The Revolution of

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					The Revolution of 1917

     Section 18.93
                   The Path to Revolution
                             Political Parties Form          -Petrograd Food Riots
                             -Kadets                           Provisional Gov. v
                             -Populists                         Petrograd Soviet
   Institutions Altered
         Serfdom             -Social Democratic
         Zemstvos            Party                                         Treaty of
                                  -Mensheviks                            Brest-Litosvk
                                  -Bolsheviks                              Whites v.
               Nicholas II                                                   Reds

1861    1881      1894          1905                  1914      1917     1918        1921

       Reactionary period                     WWI                            Bolsheviks
       (Alexander III)                       Begins                             win
       -Stolypin Policies
                                  Russo Japanese War               November 6
       -Mir Attacked
                                  Bloody Sunday                  Bolsheviks seize
                                  October Manifesto                   power
       Russia and the Great War
• Russians enthusiastic for
• Sand “God save the
• Conservatives
  – Opportunity for expansion
    in Balkans
• Liberals & Socialists
  – Alliance with GB and
    France would spawn
    democratic reforms
   The Poor Leadership of the Little Father
• Russia’s industry was unable to supply soldiers by
   – Soldiers sent to front without rifles
• Disasters (Tanneberg+Masurian Lakes)
• 2 million casualties by 1915
• Middle class (in Duma) supported the war effort
  and organized war activities
   – Formed Commercial and Industrial Committee
      (in Petrograd) to increase production
• Total War mobilization less effective than Germany
• Why?
   – Poor leadership of Tsar Nicholas II
   – Devoted family man
   – Held autocratic power (Could veto & dissolve
   – Retained belief in Divine Right
• September 1915 Duma’s Progressive Bloc called
  for new government responsible to the Duma
• Tsar adjourned Duma and left for the Front
           “Our Dear Friend Grigori”
• Tsarina Alexandra (German)
   – Took control of government
   – had contempt for Russians & Parliament
   – encouraged husband to be tough
• Rasputin,
   – Alexandra’s most trusted adviser
   – self-appointed holy man, was believed to possess
     supernatural powers and got friends appointed to prominent
     positions of power
   – Religious sect mixed sexual depravity with religious
   – Apparent hynotic power over sickly (hemophilia) Alexis
   – Rumored to be Tsarina’s lover
• Duma criticized the operations of the war
• Tsar, under Rasputin and reactionaries, adjourned the
  Duma (9/1915)
• Duma reconvened and voices outrage
• Tsar arms police with machine guns
• Rasputin
   – “If I die or you desert me, in six months you will lose your
     son and the throne.”
• 3 aristocrats murdered Rasputin 12/1916
                  The March Revolution
• Food shortages caused riots in March 8,
  1917 in Petrograd
   – “Down with the tsar!”
• Troops refused to fire on the rioters
• Two competing authorities arise in
   – Duma Committee Organizes
       • Moderate, constitutionalist
   – Petrograd Soviet organizes
       • Revolutionary (from below)
• Socialists groups tried to win over the
• Duma set up Provisional Gov under Prince
• Admitted Alexander Kerensky (moderate
  socialist) to new gov
• Called for the abdication of Nicholas II
• Army took the side of the revolution        Alexander Kerensky (center, white), charter
   – Could not vouch for the loyalty of their member of the Provisional Government and its
     men                                      head in September-October 1917, arriving in
                                              Moscow on or about 12 August 1917.
• 3/17/1917 Russia become a republic
  Provisional Government (March-November 1917)
• Moderate Liberals
   – Established equality before
     law, freedom of religion,
     speech, assembly
   – Right to form unions, strike
   – Elections by universal male
                                     Alexander Kerensky is speaking at a meeting of the
       • to draft new constitution   Provisional Government in the Library of Nicholas II

• Not interested in social
• socialist prime minister
  (Alexander Kerensky) refused to
  confiscated lands from kulaks
• continued the war against
  Germany with terrible results
                 Petrograd Soviet
• Shared power with the Provisional gov
• Held mass meetings (2-3 thousand
  workers, soldiers, socialist
• Army Order No. 1
   – Stripped officers of thrie authority
   – Placed power in hands of elected
     committees of common soldiers
   – Meant to prevent counter
     revolutionary dictator from arising
   – Led to total collapse of army
   – Officers murdered
   – “voting with their feet” Lenin
      • Many soldiers abandoned the
         army and seized land
                  Lenin (1870-1924)
• Religiously Marxist
• Exiled to Siberia for socialist agitation
• While in exile he studied Marxism
• Lived in western Europe (17 years) and
  revised Marxism
• Marxist Leninism
   – Stressed that capitalism could be
     destroyed only by violent revolution
      • Denounced social
        democratic/Lassalian parties
   – Communist revolution was possible in
     agrarian country
      • Peasant were poor and revolutionary
   – Rejected Marxist determinism
      • Small dedicated professional
        revolutionary could ‘cause’ the revolution
          – Not seduced by short-term gains
                 The Bolsheviks
• Lenin arrived in April and sided with
  the Soviets
• Condemned any cooperation with the
  “bourgeois government
• All Power to the Soviets
• All land to the peasants
• Stop the war now
• “Peace, Land, and Bread”
   – Peace with the Central Powers
   – Redistribution of Land and Bread
   – Transfer of factories & mines to
     committees of workers
   – Recognition of the Soviets as the
     supreme power (not Prov Gov)
• Lenin’s promise of “all power to the
  Soviets” was meant to crush Kerensky
  and the Constituent Assembly
• Kerensky (PM), General Kornilov (War
  hero), fought each other & weakened
  Provisional Gov.
• Kerensky tried to convoke a
  ‘preparliament’ but it was too late
• October 1917 the Bolsheviks gained a
  majority in the Petrograd Soviet
• Leon Trotsky
   – Convinced Petrograd Soviet that
     German/Counterrevolutionary plot
     was in works
   – Got himself elected to head
     revolutionary committee with power
     over Petrograd's military
         The November Revolution
• November 6-7, 1917 Bolsheviks took over
  telephone exchanges, RR, electrical power
  stations in Petrograd
• Congress of Soviets pronounced Provisional
  Gov over and named Council of People’s
  Commissars (Lenin at the head) the new
• Lenin called for the peace and redistribution of
• Constituent Assembly (21 mil had voted for) was
  surrounded and dissolved
• Majority rule was replaced with Class rule
   – Dictatorship of the proletariat was established
• Bolsheviks renamed themselves the Communist
• Why
   – Democracy became anarchy
   – Lenin and Trotsky were superior leaders
   – Bolsheviks appealed to many with “Peace,
      Land, and Bread”, “All the power to the
• Most amazing aspect of Bolshevik coup
  was that it lasted
• How?
• Lenin took credit for granting Peasants’
   – A Russian 1989 (Great Fear) was already
     under way
   – Peasant were seizing land and could not
     be stopped in 1917
• Made peace with Germany
   – Brest-Litovsk ended war with the West
   – Gave Germany Baltic provinces, Poland,
• Promised freely elected Constituent
   – Socialist Revolutionaries (Peasants
     Party) won major victory
   – Lenin disbanded them by force after
     only 1 day (1/18/1918)
                 Whites v. Reds
• Civil War began
  – “Long live the Soviets, down
    with the Bolsheviks.”
  – Whites
     • Tsarist reactionaries,
        liberals, bourgeois,
        zemstvos, Constitutional
        Demo, Mensheviks, and
        Social Revolutionaries v
     • United by their hatred of   Propaganda poster from the era
                                   (1919), depicting a caricature
        Bolsheviks                 Leon Trotsky (as a large demon

  – Reds                           like figure with bright red skin.

     • Bolsheviks
              Whites v. Reds
• 18 self proclaimed
  competing governments
  competing with Lenin
• White Army closed in on
  Reds in Autumn of 1919
• Yet by 1921 the
  Bolsheviks had prevailed
• How?
• Whites
   – Strategically
   – Politically undefined
     but conservative
             Why the Bolsheviks Won
• Clearly defined political beliefs
• Strategically united
• Superior Army
   – Trotsky
   – Organized Red Army
   – Drastic discipline (deserters shot on sight)
   – Utilized former Tsar officers
• War Communism
   – Total War concept to a civil war                   The first questions
   – Nationalized banks, industry                       you should put to
   – Authorized labor unions to take food from the      the accused… To
     farmers                                            what class does he
   – Rationed vital resources                           belong, what is his
                                                        origin, his
• Revolutionary Terror                                  education,
   – Cheka (Extraordinary All-Russian Commission of     profession? These
     Struggle Against Counterrevolution, Speculation,   should determine
     and Sabotage) secret police                        the fate of the
   – Executed “class enemies”                           accused
   – Killed circus clown who poked fun at Bolsheviks
   – Silenced political opposition

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