The Russian Revolution set off a political earthquake. In February 1917 the Romanov monarchy tottered; in March it fell. This alone was an event of global significance. Russia and the other Allies were engaged in the Great War against the Central Powers. The Provisional Government, a shifting coalition of liberals and socialists, supplanted Emperor Nicholas II and its ministers proclaimed universal civil rights while assuming responsibility for national defence. They struggled to survive through months of political conflict and confusion. In October they succumbed to a seizure of power by Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks. This second revolution was of still greater importance than the first. The Bolshevik party was dedicated to a more radical brand of socialism than any socialist minister in the Provisional Government had espoused — and the Bolsheviks for this reason were also beginning to call themselves communists in order to distinguish themselves from their more cautious rivals. Decades of agitation and organisation in Europe and North America had not yet given birth to a government composed exclusively of socialists. Bolsheviks in Russia saw themselves as the vanguard of the forces of revolutionary transformation.
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