The Russian Révolution is the whole of the events in 1917 having led to the spontaneous inversion of the mode Tsar ist in Russia in February, then in October with the prepared installation of a Leninist mode . Largely produced by the Great War, the Russian Revolution is an event founder and decisive “court 20th century” opened by the bursting of the European conflict in 1914 and closed in 1991 by the disappearance of the the USSR. Object of sympathies and immense hopes for the ones (the “great gleam in the East” of Jules Romans, the “charm universal of October” describes by François Furet), object of severe criticisms, even of fear and visceral hatreds for the others, it remains one of the most studied facts and most passionately discussed of the modern history.
Its unfolding and its consequences always raise many questions. The historians are still divided as for knowing if February implied necessarily October. The nature of October (Revolution, Coup d'etat or combination of both?), the reasons of violences of the civil war of 1918-1921, those of the genesis of the Soviet Dictature also are very discussed. The very old debate on the evolution leading to the Stalinism Years 1930 forever be either definitively distinct: logical filiation, or deviation (even treason), compared to the ideals and with the practices of the Bolshevik S of the Revolution?
Russia before the Revolution
Before 1917, the Russia was under the direction of a mode Tsar ist, autocratic and repressive, has placed from there for 10 centuries. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Russia made great strides spectacular Industrie L, involving an urban rise and a great cultural effervescence: the old social order was shaken, worsening the difficulties of poorest. Industries flowered, the working class was concentrated mainly in the big cities. However, this prosperity of the country had not benefitted the population.
The economy as a whole remains antiquated. The value of the industrial production is in 1913 twice and half lower than that of France, six times less than that of Germany, or fourteen times less than that of the United States. The agricultural output remains poor, the shortage of transport paralyzes any attempt at economic modernization. The GDP per capita is then lower than that of Hungary or Spain of the time, and approximately a quarter of that of the United States. Especially, the country is dominated by the foreign assets, which have a third of the actions in Russia. The industrialization of Russia violent and had been badly accepted by the abruptly proletarianized layers of the farming community. The Working class incipient, although weak numerically, is concentrated in great industrial sites which facilitate the revolutionary emulation.
Russia remains a primarily rural country (85% of the population). If part of the peasants had grown rich and constituted a kind of rural middle-class, supporting the mode, the number of peasants without grounds had increased, creating a true rural, receptive proletariat with the revolutionary ideas. Even after 1905, a deputy with the Douma announced that in many villages, the presence of cockroaches in the houses was regarded as a sign of richness.
However, after carried out schooling a few years before, part of the workmen had been conquered by Marxist ideas and other revolutionary ideologies. However, the capacity tsarist showed opposition to progress. With 19th and 20th centuries, movements organized by members of all the classes of the population (students or workmen, peasants or noble) tried to reverse the government - without success, some turning to terrorism and the attempted political assassinations. The revolutionary movements were subjected to a hard repression, carried out by all-powerful the Okhrana, the political police of the Tsar. Many revolutionists were imprisoned or off-set, others succeeded in fleeing and joining the rows of exiled. From this point of view, the revolution of 1917 is only the result of a long succession of small revolts. The reforms necessary that neither the country revolts, neither the attempted political assassinations, nor the parliamentary activity of the Douma had succeeded in imposing will finally come from a revolution impelled by the Prolétariat.
As of 1905, a first revolution had thus taken place after the defeat of Russia vis-a-vis Japan and the repression of a demonstration come to carry a petition to Nicolas II, at the time of the “Red Sunday” of January 22nd with Saint-Pétersbourg. It constituted an attempt of the Russian people to be released from its tsar, and was marked by risings and strikes on behalf of the workmen and of the peasants who formed on this occasion their first bodies of capacities independent of the supervision of the State, the Soviet S.
See also: Russian Revolution of 1905
Revolution of February 1917
The successive defeats of the Russia at the time of the First World War are one of the causes of the revolution. At the entry in war, all the parties are for this participation, except for the social democrat party (POSDR), the only one in Europe with the Serb socialist party to refuse the vote of the appropriations of war, but which prevents however that he will not seek to sabotage the effort of war. The war brings an impressive series of misfortunes in Russia. At the beginning of the conflict, after some initial successes, the army knows heavy defeats (in Eastern Prussia in particular); the factories prove insufficiently productive, the insufficient railway network, the supply out of weapons and food products of the lame army. In the army, the losses beat all the records (1 700.000 died and 5.950.000 wounded) and of the mutinies burst, the moral one of the troops being with low. The soldiers less and less support the incapacity of their officers (one saw thus units going up to the combat with balls not corresponding to the gauge of their rifle), the brimades and the corporal punishment of use in the army. The famine thunders and the goods are done rare. The Russian economy, which knew before the war the highest growth rate of Europe, is cut European market. The Lower House of the Russian Parliament (the Duma), consisted of liberal parties and progressists, warns the Tsar Nicolas II against these threats for the stability of Russia and of the mode and advises to him to form a new constitutional government. But the tsar is unaware of the opinion of the Douma. Insulated in a special train with the face, it lost in fact any contact with the reality of the country and its direction. The unpopularity of his wife, of German origin, worsens the discredit of the mode, which confirms in December 1916 the assassination by a noble young person of the occult adviser of the empress, Raspoutine.
As of 1915 - 1916, a proliferation of various committees takes in hand all that a defective State does not assume any more (supply, care, exchanges). With the co-operatives or the trade unions, these committees become parallel capacities. The mode does not control already any more the real country.
The month of February 1917 gathers all the characteristics for a popular revolt: hard winter, food shortage, lassitude vis-a-vis the war… All starts at the time of spontaneous strikes, at the beginning of February, of the workmen of the factories of the capital Petrograd. February 23rd (March 8th of the Gregorian calendar), for the international day of the woman, the women of Pétrograd express without watchword to claim bread. Their action is supported by the industrial labor, which finds there a reason to prolong the strike. This first day, in spite of some confrontations with the police force, there is no victim.
The following days, the strikes spread in all Petrograd and the tension goes up. The slogans, until there rather discrete, are politicized: “With bottom the war! ”, “With bottom autocracy! ”. This time, the confrontations with the police force make victims on the two sides. The demonstrators arm themselves by plundering the police stations.
After three days of demonstrations, the Tsar mobilizes the troops of the garrison of the city to subdue the rebellion. The soldiers resist the first attempts at fraternization and kill out of many demonstrators. However at night part of the troop gradually joined the camp of the insurrectionists, who can thus arm themselves more suitably. Meanwhile, the tsar, disabled, not having more the means of controlling, dissolves the Douma and names a provisional committee.
All the regiments of the garrison of Petrograd unite with revolted. It is the triumph of the revolution. Under the pressure of the staff, the Tsar Nicolas II abdicates the March 2nd (until 1918, Russia used the Calendrier Julien, which has 13 days of delay on that Gregorian. March 2nd of “the old style” thus corresponds to March 15th of the “new style”). “It dislocated empire like a captain of a squadron of cavalry” (Marc Ferro).
His/her brother, the Michel large-duke, refuses the crown almost at once. It is in fact the end of tsarism, and the first elections with the Soviet of the workmen of Petrograd. The first episode of the revolution made all the same hundreds of victims, in majority among the demonstrators. But the fast and unexpected fall of the mode, at a cost rather limited, causes in the country a liberalization and wave of enthusiasm.
See also: Revolution of February
Duality of the capacities
The period following the abdication of the tsar is at the same time confused and enthusiastic. The provisional governments follow one another quickly as the revolution gains in-depth and that the mass of the workmen and peasants is politicized.
The Soviets, emanations of the popular wills, initially do not dare to contradict the provisional government in spite of its opposition to progress and its continuation of the war. But small the Parti Bolshevik, on which Lénine imposes a strategic toughening, recovers general dissatisfaction thus growing and becomes agent of the popular aspirations, while the rival revolutionary parties discredit the ones after the others, and that the danger counter-revolutionary takes shape.
“The freest country of the world”
The fall of monarchy is felt like a release without precedent. It opens in Russia one period of popular joy and intense revolutionary fermentation. A frenzy of speeches gains all the layers of the company. The meetings are daily, the speakers following one another without end. Processions and demonstrations multiply. Tens of thousands of letters, addresses, of Pétition S are sent each week of all the points of the territory to make known the supports, the complaints or the claims of the people. They are addressed in particular to new the provisional government and the Soviet of Petrograd.
Beyond immediate waitings, which dominates is the rejection of all the forms of authority. What made it possible Lénine to speak about Russia of these first months like the “freest country of the world”. According to the description of Marc Ferro: With Moscow, workers obliged their owner to learn the bases from the future working right; with Odessa, the students dictated with their new professor programs history of civilizations; for Petrograd the actors replaced the director of the theater and chose the next spectacle; to the armies, soldiers invited the chaplain to attend their meetings so that it gives a direction to his life . It is not to the children who did not assert for less than 14 years the right to learn boxing to be able to be made hear large . It was the world with back
These first filled up weeks of hope and generosity are far from violent, in the cities as in the campaigns. No official or spontaneous reprisal for example is exerted against the former servants of the tsar, this last being simply assigned with residence; much can freely be withdrawn or leave abroad. The provisional government abolishes the Capital punishment, largely opens the prisons, allows the return of exiled of all opinions (whose Lénine), and proclaims fundamental freedoms of press, meeting, conscience - already acquired in the facts since February. The Antisémitisme of State disappears. The orthodoxe Church, under supervision since Pierre Large the, can freely join together a council which, at the summer 1917, restores the patriarchate. In the army, the Prikaz n° 1 (day order) emitted by the Soviet of Petrograd prohibits the brimades humiliating officers and founds for the soldiers the rights of meeting, petition and press.
Lastly, the most spectacular demonstration of the emancipation of the Civil society is of course the spontaneous creation of Soviets (councils) of workmen, of peasants, soldiers or sailors, who brood in some week the near total of the country. These bodies of Direct democracy intend to exert an autonomous power and, vis-a-vis the provisional government as with the possibility of a counter-revolution, to take care of the safeguarding and the extension of the conquests of the Révolution of February.
Provisional government and Soviets
A provisional government elected by the Duma, directed by Michel Rodzianko, former officer of the Tsar, monarchist and rich landowner, settles. As of on March 15th, its direction is taken again for several months by the prince Lvov, a liberal progressist.
Thus, officially, even if it is resulting from a revolution from the workmen and soldiers, the capacity is with the hands of a provisional government, directed by liberal politicians (mainly of the Parti Kadet, the party of the liberal middle-class). But actually, it must compose with the Soviet S, elected assemblies of workmen and soldiers.
Indeed, the workmen of Petrograd spontaneously recreate the councils (Russian Soviet) of representative elected of the workmen, peasants and soldiers, tested in 1905. As of at the beginning of March, Soviets exist in the main cities of the country, they will emerge in the campaigns in April and May. Everywhere in the cities and the villages, with the advertisement of the revolution in the capital, they are formed while the notable ones which directed in the name of the tsar are relieved.
The program of the Soviet of Petrograd is immediate peace, the ground with the peasants, day the 8 hours and a democratic republic. This program is inapplicable by the liberal middle-class which seized the power following the revolution, and which wants neither to break with its allies, neither to touch with the land ownership by the feudal nobility, nor to grant the 8 hours day.
In addition, the government estimates (like part of the leaders of Soviets and parties revolutionary) that only the future Constituent one elected with the Vote for all will have the right to decide destiny of the grounds and social mode. But the absence of million voters mobilized with the face delays without end the convocation of these elections (more especially as the government continues the war). The achievement of reforms however urgent thus is unceasingly deferred sine die . It is so much so that the government, for example, even abstains from officially proclaiming the République before September. It thus takes from the start the risk to disappoint the masses dangerously.
It cannot in addition control without the dubious support of the Soviets, which have the support and the confidence of the great mass of the workers. The Soviet is thus at the same time a club in which the workmen go to discuss the situation, and a body of government.
In the immediate future, these Soviets, of which that of Petrograd, post a moderate line of support for the provisional government, and do not put ahead the most radical claims - what obliges to moderate the usual concept of “duality of the capacities”. The junction between the Soviet of Petrograd and the government is assumed by the republican SR Alexandre Kerensky, vice-president of the Soviet of Petrograd and Minister for the Justice then of the War.
Almost all the revolutionists, especially those formed at the school of the Marxism, estimate indeed that the proletarian revolution is premature in such a rural and late country. Their eyes, Russia is ripe only for one middle-class revolution, the inexperienced and too weak proletariat being numerically. The revolution must initially be confined with the tasks that the Marxist analysis assigned with the middle-class revolution, those achieved by the French revolution of 1789: end of the Feudalism and the Land reform. Accordingly, the Soviets are designed like “proletarian fortresses” established in the middle of the “middle-class revolution”, to take care of the realization of the popular claims, to prepare the passage to socialism later on, and to prevent while waiting for as well a counter-revolution monarchist as a rupture with the Bourgeoisie.
However this does not answer the urgency that the masses test to see carrying out their aspirations. The revolutionary parties are thus likely to incur same popular discredit in the long term as the provisional government.
Days of April
In spite of the popular will to finish some with the war, the implication in the First World War is not called into question. In April, the publication of a secret note of the government to its allies, indicating that it will not call into question the treaties tsarists and will continue the war, causes the anger of the soldiers and workmen. Demonstrations for and against the government cause first true armed confrontations of the revolution, and force with the resignation the Foreign Minister, the historian KD Pavel Milioukov.
The moderate Socialists enter then to the government, constant by the majority of the workmen who think that they will be able to make pressure to stop the war.
At the same time, shortly after its return in Russia, Lénine makes appear its Thèses of April . In the continuity of the theses exposed in the imperialism, stage supreme of capitalism , it considers that capitalism entered a “phase of putrefaction” and that the national bourgeoisies are not able any more, in the new industrialized countries, to assume the revolutionary part which they played in the past. For him, only the gift of “all the capacity with the Soviets” and the continuation of the revolution can stop the war and ensure the conquests of the Révolution of February. He refuses any support for the provisional government, and preaches the confiscation and the division of the grounds by the peasants, working control on the factories, the immediate passage to a republic of the Soviet S.
These ideas hitherto very minority within the Bolsheviks themselves, which had been held some with a common trunk of support for the government, Pravda were directed by Stalin and Molotov being itself even publicly marked for the resumption of work and a return to the normal. But with the economic collapse and the continuation of the war, the ideas of the party Bolshevik, directed by Lénine and that Trotsky at the summer rejoins, gain influence. At the beginning of June, the Bolsheviks are majority in the working Soviet of Petrograd.
Days of JulyInto the first months of 1917, the war was rejected less in itself that the incapacity of tsarism to carry out it effectively, as well as the inhumanity or the incurie of the officers. The “revolutionary Défaitisme” preached by Lénine is very unpopular until the center of the party Bolshevik. Many, and not that in the middle-class elites, discount in Russia a patriotic start and Jacobin vis-a-vis in Germany of the Kaiser, just as the fall of French monarchy in 1792 had allowed the victory of Valmy and the rejection of the invader. The Minister for the War, Alexandre Kerensky, good speaker and very popular, intends to incarnate this at the same time national and revolutionary start.
In addition, the slogans of immediate peace are at the beginning more frequent with the back than with the face, where the soldiers often regard the workmen as “funkers”, and appreciate little that one questions the utility of the sacrifices which they have endured for three years. In fact, a vast majority of the Russians are favorable to a “white peace” without annexation nor contributions, but much are ready to leave its chance to an ultimate military offensive.
However between February and July, the unpopularity of the war and lassitude gained ground, just like propaganda Pacifiste. The continuation of the war justifies also a very criticized opposition to progress, since it is impossible to grant the eight hours day without weakening the production of war, or to convene the Constituent one as long as million soldiers is with the face.
The military failure of the “Kerensky offensive” started at the beginning of July made overflow the vase and involves a general disappointment. After some initial successes due to the general Broussilov, best commander-in-chief Russian of the Great War, the failure is obvious, the soldiers refuse to go up in first line. The army enters in decomposition, the desertions multiply, the protests of the back swell, the popularity of Kerensky is degraded.
Also July 3rd and 4th, the failure of the offensive known, the soldiers stationed in the capital Petrograd refuse to set out again with the face. Joined by the workmen, they express to require leaders of the Soviet of Petrograd which it takes the capacity. Overflowed by the base, the Bolcheviks are opposed to a premature insurrection, estimating that it is still too early to reverse the provisional government: the Bolsheviks are majority only with Petrograd and Moscow, while the moderate socialist parties preserve an important influence in the remainder of the country. They prefer to let the government go at the end of its possibilities and show its incapacity to manage the problems of the revolution: peace, the 8 hours day, the land reform.
Rise of the reaction
Repression falls down nevertheless on the Bolsheviks. Trotsky is imprisoned, Lénine is obliged to flee and takes refuge in Finland, the newspaper Bolshevik, Rabotchi I Soldier ( Ouvrier and Soldier ) is prohibited. The regiments of machine gunners who supported the revolution are dissouts, sent to the face by small detachments, the workmen are disarmed. 90.000 men must leave Petrograd, the “agitators” are imprisoned. The Capital punishment abolished in February is restored. With the face, the resumption in hand is brutal after the freedom left by Prikaz n° 1 in February. Thus on July 8th, the general Kornilov, who orders the south-western face, gives the order to open fire with the machine-gun and artillery on the soldiers who would move back. From June 18th to July 6th, an offensive on this face makes 58.000 dead, without success.
In parallel the reaction appears, and tsarism raises the head; Pogroms occur in province. Kerensky succeeded the prince Georgy Lvov, monarchist moderated, after the days of July, but it loses the consideration of the popular masses more and more, and appears unable to contain the rise of the reaction.
The rising of Kornilov
The general Kornilov is named new commander-in-chief by Kerensky. Whereas the army is dislocated, it incarnates a return to the former iron discipline: it gave already the order in April to shoot the deserters and to expose the corpses with signs on the roads, and threatened of severe sorrows the peasants who would be caught some with the seigneuriaux fields. This general of humble popular extraction, famous monarchist, is actually a Républicain, indifferent to the re-establishment of the tsar, which is rare for the time in the military caste. Above all Nationaliste, it wants especially the maintenance of Russia in the war, that it is under the authority of the provisional government or without him. Much more Bonapartiste even pre Fasciste that monarchist, it does not become about it less very quickly the new hope of the old leading classes, nobility and upper middle class, and of all those which aspire to a return to the order, or simply with a severe punishment of the defaitists Bolsheviks.
In the factories and the army, the danger of a counter-revolution shapes. The trade unions, in which the Bolsheviks are majority (in spite of repression) organize a Grève massively followed.
The tension goes up gradually, marked by the toughening of the speech of the parties. Thus on August 20th, at the central committee of the Party junior, his leader Milioukov declares: “The pretext it will be provided of it by riots of the hunger or by an action of the Bolsheviks, in any case the life will push the company and the population to consider the ineluctability of an surgical operation. ” The Union of the officers of the army and the fleet, influential organization in the higher army corps Russian and financed by the mediums of businesses, calls with the establishment of a military dictatorship. On the face, the Mouraiev captain, member of the party SR, constitute several battalions of dead and ensure that these “battalions are not intended for the face, but also in Petrograd, when it is necessary to regulate their accounts with the Bolsheviks. ”
At the end of August 1917, Kornilov organizes an armed rising, and throws 3 regiments of cavalry by way of railroad on Petrograd, with an aim posted to crush in blood the Soviets and the organized labor, and to give Russia in the war. Vis-a-vis the incapacity of the provisional government to defend oneself, the Bolsheviks organize the defense of the capital. The workmen trench, the railwaymen send the trains on sidings, and the troops end up dissolving.
The consequences of the putsch are enormous: the masses were rearmed, the Bolsheviks can leave their semi-clandestinity, the political prisoners of July, whose Trotsky, is released by the sailors of Kronstadt. For mâter the putsch, Kerensky called for the aid all the revolutionary parties, accepting the release and the armament of the Bolsheviks themselves. It lost the support of the right-hand side, which does not forgive him the failure of the putsch, without to rejoin the left, which considers it too lenient in the repression of the accomplices of Kornilov, even less the extreme-left Bolshevik, at which Lénine, of its hiding-place, fixed the watchword: “No support for Kerensky, fights against Kornilov”.
Popular boiling, the country explosion and rise of the Bolsheviks
More and more of workmen and soldiers think that it would not know to have there conciliation between the old company defended by Kornilov and the news. The putsch and the collapse of the provisional government, while giving to the Soviet S the direction of resistance reinforces their authority and increases the audience of the Bolchevik S. Their prestige is grown: urged on by the counter-revolution, the masses are radicalized, of the Soviets, the trade unions line up as regards Bolshevik. August 31st, the Soviet of Petrograd grants the majority to the Bolsheviks, and elects Trotsky with its presidency on September 30th.
All the elections show this rise; thus, to the municipal elections of Moscow, between June and September, the SR pass from 375.000 votes to 54.000, the Menchevik S from 76.000 to 16.000, the juniors by 109.000 to 101.000 votes, whereas the Bolsheviks pass from 75.000 to 198.000 votes. The watchword “all the capacity with the Soviets” largely exceeds the Bolsheviks and is taken again by workmen SR or mencheviks. August 31st, the Soviet of Petrograd and 126 Soviets of province vote for a resolution in favor being able it of the Soviets.
The revolution continues and accelerates, especially in the campaigns. During this summer 1917, the peasants pass to the action, and seize the grounds of the lords, without more awaiting the promised land reform and constantly delayed by the government. The Russian farming community joins again in fact with its long tradition of vast spontaneous risings (the bunts ), which had already marked the national past, thus at the time of the great revolts of Stenka Razine at the XVIIe century or of Pougatchev (1774 - 1775) at the time of Catherine II. Not always violent, these massive occupations of the ground are however often the theater of spontaneous outbursts where the properties of the Masters are burned, themselves maltreated even assassinated. This immense the Jacquerie, undoubtedly most important of the European history, is overall victorious, and the grounds are divided, without the government not condemning nor does not ratify the movement.
Learning that the “black division” is achieving itself in their villages, the soldiers, largely of country origin, desert in mass, in order to be able to take part in time with the redistribution of the grounds. The action of pacifist propaganda, the discouragement after the failure of the ultimate offensive of the summer make the remainder. The trenches are emptied little by little.
Thus, the Bolsheviks, whom one still qualified in July of a “unimportant handle of demagogs” control the majority of the country. As of June 1917, to a meeting of the 1st congress of the Soviets, Lénine had already exposed openly that the Bolsheviks aimed at seizing the power alone and to only assume it; on the blow it started only the hilarity of the room…
See also: Revolution of October
In October 1917, Lénine and Trotsky consider that the moment had just finished some with the situation of double capacity.
The debates within the Central committee of the Left Bolshevik so that this one organizes an armed insurrection and seizes the power are sharp. Some around Kamenev and Zinoviev consider that it still should be awaited, because the party is already ensured of the majority in the Soviets, and would be found in their opinion isolated in Russia as in Europe if it seized the power alone and not within a coalition of revolutionary parties. But Lénine and Trotski carry it and after having resisted, the Committee approves and organizes the insurrection, whose Lénine fixes the date for the opening day before of the 2nd congress of the Soviets, which must meet on October 25th.
A revolutionary Military committee is created within the Soviet of Petrograd and is directed by Trotski, president of this last. It is composed of armed workmen, soldiers and sailors. It makes sure the rallying or neutrality of the garrison of the capital, and carefully prepares the catch of attack of the strategic points of the city. The preparation of the takeover by force is done almost with considering and with known of all, the plans delivered by Kamenev and Zinoviev are even available in the newspapers, and Kerensky itself comes from there to wish the final confrontation which would empty the abscess. The insurrection is launched in the night of the 6 with the November 7th 1917 (24 with the October 25th Julien calendar). The events proceed almost without bloodshed. The red Guards led by the Bolsheviks take without resistance the control of the bridges, the stations, the central bank, the power stations postal and telephone, before launching a final attack on the Palate of winter. The official films made later showed these events under a heroic angle, although in reality the insurrectionists had to face only with one low resistance. Indeed, among the troops confined in the capitals, only some battalions of officer cadets (“Junkers”) support the provisional government, the vast majority of the regiments deciding for rising or declaring themselves neutral. One counts only six dead. During the insurrection, the trams continue to circulate, the theaters to be played, the stores to be opened. One of the most decisive events of the XXe century takes place without large world realizing there.
If a handle of partisans could be made main of the capital vis-a-vis a provisional government that nobody any more supports, rising must now be ratified by the masses. The following day, October 25th, Trotsky announces officially the dissolution of the provisional government at the time of the opening of the Congress side-Russian of the Soviets of the working and country deputies (649 deputy elected officials, including 390 Bolchevik S).
But of many socialist revolutionists considered that Lénine and the Bolsheviks had seized the power illegally, and left the room. These defections were accompanied by this comment of Leon Trotsky: “, You leave go ahead Leave join the heaps of dust of the company”. The next day, the Soviets ratify the constitution of a council of the police chiefs of the people completely made up Bolsheviks, as bases new government, while waiting for the convocation of a constituent assembly.
The new government
In the few hours which followed, a handle of decrees was going to provide the foundations of the new mode. When Lénine made its first public appearance, it was ovationné and its first declaration was: “We now will carry out the construction of the socialist order”.
First of all, Lénine announces the abolition of the secret diplomacy and the proposal with all the belligerent countries to start talks “for a peace equitable and democratic, immediate, without annexations and allowances”.
Then, the decree on the ground is promulgated: “the great land and buildings are abolished immediately without any allowance”. It leaves with the Soviets peasants freedom do of them what they wish, socialization of the ground or division between the poor peasants. The text ratifies in fact an already existing reality, since the peasants already seized the grounds during the summer 1917. But by doing this, it gains with the Bolsheviks the benevolent neutrality of the campaigns, at least until spring 1918.
Finally a new government, baptized “council of the police chiefs of the people” is named. Other measurements will follow, as new abolition of Capital punishment (in spite of the reserve of Lénine which considered it essential), the Nationalization of the banks (December 14th), working control on the production, the creation of a working militia, the sovereignty and the equality of all the people of Russia, their right to have themselves “including by total separation and the constitution of an independent State”, the suppression of any privilege in national or religious matter, etc
The success of October completed certain first steps of the Russian Revolution in the immediate future born in February, while taking in 33 hours of measurements which the provisional government had not taken in 8 months of existence.
In 1871, the Parisian workmen had seized the power during the Commune of Paris. This first experiment of “Dictatorship of the proletariat” (as Friedrich Engels qualified it) had ended in the massacre from 10.000 to 20.000 communards and the deportations in mass. By taking the capacity with Petrograd, Lénine and Trotsky knew that they could not hold without the reinforcement of industrialized countries, Germany, France and England; while waiting, it is a question for them of holding more than the 72 days of the commune of Paris.
The nature of October: revolution, coup d'etat, coup d'etat and revolution?
As of the first hours which follow on November 7th, and to our days, many actors and commentators regarded the “Révolution of October” as being actually a simple coup d'etat of a solved and organized minority, which aimed at giving “all the capacity to the Bolsheviks” and not to the Soviets. Humanity , principal French socialist daily newspaper, title thus 9 on the “coup d'etat in Russia” which has just brought Lénine and the “maximalist ones” to the capacity.
Historian A. Mongili notes besides that in the following years, the Bolsheviks themselves do not hesitate to speak between them about their “blow” about October ( perevorot ).
Marc Ferro considers that October is at the same time , technically, a putsch, but which is explained only in the context of general revolutionary boiling in all the country and all the company. The popular forces gave an at least tacit support for the company Bolshevik, vis-a-vis a government discredited and already impotent
Nicolas Werth, evoking the “paradoxes and misunderstandings of October”, thus summarizes the debates and the opposite theses, often not stripped of ulterior motives and ideological bias: For a first historical school that one could describe as Libérale , the revolution of October was only a Putsch imposed by violence on a passive company, result of a skilful conspiracy woven by a handle of disciplined and cynical fanatics, deprived of any real base in the country. Today, the near total of the Russian historians, like the cultivated elites and the leaders of the Russia post-Communist endorsed the liberal vulgate. Deprived any social and historical thickness, the revolution of October 1917 was only one accident which diverted of its natural course Russia pre-revolutionist, rich, hard Russia and in right track towards the democracy (...). If the coup d'etat Bolshevik of 1917 were only one accident, then the Russian people were only one innocent victim. Vis-a-vis this interpretation, Soviet historiography tried to show that October had been the logical result, foreseeable, inevitable, of a route liberator undertaken by the masses consciously rejoined with the Bolchevism. (...) Rejecting the liberal vulgate like the vulgate marxisante, a third current historiographic made an effort to dice-idéologiser the history, to include/understand, as Marc Ferro wrote it, that the insurrection of October 1917 could be at the same time a movement of mass and that only a small number took part in it. (...) This is why, according to this historian, far from liberal or Marxist “over-simplifications”, the revolution of October 1917 seems to us the temporary convergence of two movements: a political seizure of power, fruit of a meticulous insurrectionary preparation, by a party which is distinguished radically, by its practices, its organization and its ideology, of all the other actors of the revolution; a vast social, multiform and autonomous revolution (...) immense a country Jacquerie initially, the year 1917 a decisive stage of a great agrarian revolution, an in-depth decomposition of the army, made of nearly 10 million soldier-peasants mobilized since 3 years in a war of which they hardly included/understood the direction (...), a specific working protest movement, (...), a fourth movement finally (...) through the fast emancipation of nationalities and the alien people (...). Each one of these movements has its own temporality, its internal dynamics, its specific aspirations, which could obviously be reduced neither with the slogans Bolsheviks nor with the political action of this party (...). During a brief but decisive moment - the end of the year 1917 - the action of the Bolcheviks, political minority acting in the ambient institutional vacuum, goes in the direction of the aspirations of the greatest number, even if the objectives in the medium and long term are different for the ones and the autres.
According to its conclusion, in October 1917, “temporarily, political coup d'etat and social revolution telescope, before diverging about decades from dictatorship”.
Beginnings of the mode Bolshevik
By taking the capacity with Petrograd, Lénine and Trotsky by no means intend to build socialism in only Russia, underdeveloped and postponed. But they hope to be the first working victory of a series of revolutions in the industrialized countries of Europe, which only would make it possible the revolution to hold. Trotsky declared with the congress of the Soviets which approves the insurrection: “Or the Russian Revolution will raise the swirl of the fight in Occident, or the capitalists of all the countries will choke our revolution. ”
But it is only one year later, however, which a wave of revolutions bursts in Germany (German Révolution of November 1918 - 1919) or in Hungary (where a Republic of the councils the day for 133 days sees, directed by Bela Kun). In close Finland, the revolution was overcome as of March 1918 at the price of a civil war, with the assistance of the Germans. Other countries, like Italy, know insurrectionary strikes. But these revolutions are crushed everywhere in blood. In Finland, white terror makes 35.000 dead, and in January 1919 German social democracy calls upon the irregular forces to repress the working revolution, and makes assassinate the leaders Spartakiste S Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. Elsewhere, as in France, in Great Britain or in the United States, a wave of strikes and demonstrations do not lead to any revolutionary attempt.
The vague revolutionist, later than envisaged, thus ended up moving back, and the capacity Bolshevik remains as insulated as at its first days. The Bolsheviks are confronted only with the immense difficulties of Russia in explosion, where seizure of power to them achieves the unanimity by no means.
The economic situation the shortly after the revolution of October
The world war bled Russia, and deprived it of a great part of its provisioning. Already before October 1917, the provisional government of Kerensky had had to proceed to requisitions forced of stocks of food in order to nourish the cities, where the famine watches for. While arriving at the capacity the Bolsheviks try to give up these unpopular practices, but in front of the aggravation of the sanitary situation and economic, they will have to resort to it again.
The economic situation is obviously improved by the occupation of the Ukraine by the German troops, neither by the Embargo on Russia issued in 1918 by the principal powers (the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany and Japan), nor by the beginnings of the civil war. In the campaigns, not having more consumer goods to buy against their grains, the peasants already ceased supplying the cities as of before the Révolution of February.
In addition, Lénine and Trotsky, fascinated by the economic State intervention militarized set up by the Prussian staff in Germany, want to give the workmen to work according to similar methods, in order to be able to hold the shock vis-a-vis the future counter-revolution. However much of workers by no means want to give up their conquests and to return to the enormous efforts and the authoritarianism required by the All-out war. Coercion in their opposition quickly becomes inevitable.
The situation is thus degraded brutally, causing in a few months a quasi-disappearance of any economic activity in the country. In January 1918, the average ration of corn in the big cities falls to 3 book per month. Companies must close, the workmen not finding more what to nourish itself, bands of plunderers traverse the campaigns in the search of food, of the detachments of deserters run up against the army.
Bolsheviks and farming community: misunderstanding with the conflict
One of the first decrees of the government Bolshevik ratified the already effective abolition of the great land and buildings and the initiative left to the peasants as for the distribution or the socialization of the grounds. This decree is in rupture with the program Bolshevik, which envisaged the Nationalization grounds.
For some, it is an operation of the Bolsheviks: it marks also a misunderstanding between the Bolsheviks and the peasants. The first aim in the long term to integral collectivism, the seconds with the extension and the multiplication of the small property. The Bolsheviks have skilfully taken again for several months the program of the SR, that the latter were unable to implement. But of this fact the peasants are only economically allured by the party of Lénine, which remains before any collectivist, urban and ouvrierist.
On their side, the Bolsheviks for their part declare themselves always in favor of the nationalization, but say not to have neither the desire nor the means of imposing it to the peasants. Written Lénine: We cannot be unaware of the decision of the popular base, when well even we would not be agreement with it… We must give to the popular masses a whole creative liberty of action… All in all, and all is there, the country class must obtain the firm insurance that the noble ones do not exist any more in the campaigns, and it is necessary that the peasants themselves decide on all and organize to them existence.
Indeed, for the Bolsheviks, it is the land reform which are with the day order, and not the construction of a socialist company, of which they think that setting-up is impossible in a poor country like Russia.
Conscious thus that they could not control without the support of the rural world, constituting the vast majority of the country, the Bolsheviks convene from November 10th to 16th a country congress. In spite of a hostile majority SR with the Bolsheviks, this last ratifies the decree on the ground and gives its support for the new government, devoting the provisional union between the urban proletariat and the farming community.
Thus, in the few very difficult months which precede the Traité by Brest-Litovsk, the new capacity succeeded in avoiding the danger in addition alienating the rural masses, whereas he is already confronted with the hostility of the tsarists, the liberals and a major part of the socialist formations.
But he inherits the catastrophic problem of the supply of the cities, which already made fall Nicolas II and Kerensky. Need for proceeding to cereal requisitions if he wants to survive door in her the germs of a serious conflict with the farming community, manpower since 1918.
The Soviets thus organize as of spring 1918 of the detachments of workmen, charged to proceed to requisitions in the campaigns. Frequent violence their methods, and that of country resistance, involve in their turn a notable fall of the agricultural production. Later on, the White, although proclaiming the free trade, will be them-also constrained to resort to the forced requisitions.
First combat of the civil war (autumn 1917)
If the revolution were a success with Petrograd, the attempt to take Moscow from October 28th to November 2nd met violent resistances. Before the Bolsheviks led by the young person Nicolas Boukharine do not seize the the Kremlin finally, their opponents (SR and monarchists) carried out a bloody repression, person in charge of summary hundreds of executions.
The shortly after the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks with Petrograd, Kerensky joined the white general Krasnov and its cossacks who walk on Petrograd. They are supported on Petrograd even by a mutiny of the officer cadets ( Junkers ), whose SR took the head. The Junkers are quickly demolished by the red guards. Arrived at 20 kilometers of the capital, the cossacks met the resistance of the latter, and undergo important losses. Krasnov is stopped, but given in freedom against its word of honor not to carry the weapons against the revolution more. It will leave in the area cossack the Gift, to assemble a white army there.
On its side, the large General headquarter (the “stravka”) of the Russian army announces on October 31st its will to go on Pétrograd “in order to restore the order there”. Joined by the chiefs of the party SR, Tchernov and Gotz, he proposes the creation of a “ government of the order ”. However, the mass of the soldiers passes to the Bolsheviks little by little, stopping the officers. November 9th, Lénine invites the soldiers to be opposed to the attempt counter-revolutionary officers, to elect of the representative and to engage directly of the negotiations of armistice. November 18th, the staff must flee in the south, the généralissime Doukhonine being massacred by his own soldiers.
In the weeks which follow, of the thousands of officers and Junkers join the area of the Gift, like the general Kornilov, stopped following its attempt at putsch in September, and which could leave the monastery where it was interned. A white army from 3 to 4000 men is assembled by the general tsarist Alekseev. This army represses in blood working risings with Rostov and Taganrog, the November 26th and January 2nd. The working red guards of Moscow and Petrograd, under the command of convergent Antonov-Ovseenko towards the south and carry out a war of partisans, who end up driving out Kornilov. It is so much so that learning the rout from the White, Lénine believes capacity to exclaim, on April 1st, 1918, than the civil war is finished…
Other engagements are carried out in the Kouban, where the capacity of the Soviets settles temporarily in Ekatérinodar.
On the Rumanian face, the army breaks up into white detachments, which will join the white army of Dénikine, and into red regiments.
The problem of the coalition
The 2nd congress of the Soviets had approved the nomination of the government only made up of Bolsheviks. However for many militants Bolsheviks, this solution is not acceptable. Victor Serge written: “It is affirmed that the Bolsheviks wanted the monopoly of the capacity immediately. Another legend! They feared the insulation of the capacity. Number of them were, at the beginning, in favor of a socialist coalition government”. In fact as of the shortly after the victorious insurrection, the near total of delegated to the congress of the Soviets vote for a resolution of the menchevik Julius Martov, supported by the Bolshevik Lounatcharski, requiring that the Conseil of the police chiefs of the people be extended to representatives of other socialist parties. The trade union of the railwaymen, Vikhjel, takes again this claim.
Opportunity of creating a socialist coalition involves sharp debates within the party Bolshevik, the leaders being divided on the fact of sharing the capacity, or on the possible concessions, and carrying out the party Bolshevik at the edge of the scission (several leaders resign their stations to denounce the refusal of a coalition by Lénine: “This group (Zinoviev, Kamenev, Rykov and Noguine) was indignant and at the attempts of Lénine to ruin the negotiations, and at its behavior with regard to the other socialist parties the day before the elections, in particular in the fundamental question of freedom of the press. ”). The police chief of the people to work Chliapnikov, like Riazanov, unite with the protests against the refusal of Lénine. Finally a delegation, led by Kamenev, meets the representatives mencheviks and SR, who require the disarmament of the red guards, a government without Lénine nor Trotsky.
Put in difficulty during a central committee of the party Bolshevik, Lénine is constrained to compromise: he refuses the continuation of the negotiations for a coalition linking all the Socialists, but accepts that negotiations continue only with the SR of left. Certain SR of left enter thus to the government in December 1917.
First daysThe opinions over the first days following the change of being able of October are divided.
For some, it acts at the beginning of a Dictature. Maxime Gorki writes on December 7th, 1917: “The Bolsheviks placed the Congress of the Soviets in front of the accomplished fact of the seizure of power by themselves, not by the Soviets. It is about an oligarchical republic, the republic of some police chiefs of the people. ”
As of the shortly after on November 7th, 7 newspapers of the capital are prohibited. They are according to Victor Serge 7 newspapers openly preaching resistance armed to the “takeover by force with the agents of Kaiser”. But the socialist parties preserve their press, like that of Maxime Gorki. According to Victor Serge, the menchevic legal press disappears only in 1919, that of the hostile anarchists to the mode in 1921, that of SR of left as of July 1918 because of their revolt against the Bolsheviks.
But the Bolsheviks were, before they seize the power, marked for freedom of the press, including Lénine, and this volte-face is not accepted by many Bolsheviks. Marc Ferro considers that “contrary to the legend, the removal of the middle-class press or from the sheets SR emanates neither from Lénine nor of the leading spheres of the party Bolsheviks” but “of the public, in fact of insurgent popular environments”.
Whereas about all the civils servant of Petrograd put themselves in strike to protest against the takeover by force, of the public lists denounce those which refuse to serve the new capacity. December 10th, the leaders of the Cadet party, who took the head of resistance armed to the government Bolshevik, are declared in a state of arrest.
Others estimate that it is especially the leniency which marks the first times of the Soviet mode. The Ministers for the provisional government are stopped, and quickly slackened. The majority will take part thereafter in the civil war in with dimensions of the white Armées. The general Krasnov, who raised himself the shortly after the insurrection of October, is freed with other officers against their word not to take again the weapons against the Soviet mode. They will form the executives of the Blanche army in the following months.
Lénine refused in October 1917 the warnings of Kamenev and Zinoviev, which preferred a preliminary alliance with the other revolutionary forces and an equal share of the capacity, and which had warned against the risk of insulation of the Bolsheviks vis-a-vis the oppositions. The takeover by force of October put the other parties in front of the accomplished fact, from where their anger. The violent radicalization of the situation and the rise to the extremes will mark the year 1918, a point of no return being reached in the summer.
The peace of Brest-Litovsk
By seizing the power in Russia, the Bolsheviks had the hope of a revolutionary rising have Europe. This one not occurring, promised peace in October becomes a peremptory necessity to satisfy the army and the farming community. It is at the same time a question of signing peace, to make use of the territorial negotiations to show the expansion policy of the middle-class governments, but without appearing to take party for the power of the axis.
A Armistice is signed on December 15th, and of the peace talks begin on December 22nd, the Russian delegation being led by Trotsky. The German requirements are enormous: the Poland, the Lithuania, and the White Russia must remain under German occupation. A debate makes rage between the Bolsheviks within the party Bolshevik where three positions clash. Some, as Boukharine defends the need for a revolutionary war, Lénine thinks that it is necessary to yield the knife under the throat, and Trotsky, which carries it by 9 votes against 7, proposes to refuse to sign a peace of annexation but to declare the end of the war.
In reaction the German army launches an offensive on January 17th, which advances quickly in Ukraine. The position of Lénine for the immediate signature of peace carries it then on January 18th in the party, but the conditions required by the Germans still worsened. March 3rd, 1918, the Bolsheviks sign the Traité of Brest-Litovsk which cuts down Russia by 26% of its population, 27% of its surface cultivated, 75% of its production of steel and iron. The economic situation of the young Soviet republic, already devastated by 4 years a fatal war seems desperate.
The creation of TchékaDecember 20th, 1917, the “extraordinary Commission of fight against sabotage and the counter-revolution” (in Russian Vétchéka), more commonly called Tchéka is founded. Its action does not have any legal base nor legal (the decree which founds it is made public only after the death of Lénine), and it is initially conceived like a provisional instrument of repression, independent of justice. It is directed by a college of five members (three Bolsheviks and two SR) chaired by Felix Dzerjinski. Among the saboteurs and enemies envisaged by the aforesaid decree appear KD, SR of right-hand side, journalists, strikers… From the start Tchéka multiplies the calls with the denouncement, the constitution of Tchékas local, etc Fondée with 100 civils servant (whose Menjinski, Peters, Iagoda), it counts 12.000 of them as of July 1918. When it arrives at Moscow, and settles with the Loubianka, on March 10th, 1918, it has 600 members on the spot. In July it has 2000 of them. As of this date, police manpower of the Bolsheviks are higher than those of the Okhrana under Nicolas II.
According to Pierre Broué, Tchéka, created in December 1917 really starts to strike as from March at the time of the German offensive. Repression worsens in July, after the assassination of Volodarski by SR. But it is during summer 1918 that the things change brutally, with the insurrection of SR of left of Moscow and a series of attacks against the leaders Bolsheviks - Moïsseï Ouritsky is assassinated on August 30th, Lénine seriously wounded by Fanny Kaplan, itself summarily carried out shortly after.
Informant to take as a starting point the example of the Jacobins of the French revolution, the leaders Bolsheviks state to oppose to “white terror” “red terror”. According to Tchéka itself, there are 22 executions in the first six months of 1918,6 000 for the last six. Although these figures are probably largely underestimated, they assemble the intensification of repression starting from the beginning of the civil war. According to the Chamberlain historian (quoted by Broué), red terror could have made approximately 50 000 victims.
Victor Serge points out that the whole of red terror made much less victims than certain days of the Bataille of Verdun. It estimates nevertheless that the creation of Tchéka and its secret procedures is the most serious error of the capacity Bolshevik. It notes however that the young republic lived under “dangers mortals” and that the initiative of white terror preceded that by red terror. It also notes that Dzerjnski feared excesses of the local tchéka and that many tchekists themselves were shot for that.
Steinberg, police chief of the people to Justice (SR of left), reports in its memories that whereas it tried to slow down the illegal actions of Tchéka, while exclaiming in front of Lénine : “ What good is a Commission of Justice? Let us call it police station with the social extermination, the cause will be heard”, this one answered: “Excellent idea, it is as that which I see the thing. Unfortunately, one cannot call it ainsi. ”
The dissolution of the Constituent one
Claimed by all the programs of the revolutionary parties since the 19th century, the Russian constituent assembly is elected in December 1917. Although they reach 25% of the voices and obtain several successes in the great agglomerations, the Bolsheviks are minority with 175 elected officials out of 707 deputies. The campaigns preferred to vote for the Socialist-revolutionists.
The dissolution of Constituent by the red guards follows immediately its first meeting, on January 19th, 1918. Twenties of the demonstrators protesting against the decision are killed: Maxime Gorki will greet in them, with their funerals, the martyrs of a democratic experiment of a few hours hardly, awaited during hundred years.
According to the word of Jacques Baynac, the results of the election indicated that the country wanted mainly neither of the government resulting from the Révolution of February, nor of that resulting from the revolution of October. There will not be however a revolution of January or July 1918, repression and civil war helping.
The Marxist Charles Rappoport writes at the time: “Lénine acted like the tsar. By driving out the Constituent one, Lénine creates a horrible vacuum around him. It causes a terrible civil war without exit and prepares terrible following days. ” ( the Truth , January 26th, 1918)
The setting with the step of the revolutionary competitors
It is as of on January 9th, 1918 that the transfer of the government to Moscow is considered, whereas the negotiations are in hand with Brest-Litovsk, and that the armistice with Germany always holds. Contrary to what will be thereafter marked, this translation, effective in March, is thus not due to the German and white offensives, but to a fear that the working districts of Petrograd, always famished and exasperated, are raised again, but this time against the capacity born of October. It is also a question of showing spectacularly with the opponents of any kind which the capacity Bolshevik can remain even out of its hearth of origin petrogradois.
March 27th, 1918, the Tchéka is in charge of the violations of the press laws. The decision makes it possible to accentuate considerably the censure of the press not-Bolshevik.
The 11 April 12th, a wave of repression anti-anarchist strikes Moscow: 1000 men of the special troops attack their residences, one counts 520 arrests, 25 summary executions. From now on, the Anarchistes are officially qualified “gangsters”: a word which will have posterity. Dzerjinski prevents that this operation is only one beginning.
A recrudescence of the SR and Anarchistes worry the capacity indeed then. Their Net renewal of audience is read with the results: where are still held of the free local elections, they gain of it more half. In reaction, in May - June 1918, 205 socialist newspapers are closed, and Tchéka dissolves the weapon with the fist of tens of Soviets SR or mencheviks, whereas those have just been elected legally. It is the case with Riazan, Tambov, Orel, Kazan… on June 14th, 1918, the Menchevik S and the SR of left are expelled of the executive committee panrusse Soviets, which then does not include/understand any more an other party but the party Bolshevik. July 16th, the newspaper of Maxime Gorki, the New Life , is prohibited by Tcheka.
In the cities, the food situation remains explosive. Not more than Kerensky, Lénine does not have a solution very ready vis-a-vis the rupture of the cities exchanges/campaigns, and with the return of the peasants to subsistence farming. The Bolsheviks can only take again the method of the taxes and social security deduction carried out by detachments armed with townsmen, which welds the campaigns against their urban capacity, and alienates with the party the peasants that the decree on the ground had gained to him. 150 country revolts are repressed through Russia for the only month of July 1918, without causing an notable improvement of the urban supply. On the contrary, the rations crumble. In tens of cities, the Tcheka and some Red Gardes draws then on steps from the hunger, shoots strikers, breaks the popular meetings.
A new practice is even inaugurated: the Lockout of the nationalized factories…! Another means of repressing the strikes. June 20th, 1918, in reprisals with the assassination of a person in charge Bolshevik, 800 working leaders are stopped with Petrograd in two days, and their Soviet dissolves. July 2nd, the workmen retort by a general strike through Petrograd, in vain.
Refusing these acts but also the Traité of Brest-Litovsk which they interpret like a capitulation vis-a-vis the German imperialism, the SR of left break in their turn with the government Bolshevik. July 6th, 1918, they try to start again the war against Germany by assassinating the ambassador of Reich, Von Mirbach. The same day, they try to take by storm the seat of Tchéka in Moscow. Virtually, the civil war opposing the Bolsheviks to all the other forces is started.
Civil war with the NEP (1918-1921)
See also: Russian Civil war
The Russian civil war does not oppose only the young person Red Army to the “white Armées” monarchists supported by the foreign armies. Its violence extrème is not due either only to the shock of “white terror” and “red terror”.
It indeed doubles war of the peasants against the cities and any authority external at the village and the campaigns. Thus “green Armed ”, composed of peasants who refuse the forced enrôlements and the requisitions, fight in turn against the Red Army and the white armies.
With these engagements is superimposed an important conflict of generations (the young returned peasants of the cities or armies seek with débarasser supervision of the patriarchal family, and are made the given agents of the revolution in the campaigns), the action of the national minorities which seek with émanciper of the old Russian supervision, the intervention of foreign armies (of which the young Polish State at the time of the Russo-Polish Guerre of 1920), or the attempts of the revolutionists anti-Bolsheviks. But the sights of the opponents SR, the ex-Components, the Mencheviks, or of the Anarchistic a main time of the Ukraine at the time of the Makhnovchina, never were able to prevail. By the rallyings, the force or repression, the Bolsheviks imposed their hegemony on the revolution, like the White on the opposition to the revolution.
Very confused and cahotic, the Russian civil war is characterized by the disintegration of the State and the company under the action of centrifugal forces. Many violences are of this fact parts of the base and not of the top.
The victory of the Bolcheviks will mean, in ruined and bloodless Russia, the rebuilding of a State under the authority of a Sole party from now on débarassé of all its rivals and enemies, and equipped with the absolute capacity. In particular, a new police State was forged around the Tcheka during the war and of “red terror”.
All that with the detriment of the dreams of the revolution of February and October, which had rejected all the authorities and considering continuing the autonomy of a Civil society, from now on very hard ravaged, exhausted and again subjected to the capacity.
Red Army against white armies
As of the February 23rd 1918, Trotski founded the Red Army . Energetic and qualified organizer, good speaker, it furrows the country on board his armoured train and flies of one face to the other to restore the military situation everywhere, to galvanize energies and to make an enormous effort of propaganda bound for the soldiers and the masses. He restores the Conscription and disciplines it iron against the combatants and deserters.
In spite of the negative reactions of many old men Bolsheviks, Trotski does not hesitate either to recycle per thousands the former officers tsarists. 14.000 of them (30% of the total) agree to sometimes serve the new capacity by force (their families answer on their head of their honesty, under the terms of the “law of the hostages”), but also in the name of the safety of the country threatened of anarchy and dismemberment.
The “reds” control only one territory large like the old Grand Duchy of Moscovie, and encircled of any share, but they have the advantage of their central position, to form a coherent block, to have the two capitals, better roads and railways.
The White are them divided and incompetents to coordinate their offensives. Especially, it do not have anything to offer to the populations, if not the return to an old unanimously hated mode, the restitution of the grounds to the former owners, the refusal of any concession to the national minorities, the Pogroms Antisémites whose deaths amount per hundreds of thousands. Also the masses finally let gain the Bolsheviks, although the clashes violent one did not miss either between them and the latter.
Campaigns against cities: “green armies”
As well the Red Army as the white Armées was constrained in turn in their operations by the action of the guerillas country-women. The “green Armées” are made up of peasants who refuse enrôlement in the two armies, the forced requisitions, the restitution of the grounds to the former landowners wanted by the White.
After the defeat of the latter end 1920, peace thus returns really to Russia only in 1921 - 1922, after the crushing of the great country revolts like that led by the SR Antonov to Tambov to the summer 1921, the destruction of the green armies a time mistresses of immense territories (in Eastern Siberia, they control a time until a million km2), and the compromise of NEP (March 1921) passed between the mode Bolsheviks and the farming community.
Foreign interventions and Russo-Polish war
Ulcerated Treated of Brest-Litovsk, the Western armies and Japanese woman intervene initially to prevent the total disappearance of the Eastern face (spring-be 1918). It is only after the defeat of Germany that their intervention takes a definitely hostile turn with the revolution and the mode Bolshevik, and that it supports the White by fear of the contagion Bolshevik. From 1918 to 1920, red Russia is also subjected to a drastic Embargo by the capitalist powers. However, the defeats of the White and the sympathy of the popular layers their countries with regard to the Russian revolution oblige the great powers to give up the part. Thus the mutiny of the French fleet at sea Black, led by Andre Marty and Charles Tillon, contributes in March 1919 to make give up the French government.
In 1920, the very young Polish State invades Russia to push back its borders beyond the Ligne Curzon. The victorious counter-attack of the Red Army fills with hope the Bolsheviks: the catch of Warsaw would open the road of Berlin and would make it possible to export the revolution by the weapons. But on August 15th, 1920, the “miracle of the Vistula” makes it possible to the general Pilsudski to push back the invasion. Seeing the Red Army like an initially Russian army and not revolutionist, the Polish workmen did not give any support for this one.
Victoire and crisis of the “Communism of war”The war radicalizes the mode spectacularly. To carry out the All-out war against the hostile forces, the government of Lénine proceeds to the Nationalization quasi-integral of the trade, the banks, industry and even of the craft industry. The residences of the easy classes are collectivized: the collective apartments enter thus the life of the Russians. Whereas the currency crumbles and that the country lives per hour of the Troc and the paid wages in kind, the mode founds the exemption from payment of the residences, transport and the Public services, all taken in hand by the Party-State. Certain Bolsheviks even consequently dream to abolish the Argent, or at least to limit its use drastiquement. Initially impromptu under the fire of the circumstances, the “Communism of war” (term created a posteriori, appeared after the end of the civil war) appears from now on a means of making directly pass Russia to the Socialisme.
The capacity restores also powerful a Dirigisme on the economy and the workmen. With this intention, he does not hesitate to restore an iron discipline in the factories or to make reappear practices honnies like the wage the piece, the booklet of work, the Lock-out, the arrest and the deportation of the leaders of strikes. In the campaigns, armed detachments proceed violently to the forced cereal requisitions to nourish the cities as well as the Red Army.
The capacity carries out also an enormous effort of Alphabétisation, education and Propagande bound for the soldiers and of the popular masses. He encourages artistic effervescence and puts the creators at the service of the revolution by a vast production of works and posters which help the rallying of the masses to the Bolsheviks.
The orthodoxe Eglise, which often lined up side of the reaction, must undergo thousands of arrests, executions and destruction, the goal being in the long term the eradication not only of its former power, but also of the religious beliefs.
The police machinery, equipped with arbitrary and very wide capacities, experiences an enormous development. Arrests, shootings of hostages and internment in camps become banal practices, moreover also implemented without states of heart by the White. In 1920 - 1922, the Red Army invades the Central Asia, the Mongolia, the Arménie or the Georgia, and reinstates of force these countries in the orbit Russo-Soviet. In Ukraine, it was also turned over against its old allies, the Anarchistes of the army Makhno: at the end of 1920, it puts an end brutally to the new experiment of the Makhnovchina.
This policy saves the mode, but contributes to the enormous popular discontent and the radical collapse of the production, the currency and the standard of living. The economy is ruined, the dislocated grid system. The Black-market and the Troc flower. The cities are depopulated, much famished workmen and townsmen returning to the ground. Thus Moscow and Petrograd empty half, while the Working class breaks up: less than one million credits in 1921, against more than three million in 1917. In 1921 - 1922, a doubled famine of a very serious epidemic of Typhus mowing several million lives in the Russian campaigns.
The revolt of Kronstadt and introduction of the NEP (March 1921)
Nauseated by the monopoly of the capacity acquired by the Party Bolshevik, like by the violence and repression deployed in the campaigns or against the workmen in strike, the sailors of Kronstadt revolt in March 1921 and require the return to the capacity of the Soviets, of the free elections, the freedom of the interior market, the end of the political police. Their rising is crushed by Trotski and Toukhatchevski.
See also: Revolt of Kronstadt
At the same moment, the capacity puts the Mencheviks outlaw, represses the last large waves of protest working, and starts a violent “pacification” campaign against the insurgent peasants. Xe congress of the Party, held at the same moment that the insurrection of Kronstadt, abolishes also the right of tendency within the Party by the introduction of the “democratic Centralisme”.
But in front of the dead end of the “Communism of war” and the collapse of the economy, Lénine decides a return limited and provisional with the capitalism of market: the New economic policy (NEP) is adopted during the same congress. This economic liberalization - which does not double of any political liberalization - will make it possible to rectify the economy.
After the civil war, a very important change as regards sexual manners took place. The Marxist criticism of the middle-class family had already led the Bolsheviks to modify the legislation concerning the divorce, the marriage and the voluntary interruption of pregnancy. Then the desire to reach a freer sexuality started a social movement qualified by Wilhelm Reich of sexual revolution. Imposed by the base, it was not sufficiently supported by the high ranking officials of the mode, and was lost gradually in importance.
More generally the capacity Bolshevik, in particular under the impulse of Alexandra Kollontai, will take important measures to improve the social status of the woman. In addition to the legislations as regards manners seen higher, a series of decrees recognize as of the end of 1917 the women's right to the eight hours day, that to negotiate the amount of the wages, the safeguarding of employment in the event of pregnancy, the possibiities to ensure of the care their children during the work hours, as well as political rights equal to those of the men. The work of the women is encouraged, at the same time from the point of view émancipatrice (the mode declares “that connected with the hearth, the woman could not be equalizes it of the man”) and to make up the deficit of labor caused by the war and the famines.
Like RSFSR, at the conclusion of the war, abounded in orphans per tens of thousands, Chtcharachkas (communities) were installation, where children of all framed ages of voluntary teachers were educated in the socialist spirit, and without religion. At the same time, the ranks were abolished in the army, and the academic rules in Article Grammaire and orthography were also simplified, and the ideological fight against the prejudices of religious origin beat full sound.
Conséquenses economic and social
The revolution and the establishment of the new mode involve deep social transformations in the countries gathered within the USSR.
The old feudal structures of Russia tsarist disaggregate without leaving room to an market economy, generating the development of new social reports/ratios which will be the subject of various interpretations.
Approximately 13 million Russians perished of violent death between 1914 and 1921: 2,5 million by the Great War, as much by the civil war and the massacres of terrors white, red or green, 5 million by the famine and more than 2,5 million by the epidemic of Typhus.
The old elites (priests, nobility and middle-class, the latter already more fragile than in Occident, part of the intellectuals) disappeared or were exiled, unless being itself rejoined for certain their members. As of the era léninienne, these “people of passed” and their children are supervised and discriminated in the access to housing, work or the University, or are private of a right to vote certainly symbolic system. Many will be liquidated later on during the Grandes Stalinist Purgings.
Approximately two million “Russian white” (not all monarchists nor Russian actually) was exiled of revolutionary Russia, or were banished by it. In 1922, a decree removes to them in block Russian nationality. It is for these first Apatride S of mass that SDN must invent the Passeport Nansen.
In the campaigns, the Party remains under-represented. Constitutional provisions give to the working and urban vote a weight openly higher than the country vote. The country class is one of only to have kept a rather strong autonomy compared to the very authoritative State which was forged during the civil war.
The peasants obtained the division of the grounds until they waited since of the generations (although because of their strong increase in population, they gained there on average only 2 to 3 ha of ground each one). But much can note that “the ground is not eaten” (Lénine): their million émiettées small-scale farmings is badly profitable and impossible to modernize. Pet peeves of the Bolsheviks during the civil war, the Koulaks (country presumedly rich, makes some just a little easier and dynamic that the average) more draw their pin from the play, and will profit from avènemement from NEP - before undergoing the shock of the Dékoulakisation starting from 1930.
Many men people, ex-workmen or peasants, profited from the growth of the Party-State and its Bureaucratie (whose development distresses already Lénine and Trotski). Entering those or the Red Army, they acquired unhoped-for positions to be able and privileges for them under the Old Mode. This “plebeianisation of the Party” (Marc Ferro) will be used as a basis social for the later advent of Joseph Stalin, named general secretary of PCUS the April 3rd 1922.
Political consequences and diplomaticThe first result of this revolution was the inversion of the mode tsarist, leaving the free field for the takeover by the Bolsheviks. According to Nicolas Werth, “a popular and plebeian deeply antiautoritaire and antietatic revolution brought to the capacity the most dictatorial group and more the etatist”.
According to several historians, the bases of the Leninist police State would have been thrown as of before the bursting of the civil war in August 1918, repression falling down as much if not more on the other revolutionary parties and certain popular movements that on the “middle-class” parties or the forces monarchists (see in particular Nicolas Werth, “a State against its people”, in the black Book of Communism , Robert Laffont, 1997). This point of view is rejected by certain historians, following the example Arno J. Mayer which, in a recent work, supports that the policy of oppression of the Soviet mode primarily was the product of internal pressures (the violence of the counter-revolution) as well as external (reaction of the international powers vis-a-vis the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks)
Another immediate result is the signature of the Traité of Brest-Litovsk, and dismantling partial of the Russian ex-empire. Then creation came, in 1922, of the the USSR - the “Union of the Soviet socialist republics”.
The civil war was going to leave the exhausted country, ruined for many years, and under the cut of an increasingly monolithic sole party itself (suppression of the right of tendency in March 1921), from which the police force and the army eliminated all the organized forces of opposition. All is to be rebuilt.
Moreover, the revolution awaited by the Bolsheviks in the capitalist countries did not take place. In Germany even, the popular masses, mainly did not support the attempt Spartakiste of Rosa Luxemburg, and repression followed. In Hungary, Bela Kun was alienated from the start the peasants, and could hold only 133 days with the capacity before being dislodged by a Rumanian invasion about it. The vague revolutionist ebbs since 1920 in Italy, opening the way with the success of the Fascisme. Industrialized countries as important as the United States, the United Kingdom and France know only waves of strikes and demonstrations, sometimes violent, but never able to shake the company and the government. Creation in Moscow of the International IIIe (Comintern), in 1919, is a direct consequence of October. It will be dissolved by Stalin in 1943 without ever to have succeeded in leading a victorious revolution. In the immediate future, rupture and scissions between social democrat parties and Communist parties, between 1919 and 1921, left the labor movement and trade-union durably divided, and weakened vis-a-vis the preserving and fascistic forces. Russia itself remains reduced and isolated, encircled by a “medical Cordon” of small States (Baltic States, Poland, etc).
In the colonized countries, the revolution of October also raised important hopes. Since 1920, with Bakou, the Bolsheviks convene a “congress of the people of the East” which tries to make the junction between nationalisms of colonized and the world communist movement.
Mode founded by Bolsheviks has often be qualified of “Communist”, even if for Marx Communism corresponds to a company which answers the currency “with each one according to its needs, of each one according to its means”. In 1918, however, Lénine did not feel reluctant to make change the name of the party into Communist party, nor to found in 1919 the Komintern, alias the International Communist (it was a question of choosing a name dissociating Social-démocratie, which had been mainly favorable to the war).
Posterity and end
The economic and moral dilapidation consecutive with the civil war will leave the place to a layer of bureaucrats, which within the party Bolshevik will succeed in imposing on the head country. For that, they will have to off-set then to massacre all their opponents, “counter-revolutionaries” as revolutionists. Thousands of Communist militants, whose majority of the “old guard” Bolshevik, the heroes of October and civil war, will be thus off-set, then shot. Most famous of them are humiliated and discredited in public at the time of the Procès of Moscow in 1936 - 1938.
To sit its absolute capacity, and also to make forget the very limited role that he played in the Revolution of October, Joseph Stalin also undertakes to liquidate, at the time of the Grande Terror of 1936-1939, a whole generation of militants, executives political and economic, soldiers, writers or even of police officers who knew before-1917 and makes the revolution then the civil war. A broad part of them had been able to make a time of other choices that the Bolsheviks, or that the dictator himself. In 1930, half of the executives of the State and even of the police force had been useful under the old mode. The “generation of 1937”, which replaces them thanks to the purgings, knew only Stalin and he owes all: it is this Nomenklatura without revolutionary past which will direct from now on the the USSR until its disappearance day before.
The mode “Totalitaire” of Stalin will finish choking the ideals of the revolution of October. As of the medium of the Years 1930, it restores a certain number of values honnies at the time of Lénine and Trotski: exaltation of the family and the fatherland “Socialists”, restoration of military titles the such rank of marshal, free sale of the Vodka by the State, academism in art, forced Russianization of the minorities and “chauvinism large-Russian”, less and less buckled Anti-semitism official… The Second world war will complete this evolution, International the ceasing for example being the Soviet anthem in 1943, and the ranks and uniforms of the Old Mode being spectacularly restored.
Very little sensitive to the Internationalism of the first leaders Bolsheviks, Stalin gives up any idea in addition to export the revolution by the Komintern. In its eyes, it should extend only thanks to the Red Army, under strict control of Moscow and like an extension of the Soviet empire. It is what occurs since 1939 at the time of the annexations permitted by the Pacte germano-Soviet (which makes it possible to recover the territories lost at the time of the Russian civil war), then after the victory of 1945.
All these facts will be characterized by Leon Trotski as the “ Thermidor” of the Russian revolution (by comparison with the reaction which followed the fall of Robespierre during the French revolution). The comparison presents however some limiting. Indeed, the Stalinist era is also marked by a return, against the peasants, with the methods of the “Communism of war”. And it coincides with an outburst of terror without precedent, where French Thermidor put on the contrary fine at Terror.
In addition, the advent of Stalin means also spectacular revival of the economic transformation into Russia, so much so that one could speak about the “second revolution” of the year 1930: Nationalization integral of the grounds, Five-year plan abruptly leaving the USSR the backwardness. That at the heavy price dissimulated of million victims and the routing towards a Totalitarian State .
The causes of this “degeneration” are variously explained. For the Anarchistic , it is due to the “authoritative” principles of the party Bolshevik, and the worm was in the fruit. For others, like the Liberal , it is registered in the same ideas of Karl Marx. For a certain Marxist number of S not-Bolsheviks, Lénine made the fatal error to want to start a working revolution in a country massively country, and to over-estimate the revolutionary potentialities in the Western countries.
Commenting on as of the time the events of October and the civil war, the Marxists like the theorist Karl Kautsky or the revolutionist Rosa Luxemburg made carry their criticisms on the nature of the Parti Bolshevik and on his organization Léniniste (that Trotski itself, in its period menchevik, had denounced since 1904 like a danger). Their eyes, the abusive assimilation of the party to the people, his contempt of the democracy, its worship of violence lead it to make of virtue need, and to transform the terror and the dictatorship imposed by the circumstances into a permanent system. The capacity of the Party on the proletariat replaces thus durably the capacity of the Soviets and the working class. They also point that its character arranged hierarchically, centralized, militarized and monolithic fatally led it to concentrate all its dictatorial capacities between the hands of an small group at the top (the Politburo, founded in 1917) - and later, between the hands of only one man. This annalyse critical was included in the years 1930 by a certain number of former fellow travellers of the revolution of October, thus in France Pierre Monatte, Alfred Rosmer or Boris Souvarine, pioneer of the critic of the Stalinisme.
For Trotsky and the trotskists, it is in the birth of the Bureaucratie and in the insulation of the revolution in a poor country and little developed that it is necessary to seek the cause of the totalitarian dictatorship. One can however stress that precisely, no “Marxist” revolution at the 20th century burst forever in a rich and industrial country, the only countries concerned being agrarian and late of development (of which China, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Mozambique, etc, all countries not very capitalist that the analyzes of Marx and Engels had left side completely). In addition, none the modes claiming itself of a communist revolution avoided being directed quickly towards the dictatorship police and bureaucratic - what can be partly explained by the orbiting of the majority of the communist movements arrived at the capacity by Moscow and the influence of Stalin and from the USSR in these countries, so much in the soldier plans, which economic or political.
The Second world war was followed by famous “the Cold war”, opposing the Eastern bloc to the Occident (in this case, the the United States especially) in an arms race which never ends in a direct open conflict, before the end of the the USSR in 1991.
|Random links:||Steve Railsback | Dorand AR.1 | Sōko Yamaoka | Palacio de Bellas Artes | County of Schuylkill | Kamran_Akmal|