To what extent can seizure of power by lenin and bolsheveiks in october 1917 be explained by the influence of the war?
The First World War that occurred between the years 1914 to 1918 had both direct and indirect impact on the political, economic, and social systems of Russia. The last Tsar of Russia-Nicholas 2 had persisted in putting the Russian forces in the battlefield against the revolutionists and citizens’ wishes. The February 1917 Russian revolution led by different political groups including the Bolsheviks saw the ouster of Nicholas 2 and the imperial government (Van 2014, p. 177). The provisional government that took over had strengths and weakness. Some of the strengths include that it had the support of the Petrograd, a council that was democratically elected and thus accepted by citizens. Another strength was that the provisional government had the backing of the army generals and thus could be able to command authority across the state and internationally. The main weaknesses include first that it persisted on fighting in the war, which citizens were against, and that it did not bring up land reforms for majority peasants and was illegitimate as it was not duly elected. The Bolsheviks used different tactics to overthrow the provisional government. These included forming of the Red Army to fight the loyal forces and bring down the palace; infiltrating General Kornilov’s army by Bolshevik lobbyists convincing them to revoke their loyalty to him and; the use of the “All Power to Soviets” strategy, where the soviets (councils) which could be democratically elected unlike the provisional government, could be given power to control the country. The events of October 1917 included the return of Vladimir Lenin from Finland, the influence of the soviets to support the overthrow, street demonstrations spearheaded by Bolsheviks and the Red Army that brought down the palace occupied by the provisional government and an eventual takeover of power by the Bolsheviks. The short-term factor that led to the revolution included the confusion in the Russian military camps of the Russian forces, making the country vulnerable to opposition agenda, which discouraged soldiers from continuing with a war. Long-term factors included deteriorating economic factors including high taxes, and social problems such as unemployment and rising food prices. One interpretation of the factors leading to the revolution was that Germany had funded the Bolsheviks to destabilize Russia, which had been more powerful under Nicholas 2. On the other hand, the First World War brought about economic and social problems in Russia making the citizens to demand a proper leadership that will get the country out of the war and bring about positive change.
Strengths and the Weaknesses of the Provisional Government
In regard to strengths first, the provisional government linked with the Petrograd, a soviet that was democratically elected and thus, had the support of a section of sailors, workers an even the Russian citizens (Van 2014, p. 177). The fact that the provisional government had helped bring down the TSA and Nicholas 2, gave it legitimacy in combination with the support of the Petrograd. As a result, it was able to stay in power since February 1917 to October, when the Bolsheviks took over. Another, strength is that majority of the Russian Army Generals, at the war front, backed the provisional government. As a result, it was able to hold on to power, successfully defeating the attempted coup by the Bolsheviks in July 1917, among other demonstrations.
In terms of weaknesses first, the provisional government’s persistence under Alexander Kerensky to continue with the war, which at this time was not supported by majority of the citizens came as his downfall (Van 2014, p. 177). However, the Russian army’s final offensive under Kerensky that was unsuccessful against the Germans in June 1917 by the remaining loyal troupes failed. The morale of the army that was part of the provisional government’s strength increasingly collapsed, especially influenced by Lenin and Bolsheviks who infiltrated the army and discouraged some sections from keeping loyal to the war and Kerensky (Bobroff 2013, p. 56). Secondly, the provisional government had not been duly elected and its adamancy in enacting land reforms made its hold on power gave the Bolsheviks the chance to turn the citizens against it. These were the major reasons for its downfall later in October 1917.
The Key Tactics Used By Lenin
The first tactic that Vladimir Lenin used to help the Bolsheviks take power was to form the Red Army, assisted by Leon Trotsky a politician and strategist. The army consisted of armed and trained workers. This army helped bring down the provisional government’s buildings including the palace in the October 1917 offensive (NikitinÐ° 2014, p. 87-104). Secondly, Leon Trotsky and Lenin infiltrated General Kornilov’s army with convincing messages that made the General lose their loyalty. The General’s attempt to overthrow the provisional government in August failed because of the Bolshevik’s strategic influence of his loyal soldiers that made them to ignore his orders (NikitinÐ° 2014, p. 87-104). Lastly, Lenin used the “All Power to Soviets” strategy, where the soviets (councils) which were democratically elected unlike the provisional government, could be given power to control the country. Majority of citizens agreed to this and as the soviets were formed, they allowed the Bolsheviks to be the main leaders in the country, promising reforms and end to the war to the citizens.
The Events of October 1917
In October 1917, Vladimir Lenin returned from Finland, where he had moved on exile, to spearhead the overthrow of Alexander Kerensky, the head of the provisional government. The Bolsheviks had formed the Red Army, which at this time was backed by several soldiers who had returned from the war, and had abandoned the war front against the Germans (NikitinÐ° 2014, p. 87-104). . The Bolsheviks influenced citizens against the provisional government by promising an end to the war, and land reforms, which could see peasants, regain the control of more and in Russia. Further, the Bolsheviks were supported by the Petrograd and the soviets, which had been duly elected. In fact, the shipping companies provided the Bolshevik Red Army with the ship that they used to bring down don the palace of the provisional government. The revolution was accompanied with huge street demonstrations against the government and later, the Red Army overthrew the government, giving powers to the Bolsheviks, supported by majority of the soviets (NikitinÐ° 2014, p. 87-104). Therefore, Vladimir Lenin used the Soviets to gain power over the provisional government.
Short term and Long –term factors that Led to the Revolution
As a long-term factor, the war influenced the deterioration of the economic state of Russia and thus the need to find a solution, a move that was envisaged in the Bolshevik agenda in their October 1917 revolution. Due to the long days of the war, there was increase in the cost of food and fuel within the state (Akarca 2011, p. 75). Inflation was also shooting day by day and this caused anarchy among the Russian population. Tsar government, later taken over by the provisional government under Kerensky, engaged most crucial resources to be used in the war. As a result, the government saw it fit to increase taxes in order for everyone to patriotically contribute to the war. However, the rising prices of food rendered the country ungovernable as it led to continuous rev0loutaiosn and demonstrations especially after the ouster of the Tsar Nicholas 2(Tarasova 2015, p. 34). The world war’s influence especially on the economic sector of Russia provided the ripe opportunity for the Bolsheviks to sell their agenda to the people of Russia, who were really feeling the heat of the war.
Secondly as a long-term factor, the world war led to lots of social problems in Russia, making the country ungovernable, and thus providing an opportunity for the opposition parties to gain civil support. On the onset of the war, many Russians moved to the cities to work in the military weaponry production companies (Tarasova 2015, p. 34). As the war continued, the transportation infrastructure and communication systems deteriorated, making it difficult for peasants to move their lesser products to the markets. The situation worsened when the agricultural sector plummeted, making the country to have a high demands for both food and fuel (Tarasova 2015, p. 34). Social movements including the first Soviet at Petrograd, Bolsheviks, and the Mensheviks among others moved in to agitate the civilians in their own different ways to demonstrate against the provisional government at different times of 1917. The factory workers, sailors among other groups of workers that formed Bolsheviks Red Army against the provisional government in October 1917 under Lenin had suffered the social problems and thus vulnerable to radicalization by these individuals (NikitinÐ° 2014, p. 87-104). Trotsky, who was a major partner and strategist, trained these groups prior to their armed battle to take over the palace and to oust the provisional government.
Lastly, as a short-term factor, the war brought about confusion in the military camps of the Russian forces, making the country vulnerable to opposition agenda, which discouraged soldiers from continuing with a war, which they were likely going to lose, based on deteriorating economy, support, and the good will from citizens (Tarasova 2015, p. 34). The failure of the June offensive against Germany and the later failure of an attempted coup in August 1917 by the Russian army general Kornilov had a huge impact on the country. The failed revolt by Kornilov strengthened the Bolsheviks (Hughes 2009, p. 198). They were able to martial support brought back Lenin from Finland on exile, and made him the leader after the Bolsheviks took over power.
Different Interpretations of the Factors
The first interpretation of the above factors especially the growth in the influence of the Bolsheviks, is said to have been funded by the Germans. The overthrow of the powerful Tsar government early in February 1917 is said to have been assisted by the German funding of the Bolsheviks and the then provisional government by the enemy governments, which provided asylum for several individuals on exile including Lenin. The overthrow of the Nicholas 2 thus brought up the social and economic problems, which were crucial factors that contributed to the war.
Another interpretation is that the social and economic factors that led to the October revolution were as a result of the First World War (Tarasova 2015, p. 34). The war made the government concentrate on funding loyal soldiers in battle, while ignoring reforms and the problems faced by citizens. In fact, the continued defeats and the country’s call for peace was the arsenal, used by the political parties such as the Bolsheviks and institutions like soviets, to stage the October 1917, revolution.
In conclusion, this essay presents the strengths and weaknesses of Russia’s provisional government, the tactics used by the Bolsheviks to stage the October 1917 revolution, and the events of this particular revolution. The essay also includes a discussion on the short and long-term factors that led to Russia’s October 1917 revolution. Further, there the different interpretations of the factors that led to the revolution have been highlighted including the indication that Germany funded the initial and later revolutions and that the first world war influenced the economy and social status negatively triggering the revolution.
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