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Old June 13th, 2018, 08:07 PM   #1

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Could Alexander Kerensky have succeeded?


Alexander Kerensky was the leader of Russia in 1917, until the Bolshevik revolution.
One of the extreme common Russian opinion today is that the Bolshevik Revolution was a historical mistake.
Could Alexander Kerensky hold on and lead a sustainable government?
Note: a leader is often judged by his/her ability to lead team/teams and influence others (or the population of the entire state); a person can only do so much.
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Old June 14th, 2018, 09:23 AM   #2
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To succeed he would have likely had to get Russia out of the war and do it early while he still had a fighting force. Otherwise he would have been faced with the same terms Lenin faced. The war was extremely unpopular. The main reason Lenin had support wasn't his ideology, but his promise to end the war.

Last edited by stevev; June 14th, 2018 at 09:30 AM.
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Old June 14th, 2018, 12:40 PM   #3

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Originally Posted by stevev View Post
To succeed he would have likely had to get Russia out of the war and do it early while he still had a fighting force. Otherwise he would have been faced with the same terms Lenin faced. The war was extremely unpopular. The main reason Lenin had support wasn't his ideology, but his promise to end the war.
Unfortunately, had he taken Russia out of the war, the Bolsheviks themselves would have criticized him. Specifically, they would have said that they only want to make a peace with the German workers and peasants--not with the current imperialist German government!

What Kerensky should have done was to summarily execute the Bolsheviks. Their defeatism was extremely hurtful to Russia. Also, he should have perhaps done the same thing with the Petrograd Soviet in order to prevent an alternative center of power from developing.
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Old June 14th, 2018, 02:18 PM   #4
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Unfortunately, had he taken Russia out of the war, the Bolsheviks themselves would have criticized him. Specifically, they would have said that they only want to make a peace with the German workers and peasants--not with the current imperialist German government!
The question was "could have Kerensky succeeded"? My view is that the only way was to make a separate peace with Germany and AH. Russia had little to gain by staying in. If he acted before Lenin arrived, he would have undermined Lenin's appeal. If he waited until after Lenin arrived , he would have looked weak and Lenin would have been able to criticize his motives. By heading off Lenin, he would have also been in much better negotiating position with Germany who probably would have made no territorial demands. He could then turn his attention to wiping the Bolsheviks out. Indeed, by Kerensky acting early, Germany would have had no reason to transport Lenin to Russia.

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Old June 14th, 2018, 03:05 PM   #5

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The question was "could have Kerensky succeeded"? My view is that the only way was to make a separate peace with Germany and AH. Russia had little to gain by staying in. If he acted before Lenin arrived, he would have undermined Lenin's appeal. If he waited until after Lenin arrived , he would have looked weak and Lenin would have been able to criticize his motives. By heading off Lenin, he would have also been in much better negotiating position with Germany who probably would have made no territorial demands. He could then turn his attention to wiping the Bolsheviks out. Indeed, by Kerensky acting early, Germany would have had no reason to transport Lenin to Russia.
If Russia drops out of the war and the Allies will subsequently lose, though, then Kerensky's enemies in Russia are going to endlessly hound and criticize him for allowing Germany to dominate Europe.
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Old June 14th, 2018, 05:26 PM   #6
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If Russia drops out of the war and the Allies will subsequently lose, though, then Kerensky's enemies in Russia are going to endlessly hound and criticize him for allowing Germany to dominate Europe.
I'm not sure what your point is. Russia did drop out and Germany lost. Even if Germany won it wouldn't be the overwhelming victory they hoped for in 1914. Assuming the US came in when it did, it's more likely the best Germany could hope for was a stalemate. Besides, all politicians have to deal with opposition in a democracy. Kerensky defeats the Reds and saves capitalism in Russia. Even Lenin had to revert to capitalism (New Economic Plan) to save the Russian economy. There's every reason to believe the postwar economy would be better if the "socialist" experiment never took place.
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Old June 14th, 2018, 07:23 PM   #7
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Kerensky needed to drop out of the war, and initiate some domestic reform, land reform in particular. The Bolsheviks had a program (regardless of their good/bad faith) which had a lot of appeal,

Kerensky could not crack down on the Bolsheviks, he simply did not have the reliable or effective state organizations to do so.
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Old June 14th, 2018, 09:49 PM   #8

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I'm not sure what your point is. Russia did drop out and Germany lost. Even if Germany won it wouldn't be the overwhelming victory they hoped for in 1914. Assuming the US came in when it did, it's more likely the best Germany could hope for was a stalemate. Besides, all politicians have to deal with opposition in a democracy. Kerensky defeats the Reds and saves capitalism in Russia. Even Lenin had to revert to capitalism (New Economic Plan) to save the Russian economy. There's every reason to believe the postwar economy would be better if the "socialist" experiment never took place.
In regards to the U.S., there was a risk that Germany would win in the West before the U.S. will be able to send a large number of its own troops to Western Europe. Remember--Kerensky didn't have hindsight!

Also, it was unclear that Russia was actually losing in 1917. After all, the front lines in the East were more-or-less holding steady and things for the Allies were looking up as a result of the U.S.'s entry into World War I earlier that year. Indeed, Russia's main problem in 1917 was its lack of military discipline.
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Old June 15th, 2018, 01:28 AM   #9
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Also, it was unclear that Russia was actually losing in 1917. After all, the front lines in the East were more-or-less holding steady and things for the Allies were looking up as a result of the U.S.'s entry into World War I earlier that year.
That would make Kerensky's negotiating position with the Central Powers stronger. I grant I don't know the details of Kerensky's strengths and weaknesses vis a vis the Bolsheviks in early to mid 1917, but whatever it was, it seems it would be improved by making a separate peace and keeping Lenin out of Russia.

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Old June 15th, 2018, 01:47 AM   #10

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Some people are thinking that Kerensi was a good boy, were it not for evil Bolshevicks together with Lenin everything would be OK.
Absolutely wrong. To begin with the number of Bolshevics were very small - 50 000 or something like that for entire Russia. Bolsheviks were banned, imprisioned, killed, which caused them to hide or to escape abroad. CD, SD parties, menshevics were thrice or more than that numerous. The only reason Bolsheviks could win the power was the fact that nobody wanted this power. Only Bolsheviks wanted power and knew how to use it. They just made what majority of Russians wanted them to do.
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