World War I's Responsibility For The Collapse Of The Provisional Government In 1917

2717 words - 11 pages

World War I's Responsibility for the Collapse of the Provisional Government in 1917

The Provisional Government assumed control of Russia following the
abdication of the Tsar Nicholas II. It only had a brief period in
power lasting about seven months. Historians have disputed the main
cause for its failure, Marxist historians, such as John Reed, have
rewarded it to the Bolshevik's effective propaganda machine, whilst
more revisionist historians, such as Christopher Read, take a more
encompassing position on the issue. They lay blame at a range of
factors such as the First World War and the dual authority in relation
to the Petrograd Soviet. Revisionist historians have also benefited
from the post-glasnost era and hence have both greater access to more
sources as well as the advantage of hindsight. To understand the
reasons for the collapse of the Provisional Government it is crucial
to be aware of the events leading up to the October Revolution and the
atmosphere politically and socio-economically at the time.

The year 1917 was a turbulent year of strikes, bad harvests and
inflation. 'Week by week food became scarcer'[1] and any that was
available usually went to the soldiers. Russian agriculture was
primitive and machinery was rarely used hence production was not
efficient. The War worsened problems further since the excessive
printing of money led to inflation and the economy could not sustain
such a demanding conflict. The political situation was no better.
Democracy had been imposed on a country in which masses did not
understand the concept. Furthermore, greater freedoms were given at a
time of war, which were not available previously. Even the most
democratic nations at the time, such as Britain, infringed upon civil
liberties and freedoms during such events. Many historians and critics
at the time opposed such advancements. Maxim Gorky had this to say
about the changes during the Provisional Government, 'I am a social
democrat, but I am saying and will continue to say, that the time has
not come for socialist-style reforms. The new government had inherited
not a state but its ruins.'[2] This clearly shows that the Provisional
Government's actions only worsened the situation. Thus, its downfall
was made only easier by the changes it made and did not help
consolidate its power. Therefore, though the Great War did present
fundamental problems the government did nothing to better their own
situation. The policies of the Provisional Government came from its
Prime Minister, whom the historians have had varying views on.

What is known as the Provisional Government was actually four
successive governments that became more left orientated as it changed.
However, the question and this investigation are only concerned with
the last of these governments in which Alexander Kerensky...

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