The word dictator refers to someone who rules a country with absolute power

The word dictator refers to someone who rules a country with absolute power. Dictators tend to come to power by other throwing the government by advertising a common goal or reason to the people. Lenin had the semblance of a dictator, he defeated the Tsar and murdered his whole family then went on to form the Soviet Union which one may argue was the worst dictatorships in the 20th Century. Indeed, at first glance Lenin is commonly assumed to be a dictator, however many argue that he was a revolutionary hero who saved people from decades of suffering and poverty. Russia was a country where workers and peasants worked long hours, lived in poverty and hardships and were the lowest paid in Europe while the Elite including the aristocracy and the imperial families enjoyed a life of luxury. For many Lenin was seen to be the figure who ended a reign built on brutality and corruption, shifting Russia to a new and improved modernized industrial state seen today from a mostly agriculture Aristocrsy. Lenin is one of the most controversial leaders in history, however questions arise as to whether he was a revolutionary hero who ended a reign of terror, suffering and hardship or a villain and dictator who replaced one terror with another.
For Lenin to be a dictator, he would have exercised complete power over Russia and used oppressive and brutal means to censor anyone who opposed him. Whilst these element’s certainly feed into the image of a dictator, Russia’s history in governing, economic and political stand point before Lenin came into power cannot be ignored and can hinder how much power the word dictator applies to Lenin. For Lenin to be a revolutionary hero, Lenin would have saved a country from an oppressive regime and would have improved conditions instead of worsening them. Historians Like Dmitri Volkogonov and Richard Pipes both agree that Lenin was a dictator and draws their arguments from Lenin’s creation of the CHEKA and The Red Terror which was an example of Lenin trying to exercise control. However other Historians like Christopher Hill defends Lenin’s actions due to the situation in Russia, which had tolerated years of Civil War, World war 1 and the corruption of the aristocracy which caused massive instability. Lenin’s creation of the NEP shows him using compromise unlike the Red Terror which used force. Both Historian’s accounts can be challenged because of their own personal view on the matter and therefore I will be assessing all accounts to come up with a final conclusion.
Lenin can be viewed as a dictator because he ruled Russia through a one-party dictatorship, the Bolsheviks also known as the Communist party. Dmitri Volgonov is a historian known for his anti- Lenin approach, and believes that Lenin’s sole reason for ‘building socialism in one country boiled down to the chance of seizing power.’ This shows that Volkogonv believes that Lenin was able to exercise his dictatorship tendencies through the centralization of power in Russia. This is further supported by the creation of Sovnakom under Lenin which was a new body of government which shows that the Communist party had no intention of sharing their power. This gives the impression that Lenin wanted to limit other powers in order to strengthen his own which supports the idea that Lenin was a dictator.
However, the argument that Lenin established Sovnakom for his own personal greed for power can be rivalled due to the economic situation at the time. Russia was in a Civil war and the creation of the Sovnakom may have been an emergency tactic to defend against anti Bolsheviks. This is supported by Christopher Hill, a historian who has Marxist sympathies; ‘In 1918 the country had been economically exhausted and bankrupt’ This shows that Russia was in a state of economic hardship and the pressure to maintain stability among the economic situation and the chaos of the Civil war may help to explain why Lenin fell back to using more centralized decisions. Hill then goes further to say ‘there was a spirit of optism and self-confidence among the workers which was itself able to overcome many difficulties.’ This shows that Lenin was able to restore hope and confidence for the workers which had been crushed during the Tsar regime, which in itself shows that Lenin was not a dictator because he symbolized hope for the future instead of a reign of terror.

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