The Bolshevik Revolution: Why and how were the Bolsheviks were able to seize power Essay


            The term “Bolshevik” is a term that was used to refer to a faction of Marxist Russian Social Democratic Party. The split of this party in 1903 led to the formation of the Bolsheviks who later formed the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. During the second Congress of the RSDLP (Russian Social Democratic Labor Party) held in Brussels, Belgium in 1903, a dispute that emerged between Julius Matron and Vladimir Lenin led to the split of the party into Mensheviks and Bolsheviks. Vladimir Lenin who was a Russian revolutionary became the leader of the Bolsheviks and the first head of USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republic).

            The Bolsheviks were considered to be majority while the Mensheviks the minority. Lenin led the Bolsheviks in its effort to secure good leadership in Russia. This was characterized by great political unrest in Russia .For instance, the February and October Revolution resulted to the seizing of power from the Provisional government by the Bolshevik and the establishment Soviet Union. The Bolsheviks were professional revolutionaries who were governed by a strict internal hierarchy based on democratic centralism and military discipline (Acton et al, 1997). In this paper, why and how the Bolsheviks managed to seize power in Russia will be discussed. Events that were closely linked to the seizing of power include the February Revolution, the October Revolution and establishment of Provisional government.


   How the Bolsheviks seized power

        The Bolsheviks managed to seize power from the Provisional government through good leadership of Vladimir Lenin and the strong and loyal military force. The journey of the Bolsheviks to seize power in Russia began when the Russian Social- Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) was formed. This party aimed at ensuring that Russia’s industrial development became a priority in the nation’s economic development. Vladimir Lenin was an effective and a determined and it is through his great leadership that the Bolsheviks were able to participate in revolutionary activities. By being a communist politician, a Russian revolutionary, and a leader of the October Revolution, Lenin was determined to achieve socialist revolution in Russia. Lenin’s stand that only the professional full-time revolutionaries were supposed to be party members had earned him support from the majority of RSDLP members, and this led to the formation of a strong movement. Good leadership supported democratic centralism ideologies and encouraged the Bolsheviks to work together with the Russian people to ensure there was good leadership in Russia. The formation of the Bolsheviks and its activities paved way for seizing of power from the Provisional government (Edward, 1985).

        The Bolsheviks seized power by participating in the 1917 February Revolution. Due to the numerous problems that were experienced in Russia, the Bolsheviks intended to remove from power the poor leadership that had contributed to all the problems. Some of the problems included the poor living standards of the people due to poverty and an unproductive economy. Tsar Nicholas II poor leadership was being criticized for failing to address the problems faced by the Russians. His leadership ended when he was abdicated.

            Tsar Nicholas II lacked the support of Bolsheviks, the people and the army. This forced him to abdicate the throne in February 1917. The February Revolution was characterized by widespread  protests and demonstrations at St. Petersburg (Petrograd).The abdication of Tsar Nicholas II had result ended the rule of Romanov dynasty and imperialism in Russia and led to the establishment of an unstable Provisional government in Russia. The leaders of the provisional government were Prince Georgy L’vov and Alexander Kerensky. The provisional government instead of withdrawing from the World War I as people would have preferred launched attacks against Astro-Hungarian and Germany armies in 1917.Due to the huge amounts of financial resources that were channeled to support Russian military operations during the war, the Provisional government received criticism from the people. The support that had earlier been given to the provisional government declined, making the Provisional government unable to make decisive policy decisions. The Bolsheviks supported the peoples’ opinion and was one of the political factions that opposed the provisional government. As the provisional government continued to fail in meeting the expectations of the people, the Bolsheviks were gaining more support and popularity (Fitzpatrick, 2001).

          In July 1917 after the February Revolution, the Bolsheviks supported the Russian industrial workers and soldiers in protests against the government. The Bolsheviks fought to see the needs of the people addressed, hence it took a common ground with the oppressed industrial workers and the suffering citizens. Therefore, protests and riots by the people against the provisional government received support from the Bolsheviks. However, the Bolsheviks attack on the government in July failed to succeed. This forced Vladimir Lenin to flee while some leaders of the Bolsheviks were arrested. It led to a crisis in the Provisional government.

             In October 1917, the Bolsheviks launched attacks on the provisional government and their attacks were boosted by the influence they had on the Petrograd Soviet. The Petrograd Soviet had been established in 1917 after the February Revolution, and it aimed at representing the concerns of the oppressed workers. A situation referred to as dual power had the provisional government and Petrograd soviet compete for legitimacy in Russia because the Petrograd soviet had become an alternative source of authority to the Kerensky Provisional government. Because the Petrograd soviet comprised of Socialist revolutionaries, it supported the Bolsheviks and their efforts to change governance in Russia. For instance, the Petrograd soviet support for Bolsheviks protected the revolutionaries from serious consequences if they were arrested and prosecuted. The Bolsheviks military became stronger as the Bolsheviks gained popularity and support. Through the Petrograd soviet, the Bolsheviks used their power to have the All-Russian Congress of Soviets set up. The support of the Petrograd Soviet continued to be an advantage to the Bolsheviks efforts to seize power.

          The October Revolution began with the Bolshevik uprising. The Bolshevik Revolution aimed at countering the leadership of the Provisional government. Through good leadership and a strong military force, Vladimir Lenin led the Bolsheviks to seize power from the Provisional government. An announcement that the provisional government leadership had come to an end was made, and a session of the Petrograd soviet was convened. The Congress of Soviets’ approval to have a new government established had a new government in Russia formed with Vladimir Lenin as its head (Steinberg, 2001).

  Why the Bolsheviks seized power

         There are numerous reasons why the Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Lenin planned to seize power from the Provisional government. These problems had been experienced by the Russian people during Tsar Nicholas II rule and the failure of the provisional government to address the problems after the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II triggered protests and the Bolshevik revolution. The Provisional government got involved in the World War I despite the difficult conditions that the Russian people were living in. Due to the huge financial resources that Tsar Nicholas II had channeled towards military operations in the war, the Russian people lived under poor conditions. At the beginning of 1917, shortage of food, poor living conditions, unemployment, and an economic crisis were witnessed in Russia. Due to the failure of the government to address these problems, there were demonstrations, strikes, and widespread protests of the workers. These led to instability in Russia due to the unrests that were caused by the protests and demonstrations. The abdication of Tsar Nicholas II from the throne and the establishment of a provisional government failed to solve these problems. This is because, the Provisional government lacked adequate financial resources to implement changes that would have improved economic development. The same dissatisfaction that the Russian people had shown towards Tsar Nicholas II leadership continued after the establishment of the provisional government.

            The Russian people had hoped that the Provisional government would initiate changes that would have ended the technological and economic retardation that was being experienced. The Bolsheviks understood the problems the Russian people were facing and were also disappointed with the failure of the Provisional government to address these problems.  For instance, the Petrograd soviet was meant to represent the workers who were experiencing so many problems. Since the Petrograd soviet became an alternative to provisional government leadership, the failure of the provisional government to bring about positive changes in Russia triggered the Petrograd Soviet opposition to the government (Richard, 1991).  The Bolshevik had great influence on the Petrograd Soviet and because the Bolsheviks worked together with the Petrograd Soviet in efforts to achieve socialist revolution, it was easy for them to attack the provisional government. Just like the Russian people, the Bolsheviks were convinced that the provisional government had failed to meet the expectations of the Russian people and seizing power from the government was therefore considered as one way through which a new government that could address the needs of the people would be established.

          Another reason that triggered the Bolsheviks revolution which led to the seizing of power from the Provisional government was the involvement of the provisional government in World War I which resulted to economic retardation and poverty. Before the provisional government was put into place, Russia had huge amounts of financial resources directed towards military efforts and operations during the war. This had contributed greatly to the economic crisis and the tough living conditions of the Russian people. The people had expressed their opposition to the involvement of the government in the war. In addition, the Russian people demanded for good leadership and solutions to the economic crisis. To many citizens these would have been possible if the huge financial resources that Russia was using to fund military activities were directed towards economic revitalization.

          The provisional government which was established in 1917 was expected to end Russia’s involvement in the war. However, by July 1917, the government provided its support for the Allies during the World War I by launching attacks against the Austro-Hungarian and Germany military troops. This denied the provisional government the support of the Russian people. Instead, the government lost its popularity among the Russian people who were disappointed with its move. This marked the beginning of lack of support of the provisional government by the Russian people. The Petrograd Soviet and the Bolsheviks on the other hand earned more support and popularity from the people. Since the Russian people did not support the “Kerensky offensive”, they turned to the Bolsheviks and the Petrograd Soviet which they considered as likely to bring change in Russian leadership. The attack against the Provisional government continued. Furthermore, the provisional government involvement in the war triggered the Kornilov Coup. During this coup in 1917, General Kornilov who was then the Commander in Chief of the Russian Army tried to seize power from the provisional government. However, Kornilov never managed to seize power. The Kornilov Coup became an advantage to the Bolsheviks in seizing power due to the fact that the coup weakened the provisional government. The weakening of the government paved had the Bolsheviks seize power more easily during the October Revolution. In efforts to contain Kornilov, Kerensky’s provisional government had the Bolsheviks who had earlier been arrested in July during protests released to fight Kornilov. In addition, Kerensky had offered weapons to the Bolsheviks to counter Kornilov forces. These weapons are considered to have been used by the Bolsheviks during the October Revolution to seize power from the Provisional government (Robert, 1990).

            The Russian people confidence in the Bolsheviks as a group that was capable of eliminating poor leadership in the country earned the Bolsheviks the support of the people (Malone, 2004). This motivated the Bolsheviks to initiate the Bolshevik Revolution. The support from the people was important for a government to conduct its official duties. The Russian people had for along time lived in poverty especially during the imperial leadership of Tsar Nicholas II. When the provisional government got into power, some positive economic and social changes were witnessed in Russia. This led to the emergence of a new educated middle class of professionals such as lawyers and doctors However, not all people benefited from the changes. Some people still remained poor despite the positive changes. The presence of a new educated group of people in Russia made the poor citizens to protest due to the realization that life could become much better if people were provided with adequate facilities and a favorable environment to improve their lives. The peoples’ desire to improve their living standards demanded that the provisional government promote economic development but huge looses that Russia was experiencing hindered rapid economic development, a situation that made the Russian citizens to direct their anger at the provisional government. To the people, the Bolsheviks would be able to initiate efforts that would revive the economy. Because the Russian people had put their .hopes on Bolsheviks, the Bolsheviks were determined to bring change if they got into power. In addition, the Bolshevik strong leaders such as Vladimir Lenin were greatly admired for their fight for a better nation. The Bolshevik became the best alternative to the provisional government. The Bolsheviks conviction and determination that it would bring the much demanded changes by the people made the Bolsheviks to seize power from a government that had disappointed its people.

              The Bolsheviks wanted to bring back stability in Russia after many years of unrest due to protests, demonstrations and revolutions. The instability had resulted from poor leadership, economic crisis, and poverty, shortage of food and lack of a loyal military force. These factors contributed to peoples’ dissatisfaction with the government; hence they were always protesting, demonstrating and participating in strikes. From the early 1900s to 1920, Russia experienced leadership problems and instability. Through the well organized military forces, the Bolsheviks were determined to take over the major government facilities that were run by the ineffective Kerensky provisional government. The Red Guards operations and activities aimed at reducing the demonstrations and protests of the people against their own government (Robert, 1998).


            The period between 1914 and 1920 was marked with a protests and demonstrations of the Russian people. The Russian people were experiencing so many problems that resulted from poor leadership and economic retardation. The need to put into place good leadership became a priority for the people. With the support of the people, the Bolsheviks aimed at achieving this. After poor leadership of Tsar Nicholas II came to an end, a Provisional government that took over leadership failed to meet the expectations of the people. The Provisional government was expected to bring good leadership and lead economic revitalization efforts in Russia.However, the government failed to meet the expectations of the citizens who reacted by participating in protests and demonstrations to speak against the government. The socialist revolutionaries who belonged to the Bolshevik were also concerned that the government had failed to offer good leadership to the people. This triggered the Bolshevik Revolution. The Bolshevik revolution enabled the Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Lenin to seize power from the Provisional government. This later resulted to the establishment of the Soviet Union in Russia.


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