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A2 History 14th October 2010
Was Lenin a Red Tsar?
Although Lenin was a Communist leader, he acted very similar to how the Tsar's had
acted. Below are the reasons supporting my thesis that Lenin was a Red Tsar.
The first of one of the many similarities is that both Lenin and the Tsars employed a
political police. The Okhrana was the Tsars secret police. Alexander III fully utilised the
Okhrana as a tool for spying on, arresting, imprisoning and/or exiling opposition.
Similarly the Cheka, which was Lenin's secret police, had a specific role of dealing with
those who opposed the revolution and Lenin (hence "AllRussia Extraordinary
Commission for Fighting CounterRevolution and Sabotage"). Both the Okhrana and
Cheka targeted individual trouble makers.
Despite Lenin being a Communist, he had a lot of features which appeared to make
him autocratic, just like the Tsar. All of the Tsars and Lenin wielded dictational power,
and neither had any regard for democracy. Their main aims were to stay in power and
hold ultimate authority. Evidence to support this is when the Tsar failed to give the Duma
actual powers and recede into a constitutional monarch as the Kadets wanted.
Similarly, Lenin only allowed the Constituent assembly to last one day after it convened
in January 1918, following the democratic elections that were held.
Both the Tsars and Lenin employed a vast and privileged bureaucracy which was more
concerned with helping themselves than serving the downtrodden people. Both leaders
had a clear disregard for ordinary people, and events throughout their rule provide
evidence to support this claim. For example, unarmed peaceful protestors marching to
present a petition to Tsar Nicholas II were gunned down by the Imperial guard. This even
became known as "Bloody Sunday 1905." Similarly, Lenin's "Red Terror" Campaign
showed disregard for ordinary people, when the Internal Troops of Cheka and the Red
Army practiced the terror tactics of taking and executing numerous hostages, often in
connection with desertions of forcefully mobilized peasants.
Another factor about Lenin which made him appear to be a Red Tsar was the fact that
he (the state) owned a lot of land. The Tsars themselves were a major landowner, and
they dictated much about the organisation of landowning. Similarly, Lenin reserved the
right to control land. As the peoples will was interpreted by the party and the party was
the state, then really the land was owned by the state (Lenin) on behalf of the people.
Lenin's Red army fought dissidents at war with foreign powers, struggled with Polish
forces, and suppressed internal dissent, all of which are features of the Tsars Imperial
Army. In addition, both of the governments practiced rigorous censorship to reduce the
likelihood of any form of opposition and uprising from occurring. Their power was based
on a higher source of legitimacy. For Lenin, this was the Laws of History. For the Tsars,
the rule of a divinely chosen individual to whom the Russian people owe obedience.