4/6 Communism: The Russian Revolution
“Ten Days that Shook the World”
This lecture is a BFD, sets up the basic issue of the 20 century, a struggle between the
competing ideologies of democracy, communism and fascism.
And it all began in Russia, in 1917.
-Russia Before WWI
-Russia’s war experience
-February and October Revolutions
-Russian Civil War
Part I-Background to Revolution
Russia is the last autocracy in Europe. Last place where monarchy/royal family has real control,
complex, beauracratuc structure gradually undergoing change.
Russia- overwhelmingly agricultural barely started to industrialize. Great Britain, France
serfdom abolished in the 15 c. In Russia serfs aren’t emancipated til 1861. (Want a sadder fact?
America has slaves til 1865. But everything is backward in Russia… right….)
Romanovs- conservative. Nicholas II weak-willed but stubborn. Didn’t want change. Advisers
1904- Russo-Japanese War. Somehow, Russia loses. Humiliating. Japan is rising as a world
1905- The people strike and protest for reform, certain the political structure lost the war. Push to
industrialize isn’t going well.
Nicholas II grants conscessions, a Russian Parliament- The Duma. Universal Manhood
Sufferage. Peter Stolypin pushes series of reform to modernize Russia. The biggest problem is
the distribution of land ,to aid this he redistributes to 2 million farmers, but it is not enough.
Transportation still an issue. 1911-Stolypin is assassinated and his reforms shoved under the rug.
Mew group led by Vladimir Ullyich Ulganov (Lenin). He was born to middle class parents, and
unruly child with a mean streak, but reaaaaaallly good at history. Attracted to politics like his
brother. Brother plots to assassinate czar and is executed. Lenin wants revenge, and so the logical answer is to overthrow the regime.1888-arrested and exiled. Starts reading marx, decides we
can’t wait, we have to start the revolution, and if it begins in Russia it will spread! His people are
the Bolsheviks, organized around local councils, “soviets”
Part II Russia’s War Experience
WWI provided discontent necessary to fuel revolution. Widespread starvation, people are losing
loved ones, feeling deeply alienated. Hellish.
1916- extreme paranoia leads to allegations the czar and czarina are pro-german. That’s BAD.
Rasputin at center, creepy eeyed, giant guy, monk apparently capable of supernatural deeds.
Joins church via orgies. Seriously. I’m not fucking with you. Rasputin is.
Czar’s child alexie is a hemophiliac and somehow Rasputin is able to help alleviate his
symptoms. So the family grows close to Rasputin and the Advisers get jealous and suspicious,
plan to assassinate him.
29 Dec. 1916- Rasputin invited to diner at a noble called Usapov’s house. His food is poisoned
with arsenic, but, silly Rabbit, arsenic is for kids! He has built up immunity. As the dinner party
start to wind down someone just stands up and