The supression of the Kornilov-led revolt clearly showed that the tide of revolution was rising. There ensued a period of bolshevistation. Factories, mills and military units held new elections and sent to the Soviets representatives of the Bolshevik Party in place of the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries.The Petrograd and Moscow Soviets went over to the Bolsheviks, forcing the resignation of the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries.
1917 Russian Revolution - Revolutionary soldiers and sailors riding on an armored car in Petrograd
Russian Revolution 1917 – Battles on the streets
In these conditions, the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries made one more attempt to stem the tide of revolution. On 12th September 1917, they set up a Provisional Council of the Republic, known as the Pre-parliament. The compromisers hoped to halt the revolution and to divert the country from the path of a Soviet revolution to the path of bourgeois constitutional development, the path of bourgeois parliamentarism.
The Bolshevik Party decided to boycott the Pre-parliament. The Bolshevik party considered that it would be a grave mistake to participate in the Pre-parliament even for a short time, for it might encourage in the masses the false hope that the Pre-parliament could really do something for the working people.
The Bolsheviks made intensive preparations for the convocation of the Second Congress of Soviets. They overcame the efforts of the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries to postpone the Congress.
Simultaneously, the Bolsheviks began intensive preparations for the uprising. Lenin declared that, having secured a majority in the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies in both the capitals—Moscow and Petrograd—the Bolsheviks could and should take the state power into their own hands.
On October 23, 1917, the historic meeting of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party took place at which it was decided to launch the armed uprising within the next few days. The historic resolution of the Central Committee of the Party, drawn up by Lenin, stated:
"The Central Committee recognizes that the international position of the Russian revolution (the revolt in the German navy which is an extreme manifestation of the growth throughout Europe of the world Socialist revolution; the threat of conclusion of peace by the imperialists with the object of strangling the revolution in Russia) as well as its military position (the indubitable decision of the Russian bourgeoisie and Kerensky and Co. to surrender Petrograd to the Germans), and the fact that the proletarian party has gained a majority in the Soviets—all this, taken in conjunction with the peasant revolt and the swing of popular confidence towards our Party (the elections in Moscow), and, finally, the obvious preparations being made for a second Kornilov affair (the withdrawal of troops from Petrograd, the dispatch of Cossacks to Petrograd, the surrounding of Minsk by Cossacks, etc.) — all this places the armed uprising on the order of the day.
"Considering therefore that an armed uprising is inevitable, and that the time for it is fully ripe, the Central Committee instructs all Party organizations to be guided accordingly, and to discuss and decide all practical questions (the Congress of Soviets of the Northern Region, the withdrawal of troops from Petrograd, the action of our people in Moscow and Minsk, etc.) from this point of view." (Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. VI, p. 303.)
The Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party sent its representatives to the different regions of the country and to work amongst the armed forces to organize the uprising.
A Revolutionary Military Committee of the Petrograd Soviet was set up. This body became the legally functioning headquarters of the uprising.
On the other side, the counter-revolutionaries were hastily mustering their forces. Everywhere the counterrevolutionaries set up headquarters for the formation of shock-battalions.
In order to sabotage the revolution, the Provisional government headed by Kerensky was preparing to surrender Petrograd to the Germans. It wanted to transfer the seat of government from Petrograd to Moscow. The protest of the Petrograd workers and soldiers compelled the Provisional Government to remain in Petrograd.
On October 29 the CC of the Bolshevik party elected a Party Centre, headed by Comrade Stalin, to direct the uprising. This Party Centre was the leading core of the Revolutionary Military Committee of the Petrograd Soviet and had practical direction of the whole uprising.
The news of the preparation of the uprising was leaked to the bourgeois media by Zinoviev and Kamenev. Forewarned by the traitors, the enemies of the revolution at once began to take measures to prevent the uprising and to destroy the directing staff of the revolution—the Bolshevik Party.
The Provisional Government called a secret meeting which decided upon measures for combating the Bolsheviks. The Smolny— the headquarters of the Bolshevik Central Committee—was to be attacked and occupied and the Bolshevik directing centre destroyed. For this purpose the government summoned to Petrograd troops in whose loyalty it believed.
The Bolsheviks sent commissars of the Revolutionary Military Committee to all revolutionary army units. Energetic preparations for action were made in the army units and in the mills and factories. Precise instructions were also issued to the warships Aurora and Zarya Svobody.
On November 6, the Provisional government ordered the suppression of the central organ of the Bolshevik Party, Rabochy Put (Workers' Path), and dispatched armoured cars to its editorial premises and to the printing plant of the Bolsheviks.
The Red Guards and revolutionary soldiers pressed back the armoured cars. Rabochy Put came out with a call for the overthrow of the Provisional Government. Simultaneously, on the instructions of the Party Centre of the uprising, detachments of revolutionary soldiers and Red Guards were rushed to the Smolny. The uprising had begun.
On the night of November 6 Lenin arrived at the Smolny and assumed personal direction of the uprising. All that night revolutionary units of the army and detachments of the Red Guard kept arriving at the Smolny. The Bolsheviks directed them to the centre of the capital, to surround the Winter Palace, where the Provisional Government had entrenched itself.
On November 7, Red Guards and revolutionary troops occupied the railway stations, post office, telegraph office, the Ministries and the State Bank. The Pre-parliament was dissolved. The cruiser Aurora trained its guns on the Winter Palace, and their thunder ushered in a new era, the era of the Great Socialist Revolution.
On the night of November 7 the revolutionary workers, soldiers and sailors took the Winter Palace by storm and arrested the Provisional Government. The armed uprising in Petrograd had won.
On November 7 the Bolsheviks issued a manifesto "To the Citizens of Russia" announcing that the bourgeois Provisional Government had been deposed and that state power had passed into the hands of the Soviets.
The Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets opened in the Smolny at 10:45 p.m. on November 7, 1917, when the power in the capital had actually passed into the hands of the Petrograd Soviet.
The Bolsheviks secured an overwhelming majority at the congress. The Mensheviks and other opportunists left the congress. The congress condemned the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries. The Congress welcomed their departure and declared that thanks to the withdrawal of the traitors the congress had become a real revolutionary congress of workers' and soldiers' deputies.
"Backed by the will of the vast majority of the workers, soldiers and peasants, backed by the victorious uprising of the workers and the garrison which had taken place in Petrograd, the Congress takes the power into its own hands"—the proclamation of the Second Congress of Soviets read.
On the night of November 8, 1917, the Second Congress of Soviets adopted the Decree on Peace. The congress called upon the belligerent countries to conclude an immediate armistice for a period of not less than three months to permit negotiations for peace. The congress at the same time appealed to the class conscious workers of Britain, France and Germany to help "to bring to a successful conclusion the cause of peace, and at the same time the cause of the emancipation of the toiling and exploited masses of the population from all forms of slavery and all forms of exploitation."
The same night, the Second Congress of Soviets adopted the Decree on Land, which proclaimed that "landlord ownership of land is abolished forthwith without compensation." Private ownership of land was to be abolished forever and replaced by public, or state ownership of the land. The lands of the landlords, of the tsar's family and of the monasteries were to be turned over to all the toilers for their free use. By this decree the peasantry received from the October Socialist Revolution over 400 million acres of land.
All mineral resources (oil, coal, ores, etc.), forests and waters became the property of the people.
The Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets formed the first Soviet Government—the Council of People's Commissars—which consisted entirely of Bolsheviks. Lenin was elected Chairman of the first Council of People’s Commissars.
The congress delegates dispersed to spread the news of the victory of the Soviets in Petrograd and to ensure the extension of the power of the Soviets to the whole country.
Not everywhere did power pass to the Soviets at once. The counter revolutionary forces in Moscow started an armed fight with the workers and soldiers to prevent power passing into the hands of the Moscow Soviet, before they were defeated. However, nothing could stop the march of the proletarian revolution. In the interval from November 1917 to February 1918 the Soviet revolution spread throughout the vast territory of the country at such a rapid rate that Lenin referred to it as a "triumphal march" of Soviet power.
The Great October Socialist Revolution had won.
The History of the Communist Party of Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) points out the chief reasons for the victory of the proletarian revolution in Russia.
- The October Revolution was confronted by an enemy so comparatively weak, so badly organized and so politically inexperienced as the Russian bourgeoisie. …
As long as the compromising Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik parties possessed a certain amount of influence among the people, the bourgeoisie could use them as a screen and preserve its power. But after the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries had exposed themselves as agents of the imperialist bourgeoisie, thus forfeiting their influence among the people, the bourgeoisie and its Provisional Government were left without a support.
- The October Revolution was headed by so revolutionary a class as the working class of Russia, a class which had been steeled in battle, which had in a short space passed through two revolutions, and which by the eve of the third revolution had won recognition as the leader of the people in the struggle for peace, land, liberty and Socialism. …
- The working class of Russia had so effective an ally in the revolution as the poor peasantry, which comprised the overwhelming majority of the peasant population.
The experience of eight months of revolution showed to the peasantry that there was only one party in Russia—the Bolshevik Party—which was prepared to crush the landlords in order to satisfy the needs of the peasants.
- The working class was headed by a party so tried and tested in political battles as the Bolshevik Party. Only a party like the Bolshevik Party, courageous enough to lead the people in decisive attack, and cautious enough to keep clear of all the submerged rocks in its path to the goal—only such a party could so skillfully merge into one common revolutionary torrent such diverse revolutionary movements as the general democratic movement for peace, the peasant democratic movement for the seizure of the landed estates, the movement of the oppressed nationalities for national liberation and national equality, and the Socialist movement of the proletariat for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Undoubtedly, the merging of these diverse revolutionary streams into one common powerful revolutionary torrent decided the fate of capitalism in Russia.
- The October Revolution began at a time when the imperialist war was still at its height, when the principal bourgeois states were split into two hostile camps, and when, absorbed in mutual war and undermining each other's strength, they were unable to intervene effectively in "Russian affairs" and actively to oppose the October Revolution.