The Bolsheviks Rise to Power

The Bolsheviks Rise to Power

The Bolsheviks were a political party who led the Russian Revolution. They led the revolution under the new name of the communist party and soon became the ruling party of the Soviet Union. They used a culmination of tactics in order to instigate a revolution, that they felt was required. Their programme was based around the notion of establishing a communist Russia, but also to evoke an international revolution to spread communist ideas and “overthrow imperialist governments”. The party was led by a communist philosopher known as Vladimir Lenin; he also became known as the mastermind behind the October Revolution in 1917

 

Figure 1: Lenin making a speech.

Figure 1: Lenin making a speech.

On the 24th of October 1917 Lenin made a speech titled ‘Call to Power’ to the Central Committee of the Bolsheviks; the speech heavily featured the reasons why he felt the revolution was needed and that it must started with deliberate speed. He started off by stating that he believed the situation in Russia (1917) was one that could “not be resolved by conferences or congresses”. This demonstrates that he did not believe that the current government in Russia was not competent enough to protect the interest of the Russian people and therefore needed to be replaced. He then went on to say that revolution was needed in the “interests of the starving” in order to provide “salvation from famine”. Such famines took place in the winters of 1916 and 1917. He felt that the distribution of the land was unequal and believed that the nationalization of the land was essential in order to solve the problem of starvation. Another factor that Lenin mentions in his speech is the problem of the Great War, which the vast majority of Russians desired an end to after suffering the loss of approximately 3 million lives. He suggests that a revolution is required in order for the peasants to receive “the offer of peace” as only a Bolshevik government would be strong enough to negotiate a peace treaty with the Germans. This would also help end the starvation problem, as food would no longer have to be sent soldiers on the front lines and therefore be used to feed workers and the peasantry.

Figure 2: Russian soldiers during WW1

Figure 2: Russian soldiers during WW1

 

In a series of letters that Lenin sent to the Bolshevik Central Committee he mentioned what the most effective tactics were and how they should be used to seize control. The Bolsheviks “had a majority in the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ deputies of both capitals” and Lenin felt believed this position would help the Bolsheviks take power. This is because he felt that victory in the Metropolitan cities of Moscow and Petrograd would carry the peasants with the revolution thus boosting their support. He also believed that in order for the revolution to be successful there “must be an armed uprising in Petrograd and Moscow”. This is because he believed that “by taking power in both Moscow and in Petrograd… we shall win absolutely and unquestionably”. Petrograd and Moscow were so vital to the Bolsheviks plans because of their economic importance to the Russians and also because this was where the main hubs of power were located. In stark contrast to this he came up with another, less violent tactic that he suggested the Bolsheviks should use. This was to “accuse the other parties of procrastination” in order to present the Bolsheviks as a more viable and competent leader that would take the Soviet Union forward, in the hope of increasing their support.

Figure 3: The storming of the Winter Palace

Figure 3: The storming of the Winter Palace

 

The Bolshevik party came to power after their successful October revolution. For the Soviet Union this not only meant a change to how the country was run but also to how the country operated outside its own borders. One significant reform made by the Bolsheviks was the establishment of investigative committees on land distribution which were set up in order to ensure that the land was sparsely spread out among the population and not just the wealthy few, in hope that this would decrease the chance of a repeat famine. Another one of the main positive points of the Bolshevik party was the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk which ended Russia’s participation in World War I. This was a huge step for the Bolsheviks but mainly the Russian population who had suffered so much to fight for their country.

For many years the outbreak of Civil War in 1918 has somewhat tainted what can be regarded as a successful rise to power. However, through the use of a range of tactics such as: speeches, armed movements and various other methods (mentioned prior) the Bolsheviks were able to implement their philosophy and therefore their ascension to power can be viewed as majorly successful.