Lecture 9-- Failure of Democracy and Rise of Stalin
Why did the Bolsheviks win?
Why did democracy fail in Russia? (Economic development, polarization, leadership)
Why Stalin? (Role of Lenin, Civil War)
After the Revolution…
● This was really just the beginning of the revolution. The take over of the government was
● Held Constituent Assembly, and the Bolsheviks got 25% of the vote, the Socialist
Revolutionaries had majority of the vote at 41%
○ Who were the Socialist Revolutionaries?
■ The saw the future of Russia in the countryside. They came out of that
movement and supported land socialization vs. Bolsheviks who wanted
■ Had broad support
■ In mid-1917, they split between the right SRs and left SRs (extremely left,
radical, and supported the Bolsheviks.
■ Failed to mobilise against the closure of the Constituent Assembly
● They had the most power at Constituent Assembly with the most
votes, but the Bolsheviks shut it down really easily.
● Why did the Constituent Assembly so impotent in the face of the
Bolsheviks?! Despite the fact that they had over twice the support.
The peasants are not as mobilised and unable to defend their
Russian Civil War
● Bolsheviks only controlled small share of the country
● Face the invading German forces--still a war going on! (Lenin wanted the war to end
right away. But this is easier said than done, because they can’t just stop fighting.
Germany is invading!
○ How do you stop the war?
■ The Russian revolution would never succeed unless you had a world
■ Make an appeal to the German workers to rise up
■ When Trotsky was the foreign minister, he thought the whole thing was a
joke and his policy was “no peace, no war”. The Germans (when they met
him) didn’t know what to do with him because he was completely
■ Lenin thought they should have a treaty to end the war. Germans demand
a high cost of peace.
● Brest Litovsk Treaty
○ Gave up almost half of Russia’s land to the Germans ● The Russian Revolution also faced allied intervention
● Bolsheviks were totally under siege!
Building the Red Army
● Bolsheviks didn’t have an Army!
● Trotsky was the leader of this army. You had people who were Marxists, but didn’t know
how to run a war.
● The people who were military experts only supported the old Tsar regime.
○ You had the committed communist government had none of the expertise, but
the specialist didn’t want a communist transformation.
○ Brought in Tsarist general, but there’s a problem of trust.
○ Trotsky implemented: You had someone supporting the communist movement
supervising each of the Tsar officials.
● Hostage Taking
○ If you don’t do a good enough job, you die or we kill your family members
○ This is the earliest, and most crude form of stakeholding. Gives a sense of how
desperate this movement was.
The Red Terror
● Before the revolution, they supported human rights
● The Russian revolutionaries studied the French revolution and saw it as their model
● They were inspired by Robespierre’s Great Terror
○ If you have to seize power, there is necessary violence. “The rich do not give up
power without a fight!”
○ According to Lenin, when communism is achieved, the state would wither away.
● Realised that they needed a police force--The Cheka
○ Special body created for the short time before the state dissolves
○ The Cheka became the KGB → Vladimir Putin
○ Rose in response to opposition to Soviet rule (attempted assassination of Lenin)
○ Terror is targeted at whole classes. The POTENTIAL of opposing the regime.
■ 50,000 to 200,000 people killed
Why did the Bolsheviks win?
● Defeated the allies, defeated the generals
● Organization of the Reds
○ They controlled the major industrial centres
● Total disorganization of the Whites
○ The Bolsheviks had a very clear idea of what they want to achieve: Communism.
○ The Whites had no common ideology, quite an array of goals. Very fragmented.
○ Peasant opposition
■ Peasants had very little ties to the Bolsheviks, nor the Whites. But the