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The Down Fall of the Russian Revolution Essay

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Updated: Dec 24th, 2018


Analysts observe that the Russian Revolution could not realize its objectives mainly because of the divergent views from Bolsheviks. Scholars holding the views of Lenin believe that the revolution could not bring about reforms because its leader, Trotsky, never aimed at realizing the needs of the poor.

The powerful individuals, whose aim was to fulfil the interests of the owners of the means production, controlled the revolution. In this regard, Leninist scholars disagreed with the view that the revolution was aimed at helping the poor in society.

Leaders exploited the poor to convince the world that they advocated for their, but in the real sense, their aim was completely different. Such scholars observe that the revolution could not have realized its intended objectives mainly because of the civil war, foreign intervention, financial disintegration, isolation, and backwardness of the Russian society. Such scholars are of the view that Bolshevik ideology was not to blame for the ineffectiveness of the revolution.

The Authoritarian regime under the Bolshevik was forced to act because of the difficult conditions. Some analysts, particular those allied to anarchist ideology, believe that Bolshevik ideology contributed significantly to the failure of the revolution in Russia. The Bolshevik ideology contributed immensely to the failure of the revolution since it established social structures, socialist institutions and centralizing the economic, which made it difficult for the working class to achieve their economic interests.

Centralization of state resources and lack of a clear system of checks and balances disempowered the proletariat since the objectives that were being sought were beyond their reach. Fitzpatrick noted that the good life entailed a situation in which the state assumed the patriarchal or patron client responsibilities.

Thesis Statement

This article uses a number of resources, including memoirs to support the hypothesis that the Russian revolution did not achieve its objectives. The reasons why the Russian revolution could not realize its objectives are discuses adequately in this paper. The article underscores the fact that actions of the revolutionist not allow them to take over state power in 1918 in Russia.

In other words, the vanguards of 1917 could not be allowed to takeover governmental powers in 1918, since their status was below par. In nay production mode, owners of the means of production will always occupy the top position while others will be distributed in various classes.

Major Shifts in Communist Policy between 1917 and 1932

After the revolution, the Communist Party readjusted its objectives to reflect the aims of the ruling class meaning that the policies agreed upon before the revolution were abandoned. Historians observe that 1920s demonstrated a great change in policy owing to changes in geopolitical climate, culture, and the global economy.

The government restructured its policy following the Civil War and Cultural Revolution. Economic development of the country was mainly affected since the government introduced a new economic policy. Cultural Revolution started in 1917 and ended in 1932 whereby a new culture was developed in the country.

The culture was new meaning that its social institutions, functions, and structure were different from those of the previous culture. The Civil War was witnessed between 1917 and 1921 (Kolkhozniks 130). History shows that the civil war affected the Russian culture in a number of ways, which forced the government to amend its economic and socio-political policies. Since the changes were abrupt, the cultural infrastructure collapsed meaning that the policies agreed before the revolution could not be implemented.

The emergence of the intelligentsia was the major hindrance to the achievement of revolutionary goals. New economic policy program was introduced in 1921, which was expected to serve the country until 1928. These policies revitalized the country’s culture and economic life, which affected the objectives of the working class.

Why the Revolution Failed

The Civil War

Kotkin argued that the revolution would not succeed because of the civil war that was sponsored by the Bolshevik regime. The reality of the matter is that these features of communism were present even before the revolution. This implies that the civil war could not be attributed to the failure of the revolution. The Bolshevik policies demanded that only a single individual be entrusted with the role of managing resources, which implied that only the central government would be in charge of the management of the economic matters.

In this regard, it was true that there was no correlation between peace and the ideology of the Bolshevik. However, the victories of Kolchak and Denikin contributed to the augmentation and militarization of labour in the country. This shows that, even though the civil war contributed to the failure of the revolution, other factors must have also contributed in the failure of the revolution. The civil war dampened the spirit of various working classes because it revealed the true nature of the Bolshevik regime.

The social conflict proved to the poor that the regime did not have their interest at heart, but instead it existed to serve the interests of the rich. The major policy of the Bolsheviks was to distribute resources equally in society since they advocated for socialism, the sovereignty of the state, and the strengthening of the communist party. After the Civil War, Stites (103) observed that the Bolshevik regime was determined to implement even stricter policies instead of lessening the previous ones.

This meant that the commissars from the Red Army were given luxurious jobs in various state-owned industries in 1920. This was a blow to the working class since owners of the means of production and military elites were rewarded while they languished in great poverty.

Even though the military generals opposed the revolution, they were rewarded heavily since they were allocated luxurious positions in government. The manner in which military generals and the ruling class were allocated government properties in 1920 differed from the way in which the exercise was conducted in 1919. In 1920, the communist party was determined to implement its policies, irrespective of whether the interests of the poor were considered.

Influence of the Ruling Class

After Lenin’s death, the policies agreed upon in October were abandoned one after the other. However, some analysts and scholars believe that these policies were abandoned even when Lenin was still alive. The idea of commitment to one party system, dictatorial management, control of opposition parties, media expurgation, repressive policies, and prevention of trade unions were all exercised when Lenin was still alive.

Steinberg gave a clear definition of why the revolution could not achieve its objectives. He commented that a production system does not become socialist in nature simply because a socialist premier or president is in office. To such scholars, the character or the personality of an individual does not affect the production system in any way.

In the same way, Russia’s production system could not change from capitalism to socialism just because Lenin was in power. Marxist scholars could argue that a revolution would take place when state power is transferred the other social class. On the other hand, anarchist would recommend that a revolution would occur when state power is transferred from the owners of the means of production to the proletariat or the working class.

Incidentally, a communist government would be formed through societal relations, but not the views of those in positions of influence. The working class in Russia could not have achieved their objectives because social relations during Stalin’s regime were similar to those during Lenin’s administration. Although the administration under Stalin was vicious, abusive, and tyrannical, the new regime under Lenin, which was receptive to the needs of many, could not change the manufacturing structure.

Fitzpatrick (89) uses the word deludes to define the Bolshevik revolution meaning that the ruling class hijacked the revolt to make sure that it served their interest. It employed various techniques to dismantle the socialist structures, which were perceived as a threat to their interests.

As Marx had earlier observed, the state is always the property of the ruling class since they use it to accomplish their interests. The ruling class ensured that, intellectuals, who considered merit in their appointments, ran the government under Lenin. Any socialist regime could always ensure that workers are major producers meaning that there would be no exploitation. The ruling class ensured that they destroyed the functioning of the socialist system.

Interests of the Bolsheviks

Steinberg (33) suggested that the Bolshevik went against the interests of the majority to protect their party, which was under threat. Other socialist parties were threatening to oust the Bolsheviks hence they had to form a strong militia that would counter the influence of other small parties.

Such militias could not serve the interests of the people, but instead it could serve the wishes of those who formed them. If Bolsheviks did not apply other alternatives, their power could not have lasted for long. Some scholars suggest that a White dictatorship could have replaced the Red one meaning that the cruelty of the Bolshevik was a sign of self-interest.

The Bolshevik regime used the power of the working class to ascend to power in order to fulfil its own interests, but not those of the poor. However, the working class or the poor supported the Bolshevik regime because it favoured the poor whenever there was a crisis. It treated the poor well since it not design and implement oppressive and discriminative policies, as was the case with the Stalin regime.


It is concluded that the revolution in Russia did not achieve its objectives because workers were never incorporated into the production system afterwards. Economic and political power was still in the hands of the ruling class, but only leadership changed.

This implies that the production system, which was actually the main reason why workers participated in the revolution, never changed at all. Workers were still oppressed, perpetuated, and were dominated in society while the owners of the means of production enjoyed their lives comfortably. As already mentioned, the change of leadership does not mean the change of social relations.

Works Cited

Fitzpatrick, Sheila. In the Shadow of Revolution: Life Stories of Russian Women from 1917 to the Second World War. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 2000. Print.

Fitzpatrick, Sheila. Stalin’s Peasants: Resistance and Survival in the Russian Village after Collectivization. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Print.

Kotkin, Stephen. Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilization. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995. Print.

Steinberg, Mark D. Proletarian Imagination: Self, Modernity, and the Sacred in Russia, 1910-1925. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press, 2002. Print.

Stites, Richard. Revolutionary Dreams: Utopian Vision and Experimental Life in the Russian Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989. Print.

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