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Lecture 13

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HIST 106
Paul Garfinkel

Lecture #13: The Russian Revolution, & Civil War (readings: chapter 26, pp. 817-821; chapter 27, pp. 838-839) NOTE: also review readings on the Revolution of 1905 (chapter 23, pp. 714-721) Lecture questions : [1] Why was tsarist Russia so vulnerable (to worker unrest) in 1917? [2] Why did a 900-year-old monarchy collapse in just one week? [3] Why did Russia erupt into a devastating civil war? • Russia had buckled under the war and social conflict that resulted • In 1917 there were 2 revolutions that were examples of the discontent and fear all over Europe. • These influenced post war developments elsewhere as questions were considered − Marxism coming true? − New capitalism? − Dictatorship and nothing else? Soviet Communism opened a new era even though it didn’t work as communism was expected to. [1] Why was tsarist Russia so vulnerable (to worker unrest) in 1917? Long term traits: • The long heritage of serfdom dominated culturally and economically • The huge empire was mostly poor and illiterate, comprised of rural peasants • There were various nationalities and religions • Very little civic order • Politically, liberalism did not appear until 1905. • Any anti-Tsarist forces had formerly been severely repressed. • It was an industrialist latecomer − 1890’s modernized because the Tsar realized their backwardness was inhibiting their greatness − There was a boom of finance from abroad that led to railwarys. − The government becomes interventionist to encourage investment with state backed guarantees − Ruble put on the gold standard − New factories appear in steel, coal and petroleum. − (under Alexander III) 1905 • After the Russo-Japanese War, there was a general strike and a small revolution that demanded civil rights and the creation of the Duma. − This revolution produced frustration because it was not honoured by the Tsar once the initial reaction was over. (There was election fixing, dissolution, the Tsar still had power over the army, legislature and veto) 1914 • The Duma lacks any real power • Russia is a partially modernized, autocratic conservative country with a rural economy. • There is a small, young workforce in very concentrated areas. • At first many people embraced war and there was popular enthusiasm, but it was short- lived because Russia was so unprepared for the war. 1915 • 2 million casualties by this time • The home front is not mobilized • Duma rebels and are dismissed by Tsar Nicholas II. • At this point he takes personal control of the army − Bad decision because this makes people blame him more personally for the losses in the war. • In his absence the Tsarina and Rasputin rule. − Both are severely mistrusted. The Tsarina was disliked because of her German upbringing. Even Rasputin was distrusted by Tsarist royalists who poisoned him. • The war radicalized peasants conscripts who had no loyalty to the Tsar or Russia • Food shortages in cities • News from the home front is continually worse. • In Petrograd women start bread riots and the unrest spreads − Order and discipline break down as soldiers join the mobs • March 15, 1915, the Duma create a provisional government − Nicholas II abdicates • The Provisional Government oversee the February Revolution. [2] Why did a 900-year-old monarchy collapse in just one week? It was an uplanned uprising of angry and hungry people. Ideology did not drive this revolution. The Duma create a liberal program − Freedom of religion and speech − Equality under the law − Right to strike etc. The question was, “Will this work?” - there is still a mass of hungry and angry people out there. The Provisional government was not popularly elected – their role was not to carry out a social revolution, but to prevent it. • Kerensky becomes the president − He refuses to take land and give it to the peasants because he feared that conscripts would desert from the army to take it. − He still believed that war was the biggest national duty. The Provisional Government had to share power with the Petrograd Soviet. − The PS was the largest socialist group and issued their own orders − Ex. Army Order No. 1 was that Russian troops were to be under the governance of elected groups of soldiers − This led to overthrowing of the military hierarchy − Soldiers executed their officers and peasants deserted. 1917 showed virtual anarchy in the country Lenin emerges... • Vladmir Lenin was a middle class law student who hated the Tsarist government • A lot of faith in Karl Marx, who he learned a lot about while in exile • Did not believe in pure Marxist doctrine (that capitalism would be destroyed by a proletariat revolution), − but believed that a socialist revolution could happen in unindustrialized Russia − Believed that peasants were the key to revolution as opposed to proletariats − Also believed in being governed by a small, disciplined, elitist worker’s party led by himself, full of “professional revol
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