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Political And Social Changes And Russian Revolution History Essay

Info: 5492 words (22 pages) Essay
Published: 1st Jan 2015 in History

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Russia is a country with a great history. Back to the past, Russia existed under the Tsars since the 1533 when the country was dominated by the figure of Ivan the Terrible till the subversion of the Nicolas II on the time of Revolution in 1917. By the 1917 the bond between the Tsar and majority of Russian people had been broken. It was the second largest contiguous empire the world has ever seen.

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The underlying causes of the Russian Revolution 1917 are rooted deep in Russian’s history. During the 19th century and early 20th century various movements aimed at overthrowing the oppressive government that were staged at different times by students, workers, the members of the nobility and peasants. Two of these unsuccessful movements were the 1825 revolt against Nicolas I and the Revolution on 1905, both of which were attempts to establish a constitutional monarchy. Nicolas II (1894-1917) marked the final struggle of the Romanov autocracy to keep itself in power, despite the mounting pressure for reform from the liberal intelligentsia, the urban middle classes, blue-collar workers, and peasants. The basic dilemma of the regime stemmed from the fact that two main goals were incompatible: the creation of a modern, industrial society while retaining the autocracy. Also, Russian’s badly organized and unsuccessful involvement in World War I (1914-1918) added popular discontent with the government’s corruption and inefficiency. In 1917 these events resulted in the fall of the czarist government and the establishment of the Bolshevik Party, a radical offshoot of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party as the ruling power.

It is interesting to look at this particular case study as Revolution broke up the basis of the Russian history of the governing the state and brought mass of changes to the society and politics. It has toppled the Tsar and led to a Bolshevik regime played a decisive role in shaping world history in the twentieth century. The Russian Revolution of 1917, at once compact and comprehensive, puts the events of that fateful year into historical perspective. Revolution gave rise to the Soviet States, the era of the Stalin and the dawning of glasnost. This is a history without compromise, sometimes agonising in its cruelty and hardship, sometimes heroic and courageous in its battle against fate, but above all it is the story of a nation in the making; a nation we live with today.

Questions which are particular interesting in this case are political and cultural context in which Revolution occurred. Also, questions how this kind of revolution was organised and did they had leaders of the movement and who they were, are central in this case study. In addition, it is specifically important to look at the outcomes of the Revolution. According to the Theda Skocpol States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia, and China (1979) the preconditions of all three revolutions were similar but their outcomes were different.

An overview of the historical, political and cultural context in which the movement/revolution occurred/is occurring, with a reflection on how this context shaped the movement/revolution you are looking at.

“Revolutions are the locomotive of history.”

Karl Marx.

During the centuries theory of revolution had been developed especially since the new type of revolution, communist revolution. The theory of Russian Revolution was Marx’s materialist conception of history. Marx was interested in the way why revolutions occur and describe it as the economic and state collapse brought by the incapacity of the productive system to develop further and to meet demands of the working class. [1] In relation to Marx theory, Hobsbawm (1986) expressed revolution in the context of the historical transformation of the states. Also, Skocpol (‘Rentier State’, 1982: 265) defines the ‘social revolutions’ as ‘rapid, basic transformation of a country’s state and class structures, and of its dominant ideology.

Entire waves of the social movements arise from broad historical development. The relationship between autocracy and backwardness stood at the heart of Russian historical development in the 19th century. For the centuries, autocratic ruled the country and majority of Russian population lived under severe economic and social conditions. The reign of Nicolas I (1825- 1855) was based firmly on the principles of autocracy. First revolt against Tsar derives from a group of military officials in 14th December 1825. [2] Decembrist aimed to replace autocracy with a democratic political and social order by means of the coup d’etat. Another unsuccessful revolt of social and political disagreement was in 1905. Fist Revolution in 1905-1907 was cause by the aggravated of internal conditions of the state as a result of the unsuccessful war against Japan which also, activated left wing in the state. Complex disagreements arose between the population as a result of the capitalism development, and its immaturity. 9th January, “Bloody Sunday”- massive demonstration of the working class gathered to present a petition for reform to the Winter Palace. The guards opened fire and hundreds man and women were killed. Such an event become known and in every land’s end become strikes. In 17th of October in 1905 came Manifesto with new rights for the Russian people, which invoke constitutional illusion and brought cleavage to the Revolution. Also, Revolution wave become less after the suppression of the Decembrists revolt. Trotsky once called Revolution 1905 as a “dress rehearsal” for 1917. [3] 

The direct cause of the February Revolution of 1917 was the collapse of the czarist regime under the gigantic tension of World War I (1914-1918). In comparison with France and China revolution, which occurred during the formal peach, Russian Revolution developed under direct result of defeat war.

After the Japanese war Russian army thoroughly reorganised, had more artillery and excellent spirit. However, in the end of the 1916 Russian fatal statistics of the death people ruined the morale of the army, more than four million people were killed and around one a huff soldiers were in presentment [4] . The army was ripe for revolution. In addition, the country’s economy began to display alarming signs of weakness, which made it unable for the Russia to maintain the war effort against powerful, industrialized Germany. Inflation, slow at first, soon gained momentum, and ricers soared. Russian industry was not able to supply to arm, equip, and supply the some 15 million men who were sent into the war as well as the civilians. The misery of the working people was intensified by a growing shortage of food and the railroad network was inadequate. Moreover, mobilizations disrupted industrial and agricultural production. Quite often in the trenches the soldiers went hungry and lacked equipments or munitions, sometimes even weapons. In comparing with any army in the previous war Russian casualties were greater. Behind the front, goods became scarce, prices skyrocketed, and by 1917 famine threatened even in the larger cities. Discontent became rife; also, it was attributed by many of the supposed treachery of Empress Alexandra and her circle, in which Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin- peasant monk had the dominant influence. [5] At the time when the Duma, protested against the inefficient conduct of the war and the arbitrary policies of the imperial government, the Czar-Emperor Nicholas II-and his ministers simply ignored it. The Collapse of the Romanov autocracy in March 1917 was one of the most spontaneous, leaderless, anonymous revolution of all time… [6] 

Back to the Sckocpol theory and main argument that the ‘revolutions are not made, they come’ are emphasized in communist revolution. It includes all classical conditions of the social revolution such as: first of all is that the military competition is defeat, secondly inability to compete economically within an unevenly developing capitalist world economy also, inability to carry out reforms against the interests of strong landed upper class and in addition widespread peasant revolt without any control of it. All of these conditions of the state lead to the revolution.

An examination of how the movement is/was organised, and of any practical and/or ethical implications of this.

Mobilization is a process of increasing the readiness to act collectively.

(William A. Gamson, The Strategy of Social protest)

The absence of a constitution or clear conventions created conditions in which supporters and critics of absolutism claimed to offer the correct interpretation of the powers of the monarchy. [7] Peter first laid the foundation of the Imperial Russia with great response for the figures of the tsar. During the eighteenth century politics was on low level, it was poorly defined judicial, executive and administrative functions, and it resulted to the weak level of coordination and large reliance on the role of personality. Russian people believed that an inherently selfish power was typical of absolute monarchies with protected only the interests of the elite. During the nineteenth century overall efficiency of the government were improved by the vertically organised ministers as it become more modern and specialized. After the first revolution the tsar’s prerogatives were wide- ranging and remained powerful, that no bill could become a law without his signature.

After the establishment of the Duma and couple reforms created political problems to the tsarist regime and many people start to believe that it was first step of the path travelled by the countries of the West. However, they do not have any opportunity to initiate the legislation. Even half of the Duma members were chosen by the tsar personally and State Council itself remained very sensitive to the tsar. By the mid to late nineteenth century increased the professionalism of bureaucratic seams to represent threat to the tsar’s regime through systematisation of the business and control of the flow of the information, let alone its specialized knowledge of areas. Such social changes began to have an increasingly powerful impact of the government. Also, the dynasty of Romanov become directly tied because Peter I established Russia as a great European Power. Educated elite began to show signs of dissatisfaction with the autocratic system of government. Even in the early eighteenth Decembrists were claiming that Russian should adapt European economical models. In comparing with Bourbon France revolution similarities is clear visible with Romanov dynasty, as there was no turning back that aristocracy, took pride in the belongings to the great state. The problems of Domestic Challenges, itself was that society itself was not rich or modern enough. So, people were needed social-economical reforms such as the abolition of reform, inculcation of legal principles and industrialisation. According to the Machiavelli’s warning rule: “if the necessity for reform comes in trouble times, you are too late for harsh measure; and mild ones will not help you, for they will considered as forces from you, and not one will be under any obligation to you from them”. [8] 

After the February revolution in 1917 the government was quickly dispersed and autocracy collapsed. Two new bodies exercised political power, New Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. Immediately deputies appointed a commission to cope with the problems of food supply for the people. However, railroad system, could not handle the simultaneous demands of the food supply for the cities and in the same time supply the fronts and addition to prove raw materials of the industries. On the first of March was accepted Order No 1 which stated that those soldiers and sailors who did not conflict with Soviet were to be elected for committees that would exercise exclusive control over all weapons. [9] Addition problem arise that the Russian financial situation by 1917 was bankrupt and Western Allies were willing to provide financial support for the Russia with condition to remain at war. In the same time revolt occurred in the cities and at the front, Provisional Government could not respond to the basic needs of the ordinary people. The question was not who should govern, it was rather whether national order could be re-established at all because Provisional Government could not make any fundamental changes. Population become more and more disgruntled with the Provisional Government. Peasants wanted mostly to be left alone to govern their own affairs, breakdown the discipline in the army and the spread of workers. People start to calling for peace, bread, land, and “all power to the soviet”.

As a result on March 6 the Petrograd Soviet split with the Provisional Government of the question of war or peace. But also question was that only soviet could solve the problems of the workers and peasant and it were decisively molded by the Bolshevik propaganda following the April third the arrival in the Petrograd of Lenin. Lenin quickly becomes successful in his leadership and propaganda of the Bolshevik party and requirement of people itself. In addition, another famous revolutionary Leon Trotsky- a Commissar for War agreed with the Lenin’s policy and joined the Bolshevik Party.

Also, credibility to the Bolshevik propaganda added by the Kerensky on June 16 when he orders an offensive that ended in a complete defeat and the virtual disorganization of the army. Discipline of the army broke down and millions of soldiers escape further fighting and try to take part in the division of the land. In the July was adopted a resolution for the abolition of the Duma forced by the Petrograd of Soviets. Also, congress of Soviets organized a demonstration of about 400,000. The resignation of the Kadet ministers lead to the 500,000 workers and sailors demonstration to denounced the government. The Bolshevik party put itself a head of the movement for the peace keeping. However, July demonstration shaped a wave of political reaction of the people. In addition Lenin was denounced as a paid agent of the Germany; Trotsky and others were arrested. Kerensky government did not prevail any economical condition of the country and as a result Bolshevik party start to grow up. At that time Kornilov decided to establish a military dictatorship in Petrograd but his army was dissolved before he reached the capital and he was arrested. And the Bolshevik party become to secure a majority in the Petrograd Soviet.

Second important revolution occurred in October 10 after the Lenin’s policy for the opening for the second Congress of the Soviets. Later on October 24 to 25 under the direction of Trotsky soldiers, sailors, and armed workers stormed the Winter Palace, headquarters of the Provisional Government. Also in armed insurrection were involved tens of thousands of men and women. On the afternoon of 25 Trotsky announced the end of the Provisional Government. The second Congress of Soviets began its deliberation and as a result majority of the Menshevik and Socialist Revolutionaries delegates withdrew from the congress. Was made a lot of ratification of the land principles, national property become under the protection of local land committees and soviets. Second Congress of the Soviets also affirmed the rights of all citizens to cultivate land by their own. However, right from the start the Bolsheviks faced political opposition from the other socialist parties to their attempt to rule alone. On March 3 in 1918 the New Government under the Bolshevik control signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk what ended Russian’s involvement in World War 1. But under the treaty that Russian should give up the territory of Ukraine, Finland, Poland and Baltic States. The Opposition to the Bolshevik Party erupted into civil war that lasted from 1918 until the late 1920. The strict control of the country was taken by the Lenin and the Russian Communist Party. Sailors’ revolt and workers strikes were quickly crushed. Lenin Established New Economic Policy to strengthen the country which actually has been drained by seven years of turmoil and economic decline. As a result of Revolutions in December on 30, 1992 was established the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and ethnic territories of the former Russian Empire.

A critical analysis of the ways in which the revolutionary/social movement framed/is framing the issues of contention.

“The transformation of social issues into collective action frames does not occur by itself.

It is a process in which social actors, media and members of a society jointly interpret, define and redefine states of affairs.”

Sidney Tarrow.

Successful revolt strategy is based on values and goals of the collective action. Values motivate people and shape the components of action. From another hand, collective action can be interpreted as the emergence of trends; of the formation and consolidation of new values systems. That can be presented as social justice, human right and environmental preservation. According to the Inglehart’s suggestion it is based on two assumptions and he defined it as the “scarcity hypothesis” hierarchy of the needs. In relation to the Russia revolution movement people needs were very basic. On the February 24 people were claiming for peace: “Down with the war” and “Down with autocracy”. In relation to the French revolution, it produced the first systematic attempts to reshape political culture around new forms of dress, holidays, public works, salutations and monuments. [10] As the revolution spread, so did its symbols.

Central symbol of the February revolution become Square of the Uprising, demonstrated huge open space an ideal arena for a political meeting, and for the ‘theatre of the Revolution’. [11] Perhaps more important was a symbolic challenge: statue of Alexander III as a symbol of autocracy. On 26 of February number of workers was killed when the workers and soldiers came face to face. On the February 27 the revolution triumphed and regime of the Petrograd garrison went over to the people. More than 150,000 united workers and soldiers joined the revolution and took control of the city: as a result of revolt were nearly 1500 victims. [12] As Kniss (1996) notes, the interpretive elasticity varies among different type of symbols. The red flag become an emblem of the people’s struggle, embodying their anger and ideals, people were even ready to die for that symbol. [13] From the theoretical work of Erving Goffman (1974) has proved that symbolic aspects of collective action are very influential. Symbolic production enables us to attribute to events and behaviours of collective action. Gamson (1992) defined three central components to motivate collective actions: injustice, agency and identity frames. In October Revolution Vladimir Lenin used slogans as “Peace, Land, Bread” and famous one “All power to the Soviets”. The Great October revolution was more about the destroying rather than renew. Comparing with the French revolutionary festivals, the iconoclasm of the February Revolution obeyed the law of the purge. Russia revolutionary felt itself to be in one camp against the enemy. People wore red arm bands or tied red ribbons in their buttonholes to show their support for the revolutionaries. Even some of the café displayed the following advertisement: “Fellow-Citizens! In honour of the great days of freedom, I bid you all welcome. Come inside, and eat and drink to your hearts’ content.” [14] 

The empirical evidence of actions demonstrates that people with post- material values are supporting new form of collective actions. [15] The Petrograd workers had long traditions of activism and memories of 1905 Revolution. Accept all theoretical implications of the culture and Action as cognitive proxies social movement activity largely consists of practices more directly linked to the symbolic production. [16] Also, in the self-organisation of the revolutionary crowd were very important flags and songs. The Menshevik A.E. Diubua recalled that ‘a crowd of several hundred workers moved down Nevsky singing songs and carrying red flag’. [17] 

To the parasites, to the dogs, to the rich!

Yes and to the evil vampire- Tsar!

Kill and destroy them the villainous swine!

Light up the dawn of a new and better life!

Another important aspect of Revolution symbolic is the changing of public and personal names. The new names reflected general symbols of emancipation. For examples old names of the “Empress Catherine” become called “Free Russia”.

Cultural Environment are usually conceptualized as “norms and values” of the population. Rochon (1998) he suggested that cultural change and movements role in that change. [18] He ties social groupings as communities for “new value perspectives”. He tries to understand a balance of values, as a deep feature of culture that serves to integrate social life. Rochon argued that value are widely and deeply held and because of that culture changes is a contentious struggle. In addition, Marxist ideology to suggest that environmental urban crisis could be read as an outcome of the spread of mechanism of capitalist exploitation from the factory and the labour market to its surrounding community. The Leninist party can also be considered proof of Marxism’s cultural domination model. According to the Lumley (1990) theory models of counter culture and political proposals such as that of the environmental lists, which has little in common with representation of a class nature, were accorded little space in the development of the movements although they were also present.

A critical analysis of the action forms used by the actors involved.

We will either find a way or make one.


Social movement are best understood as clusters of contentious interactive performances of protest events. [19] Central to this is movement tactics such as strikes, riots, and violent incidents.

According to the Tarrow (1998) he categorised form of protest as: violence, disruption and convention. Violence is the easiest kind of collective action that function of the interaction between movement tactics and policing. It can be used as a transforms the relations between challengers and authorities. Moreover, it is the major power in movement. However, in February revolution for the first point was not any violence. It can impress people and it also could limit the formation of movement because of restrains and frightens off sympathizers.

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Disruption is the archtypical expression of challenging groups. [20] People become scared of disruption no more than a threat of violence. They performance demonstrate their identity and reinforce their solidarity. Revolutionaries were trying to keep authority off balance and keep the public interest with possible opportunities of better life. The demonstration became the major means of the though which workers build and express solidarity. The spread of demonstration rapidly become known with it symbols. However, in repressive state as Russia demonstration regards as potential riots which actually mean it will lead to the savage repression as it was in 1905- “Bloody Sunday”. Back to the February revolution it was more likely to gain public approval. People start to act. In St Petersburg nearly every industrial enterprise had been shut down, people start to join the strikes. Moreover, Tarrow (1993) suggested that the increases in the rate and variety of form of collective action bring about increases in the number of organizations and other mobilization structures engaged in collective action. As an example the range of tactics used use in the US 1982 was reasonably for winning broad public support. [21] Back to the Russia Revolution it increased the capacity to disrupt routines. In addition, strength of revolution was the size of the movement. The civil right movement is always ability to mobilize large number of participant. According to the culture reasons majority of the people shared same believes and values. The revolution was made spontaneously without any leadership. But such king of movement could not be acted by own, it should be organised by strong leader. Even Provisional Government could not demand the society need and was withdrawn by the Bolshevik party leaded by Lenin.

According to the Protest Tactics of Goodwin and Jasper (2007) tactics means doing what you can with what you have. Trotsky’s in the Revolution 1917 played important role in building up the Red Army, and without him the revolution would have been crushed. He was one of who agreed the Lenin’s ideology and entered party. Lenin himself, used the moment and launched his antiwar attack on the Government. He gets support from the masses and quickly revived their influence.

A reflection on means and ends in relation to your case study, and on any ethical issues arising from its practices and/or its aims.

We cannot think first and act afterwards. From the

moment of birth we are immersed in action and can

only fitfully guide it by taking thought.


Interesting question arising in relation to the ends and means, does the particular ends of the revolution justify the particular means of it? The man of action views the issues of means and ends in pragmatic and strategic terms. The fist points at the beginning arising about the possibility of various forms of actions. But the means and ends must coherence; immoral means cannot bring about moral ends.

However, no one can predict any reliability how any collective action would interfere and response to injustice, oppression and violence. For the Russian population it was already impossible to find way of surviving. Rather than find method of struggle people choose to fight. But the means represent the ideal in the making; in the long run of history destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends. [22] Second point which Gandhi suggested is nonviolence: it contends that one’s aim must never be to inflict injury upon the opponent. However, he also says that he did not mentioned truth in relation to the nonviolence as a World-force because simply truth cannot be expressed excepting by nonviolence. For a long time period people become tired of struggling and poverty. Gandhi mentioned that it is a goal and it is beautiful to have a method of struggle and it can be powerful social force. According to the Russia famous poetry Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev:

“Russia cannot be understood with the mind alone,

No ordinary yardstick can span her greatness:

She stands alone, unique – In Russia, one can only believe.”

But people start to feel hate and anger, they become tired to believe. After the “Bloody Sunday” people were more than ready for the changes. Gandhi puts “love” of the first place of non violence and avoids external physical violence. But “love” stuff is next stepped to the anger and vice versa. At the point when person is exhausted he could have different range of emotions from crying to laughing. Even so, people would be willing to use nonviolence strategy, if there were possible circumstance. But violence strategy is more successful in the current conflict. [23] Moreover, against nonviolence strategy of “love” stuff difficult to understand if the person acting as not as human being, which king of acts should taken? I would say that at the moment when person using violence against person who acting as not human being, he losing his soul as well. According to the Martin Luther King “If you are hit you must not hit back; you must rise to the heights of being able to accept blows without retaliating.” That what he called suffering as a powerful social force… man does not know how to handle it.

A consideration of the actual or potential outcomes of the movement/revolution you have looked at.

There are many debates about the exact time of the end of Revolution. The end of the Revolution came at the moment when the Communist party start to control most of the future USSR territory. The biggest outcome of the movement was the dramatic social changes in the in the Russian. Russian empire of capitalism, monarchy and church was replaced by the theoretically classes society equal comrades. The initial statement was that no one went hungry, and everyone could enjoy life through hard work. Also, significant outcome of the social revolution was development of large-scale modern enterprises and national economical development. [24] In addition, Russia Revolution led to the eventual emergency of Joseph Stalin and Cold War with the United States. [25] 

Nothing would happen without the initial support of the mass of Russian population. In relation to the social studies it is not the easy to identify particular movement actions as the cause of a specific outcome. [26] According to the Paul Burstein argue in the re


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