Vladimir Lenin: Individual vs. Circumstance Report (Assessment)
People create history, and behind every notable change, there is a significant figure or group of them. However, a series of events happen by forming the basis for the great accomplishments of each great personality. Vladimir Lenin is one of the defining figures in history since he stood at the head of one of the most crucial revolutions in the world and laid the foundation for one of the most influential states in the twentieth century. However, this success was possible due to the events of Lenin’s childhood and consequences before the October Revolution, since the Russian Empire was in crisis and depression for years.
The family and childhood of a person have a significant impact on his or her future, and for Vladimir Lenin, they were decisive. The real last name of Vladimir is Ulianov, and he was born in 1870 in the family of a school inspector and was the fourth of seven children (Possony). Both of his parents were educated; they instilled in him the enjoyment of learning, so after graduation, Vladimir showed high academic success, which allowed him to receive higher legal education.
Crucial events that influenced the formation of Lenin’s views were the unreasonable dismissal of his father from work and his death because of it, as well as the execution of his elder brother Alexander for revolutionary activity (Schmermund and Edwards). These misfortunes were a shock to the young Ulianov and made him doubt the rightfulness and adequacy of the government.
Lenin was also expelled from the university for participating in a student demonstration, although he managed to finish his studies later (Spielvogel). During his student years, Lenin made the first steps in opposition and political work. A significant influence on the young revolutionary had a reading of Marx’s Capital, which formed the basis of his ideology for the revolution and the creation of a new state in the future. In addition, after graduation, Lenin began his legal practice, and his main clients were Russian peasants experiencing constant injustice, which only reinforced Lenin’s ideas about class inequality (“Vladimir Lenin”).
For this reason, the young revolutionary tried to conduct more activities to discredit the authorities, and as a result, he was exiled to Siberia for three years (Spielvogel). The banishment also affected reinforcing the ideas of Lenin since he could read and write political works during these years.
The main external circumstances that made the October Revolution possible were the protracted crisis of the Russian Empire and the people’s discontent with the government. The first impetus was the Japan-Russia War, which caused significant damage to the Russian economy, and also popularized revolutionary moods among people. The soldiers who returned from the Japanese captivity endorsed the ideas about the necessary changes in the country, and the high level of inflation, poverty, and hunger only encouraged the population to act (Possony).
For this reason, the years 1905-1907 in the Russian Empire were marked by a number of strikes, rebellions, bloody battles, and rallies. These events forced Tsar Nicholas II to establish an elected legislative assembly, known as the Duma, and also adopt a constitution guaranteeing the democratic freedom of the people (Spielvogel). Vladimir Lenin, at that time, had been living in Europe and conducting political activities by developing the ideas of Marxism. This revolution was the first circumstance that made possible the triumph of Lenin.
The next circumstance was the participation of the Russian Empire in the First World War, although the state of its economy and armament was too weak for fighting. As a result of the war, Russia suffered significant losses since there were not enough weapons to win in large-scale battles. Thus, millions of soldiers died, most of the economic resources were spent on the army, and people in the cities had a food shortage. Besides, ministers did not respect the freedom guaranteed by the constitution and did not make any reforms, which only deepened the crisis.
For this reason, in 1917, a new March revolution broke out even more ambitious and brutal, which forced Nicholas II to dissolve the Duma, and later abdicate (“Vladimir Lenin”). Thus, in the Russian Empire, the monarchy regime was overthrown, and the Provisional Government came to power (“Vladimir Lenin”).
At that time, Lenin lived in Munich, where he had been working as a political activist by developing and popularizing the ideas of Marxism. This work was for him a kind of preparation before one of the most ambitious events in the history of Russia. However, the March revolution was one of the last circumstances for the victory of the October Revolution, although Lenin himself did not take part in those events.
Therefore, by the time Lenin returned to Russia, the most favorable conditions for the realization of the October Revolution were formed in the country. The people were tired of constant instability and poverty, so they willingly believed in the slogans and principles of Marxism that the Bolsheviks proclaimed. Class equality, the rule of the people, justice, and the increase in the country’s wealth through honest work were necessary for those who were eager for change. The state was vulnerable, and any correctly substantiated proposals could be accepted by society.
However, one should not underestimate the significance of Lenin himself, since his charisma, persuasion skills, and ability to built communication ensured him the support of the people and the victory of the Bolsheviks. His political agenda based on the ideas of Marxism was clearly designed and attractive to the broad public, and his experience in Europe allowed him to develop the necessary skills to shape his image. After the victory of the October Revolution, a massive upsurge of faith combined with violent methods, known as the Red Terror, contributed to the creation of the USSR under the leadership of Lenin (“Vladimir Lenin”).
This country, for many years, remained one of the most significant players in the international arena. Hence, Lenin’s belief in the need for change, high intellect, and the ability to impose his ideas were crucial factors for the achievement of the October Revolution. Nevertheless, Lenin’s efforts would be doomed to failure without the circumstances formed over the years.
In conclusion, Vladimir Lenin is an important figure in the history of Russia and the world since he managed to lead and win a large-scale revolution and start a new historical era. He reached much of his success because of his skills, knowledge, and ambitions; however, circumstances shaped his identity, and also political conditions in the state made his achievements possible. Consequently, if the described revolutionary events of the early twentieth century had not happened, then perhaps Lenin would have been such a significant person in history.
Possony, Stefan T. Lenin: The Compulsive Revolutionary. Routledge, 2017.
Schmermund, Elizabeth, and Judith Edwards. Vladimir Lenin and the Russian Revolution. Enslow Publishing, 2016.
Spielvogel, Jackson J. “Russian Revolution.” Western Civilization: A Brief History, 10th ed., Cengage Learning, Inc, 2017. Web.
“Vladimir Lenin. Biography.” Biography.com. 2017. Web.