Political Freedom and Revolution: A Look Into the Space of Freedom Opened and Closed in Petrograd, 1917

Thumbnail Image
Smith, Bryson
Issue Date
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION::History and philosophy subjects::History subjects::History , Soviet Union -- History -- Revolution, 1917-1921 , Lenin, Vladimir Ilʹich, 1870-1924
The February Revolution of 1917 toppled the regime of Tsar Nicholas II which resulted in his abdication. Subsequently, a power vacuum was created and this newly emptied political space, once filled by the Tsar and now bereft of power or authority, opened up a potentially new opportunity of freedom. This freedom, defined differently from the mainstream interpretation of the word, allowed individuals and groups alike to act in a way that was outside of restrictions that governance creates. Upon the abdication by Nicholas II, a Provisional Government was immediately established that looked to maintain the authority that the Tsar once held. The political void was filled over the span of a few days as the Provisional Government established themselves as the legal governing body over the Russian Empire. However, throughout the course of 1917, their authority was contested by the Petrograd Soviet of Workers and Soldiers Deputies. This Soviet, represented by deputies who were elected by the workers and soldiers of Petrograd, eventually seized total authority for itself in October. At this moment, the freedom that Russia had momentarily seen in February was reinstated. Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Bolshevik majority within the Soviet at the time of the October Revolution, closed off this space of freedom once again, and this time for good, when he shut down the democratically elected Constituent Assembly in November and seized complete power and authority for himself and his Bolshevik party.