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The controversy over the origins of the Russian Revolution continues unabated and has acquired a particularly direct and vital relevance after the disintegration of the State which the October Revolution engendered. During the late 1980s inside Russia itself it became increasingly apparent that the traditional Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy was no longer acceptable. Many Russian analysts and politicians nowadays reject the reductionist ‘red and white’ approach, as well as a rigidly determinist view of the revolution. 

Kerensky Kornilov



Some tend to see the period between February and October as being pregnant with a number of different possibilities, including a bourgeois-democratic option (epitomized by Kerensky’s ministry), a military dictatorship (under Kornilov’s command), an all-socialist coalition government (such as a ‘homogeneous socialist government’ advocated by moderate socialist leaders like Martov), and the radical left alternative associated with Lenin and his Bolsheviks.

It was this last alternative which eventually became the reality. It is hardly possible to single out one decisive factor of the Bolshevik triumph in October 1917. It came about as a result of the combination of different factors, including the inability of the Provisional Government to rule decisively at the time of a national crisis, the unwillingness of the propertied classes to satisfy expectations of the working classes,  the radicalism of the latter, the support of the Bolsheviks by garrison troops in major cities, the confusion in the ranks of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, the political skills and determination of the Bolshevik leaders Lenin and Trotsky.

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Interpretations of 1917


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