Exploring Why the Bolsheviks Were Able to Seize Power in 1917

Exploring Why the Bolsheviks Were Able to Seize Power in 1917

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Exploring Why the Bolsheviks Were Able to Seize Power in 1917

The Bolsheviks were able to seize power in Oct/Nov 1917 due to a
number of reasons, some contributing more than others. At the
beginning of the year, they did not seem to have much chance of
winning power due to low support and no strong leadership. However
throughout the year things went the Bolsheviks way and their fortunes
changed dramatically for the better.

The Kornilov Revolt helped the Bolsheviks in more than one way.
Firstly, it gave the party a boost as their leaders were released from
prison to help defeat Kornilov. This links with the fact that the
Provisional Government was fundamentally weak as they clearly
underestimated the Bolsheviks. Secondly, and most importantly, the Red
Guard (Bolshevik army) was given arms by the Provisional Government to
help put down the revolt. This too links with the fact that the
Provisional Government was weak as they committed yet another mistake.
When the revolt was put down, the Bolsheviks received all praise,
Kerensky got none. Their support because of this revolt was increased
tremendously and now they armed, meaning that they had the ability to
seize power with force if they wanted. The revolt was a real turning
point for the Bolsheviks as it greatly increased their ability as a
party to seize power both politically and physically.

More importantly, was the significance of the April Theses. The
Provisional Government had failed to gain the support of the peasants
– the 84% majority of Russia. To gain power, the Bolsheviks needed
their support, and they got it by putting together this thesis. It
simply gave them land, which was all that they wanted – another
failure by the Provisional Government which proves just how weak it
was. Also, the Bolsheviks gained vital support by stating in the
thesis that Russia must withdraw from the war. No other parties had
this on their agenda so the Bolsheviks now stood out from the pack.
This increase in support and different ideas gave the Bolsheviks the

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edge out of all the parties and just added to their ability to seize
power.

Of even greater importance was the fact that the Bolshevik party
received great contributions from Lenin and Trotsky. Lenin was a great
leader. He was a strong professional revolutionary who was ruthless
and a great planner. Also he only had his mind on one thing – to
overthrow the government. Basically, the Bolsheviks had a superb
leader and were well led which was vital when planning a revolution.
Trotsky, had enormous power as he became chairman of the Petrograd
Soviet in September 1917. This gave the party a sense of superiority
and he was obviously a man with experience and knowledge to get such
an important position in the Petrograd Soviet. This position gave him
impressive links with members of the Petrograd garrison and Baltic
fleet – enabling the party to call up support if needed. He was an
excellent planner – solely planning the October Revolution and he was
also a brilliant organizer and orator, bringing crucial skills to the
party. These two men gave the party all that it needed in the sections
of leadership, propaganda, planning, and carrying out actions – the
were absolutely critical to the party and a major reason why the
Bolsheviks did seize power in Oct/Nov 1917.

Most importantly, it was the inherent weaknesses of the Provisional
Government that allowed the Bolsheviks to seize power in late 1917.
Kerensky was a weak leader and because of this decision making was
poor and there was no strength within the government. Dual-power with
the Petrograd Soviet was also a weakness as many things, such as the
armed forces, were controlled by the Soviet, not the government. The
Provisional Government was not at all legitimate as the members,
including Kerensky, were self-elected. Moreover, peasant’s problems
were not addressed therefore making them angry, and the nationalities
issue was also not addressed which made different states (for example
Poland) want to leave the country to form on their own. This caused
unnecessary chaos in a country that was already on the edge.

The weaknesses of the government were the major cause of the
Bolsheviks seizure of power because the Russian people had a simple of
who should rule their country – the Provisional Government, or the
Bolsheviks, and with the government being so weak people supported the
Bolsheviks. This gave them the support, and as they already had the
ability, the Bolsheviks overthrew the government in Oct/Nov 1917 quite
easily and they proved to be a strong and well organised party with
great influence over the incredibly large and powerful nation that was
Russia.
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