In October 1917, in the midst of the slaughter of World War I, the Russian working class, acting under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party led by Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky, overthrew the capitalist provisional government headed by Alexander Kerensky and established the first workers’ state in world history. Less than nine months earlier, Russia had been ruled by a monarchical dynasty headed by Tsar Nicholas II. The revolution was the beginning of the end of the imperialist war.

The Russian Revolution marked a new stage in world history. The overthrow of the capitalist Provisional Government proved that an alternative to capitalism was not a utopian dream, but a real possibility that could be achieved through the conscious political struggle of the working class. Despite the ultimately tragic fate of the Soviet Union—which was destroyed by the betrayals and crimes of the Stalinist bureaucracy—no other event in the past century had such a far-reaching impact on the lives of hundreds of millions of people on every part of the planet.

On this page, readers will find many essays and lectures published over more than 20 years on the World Socialist Web Site examining the significance and lessons of the revolution and its impact around the world.

Vladmir Lenin addresses crowds of Petrograd workers in 1919. On the right stands Trotsky. [Photo]
2017 Centenary Lectures: Why Study the Russian Revolution?
Featured essays
Leon Trotsky

Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) led, together with Lenin, the Bolshevik Party and the Russian working class in the 1917 October Revolution. He was the greatest strategist of international socialist revolution of the 20th century. In 1923, he founded the Left Opposition to oppose the growth of a nationalist bureaucracy, headed by Joseph Stalin, as it usurped power in the Soviet Union. In 1933, following the coming to power of the Nazis in Germany, facilitated by the disastrous policies of the Stalinist Comintern that he had opposed, Trotsky called for the founding of the Fourth International.

More on the life of Leon Trotsky
Vladimir Lenin

Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924) was the founder of the Bolshevik Party in Russia, leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution and a towering political and intellectual figure in the 20th century.

With a greater depth and foresight than any other Marxist of his time, Lenin explained the objective significance and political implications of the belittling of Marxist theory for the building of a revolutionary party.

More on the life of Vladimir Lenin
More profiles from the Russian Revolution
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