How important was the role of Lenin in bringing about the overthrow of the Provisional Government in October / November 1917?

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  • Created by: Vin
  • Created on: 24-04-13 19:42

Factors which suggest Lenin was important

• on his return from exile in April 1917, Lenin established the unique identity of the Bolsheviks as a party opposed both to the continuation of the war and to the Provisional Government itself. Previously, the party had worked alongside the Provisional Government

• Lenin’s intellectual credibility was established and under his leadership, the Bolsheviks adopted slogans, e.g. as in the April Theses, designed to appeal to a range of people. These simplified and adapted ideology to suit the circumstances of 1917

• Lenin capitalised on other groups’ loss of interest in the soviets in order to embed Bolshevik dominance by Autumn. He recognised the key role soviets could play in legitimising a revolution

• Lenin was responsible for the timing of the October/November revolution, persuading party colleagues the time was right. 

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Factors which suggest Lenin was less important

• Trotsky played a pivotal role in the planning and organisation of the revolution, as well as in the Petrograd Soviet in the preceding weeks

• Lenin was not actually present in Russia for much of 1917 and relied on colleagues. Some events (e.g. July Days) were out of his control. 

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Other factors that may have contributed

• the Provisional Government itself had inherent weaknesses including a lack of legitimate authority, which hampered its ability and willingness to cope with the problems it faced

• Prince Lvov and Kerensky provided weak leadership and the Kornilov affair played into the Bolsheviks’ hands

• the context of 1917 was one of unique problems such as the continuation of war and the issue of land redistribution, which the Provisional Government did not fully address.

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