Why Was There a Revolution in 1905?

Topics: Russian Empire, Russia, Marxism Pages: 6 (2347 words) Published: May 26, 2005
By 1905, a revolution was immanent, Tsar's power was to be challenged and the reasons for this are to be laid out here in this essay. Was the Tsar's non-reformist attitude solely to blame or was the nature of Tsardom destined to destroy itself? We need to look at the foundations of the revolution in order to fully understand this and make an informed response to these questions.

The foundations are laid out into five main parts, including short and long-term factors. The two main long-term factors being that the Tsar alienated many of the classes within Russia and his policy of non-reform led to repression. As these factors developed, other incidents became short-term factors. The failure in the Japanese War was a huge blow to Tsardom and undermined their ethos that Tsardom was the right regime for Russia and the political spring that came as the Tsar relaxed censorship brought an avalanche of criticism for Tsardom. Finally, the humiliation at Port Arthur triggered the protest at the Winter Palace, which developed into Bloody Sunday and was the birth of the revolution.

Investigating the first of the long-term factors causing the revolution, it seemed necessary to go back to examine the structure of Tsarist Russia pre-1905 to get a fuller picture. This period posed a problem for Nicholas II. The regime itself reinforced any class divisions from the bureaucracy to the peasants and alienated them even further. As, "the truth is Nicholas was never in touch with the common people. He never knew what it was like to worry where the next meal was coming from. He never had to. " He did not understand the way that Russia worked in practise. He could not, or would not, empathise with the peasants' hardships of the land and his ideas of Russia's troubles were laughable. Consequently, by 1905 he had estranged his subjects, including even some of the gentry' folk that had been so loyal to Tsardom in the past. They were a class in decline and it was partly due to the Tsar's incompetence. Owing to Russia's economic backwardness, the landowners found it almost impossible to farm for a profit. The gentry had no market for their produce, as their target market was near penniless and thus could not afford to purchase crops from the landowners. The Tsar did little to rectify the situation and in fact took land off the gentry following the emancipation of the Serfs and issued bonds, which were effectively I.O.U's for the value of the land, leaving them with mountainous debts to pay off and scepticism of the capability of Tsardom. This scepticism eventually turned to hatred and complete mistrust for some by1905 and they joined in the demonstrations and aided the revolution.

However, the gentry were the least of the threat to Tsardom. Nicholas's strong policy of industrialisation had ironically led to an established working class, and an ever-increasing educated middle-class, striving for democracy. As the number of factories and professional jobs increased, so did the amount of wealthy middle-class people, leading to even more people with access to education. The rising number of professionals led to many new theories and ideas being formulated. Granted, Nicholas had not yet relaxed censorship to the level where these ideas could be circulated legally within Russia, many fled to Switzerland and other such countries in order to gain access to libraries and the ability to publish their own works without oppression. Some of these students formed the Nihilist movement of the 1860's, which strove to demolish anything that could not be strictly explained by science and they thus "rejected the authority of the state, church and family. " They were inspired by Chernyshevsky's novel ‘What is to be done?' that slipped through the Tsarist censor and were ordered t attack the established society, as Russia was ‘rotten,' and thus they aided the revolution. The Will of the People, who had assassinated Nicholas's grandfather, maintained their...
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