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October Revolution presentation

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Type of Revolution.
There is an ongoing historiographical debate
about whether the October Revolution was a:
1.Proletarian/Popular Revolution or
2.a Coup D’état
This debate continues because of the varying
political views of historians about whether
Communism is a good or evil system.
Proletarian/Popular Revolution.
There was increasing support from workers to the
Petrograd Soviet because of limitations being imposed
on workers organisations.
Soldiers- still some front-line patriotism, but no so in the
garrisons, plus more peasant soldier support.
By September there was further evidence of popular
impatience- army officer’s authority declined, more
strikes and peasants against private land ownership.
However, the November elections reflected Bolshevik’s
lack of support BUT in some areas of Petrograd they
gained nearly as much as 70% support!
Coup D’état.
Constituent Assembly elections show that the
Bolsheviks were not that popular but they did
have key support in Moscow and Petrograd (the
centres of power)
Bolsheviks not prepared- the July Days (covered
in causes)
Historiography for Type
G. Hosking: “…the Bolsheviks rode to power on the crest of a groundswell
generated by the mass of people.”
Robert Service: “The conditions for a seizure of power with the sanction of
exhausted workers, war-weary soldiers and angry peasants could hardly
have been more favourable.”
Beryl Williams: notes that the people may have supported the Bolsheviks, but
they hardly knew what Bolshevism stood for. There was significant
evidence pointing to that is was a coup.
Richard Pipes: A “clandestine coup d’état”
Sheila Fitzpatrick: claims it was the workers, soldiers and peasants who
created the circumstances for Bolshevik success.
Christopher Read: claims that Lenin was a key figure, but there was also a lot
of independent action at local level.
Causes of Revolution.
Briefly speak about what the provisional government is, the
Soviet (including Order No. 1), the April Theses and Trotsky
joining Lenin and believing in a worldwide revolution.
Go into more detail with the problems the government faced:
•The war- keeping the allies happy, the summer offensive.
•Economic hardship – can’t feed the people.
•Land – issues with the peasants and land owners.
•National minority demands – wanting independence.
•July Days
•Kornilov Affair
Historiography for Causes
J Charmichael: claims that the people were fatigued, angry and had a
strong desire for revolution to gain “peace, bread and land…”
Robert Service: “for most of the year the Provisional Government
survived on guile and rhetoric.” – sly and cunning intelligence
Rabinowitch: (can also be used for type) states that the long-term
causes (War, land etc.) contributed strongly to the unrest of the
masses made “the desire for an end to the coalition government very
nearly universal”
Kowalski: argues that the whole political system of Russia at the time
was a victim of many “unpredictable accidents” eg. The Kornilov Affair.
Richard Pipes: states that “it was only a question of time before
Kerensky would be overthrown by someone able to provide firm
Example Questions
1. To what extent was October a “proletarian revolution”
rather than a “coup d’état”? (2010)
2. How important were the contributions of Lenin and
Trotsky in bringing about the October
1. To what extent can the decline of the Provisional
Government be dated from the July Days?(2006)
2. “Peace, bread, land”. Is this an adequate explanation
of the October Revolution?(2003)
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