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Edexcel History Option D3 Russia in Revolution - please look at my essay

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    Please can someone take the time to read this. Could they tell me how many marks or what level this essay would get please? Or how to improve? The original question was 'How far was the Provisional Government responsible for its own downfall? Cheers.

    The Provisional Government inherited many problems from Tsarist Russia. Its weakness and the Soviet's strength in dealing with many of these problems undermined the authority and popularity of the PG. This directly led to a perfect environment for Revolution against it.

    The critical nature of the PG as an unelected intermediary between Tsarism and a liberal democratic Russia meant it lacked the authority or ability to deal with the problems of inflation and food shortages that affected the majority, nor engage in effective foreign policy with regards to WW1. The makeup of the PG was predominantly moderate with only 1 radical, Krensky and the rest of the members from the Octoberist and Kadet parties. In terms of popular following these were minority parties. Although the problems the PG faced were unavoidable its inability to accept members of the more radical parties, such as the SD or SR meant the rival Soviet, with which it shared power, gained greater influence. The PG was fundamentally weak as a result of its moderate makeup, aloof of popular opinion.

    The political weakness and lack of real authority is reflected by the June Offensive. Although a bid to garner support for the PG, its failure further compounded its weakness at home and abroad and led to the July Days, a series of demonstrations against the government. The PG was for once successful; the demonstrations were put down but at the expense og Lvov's leadership. The premiership of Kerensky, although a raadical, exposed further the weakness of the PG. The PG, under Kerensky's leadership gave the Bolsheviks the popularity, means and impetus for a coup in Aug 1917.

    The Kornilov Affair saw Kerensky arming the Bolsheviks, in an attempt to control what he saw as an armed takeover. This instead gave the Bolsheviks the means to revolt. The popularity of the PG was also undermined further, making a weak PG look reliant on the stronger Soviet for protection. The popularity of the Bolsheviks was now in place.

    The declaration of elections in Aug 1917 (the catalyst for revolution) was given at the wrong time, coinciding with a spike in popularity and the arming of the Bolsheviks. The revolution had to happen now. The Sr would surely win the elections, giving them for the first time a real political mandate in Russia. Yet again the decisions of the PG were ill-timed and purely served to compound their weakness, and in turn increase support and strength of the Bolsheviks. As you can see, the decisions of Kerensky, as a weak and on edge leader of a weak PG, lacking a real political mandate, directly lead to a successful revolution.

    In conclusion, one can see how the major problems the PG faced during 917 and its poor response at tackling key issues such as food shortages and inflation, as well as its fundamental flaws as an unelected body, meant it undermined its own popularity and authority in comparison to a stronger Bolshevik Party. Its decisions bred an ideal environment for revolution, and catalysed its arrival.
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    How many marks is this worth out of curiosity?
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    I'd put something in about the fact they made NO changes, when that is what the people had wanted when they caused a revolution, and the impact of the War more.

    It seems really short too.
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    You've argued a case for the PG being responsible very well, but you haven't considered counter arguments, such as the strength of Lenin and Trotsky.

    If it's any use, this is my essay on the same question; I received 90% for it.

    October 1917 saw the fall of the Provisional Government (PG) and the seizure of power by the Bolshevik headed Soviets. The role played in the October revolution by Lenin, through his leadership of the Bolsheviks, and Leon Trotsky in his organisation and direction of the Red Guard and Military Revolutionary Committee (MRC). However, these factors are dependent on the mistakes made by the PG prior to the revolution, and therefore, the PG was largely responsible for its downfall in 1917.

    The PG was largely responsible for its downfall in 1917 for a number of reasons. Firstly, it could be argued that the PG was doomed to fall due to the nature of its existence. In the first PG led by Prince Lvov, it became apparent that it lacked legitimate authority because it was not an elected body. The PG was made up of former Duma members who had refused to disband at the Tsar’s demand. As such, they had no legitimate claim to the loyalty and obedience of the Russian people, which was a weakness that was contributory to its downfall in 1917. This was not the only weakness of the PG however, as their downfall was compounded by the failure of the summer offensive.

    Another example of the PG being responsible for its downfall in 1917 was its failed summer offensive. In an effort to win support at home and abroad for the PG, the Russian army advanced on Lvov against Austro-Hungarian forces. In just three days, counter-attacks on the Russian army resulted in mass desertion, looting and isolated cases of mutiny. This highlighted the lack of faith that ordinary Russian soldiers had in the PG; their lack of organisation; and their ill-judged confidence that the offensive would be successful. The magnitude of the PG’s failure in this area was enough to spark the July Days, which could be considered a miniature revolution. Whilst the July Days were not a success for the Bolsheviks, it indicated the extent to which the summer offensive, and in turn, the PG had provoked the Russian people, and is further evidence to suggest that the PG was largely responsible for its downfall. However, the Kornilov Affair proved to be the most significant event, and the largest failure of the PG that resulted in its downfall.

    The Kornilov Affair provides strong evidence for the PG being responsible for its downfall in 1917. The initial misunderstanding between General Kornilov and the Prime Minister of the PG, Alexander Kerensky suggested that there were severe communication problems within the Russian government, and that Kerensky exhibited paranoid behaviour. These factors weakened the PG and increased the likelihood of a second insurrection after the failed July Days. However, the more significant aspect of the Kornilov Affair is that Kerensky released the Bolsheviks from prison and armed them, alongside a number of industrial workers. The Bolsheviks were portrayed as the ‘defenders of Petrograd’, which increased their popularity and made the PG appear reliant on them, which weakened their appearance. Releasing the imprisoned Bolsheviks undid the damage dealt to them in the July Days and boosted their numbers, enabling the subsequent revolution. Arming the Bolsheviks and the industrial workers effectively created perfect conditions for a revolution, as they could take control of key buildings with force. The Bolsheviks were at an all-time low following the July Days, and the Kornilov Affair - which was instigated by the PG, rejuvenated their hopes of revolution and proved the decisive factor that enabled the Bolshevik seizure of power. This suggests that the PG was responsible for its downfall in 1917; however there were other factors that contributed to the fall of the PG, such as Lenin’s involvement in the October revolution.

    Lenin’s involvement could be argued to be responsible for the fall of the PG through his leadership of the Bolsheviks. Upon his arrival in Russia in April 1917, Lenin sought to change the political landscape completely. He began this through his introduction of slogans, most significantly, “Bread, peace and land”. This was significant and gained popularity for the Bolsheviks because it highlighted the problems faced by the PG. There were food shortages across Russia (primarily caused by the war), the war itself was causing untold damage on the country and there was disparity in land ownership that the PG was reluctant to reform. This slogan united the people of Russia against the PG and provided a solution to the problem; support for the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks promised an end to the war and equitable land and wealth redistribution through Lenin’s ‘April Thesis’. Lenin was also integral to the fall of the PG because he manipulated Marxist theory to the benefit of the Bolsheviks. Marxist theory states that a revolution should occur with the proletariat rising up, but Lenin appealed to agricultural workers, as well as the proletariat to bolster Bolshevik support. Lenin was a figurehead for the Bolsheviks, and his determination to continually return to Russia and force an insurrection, especially when faced with elections for a constituent assembly, which pitted time against him. This arguably helped enable the October revolution and could suggest that Lenin’s role was responsible for the fall of the PG. However, Lenin’s role can be criticised. He also spearheaded the July Days which was a resounding failure and almost led to the extinction of the Bolsheviks in Russia. There were numerous suggestions that he was a German spy, because he arrived accompanied by German governmental officials, which led to him being distrusted. Furthermore, the success in October with the Bolsheviks was largely organised by Leon Trotsky, which suggests that Lenin may not have been responsible for the fall of the PG.

    It could be argued that Trotsky’s role made him responsible for the fall of the PG through his organisation of the MRC and Red Guard. Trotsky was the chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, which allowed him to set up the MRC, which was the only formidable military force in Petrograd; moreover, the MRC was legitimated by the authority of the Soviet, so opposition to its movements would be limited. Additionally, Trotsky directed the Red Guard to key vantage points in Petrograd, which assisted the seizure of power in the October revolution. This may suggest that Trotsky was responsible for the fall of the PG, since he was largely responsible for the success of the October revolution. As with Lenin, his role’s significance can be criticised. The MCR were only founded to protect Petrograd from perceived threats, such as coups or Germans; it is likely that this was prompted by the July Days and the perceived threat of Kornilov. This lessens the strength of the argument that Trotsky was responsible for the fall of the PG, because his success derived from the failures of PG.

    To conclude, the PG was largely responsible for its downfall in the October revolution in 1917. It was unelected and thus lacked authority since its conception; it made mistakes such as the summer offensive which reduced its popularity, and it created the circumstances for revolution in the Kornilov Affair, where Kerensky’s paranoia proved to be the turning point for Bolshevik fortunes. The PG allowed the Bolsheviks to be revived from near-death and seize power in initially unlikely circumstances. Lenin and Trotsky certainly contributed to the fall of the PG significantly, but their importance is overstated and dependent on the mistakes made by the PG. This is why the PG was responsible for its own downfall in 1917.
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    it is worth 30 marks
    I did it in timed conditions, 40 minutes

    cheers for advice so far, was just looking for a ball mark figure
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    that essay is great btw
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    Thanks. I doubt very much that I could replicate that in an exam though.
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    yeh, that is the problem :/
    you do the same course as me?

    i think that the grade boundaries are manageable and the examiner takes into account the fact we are under pressure
    i just need to be more explicit i think and say some factors other than the named one
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    what were the questions in the january 2012 exam regarding russia ?
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    has anyone got the questions from the january 2012 paper?? pleases and thankyous!
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    One was about the limitations of the Provisional Government...
    And another about the 5 year plans
    And one about the war..
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    (Original post by starxriddled)
    One was about the limitations of the Provisional Government...
    And another about the 5 year plans
    And one about the war..
    please please please if you could expand on this it would be so helpful, i've been looking everywhere for them!
    I would be so thankful
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    This essay is good but if time had permitted including a section on how the Provisional Government were struggling with long standing issues, that were very hard to deal with, especially with a war ongoing would have been excellent
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    Do you think they would ever give us a question solely about opposition groups? (SRs, SDs, Kadets, Octobrists? etc) There is really not much to write about them I'm finding if hard to see where opposition groups link in (apart from the formation of the soviet government).
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    (Original post by Cinnamon_Twist)
    Do you think they would ever give us a question solely about opposition groups? (SRs, SDs, Kadets, Octobrists? etc) There is really not much to write about them I'm finding if hard to see where opposition groups link in (apart from the formation of the soviet government).
    doubt it tbh

    links in more with 1905 revolution
    urbanisation + industrialisation under Witte created a growth in popularity of revolutionary groups

    Liberals took a major part in 1905. Of note are:
    •Union of Liberation leading liberal organization in the 1905 Revolution, formed in 1903-1904 by zemstvo reformists and radical intellectuals, it advocated a democratic constitutional monarchy with full civil rights for all citizens
    •spring of 1905, lawyers, physicians, journalists and other professionals formed progressive unions, which coalesced into the ‘Union of Unions’

    hope this helps
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    (Original post by keanedunk)
    doubt it tbh

    links in more with 1905 revolution
    urbanisation + industrialisation under Witte created a growth in popularity of revolutionary groups

    hope this helps
    This was due to poor working/living conditions and low wages, yes?
    Also, thanks that was v. helpful!
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    (Original post by NMI)
    has anyone got the questions from the january 2012 paper?? pleases and thankyous!
    jan 2012 questions:


    how far were reformists responsible for the 1905 revolution from 1881 onwards, or something along those lines.
    how far was lenin responsible for the october revolution in 1917 or something along those lines

    how was did the aims and objectives for the five years plans change from 1928-41
    how far was the lend-lease programme responsible for Russia's victory in wwII.....
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    (Original post by minthumbugs)
    jan 2012 questions:


    how far were reformists responsible for the 1905 revolution from 1881 onwards, or something along those lines.
    how far was lenin responsible for the october revolution in 1917 or something along those lines

    how was did the aims and objectives for the five years plans change from 1928-41
    how far was the lend-lease programme responsible for Russia's victory in wwII.....
    Thankyou! Are you doing this paper tomorrow tooo? Goood luck!

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