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The Russian Revolution.docx

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Anthony Cantor

Russian Revolutions: -Russia on the eve of Revolution -Lenin & Bolshevism -The February Revolution -The Provisional Government & the Petrograd Soviet -The October Revolution -Peace of Brest-Litovsk -Civil War -some argue that the Oct. Rev. was the most influential events of the 20 -century (set stage for Fascism, Cold War & other communist movements around the world) -revolutionaries tried to set a process in motion that would sweep away the entire social & gov’t system & replace it w/ something superior (transformed into totalitarian leadership) -Feb: brought down tsar & installed liberal, democratic gov’t -Oct.: Bolshevik gov’t overthrew the provisional gov’t & installed a Communist dictatorship led by Lenin Russia on the eve of Revolution -Russia was one of Europe’s great powers but was regarded as “backwards” compared to Britain, Germany & France -Tsar ruled as an autocrat, w/ absolute power, until 1905 -parliament was created in 1906, but the Tsar still ruled absolutely, w/ secret police to undermine the concessions he made -serfs were only freed until 1860 -industrialization happened late -people still belonged to estates (peasants, etc.) -economic growth in Russia didn’t trickle down to the peasants (farmers), who made up 80% of Russia’s pop. -the Tsar was fighting a losing battle against Liberal influences from Western Europe -Russia had a revolutionary tradition (ex. in 1905) -1914: the Russian Empire was a huge one, spanning across Europe & Asia -most of it was rural & unindustrialized -1897: European part of Russian Empire (including Belarus & Ukraine) had 92 million people -entire empire had 126 million people -there was an urban working class that was v. close to the peasantry (hard to find distinction) -it was fairly militant & revolutionary Key Terms Autocrat – a ruler w/ absolute power Russian Social Democratic Labour Party – rank & file members were usually workers who decided to become “professional revolutionaries” (important in understanding how Lenin & Trotsky revised Marxist theory to adapt it to a non-industrialized context) party split into 2 factions: Bolsheviks – revolutionary (Lenin); meant “majority” but they were the minority for membership in the party; believed in Lenin’s revision of Marxism (in countries like Russia that weren’t v. industrialized & didn’t have a large middle class or the ingredients for a Liberal capitalist phase of social development, you could have a workers’ rev. w/o going through stage of industrial capitalism, which for Marx was necessary b/c the class conflict between the middle class & working class would create class conflict & rev. mood) Mensheviks – orthodox Marxism, less revolutionary (didn’t follow Lenin’s revisionist Marxism); more modern & willing to make peace w/ things like a liberal-democratic gov’t b/c they saw it as a necessary stage to get Russia to the point of rev. Soviets – workers’ (& soldiers’) councils Provisional government Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870-1924) -Professional revolutionaries -Revolutionary vanguard party – group who cease power & establish dictatorship of the proletariat & use this leadership to influence the people from the top-down -“What Is To Be Done” (1902) -Revision of Marx – “Marxism-Leninism” February Revolution -WWI was devastating for Russia -14 million mobilized, 3 million of deaths & massive displacement of citizens -ended want of democracy in Russia -soldiers were key players in the Russian Revolutions Nicholas II, Emperor (Czar) of Russia, r. 1894-1917 -his concept of the nation was wrapped up in the legitimacy of authoritarian rule -Nov. 1915: the Tsar Nicholas II took personal command of the armed forces -he couldn’t coordinate the war effort on the front & at home -there wasn’t much of a gov’t beyond the Tsar to take care of these things -the Duma (parliament) was pushing the Tsar to appoint ministers to gov’t that had the support of the Duma, but the Tsar resisted (wanted to keep all power in his hands) -the Empress was in charge of the gov’t in St. Petersburg -she was devoted to the mystic Rasputin who had a lot of influence b/c he was brought in to heal her son -officials, generals & nobles didn’t like the Royal court under the Empress b/c she was seen as pro-German b/c she was German & related to the Emperor of Germany, but she was not -demands of total war were too much for the leadership to handle -food shortages began, the gov’t increased taxes, inflation also increased -in
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