Russian Revolution: September 18–November 4, 1917 (September 5–October 22, 1917 Old Style)
by Dr. Bruce Arnold
September 18 – 23, 1917 (September 5 – 10, 1917 old style)
The Third Conference of Petrograd Factory Committees takes place. There will be two more conferences prior to the Bolshevik revolution. The Moscow Soviet announces its support for a Soviet Government (355 – 254 votes). At a Congress of Soviets of Siberia, held in Krasnoyarsk, the Soviet renews its pledge of support for the Bolshevik party.
September 25, 1917 (September 12, 1917 old style)
Lenin illegally publishes Lessons of Revolution, recounting events since the February Revolution. Lenin also finishes his most important theoretical work: The State and Revolution.
September 27, 1917 (September 14, 1917 old style)
Lenin finishes his work “The Impending Catastrophe and How To Combat It”, where he presents a detailed outline of what the Bolsheviks will do to save the country from ruin. Lenin also sends a letter to the Central Committee in both Moscow and Petrograd, explaining The Bolsheviks Must Assume Power.
September 27–October 5, 1917 (September 14-22 1917 old style)
The Provisional Government convokes a “Democratic Conference”, with 1,200 delegates, in the hope of creating some kind of democractic legitamacy. Bolsheviks are in attendance, though the government aimed to arrest Lenin and Zinoviev, who did not attend. The conference votes against forming a new Coalition government. The Provisional Government, unhappy with this decision, decides to form a representative “Provisional Council” within the Conference to decide this issue, which in turn refuses a new Coalition government. Determined to get a “correct” result, a “Pre-parliament” is then created, chosen mostly by the Provisional Government, and this group approves a new Coalition government! The Bolsheviks agree to participate in the new Pre-parliament, despite the objections of Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and others. During this time, Lenin publishes an article On Compromises, explaining the Bolsheviks will seek compromises with others, so long as it does not betray their core principles.
October 1, 1917 (September 18, 1917 Old Style)
Kerensky orders the dissolution of the Central Committee of the Baltic Fleet. The fleet refuses. In Tashkent, the Soviet overthrows the local government. Kerensky sends troops to take back the city, and succeeds; with many arrests and the re-introduction (not since peasants were last serfs in 1861) of public flogging. Workers from 40 soviets immediately call a General Strike in response, lasting for a week.
October 6, 1917 (September 23, 1917 old style)
The Bolshevik Central Committee approves a list of candidates for the Constituent Assembly, which includes Lenin and Stalin.
October 8, 1917 (September 25, 1917 old style)
The third (and last) meeting of the Coalition government occurs, amidst staunch protests from the elected Soviets. Trotsky is elected as Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet.
October 13, 1917 (October 5, 1917 old style)
With Trotsky, Stalin, and other Bolshevik leaders present, the party votes again on their earlier decision to join the Pre-Parliament. This time around, only 1 vote (Kamenev) supports joining the government. Trade union membership amounts to nearly 2 million workers throughout Russia. In 1917, the total population of the country is 145 million. No hard occupational data exists for 1917, but by December, 1926, after a huge growth in the working class, the total number of workers in the USSR only amounts to 7.93 million workers; e.g. making up around 5% of the total population of the country. In 1917, the number of workers was considerably less than this. Fraternization of Russian and German soldiers increases dramatically, and throughout the front mass mutinies occur in favor of elected officers.
October 14, 1917 (October 6, 1917 old style)
The Petrograd Soldiers’ Soviet declares that it no longer reports to the Provisional Government.
October 20, 1917 (October 7, 1917 old style)
Lenin sneaks back into the country and arrives in Petrograd. The Pre-parliament begins its first session. When the Bolshevik time slot arrives, Trotsky delivers a scathing speech, and drops a bombshell: the Bolsheviks will not participate. For the next 11 days the Pre-parliament tries to create some unity among its remaining members, but on their first and most urgent question — what to do about the War — it fails to find a majority position. Mass confusion and despair began to set in, as delegates confront their profound ineptitude. Meanwhile, Headquarters plans to launch a new offensive before the 20th, which many Generals (who support the government) think is “completely crazy”.
October 21, 1917 (October 8, 1917 old style)
Sailors of the Baltic Fleet, through their elected organs, declare that they will not recognize the authority of the Provisional Government, nor will they execute any of its orders. On the 11th, the Central Committee of the Black Sea fleet demands: All power to the Soviets! Meanwhile, the Kiev Soviet votes in favor of a Soviet Government (130 – 66 votes).
October 22, 1917 (October 9, 1917 old style)
The Mensheviks and SRs desperately try to reassert their influence in the Soviets, and convoke a new session, with over 1,000 deputies, to try to undo the September 1 decision. The Soviet again votes, now 519 – 414 votes (67 abstentions), in favor of a Soviet Government.
October 23, 1917 (October 10, 1917 old style)
The Fourth Conference of Petrograd Factory Committees takes place. There will be one more conference prior to the Bolshevik revolution. The Bolshevik Central Committee debates and approves the decision to overthrow the Provisional Government, and to follow the tactics suggested by Lenin, who illegally arrived in Petrograd 3 days earlier. Kamenev and Zinoviev strongly disagree with the majority decision to overthrow the government. The Politburo is created. Lenin takes his vitamin pills and after 10 hours of debate he convinces his comrades that now is the time to seize power. Finally, they agree to an armed insurrection.
October 25, 1917 (October 12, 1917 old style)
The Petrograd Soviet forms the Military Revolutionary Committee, which will lead the insurrection.
October 30 – November 4, 1917 (October 17 – 22, 1917 old style)
The Fifth Conference of Petrograd Factory Committees takes place, or the First All Russian conference of factory committees.