One hundred years ago, on the 25th October 1917 Red Guards, foot soldiers of the Bolsheviks, stormed the Winter Palace in Petrograd (modern day St Petersburg), to unseat the Russian Provisional Government. This was one of the most pivotal moments of the 20th Century. Tsarist Russia had been engaged, for over two and half years, fighting, rather unsuccessfully, the Germans, during World War I.
Unemployment was high, food was scarce, and the war was very unpopular. In February 1917 there were mass protest, and clashes with the police in Petrograd, this then led to the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, and the end of the Romanov dynasty. The Tsar was then replaced by a Provisional Government led by Alexander Kerensky, but he continued to wage war against Germany, and also became increasing unpopular.
The Bolsheviks, who were led by Vladimir Lenin, were one of many socialist parties in Russia at the time. Lenin was a politician and intellectual, heavily influenced by the work of Karl Marx. In 1917 he was living in Zurich, Switzerland, but after the February Revolution was keen to get back into Russia to directly lead the Bolsheviks. Spotting an opportunity to destabilise Russia, and its war effort, the Germans allowed Lenin and a handful of other Russian dissidents, to return to Russia in a ‘sealed train’ in July 1917. Lenin agitated for the socialists, known collectively as Soviets to take power. But eventually in October 1917 it was his Bolsheviks alone, under the management of Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin, who seized the initiative and took power. What followed was peace with Germany, the Red Terror, which included mass arrests and executions, and the Russian Civil War, which lasted from 1918-1922. Through these processes Lenin consolidated power and in effect established a Marxist dictatorship, which was then inherited by Stalin in 1924 after Lenin’s death. Not much glory in revolution here then, only oppression, and murder; millions of Russians died at the hands of Joseph Stalin.
This might all sound like a nice little history lesson, but what relevance does this have for us today? Well it does provide part of the historical backdrop, to understand modern Russia today, and it also acts a salutary lesson about how not to change a political and economic system. Violence only begets more violence. An illegitimate leadership will aim to hold onto power by force and then justify its actions through lies and ideology. Revolting against how things appear on the outside is not the path to follow. If you want change in the world around you, the best way of achieving that is to create the change within yourself first.
I think that we do need change, and plenty of it, in this world of ours, and the most impactful way of creating that is to change our ideas about who we are, and what our capabilities are. This is why I have been teaching NLP for over ten years now. The NLP toolkit allows people to let go of old patterns that no longer work for them and to become self-empowered. This way they can have more of what they want and less of what they don’t want.
The revolution that beckons us today is not one grounded in political or economic ideology. If we are to have any revolution at all today it needs to be nothing less than a full 180° change in our understanding of who we think we are, and how we create our experience. It is not the barricades on the streets that need to be stormed, it is obsolete thinking and ideas that we have used to run lives so far, that need to be ousted from power. Once we do that the political and economic structures that we use will change to reflect our new thinking.
Comrades today we march not to the Winter Palace, but to the training room. We are not shouting ‘Power to the People’, instead we proclaim the power that is already within people, and yes, that means the power that resides within you.
“Everyone think of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Leo Tolstoy