The Scottish diplomat, spy, and journalist Robert Lockhart was the British consul-general in Tsarist Russia during WW1, witnessed the February Revolution of 1917, and returned as the first British envoy to the Bolshevik government in 1918—thereby acquiring a firsthand understanding of the socio-political situation in Russia at that time. Lockhart was keenly aware of the naïveté of ivory-tower British politicians and intellectuals vis-à-vis the realities of Bolshevism, and recalled the following situation in his 1932 memoir (concerning his experiences in London in the weeks following the October Revolution of 1917):
During a hectic period of three weeks I lunched and dined with the politicians. Russia, of course, was the one topic of conversation, and in the prevailing ignorance I regained my self-confidence. I had long foreseen the inevitability of the Bolshevik revolution. I could not share the general belief, stimulated by the opinion of nearly all the Russian experts in London, that the Lenin régime could not last more than a few weeks and that then Russia would revert to Tsarism or a military dictatorship. Still less could I believe that the Russian peasant would return to the trenches. Russia was out of the war. Bolshevism would last—certainly as long as the war lasted. I deprecated as sheer folly our militarist propaganda, because it took no account of the war-weariness which had raised the Bolsheviks to the supreme power.
Contrary to the misconceptions—or wishful-thinking—of pro-capitalist politicians and intellectuals in Western Europe (past and present), the Bolshevik Revolution, the leadership of Lenin, and their anti-imperialistic policies were popular amongst the Russian masses, as Lockhart observed:
The revolution took place because the patience of the Russian people broke down under a system of unparalleled inefficiency and corruption. No other nation would have stood the privations which Russia stood for anything like the same length of time. As instances of the inefficiency, I give the disgraceful mishandling of food-supplies, the complete break-down of transport, and the senseless mobilisation of millions of unwanted and unemployable troops. As an example of the corruption, I quote the shameless profiteering of nearly every one engaged in the giving and taking of war contracts. Obviously, the Emperor himself, as a supreme autocrat, must bear the responsibility for a system which failed mainly because of the men (Stürmer, Protopopoff, Rasputin) whom he appointed to control it. If he had acted differently, if he had been a different man. … These arguments are childish.
What it is important to realise is that from the first the revolution was a revolution of the people. From the first moment neither the Duma nor the intelligentzia had any control of the situation. Secondly, the revolution was a revolution for land, bread and peace—but, above all, for peace. There was only one way to save Russia from going Bolshevik. That was to allow her to make peace. It was because he would not make peace that Kerensky went under. It was solely because he promised to stop the war that Lenin came to the top.
This contemporaneous observation has parity with the later investigations of the American historian and eminent Russia specialist Alexander Rabinowitch, who rejected the common view of “Western scholars” that the Bolshevik Revolution of November, 1917 was “the result of a well-executed coup d’état without significant mass support.” By contrast, Rabinowitch concluded the following:
Studying the aspirations of factory workers, soldiers, and sailors as expressed in contemporary documents, I find that these concerns corresponded closely to the program of political, economic, and social reform put forth by the Bolsheviks at a time when all other major political parties were widely discredited because of their failure to press hard enough for meaningful internal changes and an immediate end to Russia’s participation in the war. As a result, in October the goals of the Bolsheviks, as the masses understood them, had strong popular support.
Indeed, a crucial prerequisite for the Bolshevik Revolution was “the winning of majority support for the Bolshevik program in the Petrograd and Moscow soviets and in a number of other regional soviets,” and also, “the support of military troops in the rear and at the front.” In short, the Bolsheviks were buoyed to power by popular support, which was also reflected in the very nature of their party; thus, in accounting for “the phenomenal Bolshevik success” in their 1917 ascension to power, Rabinowitch rejected the old cliché of Lenin’s authoritarianism (“the traditional Leninist model”) promulgated by Western propagandists:
Rather, I would emphasize the party’s internally relatively democratic, tolerant, and decentralized structure and method of operation, as well as its essentially open and mass character—in striking contrast to the traditional Leninist model.
Rabinowitch’s revision of the erroneous Western propaganda-narrative reflects a broader corrective tendency within the academic historiography of the Russian Revolution, which simultaneously constitutes a return to earlier (more accurate) accounts of the events in question—as noted by the American historian Paul Le Blanc:
Eyewitness accounts of the Bolshevik revolution, such as John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook the World, have been fully corroborated by more recent work of social historians—Leopold Haimson, Alexander Rabinowitch, Victoria Bonnell, Diane Koenker, David Mandel, and many others: the Bolshevik party was deeply rooted in the working class, and it had become the predominant political current in the Russian workers’ movement just before World War I and, after a fairly brief interruption, again by the late summer of 1917. The Bolshevik revolution of October/November 1917 was, in fact, a deeply democratic phenomenon, a proletarian revolution in terms of goals, participants, and popular support.
This is obviously not to say that the masses who uplifted Lenin and the Bolsheviks were themselves necessarily dedicated Marxists or Communists, and instead, both Lockhart and Rabinowitch emphasised the rôle of the generic Bolshevik slogan “Peace, Land, and Bread” in attracting popular support. Indeed, Lockhart asserted that Lenin’s anti-imperialistic platform was the primary reason for his popular ascension (as noted above), and Rabinowitch asserted that the “tens of thousands of workers and soldiers” who joined the Bolshevik Party in the run-up to the November revolution probably “knew little, if anything, about Marxism.” Rabinowitch further asserted that “the Petrograd masses” supported the Bolshevik Revolution “not out of any sympathy for strictly Bolshevik rule but because they believed the revolution and the congress to be in imminent danger.” Then again, “revolutionary Marxism still had a way of penetrating the workers’ milieu and influencing political attitudes to a greater extent than any competing ideology,” as the American historian Victoria Bonnell notes in her review of Rabinowitch; the Bolsheviks “could not have succeeded without a reservoir of popular sentiment among workers and soldiers favoring radical solutions.”
Regardless of the degree to which Marxist theory had diffused the society, it cannot be denied that Lenin and the Bolsheviks came to power in 1917 with widespread support from the Russian masses.
 Robert H. B. Lockhart, Memoirs of a British Agent: Being an Account of the Author’s Early Life in Many Lands and of His Official Mission to Moscow in 1918 (London, U.K: Putnam, 1932), 196-197.
 Ibid., 171-172.
 Alexander Rabinowitch, The Bolsheviks Come to Power: The Revolution of 1917 in Petrograd (London, U.K: Pluto Press, 2004), xvii.
 Ibid., 179.
 Ibid., 311.
 Paul Le Blanc, ‘Introduction: Leninism in the United States and the Decline of the Socialist Workers Party’, in Paul Le Blanc (editor), In Defense of American Trotskyism: Revolutionary Principles and Working-Class Democracy, 1st edition (Fourth Internationalist Tendency: September, 1992): https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/document/fit/leninismus.htm
 Lockhart, Memoirs, 197; Rabinowitch, Bolsheviks, 311.
 Ibid., 312.
 Ibid., 314.
 Victoria E. Bonnell, ‘The Bolsheviks Come to Power. Vol. 2: The Revolution of 1917 in Petrograd. By Alexander Rabinowitch’, American Journal of Sociology, Volume 84, Number 2 (1978), 493.
 Ibid., 495.