The Fire Next Time: July to September 1917

  • Robert Service


The internal life of parties in revolutionary Russia ran on the basis of persuasion and consent. The Bolsheviks were feared for their discipline and hierarchy; and yet their party was, by the standards of its own rulebook, highly ill-disciplined. Not even the Central Committee could enforce its policies on local party bodies if these objected. Communications were faulty; administrative staff and finances were not plentiful. Indeed, tensions affected relations at all levels of the Bolshevik party’s formal hierarchy. Thus the Bolsheviks were not so unlike the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries as later mythology contended;1 and the fact that the Bolshevik party was ill co-ordinated allowed its local activists to react dynamically to the particularity of local events. The Bolsheviks, furthermore, had the inestimable advantage of agreement on certain key ideas: that the Provisional Government should be overthrown and a socialist administration of some sort established; that urgent moves be made to end the war; that the peasants should get the land and that the economic rights of the bourgeoisie should be curtailed. Being innocent of the co-responsibility for the Provisional Government which affected their rivals, Bolsheviks could organise their political campaign unfettered. Such disputes as they had did not affect their practical activity.


Political Life Central Committee Mass Organisation Socialist Revolution October Revolution 
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Copyright information

© Robert Service 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Service
    • 1
  1. 1.LondonUK

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