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Old March 20th, 2011, 07:49 AM   #1

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Unhappy Reasons for Russian Revolution and Communism


At the moment I'm completing an assignment on the social, political and economic reasons for the Russian people's embrace of Communism.

I understand that many factors contributed ultimately to the Revolution of 1917, such as:

- An Autocratic ruler unable to control such a vast country;

- Lack of industrialisation;

- Poor conditions for workers, especially in towns and cities;

- Out of date farming techniques which the nation was overly reliant on;

- The effect of the first World War on an economic and social level;

- The Government's insistence on printing millions of Roubles in order to support the War, leading to huge inflation;

- The effect this inflation had on the price of food, and demand for wages to match inflation;

I'm hoping that some of you may be able to offer me some kind of direction, as I don't even know where to start. Should I begin by talking about the abolition of serfdom, the Revolution of 1905, or even the ideas of Marx and Engels?

For those interested, the question is:

"Russia would provide the kind of social topsoil in which a communist movement would take root." By a close consideration of the political, social and economic factors prevailing in Russia at the turn of the 20th Century, analyse and evaluate this comment.

Thanks!
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Old March 20th, 2011, 08:10 AM   #2

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I think I might start with how Russia's autocratic regime seemed to be entirely at odds with the strives for progress which the peasantry desired, as well as how it seemed incompatible with capitalism, industrialisation and the geographic size of the Russian state.

Any ideas?
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Old March 20th, 2011, 08:25 AM   #3

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If I'm a peasant, I'm not thinking about anything so grand as capitalism and industrialization. I'm thinking about my kids going hungry and it's all the government's fault. How does communism (as it was supposed to work) appeal to me?
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Old March 20th, 2011, 08:45 AM   #4

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Elias, welcome to Historum.

I've moved this thread into our dedicated Homework Help section. Although you have met our conditions of help, you should acquaint yourself with those conditions as a matter of course:

http://www.historum.com/homework-hel...-question.html
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Old March 20th, 2011, 09:08 AM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by avon View Post
Elias, welcome to Historum.

I've moved this thread into our dedicated Homework Help section. Although you have met our conditions of help, you should acquaint yourself with those conditions as a matter of course:

http://www.historum.com/homework-hel...-question.html
Sorry, won't happen again.
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Old March 20th, 2011, 10:52 AM   #6

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The Russian peasantry was largely illiterate, or, at best, did not have much opportunity to read. And, as Corndog says, such large matters were beyond them. A quick look at who the Communist agitators were will tell you that this was a middle class, intellectual phenomenon: one would have to have read Karl Marx and others to get such ideas.

The autocratic nature of the Russian Tsar's kingdom could be compared with other monarchies did that not bend (like the French), or those who did (the British). One was ended suddenly; the other survives. Put simply, in Britain (to use a contrast), the power base was spread out. Initially amongst the landed gentry and aristocrats, later extended to the British middle classes, who were playing an ever increasing role in wealth creation and who therefore wanted some say in how the country was run.

This plainly had a profound effect upon Marxist thought: Marx was one of the first people to investigate Capitalism, (in Britain), its effects upon the proletariat and the dynamics of ruling class, middle class and workers. Marx correctly identified that the upper and middle classes gain most of their wealth by exploiting the labour of the proletariat, and that therefore this inequity could only be resolved by Socialism which would then become Communism.

The Russian middle class plainly took a look at how British and other industrialised nations handed power to the middle class: plainly, industrialisation was crucial, and Russia was perhaps 100 years behind. The Russian political system pivoted entirely on the Tsar: the Duma was effectively powerless and the Tsar could- and did- veto laws he did not like.

However, closer examination of how the British middle class gained power shows how this influenced Russian communist agitators: the middle class, especially in Russia, were relatively few: the workers, many. In Britain, threat of working class revolt by the middle classes effectively handed the latter the vote: they then disowned the working class and then became even more effective oppressors than the upper class. Plainly, the Russian middle class had to get the workers on their side.

That this posturing on equality for all was essentially false is evident by Communist definitions of (a) who was the Proletariat (Kulaks- landowning peasants- were not) and (b) the communist party leadership and senior rank and file were exclusively middle class intellectuals. With the exception of Stalin. "Our wonderful Georgian". A workhorse, but not really one of us....

Lenin's intentions were perhaps good, but he found himself entrenched in struggles with his fellow intellectuals, and it is true to say that Soviet Communism even at the time of Lenin had already gone badly astray. Lenin stated that he was disappointed by the attitude of the Proletariat- he wondered why they were less interested in Political theory and more interested, as Corndog says, in their personal day to day struggles. Selfishness is as common in the working classes as elsewhere, it is merely that its manifestations are less damaging.

But that the overthrow of the Tsar should be a violent one was not an aforegone conclusion. WW1 was the catalyst here. The Tsar's leadership and, indeed, Russian involvement in a war against a fully industrialised country was disastrous and Russian losses terrible. For instance, the corrupt and hopelessly inefficient War Munitions ministry of Vladimir Suhkomlinov meant that Russians arms factories could only supply a couple of days worth of ammunition in a month. As usual in wartime, it was the proletariat who endured most of the deaths, losses, and shortages, and when the Tsarist regime became ever more ruthless about putting down anti-war protests and food riots, this played right into the hands of the Communists.

The Tsarina's alleged pro-German sympathies did not help at all. Alexandria was German herself, and disliked ordinary Russians, but there is little evidence that she was actually pro-German: she wanted her son to rule a free Russia. But all this conspired to antagonise the workers and hence extend the powerbase of the Communists.

Finally, we have German motives for wanting Lenin back in Russia from his exile in order to start the revolution. Revolution in Russia suited Germany fine: revolution would end Russia's war, and Germany would simply leave, switching huge numbers of soldiers from the Eastern Front to the Western Front, before America got organised following her entry to the war. That's why the Germans were instrumental in sneaking Lenin back into Russia.

So, perhaps you can see that the working class, the Proletariat, actually had little to do with it!
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Old March 20th, 2011, 11:17 AM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Dog View Post
The Russian peasantry was largely illiterate, or, at best, did not have much opportunity to read. And, as Corndog says, such large matters were beyond them. A quick look at who the Communist agitators were will tell you that this was a middle class, intellectual phenomenon: one would have to have read Karl Marx and others to get such ideas.

The autocratic nature of the Russian Tsar's kingdom could be compared with other monarchies did that not bend (like the French), or those who did (the British). One was ended suddenly; the other survives. Put simply, in Britain (to use a contrast), the power base was spread out. Initially amongst the landed gentry and aristocrats, later extended to the British middle classes, who were playing an ever increasing role in wealth creation and who therefore wanted some say in how the country was run.

This plainly had a profound effect upon Marxist thought: Marx was one of the first people to investigate Capitalism, (in Britain), its effects upon the proletariat and the dynamics of ruling class, middle class and workers. Marx correctly identified that the upper and middle classes gain most of their wealth by exploiting the labour of the proletariat, and that therefore this inequity could only be resolved by Socialism which would then become Communism.

The Russian middle class plainly took a look at how British and other industrialised nations handed power to the middle class: plainly, industrialisation was crucial, and Russia was perhaps 100 years behind. The Russian political system pivoted entirely on the Tsar: the Duma was effectively powerless and the Tsar could- and did- veto laws he did not like.

However, closer examination of how the British middle class gained power shows how this influenced Russian communist agitators: the middle class, especially in Russia, were relatively few: the workers, many. In Britain, threat of working class revolt by the middle classes effectively handed the latter the vote: they then disowned the working class and then became even more effective oppressors than the upper class. Plainly, the Russian middle class had to get the workers on their side.

That this posturing on equality for all was essentially false is evident by Communist definitions of (a) who was the Proletariat (Kulaks- landowning peasants- were not) and (b) the communist party leadership and senior rank and file were exclusively middle class intellectuals. With the exception of Stalin. "Our wonderful Georgian". A workhorse, but not really one of us....

Lenin's intentions were perhaps good, but he found himself entrenched in struggles with his fellow intellectuals, and it is true to say that Soviet Communism even at the time of Lenin had already gone badly astray. Lenin stated that he was disappointed by the attitude of the Proletariat- he wondered why they were less interested in Political theory and more interested, as Corndog says, in their personal day to day struggles. Selfishness is as common in the working classes as elsewhere, it is merely that its manifestations are less damaging.

But that the overthrow of the Tsar should be a violent one was not an aforegone conclusion. WW1 was the catalyst here. The Tsar's leadership and, indeed, Russian involvement in a war against a fully industrialised country was disastrous and Russian losses terrible. For instance, the corrupt and hopelessly inefficient War Munitions ministry of Vladimir Suhkomlinov meant that Russians arms factories could only supply a couple of days worth of ammunition in a month. As usual in wartime, it was the proletariat who endured most of the deaths, losses, and shortages, and when the Tsarist regime became ever more ruthless about putting down anti-war protests and food riots, this played right into the hands of the Communists.

The Tsarina's alleged pro-German sympathies did not help at all. Alexandria was German herself, and disliked ordinary Russians, but there is little evidence that she was actually pro-German: she wanted her son to rule a free Russia. But all this conspired to antagonise the workers and hence extend the powerbase of the Communists.

Finally, we have German motives for wanting Lenin back in Russia from his exile in order to start the revolution. Revolution in Russia suited Germany fine: revolution would end Russia's war, and Germany would simply leave, switching huge numbers of soldiers from the Eastern Front to the Western Front, before America got organised following her entry to the war. That's why the Germans were instrumental in sneaking Lenin back into Russia.

So, perhaps you can see that the working class, the Proletariat, actually had little to do with it!
Thank you so much for the reply!

This is a lot of help!
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Old March 20th, 2011, 11:23 AM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Dog View Post

So, perhaps you can see that the working class, the Proletariat, actually had little to do with it!
It's true that working class anger at the establishment has little to do with the outcome of a revolution, but you have to start with the conditions that created that anger, than show how the prevailing faction exploited that anger to achieve the eventual outcome.
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Old March 20th, 2011, 12:16 PM   #9

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The Bolshevik revolution started in Russia because it was one of the poorest countries in Europe. And that made many people living in Russia unhappy about their country (even if they needed to be middle class to understand it), so desire for change was one of the reasons. Also, Marxism had become a popular intellectual movement so there were many Marxists in Russia.

Another was WW1 that greatly weakened the central government, enabling a bunch of revolutionaries to take over the machinery of state.
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Old March 20th, 2011, 01:25 PM   #10

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You're welcome, Elias
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