No single factor can explain the success of the Bolsheviks in October 1917. How far do you agree?
In the February Revolution in 1917 the Bolsheviks were no more than a minor concern, but however by 1922 the Bolsheviks had gained resolute power. The Bolsheviks had many skills and talents as a party such as discipline and good organisation, but there were a number of other reasons that allowed the Bolsheviks to rise to power so quickly.
After the February Revolution, which saw the downfall of Tsarism a PG was set up. The new government essentially inherited all of the Tsar’s problems. It was a weak and unstable grouping of politicians trying desperately to gain some control over events. To begin with the first leader of the government was Prince Lvov, he had little experience of government, he hadn’t been elected by the people and therefore failed to command any authority from them. Instead a new leader was brought in, Kerensky who was a modern socialist and superb speaker, it was hoped that he would be able to bring about the change needed for this new government to establish itself. Another problem that the PG faced was the fact that it was stuck in a ‘dual-power’ system with the Petrograd Soviet so they were never truly fully in complete power. The PG had taken the unpopular decision to continue the war, they were afraid that if the war was brought to an end the precarious status quo on the home front might collapse under a wave of soldiers rushing to claim land for themselves. In the summer of 1917, Kerensky launched a major offensive against Germany, but the Russians made no headway and morale began to collapse. Russia took one more step towards chaos.
Expansion of Government Power During the Civil War and Reconstruction Contrary to what I believed in the past, the United States federal government retained and expanded their power and authority during the years of the Civil war along with the period of Reconstruction. Through drafts and monitored elections, they exercised this power during the Civil War. Then, as Reconstruction began, they ...
One aspect that the PG failed on was the constituent assembly, an assembly which was to be elected by the people. Many peasants wanted the assembly to be set up as soon as possible as they wanted the right own their own land. Although rights were recognised in principal, the PG was in no position to implement it. Kerensky delayed the summoning of the Constituent Assembly, this failure to take on land reforms lost them valuable support from the peasantry. This delay allowed the Bolsheviks to criticize the PG. Disorder spread to the countryside with many landowners on the receiving end of peasant’s anger; again the government could not control what was happening.
During the July Days opposition to the PG like sailors at the naval base of Kronstadt organised their own armed demonstration under Bolshevik slogans such as “all power to the Soviets” and marched into Petrograd. However with support from the Mensheviks and SR’s the PG was able to crush the rising. The July Days led to the discrediting of the Bolsheviks and Kerensky also used this opportunity to criticize Lenin personally by claiming that he was a German spy trying to undermine the Russian War Effort. Whilst the PG had managed to subdue any threats posed to them temporarily they failed to take advantage of the situation that the Bolsheviks were in and left them to gain strength again.
The next and final thing that finally led to the PG’s demise was the Kornilov Coup. After the July Days Kerensky made an attempt to assert control and appointed Kornilov as commander in chief to reassert discipline the army. There was continued strikes and unrest in Petrograd, Kornilov moved into Petrograd to suppress the unrest but at the last minute Kerensky ordered his arrest and had to call on the Soviet to help defend the city against what seemed to be an attempted coup by Kornilov. As result of this Kerensky had lost support from the army and there was now an upsurge in support for the Bolsheviks and Lenin as they had been the ones to stop the Kornilov Coup. Kerensky and the PG were left isolated and drifting towards the final collapse. Finally on October 25th solider, sailors and the Red Guards seized the main government offices in Petrograd. On the 26th a congress of soviets recognised the end of the PG and the legality of the new Council of the Peoples Commissars. The member was entirely Bolshevik.
... fearing a military takeover. Kerensky arrested Kornilov, who was innocent and loyal, and armed groups of workers, many Bolsheviks. This was a ... offices, the national bank and the Winter Palace in Petrograd. Now Lenin set about creating the world’s first communist state. Although ... appealed to the majority, the peasants and the workers. The support of the people was an extremely important factor, as ...
Of course the whole Bolshevik takeover wasn’t down to weakness of the PG. The Bolshevik party had key strengths.
The party had key characters such as; Lenin, he was tough and totally dedicated to policies and the revolution, he had been able to persuade his party of the necessity for immediate revolution. Trotsky was a great speaker and was able to motivate Bolshevik support. He supported and backed up Lenin, “Had Lenin not managed to come to Petrograd in April 1917, the October Revolution would not have taken place”.
The Bolsheviks policies were more in tune with the workers and soldiers aspirations, their slogans of “Peace Bread and all power to the Soviets” fitted perfectly with what the workers and soldiers wanted. Other parties claimed that they could never deliver on these promises they held in their slogans however their arguments were too complicated for the people to understand. This meant that they got the publics support. They also had their own newspaper, Pravda (“Truth”) which allowed them to spread propaganda easily and get their ideas across to the public.
The Germans financed the Bolsheviks because they knew that Lenin would cause unrest in Russia which is exactly what the Germans would’ve have wanted during the war. They also knew that if Lenin was able to seize power that he would end the war between Germany and Russia, therefore Germany financed the Bolsheviks giving them endless funds to campaign.
The Bolsheviks own army, the Red Guards, was set up and trained under Trotsky, they were totally dedicated to the revolution and well disciplined, it is easy to see how effective they were by just looking at the Kornilov Coup.
Apart from the weakness of the PG and the strengths of the Bolsheviks, they are several other factors that also come into play. Other parties existing at the time failed to make any impact, such as SR’s and the Mensheviks. After the February Revolution workers had become more radicalised and they were more prepared to support the party that seemed most in favour of Soviet Power. The PG held so little power by the time of October 1917 that it was hardly worth overthrowing, it had been described instead of an act of revolution that it was more an act of salvaging.
Bolshevik revolution The Bolshevik revolution occurred in November of 1917, its aim was to create a workers paradise and a dictatorship of the proletariat. By 1930, the Bolsheviks had imposed a totalitarian rule over Russia. This period can be divided into two distinct eras. Firstly, there was the period from 1917-1924, which included the decision to seize power, the civil war and a consolidation ...
The success of the Bolsheviks was very much a multiple factor case, the Bolsheviks gained power from the weaknesses of their rivals more than anything else, it could be described as a strength of the Bolsheviks that they were able to utilise the weakness of their rivals so well. Some historians believe that the revolution literally fell into the hands of the Bolsheviks because of the situation Russia found itself in. The Bolsheviks had also showed themselves to be skilful and thus were able to seize the moment. Lenin and Trotsky had shown themselves to be “masters of revolution”.