How far would you agree that the October Revolution was a coup d’état rather than a popular uprising?
On the 25th of September 1917, the then Prime Minister, Kerensky, induced the appointment of a new cabinet. The creation of this cabinet was the fourth Provisional Government, the third coalition and the seventh major reshuffling in the period of time following the February revolution. 1 Having been created as a result of the revolutionary action of the workers and soldiers of Petrograd, the new government represented the political interests of the middle and upper classes. It was successful – in its few weeks of existence – in carrying through a series of democratic reforms and civil rights legislation which even led Lenin, its uncompromising enemy, to describe Russia at the time as ‘the freest of all the belligerent countries.’ 2
Headed by Leon Trotsky, the Bolsheviks, in the ‘ruined, half wild, petty bourgeois, economically shattered’ 3 lands of Russia sought to establish a totally proletarian state, which meant that civil war seemed inevitable as the hatred of the whole class structure was implicit in the minds of many people, Sukhanov in particular commenting that ‘the rich have lots of everything, the poor have nothing.’4
It is essential to point out that the so called ‘July Days’ were imperative in the eventual demise of the Provisional Government. Following the catastrophe that was the military advance on Austria, it sparked a wave of public disorder in Petrograd, with thousands protesting with Bolshevik banners in hand. Many people were either killed or injured. The July days were the most severe showing of public discontent since the February Revolution. It was Kerensky’s reluctance to address the revolutionary mood of the masses by resolving problems such as the land problem and stalling over the creation of the Constituent Assembly and above all to end the countries inclusion in the First World War, which highlighted the...