IB History – Mr. Wade
How successful was Lenin (1917-1924) in solving the problems he faced?
With the October revolution in 1917, Lenin managed to execute a successful coup d’état against the provisional government of Russia and with the death of the constituent assembly early 1918; Lenin and his Bolsheviks had finally control over Russia. However this was just the beginning of various problems he would be facing. This raised the debate on whether Lenin could deal with these problems or not. Many of the quarrels originated from the Tsar’s regime and the provisional government such as Russia’s participation in WW1 as well as economic underdevelopment. Immediate problems such as the raging civil war existed as
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The ‘bread basket’ of Russia was lost and due to the inflation, there was no incentive to sell or buy as mentioned earlier. Thus food requisitioning had to be introduced where requisitions squads were sent to look for the grain that the supposed kulaks were hoarding. This crucially made more enemies for the Bolsheviks and thus in 1918, the civil war started. Lenin, with the power of the Cheka, war communism and Trotsky’s excellent leadership in the Red Army, had relative ease in winning the war though. The Bolsheviks essentially were fighting a multi-fronted war. Yet Trotsky managed to defeat the Whites. Of course his leadership was crucial but so was the fact that the Whites’ army was very uncoordinated due to the clash of opinions. The Cheka had the purpose of dealing the ‘enemies of the state’. With the order for the Red Terror by Lenin, the dealing had turned into annihilation. This did go out of control, no government body had control over the Cheka and executions happened without trials. It is said that around 50,000 were shot in 1918 alone. Furthermore with the introduction of war communism in June 1918, all production was concentrated on war effort. Party officials replaced factory committees and not only did the industrial production collapse, food shortages became even more serious as grain production dropped from 80 to 38 millions tons in just a matter of a few years. Thus, in one sense Lenin was very successful in winning the civil war as he completely