A revolution that took place in Russia during an international war i.e. World War I is called as Russian Revolution. World War I started in 1914 and ended by 1917 and during this period, in the year 1917 a revolution took place in Russia.
What is revolution?
Revolution is a fundamental change brought about intentionally.Basically, we are replacing or altering an existing system with a new system based on new values and new principles.There are three main causes: political, economic and social.
Russian revolution was an outcome of all the three causes i.e. economic, social and political.Hence it was the most intense revolution where all the three causes were playing a dominant role.It is also important for another reason, as it is the world's first communist revolution.Communism is a theory propagated by great philosopher Karl Marx. Communism is a theory and Russian Revolution is a practical example of this theory.
Karl Marx and Communism:
Karl Marx was a German communist thinker.'Das Kapital' and 'Communist Manifesto' are the two world famous books written by him.Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels collectively published 'Manifesto of Communism' in the year 1848.He did scientific analysis of human social development.He found that any society comprises of two types of people - Haves and Haves not.Haves are those who own the means of production e.g. landlords and capitalists whereas haves not are the poor people like framers and workers.He firmly said that haves exploits haves not and this leads to class struggle.With time as the struggle intensifies it leads to an intense conflict between haves and haves not.Karl Marx made an appeal " Workers and laborers unite, you have nothing to loose but your chains." He made a rallying call and urged them to unite for bringing social change.He firmly believed that, no power beyond Human power can bring about this change.He said that roots of change lie in the economic system of a society. Once the economy is changed ,the social customs and values are bound to change with it.He gave Communist Manifesto to establish a society which is free from all exploitation and inequalities.Communism is a theory in which all the means of production are publicly owned and managed by government.There is no such concept of private property.The role of state is to see that resources are distributed equally so that there is classless and divisionless society.
Causes of Russian Revolution:
1. Social: In the beginning of the 20th century, Russian society was extremely unequal.The two systems- feudalism and bonded labor ruined the life of poor peasants and farmers.Life of common people was extremely miserable and hence the prevailing inequality in the Russian society was one of the causes of discontent among people.
2. Political: The political condition prevailing in Russia sow the seeds for revolution.
a. Despotic rule of Tsar: In Russia king was called as tsar and for 3 centuries this position was held by Romanov dynasty.In 1894, Nicholas II became the tsar. He was extremely despotic and cruel ruler. He opposed liberalism and progressive ideology.He banned the formation of trade unions and freedom of press was restricted.Due to his imperial strategy, Russian was growing as a huge empire but the internal development was negligible.He neglected the welfare of his citizens.
b. Rasputin Factor: He was a Serbian monk.He was actually a farmer who pretended to be a priest and claimed to possess miraculous healing powers. Tsarina Alexandra had 4 daughters and only one son named Alexei who was the future tsar of Russia. Prince Alexei suffered from hemophilia which is a genetic disorder that impairs body's blood clotting ability and Rasputin cured him several times on the basis of his healing powers. So Tsarina started blindly following him and Rasputin became her close advisor. During World War I when Tsar was busy in the war all the important decisions were taken on the approval of Rasputin.He replaced the ministers with his family members and friends. Russia's pitiable condition in war was attributed to Rasputin and Tsarina. He made Russians very angry.
3. Economic: Agriculture was the backbone of Russian economy. But the technology used was outdated which hampered the food production and hence there was scarcity of foodgrains. Even the condition of industries was not good, there was no modernization.The defeat of Russia in war further worsened the Russian economy.The capitalists and landlords exploited workers and peasants by compelling them to work for longer hours and paid them low wages.
Formation of RSDLP: As tsar opposed trade unions, they used to operate secretly. Various trade unions came together and formed Russian Socialist Democratic Labor Party in the year 1898.It comprised of two groups- Mensheviks led by Kerensky and Bolsheviks led by Lenin.As Lenin opposed tsar and his policies, he was exiled from Russia.
Blood Sunday: 2 lac workers and peasants led by priest Father Gapon organised a peaceful demonstration at St. Petersburg and marched towards Winter palace.But the tsar's soldiers open fired on the unarmed people and there was a huge loss of human life.As this incidence took place on 22nd January 1905 which was a Sunday, it is called as Bloody Sunday.
Workers's revolt at St. Petersburg: In the middle of October an event took place in Russia which gave new direction to Russian history.Entire Russia witnessed worker's strike.Worker's leaders assembled at St. Petersburg and formed the St. Petersburg Soviet.To pacify the situation Tsar Nicholas II assured people of granting fundamental rights and setting up Russian Parliament called as Duma. But all the democratic experiments failed in Russia and people's wishes were not fulfilled.
Russia on the eve of revolution: There was a political unrest in Russia.The World War I began in Europe by 1914.The attack of Germany on Russia dragged Russia in the war.Russia had to retreat from the war due to lack of arms and ammunition.There was a stream of thinking that the pitiable situation of Russia during the war period was an outcome of the deeds of Tsarina Alexandra and Rasputin.Finally in January- February 1917 workers and soldiers came together and revolted against the government. It was an anti-tsar agitation as his soldiers too joined the revolt.He was pressurized to vacate the throne and ultimately on 15th March 1917 he abdicated the throne.Provisional government was formed by Mensheviks with Kerensky as the Prime Minister as Lenin was exiled.The provisional government continued the war against Germany.As Russia lacked modern weapons, the common man lost the faith in provisional government, they wanted peace and no more war.
Entry of Lenin: Vladimir Ilyich Ilyanov rightly called as 'Lenin' who was exiled in Switzerland returned to Russia in April 1917.His entry was facilitated by Germany, as they knew that once Lenin enters Russia, he would surely capture power and withdraw Russia from war. So Germany could easily win the war.As Lenin returned to Russia, there was a huge conflict between Lenin and Kerensky.Finally Kerensky had to step down and people's leader Lenin assumed power in Russia and Russian revolution came to an end. Lenin is regarded as the father of Bolshevik Revolution.
After coming to power, Lenin killed the entire Romanov family.Hence Russia saw a transformation from monarchy to communist state.So, Russian Revolution is also called as Communist Revolution.
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