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It was the weakness of the provisional government that brought the October revolution about rather than the strength of the Bolsheviks. Do you agree?

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Introduction

It was the weakness of the provisional government that brought the October revolution about rather than the strength of the Bolsheviks. Do you agree? The revolution of 1917 saw the fall of the Tsar and his system of autocracy. A Provisional government was set up, consisting of the Tsar's former members of the Duma or representative assembly. This government was only in power for a few months. At first sight it may seem that it was the strength of the Bolsheviks and Lenin that brought the downfall of the provisional government. However, on closer inspection one can see that it was a combination of the Bolsheviks strength and decisive actions coupled with the weaknesses of the provisional government that led to its demise. During 1917 the political system of Russia, and the political opinions of its public, had begun to change. The First World War was taking its toll with the casualties running into millions and food shortages reaching crisis levels all across Russia. Presided over by the Provisional Government, who had little support and even less real power, the people of Russia became restless. In October, the animosity between Government and populace came to a head, and a revolution put Lenin's socialist Bolshevik party in power. ...read more.

Middle

These protests were poorly organised, many Bolsheviks were in disagreement, undecided as to what to do; wait or support the demonstrations. This lack of organisation resulted in blood shed and the Bolsheviks lost much support. Kerensky took the opportunity to "blacken the Bolshevik name", to attack the Bolsheviks credibility, thus increasing the power of the provisional government. The Bolsheviks soon hit back however, they were permitted to reenter Russia in order to defeat General Kornilov. The provisional government was simply too weak to prevent Kornilov from taking control of Petrograd. The Bolsheviks defeated Kornilov; they were now seen as heroes by the people making them stronger than ever. The provisional government's reaction to this was to attempt to ban the party, an extremely bad move as this greatly reduced its already diminishing support. Instead of the desired effect, the destruction of the party, it meant they received support and popularity grew. The Kerensky offensive and the Kornilov affair were two of the Provisional Governments worst mistakes. After the Kerensky offensive it became clear that not only was the Government ignoring Russia's pleas for peace, but that they were making military decisions rashly and incompetently, at the expense of Russian men. In an attempt to pacify some of its adversaries, the Provisional Government also made a series of blunders that drastically backfired. ...read more.

Conclusion

Kerensky fled to the American Embassy and then to Europe, Russia was finally in the hands of the Bolsheviks. By 27th October 1917, after just four days, an all-Bolshevik Council of People's Commissars was in place, with Lenin as chairman. Although the Bolsheviks' public support, Lenin's appealing manifesto and strong leadership were important factors in the Bolshevik's success, their main advantage was Lenin's determination to seize the opportunity that he saw before him. The Bolshevik's had missed a number of opportunities in previous months; October may well have been their last chance if Lenin's prediction of the election's outcome was correct. It was the failings of the Provisional Government, rather than solely the appeal of the Bolsheviks, that provided this opportunity, had the Provisional Government not been so appalling in its leadership, the Constituent Assembly elections would have taken place as planned, and the Bolsheviks would have remained a marginal party in the Congress of Soviets. The Bolsheviks successfully capitalised on the Government's diminishing power and support, this should not be denied as an achievement. However, as has been shown, their success was due as much to opportunity and luck, and the failings of the Provisional Government, as to the Bolshevik Party's power itself. In 1917 almost every person in Russia knew that change needed to happen quickly. The Bolsheviks were the result of that change because they saw the opportunity to exploit the situation. Tom Wallis 12WH ...read more.

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