Historians largely agree that the war was the crucial factor in the fall of tsarism, but its precise role is the subject of continued debate, as are the reasons for the success of the Bolsheviks in October. Soviet and Marxist historians, the so-called ‘Pessimists’, stress the historical logic of events, arguing that antiquated tsarism was heading inexorably for revolution in 1914, but that the war brought to the fore the inadequacies of the regime and assisted the historical process. Lyaschenko observed that ‘The war was, in Lenin’s expression, “A mighty accelerator of the process of revolutionisation”.’1 ‘Pessimists’ characterise the war as a catalyst for

the inevitable march of History, and greater stress is laid upon the repressive character of tsarism and the growth of a revolutionary working class within Russia. Such interpretations depict the Bolsheviks as the expression of proletarian discontent, and the ‘makers’ of the revolution. Some Western historians, like Sheila Fitzpatrick, agree, albeit less rigidly, ‘the regime was so vulnerable to any kind of jolt or setback that it is hard to imagine that it could have survived long, even without the War’.2