The Provisional Government
“In what does this dual power consist? In the fact that side by side with the Provisional Government, the government of the bourgeoisie, there has developed another government, weak and embryonic as yet, but undoubtedly an actually existing and growing government — the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.”-Vladimir Lenin, A Dual Power
When Michael, Nicholas’ brother, refused to take the throne, two groups were left to guide the country, The ‘Provisional Duma Committee’ was formed by Duma deputies, and respresented propertied society. On the other hand, the soviet ‘Petrograd Soviet of Workers and Soldiers Deputies’ represented workers, peasants, and soldiers. The soviet group agreed to let the Duma Committee form the Provisional Government. The Provisional Government aimed to govern based on democratic or liberal principles: to guarantee civil rights, to establish the rule of law, and to grant more autonomy for minorities. But most of all, they wished to decentralize the power and authority invested solely in the tsar, and make it more reachable to the people. Committees sprung up like grass, and tsar governors slunk away in the shadows. Even peasants formed their own unions. This call to action was short lived however as the Provisional Government led by the Duma Committee quickly lost support with their Declaration on War Aims, and the Petrograd Soviet had to step in to help.
“The whole country must be covered with a network of Soviet organizations, which must be in close relation to one another. Each one of these organizations, including the smallest, is absolutely autonomous in questions of local character, but their decrees must be of a character corresponding with the decrees and laws of the larger Soviet organizations and the decrees of the Central power, of which they are a part. Thus is being organized a united uniform state — the Republic of Soviets.”
Even before the coming of Lenin, there were radicals in the Petrograd Soviet who wanted to overthrow the ‘bourgeois Provisional Goverment,’ but were kept in check by the party’s leaders. Lenin augmented this radicalist belief with his April Theses that demanded the fall of the dual power of the Provisional Government, and instead establish a soviet government. This left a schism between socialism and liberalism in the government.
This post engages the problems of “dual power” (where political power is “shared” by the Provisional Government and the Soviets) and suggests how complicated the political picture was in the summer of 1917! Check out Dan’s post, http://blogs.lt.vt.edu/kathaskew/2014/09/14/the-provisional-government/, which focuses on the April Theses in particular.