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How important was Lenin in the consolidation of Bolshevik rule by 1924?

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Introduction

How important was Lenin in the consolidation of Bolshevik rule by 1924? When the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917, nobody thought they would last for long. However, by 1924 the Reds had consolidated their power. Several factors contributed to this. I will look at how important Lenin's role was, compared to the other factors. Lenin made a big difference regarding the success of the Bolsheviks. It seems that in several situations 'Lenin's line was eventually followed' (1), despite opposition from party members. When he returned from Finland in 1917, Lenin announced his new radical policies. His 'lunatic ideas' (2) were published in the April Theses. He wanted land for the starving peasants, an end to the war on Germany and workers to take power through the Soviet. The Bolsheviks gained support from the soldiers, peasants and workers. Lenin and his government wanted to deal with problems that Russians believed the Provisional Government should have solved, but didn't. If Lenin hadn't voiced his radical ideas the Bolsheviks may have not had as much support from the people. This could have led to the Bolsheviks falling from power or a defeat against the Whites in the Civil War. Lenin's presence was, apparently, vital for the October Revolution to go ahead and be a success. Trotsky believed that 'had Lenin not managed to come to Petrograd...the October Revolution would not have taken place.' ...read more.

Middle

Eventually the party decided, again, to back Lenin. There were divisions in the party due to the discontent in the cities over War Communism and if the Bolsheviks were to hold on to their power, they needed to stay united. Political repression, in the form of censorship, attacks on the Church and attacks on political rivals, accompanied the NEP. This was to prevent the return of Capitalism, which could result in a political system based on a coalition government. The NEP was probably vital for keeping the Bolsheviks in power. The peasants and workers were on the point of rebellion. Although Lenin played a big part in the success of the Reds, many other factors helped them consolidate their rule. Trotsky played a huge part during the Civil War, providing the Reds with a good war leader and strategist. The Whites were divided and lacked co-ordination with the allied armies. They were spread out allowing Trotsky to co-ordinate his forces and fight the White armies one at a time. The Bolsheviks were also in a better geographical position, based near Moscow, with the advantage of internal lines of Communication and control of the railways. He ensured tough discipline in the army, with the death penalty being used often, whereas the Whites had a problem with desertion. Had Trotsky not been appointed War Commissar, by Lenin, in 1918, the Reds chance of winning the Civil War would have been greatly reduced. ...read more.

Conclusion

Lenin also played a big part with his radical policies and ability to bring others round to his ideas, while keeping the party united. Shortly after they seized power, the Bolsheviks didn't have many supporters. People were angry, as the Bolsheviks had said they were seizing power on behalf of the Soviet, but they then didn't want to share power with anyone. Terror, in the form of the Cheka, was used to prevent Russians from speaking out against the Bolsheviks, particularly around the time of War Communism, when the Bolsheviks were in trouble. It was also used to eliminate political opponents, no matter how weak. Lastly, the weakness of opposition played a big part, allowing the Bolsheviks to set up a government after seizing power, win the Civil War and finally consolidate their power. I don't believe Lenin to be the most important factor in the consolidation of Bolsheviks' power, but he was among the three most important. (1) - C. Read, quoted by C. Corin and T. Fiehn in Communist Russia under Lenin and Stalin (2) - N.N.Sukhanov, quoted in Communist Russia under Lenin and Stalin (3) - Trotsky, in a letter to Preobrazhensky in 1928, quoted in Communist Russia under Lenin and Stalin (4) - quoted from Communist Russia under Lenin and Stalin (5) - Zinoviev addressing the Bolshevik Party, quoted from Communist Russia under Lenin and Stalin (6) - quoted from Communist Russia under Lenin and Stalin ...read more.

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