Exam question on the Bolshevik consolidation of power

“The Bolsheviks were able to gain complete control over Russia by the end of 1921 only because of the leadership qualities of Lenin”. Do you agree with this statement? Explain your answer.

Lenin’s leadership was an important reason for the Bolshevik’s complete control of Russia by 1921 but it wasn’t the only reason.

No doubt Lenin’s leadership was brilliant. There can be many examples for his excellent leadership as he was the one who changed the whole Russia after The Tsar, which all the people wanted. He was able to solve any problems in his way and this helped the Bolsheviks a lot. He was believed to be a man of iron will and inflexible ambition. Yet other factor must also be considered like the ability to gain popular support, ability to solve problems that had defeated previous government, getting rid of opposition, economic policies, and the most important was Trotsky’s role.

Trotsky played an important role in leading the Bolsheviks to success. As a Bolshevik, he played an important role in organising the 905 revolution. Trotsky was also elected chairman of the Soviet. He sided with Lenin on the need to overthrow the provisional government and devoted himself to support for uprising of the Bolsheviks. When Lenin was in hiding, Trotsky was the general in charge, and he successfully led the Bolshevik Revolution, without hardly any opposition, took over the provisional government.

Economic policies also played an important role in the Bolshevik’s control. The first economic policy was called the war communism. War communism was a policy adopted by Lenin. He made this policy to keep the soldiers happy as the civil war was on and the soldiers needed food and equipments. After this policy the soldiers did get happy but most of the Russia felt discontent about this. There were many side effects as well which later turned into major problems. The main problems of War Communism in the towns were that, large factories were taken under the government’s control, production was planned and organised by the government, discipline for workers was strict and strikes were believed to be dangerous as they would get shot, peasants had to hand over surplus food to the government because of they didn’t then they would be shot, food was rationed and free enterprise became illegal and all production and trade was controlled by the state.

After Lenin made this policy, he had much opposition. His allies were now against him as he was not doing what they had an agreement about. After this entire discontentment all over the country, Lenin decided to introduce another policy. This policy was called NEP (the New Economic Policy). In this policy, there were many changes. Peasants were allowed to sell some of the grains that they grew and this gave a reason to the peasant to grow more food and as a result Russia would get back to good status. Small industries were privatised, by which I mean that the factories were given back to their owners. All of this changed the whole country. Although this was leading towards capitalism and many people disagreed with this, Lenin explained them that if we do this temporarily to get Russia back then we can stop this policy. After the sadness of War Communism, this new policy gave a happy jolt to the Russians which helped them a lot.

Another reason for the Bolshevik’s success was that they were very good at getting rid of their opposition. Couple of examples for that are when the Bolsheviks closed down the constituent assembly. They knew they were going to lose so Lenin sent his red troops and closed it down. This was a very clever move by Lenin. Another example of this was winning the civil war. Even though they were outnumbered, they still won the war. Lenin kept such situation in front of the officers that they had to win the civil war for their own good. This gave a very good impression to the people. And the main reason was Lenin’s Red Terror. If anyone even tried to go against Lenin, they were shot straight away. This was what soon came to be known as Red Terror.

One more reason for the Bolshevik’s success was that Lenin was able to sort al the problems out which the Tsar wasn’t able to. The problems were the food shortages, land problems and the World War 1. After Lenin came in power, al the land belonging to Tsar, church and nobles was handed over to the peasants. Because of getting all this land, the food shortage problem started to go low. Lenin also made a peace treaty with the Germans which ended the World War Problem. Although Lenin had to give away quite a bit of Russian land, this still settled most of the problems in Russia. But because of this Lenin had quite an impression on the Russian people.

One more of the reason why Bolsheviks gained success was Lenin’s ability to gain popular support from the Russian people. He made many slogans, did a lot of propaganda and because of this he got the support of the peasants. 80% of Russia was filled with peasants and by getting the support of the peasants; it was like almost the whole of Russia was on your side. He also made many decrees to keep the Russian people happy. One of his important slogans was “Peace, Bread, Land and all power to the Soviets.” It was said in a very strong manner which made all the peasants and workers to believe in this very strongly. This gave Lenin a lot of popularity. He made propaganda posters which made the foreign armies look disgusting. All because of this Lenin had a lot of popularity. This helped then to the success of the Bolsheviks.

All of these reasons also helped Bolsheviks to success so Lenin’s leadership qualities were not the only thing that led them to success. No doubt Lenin’s leadership was good but it wasn’t good enough to lead Bolsheviks alone. Al this helped them very much and all because of that Bolsheviks were led to success.