Although initially Lenin was the one to make the Bolsheviks overthrow the Provisional Government, there were a number of long term factors that led to this revolution. The Provisional government were so weak that it meant that the Bolsheviks were the only party able to seize power in October 1917. The fact that the Provisional Government failed and the Bolsheviks were successful, was due to the fact they were a weak government who barely had any support from the Russians due the fact they were meant to just be a replacement government until the elections. Their control over Russia was weak too, as there were soviets set up all over the country by workers who had control over most of northern Russia. The Provisional Government didn’t appeal to the peasants, who needed the help most as they didn’t make any important decisions regarding the famine or lack of shared land. Also, they failed to stop the opposition by letting the Bolsheviks use Propaganda to influence the public.
Lenin’s leadership wasn’t the main reason for Bolshevik success as it was the Provisional Government who had a lack of control and series of failures that allowed the Bolsheviks to be successful and Lenin to be able to intervene. Although not the main reason, Lenin’s April Theses had an impact on the people of Russia. His famous saying was ‘Peace, bread, land and power to the soviets’. Not only did this statement appeal to the Peasants (who were 80% of the population) but he also stated that he would not support the Provisional government; instead he thought that the Soviets should have the power which is what they wanted. This only increased the Bolsheviks popularity, whilst support for the Provisional Government decreased. These catchy slogans and giving the people what they wanted was what made Lenin a good leader and one of the reasons for the success of the Bolsheviks. However during the July days Lenin showed weak leadership.
The Proletariats and soldiers mutinied on the streets of Petrograd in favour of the Bolsheviks to represent their ideas. Yet instead of providing strong leadership for the demonstrators, Lenin went into hiding as the military attacked the peaceful demonstration and fled to avoid being arrested. More than 700 people were killed or injured and because of these events the Bolsheviks lost some of their power and influence over Russia. The July days show how Lenin’s leadership wasn’t the main reason for Bolshevik success as many of the leaders were imprisoned and power for the Bolsheviks slightly decreased. However, all the Bolsheviks were then released during the Kornilov revolt.
Kerensky who was head of the Provisional Government set free the Bolshevik prisoners in order to fight off Kornilov and his men, during a revolt in which Kornilov tried to seize power in order to turn Russia into a military dictatorship. Kerensky showed political weakness by releasing an opposing party to deal with another and therefore it can be said that it wasn’t just Lenin’s leadership that led to Bolshevik success but poor leadership and a bad decision from Kerensky. By liberating the Bolsheviks it allowed them to prepare an uprising against him and the provisional government.
This final event in which the Provisional Government was overthrown was when a military ship that sailed up the River Neva and attempted to shoot at the Winter Palace, until they surrendered. One of the main reasons for Bolshevik success; was the existence of the Military Revolutionary Committee who lead by Trotsky planned the actual revolution (including the involvement of the military ship) to take place, and therefore it is important as without him the revolution would have been chaotic, unprepared and the Bolsheviks would have never claimed power.
To conclude the main reason for the success of the Bolsheviks was the Provisional Governments increasing weakness due to many problems they faced such lack of support and mutiny’s of soldiers that led to the Bolsheviks seizing power in October 1917. Even though Lenin wasn’t the main reason (there were many other contributing factors) it was his ability to command that helped with the Bolsheviks and therefore he was still an important reason for their success just not the main one. It could be said that although he was not the main leader.
Courtney from Study Moose