1917: The Nonviolent Russian Revolution


By Milan Rai

A double pamphlet from Peace News Press.

1917: The Nonviolent Russian Revolution and The Grassroots Working-Class Revolution that Lenin Crushed highlights the crucial role of mass nonviolent action in the Russian Revolution 100 years ago. 

The Russian Revolution started in Petrograd in February 1917 with a mass nonviolent uprising of women protesting against the lack of bread on International Women's Day, and continued through to the overthrow of the Provisional Government in October 1917 and the triumph of the Bolsheviks.

The role of mass nonviolent action - in the streets, in the factories, on the railways, and in the barracks - in the making of the revolution has never been properly emphasised. For example, the attempted coup by general Lavr Kornilov in August was defeated not by gunfire but by nonviolent action.


"Open-heartedness, persuasion and nonviolent civil resistance were all critically important to the success of the [Russian revolution] throughout 1917. Mass nonviolent action was vital in overthrowing the tsar in February, in defending the fledgling democracy from military coup in August, and in toppling the right-wing Provisional Government in October ...

"The point of this essay is not to pretend that it was one long Gandhian Salt March. The goal here is to see the Russian Revolution more clearly, and to hold up to the light some aspects that have been forgotten or obscured. There are extraordinary, inspiring, surprising moments of nonviolence that can and should be celebrated by nonviolent revolutionaries." 

Milan Rai, 1917: The Nonviolent Russian Revolution