To what extent was Lenin crucial to the Bolshevik seizure of power in October 1917? On 24th October 1917 the Lenin and the Bolsheviks led a revolution in Russia. The Bolshevik Red Guards led a revolution against the Provisional Government by seizing control of stations, telephone exchanges, post offices, the national bank and the Winter Palace in Petrograd. Now Lenin set about creating the world’s first communist state. Although he was a strong influence, he was not solely responsible for the outbreak of revolution.
There are other important causes of the Bolshevik seizure of ower, such as the weakness of the Provisional government and Kerenskys mistakes. Also other important factor was the actions of Trotsky and the timing and luck of the Bolsheviks. However, Lenin was, toa large extent, crucial to the Bolshevik seizure of power because he presented his April thesis, which gave the people of Russia an awakening to the communist aim. Lenin was important to the Bolshevik seizure of power as he was able to manipulate public opinion using slogans and propaganda.
This was also shown early in the year, before Lenin’s return to Russia from Switzerland. The Bolsheviks in Russia had printed in ‘Pravda’ (their newspaper) that their members and followers should support the Provisional Government, and also that they had given serious thought to the idea of combining with the Mensheviks. This was all very contrary to what Lenin wrote in his ‘April Theses’ which clearly laid out his views and beliefs on the subject. A key point of his ‘April Theses’ was “No Support for the Provisional Government”, yet without him his party were proposing just that.
Lenin as an individual was able to force the Bolsheviks to follow his beliefs nd goals and without him they may never have chosen this course of action at all. Through his April thesis, particularly the slogans “Peace, Bread, Land” and “All Power to the Soviets”, he was able to harness the support of the Russian people. These slogans appealed to the majority, the peasants and the workers. The support of the people was an extremely important factor, as this is the support which determined that there would be little resistance to the Bolshevik revolution.
This shows Lenin’s importance in the occurrence of the October Revolution. Lenin’s character as an individual was a vital reason to the success of the Bolsheviks. Prior to the February Revolution, the Bolshevik party was not the most powerful. Lenin was strong, determined and dedicated to the revolution. His speeches were inspiring. The “April Theses” forced through key policy decisions. Lenin rewrote Marx’s ideas, he believed the Bourgeois revolution can be followed immediately by a socialist revolution. Which was different to the Bolshevik views but after he presented his ideas he won over the Bolsheviks.
Lenin’s leadership, and his usage and manipulation of events taking place in Russia after his return, facilitated their ability to seize control. The failure of the Provisional government was also a key reason why the Bolsheviks seized power in October 1917. In February, the constitutional monarchy reluctantly granted in 1905 by the Tsar collapsed following riots over food shortages and the continuing slaughter of Russian soldiers in the World War l. Tsar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate and a provisional government came into power I . existed to till the void ot ower in the chaos of rioting and the Bolsheviks did not accept any part in it. Disassociating himself and the party from the Provisional Government was to prove a wise decision by Lenin. Despite early acceptance of the Provisional Government by the people, it soon lost popularity in the face of Russia’s continuing presence in the war and loss of life. They also became unpopular when took the peasants land This made Russia a fertile ground for Bolshevik revolutionary ideas. The Bolsheviks came to power at an especially volatile time in Russian history – the Provisional
Government was weak-willed, disorganized, and ripe for Bolshevik insurrection. Kerenskys mistakes, as a leading member of the Provisional Government, were also a important reason in the Bolsheviks seizure of power. He served as Minister of War under Prince Lvov before becoming leader of the Provisional Government in July 1917. Kerensky, as a Menshevik, was a moderate socialist who saw a need to work with the Liberals in order to bring about change. He was a superb speaker but he struggled to remain in control of events during the summer of 1917: the June offensive.
His attempt to revitalise the Russian army against Germany failed and the confusion caused by his role in the Kornilov Affair greatly undermined his position. General Lavr Kornilov replaced the commander-in-chief, Brusilov, after the failed June Offensive. A myth that was present in 1917 was that Kornilov planned a coup d’©tat against the provisional government. When Kornilov ordered troops into Petrograd, not on the bases of this myth but as he was concerned of a left-wing radical plot against the government, Kerensky panicked fearing a military takeover.
Kerensky arrested Kornilov, who was innocent and loyal, and armed groups of workers, many Bolsheviks. This was a vital for the Bolsheviks, and their future success in seizing power, because they are now seen as defenders and their numbers increased. They were also still armed from the Kornilov affair. Kerensky and the Provisional government were now completely undermined. Trotsky and the timing of the uprising are also a key reason by the Bolsheviks were able to seize power in October 1917. The Bolsheviks claimed they were acting on behalf of the Soviet who were in oalition with the Provisional government.
Although Kerensky was aware the Bolsheviks were planning some kind of takeover, he did not take any pivotal action. The takeover was organised and almost bloodless. The planning of the takeover was the responsibility of Trotsky, a leading Social democrat who had Joined the Bolsheviks in May. This was a plan of Lenin’s, as he hoped it would hide the Bolshevik involvement. The planning was handed over to the military revolutionary committee of the Petrograd Soviet, who Trotsky was chairman. Trotsky was responsible for the akeover being carried out smoothly and efficiently.
Trotsky played an important role in organising the Bolshevik seizure of power. In conclusion, toa large extent Lenin was crucial to the Bolshevik seizure of power in October 1917. Lenin was a brilliant leader – a professional revolutionary who was ruthless, a brilliant speaker, a good planner with ONE aim: to overthrow the government. The Bolsheviks were well-led. Lenin used both the war and the failure of the Provisional government to his advantage by saying how he would stop the war and take over from the Provisional
Government who didn’t seem to be listening to the people. His strong personality and ty to communicate well witn the people gave the Bolsheviks many supporters in the revolution and so ultimately gave them the upper hand against the Provisional Government. Lenin changed the Marx theory, by skipping capitalism – Marxist Leninism, therefore Communism was now seen as conceivable. The Bolshevik party was the only party that opposed the Provisional government, as the provisional government was unpopular, the Bolsheviks once again gained a lot of support.
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