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19 mars 2012 1 19 /03 /mars /2012 08:20

Vladimir Lenin

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin(Russian: Владимир Ильич Ленин; 22 April [O.S. 10 April] 1870 – 21 January 1924) was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. Sony VGN-AR93US Battery

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As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years (1917–1924), as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a socialist economic system. Sony VGN-AR94US Battery


As a politician, Lenin was a persuasive orator, as a political scientist his extensive theoretic and philosophical developments of Marxism produced Marxism–Leninism, the pragmatic Russian application of Marxism.[1]Sony VGN-AR95S Battery

Sony VGN-AR95US Battery


Lenin was born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Russian: Владимир Ильич Ульянов) on 22 April [O.S. 10 April] 1870 in the town of Simbirsk in the Russian Empire. Sony VGN-CR110 Battery

Simbirsk, a rural town on the River Volga nearly 1,500 miles from the capital Saint Petersburg, would be renamed upon Ulyanov's death fifty-four years later as "Ulyanovsk" in his honour. That same year, Saint Petersburg itself would be renamed Leningrad after Ulyanov's better-known cadre name. Sony VGN-CR110EW Battery


Lenin's parents were Maria Alexandrovna Ulyanova, a schoolteacher, and Ilya Nikolayevich Ulyanov, a government education official. Lenin was baptised on 28 April [O.S. 16 April] 1870 at the local church of St. Nicholas into the Russian Orthodox Church.[2][3]Sony VGN-CR115 Battery


Lenin came from a diverse ancestry. He was of Christian Russian, Tatar, German, and Swedish descent, while his maternal grandfather may have descended from the Jewish Blank family.[4]Lenin is also believed to have had Kalmyk ancestry on his father's side.[5][6]Sony VGN-CR115E Battery


Lenin was born into a comfortable middle-class family. Lenin's father Ilya was elevated into the Russian nobility for his work in the government bureaucracy, and, after being appointed director of Simbirsk's primary schools in 1874, was entitled to wear a blue gold-embroidered uniform and be addressed as "Your Excellency".[7]Sony VGN-CR116 Battery

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Although later Soviet biographies tried to disguise his background, Lenin himself never made any effort to hide the fact that he was a nobleman by birth.[5]Lenin argued explicitly in one of his most famous works What Is To Be Done? Sony VGN-CR120 Battery

Sony VGN-CR120E Battery

that intellectuals from "bourgeois" backgrounds have a vital revolutionary role to play bringing political ideas to the working-class movement: "By their social status the founders of modern scientific socialism, Marx and Engels, themselves belonged to the bourgeois intelligentsia."[8]Sony VGN-CR120EL Battery


Athletically, Lenin was a good swimmer and ice skater, and later attended the Simbirsk Men's Gymnasium which was headed by the father of Alexander Kerensky and graduated in 1887 with a gold medal. Sony VGN-CR120EP Battery


Being of the intelligentsia, the Ulyanovs educated their children (all of which except one become revolutionaries[9]) against the ills of their time (violations of human rights, servile psychology, etc.), Sony VGN-CR120ER Battery

and instilled a readiness in them to struggle for higher ideals, a free society, and equal rights. Lenin in particular was impressed by his father’s descriptions of the "darkness" of life in the villages and of the arbitrary treatment of peasants by officials.[10]Sony VGN-CR120EW Battery

Lenin, an intelligent and conscientious student who loved playing chess, also became a voracious reader, enjoying the writings of Alexander Pushkin, Ivan Turgenev, Leo Tolstoy, and Nikolay Nekrasov.[10]Sony VGN-CR123 Battery

Additionally, he read the works of protorevolutionary writers such as Vissarion Belinsky, Alexander Herzen, Dmitry Pisarev, and Nikolay Dobrolyubov.[10]Sony VGN-CR123E Battery


execution and radicalization

Following his father's death from a brain hemorrhage in January 1886, a number of events contributed to Lenin's radicalization. In May 1887 (when Lenin was 17 years old), his eldest brother Aleksandr Ulyanov was hanged for participating in an assassination attempt against the Tsar, Sony VGN-CR123EB Battery

Alexander III (1881–94).[11]His sister, Anna Ulyanova, who was arrested with his brother Aleksandr, was then banished to an Ulyanov family estate at Kokushkino, Sony VGN-CR125 Battery

a village some 40 km (25 mi.) from Kazan. These events helped transform Lenin into a political radical. During this time, Lenin was also influenced by the writings of Georgi Plekhanov, and most importantly, Nikolay Chernyshevsky's 1863 novel What is to be Done?.[12]Sony VGN-CR125E Battery


Complementing these personal, emotional, and political upheavals was his matriculation, in August 1887, to the Kazan University, where he studied law and read the works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.[12]Sony VGN-CR131 Battery

That Marxism-derived political development involved Lenin in a student riot, and subsequent arrest, in December 1887; Kazan University expelled him and the police authorities barred him from other universities. Sony VGN-CR131E Battery

After this, he was under continuous police surveillance as the brother of a known terrorist.[13]Nevertheless, he studied independently and earned a law degree; at that time, Sony VGN-CR131EBC Battery

he first read Das Kapital (1867–94). Three years later, in 1890, he was permitted to study at the University of Saint Petersburg.[14]In January 1892, he was awarded a first class diploma in law;[15]Sony VGN-CR131EL Battery

moreover, he was an intellectually distinguished student in the classical languages of Latin and Greek, and the modern languages of German, French, and English, but had only limited command of the latter two. In the 1917 revolutionary period, Sony VGN-CR131ELC Battery

he relied upon Inessa Armand to translate an article of his into French and English; and wrote to S. N. Ravich in Geneva, "I am unable to lecture in French".[16]Sony VGN-CR140 Battery


Lenin practised law in the Volga River port of Samara for a few years, mostly land-ownership cases, from which he derived political insight to the Russian peasants' socio-economic condition;[17]Sony VGN-CR140E Battery

in 1893, he moved to St Petersburg, and practised revolutionary propaganda. In 1895, he founded the League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class, Sony VGN-CR140EB Battery

the consolidation of the city's Marxist groups; as an embryonic revolutionary party, the League was active among the Russian labour organisations. On 7 December 1895, Sony VGN-CR140N Battery

Lenin was arrested for plotting against Tsar Alexander III, and was then imprisoned for fourteen months in solitary confinement Cell 193 of the St. Petersburg Remand Prison.[18]Sony VGN-CR140NB Battery

In February 1897, he was exiled to eastern Siberia, to the village Shushenskoye in the Minusinsky District, Yenisei Gubernia. There, he met Georgy Plekhanov, the Marxist who introduced socialism to Russia. Sony VGN-CR150 Battery

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In July 1898, Lenin married the socialist activist Nadezhda Krupskaya, and, in April 1899, he published the book The Development of Capitalism in Russia[19](1899), under the pseudonym of Vladimir Ilyin; one of the thirty theoretical works he wrote in exile.[18]Sony VGN-CR150EB Battery


At the end of his exile in 1900, Lenin left Russia and lived in Munich (1900–1902), London (1902–1903)—where a memorial plaque at Percy Circus, King's Cross, WC1, marks his residence—and Geneva (1903–1905).[20]Sony VGN-CR190 Battery

In 1900 he and Julius Martov (later a leading opponent) co-founded the newspaper Iskra (Spark), and published articles and books about revolutionary politics, whilst recruiting for the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) which had held its first congress in 1898 whilst Lenin was still in exile in Siberia.[21]Sony VGN-CR190E Battery

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In such clandestine political work, Vladimir Ulyanov assumed aliases, and, in 1902, adopted Lenin as his definitive nom de guerre, derived from the Siberian Lena River.[3]Sony VGN-CR190EL Battery


In 1903, Lenin attended the 2nd Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which initially convened at Brussels before moving to London. Here a longstanding ideological split developed within the party between the Bolshevik faction, Sony VGN-CR190EP Battery

led by Lenin, and the Menshevik faction, led by Martov. These terms "Bolshevik" (from the Russian bol'shinstvo meaning "majority") and "Menshevik" (from the Russian menshinstvo meaning "minority") derive from the narrow Bolshevik electoral defeat of the Mensheviks to the party's newspaper editorial board, and to central committee leadership.[22]Sony VGN-CR190ER Battery

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The break partly originated from Lenin's book What Is to Be Done? (1902), which proposed a smaller party organisation of professional revolutionaries, with Iskra in a primary ideologic role. Sony VGN-CR190N Battery

Another issue which divided the two factions was Lenin's support of a worker-peasant alliance to overthrow the Tsarist regime as opposed to the Menshevik's support of an alliance between the working classes and the liberal bourgeoisie to achieve the same aimSony VGN-CR190N2 Battery

 (whilst a small third faction led by Trotsky espoused the view that the working class alone was the instrument of revolutionary change—needing no help from either the peasants or the middle classes).[23]Sony VGN-CR203 Battery


In November 1905, Lenin returned to Russia to support the 1905 Russian Revolution.[24]In 1906, he was elected to the Presidium of the RSDLP; and shuttled between Finland and Russia, but resumed his exile in December 1907, after the Tsarist defeat of the revolution and after the scandal of the 1907 Tiflis bank robbery.[24]Sony VGN-CR203E Battery

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Until the February and October revolutions of 1917, he lived in Western Europe, where, despite relative poverty, he developed Leninism—urban Marxism adapted to agrarian Russia reversing Karl Marx's economics–politics prescription to allow for a dynamic revolution led by a vanguard party of professional revolutionaries.[25][26]Sony VGN-CR205 Battery

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In 1909, to disambiguate philosophic doubts about the proper practical course of a socialist revolution, Lenin published Materialism and Empirio-criticism (1909), which became a philosophic foundation of Marxism-Leninism. Sony VGN-CR205EP Battery

Throughout exile, Lenin travelled Europe, participated in socialist activities, (the 1912 Prague Party Conference). When Inessa Armand left Russia for Paris, she met Lenin and other exiled Bolsheviks. Sony VGN-CR205EW Battery

Rumour has it she was Lenin's lover; yet historian Neil Harding notes that there is a "slender stock of evidence . . . we still have no evidence that they were sexually intimate".[27]Sony VGN-CR210 Battery


In 1914, when the First World War (1914–18) began, most of the mass Social Democratic parties of Europe supported their homelands' war effort. At first, Lenin disbelieved such political fickleness, especially that the Germans had voted for war credits; Sony VGN-CR210EL Battery

the Social Democrats' war-authorising votes broke Lenin's mainstream connection with the Second International (1889–1916). He opposed the Great War, because the peasants and workers would be fighting the bourgeoisie's "imperialist war"—one that ought be transformed to an international civil war, Sony VGN-CR215 Battery

between the classes. At the beginning of the war, the Austrians briefly detained him in Poronin, his town of residence; on 5 September 1914 Lenin moved to neutral Switzerland, residing first at Bern, then at Zürich.[28]Sony VGN-CR215E Battery


In 1915, in Switzerland, at the anti-war Zimmerwald Conference, he led the Zimmerwald Left minority, who failed, against the majority pacifists, to achieve the conference's adopting Lenin's proposition of transforming the imperialist war into a class war. Sony VGN-CR215EB Battery

In the next conference (24–30 April 1916), at Kienthal, Lenin and the Zimmerwald Left presented a like resolution; but the conference concorded only a compromise manifesto.[29]Sony VGN-CR220 Battery


In the spring of 1916, in Zürich, Lenin wrote Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916). In this work Lenin synthesised previous works on the subject by Karl Kautsky, John A. Sony VGN-CR220E Battery

Hobson (Imperialism: A Study, 1902), and Rudolf Hilferding (Das Finanzkapital, 1910), and applied them to the new circumstances of the First World War (1914–18) fought between the German and the British empires—which exemplified the imperial capitalist competition, Sony VGN-CR220EL Battery

which was the thesis of his book. This thesis posited that the merging of banks and industrial cartels gave rise to finance capital—the basis of imperialism, the zenith of capitalism. Sony VGN-CR220EN Battery

To wit, in pursuing greater profits than the home market can offer, business exports capital, which, in turn, leads to the division of the world, among international, monopolist firms, and to European states colonising large parts of the world, in support of their businesses. Sony VGN-CR220EP Battery

Imperialism, thus, is an advanced stage of capitalism based upon the establishment of monopolies, and upon the exportation of capital (rather than goods), managed with a global financial system, of which colonialism is one feature.[30][31][32]Sony VGN-CR220ER Battery


In accordance with this thesis, Lenin believed that Russia was being used as a tool of French and British capitalist imperialism in World War I and that its participation in the conflict was at the behest of those interests.[33]Sony VGN-CR220EW Battery


In February 1917 popular demonstrations in Russia provoked by the hardship of war forced Tsar Nicholas II to abdicate. The monarchy was replaced by an uneasy political relationship between, on the one hand, a Provisional Government of parliamentary figures and, Sony VGN-CR225 Battery

on the other, an array of "Soviets" (most prominently the Petrograd Soviet): revolutionary councils directly elected by workers, soldiers and peasants. Lenin was still in exile in Zurich. Sony VGN-CR225E Battery


Lenin was preparing to go to the Altstadt library after lunch on March 15 when a fellow exile, the Pole Mieczyslav Bronski, burst in to exclaim: "Haven't you heard the news? There's a revolution in Russia!" Sony VGN-CR225EL Battery

The next day Lenin wrote to Alexandra Kollontai in Stockholm, insisting on "revolutionary propaganda, agitation and struggle with the aim of an international proletarian revolution and for the conquest of power by the Soviets of Workers' Deputies". Sony VGN-CR231 Battery

The next day: "Spread out! Rouse new sections! Awaken fresh initiative, form new organisations in every stratum and prove to them that peace can come only with the armed Soviet of Workers' Deputies in power."[34]Sony VGN-CR231E Battery


Lenin was determined to return to Russia at once. But that was not an easy task in the middle of the First World War. Switzerland was surrounded by the warring countries of France, Sony VGN-CR231ER Battery

Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy, and the seas were dominated by Russia's ally Britain. Lenin considered crossing Germany with a Swedish passport, but Krupskaya joked that he would give himself away by swearing at Mensheviks in Russian in his sleep.[34]Sony VGN-CR240 Battery


Negotiations with the Provisional Government to obtain passage through Germany for the Russian exiles in return for German and Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war dragged on. Sony VGN-CR240E Battery

Eventually, bypassing the Provisional Government, on March 31 the Swiss Communist Fritz Platten obtained permission from the German Foreign Minister through his ambassador in Switzerland, Baron Gisbert von Romberg, Sony VGN-CR240EB Battery

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for Lenin and other Russian exiles to travel through Germany to Russia in a sealed one-carriage train. At Lenin's request the carriage would be protected from interference by a special grant of extraterritorial status. Sony VGN-CR240NB Battery


On April 9 Lenin and Krupskaya met their fellow exiles in Bern, a group eventually numbering thirty boarded a train which took them to Zurich. From there they travelled to the specially arranged train which was waiting at Gottmadingen, Sony VGN-CR290 Battery

just short of the official German crossing station at Singen. Accompanied by two German Army officers, who sat at the rear of the single carriage behind a chalked line, the exiles travelled through Frankfurt and Berlin to Sassnitz (arriving April 12), Sony VGN-CR290E Battery

where a ferry took them to Trelleborg. Krupskaya noted how, looking out of the carriage window as they passed through wartime Germany, the exiles were "struck by the total absence of grown-up men. Sony VGN-CR290EAP Battery

Only women, teenagers and children could be seen at the wayside stations, on the fields, and in the streets of the towns."[34]Once in Sweden the group travelled by train to Stockholm and thence back to Russia. Sony VGN-CR290EAW Battery


Just before midnight on 16 April [O.S. 3 April] 1917, Lenin's train arrived at the Finland Station in Petrograd. He was greeted, to the sound of the Marseillaise, by a crowd of workers, sailors and soldiers bearing red flags: by now a ritual in revolutionary Russia for welcoming home political exiles.[35]Sony VGN-CR290EBL Battery

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Lenin was formally welcomed by Chkheidze, the Menshevik Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet. But Lenin pointedly turned to the crowd instead to address it on the international importance of the Russian Revolution: Sony VGN-CR290EBP Battery


The piratical imperialist war is the beginning of civil war throughout Europe ... The world-wide Socialist revolution has already dawned ... Germany is seething ... Sony VGN-CR290EBPC Battery

Any day now the whole of European capitalism may crash ... Sailors, comrades, we have to fight for a socialist revolution, to fight until the proletariat wins full victory! Long live the worldwide socialist revolution![36]Sony VGN-CR290EBPR Battery


The April Theses

On the train from Switzerland, Lenin had composed his famous April Theses: his programme for the Bolshevik Party. In the Theses, Lenin argued that the Bolsheviks should not rest content, Sony VGN-CR290EBR Battery

like almost all other Russian socialists, with the "bourgeois" February Revolution. Instead the Bolsheviks should press ahead to a socialist revolution of the workers and poorest peasants: Sony VGN-CR290EBRC Battery


2) The specific feature of the present situation in Russia is that the country is passing from the first stage of the revolution—which, owing to the insufficient class-consciousness and organisation of the proletariat, Sony VGN-CR290EBW Battery

placed power in the hands of the bourgeoisie—to its second stage, which must place power in the hands of the proletariat and the poorest sections of the peasants.[37]Sony VGN-CR290N Battery


Lenin argued that this socialist revolution would be achieved by the Soviets taking power from the parliamentary Provisional Government: "No support for the Provisional Government ... Sony VGN-CR305 Battery

Not a parliamentary republic — to return to a parliamentary republic from the Soviets of Workers' Deputies would be a retrograde step — but a republic of Soviets of Workers', Agricultural Labourers' and Peasants' Deputies throughout the country, from top to bottom."[37]Sony VGN-CR305E Battery


To achieve this, Lenin argued, the Bolsheviks' immediate task was to campaign diligently among the Russian people to persuade them of the need for Soviet power: Sony VGN-CR305EL Battery


4) Recognition of the fact that in most of the Soviets of Workers' Deputies our Party is in a minority, so far a small minority, ... and that therefore our task is, as long as this government yields to the influence of the bourgeoisie, Sony VGN-CR305ER Battery

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to present a patient, systematic, and persistent explanation of the errors of their tactics, an explanation especially adapted to the practical needs of the masses.[37]Sony VGN-CR307 Battery


The April Theses were more radical than virtually anything Lenin's fellow revolutionaries had heard. Previous Bolshevik policy had been like that of the Mensheviks in this respect: Sony VGN-CR307E Battery

that Russia was ready only for bourgeois, not socialist, revolution. Stalin and Kamenev, who had returned from exile in Siberia in mid-March and taken control of the Bolshevik newspaper Pravda, had been campaigning for support for the Provisional Government. Sony VGN-CR307EP Battery

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When Lenin presented his Theses to a joint RSDLP meeting, he was booed by the Mensheviks. Boris Bogdanov called them "the ravings of a madman". Of the Bolsheviks, only Kollontai at first supported the Theses.[38]Sony VGN-CR309 Battery


Lenin arrived at the revolutionary April Theses thanks to his work in exile on the theory of imperialism. Through his study of worldwide politics and economics, Lenin came to view Russian politics in international perspective. Sony VGN-CR309E Battery

In the conditions of the First World War, Lenin believed that, although Russian capitalism was underdeveloped, a socialist revolution in Russia could spark revolution in the more advanced nations of Europe, Sony VGN-CR309EL Battery

which could then help Russia achieve economic and social development. A. J. P. Taylor argued: "Lenin made his revolution for the sake of Europe, not for the sake of Russia, and he expected Russia's preliminary revolution to be eclipsed when the international revolution took place. Lenin did not invent the iron curtain. Sony VGN-CR309ER Battery

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 On the contrary it was invented against him by the anti-revolutionary Powers of Europe. Then it was called the cordon sanitaire."[39]Sony VGN-CR310 Battery


In this way, Lenin moved away from the previous Bolshevik policy of pursuing only bourgeois revolution in Russia, and towards the position of his fellow Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky and his theory of permanent revolution, which may have influenced Lenin at this time.[40]Sony VGN-CR310EL Battery


Controversial as it was in April 1917, the programme of the April Theses made the Bolshevik party a political refuge for Russians disillusioned with the Provisional Government and the war.[41][42]Sony VGN-CR320 Battery


The October Revolution

In Petrograd dissatisfaction with the regime culminated in the spontaneous July Days riots, by industrial workers and soldiers.[43]After being suppressed, these riots were blamed by the government on Lenin and the Bolsheviks.[44]Sony VGN-CR320E Battery

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Aleksandr Kerensky, Grigory Aleksinsky, and other opponents, also accused the Bolsheviks, especially Lenin—of being Imperial German agents provocateurs; on 17 July, Leon Trotsky defended them:[45]Sony VGN-CR320EN Battery


An intolerable atmosphere has been created, in which you, as well as we, are choking. They are throwing dirty accusations at Lenin and Zinoviev. Lenin has fought thirty years for the revolution. Sony VGN-CR320EP Battery

I have fought [for] twenty years against the oppression of the people. And we cannot but cherish a hatred for German militarism . . . I have been sentenced by a German court to eight months' imprisonment for my struggle against German militarism. This everybody knows. Let nobody in this hall say that we are hirelings of Germany.[46]Sony VGN-CR320ER Battery

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In the event, the Provisional Government arrested the Bolsheviks and outlawed their Party, prompting Lenin to flee to Finland. In exile again, reflecting on the July Days and its aftermath, Lenin determined that, to prevent the triumph of counter-revolutionary forces, Sony VGN-CR320EW Battery

the Provisional Government must be overthrown by an armed uprising.[47]Meanwhile, he published State and Revolution (1917) proposing government by the soviets (worker-, soldier- and peasant-elected councils) rather than by a parliamentary body.[48]Sony VGN-CR390 Battery


In late August 1917, while Lenin was in hiding in Finland, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army General Lavr Kornilov sent troops from the front to Petrograd in what appeared to be a military coup attempt against the Provisional Government. Sony VGN-CR390EB Battery

Kerensky panicked and turned to the Petrograd Soviet for help, allowing the revolutionaries to organise workers as Red Guards to defend Petrograd. The coup petered out before it reached Petrograd thanks to the industrial action of the Petrograd workers and the soldiers' increasing unwillingness to obey their officers.[49]Sony VGN-CR390NB Battery

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However, faith in the Provisional Government had been severely shaken. Lenin's slogan since the April Theses – "All power to the soviets!" – became more plausible the more the Provisional Government was discredited in public eyes. The Bolsheviks won a majority in the Petrograd Soviet on 31 August and in the Moscow Soviet on 5 September.[50]Sony VGN-CR405 Battery


In October Lenin returned from Finland. From the Smo

lny Institute for girls, Lenin directed the Provisional Government's deposition (6–8 November 1917), and the storming (7–8 November) of the Winter Palace to realise the Kerensky capitulation that established Bolshevik government in Russia. Sony VGN-CR405E Battery

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Forming a government

Lenin had argued in a newspaper article in September 1917:

The peaceful development of any revolution is, generally speaking, extremely rare and difficult ... but ... a peaceful development of the revolution is possible and probable if all power is transferred to the Soviets. The struggle of parties for power within the Soviets may proceed peacefully, if the Soviets are made fully democratic[51]Sony VGN-CR407E Battery

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