October 20, 1917 – Lenin Issues An Appeal for Revolt

In February, 1917, the Tsarist autocracy in Russia was overthrown, and a provisional government was established. This government, however, was made up mostly of former nobles and aristocrats. Urban workers began to organize into councils, or “soviets” dominated by the Bolshevik party.


The Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin and Alexander Bogdanov, considered themselves the true representatives of the working class of Russia. According to their Marxist beliefs, it was the working class, or proletariat, who should jointly own the means of production in society, rather than wealth being centralized in an elite. Their aim was to establish a socialist system in Russia, i.e., a socioeconomic system based on cooperative ownership of the means of production; distribution based on one’s contribution; and production organized directly for use. According to Marx and Engels, authors of The Communist Manifesto, socialism would eventually give way to a communist stage of social development. Communism would be a classless, stateless, humane society erected on common ownership and the principle of, as Marx wrote in 1875, “[f]rom each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, authors of The Communist Manifesto

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, authors of The Communist Manifesto

On this day in history, Lenin issued an “Appeal for Revolt,” urging the final destruction of the capitalist system in Russia, claiming:

The crisis is approaching its final stage.  The whole future of the Russian Revolution is at stake.  The whole future of the International Proletarian Socialistic Revolution is at stake.

The final stage of the crisis is at hand.”

Bolshevik Red Guards forces under the Military Revolutionary Committee began the takeover of government buildings in Petrograd [now St. Petersburg] on October 24. The following day, the Winter Palace (the seat of the Provisional government located in Petrograd, then capital of Russia), was captured.

Thus was born the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, the world’s first self-proclaimed socialist state.

You can read the full text of Lenin’s appeal here.

Lenin exhorting the masses in 1917

Lenin exhorting the masses in 1917


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