By early 1918 in Russia, the Bolsheviks controlled only the north-western area of the Russian Empire (Petrograd and Moscow) together with the areas between and around them. Various opposition groups were formed against the Bolsheviks, under the new Provisional Government. The provisional government had proposed elections for a new assembly in late 1917; Lenin had seen that the Bolsheviks must act before this democratically elected government convened, but once in power, he allowed the elections to proceed. In the November 1917 polls, Bolshevik candidates won just under 25 per cent of the vote, while the moderate socialists polled over 40 per cent. Lenin sent his loyal troops to close down the constituent assembly the day after it convened. Russia was about to enter a bloody civil war, which was a culmination of the efforts of varied opposition groups to defeat the Bolsheviks, from which it would emerge into Leninist and Stalinist tyranny.
The causes of the civil war are diverse. A confusion of governments and opponents existed, some based on minorities and nationalities. From these, the Lithuanians, Moldavians, and Ukrainians declared independence. There was a Polish dispute over rights of sovereignty which raised tensions bet
To believe that revolution is possible without freedom, to believe those in power can, through their best and genuine intentions, impose socialism from above, as the Bolsheviks did, is indeed utopian, and it can be held that such utopian beliefs are too idealistic, and therefore bad for Russia in the long run. Moreover, leaders of anti-Bolsheviks known as the "Whites" went to rebellion with the aim of establishing a power base and advancing from it to the Bolshevik stronghold (Years of Change, 402). In the early 1920s, the appearance of such a large number of emigrants, opened a number of demographic, practical, and political issues. The members of the central committee may not have owned the deeds to the factories per se but they were in charge. With the ideal of "Russia one and indivisible" (Alexeyev), the White forces consisted of three main groups: revolutionary groups hostile toward the Bolsheviks, former officers of the Imperial army resentful of "betrayal at Brest Litvosk" (T A Morris) and national groups seeking independence for their particular minority. Countless revolutions were squandered and lost to Leninism and its heir, Stalinism. Power relations also have a part to play, and contrary to Engel's assumptions, power does not only come from ownership of capital. The 'character of capital' is not the only force underpinning the structure in society. In response to long term effects, there was a higher degree of stability and unity achieved through the creation of a homogenous group according to historian S. In 1921 Lenin established the New Economic Policy to strengthen the country, which had been drained by seven years of turmoil and economic decline. The argument by historian Aileen O'Carroll however is that no matter what the objective factors were or will be, the Bolshevik route always and inevitably leads to the death of the revolution. Chaos in social production didn't vanish, chaos in Stalin's time led to famine. One of the important side effects of the departure of large number of people from Russia was the fact that the international law regarding refugees (which is basically still used today) was built exactly on the experiences and problems of the Russian (as well as Armenian) refugees, following the WW I and the Russian Civil war. In response to the short term effects, the civil war created disorder in both the unity and stability of Russia, but in the long term, some argue that unity and stability was somewhat achieved through consistency.