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How and why did Bolsheviks seize power in Russia in 1917?


The Bolsheviks were a fraction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. Their leader was Vladimir Lenin. In October 1917 he lead Bolsheviks to a triumph in the Russian Revolution. From now on Russia became a single party state, which later became the Soviet Union. In this Essay the author would like to present an account of the events in which Bolsheviks took power in Russia and consider facts that made it possible.

The first signs of dissatisfaction among Russian society were seeable in the 1905. The main event was the “Bloody Sunday” – the army dispersed people who were carrying a petition to the Tsar Nicholas II. Many of them were killed. This caused bigger discontent of society and seriously decreased the Tsar’s prestige. Petersburg was paralyzed by many strikes. The Tsar however managed to survive this situation because the army supported him.

Now the author would like to present the main contributory factors of the February Revolution without which the October Revolution wouldn’t be able to take place. First very important cause were the peasants. Mainly they were very poor people often suffering from the hunger. Many of them were landless because there was not enough land for everyone. It can seem impossible, however despite Russia is a huge country, much of its land is impossible to cultivate because of the climate. Other important factor was the weakness of the Tsar. He was indecisive and opposed all reforms, which were threat to autocracy.

The effect of the February Revolution was the abdication of the Tsar. The Provisional Government was created. This fact was joyfully accepted throughout the country. The equality before the law; freedom of religion, speech, assembly; the right of unions were established. The Prime Minister – Alexander Kerensky who was very patriotic, believed that the continuation of the war was a necessary national duty. All the government’s efforts were directed toward defeat Germans and Austrians. Russian offensives were however not successful and social discontent among Russians was rising again. The Provisional Government had to share power with the Petrograd Soviet of Workers and Soldiers Deputies. This counter-government issued its own orders such as the famous Order No. 1 which led to a total collapse of the army discipline. Many soldiers began to go back to their villages.

In the long time the Provisional Government appeared to be very incapable of ruling Russia. It was unstable and unsure how to govern and lacked legitimate power to justify its actions. For an ordinary peasant not much has changed in comparison to the Tsarist Russia. Reforms and visible improvement in the peasant way of life were necessary if the government wished to gain their support and maintain its power. The government was however unable to introduce such reforms. It was a perfect opportunity for a very talented social leader called Vladimir Lenin and his party to take power in Russia.

In the beginning of 1917 Bolshevik Party possessed 25 thousand members and eight months later ten times more, however what werere the causes of so rapid growth of the popularity of the Bolshevik Party between February and October 1917? Very important were the populist slogans. Through this kind of propaganda Lenin attracted workers to support Bolshevik policy. The catch phrase "Peace, Bread, Land" became extremely popular with the peasantry. Using this policy Lenin was able to attract the peasant’s support by promising them land reform, an end to the war and an improvement in Russia's food supply. Other important slogan was “whole power to the soviet”. By that Lenin hide his intention to take power and furthered support for his party.
Summarising, all factors presented above had a very big contribution to the final success of the Bolshevik Party. Many historians say that the Bolsheviks had picked up the power from the ground. It can be true because circumstances, which occurred in Russia in that time, were very favourable for the Bolsheviks. Lenin by his slogans had attracted workers and peasants and the Provisional Government was unable to overcome this situation.

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