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BLUNDERING TO BOLSHEVISM

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Blundering to Bolshevism

By July 1917, Russia was already exhausted from its participation in Europe's so-called Great War. Already in February the war had produced the overthrow of Russia's monarchy. A somewhat liberal but conservative provisional government was in place, including men with commercial interests. They were trying to extend the government's power while anarchy reigned in the countryside and peasant soldiers were deserting to get in on the anarchistic confiscations taking place in the countryside.

Despite the chaos in Russia, the United States and Britain wanted Russia to launch an offensive in July as part of a concerted effort against Germany and Austria-Hungary. The administration of President Woodrow Wilson told Russia’s provisional government that aid would be given to Russia only if it pursued a new offensive.

Members of Russia's provisional government were naive about their country's ability regarding an offensive. There were dreams of the benefits to Russia that would come with an Allied victory. Russia’s Eastern Orthodox clergy looked forward to the defeat of Turkey (Germany's ally) and winning back Constantinople (Istanbul) for Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The provisional government's Minister of War, Alexander Kerensky, was entertaining a sloppy analogy, believing that the overthrow of the tsar made possible a new morale among Russia’s military.

Russia's offensive in July failed. Russian soldiers turned against the provisional government and threw their weight behind an alternative: Revolutionary People's Councils called Soviets. Rising as leaders of the Soviets were the socialist revolutionaries Trotsky and Lenin. Lenin was leader of the foremost anti-war party, the Bolsheviks.

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