why did the provisional government fail

Download Why Did the Provisional Government Fail

Post on 10-Apr-2018




0 download

Embed Size (px)


  • 8/8/2019 Why Did the Provisional Government Fail


    Why did the Provisional Government fail?

    In March 1917, the Tsarist regime collapsed and was replaced by a provisional

    government under the leadership of Kerensky. This government encountered many

    problems, and faced increased opposition. Eventually, in October 1917 it was

    overthrown in a Communist revolution by the Bolsheviks.

    The first problem the provisional government encountered was because of the

    enormity and complexity of the problems it inherited from the Tsarist government.

    The Tsarist regime had liberated peasants from serfdom, but had made them buy the

    land on which they farmed, thus peasants were in crippling debt while still not owning

    their land. Peasants, making up 80% of the population, were extremely dissatisfied

    and were prepared to seize land for themselves if the Provisional Government did not

    give it to them. Ethnic minorities wanted change after many years of oppression.

    Russian soldiers on the front line wanted necessities: clothes, food and ammunition.

    There were frequent mutinies, which shows dissatisfaction at conditions.

    The second problem the provisional government introduced was the decision to

    continue the war. It was thought that the Russians were losing the war because the

    Tsarist regime was corrupt and inefficient, but when the provisional government took

    over, they found it as hard to try and win the war on the Eastern front. There was dual

    control of the army: firstly orders issued by the government, but also the Petrograd

    Soviet. The Petrograd Soviet was formed at the same time as the government and was

    a committee representing the Workers and Soldiers its first order was that it

    controlled the army. This meant that the organisation of the army was worse than

    before, because soldiers were taking orders from two sources of power. To boost

    moral, the government tried to launch a huge offensive, but they were a crushed by

    the Germans, leading to not only low morale but also unrest.

    There was also a domestic impact because of the decision to continue war. The

    expectations of the provisional government were rising whilst the problems brought

    about by the war made the domestic situation worse. There was a shortage of food,

    especially in cities, as peasants ate their own produce, and less was available for

    consumption in the cities. The inefficient railway system, whose workers were prone

    to strikes, did not carry food to the cities fast enough, and much food was left to rot on

    the journey to the cities. As there was less produce and also less consumer goods

    (since factories were producing ammunition) and also more money in the system

    because the soldiers were receiving wages, demand outstripped supply. His lead toinflation, which meant a decrease in the real value of the wages soldiers and workers

    received, which lead to strikes from workers and desertions from the army. Discontent

    grew and was expressed by the Petrograd Soviet.

    The formation of the Soviet itself has lead to the phenomenon of dual power. This

    meant there was no single power base in Russia, and both organisation issues different

    orders. This created confusion, for example, in the armed forces. Order 1 of the

    Petrograd Soviet was that it controlled the army. The Soviet thought that the soldiers

    had right to control what they were doing since they were putting their lives at risk.

    Some generals previously loyal; to the Tsar, now tried to work with the provisional

    government to continue their strategy. Since there were two power bases controllingthe army, the Russian fighting was inefficient. As opinion turned against the war

  • 8/8/2019 Why Did the Provisional Government Fail


    Bolsheviks, the only group not tainted by the failure of the provisional government,

    were elected to the Soviet. Being a workers party, they campaigned for the workers

    ideals of food: bread, they had always wanted to end the war: peace, and to satisfy

    the peasants they gave a promise of land thus arose thus slogan peace, bread and

    land. The provisional government were committed to war, and so could not suddenly

    call it off. They could do nothing about the lack of bread, since events leading todecline in produce in the cities were out of their control. They could have resolved the

    land crisis, thus appeasing 80% of the population, but since they were a provisional

    government they were unwilling to make any changes.

    The leaders of the Bolsheviks were also very determined. The head of the Bolsheviks

    was Lenin, and the main organiser was Trotsky. Lenin offered a ray of hope to the

    Russians. His philosophies were clear-cut, and he was certain of what he wanted to

    do. Trotsky was able to turn Lenins ideas into reality. The Bolsheviks always took

    advantage of any failings of the provisional government (discussed in the next

    paragraph) while the provisional government never made full use of any negative

    stories (such as Lenins collaboration with Hitler).

    The provisional government may have introduced some liberal reforms, but it failed

    to deliver in many key areas. They failed to give the peasants the land they

    desperately wanted, and needed so they could produce more crops. As a result the

    peasants were lured by the promise of land from the Bolsheviks. The provisional

    government disbanded the police, but this meant that there was confusion all over the

    country, and there was nobody to stop civil disobedience. The government thought

    that they could not introduce important reforms as they were not elected, but at the

    same time failed to call elections. People were restless for improved conditions, but

    things only became worse because of the inaction of government. A new constitution

    was also not created.

    The Kornilov affair was the death-knell of the provisional government, another of

    Kereskys failings. General Kornilov was head of a large chunk of the Russian Army.

    It is unclear what made him go to the Petrograd, whether on Kerenskys luring or his

    own initiative, but Kerensky was worried that he would be making a right wing coup,

    and army the Red (Bolshevik) Army to defend the capital. In the end, Bolshevik

    railway workers sabotaged Kornilovs attempt, and he could not reach the capital. As

    a result, Generals and conservatives were unwilling to work with Kerensky, and the

    Bolsheviks were rearmed and growing in popularity.

    I think there were two important factors in the fall of the provisional government.

    Firstly, the peasants, making 80% of the population, took land for themselves. The

    Bolsheviks would not normally have support from them, being a workers party, but

    because of their promise of land, which the provisional government were so reluctant

    to give, they supported them. The chaotic approach to seizing of land led to mass

    desertion in the army, and doing badly in the war because of this affected morale and

    more people began to turn against the provisional government, as they still supported

    the war. The Kornilov affair was undoubtedly the trigger for the October revolution,

    alienating the provisional government and exposing all their flaws.


View more >