What if there had been Kerensky instead of Lenin?

Alexander Kerensky-Prime Minister of Russia for a brief period in 1917, between the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II and the October Revolution of Lenin and co.

Alot of people aren’t aware that the Russian Revolution was not started by the Bolsheviks themselves. In between the Tsar and the Soviets, Russia actually had the beginnings of a democratic government-known as the Provisional Government, under Alexander Kerensky (I believe he was a Socialist Republican, but I could be wrong.)

There are mostly two schools of thought on Kerensky, IN MY OPINION, as I have witnessed:

(admittedly, I’m simplifying, paraphrasing, etc etc…)
EXTREME Rightist view of Kerensky: he was nothing more than a Bolshevik stooge, a leftist who pandered to whoever he could to stay in power, a usurper who promised the Imperial family help, but abandoned them and then lied to cover this up, a coward-he escaped Russia (some say dressed as a woman.)
EXTREME Leftist view of Kerensky: just a pawn of the monarch, a pansy, who said he would help the people, but really stayed to the old ways-conspired with “Bloody Nicholas”, a capitalist thug, power hungry, weak. Continued the bloody imperialist war while preaching socialism-so he was a liar and a phony.
Okay, that would be the extremes. MY view: a human being, who was probably somewhere in the middle-d’uh. He believed in democracy, and was NOT a monarchist, yet at the same time, he didn’t believe in punishing those who were, exactly. He disagreed with many people, but he still TRIED to treat them humanely-ie, the Imperial family. However, he came in at the wrong time-Russia was a mess-WWI, the fall of one government. Russia was NOT used to democracy-you couldn’t just erase what, 500 or so years of autocracy (from the Muscovites to the Romanovs), a strong, stern leader was needed. He wasn’t a bad guy, though.
So, what IF Kerensky had stayed in power, and kept Lenin away? Would Russia have become weak, and have been taken over by Hitler? Or would Russia have become a democracy that much sooner? Or would the Bolsheviks simply have waited?

Excellent question. IMHO, Kerensky and the Mensheviks were doomed because a) Kerensky countinued to fight WWI instead of signing a treaty with the Germans, and b) with folks like Stalin wanting power, a democratic Russia had no chance to evolve. Not only did Russians have no experience with democracy, they also had no rule of law.

Substitute “Lenin” in place of “Stalin” in goboy’s post and I’d agree. In fact, it’s still true.

Was Kerensky a Menshevik, though? I read his autobiography, Russia and History’s Turning Point, and he stated that he rejected Marxism because it tended to ignore the individuality of human beings.
Just asking…I’ll look it up…

That depends. Kerensky, like the Bolsheviks, was in a bad situation re: the war. The choice anyone who came to power in Russia had at the time was, “Do I continue the war or not?” Continuing to fight was destabilizing and hurt the legitimacy of the government, especially because antiwar protests were one of the things that caused the revolution in the first place. However, making peace had its own problems, because it would mean that Russia would be diplomatically isolated after the war. By that point, an allied victory looked inevitable, and the allies would remember the “desertion” of Russia. Kerensky tried to stay in the war, and the government fell. The Bolsheviks were willing to risk diplomatic isolation and survived. Lets assume, however, that the provisional government was willing to make peace. Now, it has a whole new set of problems, because neither the communists or the monarchists recognize it. The monarchists, supported by the allies, would revolt, as happened in the actual history, but this time, the Bolsheviks would have been less willing to help stop them. I’d expect to see general strikes and revolt in the army. I don’t think the government would have survived that.

IMO the provisional government wouldn’t have lasted for more than a couple of years even without Bolshevik interference. If Kerensky had done the smart thing and pulled out of WWI immediately not only would he have gained support he would have most likely gained support from the only other party to oppose WWI, the Bolsheviks. So Kerensky and the provisional government would have got stronger and the Bolsheviks would have got weaker & he couldn’t have asked for more than that.
Basically, with Russia losing battle after battle and being forced further back into their own territory every day, with new workers strikes breaking out every day and with morale lower than ever before it was only a matter of time before Kerensky & co. got given the boot. Had the Bolsheviks not done it, disgruntled army generals such as General Kournilov (who was also against the war) would have done it. A revolution was, IMO, inevitable and it would have happened long before Hitler rose to power. My guess is that the Bolsheviks, who were still the most likely to steal power from Kerensky, would have just waited until the time was right.

Kerensky was first a member of the Labor Party, and then a Socialist Revolutionary (when he served as vice-chairman of the Petrograd Soviet) So, no, he wasn’t a Menshevik himself (The Mensheviks and Bolsheviks were different wings of the Social Democratic Party), but the Kerensky government had a lot of Mensheviks in it, and the S-R and Mensheviks were usually allies.

I wasn’t ignoring Lenin, but he died in 1924, a mere 7 years after the Revolution. Stalin’s brutal reign, from 1928 after he won the post-Lenin power struggle to his death in 1953, really turned the Soviet Union into the tyranny it became.

Hmmm. Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago discusses the genesis of the Soviet prison system, and suggests that Lenin was more than capable of the systematic oppression of his political opponents. And, IIRC, the state security apparatus was largely set up by Dzherzhinsky, who was one of Lenin’s sidekicks…

I’m sure that Lenin was, on balance, a nicer person and a more responsible leader than Stalin, but that really doesn’t constitute much of a recommendation.

Lenin was the one who set up the system-Stalin simply took it further. Lenin set up the gulags, the Red Terror, the Cheka which was the ancestor of the KGB. Everyone now gets this picture of Lenin as this nice, benign figure. He wasn’t-he was pretty hard and ruthless. Granted, he was intelligent. And granted, the last years of his life he was pretty much completely senile. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that the guy was NOT someone you wanted your daughter to bring home to Sunday dinner. (Of course, he DID like cats, which I can say isn’t too bad…).

On the whole, some people may get the idea that I’m a monarchist, because of my love for Nicky and his family. Not quite true. I’m a royal enthusiast, and I have no problem with a constitutional monarchy-which Nicky would’ve been much better at. But no-I see the Tsarist system had its flaws as well. But it was no where near as brutal as what Lenin and Stalin created.

Stalin indeed took it further, much further than Lenin would have. Lenin was fearful of what would happen when and if Stalin took over. Lenin wasn’t a “nice guy,” but times were tough. He just fought two revolutions: against the tsars and against the provisional government. Lenin was no angel, but he was no Stalin either.

True. But that doesn’t mean Lenin is totally clean.

Stalin was kind of the monster Lenin created. One thing about Lenin-the man was intelligent, if extremely narrowminded.

Stalin was just a brute tyrant, Lenin was a scheming tyrant.

If Russia had formed a government that was not so inimical to the security of the West, Hitler almost certainly would not have been allowed to attain power, and WWII may have never happened.