• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Were the Bolsheviks a positive or negative force for change in Russia?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

IB HL English Were the Bolsheviks a positive or negative force for change in Russia? Under the leadership of the two Bolshevik dictators Vladimir Lenin (1917-1924) and Joseph Stalin (1924-1939), Russia underwent drastic political, social, and economic changes following the years of the 1917 revolution. Resulting in the rapid industrialization of Russia, such as the construction of power stations, factories and agricultural developments. The Bolsheviks allowed for the backward and primitive country of Russia to flourish and become one of the most industrialized countries in the world. It was clear that Russia had made significant progress in the years under the Bolshevik rule however, the methods and the techniques used were very brutal and cruel, destroying somewhere in the neighborhood of 25-35 million Russian lives (Brooman). This thus leads us to believe that instead of Marx's "dictatorship of the proletariat" it became merely the dictatorship of the Bolsheviks. Consequently, historians have argued whether the Bolshevik rule was a positive or negative force for change in Russia. The Bolsheviks came to power intending to introduce sweeping economic changes to wipe out "all exploitation of man by man" and to eliminate "the division of society into classes." (Lowe) To start Lenin sought to fulfill the three promises he made during the revolution," Bread, Peace, Land," by issuing a number of decrees. The first in which he issued was the Land Decree, which took private property from noble and church estates and gave them to the peasants. The second decree issued was the Nationalizing Decree, which nationalized banks, foreign trade, and major industries. The third decree issued was the Peace Decree, which sought to make peace with Germany under the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. ...read more.

Middle

In 1922 the Labor law was introduced which made eight hours work days, two weeks paid vacation, social insurance benefits (pay on sick day), and unemployment and old-age pensions (Lee). However in spite of all this unemployment was still on the rise and in 1924 unemployment was still 8.5 million. Education was also offered however, history and ancient languages were abolished, and sciences encouraged (Howarth). Even though the Bolsheviks were able to hold onto power through the civil war, revolts, and famine, in 1924 Lenin died and the Bolsheviks were left without a leader. Everyone thought that the intelligent and notorious Trotsky, hero of the Bolshevik Revolution, would come to power, however, too much amazement this was not the case. The meticulous planning of the skillful politician Joseph Stalin, allowed him to come to power and become the new leader of the Bolshevik party. Improving Russia immensely through industrialization, increasing productivity and transforming Russia into one of the most powerful industrial nations in the world. However, although Stalin created great advances in the Russian economy, he still managed to cause the death of somewhere in the neighborhood of 25-35 million Russians. (Howarth) The Russian economy was still very low despite the NEP's progress, and therefore Stalin got rid of it and focused most of his energy on making the economy work because according to him: We [Russia] are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this lag in ten years. Either we do it or they crush us. (Watson) However, Stalin encountered some problems in doing this. ...read more.

Conclusion

The men held responsible for his death was Kamenev and Zinoviev, even though historians speculate that Stalin ordered Kirov's death. This was not the end of Stalin's purges and essentially no one was safe. This became known as the Great Terror and anyone suspected of opposing the government was arrested and sent to the gulags. Stalin started to purge old Bolshevik heroes, generals in the military, kulaks, and anyone else suspected of opposing the government. Of the 139 members and candidates of the Party's Central Committee who were elected at the 17th Congress, 98 persons, i.e. 70%, were arrested and shot...Of 1,966 delegates...1,108 persons were arrested on charges of counter-revolutionary crimes, i.e. decidedly more than half. (Howarth) Over all the NKVD executed 300,00 people and sent 7 million people to the gulags, who died from harsh conditions. However, no matter how ruthless Stalin was he did bring about great reforms to the people. Along with the increased industrialization that allowed them to compete with the rest of the world, Stalin also introduced education. In 1934 school became mandatory and the literacy rate increased 20% and higher learning was also available (Watson). Medical facilities became more available, allowing everyone to have access. Everyone was allowed to vote even though the polls were fixed. Workers received pensions, welfare, and trade unions were established. In Conclusion it is quite obvious that the Bolsheviks in power led to the significant advancement of Russia. Industrializing the country to such a great extent that the Bolsheviks and Russia were able to survive WWII. However, the Bolsheviks did cause the death of millions and millions of Russians, which could have been avoided. Although it was necessary for reform in Russia, the extent of brutality by both leaders was immense. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Modern European History, 1789-1945 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Modern European History, 1789-1945 essays

  1. The causes of the show trials and purges of the 1930’s

    a telephone call, telling Stalin that his good friend and one of the prominent investigators into illegal and counter-revolutionary activities in Russia, Sergei Kirov had been shot by ex-Zinovievite Nikolayev. As a result of these actions, Stalin quickly ordered that a new criminal procedure be drafted to deal with terrorist

  2. Lenin and the Bolshevik revolution.

    his return to Russia in May, and the group itself had declared its support of the Bolshevik platform even before his return. In fact, they had anticipated Lenin's April Theses by over a month, calling upon the Petrograd Soviet as early as March 1st to declare itself the Provisional Government of Russia.

  1. Discuss The African Slave Trade and its influences on the continent. What was ...

    As wars were waged for political as well as commercial purposes, there began to be distrust and suspicion between communities. These find of feelings between neighbours became the norm just to survive. The world of the African became culturally and socially deformed.

  2. Stalins Russia, 1924-53 revision guide

    They had no loyalty to communism, unlike many industrial workers. B: Transforming the Soviet Union The debate about agricultural change * Some argued that the peasants should be encouraged to grow more and sell more grain by giving them fairer prices.

  1. To what extent was Gladstone's religion the driving force behind his attempt to 'sabotage' ...

    While Disraeli held British interests at heart, Gladstone had 'a catholic largeness of vision and sympathy embracing Europe as a cultural and spiritual community'5 stemming from his views on the unity of the Christian church, and believed that European affairs should be conducted with the best interests of the community at heart.

  2. To what extent was Stalin responsible for the modernisation of Russia?

    However, this is mostly blamed on poor railway networks as grain could not be taken from the countryside to the industrialised areas. Therefore, although Lenin did substantially modernise Russia's agriculture, other areas had to be modernised before the affects could reach the whole of Russia.

  1. Soviet State

    * On hearing of the Kirov murder (1934), Stalin left for Leningrad by train. Before leaving, he issued a decree on new judicial procedures for dealing with terrorism, which was published in Pravda before the politburo saw it. Two days later, the party bosses in the Politburo lamely accepted Stalin's illegal order.

  2. Free essay

    Examine the impact of policy changes of 1921 on the development of the Soviet ...

    The Bolsheviks, for security reasons replaced Petrograd with Moscow as the capital of Soviet Russia but this eventually failed and their terrorism came closer to success. Lenin narrowly survived two attempts of his life in July and August and the murder of the Tsar and his family happened in May 1918 which the Bolsheviks ordered.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work