Question by Bel: Russian Revolution?
What Started the Russian Revolution?
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Answer by jalesya l
Russian Revolution (1917) was a series of economic and social upheavals in Russia, involving first the overthrow of the tsarist autocracy, and then the overthrow of the liberal and moderate-socialist Provisional Government, resulting in the establishment of Soviet power under the control of the Bolshevik party. This eventually led to the establishment of the Soviet Union in 1922, which lasted until its dissolution in 1991.
The February Revolution of 1917 (March 1917 of the Gregorian calendar), which led directly to the fall of the autocracy of Czar Nicholas II of Russia, the last Tsar of Russia, and which sought to establish in its place a democratic republic. Kerensky released Bolshevik leaders hoping they would join the provisional government but instead they became the Red Guards (later the Red Army). Vladimir Lenin created ten Bolshevik policies, among them “Abolish all State Debt,” meaning any international debt the country had previously held was now considered eliminated.
A period of dual power, in which the Provisional Government held state power and the national network of Soviets, led by socialists, had the allegiance of the lower-classes and the political Left. The Mensheviks were also fighting for control over the country at this time.
The October Revolution (November of the Gregorian calendar), in which the Bolshevik party, led by Vladimir Lenin, and the workers’ Soviets, overthrew the Provisional Government and brought about a quite dramatic change in the social structure of Russia, as well as paving the way for the USSR. While many notable historical events occurred in Moscow and St. Petersburg, there was also a broadly-based movement in cities throughout the country, among national minorities throughout the empire, and in the rural areas, where peasants seized and redistributed land.At the start of 1917, a turning point in Russian history, the country was ripe for revolution—and, indeed, this year saw two very distinct ones: the first, known as the February Revolution, growing rapidly, creating expanded social opportunities but also great uncertainty. Peasant villagers more and more often migrated between agrarian and industrial work environments, and many relocated entirely, creating a growing urban labor force. A middle class of white-collar employees, businessmen and professionals (the latter group comprising doctors, lawyers, teachers, journalists, engineers, etc.) was on the rise. Even nobles had to find new ways to subsist in this changing economy, and contemporaries spoke of new classes forming (proletarians and capitalists, for example), although these classes were also divided along crisscrossing lines of status, gender, age, ethnicity, and belief.If anything, it was becoming harder to speak of clearly-defined social groups or boundaries. Not only were groups fractured in various ways, their defining boundaries were also increasingly blurred by migrating peasants, worker intellectuals, gentry professionals, and the like. Almost everyone felt that the texture of their lives was transformed by a spreading commercial culture which remade the surfaces of material life (buildings, store fronts, advertisements, fashion, clocks and machines) and nurtured new objects of desire.By 1917, the growth of political consciousness, the impact of revolutionary ideas, and the weak and inefficient system of government (which had been debilitated further by its participation in World War I), should have convinced the emperor, Nicholas II, to take the necessary steps towards reform. In January 1917, in fact, Sir George Buchanan, the British Ambassador in Russia, advised the emperor to “break down the barrier that separates you from your people to regain their confidence.” He received little response from Nicholas. The people of Russia resented the autocracy of Nicholas II and the corrupt and anachronistic elements in his government. He was out of touch with the needs and aspirations of the Russian people, the vast majority of whom were victims of the wretched socio-economic conditions which prevailed. Socially, Tsarist Russia stood well behind the rest of Europe in its industry and farming, resulting in few opportunities for fair advancement on the part of peasants and industrial workers. Economically, widespread inflation and food shortages in Russia contributed to the revolution. Militarily, inadequate supplies, logistics, and weaponry led to heavy losses that the Russians suffered during World War I; this further strengthened Russia’s view of Nicholas II as weak and unfit to rule. Ultimately, these factors, coupled with the development of revolutionary ideas and movements (particularly during the years following the 1905 Bloody Sunday Massacre), led to the Russian Revolution.
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