I agree with the others who say that ruthless methods and terror, aka setting up the Cheka was the "single" action that was most essential to Bolshevik Consolidation of Power.... "They set up the Cheka as an instrument of terror to deal with opposition...The Cheka was a formidable force that supported the Bolsheviks at every turn and helped them win the war against 'internal enemies'. Some historians see the Cheka as the key factor in the survival of the Bolshevik regime." (121)... because it did keep everything under control. The people were scared to overthrow the government, because if they did something that the Cheka did not like, they would be punished, so basically there was no point in going against the Bolsheviks with the Cheka on their side. The Bolsheviks used the Cheka as an instrument of terror to make the people obbey, and they succeeded.
Ruthless Methods and Terror -Setting up the Cheka "The Cheka was a formidable force that supported the Bolsheviks at every turn, and helped them win the war against 'internal enemies.'" (p. 121). The Cheka - being a quite strong source of Bolshevik support - was well structured to invade the public and turn sides. Having such infiltrators can prove to be very useful, especially at a revolutionary time; spreading propaganda and launching anti-counter-revolutionary movements.
"Some historians see the Cheka as " the key factor in the survival of the Bolshevik regime." (p. 121) "The Bolsheviks [...] arrest[ed] some 5000 Mensheviks in 1921 for counter-revolutionary activities" (p. 113). Had the Bolsheviks ignored these counter-revolutionary actions by parties which were now in the opposition, power consolidation would begin coming apart, with more and more people questioning the Bolshevik regime. Arresting 5000 people was probably more a scare to these opposing parties; discouraging any uprisings among the masses; revolution at this time in Russia was dependent upon the masses. "Cheka arrests had a terrifying random character" (p. 98) Exactly like arresting 5000 Mensheviks, random arrests, of which very likely many people had nothing to do with politics, such as the Smirnov story (p.99), caused chaotic paranoia, yet controlled fear amongst the population
Ruthless Methods and Terror One of the main reasons for the concolidation of Bolshevik power was that "They set up the Cheka as an instrument of terror to deal with opposition. ... The Cheka was a formidable force that supported the Bolsheviks at every turn and helped them win the war against 'internal enemies'. Some historians see the Cheka as the key factor in the survival of the Bolshevik regime." (121). Clearly having the Cheka by their side was beneficial to the Bolsheviks, as it made sure people feared the government and wouldnt be able to revolt against it. It kept everyone under control. "As one of its founder members put it: 'the Cheka is not an investigating committee, a court or a tribunal. It is a fighting organ on the internal front of the Civil War... It does not judge, it strikes.'" (Corin, Fiehn, 98). Based on the country's size and the diversity of people, the Bolsheviks needed a body like the Cheka in order to guarantee that they would stay in power by the use of ruthless methods.
''Class warfare was used to terrorise the middle classes and all hostile social groups''
By using this method of terror the Bolsheviks made sure that the population which was not really following them yet and was not affiliated with hostile groups would be living in chaos and feud while seeing how the minor groups would crumble while the Bolsheviks would stand strong. Due to this strategy the population was looking for enemy classes instead of watching the Bolshevik's movements. The Bolsheviks took this opportunity to get rid of enemies using the Cheka and similar moral less methods. This made any other leadership option almost impossible and so they did or had to trust the Bolsheviks. Therefore the Bolshevik party gained more supporters and more power. The other groups were hesitating to make a move....and ended up trying, but too late.
The most promising action taken by the Bolsheviks to consolidate their power was setting up the Cheka (secret police) as an instrument of terror to deal with opposition. Stated by a Cheka official (quoted by an English journalist in 1929 "We have executed some twenty or thirty thousand persons, perhaps fifty thousand. They were all spies, traitors, enemies within our ranks, a very small number in proportion to the persons of this kind then in Russia. We instituted the red terror at a time of war, when the enemy was marching upon us from without and the enemy within was preparing to help him. Scotland Yard executed spies and traitors also in war time." (http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/RUScheka.htm). The way I believe it to be seen is that as terrifying as the Cheka were to the people, it was a great benefit to the Bolsheviks - making sure there are no traitors and that the country is secure. "The Cheka was a formidable force that supported the Bolsheviks at every turn and helped them win the war against 'internal enemies" (Corin, Fiehn pg. 121). The Cheka was there to ensure that people would either know/learn or fear to 'backfire' as long as the Cheka is present. In my opinion, Cheka as use of terror was one of the Bolsheviks biggest advantages.
I believe that the most essential actions for the Bolsheviks staying in power was the use of repressive measures during the NEP. During the NEP when people were becoming happier with the economic situation and the economy was improving, the Bolsheviks were able to repress their opponents without much protest because some people were satisfied with the Bolsheviks running the country while others were scared of opposing them. This allowed the Bolsheviks to eliminate any opposition opposing them and increased the amount of people who were scared of the Bolsheviks, that way keeping people quite.
Supporting workers and peasants what they want was critical for Bolsheviks to consolidate the power. The quote 'They realised they were not able to control the situation so they gave way to popular demands and aspirations' (Corin pg 121) tells the Bolshevik realized terrorizing and forcing Russian didn't support Bolsheviks to consolidate the power. Therefore, Bolshevik started to support Russian and give what they want so that they can gain support from them. By gaining major population of Russian, they were able to consolidate power with Russians' support.
I agree with BJ. What the Bolsheviks were best at was to sense what the workers and peasants wanted. They then did not necessarily had to give that to them, but they could navigate/negotiate their way out of it. Of course they could not be evasive all the time, so they gave a little bit of power/grain/freedom etc. every now and then. Hence, the workers were happy because Bolsheviks made it feel that somebody is finally listening to the Workers, and the Bolsheviks were happy because they could be a step ahead of the crowd.
I believe that there was not one, but two main key points that were essential to the Bolshevik Consolidation of Power. One without the other does not work for me, so I think setting up the Cheka (ruthless methods and terror), and initially giving peasants and workers what they wanted (pragmatic decisions). The mixture of both positive and negative factors made them look like the bad guys hidden under the skin of the good guys, meaning that even though they were scaring the people and using terror upon the country, there was nothing the society could do because they were receiving opportunities and privileges they had not always received before, and no one would wish to lose something that is valuable and you have gained it. I trully believe these two factors were the most important in the Consolidation of Power.