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 significant influence on their downfall, but we must bear in mind that this decision was not based on blind refusal to admit defeat, but political reasoning. Russia was practically bankrupt and continuance of the war provided essential financial assistance from the West. Moreover, the Provisional Government felt obliged to continue the war out of loyalty to Britain and France. This was an unpopular decision, as there appeared to be few aims to the continued fighting or breakthrough successes. The PG gradually lost the support of a large proportion of the troops, regarded as little more than “peasants in uniform”, and were an obvious target for Bolshevik propaganda. Russia was an impoverished and backward power ...