‘Lenin’s leadership was the main reason for the success of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917’. How far do you agree?
The Bolsheviks were able to seize power in 1917 for a variety of contributing factors. The weaknesses of the Provisional Government brought forward by their inability to deal with land and food issues, and their failure to end the war, made them unpopular and distrusted amongst the Russian people. Lenin’s ability to capitalise on the Provisional Government’s mistakes and ability to inspire and drive his party undoubtedly was also detriment to Bolshevik success. Alternatively, one could argue that other factors such as the Kornilov revolt and the part played by Trotsky, contributed to the success of the Bolsheviks. Although Lenin was a great orator and had the ability to inspire others in a united course, his leadership was not the most important factor contributing to Bolshevik success. Lenin acted as a trigger, capitalizing on the faults of the Provisional Government; Lenin promised “peace, bread and land”, the three things the Provisional Government had failed to provide.
Lenin’s leadership was pivotal in the success of the Bolsheviks. He was a dedicated, determined and capable leader. He motivated his party, and through agitation & propaganda, the Bolsheviks became very popular in the army and in the factories, giving the party the support it needed for a revolution. Kamenev, the leader of the three-man committee, which controlled and commanded the Bolshevik political activity in Petrograd in 1917, had adopted a policy of support for the Provisional Government and even an inclination to merge with the Mensheviks. On Lenin’s return to Petrograd however, he issued his April Theses, in which he spelt out future Bolshevik policy. Crucially, Lenin outlined that he wanted to abandon all co-operation with other parties and overthrow the Provisional Government. In doing this, the Bolshevik Party disassociated itself with the failures of the government to deal with food and land issues, as well as the continuing of the war with Germany. Lenin promised ‘peace, bread and land’, exploiting the mistakes of the Provisional Government and gaining the support of those most dissatisfied with their rule. Lenin also declared ‘all power to the soviets’; he knew that the industrial workers, who wanted a constitutional assembly, had driven the February Revolution, and without the support of them the Bolsheviks would never rule with authority. However, it must be noted that Lenin only returned to Russia after the February Revolution, as he had been in exile. Therefore, the fall of the Tsarist regime and the Provisional Government taking power were necessary prerequisites for the Bolsheviks to seize power in October 1917, and the factor discussed in this paragraph was therefore more of a trigger factor, as Lenin would not have been able to fully and directly express his leadership skills in order to lead his party, had the Tsar been in power, nor would he have able to gain the support of the people or the means by which to seize power had it not been for the mistakes of the Provisional Government.