Order Number 1 issued by the Petrograd Soviet is interesting to me because of its impact in bringing the military onto the Soviets side. The soldiers were generally drawn from the peasant population and not treated particularly well by their officers. There was a breakdown in discipline in the ranks and the soldiers helped participate in the February Revolution in 1917 and were concerned about repercussions from the military and Duma if they returned to their posts. They went to the Petrograd Soviet for help and also for safety. The Soviet issued Order Number One which protected the soldiers and also made their lives noticeably better because it erased part of the class structure in the military. Order Number One had 7 provisions; 1. Representatives to the Petrograd Soviet should be selected from every unit in both the Army and Navy. 2. The representative should arrive with written credentials to the Duma Building on March 15th. 3. The military is subordinate to the Soviet of Workers and Soldiers Deputies. 4. Orders from the Duma should only be followed when they do not conflict with orders from the Soviet. 5. Military weapons and equipment is at the disposal of the Soviet Committee in each unit, not the officers of the unit. 6. While in service soldiers should maintain strict discipline, but when out of uniform the soldiers are to be treated the same as every other citizen, specifically citing interactions with officers as soldiers no longer had to salute while out of uniform. 7. Officers are no longer to be addressed as your excellency. Any situation of an officer being rude to a soldier is to be reported to the company level committee of the Soviet.
These orders advanced the class level of the military by making the soldiers equal with the rest of society. Because the common soldiers were generally from the country side and were peasants they used to be treated poorly compared to the treatment of the officers, who were generally cosmopolitan. This order also creates the atmosphere of equality between all citizens because no where is hierarchy more important or defined as in the military where officers are saluted and the common soldiers put to work. By creating this equality in the military the Soviet created a prototype of what the rest of society should be like. I think that even though this message protected the rioting soldiers from consequences in returning to their units, it has the effect of either undermining the discipline of the entire military because officers would not be able to maintain control of their men, or creating an atmosphere of laziness, which while connected to discipline is something different. A lack of discipline could be a breakout of violence because of little fear of consequences or punishment. An atmosphere of laziness would be the result of ineffectiveness and inefficiency caused by a lack of motivation and direction from higher ups because their authority has been erased by Order Number One.
The order was meant to create order out of the chaos that was the ongoing revolution against the Tsar. The entire year of 1917 was chaotic with major events happening in February and October that led to the abdication of the Tsar and eventually the Russian Civil War in the early 1920’s. Soviet Order Number 1 was meant to demonstrate the equality amongst the people of what would become the Soviet Union, although for practicality purposes eventually military officers would have control over the military, although still at the behest of the party officials.