He eventually led what was soon to be known as the October Revolution, but was effectively a coup d'etat. Almost three years of civil war followed.
The Bolsheviks were victorious and assumed total control of the country. During this period of revolution, war and famine, Lenin demonstrated a chilling disregard for the sufferings of his fellow countrymen and mercilessly crushed any opposition. Although Lenin was ruthless he was also pragmatic. When his efforts to transform the Russian economy to a socialist model stalled, he introduced the New Economic Policy, where a measure of private enterprise was again permitted, a policy that continued for several years after his death. In , Lenin narrowly survived an assassination attempt, but was severely wounded.
Vladimir Lenin (1870 - 1924)
His long term health was affected, and in he suffered a stroke from which he never fully recovered. In his declining years, he worried about the bureaucratisation of the regime and also expressed concern over the increasing power of his eventual successor Joseph Stalin. But he, too, wanted to follow a Western, democratic path. And in the end he was ousted by Lenin, a far more brutal dictator.
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There is, however, one aspect of contemporary Russian propaganda that recalls the Revolutions of According to Russian state television, the Russian opposition is composed of agents of Western NGOs and security services. Any revolution is always the result of a conspiracy or foreign meddling, it seems. The official Russian conspiracy theory—hammered home by Russian TV every day and believed by Putin—tells us that the Ukrainian revolution of was organized and paid for by the Americans, along with the revolutions of the Arab Spring.
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Now, we see the same kinds of theories pop up in state media portrayals of the Revolutions of The February Revolution, which felled Nicholas II, is now said to have been sponsored by the British through the efforts of the very active British ambassador to Russia, George Buchanan. The October Revolution, which brought the Bolsheviks to power, was allegedly financed by the Germans, who helped Lenin make his way to Russia and really needed his help to end World War I.
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Incidentally, Russia of years ago was awash in similar conspiracy theories. In , the Russian czarist state considered everyone in the opposition to be traitors who had sold their souls to the British, while the liberal opposition believed that the government was crawling with German spies.
Today, it is accepted wisdom that there were no conspiracies, neither British nor German, shaping the events of Lenin was no spy, even though authorities in Berlin did allow him and his Bolsheviks to pass through Germany during the war on their way back to Russia, where they hoped to finish the revolution and, hopefully, pull Russia out of the war. A massive amount of energy was spent fighting imagined threats instead of real ones from the West.
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Those themes include: the personal versus the institutional in the political process; legitimacy and legitimation; and change and collapse of a mono-organisational society. While the book focuses on these major themes, individual chapters deal with wide-ranging and even unusual cases: Graeme Gill analyzes the legitimating functions of Moscow's architecture, Sheila Fitzpatrick uses the archives to draw a picture of Stalin 'the boss' dealing with his closest colleagues, Eugene Huskey provides a detailed description of post-Soviet Russian pantouflage, and Archie Brown and Peter Reddaway present their different takes on Gorbachev and the Soviet collapse.
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