February Revolution

later, people used to call the “October Revolution” to “open up a new era in human history”, which was first mentioned by Trotsky. There is another sentence below him: “a new era of iron and blood has been opened up.” Then people didn’t mention it. But he said this when he returned from his overseas residence after the February Revolution. At that time, there was no October incident. He meant the February Revolution, but the real arrival of the “new era of iron and blood” was after the “January upheaval”? xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” >


the problem of “new era” in the process of Russian history

there is no doubt that the 1917 revolution had a great impact on Russia and the world. However, people in different times have different views on the concerns in this process. When the “upheaval” took place in the early 1990s, due to understandable reasons, the Russians focused on “October”, and their views on “October” were obviously polarized: the defenders of the old system still believed that it was “a great socialist revolution and a new era in human history”, while the promoters of the change believed that it was an illegal “coup” carried out by the Bolsheviks, It has brought long-term disaster to Russia and the world. In fact, the latter also believes that “October” is a “new era”, which is only a new era in a negative sense. At that time, the level of information disclosure and people’s mentality were not enough to make the research on this situation have a long-term and deep level. Whether it is a “revolution” to create a beautiful new socialist world or a “coup” to destroy democracy and even Russian civilization, is “October” really so important? Did the turning point in Russian history around 1917 really lie in the “sound of aphrell’s gun”?




in the later years, with the deepening of research and the calming of people’s mentality, people gradually tend to look at the macro changes in Russian history at a deeper level, and investigate the specific political process of that year at a more detailed level.

“revolutionary constitutionalism” and February democratic

constitutional assembly, according to today’s common translation, that is, the constituent assembly or constitutional assembly. Based on political freedom, pluralistic competition, separation of powers, checks and balances and democratic elections, this system originated from Western Europe and is considered to be a “liberal” system. The lexical use of “constitutional assembly” rather than “Duma” reflects the difference between “Westernization” and “tradition”. In modern Russia, this idea was not only rejected by the conservative tsarist absolutists, but also attacked by the Russian revolutionary populist radicals who publicized the theory of “people’s autocracy” as “the scam of the rich” and “the ruling tool of the Bourgeoisie”. It is on this issue that a group of leftists who broke away from this “outright populist view against political freedom (which is said to put the regime into the hands of the Bourgeoisie”) formed the original Marxist Social Democrats in Russia. At that time, the Bolsheviks also actively demanded national democracy, not only “class democracy”, but also the constitutional democracy they called today. As early as 1903, the party platform adopted by the second congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party called for “overthrowing the autocratic system and convening a constitutional assembly freely elected by the whole people”.

therefore, whether to advocate constitutional democracy or oppose constitutional government and advocate “people’s autocracy” became the landmark to distinguish Russian Marxism and populism at that time. Plekhanov once clearly said: “the ‘abstract rights’ that liberals are busy striving for are the necessary conditions for the development of the people”; Western style parliamentary politics “is not only the ‘organizational tool’ of the bourgeoisie, but also the ‘organizational tool’ of another class (i.e. the proletariat)”. In Plekhanov’s view, the proletariat should pursue constitutional democracy more actively than the “bourgeois” liberals; The “people’s autocracy” advocated by the populists is just a “reactionary” political deformity “,” like the ancient Chinese empire or the Peruvian Empire, that is, an innovative emperor’s autocracy based on communism “, which is the political garbage of” emperor King’s’ National Socialism “.

these words of Plekhanov constitute the basic view of his famous book “our differences of opinion”. The earlier “socialism and political struggle” also expressed similar ideas. These two works, together with the philosophical work “on the development of monistic view of history”, are the “old three articles” that Platts laid the foundation for Russian Marxism. They are said to be the basic documents that “educated a whole generation of Russian maxists”, and their influence is very far-reaching. From these viewpoints, it can be seen that in the pursuit of constitutional democracy, Russian Marxists not only opposed the anti constitutional populists at the beginning, but also were more urgent than liberals. In other words, before that, the politically meaningful difference between Social Democrats and liberals lies in “radical constitutionalism” (revolutionary constitutionalism) or “gradual constitutionalism”. Although some changes began in the stolepin era: the faction led by Lenin in the Social Democratic Party (i.e. Bolshevik) is becoming more and more “populist” and even “super populist”, the traditional appeal of Russian Marxist “revolutionary constitutionalism” and the traditional aversion to the populist “people’s autocracy” cannot completely disappear. It was in the stolepin era that Lenin, on the one hand, said a lot (rarely said in the past) about the “hypocrisy” of parliamentary democracy, on the other hand, he was still refuting the extreme left and right argument that “hypocritical democracy” was not as good as autocracy. He believes that although the propaganda of political parties under multi-party competition “has the nature of advertising deception”, this must not mean that parliamentary democracy “is fundamentally useless or even harmful, as stubborn reactionaries and the enemies of the parliamentary system strongly want the people to believe”. On the contrary, without such a multi-party system, deception “will be much more, andThere will also be far fewer ways for the people to expose scams and find out the truth. ” “The more political freedom a country has, the more sound and democratic its representative institutions are, the easier it is for the people to learn politics, that is, the easier it is to expose deception and find out the truth.”

the “February Revolution” in 1917 is the practice of “revolutionary constitutionalism”. Because the “stolepin reaction” ruined the once promising opportunity for Russia to establish parliamentary democracy through constitutional monarchy from 1905 to 1907, and the development of market economy promoted by stolepin reform hollowed out the foundation of traditional imperialism and accumulated huge public resentment due to the predatory autocratic privatization of traditional rural communes, Therefore, when the social crisis was triggered by the failure of foreign war, all Russia was sharply involved in the revolutionary vortex. With the seemingly powerful tsarist autocracy seemingly completely “unexpectedly” suddenly collapsing, the prospect of constitutional monarchy no longer exists. Under the impact of the “avalanche”, it goes without saying that the traditional royalist party, which is more conservative than stolepin, has disappeared. Under stolepin’s system, the powerful authoritarian market economy reformers, such as the October party, the Progressive Party and other liberal right-wing factions, were soon crushed by the revolutionary trend. Only the liberal left, that is, the Constitutional Democratic Party suppressed in the stolepin era due to its leadership of the radical constitutional democratic movement in the 1905 incident, has become the only liberal party with political appeal. However, it is worried that the populist rebound wave triggered by the stolepin reform is difficult to control, and it is more worried that the rear upheaval during the war (the constitutional democratic party is a nationalist who supports the war) will disintegrate the military. At this time, it advocates slowing down the pace of constitutionalism. In this way, the political reform radical in 1905, named after the “constitutional” party, handed over the banner of the “constitutional assembly” to the “socialists” in 1917.

at that time, the two major leftists (commonly known as the two “socialist political parties”) the social revolutionary party and the social democratic party were pushed forward by the revolutionary situation and became the most powerful political force in Russia. There are obvious divisions within the two parties: the social revolutionary party is a far left party that traditionally started with “revolutionary terrorism” to promote “people’s autocracy”, but at this time, its mainstream has undergone “social democratization” in the stolepin era. Only its branch that adheres to fundamentalist populism, the so-called “left social revolutionary party”, also has the color of “people’s autocracy”. As for the Social Democratic Party, which was originally a traditional advocate of “revolutionary constitutionalism”, the Mensheviks still hold the orthodox revolutionary constitutionalism concept of Russian Marxism at this time, while the Bolsheviks still retain the traditional “revolutionary constitutionalism” discourse of the Social Democratic Party, although they have gone far on the road of “ultra Populism”, Its “Radicalism” is mainly reflected in constantly accusing others of delaying the constitutional process. At that time, Lenin himself repeatedly complained about the lack of “political freedom” and believed that “in a free country, the management of the people is carried out through the open struggle of political parties and the free agreement between them”.

some time after the February Revolution, Lenin accused the interim government of delaying the election of the constitutional assembly, but did not require “all power to the Soviet” – at that time, the Bolshevik party had little influence in the Soviet Union. Later, he twice proposed that “all power belongs to the Soviet”, but its meaning is only 1: the Soviet replaces the interim government to undertake the responsibility of preparing for the constitutional conference; 2: Exclude the liberal left wing represented by the Constitutional Democratic Party and establish a “all socialist government” led by the Social Democratic Party and the social revolutionary party, that is, the left-wing multi-party coalition government. He did not say that he would replace the constitutional assembly with the Soviet. On the contrary, he still stressed that the Soviet should only temporarily take power before the constitutional assembly – as he said after the “July incident”: “before the constitutional assembly is held, the state should not have any other political power except the Soviet.” In addition to the constitutional democratic party, which is worried that the populist tide is difficult to control and really wants to slow down the pace of democracy, the mainstream of the social revolutionary party and the mengshivik of the Social Democratic Party have no less enthusiasm for “revolutionary constitutionalism” than the Bolsheviks, but only considering that Germany was attacking on a large scale at that time, Based on the position of “revolutionary patriotism”, we are not willing to devote too much energy to competitive elections, and we are not willing to intensify contradictions and make the situation out of control under the good situation of “leftist democracy” in which not only the monarchy has long disappeared, but also the Liberals have been sidelined.

therefore, after the political differentiation and repositioning in the stolepin era, by the February Revolution, the distinction between the traditional social democratic party and the Social Revolutionary Party (i.e. Russian Marxism and populism) had been completely blurred, and it was replaced by new A very dramatic Division: one part of the two parties (the Bolsheviks of the Social Democratic Party and the left-wing social revolutionary party) formed an alliance against the other part of the two parties (the Mensheviks of the Social Democratic Party and the mainstream of the social revolutionary party). In a sense, it can be considered that the former more reflects the fundamentalist populist or super populist tradition represented by the public opinion party in that year, while the latter more reflects the Russian Marxism or social democratic orthodoxy founded by Plekhanov in that year. However, in 1917, both sides had not separated from the discourse of “revolutionary constitutionalism”.

Winter Palace night

during the whole period from the February Revolution to the end of 1917, including before and after the so-called “October Revolution”, the focus of the struggle in the Russian political arena, in addition to the “peace” in foreign relations and the “land” in economy, is to convene as soon as possible Or postpone the convening of the constitutional assembly. Although the official historiography of the Soviet Union claimed that there was a state of “proletarian Soviet” and “bourgeois interim government” and “two regimes coexisting”, in fact, not only did the Bolsheviks not dominate the Soviet Union for a considerable period after February, but also did not advocate that “all power belongs to the Soviet Union”, But only strongly accused the interim government of delaying the convening of the constitutional assembly. Even when they controlled the Petrograd Soviet and launched the “October Revolution” to overthrow the interim government, although they put forward the slogan that all power should belong to the Soviet, they only took it as a revolutionary measure, not as a resultAlthough the famous Eisenstein film October has been influenced by Stalin’s power, there is no such scene. The truth at that time was that the resistance of sergeant students soon stopped. When the sailors and red guards rushed to the gate of the winter palace, the defense chief parichensky of the winter palace personally opened the gate and took them to the place where the ministers of the interim government were meeting. Lunacharski, a moderate Bolshevik Party member who had always opposed the riots, wrote in his home letter at that time with some relief: “the work was easy to achieve” and “very few sacrifices for the time being.” Obviously, this “violent revolution” was almost successful without surprise.

and the winners were quite low-key at that time. When the Soviet government was established that night, it claimed to be the “interim government of workers and farmers”, which was also accepted as the “sixth interim government”. It should be said that there were not many people who supported the Bolshevik’s action that night, and there were many disgusters. As mentioned earlier, even the Bolshevik party has a considerable number of people opposed to seizing power in this way. They certainly supported replacing the interim government with a government responsible to the Soviet, but since it was done in the name of the Soviet, it should always be authorized by the Soviet. We can’t create a fait accompli first, “seizing power on the eve of the (Soviet) Congress, which I don’t think anyone knows.” So as Lunacharski said, “the social revolutionaries and the Mensheviks, even the internationalists, categorically resist US. The city Duma is very angry with us. Citizens, intellectuals, and even all, all are like this…” “at present, it is a terrible and chilling isolation”.

but despite this, no one wants to take practical action against the Bolsheviks. At that time, Russians generally believed that the revolutionary situation since February had continued to develop amid turbulence, and its goal was the constitutional assembly. The election of the representatives of the constitutional assembly and the convening of the meeting will mean that the “revolutionary constitutionalism” will be completed, and a democratic and Republican constitutional government elected by the whole people will appear in Russia, which is authoritative rather than “temporary”. Then Russia’s political situation will be on a normal track. It can be imagined that if the Bolsheviks did not call for the convening of the constitutional assembly at that time, but openly proposed to cancel the constitutional assembly, its seizure of power would be much “shocked”, and its success would be unpredictable.

“shaking the world” January 5

the truly “shocking” upheaval came two months later.

originally Lenin always believed that it was crucial who was in power and who convened the constitutional assembly during the election. Obviously, he believed that with his power in hand and effective publicity and encouragement, the “revolutionary constitutionalism” would approve everything he did.

however, the development of the situation was beyond his expectation. Under the condition that the Bolsheviks were in power, the election was held on schedule from November 12 to 15. According to the approximate results on November 25, the Bolsheviks won 23.9% of the votes and only 163 of the 703 seats, far lower than the 40% votes won by the social revolutionary party. By early 1918, before the convening of the constituent assembly, the final result was announced: of the total 707 seats, Bolsheviks got 175 seats, accounting for 24.7%, only slightly higher than the initial result. The social revolutionary party won 410 seats (including 40 seats for the left-wing social revolutionary party), 16 seats for the Mensheviks, 17 seats for the constitutional democratic party, 86 seats for national political parties, and the remaining seats belong to several small organizations. In other words, the Bolsheviks won less than a quarter of the seats in the election they presided over. Even with the left-wing social revolutionary party allied with the Bolsheviks, Lenin accounted for only 30% of the seats, while the main populist political party, the social revolutionary party, even excluding its left, has 370 seats, which is obviously more than half.

obviously, the Bolsheviks lost the election and lost miserably. The tragedy is not that it has won few votes, but that it is an election organized by it under the conditions of its power. It has no reason, and indeed did not accuse the election of fraud and bribery. At that time, the Bolsheviks only objected that the election of the constituent assembly was conducted in accordance with the law of the interim government, which is now outdated. This reason is obviously far fetched: since this election has no legitimacy, why did you organize this election again?

in fact, the Bolsheviks felt bad during the election process, and issued a decree through the all Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Union, authorizing the Soviets in places where the elected representatives did not meet their wishes to suspend the election, call back the elected representatives and organize re-election. However, influenced by the thinking of “revolutionary constitutionalism”, the local Soviets did not exercise this unpopular power. Therefore, Lenin’s people’s committee government announced the postponement of the session on the grounds that there were too few delegates before the scheduled meeting day of the constitutional assembly (November 28). On the same day, some constitutional Democrats demonstrated against the decision and demanded that “all power should belong to the constitutional assembly”, which was severely suppressed. The constitutional democratic party was in fact banned, and its elected representatives were either killed, arrested or fled.

it was not until more than a month later that the constitutional assembly was held on January 5, 1918, excluding the constitutional Democrats. Before the meeting, the Lenin government declared martial law in petersgrad and mobilized troops loyal to the Bolsheviks to enter the capital. On the day of the meeting, Bolshevik representatives suggested that the constitutional assembly hand over power to the Soviet Union as required by the people’s Committee and announce its dissolution on its own. Most representatives of the constitutional assembly rejected this outrageous request. Representatives of the Bolshevik and the leftist social revolutionary party withdrew from the meeting one after another. Most of the remaining representatives persisted under the threat of violence until 4 a.m. the next day and were finally dispersed by the troops transferred by the Bolsheviks. On the same day, the all Russia central executive committee announced the dissolution of the constitutional assembly. On the day of




, the liberals who have been severely suppressed – the constitutional Democrats are unlikely to make any sound. But in the camp of the left (i.e. social democrats and social revolutionaries) and the working people, especially workersThe class (farmers’ discontent only emerged later) roared angrily:

. On this day, workers’ demonstrations protesting the dissolution of the constituent assembly took place in the two capitals, with tens of thousands of participants. Bolshevik soldiers opened fire on the peaceful procession. “The streets of Petrograd and Moscow are covered with the blood of workers”. In Petrograd, the demonstration workers “held the red flag of the Russian Social Democratic Party to the tavlida Palace (according to: the seat of the constitutional assembly)”, and the killers not only shot from the hidden place of the ambush without warning, but also “grabbed the red flag of the revolution from the workers, trampled them with their feet and threw them into the campfire”.

Russia’s largest trade union “all Russia railway Federation” announced a political strike to protest the dissolution of the constitutional assembly. Many trade unions have supported it. After the strike was suppressed, the all Russian railway and other non Bolshevik controlled trade unions were banned, and the Russian trade unions have been gradually “official” since then.

on this day, the (joint) Central Committee of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party, mainly composed of the Mensheviks, issued the “letter to all Russian citizens”, which was “the proletarians of the world unite!” Start with “long live socialism!” The closing statement states: “The constituent assembly was dispersed by force… Even before the decision of the central executive committee to dissolve the constituent assembly was made. As always, the Bolsheviks first dissolved the constituent assembly by force, and then closed the tavlida palace to no member of the constituent assembly. Only after that did they ask the central executive committee to dissolve the constituent assembly The Executive Committee issued an order on dissolution. Since the Bolshevik party seized power, the Soviet Union’s full role has been attributed to stamping a seal on the decisions of the ‘people’s Committee’. There is no ‘Soviet regime’, there is only the regime of the Bolshevik Party (central) committee and the armed forces that follow them. ” On the day of




, the socialist parties other than the Bolsheviks, namely the Mensheviks, the social revolutionary party and the people’s socialist party, also jointly issued leaflets, He pointed out: “on January 9, 1905, Nikolay Romanov and trepov shot and killed workers who asked for a constitutional assembly. Today, after 12 years of struggle among the working people, the constitutional assembly has been elected by the people, and Peter grad’s workers were shot and killed again by those who claimed to be representatives of the working class for the constitutional assembly”! From then on, “the dark era of Czar autocracy began.” “Citizens are deprived of their right to express their opinions.” “The worker’s flag was torn and burned.”

similar to this leaflet, leftist writers who had always sympathized with the Bolsheviks in the Czar era also wrote an article “January 9 and January 5” on this day, severely condemning the atrocities of the Bolsheviks. He also compared the tragedy that happened that day to the “Bloody Sunday” of the Czar’s massacre of peace petitioners, which ignited the revolutionary fire of 1905, and said sadly and hopelessly: the Bolshevik’s “rifle dispelled the dream of the best Russian elements in nearly a century”!

obviously, the “shock” to Russian society caused by the incident on January 5 is far more than the “Winter Palace incident” before dawn on October 25 last year. The October incident is basically a continuation of the process of “revolutionary constitutionalism” since February. The failure of stolepin’s reform doomed the loss of power of the Liberals and the coming into power of the socialists. In fact, this change was basically completed in July and September. If there was no winter palace incident at the end of October, the complete resignation of the Liberals and the emergence of “all socialist government” are also inevitable. Although the Bolsheviks’ means of seizing power was criticized, it did not immediately intensify social contradictions or lead to any resistance. The krenski government has been actually voted no confidence in the preparatory parliament the day before the winter palace incident. It is not surprising to produce the “sixth interim government”. Some interim government leaders, such as Kerensky, who escaped from the winter palace on October night, tried to organize an anti seizure of power, but failed because there were no responders. The social revolutionary party and the all Russia Federation of Railways and other trade union organizations controlled by the Mensheviks once objected to the Bolshevik “coup” and threatened to strike, but announced reconciliation with the Soviet regime after the constituent assembly election was held as scheduled. Since the major political forces, including the Bolsheviks, claimed that Russia’s future ultimately depended on the constitutional assembly, people generally calmly accepted the fait accompli while waiting for the outcome of the constitutional assembly. These two months are thus traditionally known as the “triumphant march” of the Soviet regime.

but it is different to disperse the constituent assembly. It completely reversed the process of “revolutionary constitutionalism” and became the fate of revolutionary constitutionalism. It can be called another drastic change in the historical process of Russia after the February Revolution: according to later “Leninism”, this is the “dictatorship of the proletariat” smashing “bourgeois democracy”. The return of the parties other than the Bolsheviks to the “dark revolution” and the “destruction” of socialism. Either way, this change can be described as a super “shock” as the duel between “democracy” and “dictatorship”. You can call it revolution or counter revolution (according to the opposition’s position), but you can’t say that the significance of this change is smaller than that of the October incident.




in fact, even the two major issues of “land and peace” are said to be solved by the October Revolution. The original dispute was not whether to negotiate peace or allocate land, but whether to decide the two by the constitutional assembly, or whether to recognize their legitimacy even if the Soviet Union created a fait accompli. The socialist parties that dominated the last two interim governments actually agreed and divided land. The land law promulgated by Chernoff, the leader of the social revolutionary party, as the Minister of the interim government, was praised by Lenin – he even rose to refute “the shameless defamatory attack of capitalists on Chernoff”. But chernofs believe that the constitutional assembly should do these two things. Some democratic organizations, such as the all Russia Railway Corporation, thought that the Soviet government could do thisетскаяконтрреволяция)” And derived a series of terms such as “democratic counter revolutionary period”, “democratic counter revolutionary buffer zone”, “democratic counter revolutionary political faction”. “Dictatorship” is “revolution” and “democracy” is “counter revolution”. The upheaval around January is even so!

of course, this does not mean that the later forces against Bolsheviks were supporters of the constitutional assembly or the so-called democrats, but that the disappearance of the prospect of constitutional democracy expected since the February Revolution in January 1918 caused an unprecedented shock, broke the fragile balance of Russian society at that time, and caused all kinds of contradictions to erupt. Not only did the various democratic factions (later known as the “bourgeois Democrats”, but at that time the Bolsheviks were more often referred to as the “democratic counter revolution”) fight against the Bolsheviks under the banner of the constitutional assembly, and successively formed great forces in Samara, UFA and other places in the Volga River basin, but also established the Democratic Republic led by the Mensheviks in Georgia and other places. What is more serious is that after the February Revolution, various old Russian forces that were temporarily dormant in awe of people’s recognition of democracy at that time have come out to seize the country with the collapse of the prospect of constitutional democracy. They seem very reasonable and confident: since they do not engage in democracy, why is the Tsar’s legacy yours? The situation of “having a gun is the king of grass” has not been formed.




facts have proved that from the February Revolution to the January coup, the increasingly left leaning of the Russian political situation under the expectation of democracy was not much resisted by the right-wing anti democratic forces, and cases like the kornilov mutiny subsided in an instant. Not only did the “all socialist government” come naturally, that is, after the Bolsheviks seized power first, the situation in Russia remained basically stable within 70 days after they promised to respect the constitutional assembly. It was after the Bolsheviks destroyed the constitutional government that the right-wing anti democratic forces followed suit: following the “January upheaval” that the Bolsheviks dispersed the constitutional assembly, in April, the Ukrainian Cossack leader skropatsky dispersed the Ukrainian parliament (central RADA) that emerged after the February Revolution, At the beginning of December, warlord gorchak dispersed the assembly of members of the constitutional assembly who moved from the Volga River to Omsk. After the February Revolution, the short-lived democratic authority disappeared. Since the February Revolution, people who are impatient with “chaotic democracy” have set up their own mountains to “clean up the mess” after the chaos turned into a civil war. Coupled with the national separatist movement and the forces supported by foreign countries, Russia fell into an unprecedented cruel war disaster, and millions of people died Is the history of




determined by long-term causality or caused by “accidental cause”? It should be said that there are both factors. The author once pointed out that in 1905, Russia had a strong momentum of mutual promotion between free market economy and political democratization. If it had not been for the “double loss” caused by the unwillingness of all parties in that storm, Russia could have completed the political and economic modernization under the constitutional monarchy framework and avoided the situation in 1917. However, under stolepin’s political dictatorship, the “police privatization” of traditional rural communes for powerful people accumulated public resentment. In addition, it was inevitable that “unfair reform led to anti reform revolution” after the sudden launch of the world war. Moreover, this “revolution” naturally has the nature of opposing “corrupt economic freedom” and rebuilding the “commune world”. It is almost doomed that liberalism will become a loser: the interim government will inevitably be socialized, and few liberals will be elected even if the constitutional assembly is not dispersed.

but on the other hand, it is uncertain who will gain power among the “socialists” and what consequences will result after gaining power. The Bolsheviks, who mainly worked among political expatriates, initially had no advantage, and Lenin and Trotsky, who returned to China only in April and may 1917 after a long exile, were not optimistic. The social revolutionary party, the main force of the domestic anti stolepin movement, and the Menshevik, which had a great influence in the trade union, were very promising, but Lenin finally won because of the conspiracy contest between the right and the wrong. The process started in February 1917 was originally the transformation from traditional autocracy to constitutional democracy. As a result, it evolved into a dynasty changing war from “autocracy” to “dictatorship” after January 1918. After 1905, another great experiment of constitutional democracy in Russian history ended in a more painful civil war and the “dictatorship” after the civil war.

now we can evaluate how the Russians reflected on 1917 90 years later: “February democracy” is undoubtedly a major event in Russia’s modernization transformation, but there is no doubt that there was a “fracture” in the historical process after it. This fracture did not occur in October of that year, but not between Lenin and Stalin, but in January 1918. Its content is not from the democratic revolution of “capitalism” to the “socialist revolution” of “nothing”, but the abolition of Democracy (to a large extent, it is the democracy advocated by socialists, that is, Russian Marxists and dominated by them at that time, rather than “bourgeois democracy”), Replace it with dictatorship (the dictatorship of shooting and killing workers, closing trade unions and banning the Social Democratic Party at the beginning, that is, “dictatorship over the proletariat” rather than the so-called proletarian dictatorship).

today’s conservatives (including Solzhenitsyn and Putin, who basically belong to this wing today) believe that excessive “democracy” will damage freedom and even lead to dictatorship, which is not entirely unreasonable. Germany’s democratic election at the end of Weimar is an example. As far as Russia is concerned, if the populists who won the constitutional assembly election at the end of 1917 are in power, it is also difficult to predict whether they will change their previous direction of “social democratization” and return to the populist stereotypes of “people’s autocracy” under the pretext of chaos in the transition period.

but in any case, the actual process in Russia was not that these democratically elected politicians abolished constitutionalism, but that Lenin overthrew the democratically elected parliament, implemented totalitarianism and suppressed democracy. Therefore, it is groundless to say that “February democracy” will lead to “January totalitarianism”. It is also very lax to confuse the February Revolution with Lenin’s totalitarianism under the concepts of “Westernization” and “radicalization”.

in fact, in the period between the two world wars, the constitutional democracy established under the framework of Versailles failed to persist in most European countries, and was inevitably overturned and replaced by autocracy. However, Germany was the only one to abolish constitutionalism by elected leaders. The rest, including Russia, were through military coups, wars or coercion “Revolution” and other non democratic ways to overthrow constitutionalism. Therefore, it is unreasonable to exaggerate the threat of democracy to constitutionalism and even regard democracy as farther away from constitutionalism than monarchy.

in a sense, the “upheaval” in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in 1991 can indeed be said to have inherited the cause of “February democracy”. But after all, the times have made great progress: compared with that wave of democracy, the so-called “pain” after today’s “upheaval” can be said to be insignificant, whether compared with the short life of Russia’s “February democracy” and the tragic civil war after the abolition of democracy, the turmoil in Germany during the whole Weimar Republic, or the “Weimar” crisis in most European countries at that time. Not only have all countries in Eastern Europe gone through the pain and established stable constitutional democracy, but Russia, which has the most bumpy constitutional Road, has not repeated the mistakes of “February democracy”. Although its democratic system is not perfect and has “regressed” in recent years, it has also lasted for more than a decade, and a fundamental reversal is unlikely. Today, Putin is again “conservative”, even if he has some “nostalgia” for the “great powers” in the Stalin era, but as long as they do not want to learn from Lenin and do not want to repeat the tragedy of January, it is just like the “nostalgia” of the French and the Germans after democratization.