All Power to the Soviets

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Postcard depicting an uprising during the Russian Revolution with the slogan “All Power to the Soviets” on a banner. C. 1960, Nabb Research Center, SC2016.020

Slogans played a critical role in the rise to power of the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution. Led by Vladimir Lenin, they understood how the right message at the right time could aid their movement.

Following the overthrow of czarist rule in February 1917, power was divided between the Provisional Government and the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ deputies. Lenin coined the phrase “All Power to the Soviets” (вся властьсоветам) to empower the Soviets and express total opposition to the Provisional Government. This rallying cry forced factions to choose sides, exposing those aligned with the Provisional Government. This conflict splintered the controlling parties, creating an opportunity for the Bolsheviks to gain support.

In July 1917, Lenin wrote the pamphlet “On Slogans,” stressing the need for new messaging to meet the changing tide of the revolution. He declared that “All Power to the Soviets” was no longer correct for the movement. It was set aside, but not for long. When the Bolsheviks gained control, they resurrected the slogan, but this time it took on a different meaning. The slogan now signified a complete consolidation of all authority to the Bolsheviks – the new ruling party of the Soviets.

All Power to the Soviets