Russian Revolution of 1917

Russian revolution
Russian revolution (Pc.- commons.wikimedia.org/)

The Russian Revolution of 1917 is considered to be one of the most significant events in the history of mankind because its direct and indirect consequences were far-reaching. While the effect of the French revolution was initially confined to Europe the consequences of the Russian revolution were truly global.

Two revolutions

In the year 1917, two revolutions took place in Russia. First, in the month of March (February), second in the month of November (October). Both of these revolutions, in reality, were two phases of one single phenomenon.

Larger background of the Russian Revolution

Czarist regime

Russian Revolution of 1917 was a response & reaction to the evils of the Czarist regime. Czar Nicholas was ruling in Russia at the time. His regime was based on the ideals of royal absolutism, semi-divine nature of kingship, aristocratic privileges, feudal institutions, and arbitrary judicial-legal system. The common masses were sufferings immensely and the level of discontent was very high.

Backward economy

Though some modern industries had emerged after the 1890s. But these were largely a result of the efforts of foreign investors. The state as such didn’t take any interest in the economic advancement of people. Most of the land was owned by feudal lords. The condition of the peasantry was very bad. The industrial works were also sufferings. The situation of industrial unrest developed by the opening of the 20th century.

Rasputin affairs

It had also discredited the Czarist regime. His influence was immense on the politico-administrative system. This holy man was involved in all unholy activities. He was almost indispensable to the ruling family.

War with Japan 

The Russian defeat at the hands of Japan in 1905 had shaken the foundations of the Czarist regime. A revolution had broken out in Russia in 1905. But the promises of reforms made by Czar were not kept. Therefore the level of discontent among common masses was very high.

Failure of reforms

PM Pyotr Stolypin had initiated his steps towards land reforms. Between 1906 and 1911, many peasants benefited by his reforms. His reforms were hurting the interests of nobles and feudal lords. This reformative PM was murdered in 1911. His death took away the ablest supporter of the Czarist regime in Russia. The reforms got derailed when Stolypin was no more and the level of discontent continued to increase among the masses.

Immediate circumstances

The outbreak of  World War I sealed the fate of the Russian Czarist regime. This regime would have failed even without war. But the outbreak of war hastened the process of downfall.

Russia was pushed into war by Czar Nicholas to divert the attention of people from internal problems. He was expecting that the victory on the battleground would enhance his prestige and people would forget their sufferings. When the czar was away on the battle, the internal administration collapsed badly. The merchants and traders started indulging in hoarding and black marketing to make a profit. The sufferings of common masses increased enough. The failure of Russian on battlefield added fuel to fire.

As a result of this, an extremely volatile situation developed. On 8th March 1917, when a group of hungry women attacked shop selling bread, police fired upon. 40 people got killed. The news of this incidence spread like wildfire. Agitations and demonstrations commenced everywhere.

Under these circumstances, Czar was persuaded to abdicate in favor of his brother Michael. But when the crown was offered to him, Michael refused to accept it. This resulted in the downfall of the Czarist regime.

A liberal government was formed under Prince George Lvov. But soon he was replaced by Alexander Kerensky. This marked the completion of a political revolution that took place later in 1917.

Why did the November revolution take place in Russia?

In March 1917, the Czarist regime had collapsed. A political revolution was successfully completed. But the social and economic changes did not take place in Russia. The government of Alexander Kerensky took the unpopular decision to continue the war. People were in favor of recalling Russian forces from the war by signing a separate peace with Germany.

The Kerensky regime didn’t introduce land reforms. It took no steps to improve the condition of factory workers. As a result of this, the sufferings of common masses continued.

The elections were postponed on the pretext of war. A major offensive was launched by Kerensky’s government against Germany in June 1917. It resulted in miserable failure. When corpses of soldiers started returning, the discontent among masses increased enormously.

In April 1917, Lenin returned from exile. He used his writing and speeches to discredit the liberal government. The government was not very effective in its policies.

Taking advantage of this prevailing scenario, Lenin assisted by Trotsky, captured power on the night of 6-7 November 1917 with the help of his revolutionary red guards. Russia was declared a communist state this social and economic revolution got complete.

Significance of the Russian Revolution

  • The success of the Bolshevik revolution (1917) transformed communism from theory into practice. It was the first communist revolution in the world.
  • The popularity of communism in the world increased enormously. The communist parties started emerging everywhere because it was a great morale booster. This revolution started the competition in capturing the hearts and minds of the masses. Because it had mass appeal when compared to the capitalist system.
  • The success of the Bolshevik revolution resulted in the commencement of the civil war in Russia. The western capitalist nations supported the anti-communist Whites in Russia. As a result of which civil war commenced.
  • The rise of communist Russia was an important factor behind the adoption of policy appeasement by western democratic nations. The success of the Russian Bolshevik revolution & Russian socialist economy, at a time when the capitalist economy was really under the Great Depression (1929), attracted many leaders such as Pt. Nehru. They started accepting socialism as a solution to their problems and problems in the world.
  • The Russian Bolshevik revolution was responsible for the commencement of the cold war in the long run as the Cold War was the outcome of the ideological difference between capitalism and communism.
  • Russian revolution completed the process commenced by the French Revolution of 1789. Because by this time the parts of Europe had already got transformed. That’s why this revolution is considered to be complementary to the French Revolution.

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