'The First World War was the most important cause of the Russian Revolution.' How true is the claim?
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14) 'The First World War was the most important cause of the Russian Revolution.' How true is the claim? (GCE June 2003) With regard to the question, there are two schools of thought that we ought to consider. The first being the pessimist school of thought, which states that World War I (WWI) was a catalyst that sped up the failure of the Tsarist regime, and the second being the optimist school of thought, which is in line with the liberal school of thought, stating that the Tsarist regime would have survived if not for WWI. However, I would agree with the pessimist school of thought, and believe that while WWI was not the most important cause of the Russian Revolution, it was certainly one of the most crucial causes as it was the catalyst that accelerated the process of the failure of the Tsarist regime. Together with WWI came many adverse effects economically and militarily; WWI also caused the loss of prestige of the Tsarist government, proving that the autocratic ruler of Russia was indeed an incompetent Tsar. All of this together with the previous inabilities of the Tsarist government such as the lack and failure to reform culminated in the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the eventual fall of the Tsarism.
to place much trust in Rasputin who was became the uncrowned king of Russia for a time, merely because he was able to exercise some healing power over her son Alexei. His place at court discredited both the monarchy and the Church, and was very much a grievance which Russians nursed against the Romanovs. However, other events and factors besides the war led to a loss of prestige. Governments are largely reliant on prestige and in the case of Russia; the Tsarist regime had basically lost its prestige mainly due to defeats in the Russo-Japanese war as well as the Bloody Sunday incident. When Russia went to war with Japan in 1904, there were many humiliating defeats as the war added to the unrest within Russia. Things worsened on Bloody Sunday in January 1905 when Father Gapon led a vast crowd of about 200 000 to the Winter Palace. It was a peaceful demonstration to deliver a petition to the Tsar for reforms but officials and palace guards panicked, and opened fire killing a vast number of innocent people. Apart from the effects of WWI itself, another important factor would be the lack of reforms.
The million or so personal servants received no land and they either continued to work for wages or drifted to the towns in search of work in industry. The vast demand for factory production of war supplies and workers caused many more labor riots and strikes. In addition, because more factory workers were needed, peasants moved out of the country and into the cities, which soon became overpopulated, and living conditions rapidly grew worse. Furthermore, as more food was needed for the soldiers, the food supply behind the front grew scarce. By 1917, famine threatened many of the larger cities. This further motivated the Revolution. Hence, while WWI was a crucial cause of the 1917 revolution, other causes include events that led to the loss of prestige. WWI simply accelerated the process of the Russian Revolution that was to ultimately take place in 1917. Furthermore, since the approach to this question is based on the pessimist school of thought, it would be fair to consider that regardless of such events, the Russian Revolution that led to the eventual fall of Tsarism would happen anyway, since the Marxist view is that the autocracy will eventually be replaced by the aristocracy, the bourgeosis and eventually, the proletariat.
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