Lenin's Victory

“Lenin’s victory in the Civil War was the result of the weaknesses of the Whites”. How far do you agree?

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Tami Sowemimo
"Lenin's victory in the Civil War was the result of the weaknesses of the
Whites". How far do you agree?
The annulment of the Constituent Assembly added to the outlawing of all other political
parties, both carried out by the Bolsheviks, made it very clear that they were not prepared
to share power with anybody else and pretty soon it would be made evident that the
Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, would go to great lengths to ensure that it stayed this way. This bid
for absolute power was mirrored in the Civil War which occurred in the summer of 1918 and
ending in 1921. The conflict was mainly between the Bolsheviks and the `Whites', which
consisted of Nationalists, Tsarists, Separatists, SR's, moderate Socialists and for a short
while, Foreign Interventionists. However, there is another group who were involved in the
Civil War, ­ The `Greens'. This party was made up of peasants, deserters and nationalists and
the best known of the leaders was Nestor Makhno. The Ukrainians and Georgians were
primarily concerned with establishing their independence from Russia and this was what they
were fighting for. Another interest of the Greens was to protect their own land and
supported the `Reds' or `Whites', using the chaos as an opportunity to loot property. In
part, the weaknesses of the `Whites' was a contributing factor to Lenin's victory, however
there were other linking factors which contributed to the Bolshevik victory.
On one hand, the weaknesses of the whites were a key reason. From the onset, the whites
lacked personal unity and this stemmed from the fact that they didn't have one main leader
who had overall command over their forces. In addition to this, disputes between the
individual leaders, who were from different political parties, meant that the leaders didn't
cooperate with one and other. Apart from the obvious aim, to defeat the Bolsheviks, there
was nothing else which bound the detachments together and their inability to put their
interests aside and form a united Anti-Bolshevik front allowed the Reds to defeat the white
armies individually. The lack of personal unity within the whites, led to their weaknesses in
ideological unity. The fact that there wasn't one overall leader meant that the loyalties of the
fighters would be divided, as would be expected. In addition to divided loyalties, there were
differences in ideas when it came to what the whites were actually fighting for. For example,
the Kadets pushed forward the idea of `A Russia, great, United and Indivisible', whilst the
Cossacks wanted their own independence. This patriotic cry from the Kadets came across as
unconvincing as they relied largely on supplies from abroad. The cry also portrayed the
Whites to be somewhat hypocritical given their inability to come together as one unit and
fight for this `United Russia' and the selfishness amongst themselves with Denikin describing
his troops as `a bunch of traders and profiteers'. This insinuated that the soldiers weren't
really fighting for anything and were instead looking out for themselves. This propaganda
disaster allowed the Bolsheviks to play on the ideological weaknesses of the Whites and
present themselves as the true Russian patriots, defending their country against the
`imperialist hordes'.
Also linking to the white's weaknesses in personal unity, were their weaknesses in
geographical unity. Once again, the fact that there was not one overall leader would mean
that the whites were at a disadvantage and this time it was a geographical disadvantage. The
three main white armies, who were led by Denikin, Yudenitch and Kolchak, were located at
opposite ends of Russia, making it virtually impossible for the three to communicate with
each other. On the rare occasions that the three armies considered coming together, their

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Tami Sowemimo
geographical distance acted as a barrier, hindering them from being able to bring sufficient
pressure to the reds.
On the other hand, it can be said that the reds' strength were the main reason for their
victory. Arguably the most significant factor which contributed to the Bolshevik victory was
their strength in personal unity, and this was because they had an overall leader- Lenin. It has
been suggested that Lenin wanted a destructive civil war.…read more


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