Russian Revolution: Lenin’s ideas

Exam task

Section A Question 1/2 – Russian Revolution


“Using three or four points explain how the ideas of Vladimir Ulyanov (Lenin) contributed to the development of the Russian Revolution to October 1917.”

Student response

“Although Lenin’s ideas did not contribute to the February Revolution they were crucial to the development of the October Revolution. Lenin’s return to Russia on April 3rd 1917 sparked the development of the October revolution as his “blueprint for revolution” was expressed. His April Theses (April 4th) demanded “no support for the provisional government” and called for an immediate socialist revolution which would establish a “dictatorship of the proletariat”. His denunciation of the Provisional Government coupled with his appealing “Peace, Land, Bread” catch-cry convinced workers, peasants and military that the Bolsheviks would be a better form of government than the Provisional Government. This was demonstrated by Bolshevik percentage in the Moscow and Petrograd Soviets increasing by 40 per cent between June and September, thus giving them a majority and making a revolutionary situation possible. Despite Lenin’s exile to Finland following July Days, he continued to direct the revolution through letters to the Second Congress of Soviets demanding that an armed insurrection of the Provisional Government must take place before the Constituent Elections in November 1917. Lenin secretly returned to Russia on October 7th to continue this and by the 10th he had gained the backing of the Congress, thus making the revolution imminent. Lenin’s confident ideas and his determination to see them implemented rapidly, directly led to a revolutionary situation by October 1917.”

Teacher feedback

This response is a reasonable summary of Lenin’s ideas and how they influenced the course of the revolution in Russia. It begins by making the important distinction that while Lenin’s ideas were crucial to the October Revolution, they did not inspire the February Revolution. Any summary of Lenin’s ideas should reference his April Theses, which demanded socialist revolution at the earliest opportunity. While this response did that, it also focuses on Lenin’s actions rather than his ideas. It should have explored Lenin’s specific ideas further, referring to his adaptation of Marxist theory and his conception of a revolutionary movement in ‘What is to be Done?’ (1902). This response would probably score in the region of 7/10.

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