The Russian Revolution

Considered to be one of the most significant events of the twentieth century, the Russian Revolution was a precursor to some of the “most explosive” political events at the time. Known for bringing a violent end to the Imperial Tsarist rule in Russia, the revolution is also recognised for the role it had in leading to the meteoric rise of the “leftist revolutionary”, Vladimir Lenin. Over the years, historians have aimed to understand what factors led to a revolution of such a massive scale in Russia, which had far-reaching consequences.

One of the causes that historians believe aggravated the Russian people’s desire to participate in a revolution was their frustration with the longstanding Tsarist autocracy in the early 1900s. Tsar Nicolas was the 18th ruler from the long line of Romanovs who had before him ruled Russia. From the 1880s to early 1900s, Russia was undergoing a massive population boom and some of the major Russian cities such as Moscow had witnessed their population figures double, leading to food shortages, deteriorating living conditions, and overcrowding. This crisis was further aggravated by the “harsh-growing season” in Russia when cold weather and climatic conditions hit the majority of the population very hard, especially the farmers. Thousands of Russian workers began to carry out protests to address the negligence from the Tsar who was further worsening the crisis by exporting a significant proportion of the country’s food resources to the military which was participating in the Crimean War. Given the autocratic nature of the government however, the Tsar responded negatively to the issue by attempting to silence the protestors. The Tsar ordered the massacre of hundreds of unarmed protestors in what was known as the Sunday Massacre of 1905. Post the bloodshed, Tsar Nicolas was condemned for the violence, brutality and his poor response in the handling the incident. The reputation damage was irreversible and he was urged to listen to the concerns peasants and the working class.

In response, Tsar Nicolas set up the State Duma, “an elected semi-representative body in Russia from 1906 to 1917”. Though the Duma was meant to be the representative branch of the government outwardly, the Tsar operated discreetly to cause fractures in the growing opposition to the Tsarist regime. The last nail in the coffin for the Tsarist Autocracy was The October Revolution of 1917, a large scale revolt by the Russian citizens in which, for the first time, even the soldiers who were ordered by the Tsar to control and limit the damage caused by the crowd, turned against the Tsar and joined in the protest. The Bolsheviks led by Lenin staged a coup to overthrow the Dumas provisional government. They took over government establishments and strategic locations in an attempt to overthrow the Tsar and form a new communist state with Lenin at the helm.

In another civil war in the year 1917, The White Army representing the capitalists, monarchists and democratic socialism fought The Red Army representing Bolshevik government. In 1918, the Romanovs were executed and in in 1923, the Red Army claimed victory paving the way for the formation of the Soviet Union. It was the start of a new political belief system known as Communism.

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