Lenin's Russia 1917-14

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Lenin's Russia: The Nation that Stalin Inherited

1) Lenin in Power 1917-24

The October Revolution:

-The pivotal moment in Lenin's shaping of Russia was the October revolution in 1917, where Lenin's Bolsheviks had overthrown the Provisional Government (These were drawn from the remnants of the Russian parliament which ended in 1917, it attempted to govern Russia between February and October 1917)

- Lenin and the Bolsheviks claimed that their triumph gave them absolute right to govern Russia

- However, when the Bolsheviks took over they faced enormous tasks, and the USSR faced a civil war between the years 1918-21. They had to fight off many opponents such as:

  • Left wing revolutionary groups, such as Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries
  • Opponents to the right of the Bolsheviks, including landlords and businessmen, who found their property confiscated (White Party)
  • Former Tsarist generals, who objected to Bolshevik actions such as signing the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk which made large concessions to Germany in order to stop the German invasion
  • Armies from 17 foreign nations (Including Britain, USA, France and Japan) for various different reasons such as wanting to crush communism 
  • There were large numbers of peasantry who had no particular side in the Civil War but just wanted to keep their land and get on with their lives in peace (Green party)

- However none of these parties were a match for the Red army, led by Leon Trotsky. Not only were they very skillful and ruthless, they also had major advantages such as control of the main industrial areas

-Lenin was always careful to describe his policies as democratic, however the rule of the Bolsheviks was a continuation of the absolutist tradition in Russia

-The main features of Lenin's authoritarian rule between 1917-24, in which Stalin was subsequently to build on were:

  • The one party state - all other parties were outlawed
  • The bureaucratic state - central power increased under Lenin and the the number of government institutions and officials grew
  • The police state - The Cheka was the first of a series of secret police organisations
  • Ban on factionalism - this prevented criticism of the leadership within the party and was in effect a ban on free speech
  • The destruction of trade unions
  • Purges and show trials - The system which was to become a notorious feature of Stalinism had been first created under Lenin
  • Concentration camps
  • Prohibition of public worship - the Orthodox churches had been looted then closed, their clergy arrested and atheism adopted as a replacement for religious beliefs 

2) The shaping of Soviet Society under Lenin:

Culture and Arts - artistic freedom came under state control and the works of writers and artists would now express the values of the…


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