Tsar Nicolas II -||- Rasputin -||- Discontent and the lure of Communism -||- World War I -||- Bolshevik Revolution
~~~-Russian Revolution & Imperial Russia -~~~
The Bolshevik Revolution
No one expected the Bolsheviks to actually win any power. They were a tiny party, not even the 'majority' as the word 'Bolshevik' meant.
For Lenin, democracy was Bolshevik Party in charge. It was a kind of oligarchy, where everything was controlled by a select few.
Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me explain a little about the Constituent Government that took over. It was run by a combination of the Petrograd Soviet and the Provintional Government. Internal fighting prevented the group from doing a good job running the country, and even worse, they promised the allies continued Russian support in the war. The people turned to Lenin, as he promised peace to the Russians. Peace- sounded good- but it did not come. Bolshevik power would be followed by a Civil War. After that would be the unhappy years of Stalin.
When Lenin first proposed his plans for a Revolution, he was met with much opposition. He was returned to Russia with the help of the Germans, who were eager to weaken Russia. Therefore, they supported whatever conflicts Lenin might cause. His arrival in the Finland Station of Petrograd is made famous by thousands of paintings but what really happened? There are reports that the 'crowd' was paid or forced to be there, but there was probably more than that. A description of Lenin by John Reed can perhaps help with the picture: "...Dressed in shabby clothes, his trousers much too long for him. Unimpressive, to be the idol of a mob, loved and revered as perhaps few leaders in history have been. A strange popular leader- a leader purely by virtue of intellect; colorless, humorless, uncompromising and detached, without picturesque idiosyncracies- but with the power of explaining profound ideas in simple tersm, of analyzing a concrete situation. And combined with shrewdness, the greatest intellectual audacity."
So Lenin returned to Russia and encouraged his party to take action with the words "We must not wait! We may lose everything!" So a compromise was met and plans went under way. The actual revolution itself was overseen by the Menshevik turned Bolshevik- Leon Trotsky. The Red Guards held the former government members at gunpoint, and so they left. When Lenin walked the city, it was so calm, he did not even realize his party had it. Only afterwards when he interrogated his colleagues that he found the truth.
Events followed. The treaty of Brest-Litovsk ended the war with the Germans, but giving up sizable parts of the Ukraine in the process. Many objected to the terms but the Russians had no choice, there was hardly a military left.
The Bolsheviks were in power. However, they did not really have power until they won the Civil War against the 'White Army'.
The White Army was a last attempt by old Cossacks and non-Communists for power. They had allied help and supposidely, more experience. But the thing was, the White Army was not truly united. The only thing that they could agree on was that they hated the Bolsheviks. They fought amongst themselves and terrorized civilians. They ended up losing the war because they failed to convince the people of Russia that they (the Whites) were a better option than the Bolsheviks.
To fund his party's war, Lenin introduced War Communism, where all the people had to contribute food and other things to the soldiers. People went back to the dark ages during this time, being forced to barter to survive. After the war was over, Lenin introduced the New Economic Policy (NEP). It was a 'step back to capitalism' as it allowed farmers to sell their crop. It was nicknamed the 'New Exploitation of the Proletariat'. Yet it was needed for rebuilding the country. Lenin was vague about how long NEP should last, and in fact, died before he could specify.