The Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic, more commonly referred to as Red Finland, was a theoretical precursor of an unrecognized Finnish socialist state. It was outlined during the Finnish Civil War, on 29 January 1918 by the Finnish People's Delegation, the Reds and Red Guards of the Finnish Social Democratic Party, after the socialist revolution of Finland on 26 January 1918.
Red Finland/FSWR was an attempt to establish a socialist nation, based on the legacy of Scandinavian-Finnish culture, socialist ideas originating from Central Europe and Finnish nationalism, including plans to expand the Finnish territory. The political visions included principles of democracy, but as Red Finland was primarily the formation of revolution and civil war, the acts of violence and warfare were emphasized in the policy. The Red Guards included a minor faction of Finnish Bolsheviks who supported association of FSWR to Soviet Russia. FSWR/Red Finland never gained a true status and form of state and republic as the Reds lost the Civil War on 5 May 1918.
The geographical area of Red Finland as well as the front line between White and Red Finland took shape approximately between 28 January and 3 February 1918, and it remained largely unchanged until general offensive of the Whites in March 1918.
The Finnish People's Delegation, mainly Otto Ville Kuusinen, formulated and set forth, on 23 February 1918, a draft for a constitution of Red Finland/FSWR, on the basis of the Finnish Social Democratic principles and mentality. The Marxist concept of dictatorship of the proletariat was absent from the program. Instead, it represented an idea of democratic socialism and it was influenced by the constitutions of Switzerland and United States, and French Revolution. The constitution model included most of democratic civil rights for the Finnish citizens, including an extensive use of referendum in political decision making, but private property rights were excluded and given to state and local administration. The draft was never finally formulated and approved in Red Finland, before the defeat of FSWR in the 1918 war.
The power political situation after the January Revolution in Finland raised a major question in terms of the constitution draft, among the Finnish (moderate) socialists: would the power gained via revolution allow democracy a true chance in Finnish society? Finally, militant, political terror, carried out by the Red Guards during the Finnish civil war, led to marked controversy between the principles of democracy and true life.
Although the Finnish Socialist Worker's Republic was supported by the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), led by V.I. Lenin, and the 1 March 1918 Red Treaty was signed between these two unstable socialist states, their true policies did not follow the ideas of international socialism. Instead, both factions proved to be nationalists, focusing on the benefits of their own nations. The goal of the Finnish Reds' majority was neutral and independent Finland, and some of them demanded annexation of Aunus and Viena of Russian Karelia and Petsamo in the far-north to Red Finland. The Russian-Finnish Red treaty had only minor importance for the Bolsheviks as they carried out peace negotiations with the German Empire. In the end, the fate of the Finnish Reds and FSWR was determined through the power political decisions made between Russia and Germany.
V.I. Lenin aimed to halt a complete collapse of Russia after the revolutionary year 1917. Prior to the October Revolution, in political opposition, Lenin emphasized the policy of nations' right to self-determination for the former parts of the Russian Empire. After the successful seizure of power in October 1917 and in January 1918, in the Petrograd area, the bolsheviks' power political strategy shifted gradually toward federalism. As for Finland, Lenin planned its annexation back to Russia, but the Russian Civil War, German-Russian Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Finland-operation of the German Army, the victory of the White Guards in the Finnish civil war and the marked nationalism among the Finnish socialists stalled his plan.
The warfare between the Reds and Whites took major attention and energy of the Red leadership. Therefore, formation of the local Red civil administration remained unfinished and waited for the result of the Civil War. The top and middle rank civil servants of the pre-civil war administration refused to co-operate with the Reds, and a new leadership had to be chosen and trained from the lower rank servants.
The Finnish Civil War ended in the defeat of the Finnish Red Guards and FSWR on 5 May 1918. After the war, the initially powerful and well-organized Finnish Social Democrats, born and bred in the relatively free and nationalistic social atmosphere, within the Scandinavian and Russian culture, and affected primarily by socialist ideas of Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia (pre-World War I Austria-Hungary), were split in two. The moderate socialists continued their pre-1918 political culture, adhered to the society and political system of Finland, while the far-left faction formed the Communist Party of Finland in August 1918 in Moscow, with the main leaders living in exile in Russia and a marked part of the common supporters living in Finland.