Why historians disagree about the role that Lenin played in the foundation and development of communist government in Russia Essay
In passage A, Lenin is portrayed as the sole savior of the proletariat and the champion of communism established in Russia. The passage corroborates its claim by underlining the change or adaptation Lenin had done to the original Marxist theory. The historian in this passage extols Lenin to have rendered the Marxist ideas as “a proposition that corresponded to the new historical conditions. ” It posits that if the change implemented by Lenin had not occurred, Marxist ideas would be outdated and unable to be adapted to result in a successful establishment of Russian communism.
Lenin’s acumen is highly valued by the historian as the Bolshevik leader who had “the courage to replace one of the old propositions of Marxism. ” Ultimately, Lenin is characterized by the savior of the proletariat from the enemies. On the other hand, passage B does consider that “Lenin had the greatest but no the sole influence” in establishment of Russian communism. It directly refutes the portrayal of Lenin as the father of Russian communism presented in passage A.
In fact, Robert Service claims that “Lenin did not invent most of the attitudes of Russian revolutionary. ” The historian states that Lenin was one of the many groups that advocated similar causes. “The populist terrorists in the 1860s-1880s had developed many of them; and they were not entirely absent from certain trends in European nineteenth-century socialism and anarchism. ” Lenin, in deed was a part of a bigger movement that had started before him. The passage goes further to claim that “Marxist did not need Lenin to resuscitate this tradition for them. Service points out that there were many capable leaders – such as Plekhanov and Trotsky – among his contemporaries that played roles almost equivalent and pivotal in establishment of Russian communism. In addition, the physical absence of Lenin during the period before his arrival in Petrograd in April 1917 substantiates the idea that, in reality, Lenin only had an indirect influence over his own parties. Lenin’s influence was limited to what “he could achieve by his journalism and his correspondence. ”
Using these four passages and your own knowledge, explain how and why historians disagree about the role that Lenin played in the foundation and development of communist government in Russia. The role of Lenin in the foundation and development of communist government in Russia still remains a polemic. Historians disagree about this political leader that left a landmark turn-point in the world’s largest country. Nevertheless, all historians seem to reach a conscious on the point that Lenin had a prodigious impact on the establishment of Russian communism.
Some historians believe that Lenin is the savior of the proletariat and the modifications made by him to the Marxist’s idea, “the proletariat would have lost, and the enemies of the proletariat would have won. ” For these historians, Lenin is solely responsible for the communism in Russia. ” It was through Lenin’s “courage to replace one of the old propositions” that Marxism was able to flourish in Russia. Lenin believed that the revolution should be implemented by an elite group of professional revolutionary and distrusted the peasants as apathetic to the causes of Marxism.
These historians would gain support from the fact that it was the Bolsheviks, under the leadership of Lenin that had overthrown the provisional government and start the communist rule in Russia (Source A). However, some historians disagree that Lenin is solely responsible for the birth of communist government in Russia. These historians believe that Lenin only followed the trend that was originated from the “populist terrorists in the 1860s-1880s” who predated him. Moreover, the influence of Lenin in the revolutionary movement is viewed as significant but not as absolute.
The proponents of this idea underlines that Lenin was physically absent during the time before the November Revolution in 1917 that overthrew the Provisional government. The historians also state the idea that there were many leaders that exercised great influence in the communist revolution. In fact, they could gain support of their claim through showing how it was Trotsky, the leader of the Red Guard, had actually organized and coordinated the November Revolution in 1917 and that he should be given more credit to the establishment of Bolshevik rule in Russia.
Moreover, it was Trotsky that actually sat in the Petrograd Soviets and worked to expand Bolshevik influence and control of the political body. Lenin, indeed, never was part of the Soviets. Perhaps Lenin does deserve to be acknowledged as having the “greatest influence” through his leadership and propaganda that antagonized the provisional government and won the support of the people, but other contemporaries such as Trotsky played almost an equal role in capsizing the Provisional Government to give birth to the communist order (Source B).
On the other hand, some historians portray Lenin as “the natural leader of the party” but a leader that “had to reaffirm his credentials repeatedly. ” These historians provide instances where Lenin’s views were not accepted by the other members of the Bolshevik parties. In reality many factions existed within the party where “members could cultivate their own constituencies. ” Other contemporary leaders of the party include Zinoviev, Kamenev, Trotsky, Tomsky and Stalin. A historical evidence that could authenticate that Lenin’s views were not always accepted.
When Lenin wrote his April Thesis in 1917, the Bolshevik party refused to publish it in its own newspapers as the members thought that these ideas were too radical. They were afraid of the possible backlashes by publishing Lenin’s programs. Another historical instance where Lenin’s program caused polemic inside his communist party was his issue of New Economic Policy in 1921. Almost all the members of the party rejected this policy as “capitalist. ” “This lack of consensus on many major issues imposed a heavy burden on the leader. Lenin’s leadership in his party was not absolute, and according to these historians, Lenin’s role in the party or the newly established government was not that of a dictator (Source C).
But other historians believe that Lenin did exercise a “personal dictatorship” that was only “camouflaged by such formulas as ‘democratic centralism’ and the custom of de-emphasizing the role of individuals in favor of impersonal historic forces. ” These historians portray the role on Lenin as that of a despot who “never tolerated a view that conflicted with his own, even if it happened to be that of the majority. The implementation of the New Economic Policy albeit all the disagreements that come from other members of the party; providing evidence to this argument. Lenin described the NEP as a “strategic retreat” and dismissed Trotsky, Zinoviev or Kamenev’s claim that NEP was against Marxism, the very idea that they promoted. Nevertheless, nobody could challenge Lenin’s iron leadership of the country (Source D). All in all, historians disagree about the role that Lenin played in the foundation and development of communist government in Russia.
Historians disagree whether Lenin was solely responsible for the birth of “Leninist Marxism” or it was the influence of several contemporary leaders and the general trend of European socialism that resulted in the establishment of the communist rule in the country. Moreover, historians exhibit their discrepancies in opinions of whether Lenin was a dictator once the communist government was in power or he was constantly challenged by other leaders of the Politburo.
Interestingly enough, historical events and evidences could be used to support any of the presented claims, perhaps providing an explanation why the debate on the issue still continues today. By exploring the origin and purpose of sources A and B, analyze the value and limitations of the two documents. Source A is a passage from History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), published in the Soviet Union in 1938. This version portrays Lenin as the guiding genius of the Revolution. Hence, it is has a purpose to present a Russian perspective on the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) and Lenin to students.
The value of this source is that it is published in 1938, when Russia was still called the Soviet Union. Also, the source is written from the Russians or Soviets possibly by the Bolsheviks. Thus, in a way, it could possibly contain many documents and passages from a primary source. Moreover, the source could give insights and Soviet perspective on the situation in the Soviet Union, and the role of Lenin. In addition, Source A was written closer to the date of Lenin’s death (1924) compared to other Sources. Nevertheless, Source A has limitations.
This document could be too pro-Lenin and pro-Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks); thus there is a problem of subjectivity (since it could be possibly biased). Hence, could neglect the negative aspects of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) and Lenin. Also, the translation of this document into English could be a problem, depending on the level of accuracy of the translation. On the other hand, Source B, written by Robert Service, a British historian, is a secondary source, published in 1997. Source B is a passage from Critical Companion to the Russian Revolution (ed.
Acton, Chernaiev and Rosenberg). The book was written with the purpose to provide and emphasize that a strong revolutionary tradition existed in Russia before Lenin came upon the scene to students. This source is particularly valuable in that it is written by a non-Russian historian, thus, adding objectivity to the interpretations put forth since the historian is not writing his native history. In addition, it has many editors who revised this source, and therefore is more convincing since there are four historians corroborating the document.
Also, the source is quite recent compared to Source A which was published in 1938. Nonetheless, this source also has limitations. The fact that the Source B is a secondary source is a weakness. In addition, the source possibly does not give insights to the Russian perspective as much detailed or more as a source that would be written by a Russian historian. Moreover, Source B seems to be anti-Lenin and give little credit to Lenin for his role in establishing Communism in Russia; thus there might be some subjectivity in this document.