Fall of the Bolsheviks: opinions?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by History_Pintobean, Aug 12, 2011.

  1. History_Pintobean An Alternate Historian

    Dec 21, 2010
    United States
    What do you think of my [so far short] alternate history(that I hope to post later on in the finished timeline section) "Fall of the Bolsheviks"

    In it(and its not fully fleshed out this is just an idea), Lenin suffers a almost completely random and fatal heart attack, sucking the Bolsheviks of much of their influence and stunning the Central Committee. Trotsky is forced to take the reigns abruptly, yet proves completely incompetent and he himself is reeling from the loss of Lenin. continuing the harsh policies(only much harsher this time), and dealing with ferocious attacks by Kerensky's forces, the Bolsheviks cave into moderate socialist demands to create a multiparty socialist state amid civil war in Petrograd, saving democracy at the last minute.

    Braving the storm of civil war, the Moderates, led by an SR majority, the story kicks off from there, detailing the civil war and the curtailing of the harsh and autocratic measures by the Bolsheviks.

    here it is:


    Famously, on 24 October the Bolsheviks were to seize power from the much loathed Provisional Government, where in Petrograd the Winter Palace, under light guard at the time, was seized suddenly and seemingly without warning. This nation shattering event was to later become known around the world as the “October Revolution.”
    Wrapped in myth, it was said that Lenin led the people en mass on a grand assault on the Winter Palace, braving every obstacle against them. This could not be further from the truth. In actuality, only a small band of Bolsheviks loyal to Lenin were to stage the seizure of the Winter Palace, which for propaganda purposes was to be exploited heavily.
    Toppled so suddenly from power, Kerensky managed to flee to the front line in search of soldiers to organize resistance, effectively leaving the country of Russia leaderless. In the meantime, the Bolsheviks were busy organizing a resistance of their own, with the formation of the MRC, or Military Revolutionary Committee of the Petrograd Soviet. Weapons and ammunition were distributed to Bolshevik supporters, while troops were put under MRC control. This would mark one of the most chaotic periods of Russian history.

    Part One: Uprising

    “...A rising of the masses needs no justification ...Go Where You Belong-into the dustbin of history.” With these words Trotsky dismissed Iulii Martov, the leader of the Menshevik-Internationalists, at the Congress of the Soviets. Thus this signified the end of moderate socialist power amongst the Soviets.
    From then on, The Bolsheviks would be on the rise, waging a brutal civil war against Russian reactionaries spearheaded by Kerensky himself nationwide. Lenin in the meantime, arousing much passion with his fiery speeches, would deliver on his promises to Peace, Land, and Bread. Decrees were issued by him that allowed for such extreme revolutionary acts as seizure of all private land, including church property and other such acts. To many, especially amongst foreigners, Karl Marx's utopian promises had come true(reluctantly or not so reluctantly depending on the person). Could it be true that the Bolsheviks were actually creating a socialist state? Was the end of capitalism nigh?
    These questions could not be so far from the minds of the inhabitants of Petrograd, who soon got caught up in a massive revolutionary uprising. It was not soon before Kerensky came back with a vengeance. Kadets, right and centrist Mensheviks, as well as SR's all viewed the revolutionary overthrow of the Provisional Government as an act of treason, and thus rallied around the creation of the All-Russian Committee for Salvation of the Homeland and Revolution, or ACS. In fact, most newspapers in Petrograd would side with the ACS, so much so that the Bolsheviks proceeded to shut down all opposition newspaper presses. Lenin decreed that they[the opposition newspapers], some of which called for the overthrow of the Bolshevik government, were “No less dangerous than bombs and machine guns.”
    on the 29 of October, Kerensky made preparations to stage a daring rebellion from within Petrograd itself, to make way for a military invasion of the city, led by Krasnov. However, soon his plans were leaked, yet Russians loyal to Kerensky would try anyway, all of whom were either killed or arrested.
    Petrograd was now under martial law following the failed rebellion, under the direct authority of the MRC. The truth of the matter was that the Bolsheviks would not go down without a fight. It was their revolution, and they would not allow the “fruits of the revolution” to be destroyed. No, their revolution would have to be drowned in blood before they surrendered to Kerensky's forces.
    Amid all the chaos of civil war, their were those in Petrograd of large importance who still sought to oppose the Bolsheviks and create a multiparty socialist government under the authority of the Soviets. Chief among these was Boris Kamkov, a Left SR, who pushed in his newspaper for the creation of a homogeneous revolutionary government composed of representatives of all socialist parties. Thus, all hope was not lost.
  2. TxCoatl1970 Well-Known Member

    Oct 26, 2009
    Gotta admit love the OP!

    I replied on a thread about Tainted Communism about this very issue.
    I'd have loved nothing more than what happened as you described.

    The problem was that Kerensky's government consisted of a very uneasy alliance between tsarist apparatchiki, Kadet and SD politicians that were viewed even by their supporters as sellouts, even more by the SR's, Mensheviki, and other radical elements that were pissed that the Duma wasn't more meaningful or competent than it was, plus you had numerous opportunists doing their best to keep the government ineffectual and thus easily profiteered from in the chaos that made it an unholy muddle.

    Lenin was the lightning rod that managed to get the more radical leftists to quit supporting the government and join (or at least not oppose) the Bolshevik movement.
    He wasn't the only person worth listening to, just the guy shouting loudest with the clearest plan and that made people who felt the need to Do Something more comfortable jumping on the Bolshevik bandwagon.

    The Okhrana, Cossack hosts, and police could have wrapped the Bolshies in an afternoon but didn't have clear instructions on how to deal with Lenin and made the situation worse when they violated orders mowing down the marchers on the Winter Palace.
    Kerensky shrank from using them b/c it would betray his democratic ideals, plus what was the harm of another evangelistic hustler hawking solutions for Russian salvation? There were thousands on the streets of St. Petersburg as it was peddling nostrums political, spiritual, what have you.

    What you're asking for is the sympathetic Russian radicals to revolt after Lenin's crew seizes power and that's really, really bad. The Bolshies didn't give a tinker's fart about legitimacy or playing nice. Their job was to make the worker's paradise happen by any means necessary.
    Nobody opposing them really was ready to sacrifice everything until it was too late and the Bolshevist state was happy to oblige them. As it was the Russian Civil War went on for four acknowledged years.

    The main reasons the Whites lost was threefold:

    (A) Official government had completely lost all legitimacy with the Russian people. It was neither the full Tsarist state ready to squash all opposition and keep everyone "safe"nor was it a truly constitutional republic they felt responsible for defending. Kerensky having full confidence and command of the official government is nearly ASB. So are the SR's and Mensheviks rising up to restore the Kadet government.

    (B) The White generals who fought the Reds did so as rogue warlords, not as a unified command with a common mission. They didn't exactly endear themselves to the local populations as they rode through requisitioning food, supplies, women, even drafting men into the army as they moved through the countryside like locusts but were low-morale makeshift units that got savaged in stand-up fights by better-motivated red militias and Red Army units.
    The Imperial Russian Army wasn't exactly a model of efficiency and professionalism in its salad days, much less after four years of getting pwned in Eastern Europe by German and Austrian units.
    It had good people and didn't always suck, but was an unholy mess wracked by corruption, desertion, and incompetence, not to mention abysmal logistic support and coordination among senior generals.

    By 1917, it was a sorry shambles of the Russian Army that had left to cheers and pealing church bells in 1914 for reasons of its own, partially b/c the Russian government was broke due to the French and German loans that usually funded Russian government expenses in lieu of sane taxation evaporated and didn't get floated near the American credit the UK and France enjoyed throughout the war. There was nobody in Russia coordinating agricultural or industrial policy nor was much of a war plan really developed beyong mobilize for show of force and hope everyone's home by Rozhdestvo (Christmas).

    (C) The leftist opposition to the Provisional Government as I said was fatally split between pro-Bolshevik and anti-Bolshevik factions as well as numerous intramural squabbles. Asking them to drop their dearest passion to oppose the one faction doing something is near ASB.
    Most everyone thought Lenin was a crank and didn't take him seriously, living the good life as an exile in Switzerland while everyone else sweated a visit from the Okhrana, being sent to Siberia, or getting swept up in the army to be cannon fodder and hearing about the horrors back home.
    When he showed up though, he stayed on message and in the government's face. You didn't have to guess what his agenda was. He put it out there. The government's financially, morally bankrupt, incompetent, and doomed Russia to failure. The Russian masses deserve better. Together we can seize the moment. All power to the soviets (councils of local people you know and elect and can hold accountable).
    Russia used to have a robust local democratic councils called zemstvo that got progressively made irrelevant as the tsar became more insistent on being the only game in town. People liked the idea so the idea of soviets being the new wrinkle on that old idea was hardly a tough sell.
    You'd need somebody to emerge as a leader everyone trusted or at least could agree to follow articulating something simple and sane folks could sign on with as making Russia work better and possibly butterfly the Bolshevik movement as a whole.
    There's numerous unsung Russian leaders who could have capably opposed Bolshevik terror and tyranny who died early, got co-opted by the Bolsheviks and died later in the purges of the 30's, or fled the scene long before.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2011