• William Tyler

RUSSIA 1917: Two Revolutions

Everyone knows of the Communist October 1917 Revolution in Russia which brought Lenin to power. Fewer, perhaps, are aware of the earlier February Revolution that year which for a short period looked as though it would usher in a democratic Russia. What was certain from the very start was that the days of the Romanov Tsarist Autocracy were over.

The February Revolution was a grassroots revolution caused mainly by the lack of food. The Russian Duma, Parliament, sought to take control but was challenged by the burst of Communist Soviets (Councils) that were established, especially the Petrograd (St Petersburg) Soviet. Lenin and other Marxist leaders rushed back from exile in an attempt to steer events. The Marxists themselves were divided between the more moderate Mensheviks and Lenin's Bolsheviks.

Alexander Kerensky is the name most associated with this Provisional Duma Government which was surrounded by problems on all sides - the necessity to continue to fight The First World War, an attempted coup by Socialist Workers (|The July Days), and an attempted military coup by its own Army, led by General Kornilov, let alone the ongoing problem of affordable food supplies.

Eventually in October of 1917 the Bolsheviks, having finally got their act together, launched an almost bloodless coup, and the rest, as they say, is history.

We are left with the question, could a democratic Russia ever have succeeded or was Lenin always destined to win?

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