Explain why the combination of circumstances surrounding the 1917 October Revolution presented the Bolsheviks with an unique opportunity to seize power.

Essay by LapetiteUniversity, Bachelor'sB, December 2003

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"The thirst and yearning for a strong government are such in the provinces that, if they should be put to serious test in this respect, they are ready to follow any strong government, whatever its origin."

Following the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II and the refusal of the throne of his brother, Michael, the Duma members hastily formed a provisional government. It is important to note that this organisation did not originally plan to govern Russia, but simply stepped in to fill an obvious void left after the removal of the monarchy. Their primary role was to decide how Russia should be governed as a democratic state. This abrupt change of leadership, after years of autocracy was a difficult task for anyone, but the added pressures of the war as well as rapid social change made it especially challenging for the inexperienced leaders of the Provisional Government. Life under such conditions inevitably led to widespread confusion, despair and lack of discipline at a time when, as the Bolsheviks later showed, what the country really needed was a strong sense of political direction.

The most crucial mistake of the Provisional Government was its hesitancy in decision-making. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, as described in the previous paragraph, the members did not consider it their place to make decisions, as they had not been elected democratically and their primary concern was to make plans for the Constituent Assembly. Secondly, the Provisional Government was thrown together in March with no real structure or chain of command, which meant that ministers could not ensure that any decisions they actually made, would be followed and put into action. Thirdly, they faced a powerful obstacle in the form of the Petrograd Soviet and finally, by June they could no longer count on...