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Russian Revolution: Week 18, February 5

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History 1401E
Brock Millman

Chapter 18: The Russian Revolution and the Soviet Union - Russian Revolution is compared to French Revolution - Both attracted followers in all countries -Aroused a strong reaction on the part of those whose view of life was endangered - Problem was to overthrow the old regime, followed by disunity and conflict over the founding of the new - Middle-class people in Russia were active but proved unable to cope with mass discontents; succumbed to a more radical party which appealed to workers and peasant - Professional revolutionaries worked for the revolution long in advance -After the French Revolution, the émigrés returned, Bourbons restored, etc. -After the Russian Revolution, the opposition was effectively wiped out - Repercussions of R.R. were felt around the world - Could win sympathy in Europe because it reinforced socialist objections to capitalism; also denounced economic imperialism and the possession of colonies by Europeans (to interest non-European countries) - Soviet Union was created to occupy an intermediate position between Europe and non-Europe Backgrounds Russia after 1881: Reaction and Progress -Alexander II was assassinated in 1881, taken over byAlexander III who tried to stamp out revolutionaries - Jews were subjugated to pogroms -All different peoples (Poles, Ukrainians, Muslims, etc) were faced with the prospect of forcible assimilation to Russian culture - Closing decades of the nineteenth century, Russia became a part of Europe civilization - Began to pass through the Industrial Revolution, taking its place as an integral part of the world economic system -Adopted the gold standard - Industrialization brought an increase in business and wage-earning classes - Unions at this time were illegal and strikes were prohibited - Government borrowed heavily from Europe, hence it was less dependent financially on its own people and could maintain an absolutist regime - Business and professional classes were strong enough to form a liberal segment of public opinion - 1905: Constitutional Democrat party emerged - Considered the constitutionalists, liberals, progressives - Remained predominantly agricultural - Peasants could not leave their communes without communal permission - Still paid redemption money arising from the Emancipation of 1861 - Paid high taxes; government defrayed the interest on its foreign loans from taxes raised at home - “Land hunger” was the demand by peasants for more land in the communes The Emergence of Revolutionary Parties - Peasants obtained credit from the government to buy from the big landowners or former masters - Remained jealous of the landed aristocrat’s very existence - Revolutionary intelligentsia held a violent contempt fro the Russian empire; yearned to overthrow the tsardom - Formed secret organizations - Most of the intelligentsia were populists - Some approved of terrorism and assassination as morally necessary in an autocratic country - Populists were interested in peasant problems and peasant welfare; respected Communist Manifesto - Did not believe that an urban proletariat was the only true revolutionary class or that socialism had to evolve out of capitalism - Populist sentiment crystallized in the founding in 1901 of the Social Revolutionary Party - Plekhanov andAxelrod were exiled to Switzerland in the 1870s; organized the Russian Social Democratic or Marxist party - Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and others joined the Russian Social Democrats - Lenin: of upper-middle class, joined politics when his brother’s assassination attempt prohibited him from studying law - Spent three years in exile in Siberia - Tsarist government treated educated political prisoners with indulgence - 1898: Marxists in Russia founded the Social Democratic Labour Party - Saw the revolution as an international movement - Thought that Russia must develop capitalism, an industrialist proletariat, and the modern form of class struggle before there could be a revolution -Abhorred the Social Revolutionaries - Marxists were favoured by the tsarist police because they were less dangerous than the Social Revolutionaries Split in the Social Democrats: Bolsheviks and Mensheviks - Russian Marxists held a second party congress in Brussels and London in 1903 - Purpose was to unify all Russian Marxism, but it actually split it - Bolshevik was majority, Menshevik was minority - Lenin was founder of the Bolshevik party - 1912: Bolshevism became its own independent party - Lenin believed the party should be small revolutionary elite, insisted on a strongly centralized party, demanded strong authority - Mensheviks favoured a greater degree of influence by the membership as a whole - Lenin thought the party would strengthen itself by purges - Did not change Marx’s governing ideas: - Capitalism exploited the workers - History was shaped by economic forces and was moving toward socialism - Class struggle was a law of society - Existing forms of religion, government, philosophy, and morals were weapons of the ruling class - Leninist elaboration said “imperialism was exclusively a product of monopoly capitalism” - Denounced anyone who attempted to add anything to the fundamental principles of Marx - Lenin was an activist - The party was an organization in which intellectuals provided leadership and understanding for workers - Had no patience for trade unionism - Party leadership was armed with “objective” knowledge, and could not listen to the subjective opinions of others - Insistence on a leading and powerful role for the party elite became one of the most distinctive traits of Leninism - Leninism accomplished the union of Russian revolutionary traditions with the Western doctrine of Marxism The Revolution of 1905 Background and Revolutionary Events -All three parties were propaganda agencies -All were watched by the police and obliged to do most of their work underground - Government refused to make concessions of any kind - Tsar saw autocracy as the best and only form of government in Russia - Thought that the short successful war against Japan would create more attachment to the government - However, they lost, and the effect was reversed - General feeling that the government had exposed its incompetence to all the world - Father Gapon tried to organize the St. Petersburg factory workers to counter the propaganda of revolutionaries - Peasants made a petition asking for 8-hour work day, minimum daily wage, etc. - Marched to the tsar’s Winter Palace; troops shot down demonstrators killing several hundred - Became “Bloody Sunday” -Autocracy stood revealed as the force behind the hated officials, tax collectors, landlords, and owners of industrial plants - Social Democrats appeared from the underground to give revolutionary direction to movements - Each party tried to seize leadership - March 1905: tsar promised to call to office men “enjoying the confidence of the nation” -August: called a kind of Estates General for people to vote as separate classes - St. Petersburg Soviet led mainly by Mensheviks declared a great general strike in October - Government was paralyzed so tsar issued the October Manifesto - Promised a constitution, civil liberties, and a Duma to be elected by all classes with powers to enact laws and control the administration - Constitutional Democrats hoped that social problems could be dealt with by parliamentary methods - Liberals were afraid of revolutionaries; industrialists feared the strength of labour in the general strike - Revolutionary intellectuals worked to carry matters forward until the tsarist monarchy was abolished and a socialist republic was established as the head -Authorities arrested the members of the St. Petersburg Soviet; troops were brought back from Japan The Results of 1905: The Duma - Promised Duma was convoked - From 1906 to 1916, Russia had at least the superficial attributes of a semi-constitutional monarchy - Nicholas II announced the Duma would have no power over foreign policy, the budget, or government personnel - First Duma was elected in 1906 by a system of indirect and unequal voting - Constitutional Democrats (Cadets) obtained a sweeping majority - Tsar dismissed the Duma after two months - Second Duma was elected in 1907; government tried to control the elections through suppression of party meetings and newspapers - Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks now consented to take party; 83 socialists were elected - Cadets concluded that constitutional progress must be gradual and showed a willingness to cooperate with the tsar - Government arrested some 50 socialists as revolutionaries; ended the Duma - Third Duma elected after an electoral change that gave increased representation to the landed propertied class - Managed to hold several sessions between 1907 and 1912 - Fourth Duma held from 1912 to 1916 The Stolypin Reforms - Reformer Peter Stolypin dissolved the first two Dumas - His aim was to build up the propertied classes as friends of the state - Believed that a state actively supported by widespread private property had little to fear from doctrinaire intellectuals, conspirators, and émigrés -Allowed peasants to gain the right to acquire private control over land and to buy property from the communes of the gentry -Atrend started toward individual property and independent farming -Avast majority of peasants were still involved in the old system of common rights and communal restrictions - Social Revolutionaries cried out against dissolution of the communes - Marxists feared the reforms might do away with agrarian discontent - Stolypin was assassinated by a Social revolutionary in 1911 - When WWI began, Russia was beginning to head in a Western direction - Revolutionary parties, especially the Bolsheviks, were losing in membership The Revolution of 1917 End of Tsardom: The Revolution of March 1917 - Willing cooperation between government and people was indispensable to success in the war - Tsarist Empire could not oblige - Disunited socialists in the Duma refused to finance the war were jailed - Loses at the battles of Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes were followed by the advance of the Central Powers into Russia in 1915 - 2 million Russian soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured - Middle-class people in all countries offered their assistance to the government - Provincial zemstvos formed a union of all zemstvos in the empire - Business groups at Petrograd formed a commercial and industrial committee to get the factories into
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