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Revolution in Russia Essay

“Left Wing single party states achieve power as the result of a revolutionary process against tradition.” Does this adequately explain how any one single party state that you have studied acquired power? In 1917, a revolution took place in Russia that overthrew the traditional Tsarist regime and brought a single party state, the Bolshevik Party, into power. The Bolshevik party harnessed the revolutionary spirit from the overthrow of the Tsarist regime in order to overthrow the Provisional government and eventually seize power.

There are several reasons that the Bolshevik Party went against tradition including the failure of the Tsarist regime and the failure of the Provisional Government to make decisive decisions. The downfall of the Tsarist regime was only prolonged in 1905 with the October Manifesto, but in 1917 with the help of the April Theses written by Lenin, the Russian Revolution against tradition was beginning. Lenin also introduced War Communism, the NEP, and the idea of “Peace, Land, and Bread” as a revolutionary process against tradition.

The USSR, a Left Wing single party state, did achieve power as the result of a revolutionary process against tradition as Lenin had used his April Theses in order to persuade people into joining his cause and setting up a communist state, and had set up policies that went against Russian tradition, such as War Communism, and policies that went against communist tradition, such as the New Economic Policy. In 1905, revolutions took place in Russia as the people were unhappy with the autocratic style of leadership that the Tsar was using, and the general lifestyle in Russia.

The revolutions did not go through as the Tsar had offered the people concessions through the October Manifesto, which included a representation of the people in the government, called the Duma (Tsarist Government). This only prolonged the revolution, as it was inevitable with the style of leadership that was present in Russia. The February Revolution of 1917 overthrew the traditional system of government in Russia, as it was discredited by its military, political, and economic failings in the First World War (February Revolution).

The Provisional Government was set up in Russia following the abdication of the Tsar. The Provisional Government came to an end very quickly for several reasons. One of the reasons included the ‘Dual Authority’ that was present in Russia. The ‘Dual Authority’ occurred because the Provisional Government intended to introduce a democratic system of local government, but this took until August to create a scheme. While this was happening, Soviets were set up all across Russia which is why the Provisional Government did not have much control of Russia.

Another reason that the Provisional Government came to an end so quickly was because of the continuing defeats in the war which brought great unrest in Russia, including the July Days (The Provisional Government). Despite all this, the greatest reason that the Provisional Government came to an end was because of Lenin and Trotsky harnessing the conditions to establish a left wing single party state, and the fact that the Bolsheviks had taken the popular revolutionary movement to their advantage and gained support for their cause. Lenin had written the April Theses upon his return from exile in Switzerland.

The theses completely went against the traditional social and government structure as they urged the Bolsheviks not to support the Provisional Government, that power must be in the hands of the proletariat and the peasants, and the immediate union of all the banks into a single national bank (Connor 1). Lenin also created the slogan, “Peace, Bread, Land, all power to the Soviets” in the April Theses. This looked very attractive to urban workers and garrison soldiers within Russia because it would give them more power than they have and it would bring about equality (April Theses).

It took Lenin several weeks to convince the population of a second revolution, but he eventually did. One of the main reasons that the Bolsheviks gained support in 1917 was due to the fact that Lenin rejected any compromise with the propertied classes, and insisted that the power should be held by the proletariat and the peasants, which was the majority of Russia’s population. Another reason for the Bolshevik’s growing support was because the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries continued to support the Provisional Government.

The Provisional Government had failed to enact land reforms demanded by the peasantry and had failed to keep the military from falling apart. As previously mentioned, the Bolsheviks had harnessed the revolutionary mood of the workers and garrison soldiers in order to successfully go through with the October Revolution (Connor 1). The Petrograd Soviets and the Red Guards also supported the overthrow of the Provisional Government as they did not feel it represented their interests.

This gave even more support to the Bolsheviks as they promised the overthrow of the traditional order. Lenin created the Sovnarkom, which would be the new type of government in Russia, and would replace the Provisional Government (Provisional Government). The Sovnarkom’s initial objectives represented a revolt against tradition. This is because the objectives included land collectivization, where land is taken from the nobles, church, and tsar and given to the peasants, and to empower workers to set up factory committees to take control of factories.

After the Bolshevik Party had seized power in Russia, a Civil War between the Whites, supporters of the Provisional Government or the Tsarist regime, and the Reds, supporters of the Bolshevik Party, had commenced. This can be seen as a revolutionary process against tradition as Lenin was intending on eliminating and suppressing all the anti-Bolshevik supporters, with the help of War Communism (The Russian Civil War). War Communism was an economic and political system that Lenin had brought in to Russia in order to aid the Bolshevik’s to victory in the Civil War (War Communism – Soviet History).

It could be considered a revolt against tradition as it involved nationalisation and centralisation of industry, state control of foreign trade, obligatory labour duty for non-working classes, and the rationalisation of food and resources in a centralised way. This aided the Bolshevik’s to victory as it gave them an advantage with resources and they had total control within Russia. Once the Bolshevik’s had won the Civil War, a single party state rule was established in Russia, later to be known as the USSR.

The Civil War had an immense negative impact on the economy of Russia, and something needed to be done. The Civil War had a great negative impact on the economy because many of the workers were fighting in the Civil War itself so factories operated much slower than usually. Also, Lenin had introduced War Communism in which the whole economy was used to support the Bolsheviks in the war effort. This greatly overused the resources that Russia’s economy was so dependent on. Due to the worsened economy, Lenin introduced the New Economic Policy (NEP).

The NEP was also known as state capitalism and many members of the party were shocked by what they saw as a retreat towards capitalism. However, Lenin had explained that it was necessary in order to improve the economy within the country, thus gaining the support of many (New Economic Policy). The NEP could be regarded as a revolt against communist tradition at the time as it went back to a capitalist organisation within the country. The NEP was successful as it made possible a gradual recovery of Russia’s economy. From 1921, when it was introduced, to 1928, the industrial output had reached the 1914 level.

The agriculture improved even quicker as the prices of food were already falling by 1923 (New Economic Policy). In 1917, under Lenin’s leadership, the Bolshevik’s aimed at a change that would destroy all the power and wealth of the land-owning classes. The February Revolution of 1917 overthrew the Tsarist regime in Russia. The Bolshevik Party, which was run by Lenin, took advantage of this revolutionary spirit amongst the workers and soldiers in order to later overthrow the Provisional Government, win the Civil War, and seize power as a single party state.

Lenin had also wrote the April Theses, which went against traditional governing methods, and gained considerable support for the Bolshevik Party before the October Revolution. Other policies that Lenin had enforced within Russia that could be considered revolts against tradition include War Communism and the New Economic Policy. Based on all of this, the statement, “Left Wing single party states achieve power as the result of a revolutionary process against tradition”, adequately explains how the Bolshevik Party, with Lenin at its head, acquired power as they were determinedly seeking to overthrow the traditional order in Russia.

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