The Russian Revolution is described as the two successful revolutions of 1917, which were a series of events that happened in imperial Russia, culminating in 1917 to bring about the establishment of the Soviet state that became to be known as the Union of Socialist Soviet Republic (USSR). The Russian revolution began on 23rd to February 27th, 1917. The autocratic monarchy was overthrown by the first revolution, while the second revolution started on 24th and 25th October 1917 marshaled by the Bolshevik Party against the provisional government, which led to the major overhaul of the social, political, and economic changes in Russia, commonly known as October or Bolshevik Revolution (Carr 12).
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The Russian revolution was caused by many factors. The autocratic czarist leadership that prevailed at that time subjected the population to adverse social and economic conditions. Workers, students, and peasants led various massive movements aimed at overthrowing the government in the 19th and early 20th centuries. There was also discontentment due to Russia’s involvement in the First World War coupled with the corruption in the government (Acton 123).
In the year 1917, the movements resulted in the collapse of the czarist government and the establishment of the Bolshevik Party as the ruling party. The effects of the First World War led to the fall of czarist leadership. During this leadership, the country suffered from poor economic conditions, which strained its efforts to finance the war against powerful Germany. Russia’s industry was lacking enough resources to support or sustain the war this is because the factories were few, and the infrastructure such as the railway networks was poor and inadequate. The troop’s mobilization also adversely affected the industrial and agricultural productions. Thus there was minimal food supply and a poor transport network. The soldiers on the battlefield lacked food and even weapons (Keep 48).
There were huge casualties within the Russian forces, the food prices sky-rocketed, and by 1917, there was a big food shortage in Russia. Food and wage strikes in Petrograd in February 1917 led to mass movements. On the same month, 23rd, demonstrations, and meetings where the slogan was “demand for bread” was cited, 90,000 men and women participated in the strike in Russia’s capital. They refused to disperse even in the heavy presence of the police leading to high tension within the capital; however, no casualties were reported. Eventually, the slogan changed to “down with war and autocracy” (Acton et al. 6).
On the 25th of the same month, there was a heavy encounter between the demonstrators and the police which resulted in heavy casualties on either side. The workers seized small police stations, burned them down, and broke into the armories making away with all manner of arms (Lincoln 67).
About 1500 people were killed on February 27th when the revolution triumphed, leading to its spread across the country after Petrograd’s success. This led to the creation of two parallel governments, the Soviets and the authorities, in communication with the provisional government. Such provisional government broke the czarist police, and unveiled the freedom of press, opinion, and association, and banned all laws which discriminated against religious or national groups. The Poland state was recognized but with no basis of authority (Acton et al. 12).
The government lost power and control of the railways, troops, and the posts which came under the rule of the Soviets. The right to private property was overhauled with all landed estates and holding of monasteries and churches made national property and placed under control of local land committees and the peasant soviets. The land belonging to poor peasants was not confiscated, hired labor was illegalized, and every citizen had the right to cultivate his own land by own labor. In November, a new government was formed that allowed the council of commissars to proclaim the rights of “self determination and voluntary alienation of Russia.” This allowed citizens from different nationalities to be forcibly included in the country by the former czarist empire and also gave them the choice to decide whether to remain in Russia (Lincoln 67).At the same time, all banks were nationalized, and the production was controlled by workers leading to the gradual nationalization of major industries. Eventually, the constituent assembly was freely elected and convened in Petrograd in January of 1918, where members of the Bolshevik Party were the minority and were dispersed by the armed force of the new government.
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Acton, E. Re-thinking the Russian Revolution London; New York: E. Arnold; New York, NY 1990. 123-127.
Acton, Edward, Vladimir Cherniaev, and William G. Rosenberg, eds. A Critical Companion to the Russian Revolution, 1914–1921. (Bloomington, 1997). 2-17.
Carr, EH A History of Soviet Russia: The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1923, 3 vols. London: Macmillan, 1978. 12-15.
Keep, John L. H., The Russian Revolution: A Study in Mass Mobilization. New York, W W Norton & Co Inc, 1976. 48.
Lincoln, W. Bruce. Passage Through Armageddon: The Russians in War and Revolution, 1914–1918. (New York, 1986). 67.