The Russian revolution: How Did the Bolsheviks Gain Power?

Jared Wilson

How did the Bolshevisks seize power of the Russia Empire in 1917? They were able to do this as a result of taking advantage of the current political and social situations in the country at the time. Through such decisions as disbanding the army, and siding with the majority, the peasants, though such promises as land, food, equality and peace. Through such events Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, also known as Lenin, was able to take full control for the Bolsheviks.

The Bolsheviks started off, in 1903, as the main minority of the Social Democratic Labour Party. As all anti-tsarist groups the party was illegal. The party was based upon the beliefs of Karl Marx, a german writer and revolutionary, who believed a revolution could only be started within the workforce of the major cities. Lenin believed strongly in these morlas and used them as a guide to his goal of revolution.

The party continued to prostest against the current government in Russia and over time the political, social and economic disontent and the famous event know as 'Bloody Sunday', where the imperial guards shot and killed the protesting people of St.Petersburg, eventually pulled more followers over to the party.

After these events, which were known as the 1905 revolutuon, the October Manifesto occured. This gave the people a lot more rights and a national parliament, the Duma. All seemed well, but there was one problem. The Menshiviks, who were the less radical majority of the Social Democratic Labour Party, argued that the revolution had gone far enough, however the Bolsheviks insisted that it go further until a new, soviet state was established. Thus, the party split up and formed two seperate groups. Also, since the revolution hadn't worked, many of the revolution's leaders, such as Lenin, were forced to go into exile abroad.

During his time in Switzerland, in exile, Lenin wrote his thoughts in his revolutionary newspaper, "Pravda". Through this Lenin was able to show his supporters their mistakes in the first revolution and what they needed to do for a second one to work. These ideas helped the Soviets organise themselves better, which paved the way for 1917.

Even with the new reforms the Tsarist govenment made, it wasn't good enough for the people of Russia. Further discontent spread through out the country and in 1917 the second revolution occured. Compared with the first revolution in 1905, this was massive. The Tsar, Nicolas II, was forced to abdicate, russia became a republic under the control of a liberal government. This was not to be the last revolution though.

In April, 1917, Lenin returned home. As soon as he arrived he began organising the Bolshevik opposition towards the newly founded parliament. Although not extremely popular at the time, Lenin's excellent oranisation, and promises of a better life gained him more and more support. Soon he was joined in his effort by Trotsky, a former menshivik, who helped him organise the movement.

Lenin thought his chance had come in July. There was an uprising against the government and the Bolsheviks took advantage of the situation and supported the protesters. In the end though, the uprising was suppressed and many Bolsheviks, including trotsky were imprisoned. Again, Lenin left for overseas.

While Lenin was hiding out in Finland the head of the provisional goverment tried to win more support by resigning and placing Kernsky as the new prime minister of a new government, maily made up of menshiviks and social revolutionaries. This satisfied the people at first, but soon the armed forces tried to overthrow Kerensky. Worried, Kerensky turned to the Bolsheviks for support. He released bolshevik prisoners and gave them much power. This enabled the Bolsheviks to start taking control. Realising another chance had came, Lenin wrote to his comrades, telling them to organise a second revolution.

In October the second revolution worked. Lenin came back from Finland and organised, with Trotsky, the new plan to take control. Trotsky organised a small army and stormed the Winter Palace, home to the weakening Kerensky goverment. The Bolsheviks then captured Moscow and were in basic control of Russia.

Although Lenin had control he wasn't completely supported by the people of Russia. To gain support Lenin made a secret police force, which was in charge of erasing any opposition to the party. The Bolsheviks were also renamed the Communists. Freedom of press was cancelled, unless you supported the Communist