Reasons and Background of Russian Revolution of 1917

The most important incident during the First World War was the out break of Russian Revolution of 1917. Russian Revolution was in itself a tremendous event, unique in world history. Russian Revolution was one of the biggest outcome of the First World War.

We have read that the Russia under Tsar Nicholas-II was facing the economic, political and social crisis. The long sessions of fighting with the Ottoman Empire and in the quest of Eastern Europe emptied the treasury of the Russian Empire. So, Russian Revolution was a child of economic, political and social conditions prevailing in the Russia. There were really two revolutions in the year of 1917 in Russia. One was in March and another one was in November.

As we know, there are so many reasons behind any revolution. Though revolution outbreak suddenly but there is a long period of suffering and struggle of the common masses beneath its outbreak.

Reasons for Russian Revolution

Russian Revolution of 1905

Russian Parliament Duma

Though in the most of the western European countries the democracy was developing gradually but there was autocracy in the Russia. There was no room for the Parliamentary action in Russia. The continuous tyranny of Tsarism was prevailing in the Russia.

In 1903, there were numerous spontaneous political strikes in the Russia. A political strike was not only the symbol of the economic exploitation but it was to protest against the existing political order in the Russia. In the subsequent year, Japan defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905.

Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905
Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905

On the 22nd January 1906, Tsar’s troops shot down a peaceful demonstration led by a priest, which had gone to the Tsar to beg for bread. After this incidence, a thrill of horror was prevailing in the Russia. This incidence actually gave the fuel to the general strikes against the prevailing political order.

The workers of the big cities united and formed the “Soviet”. The Tsar’s government surrendered to some extent. The Tsar promised his subjects for political reforms. The constitutional assembly Duma (thinking-place) came into existence. This promise cooled the most of the liberals in Russia.

Different demand of Workers, Peasants and Revolutionaries

In 1906 Tsar’s government came out with the Duma. But the different sections of the Russian society were having their different demands. On the one side, the starving worker class was more interested in the bread and higher wages, while on the other side, peasants came out with the slogans of “Give us land”.

Russian Revolution: condition
Russian Revolution: condition

Though the revolutionaries chiefly concerned with political reforms got the parliament Duma, but the most of the masses were not concerning with the political reforms. Tsar’s government took the advantage of this situation and played up to it. The workers, peasants and revolutionaries instead of fighting together against the Tsarist government, started fighting among themselves.

Indian Scenario After 1857
Indian Scenario After 1857

Suppression of the Russian Revolution of 1905

As it was visible to the Tsarist government that the groups were fighting among themselves. The government attacked the two hypocentres of these activities- Petersburg and Moscow. The Petersburg Soviet was crushed completely. In Moscow, the government put to death approximately thousands of people without trial and imprisoned 70,000. The Tsar’s government brutally suppressed the Russian Revolution of 1905.

Re-emergence of Revolutionary Activities

In 1914, the urban working class in Russia was waking up and becoming revolutionary. Though the Russian Revolution of 1905 failed but the failure of Russian Revolution of 1905 helped the masses to identify their loopholes. So, Lenin and his colleagues utilised the dark years of repression after 1905 in training themselves for the future actions.

Though Duma came into existence after the Russian Revolution of 1905, but the Tsar was still the leading authority in the Russia. There was not check on the powers of Tsar. So, the continuous period of the Tsar’s regime annoyed the common masses and once again there was a huge cry for the political changes.

Bastard Feudalism in Russian Revolution

The Russian peasants were in trouble because of the Bastard Feudalism. Serfdom i.e. slavery was a pain for the Russian peasants. In the early 19th century the Tsar Alexandar-II abolished the serfdom system. But his most annoying successor Tsar Nicholas-II, to get the support of the feudal lords once again established serfdom in Russia.

He appointed the royal officials in the villages. These royal officials were called Land Captain. The Land Captains were given judicial and executive rights. So, they started exploiting farmers in the interest of the feudal lords. This was called as Bastard Feudalism.

The Role of Intellectual Class

When all sections of any society face trouble, then the only section which provides the best leadership to these people is the intellectual class. The same was true the case of Russian Revolution. “Gunpowder” was already present in the Russia. They intellectual class gave the ignition to this “Gunpowder”.

Intellectuals like Maxim Gorky, through his novel “Mother” and “War and Peace” provided actual reasons for the trouble of the masses. He also provided the solution to the troubles. But the large mass of people was illiterate and suffering from poverty. So, it became very difficult for the masses to understand the solution provided in the books.

Revolutionary Movement Nihilism

In this scenario, the revolutionary movements like Nihilism played an important role in the mass awakening. Nihilist means destroyers. The objective of this Nihilist group was the assassination of the maligned officers to awaken the Empire and self-sacrifice to awaken the masses. Nihilists failed to get the support of masses and Tsar’s government crushed this movement. The final task to awaken the people was done by the Nordanik Movement i.e. People’s Movement.

Russian Revolution Background
Russian Revolution Background

Role of Tsar Nicholas in Russian Revolution

Tsar Nicholas-II along with his wife Tsarina just like the Louis-XVI and Marie Antoinette of France failed to understand the demand of their subjects. As the situation started deteriorating in the Russia Tsar Nicholas-II also started behaving in the more foolish way.

Tsar and Tsarina surrounded themselves with knaves and fools, and nobody dared to criticise them. So, matters became critical when a person, known as Gregory Rasputin became the most favourite of the Tsar and Tsarina.

Lenin and his group opposed the entry of Russia into the First World War from the very beginning. Lenin called the First World War as the capitalist’s war. As Russia was a developing nation, so Lenin suggested that Russia should refrain from the First World War.

But the advisor of Tsar Nicholas-II proposed that Russia had always played the key role in European crisis so Russia should interfere in the World War-I. The participation of Russia in the World War proved disastrous for the Tsar and his dynasty.

From here the Phases of Russian Revolution started. We will discuss these phases in next coming post.

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