Assess the view that the Bolshevik rule from 1917 to 1924 was shaped more by circumstance in Russia than by the party

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By Daniel Harrington Candidate no: 5093

15b. Assess the view that the Bolshevik rule from 1917 to 1924 was shaped more by circumstance in Russia than by the party’s ideology?

The Bolshevik party’s control of Russia after the revolution was not absolute they had many enemies and a counter revolution was always  a possibility in their minds, Lenin even faced betrayal within his own party, even though his party had power, there was a fine line between power and absolute failure.

Edward Acton’s book the “Rethinking of the Russian Revolution” published in 1990, Acton states that “To stress the responsiveness of the Bolshevik Party to pressures from below is not to deny the significance of the lead given by Lenin. His ability to combine theory with practice was unique” Acton is pointing out that without Lenin the party would struggle to even have gained power, but Acton makes a contradictory point stating that “On the other hand, he [Lenin] was in no position to impose policy on the party. Again and again, his colleagues on the central committee showed themselves to be capable of opposing him”. This bring an interesting point that Lenin spent so long getting the Bolsheviks into power, and now it seems the party were prepared to stab their leader in the back.

Acton goes on to talk about Lenin’s ideology “Lenin’s vision of the future was closely based upon Marx’s celebration of the decentralised and direct democracy of the Paris commune of 1871 and he spelled it out in state and revolution in the summer of 1917” This idea would give little prominence to the party. Lenin’s ideal according to Acton was that the Soviet would be led by intellectually superior group of people divorced from society, but this never happened as it was mainly workers and soldiers.

Acton shows that the party, once it gained power, wouldn’t do as Lenin wished because the rest of the party wanted power. Lenin had failed to interpret one very important piece of any society. There will always be greed and a lust for power for those that don’t have it.

John Laver book, “Lenin” which was published in 1994 addresses Lenin’s view towards the different Nationalities of the Russian Empire, now by this point Russia had lost its influence and political power in Finland which had become fully independent. Russia still controlled at this point the Baltic’s states (which it would later lose power in) Ukraine was another area Lenin controlled, but there were independence movements gaining prominence in Ukraine at this time.

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Laver states that “Lenin addressed the problem of the nationalities in April 1917”. “He declared that all nations in the old empire had the right of secession, although he expected that such a policy would win the trust of the non-Russians who would want to remain in a multi-national Soviet state which cared for the interests of all working class people whatever their nationality”. Maybe this was arrogance on Lenin’s part expecting different people to just conform to a state which most of the nationalities did not elect and some did not want the Bolsheviks in power.

Laver goes onto ...

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