhyay, The Marxian Concept of Capital and the Soviet Experience, p. 155.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Before and during the October Revolution, Russians used the ancient Julian calendar, which differed from the modern Gregorian calendar by 10 days. Thus when the February Revolution and October Revolution actually occurred, for much of the world it was actually March and November respectively. The RSFSR switched to the Gregorian calendar on 14 February 1918.