Lead Up To The First World War Essay

Length: 7 pages Sources: 10 Subject: Government Type: Essay Paper: #17653236 Related Topics: Joseph Stalin, Russian, World War I, Revolutionary War
Excerpt from Essay :

Russian Revolution 1914-1930

Lenin's April Theses?

When Vladimir Lenin returned to Saint Petersburg from his exile in Switzerland, he wrote a collection of directives that were intended for Bolsheviks, both those in Russia and those returning to Russia from exile, just as Lenin was (Acton, et al. 1997; Pares, 2001). The primary tenets of the Aprelskiye Tezisy or April Theses, as they came to be called, were primarily as follows: The workers' councils or soviets were to take power -- to control the state -- and in the process, denounce all liberals and social democrats who were in the Provisional Government (Acton, et al. 1997; Pares, 2001). That is to say that he implored the Bolsheviks to not cooperate with the government, but rather to help establish new communist policies (Acton, et al. 1997; Pares, 2001). Lenin argued that the rank and file revolutionaries had been deceived by the bourgeoisie and that, "The new government, like the preceding one, is imperialistic, despite the promise of a republic - it is imperialistic through and through."

The April Theses were he basis for a program that Lenin brought to maturity during the 1917 Russian Revolution (Acton, et al. 1997; Pares, 2001). The directives were intended for a broad audience, which lead to the publishing of the April Theses, an act that served as a catalyst for the July Days uprising, and eventually to the coup d'etat that occurred in October 1917 and located the Bolsheviks in power of the state (Acton, et al. 1997; Pares, 2001). Lenin's message to the army in the field was that the imperialist war would only come to an end "with a really democratic, non-oppressive peace" if the capital was overthrown (Acton, et al. 1997; Pares, 2001). Lenin called for a "second stage" of the revolution in which the first stage errors would be corrected by taking power away from the bourgeoisie and putting it in the politically inexperienced "hands of the proletariat and the poorest strata of the peasantry..." (Acton, et al. 1997; Pares, 2001).

The Abdications of Nicholas II?

Perspective is gained by understanding that the April Theses were issues on April 4, 1917, just a month following the February Revolution that resulted in the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II and the collapse of Imperial Russia (Acton, et al. 1997; Pares, 2001). The liberal Provisional Government under Georgy Lvov, and later on, Alexander Kerensky, had barely time to gel (Acton, et al. 1997; Pares, 2001). Indeed, the declared intentions of the Provisional Government were to bring about political reform by establishing a democracy in which elections would be held for an executive leader and for an assembly of constituents (Acton, et al. 1997; Pares, 2001).

The path that led to abdication by Nicholas II took its clearest shape during the First World War I: following the Russian mobilization in August 1914, 3.3 million Russians were killed in the war (Acton, et al. 1997; Pares, 2001). The High Command was seen as incompetent in its approach to the war: the losses of the Imperial Army were severe (Acton, et al. 1997; Pares, 2001). In attempts to address problems in the country, Nicholas II resorted to draconian measures, with anti-Semitic pogroms, Bloody Sunday, and the violent suppression of the 1905 Revolution scarring the Romanov dynasty (Acton, et al. 1997; Pares, 2001). Nicholas blundered even when it came to celebration of the crown, as evidenced by the mishandling of the coronation that resulted in the Khodynka Tragedy (Acton, et al. 1997; Pares, 2001).

The February Revolution was one of two revolutions to occur in Russia in 1917 (Acton, et al. 1997). Lasting less than a week, the February Revolution was marked by massive demonstrations that resulted in clashes with the police and the last loyal forces of the Russian monarchy (Acton, et al. 1997; Pares, 2001). By the end of the revolution, the forces of the Russian Army had sided with the revolutionaries (Acton, et al. 1997; Pares, 2001). Nicholas II had little choice but to abdicate following the February Revolution as he and his family were imprisoned and moved from the Alexander Palace at Tsarskove Selo to the Governor's Mansion in Tobolski, and finally to the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg (Acton, et al. 1997; Pares, 2001). Committed to the Ural soviet by the commissar Vasili Yakovle in the spring of 1918, Nicholas II, his wife, immediate family members, and the royal entourage were all executed by Bolsheviks in Ipatiev House on the eve of July 16 / 17, 1918 (Acton, et al. 1997; Pares, 2001).

Aleksandra Kollontai - Make Way for Winged Eros: A Letter to Working Youth?

Aleksandra Kollontai was a Russian revolutionary who was first a member of the moderate Mensheviks, but joined the Bolsheviks in 1914 (Petty 2014). Her political interests predominately centered on the issues of working women's,...


A belief in the need for a separate women's revolutionary struggle did not sit well with members of the socialist movement, who saw it as undermining the working-class unity tenets of the revolution (Petty 2014). Kollontai continued unabashedly and established the Society of Working Women's Mutual Aid club from the merger of the Menshevik and Bolshevik parties (Petty 2014).

Kollontai was opposed to the war; she had this in common with Lenin and the shared ideology eventually led Kollontai to return to Russia (Petty 2014). Indeed, it was Kollontai's strong objection to the climate of support for the war that caused her to begin corresponding with Lenin about the nature of the war and the response of the Russian revolutionaries (Petty 2014). Kollontai returned to Russia at the time of the February Revolution of 1917, where she again joined the Bolsheviks and was elected as Commissar of Social Welfare, a role in which she could directly address requests made by women (Petty 2014).

Kollontai questioned the need for traditional family as she recognized its economic basis, the dynamics of which would be changed by the revolution (Petty 2014). Her essay, Make Way for Winged Eros: A Letter to Working Youth, was considered an in-depth assessment of the preoccupation with sexuality and relationships that seemed at odds with the immense amount of work to be accomplished by workers (Petty 2014). As Stalin co-opted the revolution, Kollontai no longer had a platform or a voice. Kollontai, like so many of her contemporaries, believed that the revolution would -- in its rightness -- resolve the intrinsic and residual problems faced by women and children, with equality achieved automatically as things fell into place (Petty 2014). In the end, she survived the purges and adjusted to her silenced voice and endless compromise (Petty 2014).

Lenin's Call to Power?

Lenin was convinced that the capitalist class in Russia would not be able to fend off a vanguard party supported by peasants and workers that would seize the power of the Russian state, and then work to establish a communist society (Rabinowitch 2008). The First World War left many countries weakened, particularly Russia (Rabinowitch 2008). Of the revolutionary movements in Europe that took place between 1848 and 1917, most held to the idea that in a collectivist society, people of every class would have democratic rights (Rabinowitch 2008).

While some of these movements believed that socialism could be established through the implementation of these democratic processes, other movements believed it would take class war for the changes to occur (Rabinowitch 2008). No matter which side of the fence the members of these movements stood, they all understood that a mass social revolution would be required to enable the desired changes to take place (Rabinowitch 2008). In their optimism, leaders of these revolutionary movements read into the organized labor unions and labor parties of developed capitalist countries a promise: the seeding of revolution (Rabinowitch 2008). There was a general appreciation of the fact that the poorly organized and small body of organized laborers in Russia would not foment a capitalist revolution: there needed to be a struggle for power by the socialists and the working class (Rabinowitch 2008).


Lenin and the Bolsheviks were hostile toward anyone who could be popular in politics, and they were ruthless in their efforts to suppress anyone who was not absolutely loyal or appeared to have the power to sway people (Rabinowitch 2008). The Communist Party was ruled according to the whims of a small elite group of Bolsheviks, who were known to underscore their decrees by terrorizing the very people they professed to champion (Rabinowitch 2008).

The tight centralization of the party was honed even more under Joseph Stalin, who instituted the revolution from above, which basically meant that the interests of individuals were subsumed under the interests of the state (Rabinowitch 2008). In what the Communists believed was a sacred social purpose, the steps to socialism were determined to be forced collectivization and industrialization, whatever the cost to the people (Rabinowitch 2008). The Great Terror Stalin wrought erased any thought or…

Sources Used in Documents:

Essays by 46 historians make this an important book on the Russian revolution and the fall of the Soviet Union. The discussion of the revolution includes the actors and the question of agency; the parties, the revolutionary movements, and the ideologies; and the question of consciousness and economic.

Petty, Leia. Kollontai Rediscovered. SocialistWorker.org. Book Review. 27 August 2014. 24 November 2014.

This book review was helpful to the effort of interpreting Kollontai's esoteric and self-absorbed work.

Cite this Document:

"Lead Up To The First World War" (2014, November 25) Retrieved February 8, 2023, from

"Lead Up To The First World War" 25 November 2014. Web.8 February. 2023. <

"Lead Up To The First World War", 25 November 2014, Accessed.8 February. 2023,

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