Bolshevik Success in 1917
How and why were the Bolsheviks able to seize power in Russia in 1917? When the February Revolution of 1917 erupted, the Bolshevik’s were a minor concern and had no direct involvement in this initial bourgeoisie revolution. Prominent Bolshevik leaders like Lenin were abroad at the time and members were divided over the party’s purpose in Russia. Notwithstanding this, by 1922, the Bolshevik Party had assumed resolute power in Russia and consolidated their authority. Nicholas II’s abdication had created political instability in Russia, leaving the Provisional Government in Petrograd to assumed power over Russia. Unfortunately, the Provisional Government lacked legitimacy to justify its actions. There was no tradition of government rule in Russia and many people were actually opposed to it. As a self-appointed body, many questioned the Government’s authority to rule. The Provisional Government also lacked a charismatic leader, which only aggravated the situation. Despite attempts to ameliorate their position like the appointment of Alexander Kerensky as leader, even his political talent could not improve the PG’s popularity. Historians recognise that the Provisional Government’s continuance of the war was a signif
His Red Guards also played a vital part in the seizure and maintenance of power. Once the Bolsheviks had achieved a majority on 31str August 1917, they were able to manipulate the other parties. Russia was practically bankrupt and continuance of the war provided essential financial assistance from the West. This event presented the Provisional Government as weak and vulnerable. Despite the misfortune of the "July Days" (worker uprising that Bolsheviks were ultimately forced to support), the Bolsheviks were able to manipulate these events, increasing their solidarity and association with the workers, who looked towards the Bolshevik leadership for guidance. He was also eager to capture support of rural peasants regarding the land issue. This also benefited the Bolshevik"tms position, as the SRs and Mensheviks became associated with unpopular policies that the PG pursued, such as the war. His catchphrase "Peace, Bread, Land", became extremely popular with the peasantry, encompassing an end to war, land reform and an improved food supply. After a blank shot was fired by the Battleship Aurora as a signal, they moved in to take the Winter Palace, where the Provisional Government was sitting. Lenin called for a second revolution, where the Soviet would seize power. However, the attack was never to take place, because railway workers under Bolshevik influence refused to operate the trains bringing Kornilov"tms army to Petrograd. Lenin was a hard-nosed leader, refusing to co-cooperate with other parties. The war also meant that Lenin"tms key issues of "peace, bread and land" could not be addressed. For example, Soviet Order Number One stated that the people were to obey orders given by the Provisional Government, as long as they did not contradict Soviet orders. Although Lenin established principles, the organisation of party actions, were largely due to Trotsky.
Some topics in this essay:
Provisional Government, July Days,
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