How Important were the Intelligentsia for the shaping of the revolutions that took place in Russia in 1917?
The Russian Revolution of 1917 centres around two primary events: the February Revolution and the October Revolution. The February Revolution, which removed Tsar Nicholas II from power was during a time when the tsar was away from the capital visiting troops on the World War I front, Establishing a Provisional government to rule Russia. The October Revolution (also called the Bolshevik Revolution) overturned the interim provisional government and established the Soviet Union by storming the winter palace. The October Revolution was a much more deliberate event, orchestrated by a small group of people. The Bolsheviks, who led this coup, prepared their coup in only six months.
The contravousy However is Whether the revolutions developed spontaneously out of a series of increasingly violent demonstrations and riots making the revolution a what Marxist historians would call 'peoples revolution' , a revolution completely planned by the Bolshevik party and other Intelligentsia meaning they were very important in the shaping (a view that Historian Richard Pipes Believes in strongly) or Whether the revolution was Due to the demonstrations by the people which were then taken advantage of by the Bolsheviks offering a sort of shade of Grey for both of the Prominent interpretations.
The a popular interpretation of who caused and shaped the revolution is that the Intelligentsia were not very important for the first revolution In 1917.
However it would not be true to describe the protests as purely a ‘workers revolt’ because “it bore the character of a general uprising of the people” according to Balk, a contemporary Russian Historian. The majority of the people involved in the revolt were more likely to be spectators who would cheer mutinous soldiers. But it would be fair to say that the workers played a “leading role in the demonstrations” and were especially active in the violent aspects of the uprising. In general however, the protest took the form of a peasant riot, as acts of violence from the crowds became commonplace.
To transform a mass-demonstration into a revolution required more than just workers protesting in the streets; it required a loss of authority for the government in the city of Petrograd. This occurred as a result of the mutiny of troops from the Petrograd garrison in response to a massacre “in Znamenskii Square, a popular gathering place for political rallies, where troops of the Pavlovskii Guard Regiment fired upon a crowd that failed to disperse.” About forty civilians were killed in the massacre which enraged members of the Petrograd garrison into mutiny as it was felt their “mothers and sisters were being shot” by the police and the Cossacks. But even though there had been a major power transfer to the workers, a revolution was hardly inevitable as the mutineers were described as a “leaderless rabble, who when threatened, instantly panicked and ran for cover.” It was inaction from the Tsar that transformed a minor rebellion into a revolution.
The revolt also needed organisation if it was to be successful. Unfortunately for the political parties that had most to gain from the revolt, many of their leaders were in exile. Most of the socialist parties had no expectation of a revolution, as Lenin had predicted in January that “we older men perhaps will not live to see the coming revolution.” Even Sergei Mstislavsky, a Social Revolutionary leader, admitted “the revolution found us, the party members, in our sleep.” So there was relatively little political involvement in the early stages of the February revolution, especially from socialist parties. The lack of organisation was characterised by political parties having to telephone each other in order to find out what was happening on the streets. Because of this complete disorganisation of the socialist political parties...
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