The great Russian Revolution, powerful, political, social and economic movement, which broke out in 1917 in the Russian Empire.
Is considered, by the transcendental consequences that derive from it, as one of the greatest events of the Contemporary Epoch and, at the same time, as one of the most memorable events recorded in the History of Humanity.
This revolution, which was led almost exclusively by workers, peasants and soldiers, that is, by the people themselves, resulted in the collapse of the despotic dynasty of the Tsars, with Nicholas II his last sovereign, which meant the abolition of the absolutist system until then prevailing, while also originating the establishment of a communist government, led by a group of Bolsheviks (mostly supporters of Karl Marx’s radical doctrine).
Whose supreme leader was Lenin (Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov), a revolutionary and energetic politician The State which, organized in the form of a Federal Socialist Republic, led by workers’ committees called Soviets, that is, the working class thus assumed the leadership of the government of Russia.
The triumph of the Russian Revolution therefore meant the transformation of a feudal state into one of the largest nations on earth. Causes of the Russian Revolution
Events that precipitated the Revolution
- a) The acute economic crisis that Russia was going through and, above all, the lack of food for the population.
- b) The constant defeats that the Russian armies experienced in the war with Germany during the First World War.
- c) The ineptitude and intolerance of Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, the latter’s enemy, of any reform in favour of the people.
The causes that originated the Russian Revolution were of three kinds, namely:
- Policy; 2. Social; and 3.
- Political Causes of the Russian Revolution
Russia was ruled by an absolute and despotic monarchy, where the will of the sovereign (called Tsar, i.e. Great King) was considered law.
The Tsar therefore had unlimited power, governed in an arbitrary manner, that is, without giving an account of his actions to anyone and without respecting the freedoms and rights of his subjects.
Indifferent to the aspirations of the majorities, he showed no interest in the progress and welfare of his people. On the other hand, the Duma, or Parliament, was almost always docile and unconditional to the sovereign.
- Social Causes of the Russian Revolution
The social organization of Russia was based on the most absolute inequality, distinguishing two well marked social classes, namely:
– Nobility – with the Tsar at its head, together with the aristocracy, constituted the privileged class of Russia. They ran the government, they were the biggest owners, they enjoyed all their rights and they enjoyed, likewise, all kinds of privileges. They were foreign and insensitive to the needs and sufferings of the people.
– The People – was formed by professionals, employees, workers and peasants, who clamored for their freedoms and rights to be recognized, for the disappearance of exploitation, the excessive number of working hours and low wages.
They also asked for a better distribution of land and the predominance of justice without class distinction. They were the backbone of the Russian Revolution, because thanks to its triumph, a feudal state could be transformed into a prosperous “USSR” nation, eager for universal domination.
In a truly denigrating condition were found the servants, backward of the Middle Ages, called mujiks, who, considered as things, could be alienated along with the land or farm to which they were incorporated.
III. Economic Causes of the Russian Revolution
The prevailing economic system was characterized by the monopoly of land and wealth in charge of a minority group (nobility and aristocracy), while the majority of the population was plunged into the most complete misery and ignorance.
On the other hand, both the peasants and the workers were exploited in the most inhuman way, in the farms and factories, by demanding from them a high number of daily working hours (up to 15 hours) and receiving, instead, reduced wages, with which they could not even satisfy their most pressing needs.
This situation was aggravated by the lack of a highly technified and modernized agriculture and industry, which did not provide production in line with the country’s needs.
Beginning of the Russian Revolution
The European War of 1914 (First World War) originated in Russia the crisis of the Empire of the Romanovs (Tsars), against which a long and tenacious campaign was directed, inside and outside the country, by elements that proclaimed the most advanced social and economic ideas.
The anarchic characteristic of this movement in its first stage gave rise to nihilism. Repressed this somewhat, the doctrines of Marx (Socialism) took strength, whose Russian supporters were divided into two camps, the moderates and radicals, respectively, called Mensheviks and Bolsheviks, that is, minority and majority in Russian, denominations born that in a congress held in London in 1903 were the majority radicals.
The tsarist autocracy suffered a serious breakdown with the defeats of its armies in the First World War and to this was added the personal incapacity of the Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, and the scandal that raised the influence that the monk Rasputin, owner of the will of the tsarina, exerted in the Court. Tsar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate (Stages of the Russian Revolution).
We distinguish two stages or moments of the Russian Revolution, namely:
- The first stage of the Russian Revolution, led by moderate socialists (Mensheviks), was the one that resulted in the fall of Tsar Nicholas II and originated, in turn, the establishment of the Republic with Alexander Kerensky as its first president.
Development: As the atmosphere for the people’s insurrection against the monarchy was already prepared, the revolution was precipitated: the acute food crisis that provoked a general famine, especially in the capital (Petrograd), the frequent and crushing defeats of the Russian armies in the war against Germany and the bloody repressions ordered by the government. It was in this climate that the revolution broke out in the Russian capital and then spread throughout the country.
The mutineers, led by the Mensheviks, were later joined by the soldiers who had left the regiments and, finally, the sailors of the Black Sea also rose up. Faced with the general insurrection and the pressure of the people, Nicholas II was forced to abdicate power (15 March 1917) in his name and in the name of his son.
Among the workers, peasants and soldiers, a representative council of the working class was then organized, called Soviet, which collaborated, thus resulting in the establishment of the Republic, with Alexander Kerenski, a moderate socialist, its first President.
The Kerensky government lasted a few months, as it became unpopular because it had tried to continue the war against the Germans and because it had not carried out any economic reform favorable to the people.
II Second Stage of the Russian Revolution, was the true Red Communist Revolution, led by radical socialists, who constituted the majority (Bolsheviks) being a popular movement that completely destroyed the old regime of privileges and inequalities, that is, that transformed the autocratic and despotic empire of the tsars, eminently feudal, into a Federal Communist Republic, led by the working class that, since 1923, called Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Development
Bolshevik Revolution (October Revolution) – Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov, known worldwide as Lenin, his combat name, was the soul of this Bolshevik revolution. Having entered Russia, after a long exile in Switzerland, he began by agitating the masses of workers, peasants and soldiers against the provisional government, through an active and vigorous propaganda under the slogan: “All power to the Soviets”, promising them in the same way: “Peace, land and bread”. Then, the Bolshevik armies, after serious combats, finally managed to make the government troops capitulate in Petrograd, Kerenski being forced to flee.
Lenin was then proclaimed Prime Minister by the Congress of Soviets, i.e. he assumed the government of Russia.
The Bolshevik coup d’état had triumphed, it was the 25th of October of the Russian calendar, at that time in force; that is why this revolution is known by the name of October Revolution.
Lenin’s new government, with the decisive contribution of Leon Trotsky, head of the Red Army, was advised by a kind of Ministerial Cabinet, Council of People’s Commissioners, and had to face a very critical situation, but managed to impose itself after a hard and bloody struggle. Months later, the tsar and his family were shot by order of the Ural soviet.
The first steps taken by Lenin’s revolutionary government were:
- a) I organize the State under the form of government of a Federal Socialist Republic; directed by committees of workers (Soviets).
- b) – Decree the confiscation of lands, which passed into the hands of the peasants, as well as the abolition of private property.
- c) He arranged for the delivery of the factories to the workers. Banks and commerce were also nationalized.
(d) An armistice pact with the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary): Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, by which Russia committed itself to pay heavy war compensation, while renouncing Poland and the Baltic States (Estonia and Lithuania). It thus withdrew from the conflict (First World War).
The New Soviet Republic
Proceeding with an iron fist and implacably against the enemies of the Revolution, Lenin, counting on his two main collaborators: Trotsky and Stalin, managed to radically transform the political and economic system of Russia, through the establishment of a communist government led by the proletarian class and under the federal system, called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
The government of Soviet Russia is represented by the Council of People’s Commissioners, whose ministers or commissioners are in charge of the various branches of public administration. The head of the Council is the Prime Minister, who directs international politics, governs in a dictatorial way and is, in turn, the head of the Communist Party of Russia (as happened with Jósef Stalin and Nikita Krushev, former heads of the Russian Government). Workers elect their representatives to the All-Russian Soviets General Congress (the nation’s main legislative body).
After Lenin’s death in 1924, he was succeeded by Jósef Stalin, who established a dictatorial, totalitarian and vertical government for more than 30 years, but, at the same time, introduced great reforms that turned Russia into one of the largest economic, scientific and military powers in the world. Stalin’s government would elevate the USSR as a world power after World War II.
Jósef Stalin, as Lenin’s faithful successor and devout supporter of Marxist doctrine, strove to achieve the following objectives.
Objectives of the USSR
- Introduce the collective regime in the ownership and exploitation of land.
- To invigorate and develop extraordinarily Soviet industry, by means of the Fortnightly Plans (a programme of achievements for a period of five years), the first of which came into force in 1928; which, to tell the truth, have contributed to making Russia a great industrial and military power.
- To turn Russia into a great military power, defender of its communist system.
- To spread the communist doctrine all over the world and to advocate the socialist revolution that will bring with it, he said, the collapse of capitalist countries and, in turn, the implantation of communism on the globe. For this purpose, the Third International, or Komitern, was organized, bringing together and guiding all the communist parties in the world. It was held in the city of Moscow.
Consequences of the Russian Revolution
The main consequences of the Russian Revolution were:
- The collapse of the absolute and autocratic monarchy of the Tsars, with all its past of injustices, inequalities and privileges.
- The establishment of a communist government in Russia: Communist Federative Republic, which since 1923, were called Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
III. The elevation of Russia to the category of great political, economic, scientific and military power of the world.
IV. The formation in the world of two ideological factions; that of Capitalism and that of Communism, and the rivalry and discrepancy that arose between them, as a result of the aspiration of the two factions to spread their economic system throughout the world. This led to the emergence of a bipolar world and the consequent conflict between them (Cold War).