The Russian Revolution occurred in the twentieth century and was rooted in the concept of Bolshevism. The Bolsheviks were people who were members of the radical liberal party that did whatever it could to grow in strength and in numbers. For example, it relied heavily on different forms of propaganda to bolster its strength in addition to its own independent, private army, the Red Guards. These combined with the threat of death collectively did a fairly sufficient job at forcing people to join the movement in full, not partial, support.
The revolution happened in the fall of 1917 after people began to review Russia’s involvement with World War I. The revolution was born and the onset of communism set in weightily. This communist party that gained such strength and momentum within Russia, and other areas at the time as well, was originally called the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (but again, was simply the Russian Communist Party). It was not hard for the party to gain support because at the time, Russia was facing great levels of poverty. This was largely due to the previous czar and his ways of governing. Therefore, people were ready for a change.
Though the Bolsheviks had a vision, they needed a leader. Here is where Vladimir Lenin steps in. He had previously been exiled to Europe, but with so many new things entering into Russia, and him knowing so much about what it means to be an “effective” leader, he knew someone was going to need to lead the party with the gumption to convince others of the importance of supporting the purpose.
The focus of the party was the working class. It was during the reign of the Bolshevik party that anyone that was deemed “exceptional” in any way, shape, or form was forced into a labor camp, or worse, killed. Everyone worked for the communal good of one another. The empowerment of the working class was the goal. The party imprisoned and or killed anyone even seeming to be bourgeoisie. Lenin knew exactly what type of society he wanted to see come to fruition within Soviet Russia, and it became clear with each passing day that he was not going to stop at anything to reach the moment when his vision became reality.
Lenin was not the only leader of this radically liberal movement. Leon Trotsky played a vital role as well. He and Lenin held similar views on some respects and very different ones in others. But one thing they both seemed to collectively agree on was the importance of the type of leader committed to the movement. Neither man was interested in having so-called “leaders” only partially committed to the cause. Total commitment was a necessity to the Bolshevik Revolution. This meant that even family came second. This also meant that if your very brother was against the revolution, it became your primary duty to turn him in.
An example of a leader that Trotsky and Lenin would both attribute the title true revolutionary is Karl Liebknecht. He acquired this because of his ability to take action, an ability that many lacked. Trotsky and Lenin gave more value to action than intellectualism in the case of the revolution. Liebknecht was “an educated Marxist, not a theorist […] [he was also] impulsive, passionate, and heroic nature” (Trotsky 216). Liebknecht was held in high esteem by Trotsky due to his ability to understand the public in any given situation, his ability to take initiative, and his political intuition. Trotsky and Lenin believed that in order to truly be a leader in the revolution, intellect was needed, but the ability to take action was a necessity.
Trotsky and Lenin disagreed on many things, but they both agreed in the type of leader that they wanted to be on their sides. Lenin believed that “if we begin with the solid foundation of a strong organization of revolutionaries, we can guarantee the stability of the movement as a whole and carry out the aims of both Social-Democracy and of trade unionism” (Lenin 143). Trotsky and Lenin did not get along but had to work together regardless for the sake of the ultimate goal. Lenin believed that “together with [an] absolute, unyielding policy - which totally rejects not only capitalism, but also all Western political forms and institutions - [the] utopian vision of society under communism [was possible]” (Lenin 271). Both leaders see the necessity for having fellow partners who understand that in order for anything to be achieved it is necessary to realize that absolute dedication is imperative.
So in an effort to see this utopian vision come to fruition, both leaders did anything and everything to see that the Bolshevik Revolution was successful in all aspects. The Bolshevik Revolution shook all Russians in some way, and studies are still being done to analyze the full effect of this era.
Lenin, Vladimir and Henry M. Christman. Essential Works of Lenin. New York: Bantam, 1966.
Trotsky, Leon. My Life: An Attempt at an Autobiography. Mineola, NY: Dove Publications, 2007.Russia