The Road to Red October

The Road to Red October


The Road to Red October is not only a fascinating account of the dramatic events of 1917 but a concise analysis of the rise to power of the Bolshevik Party. Its central theme is the impact of the change in the party's programme brought about by Lenin after he returned to Russia in April.

Until then, the party's programme, adopted in 1902, foresaw a lengthy period of capitalist development after the overthrow of the feudal monarchy of the Tsar. Now, Lenin argued, with the development of imperialism, any capitalist regime, including the new Provisional Government, was an enemy of the international working class and should be overthrown.


Learning the lessons of the Paris Commune of 1871, he called for a working class state, based on the workers' own organisations, the workers' councils, or soviets in Russian. Although such a government could not move straight to socialism, it should develop the economy using socialist methods.

At the time, the Bolsheviks were a minority in the soviets and The Road to Red October charts how the party developed tactics to win over the supporters of the majority parties, the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks.

The months from April to October raised virtually every question that can be posed by the class struggle, by answering them, the Bolsheviks built their party and finally won the majority in the soviets to the need to seize power for themselves. As the final sentence of the book says, “we can do no better than clarify how they did it, learn from them, and set out to do it again”.

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