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Was 1905 a Revolution?

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Was 1905 a Revolution? "These days we call anything a revolution..."1 To decide whether or not any event is a revolution I must first set some parameters to define my personal idea of what a revolution is. I believe a revolution to be a radical change of anything, not just political. I believe this as from history labelling the Renaissance as a revolution, yet it lacked political change. In my opinion hindsight is very important to whether or not something is a revolution. I think you can only decide if something was revolutionary if you can see its consequences. I do not think revolutionary thought is essential to whether or not an event is a revolution. To discover whether or not 1905 was a revolution I will have to study what happened, what people wanted to happen and the outcome. Any revolution has to be precipitated by political, social or economic problems. All of these were present in 1905. General unrest had been felt throughout Russia for years socially, politically and economically. 1904 saw workers working eleven-hour days and the rise in prices of essential goods forced a twenty- percent drop in wages creating strong social unrest in the proletariat working classes. Consequently, men were laid off sparking Father Gapon, a priest who predominately preached in the workers areas of St. Petersburg, to march on the Winter Palace. This peaceful protest ended in bloody massacre when the Tsar did not prevent the guards from firing on the crowd. ...read more.


They did also achieve a Duma allowing more control to the people and significant to the people as it looked as if everything was slowly changing. It is debatable whether or not they achieved enough through the manifesto and Working Class activists through the Mensheviks believed the Tsar was hoodwinking the working class. Others believed it was definitely the way forward such as the liberal Octobrists, taking their name from the manifesto. The middle class and the students represented the intelligentsia of Russia. They generally wanted more political freedoms, to voice liberal ideas and the students wanted university autonomy. They struck out by the use of Zemtvos and achieved even more voice when the radical union of union's was formed and their liberal views could be heard in the public eye. The students achieved university autonomy in August 1905 and the universities became very important centres of revolutionary thought. Lenin believed the bourgeois liberals to have "political naivety"5 and incapable of revolution but I believe that the group probably harboured the most realist and democratic solution of a constituent assembly. Maybe if they had of had the leadership of someone such as Lenin, a powerful and driving force, they may of achieved a carefully planned political revolution through gradual reform. They wanted to be like the international middle classes, they were "increasingly assimilating the culture of the rest of the world"6; unrest at the fact industry was modernising at a rate that did not allow for the social evolution of the country to keep up. ...read more.


In conclusion I believe 1905 was not a revolution. There was definite revolutionary thought present, yet the revolutionary acts of strikes and protests were fragmented and without co-ordination between classes. A revolution had to consequent in something solid and this was definitely not true in Russia where the Tsar gave false power to a people who all took the bait, but for the Menshevik Social Democrats, and fell into the Tsars trap until 1917. I will concede that in hindsight we can see 1905 was important in what has been called part of a 'perpetual revolution' and I believe that Lenin was right when he said 1905 was "the great dress rehearsal"8. 1905 allowed the revolutionary groups such as the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks to learn what to do in 1917 and what to avoid, people could gain experience from their parts played in 1905.1905 was just a preliminary for the real thing. In the future there had to be less fragmentation through the classes, as the liberal bourgeoisie were the key class that seemed to shy away from revolution and aiding the working class with their higher education. A throne would topple a with a lot more ease when pushed from one point rather than everyone pushing from different directions as people would counteract each other; this was what happened in 1905. 1 A PEOPLE'S TRADGEDY - Orlando Figes 2 LATE IMPERIAL RUSSIA 1890-1917 - John F. Hutchinson 3 LATE IMPERIAL RUSSIA 1890-1917 - John F. Hutchinson 4 THE PEASENT RIOTS essay - Leon Trotsky 5 REACTION AND REVOLUTIONS: RUSSIA 1881- 1924 - Michael Lynch 6 OPEN ADDRESS TO THE TSAR - Leo Tolstoy 7 Peter Struve, Marxist 8 QUOTE - Lenin Dave Bawden ...read more.

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