How did it come about that the Bolsheviks could seize power in the Russian capital in October 1917? Their success, according to Soviet spokesmen over many decades, resulted from the close fit between the party’s policies and the aspirations of the workers, peasants and conscripts of the former Russian Empire. They claimed that socialist revolution was unavoidable and that the military, economic and political disarray of wartime Russia was a mere backdrop for the doom of capitalism; at the same time they asserted that the role played by Vladimir Lenin was vital to the revolutionary advance [27; 28]. This picture of the leader, the party and the ‘masses’ acting in benign harmony has always been rejected by non-communists. But about one thing there was agreement: the importance of Lenin. Practically everyone in the West at the time and later concurred that without him there would have been no October Revolution. His indispensability was treated as axiomatic.
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