5(b): How far were the roles of Bismarck and Cavour decisive in the unification of Germany and Italy?

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When the Tsarist regime in Russia was overthrown and the Bolshevik party under Lenin ruled

as a single party government, it was claimed by many that a Marxist regime had been

established. Many within the Bolshevik party were firm believers in the Marxist theory and

thought that the Soviet state would agree with Marx's ideas. There are some modern

historians who agree with this view, embracing the ideas of equality and fraternity and

believing that the Soviet state was the living embodiment of these beliefs. There are also

those who see that the Soviet state was something quite different from what Marx and indeed

Lenin had intended it to be. To find out whether the Soviet state defied Marxist theory or not,

is hardly a simple task of comparing the elements of the Soviet state with that of an ideal

Marxist state. One must look at how the regime arose, and in what circumstances, how

popular it was, and whether it was an inevitable manifestation. It is clear that the chief

coordinator of the revolution and founder of the movement, Vladimir Illyich Lenin died early

on in the regime. Therefore the change of rulers must be looked at closely to see whether

there were any major changes or internal disputes, which may cast doubt on the direction and

beliefs of the party. It is clear, therefore that to understand and assess whether the Soviet state

defied Marxist theory or not, one has to look at a number of features and assess their

importance. Perhaps also, it is worth considering how important Marxism is as an ideology,

that is to say, was it bound to fail? Has it ever succeeded in other regimes? If not then why

not? These are the issues that I will attempt to deal with in this essay.

The revolution of 1917 can clearly be seen as something, which was inevitable in

Russian history. However to simply say that it was a Marxist revolution of the working class

against the wealthy would be wrong. As Figes and Kolonitskii put it, "there were too many

other self-identities which could not be simply subsumed under class". By this, they mean

that other divisions such as those between rival towns and cultures appeared far more

important. These people were revolting against a number of things such as the aristocracy

with its embarrassments such as the Russo-Japanese war, a lack of money and a sense of

poverty. In no way can the people of Russia be said to be devout Marxists they just wanted

change. This is backed up by the fact that the Bolsheviks did not gain power straight away,

they still had to fight against two other major forces, the whites (Mensheviks) and the greens.

The only reason they gained power was because they had superb leaders who could

orchestrate a successful takeover of power. This disagrees with Marxist theory in one sense.

Marx believed the revolution would be a realisation by the "working class" of who they were

and who the enemy was. The revolution would be unstoppable and irresistible due to the

overwhelming majority of the working class. This was not the case because there was

actually only a small clique of people who 'stormed' the winter palace. This on its own is not

enough to discredit the regime as non-Marxist, indeed some may argue that such a radical

regime would be met with opposition whatever it represented. The point I am trying to make

here, is that the government is normally representative of the people, and if the people do not

believe in the Marxist principles then the government cannot implement them or they will

face the public's wrath.

It would be important here, to briefly mention Marx's teleological theory of history.

Marxism views history in terms of several basic periods: primitive communism, slave-owning

societies, feudalism, capitalism, and communism. Primitive communism is the system used

by societies with communal foundations and little conception of property....
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