As a result of the October Revolution, the power of the Workers and Peasants Deputies was declared but in fact, a Bolsheviks dictatorship was established. The Constituent Assembly where Bolsheviks had a minority was dispersed. Primarily, Left SRs also held office, but after the Brest Peace, they opposed the government. After their attempt of at a Revolution on July 6, 1918, they were excluded from the Soviets. According to the Constitution of 1918, Russia was declared the Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. In this republic, the "exploitative classes" were deprived of their main civic rights. The representation of workers and peasants was not equal to the Soviets; one worker's vote was equal to 10 peasant votes. During the Civil War, local power was often delegated to emergency bodies, such as Revcoms or Committees of the Poor. The Soviet regime was supported by an oppressive political police, the Cheka.
Just after the October Revolution, all banks, railways, and some big enterprises were nationalized. In 1918, all private business was prohibited. In the countryside, "land socializing" was carried out where landlords' and public lands were shared between the peasants. However, during the Civil War, all "provisional exceeds" were confiscated from the peasants (so-called Prodrazverstka - provisional allocation). All provisions and essentials (from bread and clothes to coffins) were rationed and distributed according the authorities' orders, and all consumers were divided into categories in accordance with their social position. This system was named "War Communism". As an immediate result of War Communism, devastation and famine began. It was possible to survive only by using the black market. This was persecuted by the authorities, yet flourished in spite of all the bans.
From its first days, the Bolshevik dictatorship was based on coercion and the suppression of any opposition. The assassination of M.S. Uritsky (head of the Petrograd Cheka) and the attempt on the life of V.I. Lenin became the excuse for the Red Terror. Mass executions of hostages and extra-judicial executions of people for belonging to the exploitative class were common practice. Tens of thousands of military officers, clerks and businessmen were killed. The former Russian Emperor was shot with all his family and many Great Princes shared the same fate.
Figures in the Tsarist regime guilty of organizing Jewish pogroms and the propaganda of pogroms also fell victims to the Red Terror. For instance, archpriest I. Vostorgov, the Minister of Justice of the Tsarist government, I.G. Shcheglovitov, a founder of anti-Semitism on a racist basis, and M.O. Menshikov, plus many figures of the Black Hundred. The terror caused by the Reds led to counter-terrorism and cruelty by the Whites.
The take-over of power by the Bolsheviks and the separate peace treaty with Germany faced mass, although discrete, resistance. In 1918, rebellions lead by the SRs spread over Russia. Because of an insurrection by the Czechoslovak Corps, anti-Bolsheviks controlled the territory from the Volga to the Far East. Primarily, the Socialist Committee of the Constituent Assembly held power there, but a revolt established the dictatorship of Admiral A.V. Kolchak. Admiral Kolchak declared himself "the governor of Russia". In the South, the Volunteer Army allied with Don and Kuban Cossacks and fought against the Bolsheviks. In the beginning of 1918, the Ukraine was occupied by Germans who set up the puppet regime of Hetman Skoropadsky. After the defeat of Germany in the war, in most parts of the Ukraine, the National-Socialist Directory headed by S. Petliura took power.
Military dictatorship was set up in the main centers of resistance to Bolshevism. Formally, the White Governments declared the slogan of an "indeterminate" future policy for Russia and its agrarian legislation. Most military leaders of the White armies were on the political Right. Monarchists and moderate Republicans (the Kadets) competed with each other. The national government on the outskirts of Russia was hostile to the Whites, who declared the slogan of a "single and undivided" Russia. The peasants who rebelled against the Prodrazverstka carried out by the Bolsheviks and the draft into the Red Army were also unhappy with the Whites' unwillingness to legalize shared landlords' lands. Strife among the anti-Bolsheviks and the class prejudices of the Right caused their defeat. By the end of 1920, the Civil War ended with the Bolsheviks victorious.
The Revolution caused the exacerbation of all ethnic problems, especially toward Jews. Though Jews F. Kaplan and L. Kanegisser were the only ones who tried to resist the Bolsheviks by means of personal terror, many Jews fought together with the Volunteer Army during its First Campaign. Jews seemed to be Soviet Power supporters in the people's opinion. Besides, Jews could not take part in the White Movement because of the extreme anti-Semitism of most of the White Guards. In Denikin's army, Jewish officers were banished from regiments. Jewish soldiers were harassed. Jews were kept out of any positions in the rear as well, even though the principle of ethnic equality was declared. In the Ukraine, under Petliura, Jews held some distinguished positions. However, Petliura's and Denikin's men organized Jewish pogroms with the encouragement and connivance of top commanders.
By 1921, the policy of War Communism had reached a dead end. Mass peasant rebellions, the mutiny of the Kronshtadt sailors, and full economic catastrophe forced the Bolsheviks to undertake the New Economic Policy (the NEP). Private trading and some business activity were allowed, and the Prodrazverstka was exchanged for a provisional tax. Nevertheless, ideological pressure was not weakened. The remnants of Socialist parties and groups were destroyed as well as any independent voluntary organizations that had been revived after the War. The best-known philosophers and writers were banished from Russia. The Orthodox Church suffered cruel persecution. The Bolsheviks tried to rekindle revolution in Germany and other countries. The first open Soviet budget (1922) directed two-thirds of expenditures to military needs and only 1.3% for education. However, the global revolution did not come about. The period of relatively peaceful coexistence with the West began. In December, 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic was established.
The queues for foods. 1918. Photo