Assess the view that the failures of the provisional government were the main factors in enabling Lenin and the Bolsheviks to seize power

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By Daniel Harrington Candidate no: 5093

15c. Assess the view that the failures of the provisional government were the main factors in enabling Lenin and the Bolsheviks to seize power.

The Seize of power by the Bolsheviks means different things to different people, historian T. H. Von Laue argued that the Bolsheviks staged a limited coup in October 1917 in his book Why Lenin? Why Stalin? Published in 1971, Von Laue states that ‘the communists were pioneers in the arts of activating and manipulating the fears and hopes of the common man’ to this point most of Lenin’s work had been done within the safety of Finland away from the Russian Government and the Tsar.

Von Laue goes on to state that ‘they (the Bolsheviks) raised extravagant illusions and held out a promise, certified by the laws of war’ and Von Laue goes onto describe the Bolshevik takeover as a minor event that was only important in retrospect. Von Laue brings up a great point that the Bolsheviks had a lot of support in the Russian heart land , but they lacked support in the big cities like Petrograd, where there rivals the Mensheviks and the popular SR’s (Socialist Revolutionaries) were more established. Von Laue end with a question how with all the circumstances (the Bolsheviks lack of support in the cities and in areas of ethnic minorities of non-Slavic people) did a small minority make itself master of Russia?

Von Laue himself in other works believed that Nazism and Communism was a bid by nations to catch up with the rapid industrial growth in Western Europe at the time, within this interpretation Von Laue has answered his own question by stating that the communist manipulated the hopes and fears of the common man.

Another historian speaking on this matter Edward Acton in his book, Russia, published in 1986, Acton state’s that ‘Lenin’s rationale might be beyond most workers and soldiers but his programme was not’ Acton writes that Lenin’s hard hitting propaganda made it clear to all what his aims where and what the workers could expect from Lenin and his party.

The Bolshevik’s also had a surge in new membership according to Acton these were the industrial proletariat, the Bolshevik’s then found themselves having a lot of power within the factories but the Bolsheviks continued to struggle in the Petrograd Soviet but this was all going to change.

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Acton States that the party secretaries estimated that the party membership grew from 23,000 in February to 200,000 by October. The rate of growth Acton states was most impressive in the Petrograd area where the party benefited from the feverish atmosphere of the Capital.  According to Acton the inroads were being made by the Bolsheviks in the cities and industry across the country, whilst their rival parties the SR’s and the Mensheviks where losing influence in the army and navy,  which allowed the Bolsheviks more influence and led to militia factions of Bolshevik support.

Whilst the Bolsheviks support grew according ...

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