How Communism Started in Russia

The Russian Revolution of 1917 was one of the most explosive political events of the twentieth century. The violent revolution marked the end of the Romanov dynasty and centuries of Russian Imperial rule. During the Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks, led by leftist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, seized power and destroyed the tradition of czarist rule. The Bolsheviks would later become the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

The abdication of Nicholas II

On March 15, 1917, Nicholas II abdicated in favor of his brother, Grand Duke Michael. The new emperor did not accept the crown and resigned just days later after hearing of unrest in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg).

Michael was not a popular choice for monarch because he had been born in Germany and had married a commoner. He was also a supporter of the Anglo-Russian alliance and Russia’s continued participation in World War I—two positions that were unpopular with many Russians at this time when they wanted to end the war altogether or at least negotiate peace terms more favorable than those being offered by Germany and Austria-Hungary who were winning on all fronts against Russia’s allies—France and Great Britain who were soon joined by America as well as Japan who declared war against Germany after attacks made upon their ships by German submarines operating close enough to American shores for them too feel threatened by their presence there

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The February Revolution

You might have heard of the other major revolutions in Russian history, like the October Revolution. But what about the February Revolution?

The February Revolution was a revolt against the Russian monarchy—specifically, Nicholas II. It began when people started to get angry at him for his handling of food shortages during World War I. In response to this anger, thousands of women marched to St Petersburg’s Palace Square and demanded bread—and they were successful! This event was a turning point in Russian history because it sparked an era of liberal reforms that eventually led up to communism taking over Russia as we know it today.

Lenin’s return to Russia

To understand how communism started in Russia, you must first understand the political situation at the time. Russia was undergoing a period of instability. After their defeat in World War I and the fall of Czar Nicholas II, Russia’s provisional government was overthrown by Vladimir Lenin and his Bolshevik party (which advocated for an end to capitalism and private property).

Before returning to Russia, Lenin had spent years in exile in Switzerland where he wrote many papers outlining his ideas on how communism should be implemented. He considered these writings so important that they were smuggled out of Russia into other countries under false covers – including two novels entitled The Dreamer and The Steel Flea – so that no one would discover their true purpose: inciting revolution against bourgeois governments such as those found in France and Germany at this time.[i]

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Upon arriving back home from Europe with his loyal supporters (who called themselves Bolsheviks), Lenin wasted little time before attempting a coup d’état against Kerensky’s provisional government.[ii] Using propaganda tactics such as posters showing police brutality toward protesters or even using violence themselves when necessary,[iii] they were able to seize power from Kerensky’s coalition after just five days; but only after promising not to make any changes until after upcoming elections had taken place.[iv]

The April Theses and the Soviet government

In 1917, Lenin released his April Theses. This plan was to end the war, create a socialist government and make peace with Germany. In October 1917, Lenin returned to Petrograd (St Petersburg).

With Lenin back in Russia and taking control of the Bolsheviks party, he set about creating a new government for the people of Russia.

Who was in control?

The Provisional Government was in control of Russia and its capital, Petrograd, on March 1, 1917. It was led by ministers who were appointed by the tsar to help him run the country. The government had been formed after the February Revolution of two weeks earlier that overthrew Alexander II and his regime.

The Petrograd Soviet was a council of workers’ delegates based in Petrograd; it had no formal power but could influence government decisions. It saw itself as an advocate for Russia’s workers and peasants as well as a watchdog over any abuses committed by the Provisional Government or its supporters (such as landowners).

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The Provisional Government and Petrograd Soviet often disagreed with each other about how best to rule Russia; this caused conflict between them until October 1917 when Lenin led his Bolshevik party members into power through what is now known as “the October Revolution.”

Lenin was able to use the instability of Russia for his own ends.

Lenin’s ideas were based on the writings of Karl Marx. Lenin took Marx’s ideas and developed them further, adding more complexity to them. He also applied these ideas to Russia in a way that no one had before him.

Lenin was able to use the instability in Russia for his own ends. By using Marxist theory as a basis for his leadership and then accessing how it would work with Russian issues, he was able to unite the people around him into a movement that eventually led to communism being accepted as a political ideology within Russia.


Lenin was able to take advantage of the instability of Russia at the time to seize power and establish a new government, one that he hoped would lead to communism.

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