Civil War after 1917 1917

7 November is the anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which altered the entire course of human history. The below article by Alan Woods (originally published in 1992) gives an excellent overview of the revolution as well as highlighting its main lessons. If you want to learn even more, check out our special page www.bolshevik.info for detailed analysis, reading guides, videos and much more about this momentous event.

Trotsky, a recent Netflix series produced by Russian state television, is a scandalous misrepresentation of both Trotsky’s life and the October Revolution. Alan Woods and Josh Holroyd respond to this insulting portrayal of Trotsky and the Bolsheviks’ legacy.

In drawing up a balance sheet of 1918, the first and most important point is that, against all the odds, the Russian Revolution of October 1917 survived. Lenin held a small celebration when the revolution outlasted the three months or so of the Paris Commune. He had thought the survival of the revolution would be touch and go, as it was. But in early February 1918, when the Paris Commune milestone was passed, the forces of reaction were still gathering.

The last few months of 1918 were no less tumultuous than the earlier part of the year. The civil war dominated all aspects of life, intensifying on several fronts. The pressures of counter-revolution at home also increased, with attempted assassinations of leading Bolsheviks and countless plots by Cadets, SRs, Anarchists and Mensheviks.

Whilst the broad mass of the working class continued to give their support to the Bolshevik Party, activists within the party were often split on crucial issues. The issue of whether or not to wage a revolutionary war against Germany and its forces of occupation proved one of the more divisive questions that very nearly led to a complete split in the party.

The Russian Revolution took place during World War One: war and peace were critical issues. The overthrow of the Tsar and the establishment of a democratic government in February 1917 were regarded by the Provisional Government, and by the SR and Menshevik majority in the Petrograd Soviet, as a justification for continuing the support of the war effort in the name of the defence of the revolution.

It is not the task of this article to go into any detail of the seizure of power in October 1917. Leon Trotsky has brilliantly captured this event in his History of the Russian Revolution, John Reed in Ten Days that Shook the World and many other pieces, including recent articles from In Defence of Marxism. The fact of the matter is that the resounding slogan of the Bolshevik Party, "All Power to the Soviets!” received an immediate and overwhelming endorsement from the soldiers and working class in virtually every town and city throughout the Russian Empire.

100 years ago, the world was shaken by the October Revolution. We rightly celebrate this heroic act as the first instance of workers’ power in history. But how exactly did the Bolsheviks and the working class exercise a power never-before wielded by the proletariat? What problems did they face – economic, administrative, political and military, from within and outside Russia – and how did they meet them? Derek Gunby provides an analysis and balance sheet of 1918: the first year of the Russian Revolution.

Fyodor Fyodorovich Raskolnikov was a key Bolshevik activist and a principal organiser amongst the Kronstadt Sailors, who would prove so pivotal in the Bolsheviks' seizure of power. In these remarkable memoirs, which cover the period between the February and October Revolutions in 1917, Raskolnikov gives a first-hand account of how the Bolsheviks built their forces in the navy, describes the setbacks of the July Days (during which he, alongside Trotsky, was imprisoned by Kerensky's Provisional Government), and paints a vivid picture of the October insurrection and its immediate aftermath.

We republish a pamphlet (first released in 1987, during the twilight of the Soviet regime), which serves as an invaluable introduction to the events from the October Revolution to the rise of Stalinism in Russia ‒ from which innumerable lessons can be drawn for the class struggle today. It was written by George Collins, then a member of the South African section of the Committee for a Workers’ International.

Este año es el 97º aniversario de la ofensiva de Kiev de 1920 por el ejército polaco y la derrota decisiva de las tropas soviéticas en la Batalla de Varsovia: un acontecimiento de gran importancia histórica que marcó un punto de inflexión en el curso de la revolución europea. Este frente de la Guerra Civil rusa fue una prueba grave e importante para el partido bolchevique, que provocó un debate sostenido e intenso entre sus filas.

The October Revolution was an earthquake that sent shockwaves throughout the world. The idea that workers could take power into their own hands and run society without the need for kings, queens and capitalists had a big impact amongst the working masses throughout the world. For this reason, the ruling classes of all countries united in an effort to crush the new workers state in its infancy.

We publish here a series of essential texts on the subject of women and the Russian Revolution by the likes of Lenin, Trotsky and leading female Bolsheviks like Krupskaya and Kollontai.

As expected, the centenary of the October 1917 Revolution has been greeted with a cacophony of distortions and slanders, especially against Lenin and the Bolsheviks. Hundreds of newspaper articles, books as well as TV and radio documentaries, have been produced with this express purpose in mind, all of which talk of coups and the Bolsheviks being German agents.

In his latest video outlining the key events of 1917, Alan Woods - author of "Bolshevism: the Road to Revolution" - discusses the October Revolution, when the workers and peasants of Russia seized power. Alan looks at the build up to the insurrection, which took place exactly 100 years ago on 7 November (25 October, old calendar), and explains the historic significance of the Bolshevik revolution on this centenary anniversary.

The following manifesto, written by Lenin and introduced by Anatoly Lunacharsky at the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets in October 1917, announces the takeover of power by the Soviets, endorses the revolutionary overthrow of the Provisional Government in Petrograd; and calls on transfer of land to the peasants, bread to the cities and democratic control of production to the working class. Long live the October Revolution!

No other event in human history has been the subject of more distortions, falsehoods and fabrications the Russian Revolution. We publish here Alex Grant's complete list of the 10 biggest downright lies about the Bolsheviks and October...

The following series of articles provides in-depth analyses and first-hand accounts of the events immediately preceding, during and after the greatest event in human history: the October Revolution, in addition to reflections on its aftermath.

To mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution, we present this original documentary celebrating the life and accomplishments of one of the revolution’s main leaders: Leon Trotsky.