Lenin was massively influential in Russian history, essential to the revolution and incredibly important with regard to the Bolshevik’s cementing of power from 1917 to his death in 1924. Lenin was a ruthless and pragmatic leader, but by no means was he the only important figure within the Bolshevik party. Others, such as Trotsky and Dzerzhinsky played large roles, and other factors such as the civil war also had influence on the outcome of the revolution. Lenins decisive actions and pragmatism were employed to great effect to cement Bolshevik power from 19171924. After changing from state capitalism to war communism, and seeing the issues it was causing, he quickly introduced the new economic policy, realising how unpopular war communism was, and not wanting to risk their hold on power. This shows how pragmatic Lenin was, as the N.E.P on closer inspection incredibly similar to state capitalism, and thus went against Bolshevik ideology, and as such many party members were against the new economic policy, however Lenin didn’t care, understanding that at times the party’s ultimate goals and ideas weren’t working at the time and that change was necessary if the Bolsheviks were to remain in power. Lenins Decisive decision making was crucial from the start of the revolution onwards,a prime example being that he wanted the revolution pushed in october, many others were indecisive but Lenin went ahead and his decision paid off. Also, Lenins response to war was very popular. Before the Bolsheviks were truly in power his slogan of ‘peace,bread,land’ was incredibly popular, and as such when he pulled Russia out of the war he showed the people that the Bolsheviks kept their promises to the people. Further on this point, he made sure that the peasants were given their own land as desired and that when the new economic policy was introduced it resulted
in an increase of bread, especially for the workers who wanted it most. All of this can be attributed to Lenin’s pragmatism and ability to make popular decisions, which went a long way to cement the party’s grip on power.
Although pragmatic and generous when needed, at times Lenin was ruthless, fully understanding that terror was a potent tool in gaining and keeping power. To Lenin, the only test of right and wrong was whether or not the action furthered the revolution (known as bourgeois morality). This led to many complaints as Lenin well knew, one such ‘complaint’ in the form of an attempt on Lenin’s life by Dora Kaplin, and although the assassination failed, the injury would stay with him for the rest of his life.
Lenin stated ‘The law shouldn’t abolish terror, that would be self deception...it’s sphere should be as broad as possible’, clearly showing he had no qualms about its use. December 1917 saw the creation of the
Cheka, with over 140,000 employees, headed by Felix Dzerzhinsky, and was ultimately responsible for the killing of millions of russians and the repression of many more. Lenin anticipated opposition from their class enemies; the bourgeois, and the Cheka was his response. The use of terror caused by the Cheka greatly helped to increase their power, once again showing Lenin’s immense value to the party, by not only appreciating that distasteful actions were necessary, but he knew who to put in charge to get the job done. On the other hand, Lenin was by no means the only figure responsible for the gain of power in the bolshevik party. Dzerzhinsky (as mentioned in the previous paragraph) was massively influential in his control of the Cheka, and much of what it contributed can be attributed to his command over it.
And another, perhaps Lenin’s most influential subordinate at the time was
Trotsky. His ability to create and direct the red army was incredible, without him…