“the Incompetence of Existing Government Contributed Greatly to the Outbreak of Revolutions” to What Extent Do You Agree with This Statement? Argue Your Case with Reference to the Russian Revolution (Oct 1917) and Chinese Revolution (1949).

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The incompetence of the Provisional Government (PG) and the Guomindang (GMD) made a considerable contribution to the outbreak of revolution in Russia (Oct 1917) and China (1949). Both the PG and GMD were relatively new forms of government placed in power to resolve longstanding issues such as low standards of living and significant needs for reform. As a result, Russia had removed its Tsarist system in February earlier that year and China also expelled its dynastic system to become a Republic in 1911. However, Economic mismanagement and a nonexistent progression in reform made control by these governments questionable as their lack of action resurrected a desire for revolution for a second time. The shortcomings of the PG and GMD were intensified as working and living conditions continued to deteriorate and unpopular decisions were made regarding the government’s actions in WWI (Russia) and WWII (China). Mounting discontent made way for revolutionary groups such as the Bolsheviks and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as they were able to take advantage of government incompetence, fuelling support for their respective party. Economic mismanagement resulting from the PG and GMD’s incompetence contributed to the outbreak of revolution as its negative effects became more evident to the masses. In Russia, the PG faced issues such as hyperinflation, as it chose to continue its involvement in WWI after taking power. By 1917 national debt was at $50 million roubles and price levels had risen between 100 and 200 percent. (Handout 1 - Key Reforms in Russia) Compounding this issue, wages generally decreased by 50 percent, resulting in workers having no choice but to work 18-hour days in order to live, but even then they could, “barely [buy] a week’s bed and bread.” Consequently, discontent for the government was seen through strikes such as the July Days strike and the Baku Oil workers strike in September 1917. Similarly, in the lead up to revolution in 1949, China’s economy was being mismanaged as it faced similar issues such as supporting the finances required for its war effort against Japan. The Chinese government reprinted money in order to cover debt and salary expenses. Over 80 percent of the GMD’s budget went to the war effort, resulting in the issuing of new notes totalling 374,762,200 Chinese dollars in 1948 alone. (Lynch) As a result, between 1938 and 1948 the price index in China had increased from 176 to 287,700,000. (Lynch) Much like in Russia, inflation led to increased poverty amongst the masses as the cost of living increased while wages decreased. These conditions disillusioned the governments middle class support base as many turned to the CCP, “not out of love for the Communists, but because they were indifferent to the GMD.” The economic mismanagement of both governments’ due to their incompetence resulted in a significant loss in support by the social classes that were most supportive of their regime, in turn this increased overall discontent towards the PG and GMD dramatically, as many began to seek change. The inability for both the PG and GMD to introduce effective reforms due to their incompetence resulted in an increased level of discontent, thus contributing to the outbreak of revolution. During the PG’s control people saw little change from the ousted Tsarist regime as many of the members of the PG focused on keeping power. Landlords were continuing to charge excessively high rents and excessive taxing schemes were introduced to increase government revenue. In Russia, peasants made up 80-85% (Lynch) of the population so their support was vital in maintaining a well established system of government. Despite this, the peasant classes were abused rather than harnessed as living and working conditions for peasants were unbearable with peasants facing mass whippings by authorities to “squeeze further [redemption] payments.” (Handout 2 - Problems and issues in Modern History - Russian Revolution) The resulting...
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