The aftermath of the Russian Revolution of 1917 lead to the emergence of the Bolsheviks in the political scenario in the country. Previously, this was a minority revolutionary party whose members believed in the economic and political ideals of Karl Marx. They held the view that the working classes especially the laborers and the peasants would need to emancipate themselves from the oppressive nobility and elite classes at some point of time in order to gain economic and political freedom. According to them, this was the only way the country could establish itself as a genuine socialistic state founded on the principles of equality.
Orlando Figes, a reputed historian and academician from Cambridge University explains that prior to the Russian revolution in 1917, the Bolsheviks did not have any significant political influence in the country. In fact, most of the party leaders including the Vladimir Ilyich Ulianov alias Lenin were living in exile in Switzerland when the violent uprising against the Czar broke out in February 1917. At the time, the prospect of the Bolsheviks dominating the Russian political scene seemed remote to many people in the country even after abolishing the monarchy. However, by the end of the year, this prominent revolutionary party was forming the government in Russia.
This prominent expert on the Russian Revolution points out following three significant factors that led to the rise of the Bolsheviks in the country:
- Provisional Government
With the fall of the last Czar of Russia, the country was in need of a proper interim government to handle the prevailing situation until the political leaders could hold free and fair elections. This led to the establishment of the Provisional Government. However, many of its policies like committing the country’s armed forces to continue fighting in the First World War and postponing the implementation of land reforms create further dissent among the people and create the ideal political environment for the rise of Lenin to power.
- The Soviets
The aftermath of the February Revolution paved the way the first Soviet to appear in the Russian political scene in Petrograd after his election. Soon many other Soviets come to power under a popular mandate in Moscow and other prominent Russian cities. The Soviets were actually councils comprising of sailors, soldiers and industrial workers but were rowdy and chaotic. However, Lenin capitalized on the opportunity to form an alliance with them under the slogan “All Power to the Soviets!” and declared that Russia should ruled by them.
- Economic situation
The economic hardships of the Russian people especially the workers and peasants played a critical role in abolishing the autocratic rule of the Czar and the fall of the last monarch, Nicholas II. However, the Provisional Government that took over the country afterwards was also unsuccessful in dealing with the economic crisis of the previous regime. Inflationary conditions because an acute shortage of food along with the growing dissatisfaction among the peasant classes on delay in implementing of land reforms created fertile ground of the Bolsheviks’ rise to power.
Orlando Figes says that Bolsheviks’ raise in Russian politics after the fall of Nicholas II marks a significant phase in history of the country.