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From Revolution to Crisis

With the reign of the tsar finally coming to an end in February, the new government immediately fell into economic crises. The new government inherited the economic mismanagement, high income inequality, a very large and angry peasant class, and the costly war effort from the old regime. Upon gaining power, the Provisional Government experienced demands for immediate action needed to helps stimulate the economy. The newly formed government with its slow machinations, internal divisions, and lack of experience, combined with the economic mess it inherited, as well as political protests from peasants and the Petrograd Soviet, proved ill-equipped to immediately solve the many problems Russia possessed. The Petrograd Soviet, which was formed out of a collection of several socialist parties, demanded the government to renounce any and all expansionist war aims. The Provisional Government countered that the war was needed over treaty obligations, despite not having any expansionist aims. The frustration with the new government would hit a boiling point in just two months, as Vladimir Lenin made his return to the political scene.

Portrait of Vladimir Lenin picturing him soon after his return to Petrograd

Returning to Russia, Lenin shook the political world with his April Thesis, which demanded the abolition of dual power and the governing authority of Russia to be in soviet hands. In his statement, Lenin not only promised to end food shortages and long standing grievances held by the peasants, but to also end the war which Russia’s poorest disproportionately suffered the most from. The April Thesis helped not only Lenin regain the role as the leader of the Bolsheviks, but also differentiated his party from other socialist parties, making it more powerful in the process. The timing of his return as a political leader was perfect for soon it became known that the Foreign Minister Pavel Milyukov had promised its Allies it would observe all treaties made by the tsar. Mass protests erupted in Russia, forcing the Milyukov and the War Minister to resign. In an effort to quell the anger at the Provisional Government’s foreign policy, the Provisional Government formed a new coalition government with the Petrograd Soviet.

Foreign Minister Pavel Milyukov

The formation of a new government in response to the protests during the April Crises only played into Lenin’s hands. With socialist opponents of the Soviets joining the Provisional government, these parties could be both linked to the government’s domestic policies and the increasingly unpopular war. This allowed the political divisions between the Bolsheviks and all other parties become more noticeable, which benefited the Bolsheviks, especially as the clear political party opposed to the war. The April Crisis demonstrated the Russian populace’s issues with the current government authorities and the wide-spread disdain for the war. This crisis demonstrated the trouble the new Provisional Government would continue to have since the disposition of the tsar and foreshadowed that Russia’s political revolution was far from over.

Sources:
Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History, 3rd ed. Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2009.
Kavkaza, Vestnik. “Pavel Milyukov on State Unity.” Vestnik Kavkaza. Article Published 2014. http://vestnikkavkaza.net/articles/society/46462.html.
Siegelbaum, Lewis. “April Crisis.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History: An On-line Archive of Primary Sources. http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1917-2/april-crisis/.
Rusin, Arkadii Viktorovich. Lenin at the Finland-Station (1970). Horvath, Werner: Political Art Gallery. 2000.

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10 Responses to “From Revolution to Crisis”

  1. lee0624 says:

    This was a great post. The post captured just how troubled the Russian government was until Lenin stepped up. Along with the descriptions of the government, the amount of detail given into describing what Lenin was able to accomplish was incredibly informative. Lenin really was able to gain popular support, and use the failing government/economy to his advantage.

  2. A. Nelson says:

    I like the image of Lenin “stepping up”! And I really appreciate the way you’ve made sense of a tangled and complex series of events. Connecting the Bolsheviks’ rise in popularity to their consistent denunciation of the war and the Provisional Government’s refusal to disengage from it makes a lot of sense. Let’s make sure we talk more about Dual Power in class.

  3. Nick Runkel says:

    I have always been really struck by Lenin and how through his intellectual and political might and the sheer force of his personality he was able to stabilize a nation and produce a government that worked for the better part of a century. I think that he sometimes gets lost in the shuffle because of Stalin but I would be extremely interested in learning more about Lenin and his force of personality. So I was glad you brought him up in this great post.

  4. Sean Moughan says:

    You break this down very well. As a potentially confusing topic, you do a good job making sense of it and presenting it in a clear manner. I am always amazed by Lenin’s tenacity and able to shake the ground where ever he walks. Good job this week!

  5. Katie Mazzola says:

    No new nation or government will walk into a spectacular economy. When a new government is needed it is because there are problems with the old one usually beginning with a bad economy. Establishing an economy is one of the most difficult things a government needs to do and even powerful nations, like the US, still struggles with maintaining a strong economy. The poor economy fed into Lenin’s ability to gain power because promising to improve the economy helped him recruit followers.

  6. A. Nelson says:

    Katie’s right about the economy. Huge problem! And the PG’s inability to manage expectations about the basics (i.e. the food supply) and the big picture (land reform) certainly contributed to its credibility crisis. Since Lenin’s April Theses are so central to this post, I’m putting a link to them here: http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1917-2/april-crisis/april-crisis-texts/april-thesis/

  7. very helpful at all, thank you for the article.

  8. wisatagan says:

    nice article, i like it

  9. That’s story is very helpful.

  10. Resep Enak says:

    Nice i like your article

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