Assess the reason for the 1905 revolution in Russia.
The turn of the 19th century brought together a series of events, discontent and public tension together to form the 1905 revolution, which eventually brought an established autocratic Tsarist regime to an end. But previously, Russia was in turmoil. With a land mass of over 8 million square miles entailing over 100 ethnic races; limited communication organization and transport which was often impassable leaving sections of Russia detached from governing capability, the problems were only just forming. Law and tradition defined the Tsar as the absolute ruler; highlighting the beginning of Russia’s political backwardness in an epoch where all major western countries were forming democratic and representative government. Russia was a state ruled by oppression and operated by a denial of free speech; leading often to extremism; and with a resented Russification system, the government control was deteriorating. The social structure of Russia was built up through an autocratic pyramid classification; the Tsar with dominant rank at the top; the peasants also known as “dark masses” at the bottom tier, the preponderance with 82% of the population. In between lay working, middle and upper and ruling classes. Each class had their own grievance with the current system, ultimately a driving force leading to revolution, In particular the peasants had problems rooting from 1861 in which the laws of Emancipation not only meant that the majority couldn’t afford redemption payments and put generations into debt; but the land they worked was often insufficient and of poor quality. Many felt betrayed by the government; and especially the Lords who took the best land for themselves. Moreover there was great underlying resentment for the restrictions imposed by the Mir; which prevented peasants from leaving the villages without permission; and often arranged marriages. Countless peasants were suffering from injustice as the Mir flogged and imprisoned the accused without trial. Their fourth complaint was that of agriculture; which although central to development, was in desperate need of modernisation; an outdated system which relied on subsidence farming. It was these grievances that provided the springboard for long term poverty, and ultimately lead to short term problems in the increase of political parties against the Tsarist regime. The urban workers had separate troubles of their own. Primarily, after being lured with the prospect of jobs and housing in cities, they were faced with harsh to say the least working conditions. With long hours, severe discipline and little or no safety restrictions, deaths in the factories and mines were frequent. Alongside this, the wages were kept low and taxes high which ultimately affected the living conditions which were often described as “barrack like”. Hygiene was of no importance, pollution was thick in the sky, and a shortage of beds meant that sharing often occurred, i.e. as one left for a shift, another took the bed. These men were exploited and resented the situation they were in, and with a high concentration of literate workers in a small space, strikes were easily brought up and begun a serious threat to the government. These long term problems were picked up by Witte who encouraged the start of modernisation; however it was this link to modernisation that ultimately led to the revolution. Without emancipation the peasants would not be suffering from severe poverty and had the urban workers not learned that strikes were easily recognised as a method of gaining political attention which in turn leads to the short term problem of growing political parties it is probable that the 1905 revolution wouldn’t have been successful or even likely. It is this therefore that made these grievances the underlying reason behind the revolution, the driving force behind the end of Tsarism. 1893 highlighted Russia’s backwardness in comparison to the other...
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