From Revolution to Revolution

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.

Image of the provisional government right after the abdication of Nicholas II

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.

Alexander Kerensky

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

14 thoughts on “From Revolution to Revolution”

  1. I really like your mention of dvoevlastie, and its importance in the political sphere with dual power emerging. All of these factors together create a wonderful synopsis of the time.


  2. I think you did a good job in this post of creating a sort of timeline of events leading up to the creation of the Communist state. It’s important to consider the transitional periods of different types of leaders and governments when evaluating Russia’s governmental path as a whole.


  3. Caroline raises a good point about the significance of Dual Power (dvoevlastie) in your post. It’s hard to imagine there could be much stability at a time when you have two entities both claiming to represent the state! So, why would the PG (provisional government) allow such an arrangement? Look at “Order No. 1.” And which social groups supported the Provisional Government and which were more likely to follow the Soviet? This is such an important and complicated topic!


  4. I did not know that the Revolution of 1917 had two parts to it. That was very interesting to me. I like how you linked the weakness of dual power in the government to the growing soviet influence. It was interesting to learn how the Bolsheviks were not discouraged by the participatory government, but rather embraced it and saw it as a step in the right direction.


  5. Caroline, I think you highlighted an important aspect of the government’s inefficiency. The dual government existed in a very complex time in Russian history, and both parties were competing for power while trying to run the country. The conflicting views and weak leadership caused for a weak government and weak Russia. Nice post.


  6. ^^^ sorry about that! You did a great job of noting how the government was trying to be one way, but the de facto government was actually something else. I also didn’t realize there was an “in between” stage in the timeline of events, and you explained that well!


  7. I think you did a really good job of illustrating the different groups and ideologies that came into power around this time. Your outline shows the importance of the vastly different ideologies, from moderate ideologies to the Marxist and leftist groups, all which eventually allowed for more of a breakdown of the general public; allowing for the Communist Party to become more of the forefront.


  8. I think you did a great job highlighting the divisions that faced the Provisional Russian government. It also shows how they failed to unify the government which allowed for the Bolsheviks to find influence in the government. It is interesting in how this provisional government allowed the Bolsheviks to gain power before they officially took power.


  9. Dear Caroline,
    I enjoyed how informative your post was. I thought the link you had for Alexander Kerensky was very helpful. I’ve always found the fact that the Bolsheviks belief of “Trusting the Process” to be interesting. It allows them to turn something that could be seen as a negative, the provisional government, into a positive (and they did end up gaining control of the government soonafter)


  10. This was a very helpful, concise explanation of the events leading up to the revolution. It’s interesting how people from all sides of the political spectrum influenced popular views at the time. I also found the links useful. Great job!


  11. I enjoyed your post, which along with this week and last week’s themes has really highlighted the maximalist tendencies of the dually polarized political factions, the eagerness to really go “all in”, all or nothing. Of course, ultimately the socialist parties and bolsheviks were better able to take advantage of the lower classes’ righteous anger at war, land hunger, and other atrocities, having always been forced to bear that suffering.


  12. I like that you really identified the two parts of the revolution. I think you very nicely explained a very confusing time in Russia’s history. The point you made about the dual ideologies was also very interesting. The fact that they were so completely opposite of each other played a key role in my opinion.


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