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Personality study: Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Describe the role of Lenin in the Russian revolution of 1917, analyse the importance of Lenins contribution to the success of the revolution

In the year 1917, Russian society and the old Tsarist order began to subside. Shortage of food were among the many factors that caused extreme discontent throughout the nation leading to bloody riots and eventually, the abdication of Tsar Nicholas. Vladmir Illyich Lenin, leader of the Bolshevik party, and the first Head of the Soviet republic, is a significant character in Russian history. Lenin initiated the movement of Marxism, withdrew Russia from a losing war, and propelled the 1917 Russian revolution, freeing the country from Provisional Government rule and consequently, gaining rights for the majority of the population. After the split of the Russian Social-Democratic Workers Party in 1903, Lenin became leader of the Bolsheviks party and the main advocate for communism in Russia. The abdication of the Romanov dynasty left Russia without a head of state. As a result, the Duma formed a Provisional Government, which co-existed with the Petrograd soviets, a party in which included the Mensheviks, Socaial Revolutionaries, and the Bolsheviks. However, the different factions within the government, combined with poor working conditions, military failures, and poverty lead to instability throughout Russia. Lenin took advantage of Russias deteriorating situation and saw it as an opportunity to infiltrate the message of socialism. He returned from exile in 1917 year with a single goal for Russia to be under Bolshevik control as quickly as possible. Lenins strong leadership qualities, and determination enabled him to gain gradual support for the Bolsheviks. He was seen as A leader purely by virtue of intellectwith the power of explaining profound ideas in simple terms [1]. The ideas he mentioned in his speeches after his arrival was published in the newspaper Pravada (the truth), and famously became known as the April Thesis. He used armed insurrection and often resorted to violence to gain support for his party, yet became widely popular because of his appeal to the peasantry - who made up approximately 85.3% of the Russian population. Lenin stressed the idea of a civil war in which working class and peasants would seize the factories and land. He promised them an end to Russias involvement in the first world war, the introduction of a radical land reform program, and as a result, initiated a propaganda campaign against the Provisional Government in favour of the Bolsheviks, using End the War: Land to the Peasants: All Power to the Soviets as a slogan. The success of the campaign was seen in 1917, where the Bolshevik Party membership increased by ten-fold in just seven months. The Bolsheviks also began winning majority votes within the Petrograd (St. Petersburg) and Moscow soviets, showing the gradual rise support. On October the 10th 1917, Lenin held a meeting with twelve other party leaders, convincing them to start a revolution to overthrow the Provisional Government and replace them with the Bolsheviks. Two weeks later, on October the 24th, troops took positions in the city such as the main telephone, telegraph offices, post offices and major bridges, and by the 25th, every key building in Petrograd was under Bolshevik control, besides for the winter palace. Guards from the Provisional government either fled or surrendered, and the Winter Palace was taken with minimal violence in the following day. This marked the beginning of a new era the peoples of our country began the building of a new society, the first of its kind. [2] As President of the Council of Peoples Commissars, Lenin became the first head of state in Russia. Following the Bolshevik victory, and the establishment of the new Bolshevik government, Lenin issued the Decree on Peace and Decree on Land, withdrawing Russia out of World War one, after 4 years of humiliation and defeat. The second decree was a declaration to nationalise all and owned by the Crow, the large landowners, and the Church to be distributed out to the peasants. His fast reforms were put into action and he gained the support of people through terror, and the removal of those opposing his ideas.

As editor of the Communist newspaper Iskra it was evident Lenins revolutionary thinking and clear vision paved the road to the success of his revolution. Lenin was the driving force behind the communist movement, and became an influential leader through his great public speaking skills. He was capable of winning the support of the majority of the nation which other parties before him ceased to achieve. This could be seen through the long-rolling ovation, which lasted several minutes [3] that greeted him at the presidium before the second All-Russian Congress of Soviets on the 8th November 1917. Even after his exile to Siberia, his determination to put Karl Marxs idea into practical use resulted in his continuation to lead his party from exile. This ensured the continuation of the Bolshevik aims and that they would not come to an end. On the other hand, Lenins peace policy with the Germans became very unpopular as it involved giving them large portions of land in Russian territory, especially the fertile areas. His Bolshevik victory also lead to further negative consequences, driving the country into an immediate civil war that costed approximately 15 million lives, and resulting in Communist Russia. These four years of unrest, violence, and bloodshed could have been avoided without Lenins contribution, as Alexander Kerensky was close to organising a Constituent Assembly, which would have established an official republic government in Russia. Leon Trotsky, founder and first leader of the Bolshevik Red Army was also a great contributer to the 1917 revolution, and may be debated to be of equal, or even great importance than Lenin. Trotsky played a vital role in the revolution in that he was one of the main thinkers behind the Communists. He was editor of Pravda- the main communist newspapers which helped build a vision for pro-communist Russians, and also became Chairman of the Miliatry Revolutionary Committee. He was assigned the role of organising the October revolution, which resulted in the Bolshevik victory, and later became a member of the Politburo, a committee of five Bolsheviks who were given power to run the government. Nevertheless, it was Lenin who appointed Trotsky to these positions, and the face that both Trotsky and the Bolshevik party never questioned Lenins leadership, shows their faith in Lenins capabilities, and his role as their leader. Despite his ruthlessness, and use of violent methods to force power, Vladamir Ilyich Lenins actions, his influence on the majority of the population, and ability to effectively lead his party were all important factors contributing to his success, making him loved and revered as perhaps few leaders in history have been [3]. He was the main advocate for a Communist Russia, became the central driving force in his Bolshevik party, and played a significant role in leading his Bolshevik party into victory in the revolution of 1917.

All sites visited between 24-26th Feb
[1] [2] [3] [4] John Reed, Lenin, Great Lenin. Ten Days That Shook the World Novosti Press Agency Publishing House, What is the Soviet Union (1980) John Reed, Lenin, Great Lenin. Ten Days That Shook the World John Reed, Lenin, Great Lenin. Ten Days That Shook the World Wayland Publishers, Adrian Gilbert, The Russian Revolution (1995) http://www.infoplease.com/biography/var/vilenin.html http://www.st-petersburg-life.com/st-petersburg/1917-russian-revolution http://www.helium.com/items/205787-vladimir-lenin-and-the-russian-revolution?page=4 http://www.helium.com/items/1098291-vladimir-lenin-and-the-russian-revolution http://www.helium.com/items/623845-vladimir-lenin-and-the-russian-revolution http://www.johndclare.net/Russ_LeninandTrotsky.htm http://www.sparknotes.com/history/european/russianrev/terms.html http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/lenin_vladimir.shtml http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Revolution http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Lenin