Alexander II’s reforms involved the 1864 Zemstva Act, which created local councils. These local councils had powers to provide roads, schools and medical services. However, the right to elect members was restricted to the wealthy. This meant that only the nobles would be in charge, as they would all vote their friends into office. However after Karakazov attempts to assassinate the Tsar in 1866, he becomes much more autocratic, revealing that he had no intention of significantly developing politics, his use of the Zemstvas were in fact to help sustain autocracy, through making local administration more efficient.
One way in which the Communist dictatorship of Lenin and the Tsarist autocracy in the reign of Alexander the III were similar was in the respect of governmental power. In Alexander III's reign the Tsar ruled as an autocrat, which meant he held absolute power and made all the decisions for the country. Lenins' rule echoed this idea in the form of centralization, the political ideology in which power over a country is concentrated into the hands of one group, in this case the ruling Bolshevik party. Therefore, both governments held absolute power over Russia. Where the two governments differ is in the respect of tolerance towards cooperation with others.
To begin with, both Lenin and Stalin had some similarities in their ideology. They both followed Marxism theory and they wanted to improve Russia’s wellbeing. They both followed Marxism theory which claimed that all industry which is inside Russia has to belong to the state, for instance banks, fabrics, heavy industry has to be centralized and passed to the state. Also, they both thought that one man can rule the state, and so they did: Lenin led the country for 6 years and Stalin for almost 30 years. On the other hand, these two supreme leaders had ideological differences, which were used during the time, when they were in power.
Not only this but Stalin used Lenin’s Legacy when he once again falsely claimed he was there at the beginning of the original Russian Revolution, when he was actually in exile. There is a picture, taken from the Eighth Bolshevik Party Congress in 1919 in which Trotsky was absent and Stalin took the opportunity to sit himself at Lenin’s right hand side, gaining him credit and showing his subtle ways of propaganda. However, Stalin’s win couldn’t just be down to what Lenin had done previous to the power struggle. To achieve and successfully get away with all of the above he would have had to have great skill as a politician – which he did. He had the ability to control Lenin’s funeral and turn it into his own campaign,
To his successor Truman and Churchill this seeming promise meant that anyone over a certain age could freely. Stalin clearly had other ideas. He wanted to put what Churchill was to call an “Iron Curtain” around the USSR and that meant each eastern European country that was near to the Soviet border had to have a loyal communist government in power with leaders who would do what Stalin wished. Therefore, elections were never going to be fair. Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania all ended up with communist governments and had leaders who looked to Moscow for advice as opposed to the people of the country they governed.
How did Stalin's dictatorship develop? Stalin made his way into becoming dictator by a series of manipulative and clever tactics he would use to aid his influence. After Lenin and his party took over the election of the Provisional government which had been elected after the fall of the tsarist regime through a series of well-aimed political hits and armed threats; Stalin ascended the ranks of the government through extensive manipulation and threats as well as gaining the strong loyalty of some socialist idealists. In 1922 Stalin received the majority vote to become the General Secretary of the Communist party; a role that really no one else in the party really wanted as they deemed it unimportant and much like “House-chores”. What the other members of the soviet party such as Trotsky did not realize however; was that Stalin would use the position to gain a mass of followers for his socialist ideals and would use it as a stepping stone to achieve greater political influence and manipulate his way even further in the ranks.
Others indicate that their rise to power and the overthrow of the Provisional Government was more influenced by the faults and failures of the Provisional Government. The Provisional Government was never in full control of Russia, their power was shared with the Soviets, thus when the Bolsheviks and the Soviets banded together; it shoved the Provisional Government on a rocky road downwards, while the Bolsheviks rose and seized power from them. The Soviets were a great influence in the Bolsheviks surge to power; their leader, Leon Trotsky, and the Bolshevik leader, Vladimir Lenin, began working together in 1917 after Lenin was appointed head of the Bolshevik party and together they drew the support away from Kerensky and the Mensheviks, and introduced his ideas of reform to the lower and middle classes. The class system worked to the Bolsheviks advantage because all of the lower classes needed help and Lenin's ideas for revolution all coincided with the peoples wants and needs, which in turn gained Lenin and the Bolsheviks the support of the lower classes. Trotsky worked to obtain the support by going to events and giving speeches, such as the one he gave on the 22nd of October in 1917, in which he
Yet, popular support alone cannot bring military success nor can it bring stability. In the period leading up to, and during, the civil war the Red Army, under the guidance and influence of Leon Trotsky, were transformed from a ‘rabble to an incomparable fighting force’. They were vast in number and located in Russia’s key industrial centers providing firm foundations from which they could build and also resist attack. The formidable pair of Lenin and Trotsky combined to create a party which boasted military might and also political and social awareness. Propaganda and foreign intervention helped to portray the Soviet leadership as ‘leaders of a national liberation struggle against foreign imperialists’ and this won them support from the masses whilst the Whites reliance on foreign aid rendered them vulnerable if such aid was to be withdrawn.
This essay will aim to examine each factor in turn, before coming to a solid conclusion on the main reasons for the revolution in Russia, in 1917. When Nicholas came to the throne in 1894, he - like the other Tsars before him - felt that he was only Tsar because God wanted him to be one. There were no political parties allowed, and the only other politicians working with the Tsar were the council of ministers which was made up of the Russian nobility. The same year, Tsar Nicholas married Alexandra, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and a German princess. She was despised by the Russian people because of the way she advised her husband on government matters and because of her devotion to Rasputin who ‘cured‘ her son of haemophilia.
Before the elections Lenin repeatedly stated that the assembly was of utmost importance to the future of Russia and so allowed the elections to continue. After the votes had been counted it became obvious that the Bolsheviks did not represent the majority of Russians as they had claimed. In response to this political defeat Lenin simply ordered his troops to force the elected representatives out and closed the assembly. This event shows Lenin’s refusal to accept input from any political party other than his own Bolsheviks. It displays Lenin’s striking similarity to the way the Tsar reacted to political pressure from opposing ideologies and factions.