The Red Terror set the stage for Stalin’s bloody reign in the successor state of the Soviet Union, in this way any hope for the flowering of democracy during the February Revolution was destroyed by the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution. These hopes were put further out of reach by atrocities such as the Red Terror during the Russian Civil War, which set a precedent for violent repression that continued through the Soviet Union and the reign of Joseph Stalin. Under Stalin the Soviets established concentration camps known as Gulags and carried out the largest mass repression of history, imprisoning tens of millions of Russians from 1929 to 1953.
The Red Terror established a political reality that could only generate further atmospheres of paranoia that reached a bloody climax under Stalin, but the Bolsheviks were already targeting other socialist factions during the reign of terror, anyone that strayed from their prescription of Russia's political future. In much the same way as Stalin the Bolsheviks were simply vying for power, not a truly democratic, socialist, or worker-led state. Even leading Marxist theorists of the time criticised the terrorism of the Bolsheviks, as well as other similar bloody revolutions. Karl Kautsky blamed terrorist tactics such as the Red Terror for destroying meaningful change during revolutions, deviating from the common association that revolution always ends in violence, Kautsky criticised the Bolsheviks for turning aside from their true socialist path.