Why Did the Provisional Government Fail

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<ul><li><p>8/8/2019 Why Did the Provisional Government Fail</p><p> 1/2</p><p>Why did the Provisional Government fail?</p><p>In March 1917, the Tsarist regime collapsed and was replaced by a provisional</p><p>government under the leadership of Kerensky. This government encountered many</p><p>problems, and faced increased opposition. Eventually, in October 1917 it was</p><p>overthrown in a Communist revolution by the Bolsheviks.</p><p>The first problem the provisional government encountered was because of the</p><p>enormity and complexity of the problems it inherited from the Tsarist government.</p><p>The Tsarist regime had liberated peasants from serfdom, but had made them buy the</p><p>land on which they farmed, thus peasants were in crippling debt while still not owning</p><p>their land. Peasants, making up 80% of the population, were extremely dissatisfied</p><p>and were prepared to seize land for themselves if the Provisional Government did not</p><p>give it to them. Ethnic minorities wanted change after many years of oppression.</p><p>Russian soldiers on the front line wanted necessities: clothes, food and ammunition.</p><p>There were frequent mutinies, which shows dissatisfaction at conditions.</p><p>The second problem the provisional government introduced was the decision to</p><p>continue the war. It was thought that the Russians were losing the war because the</p><p>Tsarist regime was corrupt and inefficient, but when the provisional government took</p><p>over, they found it as hard to try and win the war on the Eastern front. There was dual</p><p>control of the army: firstly orders issued by the government, but also the Petrograd</p><p>Soviet. The Petrograd Soviet was formed at the same time as the government and was</p><p>a committee representing the Workers and Soldiers its first order was that it</p><p>controlled the army. This meant that the organisation of the army was worse than</p><p>before, because soldiers were taking orders from two sources of power. To boost</p><p>moral, the government tried to launch a huge offensive, but they were a crushed by</p><p>the Germans, leading to not only low morale but also unrest.</p><p>There was also a domestic impact because of the decision to continue war. The</p><p>expectations of the provisional government were rising whilst the problems brought</p><p>about by the war made the domestic situation worse. There was a shortage of food,</p><p>especially in cities, as peasants ate their own produce, and less was available for</p><p>consumption in the cities. The inefficient railway system, whose workers were prone</p><p>to strikes, did not carry food to the cities fast enough, and much food was left to rot on</p><p>the journey to the cities. As there was less produce and also less consumer goods</p><p>(since factories were producing ammunition) and also more money in the system</p><p>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</p><p>received, which lead to strikes from workers and desertions from the army. Discontent</p><p>grew and was expressed by the Petrograd Soviet.</p><p>The formation of the Soviet itself has lead to the phenomenon of dual power. This</p><p>meant there was no single power base in Russia, and both organisation issues different</p><p>orders. This created confusion, for example, in the armed forces. Order 1 of the</p><p>Petrograd Soviet was that it controlled the army. The Soviet thought that the soldiers</p><p>had right to control what they were doing since they were putting their lives at risk.</p><p>Some generals previously loyal; to the Tsar, now tried to work with the provisional</p><p>government to continue their strategy. Since there were two power bases controllingthe army, the Russian fighting was inefficient. As opinion turned against the war</p></li><li><p>8/8/2019 Why Did the Provisional Government Fail</p><p> 2/2</p><p>Bolsheviks, the only group not tainted by the failure of the provisional government,</p><p>were elected to the Soviet. Being a workers party, they campaigned for the workers</p><p>ideals of food: bread, they had always wanted to end the war: peace, and to satisfy</p><p>the peasants they gave a promise of land thus arose thus slogan peace, bread and</p><p>land. The provisional government were committed to war, and so could not suddenly</p><p>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</p><p>land crisis, thus appeasing 80% of the population, but since they were a provisional</p><p>government they were unwilling to make any changes.</p><p>The leaders of the Bolsheviks were also very determined. The head of the Bolsheviks</p><p>was Lenin, and the main organiser was Trotsky. Lenin offered a ray of hope to the</p><p>Russians. His philosophies were clear-cut, and he was certain of what he wanted to</p><p>do. Trotsky was able to turn Lenins ideas into reality. The Bolsheviks always took</p><p>advantage of any failings of the provisional government (discussed in the next</p><p>paragraph) while the provisional government never made full use of any negative</p><p>stories (such as Lenins collaboration with Hitler).</p><p>The provisional government may have introduced some liberal reforms, but it failed</p><p>to deliver in many key areas. They failed to give the peasants the land they</p><p>desperately wanted, and needed so they could produce more crops. As a result the</p><p>peasants were lured by the promise of land from the Bolsheviks. The provisional</p><p>government disbanded the police, but this meant that there was confusion all over the</p><p>country, and there was nobody to stop civil disobedience. The government thought</p><p>that they could not introduce important reforms as they were not elected, but at the</p><p>same time failed to call elections. People were restless for improved conditions, but</p><p>things only became worse because of the inaction of government. A new constitution</p><p>was also not created.</p><p>The Kornilov affair was the death-knell of the provisional government, another of</p><p>Kereskys failings. General Kornilov was head of a large chunk of the Russian Army.</p><p>It is unclear what made him go to the Petrograd, whether on Kerenskys luring or his</p><p>own initiative, but Kerensky was worried that he would be making a right wing coup,</p><p>and army the Red (Bolshevik) Army to defend the capital. In the end, Bolshevik</p><p>railway workers sabotaged Kornilovs attempt, and he could not reach the capital. As</p><p>a result, Generals and conservatives were unwilling to work with Kerensky, and the</p><p>Bolsheviks were rearmed and growing in popularity.</p><p>I think there were two important factors in the fall of the provisional government.</p><p>Firstly, the peasants, making 80% of the population, took land for themselves. The</p><p>Bolsheviks would not normally have support from them, being a workers party, but</p><p>because of their promise of land, which the provisional government were so reluctant</p><p>to give, they supported them. The chaotic approach to seizing of land led to mass</p><p>desertion in the army, and doing badly in the war because of this affected morale and</p><p>more people began to turn against the provisional government, as they still supported</p><p>the war. The Kornilov affair was undoubtedly the trigger for the October revolution,</p><p>alienating the provisional government and exposing all their flaws.</p></li></ul>