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Russian Revolution – Causes and Effect

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  • Difficulty Level : Medium
  • Last Updated : 27 Dec, 2021

The Russian Revolution, also called the October Revolution of 1917, holds an important role in Russian history. This revolution is called a pair of revolutions as it overthrew the imperialist government in February (march, new style) and brought the Bolsheviks to power in October (November), giving birth to communalism in Russia.

Events Leading To The Russian Revolution

1. Revolution of 1905

The Industrial Revolution in Russia came with many social and political changes and the population in cities like St. Petersburg and Moscow grew to a manifold level. This population growth has caused the country a problem due to the limited food supply due to economic crisis, poor management, and costly wars.

Due to lack of food and current circumstances, people moved to the Winter Palace of Nicholas II on January 22, 1905. Fortunately, he was not there and ordered them not to shoot at the crowd, but due to some misunderstanding, his orders were ignored.  This event is known as Bloody Sunday Massacre. It also gave rise to the 1905 revolution in Russia.

2. Effects of World War-I

Germany had occupied large parts of Russia, further compounding the food shortage and economic problems with no support of a modern army. 

Tsar Nikolai himself, the king of Russia, took part in the war and left his wife to look after the government. However, the Russian population hated him because he was German by birth, and for this reason, many Russians lost faith in the government.

3. Political Causes

  • The dictatorship of Kings: Tsar Alexander made many reforms in Russia and became famous among all. But then Tsarist dictatorship has caused unrest among Russian workers, peasants, intellectuals, and students. Over time, public unrest in Russia intensified. This is where the hatred of the state started.
  • Russification Policy: Though Tsar Alexander III was an autocratic ruler, he pursued a policy of Russification of all systems along with his son, Tsar Nicholas II, and the purpose of this policy was to ensure that everyone who lived under the Russian Empire must adopt the Russian language and culture.

4. Social Causes

  • Social inequality: Before the revolution, Russian society was divided into two classes. They were rich and poor and the nobles, feudatories, and the wealthy belonged to the wealthy class. Peasants, labourers, and slaves belonged to the poor. These societies were unbalanced. No class can be happy. Tsar Alexander freed “slavery”. The feudal lords were unhappy that they had lost their land, and the freed slaves became depressed because they did not get the unexpected land. Workers and labourers were denied the opportunity to live their lives because of meager wages. Political parties were dissatisfied with the denial of all privileges. People from all walks of life were extinguished by royal power.
  • Rasputin affairs: Rasputin, a catholic priest influenced over the royal family, gave an upper hand to the clergy class. This was not liked by the less privileged section. Rasputin’s affair with the Czarina was also a matter of concern for the people.
  • Role of ideas: In the 19th century, Russia’s intellectual revolution had already taken place to spread socialist and communalist ideologies. The liberal ideas of Western Europe started to enter Russia. It attacked the monarchy and made Russian people aware of the true character of the Czar king’s rule.
  • The Rise of Nihilism: The rise of Nihilism influenced the Russian Revolution of 1917  and the preachers of Nihilism came forward to destroy the prevailing rule, society, and religious faith and create a new world and its chief aim was the downfall of Czardom in Russia. Through his organizations, he influenced the people to overthrow the dominant system in Russia and create a proper environment for the Russian Revolution.

5. Economic causes

  • Impact of Industrial Revolution: The Industrial Revolution helped revive the flames of revolution in Russia. In Russia, many workers were involved in the construction of the Trans-Siberian and Trans-Caspian Railway. After constructing these two railways, several factories with various “work organizations” were established in Russia. Over time, the workers’ consciousness grew, and they dreamed of freeing Russia from the clutches of tsarism.
  • Flawed taxation system: Due to Russia’s involvement in world war I and in Russo – japan war, the revenue of Russian had wholly depleted. As the nobles and aristocrats were the privileged class, the entire revenue for supplementing Czar’s luxurious life was collected from the less privileged sections of the society. This created much resentment among the people.

Effects of Russian Revolution

1. End of Dictatorship

The Russian Revolution ended the dictatorship of the Russian Emperor. With the establishment of a democratic government, the autocratic rule of Tsarist came to an end. It ended the rule of the Romanov dynasty. It was the first country that denied the policy of Imperialism and favoured the Independence of the country against colonial rule.

2. Birth  of Socialist government

This led to the world’s first communist/socialist government. The October Revolution gave power to the Bolsheviks, thereby giving birth to the communalist ideology. The new Soviet government has announced that it is withdrawing from World War I.

3. Nationalization of banks

The socialist government announced the nationalization of all industries, private sectors, banks, mines, railways, telephones. They became the property of the state. Most industry and banks were nationalized in November 1917 and the ownership and management was in the hands of the government.

4. Planned economy

Planned development of the economy began under Stalin.  Since 1929, the party has forced all farmers to work in collective farms. Initiation of five years plan was done by joseph Stalin to improve the conditions of the poor. The thought of a planned economy arouse in Russia and then spread to other parts of the country.

5. Formation of USSR

Soon after the Second World War, the planned economy transformed the Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) into a mighty industrial power. After the Russian revolution, USSR became a superpower in the world.

6. End of Poverty

Poverty began to disappear from Russia. With the outbreak of World War II, the Soviet Union gave socialism a global face.  The land of the nobles was seized by the peasants and was declared social property. In cities, in order to promote equality, Bolsheviks enforced the partition of large houses according to family requirements. This paved a way to end inequality in society to a great extent.

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