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To what extent were conditions for workers and peasants better under the Bolsheviks than they had been under the Tsars?

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To what extent were conditions for workers and peasants better under the Bolsheviks than they had been under the Tsars? Conditions for workers and peasants were deplorable under the rule of the Tsars, but not to the extent they were under the Bolsheviks. Despite the Bolsheviks claiming their policies were entirely in favour of the proletariat, peasants were forced to face horrific famine and a vast decline in living standards under rule by Lenin and the Bolsheviks. When Alexander II came to power in 1855 he realised that in order to modernise Russia and improve the weakening economy he needed to make dramatic reforms. In 1861 Alexander issued his Emancipation Manifesto, proposing 17 legislative acts that would free the serfs in Russia. Even though this new-found freedom in some ways seemed to place a greater burden on the peasants due to heavy redemption payments on their land and little improvement regarding agricultural methods in Russia, the act made the now-freed serfs feel that progress was being made towards a fairer social system in Russia and gave them some hope for more affirmative reforms in the future. ...read more.


The Tsar's Okhrana (state police) did successfully stop considerable worker/peasant protests such as Bloody Sunday and the October Revolution, but their terror is unparalleled to the fear the callous Bolshevik secret police force, the Cheka, brought to Russian peasants and workers, especially during the period of 'Red Terror'. The Cheka were known to not only capture rebels, but often their families and friends as well. It is reported that entire villages were executed by the Cheka for being even vaguely associated with counter-revolution. Due to the reforms of the Tsars, peasants' landholdings increased at a slow pace but without violent disturbances, which ensured a steady growth of production and prosperity. This cannot be said about peasant life under the Bolsheviks. Under Bolshevik rule peasants faced appalling famine with over 30 million soviet citizens in danger of death by starvation in 1921 leading to massive depopulation of the cities, as workers journeyed back to the country desperately trying to get enough food to live off. Conditions were appalling during and after WW1 as the Bolsheviks were forced to employ a rationing system due to substantial shortages, of which most of the peasants and workers did not have enough food to survive on. ...read more.


Life as an urban worker under Bolshevik rule was equally as miserable. Conditions worsened for the urban workers as the Bolsheviks introduced the policy of compulsory labour, forcing some workers to labour 14 hour days on pitiful wages and outlawing worker's strikes. Increasingly as the economic situation in Russia worsened workers were forced to receive their wages in kind as hyperinflation had made the ruble practically worthless, whilst some were simply left unpaid. Despite having no incentive to work, workers were still forced to labour away under the threat of harsh punishment for slacking or not meeting factory standards as military discipline was introduced to the factories. In conclusion under the Tsars the average Russian peasant/worker was incomparably better fed and clothed than under Bolshevik rule. Peasants had more firewood in the winter and sufficient food to live off, and workers worked shorter hours and did not have the threat of severe punishment for slacking burdening them. Lenin and the Bolsheviks forced the Russian peasants and workers to live in constant fear of the brutal Cheka and led Russia into a devastating famine that wiped out thousands of the Russian proletariat. ...read more.

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