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Evaluation of The Significance of Vladimir Lenin Until 1921

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Vladimir Lenin was a Russian politician and theorist, who heavily influenced the growth of Russia in the Twentieth Century. Lenin first began to immerse himself in politics after the execution of his brother, for an assassination attempt on Alexander III. Although Lenin was arrested in 1895 and then exiled to Siberia a year after, he improvised and established the Bolshevik Party. The significance of Lenin is often questioned, as there were many other influential leaders of Russia during the same time period, such as Stalin and Trotsky. Lenin was significant as he was the successful leader of the Bolshevik Party, which helped to stimulate the Revolution and spread communism.

When Marx’s theories first began to circulate around Russia, Lenin quickly realised that he approved and identified with the basis of the ideology. This provided to be significant as Lenin’s adaptation of Marxist theory, known as Marxism-Leninism, implemented the base for politics in Russia. After the Russian Revolution, Lenin’s Communist Party of the Soviet Union (the Bolsheviks) rose to power. Lenin had modelled his objectives after Marx’s ideology, however he decided to do so on a smaller scale. Marx believed that a dictatorship was needed before communism could be achieved. To ensure that he was successful, Lenin ruled Russia as a dictator. This provided to be essential, as Russia had been ruled by a weak leader for many years before the Revolution, so they had wanted a ‘strong leader’ after seizing power. Lenin perfectly fit this profile. Marx’s theory had already been circulating around Russia, which meant that many people were aware of the basic ideas. The awareness of Marxist theories allowed the people to feel safer as they understood Lenin’s vision. This built trust between Lenin and the people. Moreover, Lenin’s formation of ideas and plans for a new Russia, portrayed him as strong and forward-thinking. It could be argued that as Lenin quickly established himself as a potential leader, it was ensured that he would be the best candidate for the leadership. However, it could also be argued that Trotsky would have also been a strong leader, as he also believed that Marx’s ideas could positively influence Russia. Trotsky had been drawn to Marxism as a teenager, joining a Marxist discussion group at the age of sixteen. He was later exiled for ‘inciting strikes in favour of Marxism.’ However, Trotsky was neither a Bolshevik nor Menshevik, so he fluctuated between the two. He believed that Lenin’s ideas would result in a disastrous dictatorship. One of the key mistakes that Lenin made was shutting down other political parties. If Trotsky had been the leader, he would have been more lenient to the other political parties. This would have resulted in less hostility and opposition to the Bolshevik Party. If these measures had been taken, it would have saved the Bolshevik Party a lot of opposition in the upcoming years and maintained a good relationship with political parties that might have revolted. Overall, Lenin’s commitment to Marxist theories ensued him as leader of Russia, as it gave him a set of principles to stand by, which was significant as it meant that he could heavily shape and influence Russia ideologically.

Lenin was significant in changing Russia politically, which was an integral part of Lenin gaining power and control of Russia. After Lenin’s return to Russia from exile, he immediately began to recover his political footing. Upon his return, Lenin made a speech which outlined the April Theses. The April Theses had a big impact in politics at the time as it contained many new, radical ideas, such as ‘Bread, Peace and Land’. Despite being progressive ideas, Lenin explained and carried them out well. This showed the Russian people that not only was Lenin innovative, he was also a strong political candidate, because he could convey his ideas in a persuasive manner. The April These confirmed to the Russian people that Lenin was the leader that they needed. It focused on the faults in Russia’s system of capitalism, as it explained how it would not help improve society. It highlighted how a proletarian revolution would work instead. This was a significant political move, as Lenin had appealed to the masses of people that had been forgotten, which guaranteed success as these people would constitute the numbers needed in a revolution. Furthermore, the ten points that had been mentioned in the April Theses laid the basis for the October uprising. Without Lenin’s leadership, the October uprising would not have been successful. The uprising was essential, as it meant that the Bolshevik party had seized power from the Provisional Government. As this was a bloodless coup, it softened Lenin’s image whilst also conveying his power and control. However, it could be argued that the July Days, prior to the October uprising, highlighted Lenin’s incompetence. The July Days was an impromptu uprising of workers and soldiers against the Provisional Government. There was ‘widespread seizure of land’ by the peasants and the spread of soviet’s worker control of the factories. The July Days showed the people of Russia that Lenin was unable to stop all the people at once. This demonstrated that if they could stage an uprising once, they could do it again. It was a point in politics where Lenin was essentially losing control. Despite the July Days, Lenin was able to regain control and status. He introduced new, radical ideas that the people were in favour of and controlled an uprising in which he seized power.

Moreover, Lenin conveyed his significance through the way in which he consolidated power, which was an important turning point to the use of violence and fear. To ensure that Lenin would not be opposed, in December of 1917 Lenin established the Cheka, which was involved in many integral turning points, such as the Red Terror. The Cheka’s job was to hunt out enemies of Lenin and to discipline them accordingly. Essentially, they became ‘Lenin’s eyes and ears’ on the streets of Russia, and once the Red Terror began, violence was not used sparingly. The Cheka mostly consisted of Bolsheviks, so they could get away with most things, as Lenin wanted no trace of opposition. Lenin’s aim for the Cheka was to ensure that he would stay in power. It showed the citizens of Russia that Lenin would be taken seriously and did not mind using violence to get his point across. It painted him as more ruthless and dangerous, which stopped the prospect of any revolutions. By using the Cheka, Lenin could further his Marxist theories and improve Russia, by continuing his dictatorship. Moreover, Lenin used class warfare to subdue the middle class, and fundamentally subdue them into acceptance. The legal system was eventually abolished, and was subsequently replaced by revolutionary justice, which was also an extremely violent solution. Workers and soldiers believed in the end of privilege, and it was the workers and soldiers that made up the masses. It was important that Lenin had introduced the Cheka and revolutionary justice, as he had two means of disciplining those who were rebellious. The Cheka would hunt out enemies and rebels, who would be planning revolutions against Lenin. This eradicated the leader of a revolution. Revolutionary justice ensured that those who still wanted and lived a vaguely privileged life were accounted for. These were the people that would have joined a revolution. Lenin consolidated his power by attacking the two types of people that would create a disturbance: the leaders of a revolution and the followers of a revolution. However, it could be argued that Lenin was not the one who implemented how and when the Cheka would strike. Strategy and placement within the Cheka were mainly carried out by figures such as Dzerzhinsky and Trotsky. Lenin and Dzerzhinsky had opposing views on many important things such as ideological and political issues. Dzerzhinsky decided when to raise the standards of violence in the Cheka. After an assassination attempt, Trotsky and Dzerzhinsky had implemented the Red Terror, which meant that ‘more violent action’ was being taken against opposition. As Dzerzhinsky carried out strategy, his placement of the Red Terror helped stop opposition to Lenin. If this had not been done, there would have been many more attempted assassinations. More people would have begun to oppose Lenin because they would not have been afraid of the consequences. If the Red Terror had not been implemented, it could have portrayed Lenin as very weak, causing him to be viewed as an inferior leader. Despite Trotsky and Dzerzhinsky heavily influencing the strategy and placement of the Cheka, it was Lenin who consistently pushed for stronger force and harsher treatment. Without Lenin wanting to push intimidation further, the Red Terror may not have had the same effect, resulting with the Bolsheviks feeling more opposition.

Not only did Lenin significantly affect the political situation in Russia, he also affected the economic and social aspects of Russia through War Communism. From 1918 to 1920, during the Russian Civil War, the Bolsheviks introduced War Communism after many riots rocked the cities in the spring of 1918. The aim of War Communism was to stop the riots over food and regulate the selling of food. To do so, the state took control of industries. Essentially money became worthless and citizens were ‘paid in food’ rather than money. This was significant, as the collapse in agriculture ruined the economy. This left most families jobless and starving. Many citizens that were negatively affected were the people that Lenin had originally appealed to, so Lenin and the Bolshevik party lost a lot of support. Not only did War Communism ruin the economy, it also had a huge social impact. The Red Terror intensified, class warfare was encouraged even more, and many prisoners were ‘simply shot.’ The Cheka was unaware of the counter revolutionaries, so they attacked everyone, including children. This provided a turning point for the people, where violence was used just because it could. Initially, the Red Terror had clear aims and targets, which was understood by most of the people and accepted. However, the Red Terror was inflicting fear because they did not know who would rebel next. It could be argued that the actions that the New Economic Policy took reversed the actions of War Communism, subsequently rendering it insignificant. The NEP gave the Soviet a time period to recuperate. It lasted until 1928 and Russia generally became ‘more prosperous.’ The general economic situation greatly improved and regained stability, subsequently improving the social situation. As the economic situation greatly improved, the effects of War Communism were not as stark. This meant that the Bolshevik party slowly regained popularity, as if nothing had happened. Regained popularity allowed Lenin to rule like before, making his job easier. Both War Communism and the New Economic Policy had lasting effects on Russia, both economically and socially, but the effects of War Communism prove to be significant as it took many years to somewhat reclaim the economic standard from before the Civil War.

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Evaluation Of The Significance Of Vladimir Lenin Until 1921. (2021, October 25). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from
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