In the period 1905 to 1945 there was three key individuals that caused significant change in the influence of the Russian Communist Party: Lenin, Stalin and the Tsar. The influence of the party came in two main forms, political and public, which all three leaders changed in different ways. The most important individual in bringing about the change in influence is Vladimir Lenin, who brought about a sudden sharp rise in the party’s popularity.
Following the 1917 October Revolution, Lenin became the leader of the Communist Party and greatly increased the party’s political influence with his ‘one party state’. Lenin’s creation of the Politburo in 1919, which was a group of eight high profile party members who influenced any decision being made, demonstrates the party’s increased political influence by showing their domination of governmental bodies. Public support of the party is obvious in the increase of RCP membership, March 1919 to March 1920, from 250,000 to 612,000.
This may have been due mainly to Lenin retaining his power through the 1918 civil war. In 1921, Lenin introduced his New Economic Policy, aimed at gaining peace with the peasant class, which resulted in the ending of armed resistance to the communists. This support increased the Russian Communist Party’s (RCP) public influence greatly, backed in rural areas as well as urban working class districts. Due to all these factors, Lenin is the most important individual in changing the influence of the Russian communist party between 1905 and 1945.
However, Lenin’s contributions to the party would not of been possible if no for the actions Tsar Nicholas II. In 1905, the public support for the Tsarist regime was extremely low, in all classes and geographic locations, leading to a rapid expansion of the RSDLP (Russian Social Democratic Labor Party) and general strikes throughout; the Russian public began to search for other groups to replace the Tsarists.
The Bolsheviks, aka the RSDLP, would later become the RCP and therefore this increase in membership, up to 150,000 in 1905, increased the general influence of the communist party. The decision of the Tsar to order his troops to fire upon peaceful protestors, at Bloody Sunday on 22nd January 1905, dramatically increased the popularity of the RCP and thus the public influence. Although not being the most important, Tsar Nicholas II was a key individual in bringing about the changing influence of the RCP, due to his actions acting as a springboard for Lenin.
Following Lenin, Stalin played the biggest party in changing the party influence, both political and socially. During Stalin’s time in power, up to 1945, the influence of the party plummeted significantly, resulting in the RCP having no say in the country’s activities. Due to Stalin’s original ‘facade’ of communism, until reaching power, and his actions once dictator, the party lost the ideological influence of the public.
The RCP was in fact fully in charge of the country, however the party was fully controlled by Stalin, thus undermining their influence; this is shown by the ‘Great Purge’ of 1937, where Stalin “cleaned out’ the party. Thus, during Stalin’s rule, contrary to the facade of power, both the political and social influence of the RCP plummeted to rock bottom. In conclusion, between 1905 and 1945, Lenin caused the greatest change in social influence, shown by bring the part to power with the support of the majority of the classes.
Whereas Stalin brought about the biggest fluctuation of political influence for the RCP, from complete control down to no longer being charge of the country but being ‘servants’ for the dictator. However, none of this would have been possible without the role of Tsar Nicholas II, who ‘allowed’ the party to gain public support through his rash decisions. To conclude I believe the role of the individuals in bring about the changing influence of the Russian Communist Party, between 1905 and 1945, was extremely important, with Vladimir Lenin taking pole position.