In Defence of October

Study the lessons of the Russian Revolution

About us 1917 Live

Political Parties in Russia and the Tasks of the Proletariat




This pamphlet was written at the beginning of April 1917. To the question whether it is out of date now, after May 6, 1917, after the formation of the “new”, coalition, government, my answer is: No, for the Contact Commission has not really disappeared, it has merely moved to another room, which it shares with the gentlemen of the cabinet. The fact that the Chernovs and the Tseretelis have moved to another room has rot changed their policy, nor the policy of their parties.

[1] For the nature of these steps, see questions 20 and 22. —Lenin

[2] Anarchy is the complete negation of State power, whereas the Soviets are themselves a state power. —Lenin


This pamphlet was planned originally as a leaflet, owing to the fact that the Cadets, S.R.s and Mensheviks were making wide use of leaflets in their propaganda and pasted them up all over the town. Lenin believed that a Bolshevik leaflet explaining what every party was and what it stood for should be pasted alongside the anti-Bolshevik proclamations. The article was too long to be issued as a leaflet; it was published in the Helsingfors Bolshevik newspaper Volna, and then issued in pamphlet form by the Zhizn i Znaniye publishers in fifty thousand copies. The proprietors of the printing-press, who sympathised with the Cadets, held up publication, but with the help of the workers’ committee the pamphlet was issued on July 4(17). Owing to the July events, however, it was hidden away in the publishers’ warehouse. A few days later it began to circulate in the working-class quarters. The first edition sold out quickly and, according to the testimony of V.D. Bonch-Bruyevich, a reprint was put out.

The pamphlet was issued with the following introductory text: “Explanation to the draft platform outlined by N. Lenin for discussion at meetings of the Bolsheviks. The printing of the draft itself has been held up owing to lack of printing facilities in Petrograd.”

The pamphlet was published in English in the journal The Class Struggle (New York, November-December 1917, Vol. 1, No.4, pp. 49-59) as well as in The New York Evening Post, January 15, 1918.

A second edition of was published in Moscow in 1918 with a foreword by Lenin."


Source: Marxist Internet Archive.


The February Revolution
Strikes and protests erupt on women's day in Petrograd and develop into a mass movement involving hundreds of thousands of workers; within 5 days the workers win over the army and bring down the hated and seemingly omnipotent Tsarist Monarchy.
Lenin Returns
Lenin returns to Russia and presents his ‘April Theses’ denouncing the Bourgeois Provisional Government and calling for “All Power to the Soviets!”
The June Days
Following the First All-Russian Congress of Soviets, the reformist leaders called a demonstration to show the strength of "democracy". 400,000 people attended, the vast majority carried banners with Bolshevik slogans.
The July Days
Spontaneous, armed demonstrations against the Provisional Government erupt in Petrograd. The workers and soldiers are suppressed by force, introducing a period of reaction and making the peaceful development of the revolution impossible.
The Kornilov Affair
Following the July days, the Bolsheviks were driven underground and the forces of reaction were emboldened. This process culminated in the reactionary forces coalescing around General Kornilov, who attempt to march on Petrograd and crush the revolutionary movement in its entirety.
The October Revolution
The Provisional Government is overthrown. State power passes to the Soviets on the morningm of 26th October, after the Bolsheviks’ Military Revolutionary Committee seize the city and the cabinet surrenders.
  • V. I. Lenin

    V. I. Lenin

    "The dominating trait of his character, the feature which constituted half his make-up, was his will..."
  • L. Trotsky

    L. Trotsky

    “Astounding speeches, fanfares of orders, the unceasing electrifier of a weakening army.”
  • G. Plekhanov

    G. Plekhanov

    "In the final analysis the brilliant aspects of Plekhanov’s character will endure forever."
  • G. O. Zinoviev

    G. O. Zinoviev

    "Zinoviev has won the reputation of being one of the most remarkable orators – a difficult feat."
  • Y. M. Sverdlov

    Y. M. Sverdlov

    “He did not die on the field of battle, but we are right to see him as a man who gave his life for the cause.”
  • V. Volodarsky

    V. Volodarsky

    “He was always to be seen in the front row, the on-the-spot leader. So, they killed him.”
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Reading Guides

  • The 1917 February Revolution

    The 1917 February Revolution

    The February Revolution saw a mass strike develop from below at a furious pace which posed the question of state power within a week of its inception. Workers in Petrograd took to the streets against intolerable bread shortages, the slaughter
  • Lenin Returns in April

    Lenin Returns in April

    This reading guide contains some of Lenin’s most important writings and speeches made in the April period, accompanied by works which provide further details of events at that stage of the Revolution.
  • The June Days 1917

    The June Days 1917

    This reading guide informs the May-June period of the Revolution with analysis, accounts of those who were involved and important speeches and writings of the time.
  • The July Days 1917

    The July Days 1917

    This selection of texts covers the background, events and consequences of the July Days. Next, we will turn our attention to one of those consequences – the Kornilov putsch in late August.
  • The Kornilov affair

    The Kornilov affair

    Kornilov’s failed coup brought the direct action of the masses into play again, and proved to them once and for all that they were the only force in society capable of transforming their own living conditions. For the first time,
  • The October Insurrection 1917

    The October Insurrection 1917

    The following series of articles provides in-depth analyses and first-hand accounts of the events immediately preceding, during and after the greatest event in human history: the October Revolution, in addition to reflections on its aftermath.
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