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Assess the importance of the Soviets to the Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917.

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Introduction

Assess the importance of the Soviets to the Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917. Historians have widely debated the importance of the Soviets to the Bolsheviks seizure of power. Where the more liberal, western historians under emphasise the role of the Soviets and giving the Bolsheviks no popular the mandate, Soviet historians over emphasise their role. Soviet historians give too much credibility to the Bolsheviks support from the Soviets. In fact although the Soviets did give some popular support to the Bolsheviks their importance lies, in their own radical nature and desire for change, which allowed Lenin and the Bolsheviks to use them and turn it into the 'October revolution' as we know it today. The Soviets were important in allowing the Bolshevik takeover due to their own radical nature. Throughout September and October the soviets became a lot more politicised and radicalised. Through their want for change, they actively went against the capitalist rule. By October bread rations were half of what they had been in February and this resulted in many strikes. Within the workforce there was widespread popular movement for an eight hour day, wage increases and workers being allowed to run their own factory. ...read more.

Middle

There is no doubt that there was a popular want for change however we must question whether it was economic motivation or political motivation. There were many unorganised groups whom formed their own organization and were of the most radical groups but had a low level of political consciousness. This is evidence for the Liberal interpretation that there was no popular mandate for the Bolsheviks but a more general movement. However in saying this, it must be taken into account when using evidence from liberal western historians the tensions during the cold war. The tensions between communist Russia and the Capitalist west causes the Liberal historians to stress the limitations of the Bolsheviks in gaining mass popular support. Moreover, we must acknowledge that many of the workers, identified with Bolshevik party line. They agreed with the hatred of the war, bitterness to the Bourgeoisie and moreover, had a drive for local level democracy through the local soviets and factory committees. This shows a commitment to socialism and not just change. We see this commitment and popular support of the Bolsheviks from the Soviets in the November election within the urban working class where they won 70% of the vote. ...read more.

Conclusion

This shows Lenin's popular mandate was almost completely distributed in Petrograd. Lenin used slogans such as 'all power to the Soviets' to try and mask the takeover as popular and the Bolsheviks having a majority when at no point was this the case. However the role of the Soviets can not be ignored, although the Bolsheviks had no popular mandate outside of Petrograd they still managed to takeover which shows further importance of the Soviets. The Bolsheviks managed to takeover through the Soviets giving them Petrograd and paving the way for them while having no popular mandate in the rest of Russia. To conclude, debate whether the Soviets were important is often overestimated giving full credit to Lenin and the Bolsheviks and their popular support and often underestimated giving the Bolsheviks no popular mandate. The Bolsheviks did have some popular mandate but the Soviets radicalism was the main factor, which allowed the Bolsheviks to takeover. Without their radicalism and want for change and Bolsheviks wouldn't have been able to gain support and unite their antagonisms. Therefore the Soviets were a necessary factor and of great importance in the October revolution. Maya Wegrzyn 13BLK ...read more.

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