The Revolution of 1917 had two parts to become the Communist Soviet Union that is typically thought of coming about after the tsar was abdicated. The February revolution created a provisional government that lasted for eight months. It was a more conservative government with ideals of liberal democracy. Its goal was to implement more liberal and democratic principles, including self governance at all levels of the government. However, this government did not run as independently as it had hoped. The city council (or soviet) of Petrograd, the capital of the Russian empire, represented the leftist ideology that was emerging at the time. The soviet agreed to support the provisional government, although the soviet began to gain more power and influence than the government itself. This created a phenomenon known as dvoevlastie, or dual power.
The weak leadership of the government allowed the soviet to have even more influence in the government. Georgii Lvov, the first minister-president and minister of foreign affairs, was an inefficient leader and resigned, allowing Alexander Kerensky to take power. Kerensky had a moderate ideology that alienated the right and allowed influences form the left to infiltrate. He was not educated enough in the socialist ideologies in order to efficiently combat their influence. This allowed space for the Bolsheviks (and other Marxist/leftist groups) to take power and influence in the Petrograd Soviet.
The creation of this participatory, more conservative government was not of concern to the Marxists after the February revolution. In Lenin’s theories about socialism, there is a stage between revolution and the creation of a utopian, socialist state. Because of this supporters of the leftist movement were not discouraged, but actually encouraged by the formation of the provisional government. The creation of the provisional government was important because it was a contributing factor to the October Revolution. The in between phase encouraged socialists, in the end the Bolsheviks, that they were on the right track to the creation of a Communist state.
This post was chosen for “Comrade’s Corner” by the editorial team.
“Russia: A History” Gregory L. Freeze