Red October: Petrograd, 1917

One hundred years ago Russia was in a state of chaos. The February Revolution had overthrown the Tsar, but not clearly established any alternative system of government. Power was shared awkwardly between the Soviets (dominated by socialist groups - and increasingly by the Bolsheviks) and the Provisional Government (a dysfunctional coalition government of moderate socialists, liberals, and reactionaries). As tensions increased between the Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet, fears of a counter-revolution spread, and Russia’s military position in the First World War continued to worsen, the Petrograd Soviet voted in favour of establishing the Military Revolutionary Committee (MilRevCom) - for the explicit purpose of armed insurrection.

However, with the presence of a number of historically significant and ideologically opposed figures such as Trotsky and Stalin in one room, the committee can’t just concern itself with the propagation and protection of the revolution. When Russia is won, what sort of Russia should they begin to build for themselves and who will support them? Members of MilRevCom must therefore not simply focus on seizing the streets, bridges, and fortresses of Petrograd - but also on winning the hearts and minds of Russia and beyond.

The aftermath of the October Revolution would ultimately be tragic, but one hundred years ago the future seemed far from certain. As the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution approaches, delegates will find themselves retracing the footsteps of a movement that almost upended the entire international system, whose actions cast a long shadow over most of modern history, and whose successes briefly made another world seem possible...


Ben Nicols and Amanda Liem

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