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Rex A. Wade, The Russian Revolution, 1917 (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2000) Study Questions

Week 4

Pages 232-298

Navigation Links for this page:

Chapter 9        Chapter 10        Conclusion


Chapter 9

In what sense did Kerensky actually trigger the October Revolution?  What did the MRC/Petrograd Soviet leaders fear on 24 October?

On what issues did the 24 October Bolshevik Central Committee meeting focus?

Who did the Petrograd Garrison support on 24 October?  What armed groups clearly supported the Soviet?

How did the moderate socialists respond to events on 24 October?

What were the Soviet/MRC's main strategic aims on 24 October?  When and why did the Soviet forces move from defense to offense?

In what sense was Lenin critical to the Bolshevik's actions in the early hours of 25 October?

By mid-morning on 25 October, who controlled the capital?

The myth of the storming of the Winter Palace holds a large place in popular images of the revolution--what really happened at the Winter Palace on 25 October?

Was the takeover in Petrograd on 25 October very bloody?  Explain.  Did the city come to a standstill?

Did the Soviet seize power in the name of the Bolsheviks on 25 October?  Explain.

Did the Bolsheviks have a majority at the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets when it opened?  How did they come to control the majority at the meeting?

What were the main elements of the "program" approved by the soviet congress in the early hours of 26 October?

How on 26 October did the moderate socialists respond to the seizure of power?

What was the substance of Lenin's Decree on Land and why was it so strategically important? 

What kind of government was formed on 26 October?  Explain.

What parties dominated the new Central Executive Committee of Soviets and why?

Was Lenin's new regime "safe" on 27 October?

How serious a threat was Kerensky to the Bolsheviks and how was this threat neutralized?

What was Vikzhel, why was it so influential, and what was its political aim?

Lenin and Trotsky wanted an all-Bolshevik government--did all leaders of their party agree?  What happened at the party's 1 November Central Committee meeting?

What undermined the Vikzhel negotiations?  Did all Bolsheviks agree with Lenin's position regarding the makeup of the government?  How did Lenin gain victory for his position?

Did the spread of the October Revolution differ from the spread of the February Revolution?  Explain.

What was the general pattern of the "October" revolutions in the cities in the Central Industrial region and in the Ural mountains?

What was the pattern in cities in the central Volga region--e.g., Saratov?

How were the Bolsheviks able to seize power in Moscow, and how did this situation differ from the quick victory in Petrograd?

Had the Bolsheviks established control over the whole country by November?  Explain.


Chapter 10

Did Lenin have a clear plan for peace on 25 October?  Explain.  What actually ended fighting on the Eastern Front, and what impact did armistices have on soldiers' support for the new Soviet government?

Were the areas that the Bolsheviks did not yet control in mid-November 1917 necessarily opposed to Soviet power?  Explain.

What complicated the political situation in cities like Kharkov, in the Ukraine?  Of the three groups contesting for power in Kharkov (the Bolsheviks, the other "Russian" socialist parties, and the Ukrainian parties), did any reject the early measures of Lenin's government?  On what issues did they differ?  How did the Bolsheviks finally take power in Kharkov?

In brief, explain the course of events in the Don Cossack lands in the month after Lenin seized power.  Why were the Bolsheviks so worried about events on the Don and in Ukraine?  Were the Bolshevik/Left SR forces successful in their campaigns in these regions?  What reversed their fortunes?

Explain the relationship between the Bolsheviks and the military high command in November 1917.

When and how did the Bolsheviks and Left SRs win over the front soldiers?

What did the 2 November 1917 Declaration of Rights of  Peoples have to say about nationalities?

How did nationality leaders respond to the October Revolution?  What happened in Finland?  In Estonia? In Latvia?  In Ukraine? In Transcaucasia? In Central Asia?  Why did most nationality leaders reject the Bolsheviks and what were the results?

From what 2 major weakness did the Bolshevik regime suffer in late December 1918?

What steps did the new government take to restructure society?  What did they do to satisfy the aspirations of peasants?  Of workers?  Of nationalities?  What did they do to promote egalitarianism?  To secularize society?  To democratize the justice system?  To reform education? To create a social safety net?

Why didn't Lenin's government immediately abolish all forms of private property?  Over what aspects of the economy did they take control right away and why?

Who was more radical on the question of nationalizing factories--workers or the Bolshevik leadership?  Why, and what were the results?

What impact did the October Revolution have on the status quo in the villages and countryside?

What impact did peasant land seizures have on grain supplies and how did the Soviet government try to "solve" this problem?

Why were workers and the Bolsheviks becoming disillusioned with each other already by January 1918?

Why was Lenin taking and increasingly centralizing and authoritarian stance once in power?

Why was Lenin, who had worked to destroy the state apparatus before October, trying to build it up after the October Revolution?

When did the Sovnarkom really begin to exercise power?  Did it have much support from the "old" bureaucracy?

What kind of measures did the Bolsheviks take to consolidate their power?  What were some of their first repressive measures, and did all supporters of the new government approve of these steps?  Explain.

What was the Cheka? When and why was it created?

Why did the looming Constituent Assembly pose such a problem for the Bolsheviks?

How did the peasant congresses November help split the SRs and the Left SRs and why was this a benefit to the Bolsheviks?

How did the composition of the Soviet Central Executive Committee and the Sovnarkom change in the wake of the November peasant congress?  How did this lessen the "threat" of the Constituent Assembly to the Bolsheviks?

How did the moderate socialists hopes for the Constituent Assembly shape their responses to the Bolsheviks?

Who "won" the elections to the Constituent Assembly?  Was Lenin willing to turn power over to the assembly?

Were the Left SRs still wed to the idea of the Constituent Assembly by January 1918?  What about workers, soldiers, and peasants?  Explain.

How did Bolshevik preparations for the assembly differ from those of the moderate socialist parties?

What did the Bolsheviks demand when the assembly met on 5 January 1918?  What were the results?  What became of the assembly?

Why does Wade call the dispersal of the Constituent Assembly "the end of the revolution"?



Sum up Wade's main point regarding:

    The impact of February on popular aspirations

    the political realignments that took place in February

    cooperation between the liberals and the Revolutionary Defensists in March and early April

    the aims of the radical left bloc

    the results of the April Crisis

    conflicting aims of the socialists and the liberals in the coalition governments

    the impact of popular organizations on the Provisional government's authority

    the impact that declining social and economic conditions and the war had on politics in summer 1917

    the causes of the July Days

    the sources of the radical left's growing social support and of the moderate socialists' decline in Fall 1917

    what the Provisional government actually achieved

    the composition of the radical left bloc and how it came to control the Soviets in fall 1917

    popular support for the idea of Soviet power in Fall 1917

    the role of chance and human agency in the October Revolution

    alternatives to Bolshevism in October 1917

    popular support for the October Revolution

    the origins of the Bolsheviks' dictatorial policies

    why dispersing the Constituent Assembly was so critical a decision for Lenin, for Russia, and for the world


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