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Both Russian Revolutions stemmed from Russians' dissatisfaction with the Tsarist government's ineptitude

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"Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." So says Mao Zedong, late overlord of China, staunch Marxist and hardened revolutionary. The truth of his statement can be observed in many instants in the long human history, and not least of all in the two Russian Revolutions of early twentieth century. The first revolution happened in 1905, and after a little more than a decade of tentative peace, the second revolution happened in 1917. Most historians talk about two revolutions in 1917, the February revolution, and the Bolshevik revolution in October. However, the two revolutions of 1917 can be seen as one protracted revolution undergoing many shifts in government and finally ended with the Bolshevik's seizure of power in October. In this essay, the revolutions of 1917 will be treated as one single revolution. The revolution of 1905 and 1017 stemmed from the same causes, they were instigated and executed in similar fashion, the same people provided the bulk force that manned the actions, and both revolutions were permeated by the contest for power among different groups and the accompanying anarchy. There is only one difference between the two revolutions: where the control of an effective military force lies. Supposedly one difference amidst the multitude of similarities should hardly create any noticeable differences? That's not what one observes in history. Thanks to that single difference, the revolution of 1905 and 1917 had drastically different results. ...read more.


The increasingly violent and revolutionary strikes, coupled with insurrection and mutiny of Petrograd garrisons, created enough anarchy for the Duma to announce the dissolution of existing ministry and the formation of Provisional Government. The two Russian Revolutions displayed remarkable similarities in the manner they were begun and carried. They were both manned by industrial workers, bulked up by general strikes across the nation, and both followed a course from protest, strikes, political insurrection, paralysis of existing order, to the final governmental change and reform. Both revolutions were surrounded with the same political ambiance of struggle for power among different groups and the chaos that accompanied it. The Russian intelligentsia, while united by their common discontent with the tsarist regime, was otherwise divided by ideologies and degrees of radicalism. The revolutionary groups in Russian ranged from the far left of the Bolsheviks, to the more moderate Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries, to the liberal Constitutional Democrats who was wary of socialism. In both revolutions all the groups emerged hoping to lead the workers to create a government with the specific group at the head. In both revolutions the different groups came to sharp conflicts. In the revolution of 1905 after the liberals soon demanded order and supported the tsarist government, the Consitutional Democrats were content with the creation of Duma after the October Manifesto, and the more radical revolutionaries tried to continue popular agitation long after the government regained its position of power. ...read more.


Red Guards soon evolved into the Red Army and was used to crush opposition in the Russian Civil War. With exact same strategies used by Nicholas II, the Bolsheviks also employed their armed forces to place Russia in a police state, oppressing all opposition in a regime of terror. In 1917 the Bolsheviks were the only one who raised and controlled an effective military force in key locations, therefore, they emerged victorious in the battle for Russia. The key difference of who controlled the effective military force led to the drastically different results of the two Russian Revolutions despite every other similarity. This can be observed through the similarities of the causes, the progression, and the political environment between the two revolutions, the sole difference of the controller of an effective military force, and the fact that in each revolution the controller of the effective armed force emerged victor. The Bolsheviks often spoke of revolution as a popular movement supported by the will of the workers and the peasants, as a forced change by the people and for the people. Yet if one observes the two Russian Revolutions and ponder upon the reactionaries' victory in 1905 and the Bolsheviks' triumph in 1917, the only conclusion one comes to is the same one Mao had: "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun". In this and every other instant in history, it is the gun barrel not popular will that determines the final winner. ...read more.

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