Clearly, not uncritical apologetics but penetrating and thoughtful criticism is alone capable of bringing out treasures of experiences and teachings. Dealing as we are with the very first experiment in proletarian dictatorship in world history (and one taking place at that under the hardest conceivable conditions, in the midst of the world-wide conflagration and chaos of the imperialist mass slaughter, caught in the coils of the most reactionary military power in Europe, and accompanied by the most complete failure on the part of the international working class), it would be a crazy idea to think that every last thing done or left undone in an experiment with the dictatorship of the proletariat under such abnormal conditions represented the very pinnacle of perfection. On the contrary, elementary conceptions of socialist politics and an insight into their historically necessary prerequisites force us to understand that under such fatal conditions even the most gigantic idealism and the most storm-tested revolutionary energy are incapable of realizing democracy and socialism but only distorted attempts at either.

Rosa Luxemburg, The Russian Revolution, Chapter 1: Fundamental Significance of the Russian Revolution

What I love about this work is that it insists history and acts serve educational purposes that permit us to continue our struggle rather than simply delineate the winners and losers of momentary struggles and so merely memorialize events and their dates, which is so much of what bourgeois historical education is all about.

Luxemburg’s history is a this is happening rather than a this happened.

Shall we start with a classic Revolutionary character?

Tsar Nicholas II - The Russian Revolution
I am not yet ready to be Tsar. I know nothing of the business of ruling.”

Debatable, but more likely just very unlikely that Nicholas II happened to be Tsar during the 1917 Russian Revolution. He had a poorly suited personality for the autocratic rule of Tsar - himself, and everyone around him, believed him to be poorly suited to the roll. The Tsar, his wife, 4 daughters and son, were executed by the Revolutionaries in July 1918.

A revolution teaches and teaches fast. In that lies its strength. Every week brings something new to the masses. Every two months creates an epoch. At the end of February, the insurrection. At the end of April, a demonstration of the armed workers and soldiers in Petrograd. At the beginning of July, a new assault, far broader in scope and under more resolution slogans. At the end of August, Kornilov’s attempt at an overthrow beaten off by the masses. At the end of October, conquest of power by the Bolsheviks. Under these events, so striking in their rhythm, molecular processes were taking place, welding together the heterogeneous parts of the working class into one political whole.
—  Leon Trotsky - The History of the Russian Revolution
Since it's the 4th I'd like to share my great grandma's story

My bubby was born in Ukraine right about the beginning of the Russian revolution and so they had to leave due to religious persecution
They left for America (since that’s what you did) and they got in on the 4th, so of course Ellis Island was closed.
And of course fireworks were going off.
And since they were mostly red everyone thought the Russians followed them and were blowing up America.
My bubby said that everyone was terrified and crying but the crew was completely calm so her dad went up to them and yelled like “WHY ARE WE NOT GETTING OUT OF HERE WE ARE GONNA DIE” and the crews all “oh no this is normal we do this every year on the 4th”
So of course she thought “what the fuck”
And that’s why when the 4th came around she’d yell into the sky “sometimes I wish it WAS the Reds!”

The History of the Russian Revolution by Leon Trotsky (1930)

VOLUME ONE: The Overthrow of Tzarism

VOLUME TWO: The Attempted Counter-Revolution

VOLUME THREE: The Triumph Of The Soviets

In the period 1917 to 1921 the Bolsheviks would undoubtedly make many mistakes but they would make them against a background of a revolutionary opportunity in the West that could have helped them but was missed. There, revolutionary crises were pushed to the brink but there was no Bolshevik Party to respond. The socialist equivalents of the SRs and the Mensheviks held out against revolution and assisted consciously or unconsciously in the process by which the crisis was diffused. In 1921 they could look proudly at their handiwork. The crisis had been successfully negotiated in the West, and in Russia, though victorious in the civil war, the Bolsheviks were weakened enormously, the working class destroyed and the remnants of the revolution isolated. But their success was an illusion. A year later in Italy Mussolini came to power, then in 1933 Hitler came to power in Germany. In both East and West there was a high price to pay for the failure of international revolution.

Already in the summer of 1917, before October, a writer in the Spartakus journal in Germany argued, ‘Here begins the fatal destiny of the Russian Revolution. The dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia is destined to suffer a desperate defeat compared to which the fate of the Paris Commune was child’s play – unless the international proletarian revolution gives it support in time.’ Whoever wrote this could not have foreseen that in Russia the defeat of the revolution would take the form of Stalin’s counter-revolution but he saw the essence of the problem. So too did Rosa Luxemburg. She did not fear to criticise what she thought were the mistakes the Bolsheviks might be making but she also saw where the blame would lie if they failed. Writing to Luise Kautsky from prison in 1917 she saw something else:

“Are you happy about the Russians? Of course, they will not be able to maintain themselves in this witches’ sabbath, not because some statistics show economic development in Russia to be too backward as your clever husband has figured out, but because social democracy in the highly developed West consists of miserable and wretched cowards who will look quietly on and let the Russians bleed to death.”

this year we had to write an essay on the russian revolution in english class and when we were looking for sources the teacher said we could use any site as long as it doesn’t have .com as its tdl. she was such a condescending bitch about the whole thing yelling about how ‘we cant trust those sites because they are pushing an agenda’ that i used a total drama island fanfic as a source.

The tacit assumption underlying the Lenin-Trotsky theory of dictatorship is this: that the socialist transformation is something for which a ready-made formula lies completed in the pocket of the revolutionary party, which needs only to be carried out energetically in practice. This is, unfortunately–or perhaps fortunately–not the case. Far from being a sum of ready-made prescriptions which have only to be applied, the practical realization of socialism as an economic, social and juridical system is something which lies completely hidden in the mists of the future. What we possess in our program is nothing but a few main signposts which indicate the general direction in which to look for the necessary measures, and the indications are mainly negative in character at that. Thus we know more or less what we must eliminate at the outset in order to free the road for a socialist economy. But when it comes to the nature of the thousand concrete, practical measures, large and small, necessary to introduce socialist principles into economy, law and all social relationships, there is no key in any socialist party program or textbook. That is not a shortcoming but rather the very thing that makes scientific socialism superior to the utopian varieties.
—  Rosa Luxemburg, The Problem of Dictatorship
Causes of the Russian Revolution~

Russia, in the early 20th century, was massive. It stretched from Poland to the Pacific and was home to almost 170 million people. As you can imagine, running such a large country was not an easy task and it is not surprising that there was a revolution in October of 1917 (Almost a year before WWI is over). 

The causes of the revolution are as follows: 

  1. In 1916, ¾ of Russia’s population were farmers. The agriculture in Russia was harshly out of date; they used old-fashioned ways of farming and there was little hope of improving because of widespread literacy and no capital to invest. Families who owned farms often had members who had gone to town to find better work. Because of Russia’s increasing population, land for farming became scarce and by 1917, most “peasants” were totally against developments outside their villages and desired autonomy. 
  2. Because of the boom of the industrial revolution in the 1890s, many people were working in factories experiencing harsh working conditions (low pay and lack of job rights) and those who were not working in factories were living in poor, cramped houses. 
  3. At the time, Russia was being ruled by one “emperor” called the Tsar. For centuries, this position had been taken up by the Romanov family, who ruled alone with no representative bodies. Freedom of expression was limited, books and newspapers were censored and the secret police forces often executed people or sent them into exile. 

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