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Why Was the Bolshevik Government Able to Survive in the Years 1917-1924?

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The survival of the Bolshevik Government in the years 1917-1924 is sometimes attributed to its use of force, and harsh repressive policies, to make the people to obey it. An example of this would be the grain requisitioning used to fund its economic policy of war communism, where farmers were forced to give up their produce to the Red Army. On the other hand, it is possible that the Bolshevik's enjoyed some form of genuine popularity, given that they were considered the 'lesser of two evils'. It is to be noted that during the war, peasants would often rally toward the Bolsheviks over the White Army. Considering the time period, however, other factors must have been involved as popularity waned in 1921, meaning that the party didn't always have support, and economic policy became less harsh following the end of the war so repression reduced.

In the first year of its rule, from 1917-1918, the Bolshevik Government achieved more that the Tsar ever could have. Its Decree on Land was a major first step as the peasants had wanted this for a long time. The Decree on the Rights of the People of Russia supported the right of national minorities to form their own nations; again this had been refused to them for a while. Lastly workers were given humane working hours and control of factories. Thus, the Bolsheviks did have a large support base because of their policies, which made it easier for them to stay in power. The idea of revolutionary justice where the bourgeoisie were terrorized, however, meant that the upper classes had more reason to hate the Bolsheviks and create an opposing force- the White Army. Like the Tsar, the Bolshevik government still relied on some form of repression. In January 1918, following elections to the Constituent Assembly, the Bolsheviks shut this down the day after it opened because they didn't have a majority. The Socialist Revolutionaries gained the 370 seats due to peasant support while the Bolsheviks gained 170 seats. Considering that this Assembly had been a demand for years, the Bolsheviks closure of it would have caused issues. The Sovnarkom that was established in its place was tightly regulated by Lenin, and only Bolsheviks had places in it. In addition, the decrease in political freedom was also an effect of repression. Parties were slowly eliminated which culminated in a Constitution in 1918 that made Russia a one party state. Strict censorship and the establishment of the Cheka also show that the Bolsheviks left no room for dissent. Within just three years, it was suspected to have executed 300,000 people. Yet the Bolsheviks did not always succeed in their plans; the Treaty of Brest Litovsk in 1918 was a massive failure that caused Russia to lose half of its industry and a third of its population and land. The idea behind it was that the German workers would join in a Revolution, but the troops continued to advance and the Russians were at the mercy of the Germans. It was this Treaty



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