why did the provisional government fail
Post on 10-Apr-2018
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.