Factors Enabling Lenin and Bolsheviks to Seize Power: Failures of the Provisional Goverment

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Using the four sources and your own knowledge, assess the view that the failures of the Provisional Government were the main factors in enabling Lenin and the Bolsheviks to seize power.

Seizure of power appeared more prominently due to the nature of 1917, in which the April Theses was published, the July Days occurred and the Kornilov Affair, which emphasised the weaknesses of the Provisional Government. However, it is how the Bolsheviks enabled their power through 1917: through their powerful, hard hitting propaganda or through the Provisional Government’s failures. Interpretations [A] and [B] focus more on Lenin’s domineering nature, and how he exudes control in order to enable power, whilst [C] and [D] clearly display Lenin and the Bolsheviks as beneficiaries of the Provisional Government’s failures. Though it can be seen that Lenin’s determination clearly allowed for support to grow for the Bolsheviks, it does appear that the conditions of chaos in 1917 emphasised the Provisional Government’s weaknesses, and ultimately the Kornilov Affair was the most important factor in enabling Lenin and the Bolsheviks to seize power and interpretation [C] is the most reliable in assessing this view, as it depicts the effects of the Kornilov Affair and specifically how it benefitted Lenin and the Bolsheviks.

Conditions in 1917 were a trigger for growth in support for the Bolshevik party, as the poor conditions and diminishing hope led to periods of misery and discontent within the Russian population. No running water, overcrowded cities, strenuous working hours (at least ten hours a day, six days per week), wages were low and inadequate (made worse by World War One) were only some of the dehumanizing conditions in which the Russian people lived in. This is supportive of [A], which clearly exemplifies the problems, depicting the main issues as ‘anxiety, hunger, exploitation’, referring to the increasing prices and taxes whilst wages seemed to stay constant. However, [A] simply refers to these issues, stating how the Bolsheviks would have to face ‘political enemies... incredible disorganization, hunger, cold, exhaustion’ and other issues in order to please the Russian people, even though they were a ‘small minority’ and the interpretation questions as to how this minority were to ‘make itself a master of Russia’ in such poor socio-economic conditions. [B] looks particularly at the growing numbers of people supporting Bolsheviks rather than the Provisional Government and comments on the determination of Lenin, commenting on the ‘crisp, clear and hard-hitting propaganda’, which spread the ideas of Bolshevism, and led to ‘growing numbers of workers, soldiers and peasants’ supporting the party and their ideas. [B] also refers to the on-going ‘struggle...for raw food and materials’, which portrays the dismal living conditions of the Russians. These conditions make us aware of the misery people were facing, leading to why the Bolsheviks’ promises were so appealing to the masses. Also, the discontent of the army, workers and peasantry led to further gains in support during 1917. The Bolsheviks did not gain the support of the majority by October 1917, however, these three groups made the mass of the population, and with many of them feeling discontent with the current government, the promises of the Bolsheviks would mean greater support for the Bolshevik party. The slogans of the Bolshevik party, such as ‘Peace, Bread and Land’, were effective due to their simplistic nature, meaning that the message appealed to all classes, plus they assessed the needs of the peasantry who were their main supporters. However, the timing of the slogan ‘Peace, Bread and Land’ came shortly after the April Theses, which highlighted the failures of the Provisional Government, who could not supply peace, bread or land to the peasantry or the masses.

There is overwhelming evidence that the Bolsheviks’ strengths only played a fundamental role once the...
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