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.
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.
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.