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The Russian Revolution

Topics: Soviet Union, Russia, Russian Empire, Vladimir Lenin, October Revolution, Saint Petersburg / Pages: 11 (2591 words) / Published: Mar 26th, 2014
The Russian Revolution: The Rise of the Soviet Union

Table of contents:
1. Introduction ……………………………………………………………….. P.2-3
2. I - The February Revolution……………………………………………….. P.4
3. II- The October Revolution………………………………………………… P.5-6
4. Important Figures’ backgrounds ……………………………………………P.7-11
5. Animal Farm………………………………………………………………... P.12-13
6. Results? ......................................................................................................... P.14-15
7. Works Cited ……………………………………………………………….. P.16

The Russian Revolution of 1917 was an incredibly significant event in the midst of all global reforms to date. It was also commonly identified as ‘The Bolshevik Revolution’ and took place throughout the conclusive phase of World War I, where it in fact removed Russia from the war itself. A revolution is commonly defined as a fundamental change in a country’s social, political and economic structures, whereby its position in the international community is transformed, as well as, acknowledged by other countries. This, in practice, is precisely the conversion that Russia went through in becoming the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) instead of an empire; hence, substituting Russia’s traditional monarchy with the world’s first Communist state. What is particularly interesting about this revolution is that it saw drastic results in a very short amount of time, in addition to the fact that it was implemented within two different stages. Naturally, before discussing the actual happenings of the revolution itself, some light must be shed on the reasons as to why it occurred in the first place. Russia initially was under Tsarian rule before the events of 1917; the succession timeline was as follows:
Alexander I Nicholas I (1825) Alexander II (1861) Alexander III (1881)Nicholas II (1894-1917)
In 1913, Tsar Nicholas II celebrated the anniversary of Romanov rule in Russia. He and his dynasty reigned over a gigantic kingdom, extending from central Europe to the Pacific Ocean and from the Arctic to the edges of Afghanistan. Nevertheless, the Russian Empire was divided by various clashes in perspective. Just five years after the festivities, Nicholas and his family would be deceased, executed by the Bolsheviks. The downfall of the Tsarian rule was not a surprise by any means; throughout the timeline mentioned above, many uprisings, especially the Decembrist revolution, were on going as a result of continuous repression on reform and revolutionary groups. For example, the revolution in 1905, when revolts and uprisings had forced the Tsar to grant civil rights and a parliament to the Russian people also played a part in further weakening the empire’s rule, not to mention the country 's political and economic problems that were caused by the war (WW1). Various factors, including the militarization of production and catastrophes in food resources, meant drastic threats and disaster on the home front.

I - The February Revolution The main event of the February revolution was that the Provisional Government was established. During a large protest of women workers in February 1917, the czar 's officials called out the army to get rid of the protesters. However, what happened was that the women persuaded the soldiers to put their guns away and assist them in their cause. The result was Czar Nicholas II being overthrown. The Provisional Government was established to replace the void left by the deposed czar and it was made up of mostly Duma members. This provisional government was made up of bankers, lawyers, capitalists, and industrialists. The provisional government was very weak and failed to live up to its promise of ending Russia 's involvement in the war. They kept Russia in the war and made matters worse for themselves and for Russia. Nevertheless, the Provisional Government did respond by establishing a Coalition Government with the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet (an influential local council representing workers and soldiers in Petrograd) Incidentally, this Dual Power created a confused governmental predicament, leading the government to immediate actions on urgent issues such as the widespread starvation and massacre on the front. Such crisis resulted in chances for some such as Kerensky and General Kornilov to seize autocratic power.

II- The October Revolution
The Rise of the Bolshevik Party was the highlight of this revolution. After the mass failures of the Provisional Government, it was immediately opposed by the soviets, councils of workers and peasants, who wanted the freedom to make their own choices. The soldiers and peasants were beginning to ask for land. When the Provisional Government refused to allocate the land objectively, the peasants revolted by taking the land themselves. The Bolshevik party saw the opportunity and took an offensive stance, where they tried to educate the workers and soldiers, with the aim of convincing them to take the land for themselves. However their overall goal was to form a government for the proletariat .When Lenin arrived from banishment in the spring of 1917, he joined the Bolshevik Party. In July 1917, the workers took on the Provisional Government and were defeated. Their leader was jailed and Lenin went into hiding. Nevertheless there came later, two turning points that were in their benefit. First, the Provisional Government ordered a big war offensive strategy that ended up in ruin, with thousands being either killed or injured. Later in August, the soldiers of the Provisional Government began to fall away from their support of the Provisional Government and began to support the workers. They were becoming closer and closer to being Bolsheviks themselves. Secondly, in September, during the so-called Kornilov Affair, a pro-czar section of the military threatened Petrograd, which was the city occupied by the Bolsheviks and the Provisional Government.
The Bolshevik leaders felt it was of the utmost importance to act quickly while they had the ability alongside support to do so. The armed workers known as Red Guards and the other revolutionary groups moved on the night of Nov. 6-7 under the orders of the Soviet 's Military Revolutionary Committee. These forces seized post and telegraph offices, electric works, railroad stations, and the state bank. Once the shot rang out from the Battleship Aurora, thousands of people from the Red Guard stormed the Winter Palace.
The Provisional Government had officially lost to the Bolshevik regime. Lenin, the official leader of the Bolsheviks by this time, announced his efforts to build the socialist order in Russia. This was the idea of a new government made up of Soviets but, led by the Bolsheviks. By early November, the infamous quote: "All power to the soviets!” was known a valid justification of the proletariats endless support of the Bolshevik Party.
On October 25 /26, the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets met and created the Soviet Government through the elections of a new Council of People 's Commissars and Central Executive Committee. The new government determined to begin construction on a Socialist society, but soon enough met major complications. With regards to the aim of exiting WW1through peaceful means, only Germany agreed to peace (Treaty of Brest-Litovsk).

Important figures’ backgrounds
Alexander I
The Russian Tsar Emperor, whose death in 1825 encouraged a slight withdrawal crisis that created a presence of weakness in the Russian monarchy. A group of 3,000 soldiers who called themselves ‘Decembrists’ took advantage of the disorder to demand reforms, such as a written constitution for Russia. In the future, revolutionaries such as Lenin saw the Decembrists as heroes.
Alexander II
The Tsar Emperor who previously eradicated serfdom in 186. Hence, freeing Russia’s serfs from somewhat enslavement to their landowners. Though reformers welcomed the move, it stimulated a major economic crisis, infuriated landowners, and drove some revolutionary groups to push for a constitution. In 1881, Alexander II was assassinated by a member of one of these groups.
Alexander III
The son of and, successor to, the assassinated Tsar Alexander II. Upon taking power in 1881, Alexander III repressed reform and revolutionary groups immensely, partially in vengeance of his assassinated father; further provoking increasing conflicts. Alexander III’s son.
Felix Dzerzhinsky
A revolutionary who joined the Bolshevik Party after getting out of prison in 1917. Following the October Revolution, Vladimir Lenin appointed Dzerzhinsky head of the Cheka, the first Soviet secret police force and an early portent of the KGB.
Lev Kamenev
A prominent member of the Bolshevik Party who originally was against Lenin’s call to hold a revolution sooner rather than later. After the revolution, Kamenev went on to serve in the Soviet government but was executed during Josef Stalin’s eradications in the 1930s.
Alexander Kerensky
A member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party and a vigorous contributor in both the provisional government and the Petrograd Soviet. At first, Kerensky acted as a liaison between the two governing bodies. Within the provisional government, he served as minister of justice, minister of war, and later as prime minister. After the October Revolution, Kerensky fled the country and eventually immigrated to the United States, where he taught Russian history at Stanford University.
Vladimir Lenin
Founder of the Bolshevik Party, organizer of the October Revolution, and the first leader of the Soviet Union. Lenin spent most of the early twentieth century living in exile in Europe. He was a pious follower of Karl Marx and believed that once a Communist revolution took place in Russia, Communism would spread rapidly around the world. Although he was not physically involved in the February Revolution, he returned to Russia in April 1917 and arranged the October Revolution.
Nicholas I
The younger brother of and successor to Tsar Alexander I. This unorthodox succession from older to younger brother caused a small public scandal in 1825and enabled the Decembrist Revolt to take place. Nicholas I was succeeded by his son, Alexander II.
Nicholas II
The last Russian Tsar, was a inept and unproductive leader whose escaping of direct involvement in government caused bitterness among the Russian people and resulted in violence in 1905. Nicholas II resigned on March 2, 1917, as a result of the February Revolution. In July 1918, the Bolsheviks executed Nicholas along with his wife and their children.
Grigory Rasputin
A Russian peasant and self-declared mystic who achieved substantial influence over Tsar Nicholas II’s wife in the years instantly prior to the revolutions of 1917. Rasputin’s sexual incidents in the Russian capital of Petrograd caused an outrage, and the Russian people began to believe that the Tsar himself was under Rasputin’s guidance. Knowing that Rasputin’s existence was destructing Nicholas II’s integrity, followers of the Tsar had Rasputin killed in late 1916.
Joseph Stalin
A Bolshevik leader who became prominent only after Lenin’s return to Petrograd in April 1917. Although Stalin was very much a secondary figure during the October Revolution, he did gain Lenin’s attention as a useful ally, and following the October coup, Lenin gave him a position in the government as commissar of nationalities. After the revolution, Stalin became increasingly powerful and eventually succeeded Lenin as leader of the Soviet Union upon Lenin’s death in 1924.
Petr Stolypin
The prime minister under Nicholas II. Stolypin was renowned for his heavy crackdown on revolutionaries and dissidents, in which thousands of suspects were given quick martial trials and promptly executed. Stolypin himself was assassinated in 1911 by a revolutionary activist.
Leon Trotsky
A Bolshevik leader and one of the most prominent figures of the October Revolution. Trotsky, who was in exile abroad during the February Revolution, returned to Russia in May 1917, closely aligned himself with Lenin, and joined the Bolshevik Party during the summer. Trotsky headed the Revolutionary Military Committee, which provided the military muscle for the October Revolution. After the revolution, he was appointed commissar of foreign affairs and led Russia’s negotiations with Germany and Austria for the armistice and subsequent peace treaty that made possible Russia’s exit from World War I.
Grigory Zinoviev
A prominent member of the Bolshevik Party, closely connected to Lev Kamenev and a close friend of Lenin during Lenin’s years in exile. Sharing Lev Kamenev’s original thoughts on the revolution; Zinoviev played virtually no role in the October Revolution. However, he became a member of the Politburo in1919 and went on to serve in the Soviet government until he was arrested and executed during Stalin’s eradications in the 1930s as well.

Animal Farm
Animal Farm is a symbolic novel by the renowned author George Orwell; originally published in England 1945. The book replicates the events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 up until the Stalin era in the Soviet Union. The story is basically about communism told in the setting of a farm. The animals, who are directed by pigs, revolt against Mr. Jones (the evil human) the farm owner. Old Major takes control of the farm and tries to turn it into a somewhat Utopia with rules that prevent animals from ever becoming like man. However, soon enough he power is taken by another pig named Napoleon, who has a lack in morals but a surplus in cruelty and power-hunger. He begins to control and brainwash the other animals while sluggishly turning into the same type of character that the human was, but worse. Eventually Napoleon is overthrown and “removed from office”. The book is well known for its validity and proper replication of the events it portrays, not to mention, it has won many awards worldwide. The coming table outlines the most significant characters and their mirror actors in reality:

Animal Farm
Mr. Jones – Evil Human
Nicholas II
Old Major – Pig
Karl Marx / Lenin
Snowball – Pig
Leon Trotsky
Napoleon - Pig
Squealer - Pig
Ministry of Information – Loyalty to Stalin
The Dogs
KGB – Secret repressive police
Moses – Raven
Religion – Church particularly
Mollie – Bird
Boxer – Horse
Dedicated, but tricked supporters of the revolution
Benjamin - Donkey
Skeptics of the revolution

In the Soviet Union, population declined from 171 million in 1914 to 132 million in 1921.
Manufacturing output declined to 13% of its 1913 output by 1920.
Attempts to set up a socialist command economy led to a catastrophic decline in agricultural production. Under the Communists, private consumption shrunk sharply.
So, the Russians could afford to spend 25% of their GNP on industrial investment and still invest in education, science and the armed services.
Workers ' control of the factories was established, poor peasants were given land, banks and large factories were nationalized. A planned economy was implemented. Despite Russian society 's backward normality, by the mid-1920s the planned economy largely managed to restore the destruction done by WW1 as well as, the civil war launched by the imperialist powers to crush the revolution.
What is important to note is that the revolution 's leaders Lenin and Trotsky never believed socialism could be constructed in segregation in Russia. A European Revolution was the big plan. Naturally, the German revolution 's loss was an issue to the new Soviet republic and weakened the position of the workers and their leaders, the Bolshevik party.
A hesitant, bureaucratic layer began to develop in the state apparatus. A Stalinist state was established, depriving workers of their control of society. The bureaucracy seized political power. Repression of political opponents became the rule; its first victims were those Bolsheviks who led the October revolution. Thousands of left oppositionists, around whom opposition to the bureaucracy had developed, were murdered in Stalin 's prison camps. The initial morals and values that the revolution stood by had practically vanished.

Works Cited:

“The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers”- Economic change and Military conflict from 1500 to 2000. Paul Kennedy. Fontana Press, London, 1989.

McNeal, Robert H. The Bolshevik Tradition. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1975

Bunyan, James and H. H. Fisher. The Bolshevik Revolution. Stanford University, California. Stanford University Press, 1934

Cited: “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers”- Economic change and Military conflict from 1500 to 2000. Paul Kennedy. Fontana Press, London, 1989. McNeal, Robert H. The Bolshevik Tradition. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1975 Bunyan, James and H. H. Fisher. The Bolshevik Revolution. Stanford University, California. Stanford University Press, 1934

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