Lenin and the Bolsheviks were strongly influenced by the ideas on Marxism Essay
Question: Describe and explain how a force or movement influences a specific individual or group of people to try to improve the lives of their fellow countrymen and women - Lenin and the Bolsheviks were strongly influenced by the ideas on Marxism Essay introduction. Describe and explain the consequences of these efforts A specific individual and group, Lenin and the Bolsheviks were strongly influenced by the ideas on Marxism that they were fundamental to the shaping of Russian communism in Russia in the beginning of 1900s which at the time was a backward autocratic country ruled by Tsar Nicolas II.
The social, economic and political factors of the autocracy helped Lenin and the Bolshevik’s to shape Russian communism as a historical force. They ultimately brought change in Russia by establishing the Bolshevik’s state through bringing down the provisional government to improve the lives of fellow countrymen and women. The consequences, however of their efforts to improve the lives of their fellow countrymen and women at the end did not bring any positive changes or impacts to the country in the longer term. Lenin and the Bolshevik’s were influenced by the idea of Marxism which was created by a German socialist called Karl Marx.
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Marx argued that under capitalist economic system, a tiny percentage of the nobility and the bourgeoisie owned all the means of production, had all the power and exploited the proletariat. Marx claimed that eventually, the proletariat would revolt, overthrow capitalism and replace it with socialism. During this stage a Dictatorship of the proletariat would be necessary to rule on behalf of the workers. Eventually, a system called communism would emerge where the people owned the means of production, profit and power were shared equally, and all people would belong to one class and be equal.
Eventually, no government would be necessary and everyone would live in communes. Marx’s theory of communism was very influential to Lenin and Bolshevik’s as it provided a vision of a much fairer society and the hope of improving the lives of their fellow countrymen and women. However, Lenin changed some aspects on the idea of Marxism and created his own theory known as “Leninism”. Leninism is a political theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat led by a revolutionary vanguard Party, Developed by Lenin. It comprises of political and socialist economic theories developed from Marxism.
It is Lenin’s interpretations of Marxist theory within the agrarian Russian Empire of the early 20th century. Lenin reversed Marx’s order of economics over politics, allowing for a political revolution led by a vanguard Party of professional revolutionaries rather than a spontaneous uprising of the working class as predicted by Marx. He adapted to suit the situation of Russia and also because he believed that the revolutions should occur fairly quickly and history should be given a push. (i. e they should make the revolution happen, rather than waiting for the workers to become so desperate that they rose up of their own accord).
The social and economic factors of Russia in the 1900s which influenced Lenin and the Bolshevik’s to bring about a communist ideas and revolution was to end centuries of oppression of the peasants and the workers under the Tsarist regime. Russia in the 1900s 80 percent of the population were peasants. Most peasants lived in poor conditions. Despite the abolition of serfdom, they were economically oppressed. The peasants’ conditions deteriorated with inadequate land and having to repay loans to the government to buy the land.
They lacked capital to buy machinery and as the rural population grew, farm size declined so they grew less food. Debt led to interest borrowing, and many migrated to the city seeking work. Soon the vast numbers of peasants whom migrated from the poverty-stricken countryside made up a new wretched working class. However the working conditions were horrible. The workers’ families lived in wooden barracks with no privacy in overcrowded slums. Workers also only earned very small amount of income and the hours were very long. By 1916, the average working hours was between 11-12 hours per day.
These conditions led to strike action and revolutionary ideas of freedom from oppression by the working class, ultimately gave an opportunity for Lenin and the Bolsheviks to shape the idea of communism so they could give land to the peasants and power to the workers, relating to the idea of equality in terms of communism. The harsh oppression within the working class and the peasants increased though Russia’s social and economic involvement in World War One. Within a few weeks into the war, the Russians suffered horrific defeats at the battles of Tannenberg 1914, in which 120,000 Russian soldiers were killed.
The peasants and the working class were heavily affected by the War with food shortages of basic food and fuel for heating and cooking. It can be said in consequence of the disastrous conditions of WWI, a spontaneous people’s uprising known as the February revolution 1917 occurred. At this point, the Bolsheviks Party was small and weak consisting of 20,000 members and Lenin was in exile in Switzerland. The revolution ultimately weakened the autocracy and led to the abdication of the Tsar on 2 March 1917. The revolution ultimately replaced the Tsarist rule with the Provisional Government.
This gave an opportunity for the Bolsheviks to carry out their aim of establishing a communist society to improve the lives of their fellow countrymen and women by challenging the authority of the Provisional Government and ultimately bring them down influenced by the force communism. Under Lenin’s leadership, the Bolsheviks destabilised the Provisional Government (PG), which consisted largely of middle class or bourgeois members of the Duma or parliament who took over after the overthrow of the Tsar. The PG had limited support amongst the Russian people because of several reasons.
It did not end the War, and kept sending troops to War which only showed immorality, it did not meet the peasants’ satisfaction about the land that it promised and the conditions of Russia did not improve in terms of food and fuel meaning that many people died thorough starvation and cold weather. When Lenin returned to Russia from exile, in April 1917, he imposed his will on the Bolshevik Party by insisting the goal must be to get control of the Petrograd Soviet, which would then provide a springboard for a second revolution which would replace the PG with a Bolshevik Government.
Lenin worked towards the revolution by creating a policy statement called the “April Theses” which talked about end of PG, end of war, bringing better conditions in Russia and victory for the proletariat with the introduction of a communist system of government. All this was established through “Peace, Bread and Land” slogan. The Bolsheviks, influenced by the ideas of communism, set about gaining control of the Soviets. Soviets were councils which represented factory workers and soldiers. The most important Soviet was the Petrograd Soviets. In April, the Petrograd soviet was led by socialists Revolutionaries and Menshiviks and Bolsheviks.
Order Number One already showed that the Soviets were in competition with the PG. The Petrograd Soviets issued order number one on March 1917 which said the soldiers could only obey the PG as long as the Soviets approved of these orders. If there was a conflict, the soldiers were to obey the Soviet. This meant that in reality, the Soviet controlled the army. From April 1917, the Bolsheviks focused on convincing a majority of the deputies in the Soviets that they should turn against the PG and assume power themselves. “All power to Soviets” was one of Lenin’s powerful slogans.
By June the Bolsheviks had a majority in the workers section of the Petrograd Soviet, because the Bolshevik’s had more organisation than other socialist groups supporting the Petrograd Soviets. The June offensive, where Kerensky ordered the Russian army to attack Austrian and German forces proved to be a military disaster, as thousands of Russian soldiers deserted, leaving the army in a state of collapse. Public confidence in the PG dropped away, meaning more people supported the Bolshevik Party. The July days 1917 were an unfavourable event for the Bolshevik Party.
When all seemed well with the Bolsheviks’ Party gaining many supports from the public, a disorganised attempt by Bolshevik supporters to overthrow the PG failed and the Bolsheviks lost popular support. The uprising was crushed by Kerensky and Lenin went into exile in Finland. However the Bolsheviks’ popularity increased as they took advantage of events such as the Kornilov Affair. To increase their popularity, they cast themselves as the “Saviours of the Revolution” when Kornilov’s attempted coup failed. This was a crucial turning point for the Bolsheviks and their prestige was restores and membership rose dramatically.
By August membership grew from 20,000 in Feb to 200,000 by August. By September 1917, the Bolsheviks had full domination over the Petrograd Soviet. The Bolsheviks campaigned to increase their support among the people from April-October 1917. They campaigned with Lenin’s slogan “Peace, bread and Land”. Majority of the people in Russia supported the Bolsheviks because they campaigned for everything the PG had failed to deliver. With the return of Lenin from Finland, the Bolshevik’s successfully carried out a communist influenced revolution known as the “October Revolution” in 1917.
Their military consisted of the Red Army, which was controlled by Trotsky, and was made up of 20,000 men. The Red Army seized the main points in Petrograd including the government buildings, the central railway station, the central post office and the central bank. On the 25th of October 1917, the Bolshevik’s broke into the Winter Palace, the headquarters of the PG and took out the PG and won the victory. The next day, Lenin announced that there will be a new form of government. Lenin and the Bolsheviks successfully brought down the PG and the capitalism to bring better lives to fellow countrymen and women.
The consequences of bringing down the Provisional Government through the October Revolution and establishing the force communism to try improve the lives of their fellow countrymen and women was unsuccessful in the long run. Through the communist revolution of October 1917, a new government called the “Soviet of People’s Commissars” was set up. Its chairman was Lenin. All people were declared equal. Women’s right improved as they were given legal equality with men. Married women were allowed to own property, divorce was made easier and abortion was made easier. Lenin allowed peasants to use all land taken during 1917 through Decree on Land.
Ownership of factories was taken away from existing owners and placed under the control of the elected workers committees. Means of production were also taken away. Under the communist idea of a proletarian revolution that encouraged equality, they nationalised all assets. In working conditions, power was also shared, instead of being told what to do by a boss, every decision was voted on by the workers. Workers benefited from more control over production. Workers committees, large houses were turned over to local soviets who moved in working classes so they do not have to live in slums overcrowded.
All these reforms reflected back on communism, as Lenin tried to make the society more equal, where it was a classless society in which wealth and power was shared equally. However, a negative consequence to the communist revolution was the Civil War (1918-1921). A lot of people were unhappy with the way Lenin was running Russia and enemies like the socialist Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks and the land owners revolted, creating a bloody bitter civil war. War Communism policy was introduced in consequence of this event. With War Communism, food and fuel was tightly rationed in the cities as all the food and fuel went to the Red Army.
The shortages of food caused women to go back into the routine of waiting for a piece of bread in cold weather like when the Tsar had ruled the country. Peasants were not allowed to sell the produce of their farms for profit. They were only allowed to keep a small amount of food to feed themselves and had to give up the rest to the government. This caused black markets to arise, and soon peasants were treated like enemies and could be shot. With War Communism, almost all businesses, factories and mines were taken over by the government.
The government decided what would be produced and how much. Workers were told where to go to work. Their hours were lengthened and harsh discipline was introduced and strike was banned. With War Communism, industrial production dropped, black market flourished and thousands died from fuel shortage, hunger, cold. Lenin and the Bolsheviks successfully achieved in their aims of shaping the force “Communism” influenced by the idea of Marx by overthrowing the Provisional Government and October revolution to bring improved lives for their fellow countrymen and women.
They ultimately got to control Russia and brought the vision of equality amongst the Russian society, however in the longer run, the quality and conditions of lives for the Russian people did not improve and can be argued, worsened compared to the conditions living under the Tsarist regime. This could be why in early 1921, Moscow and Petrograd workers began organising street marches in protest.