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Why does the Tsar abdicate in 1917?

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Introduction

Why does the Tsar abdicate in 1917? Nikita Turkin ATL "The immediate cause of the Revolution of 1917... [was]... the collapse of Russia's fragile political structure under the strains of a war of attrition." (Pipes) While war may have been the trigger which brought the feelings of a nation to a head in St. Petersburg, and finally started that a revolution in the bread queue, "the reasons for this comprehensive collapse of the structures of the old regime were, however, rooted deeply in the history of the Russian sate." (Waldron) Liberals, have said that social unrest and mass disturbance were direct products of war, the truth lies closer with the Revisionists, who, while not over exaggerating the role of either revolutionary parties or over- simplifying the 'people's wishes' like the Soviets, stipulate that February was a culmination of socio- economic preconditions and political precipitants. Even if we discard the Soviet Marxist viewpoint that the recurring trade cycle in the world of economics changes completely the political systems and social hierarchies of countries, it is valid to say that economics plays a part in a country's affairs. ...read more.

Middle

Social unrest and political unhappiness would cause it to peacefully crumble. "The economic demands of this first 'total war' placed stresses beyond even those predicted by Durnovo on Russian society." (Waldron) Peasants, workers and even the generally loyal soldiers, by 1917, felt isolated and unhappy with the economic situation in Russia. Their expression in the form of rural disturbances, mass strikes and mutinies and desertions were all showing the Tsar the flavour of the crowds outside of the Winter Palace. These were premonitions for the 23rd February, and a representation of the people's mood. B. Williams said that "there was no doubt that the initiators of the revolution were the workers and the reserve troops in the capital", but it was the passive capacity of the "very unsettling element" (Pipes) - the peasantry which was a permanent threat to the status quo and an obstacle to overcome if the Tsar wanted to keep his throne. Tax and the conscription of sons, ensured that a feeling of hate was built up in the countryside, so that when Tsarism came to fall millions of peasants were happy to see it go. ...read more.

Conclusion

"By the time war broke out, almost every section of Russian society felt betrayed by the autocracy. The peasantry, the working people, and the growing middle class all felt that the political structures of the empire had failed to satisfy their needs" (Waldron). Combine this with the negative effects of the economy both over the past two decades and the past four years, the social picture was disturbed. Economic grievances, the fact that no political reforms or freedoms had been received and cultural and social isolation of town, village and trench all culminated in the fact that "by 1917 the Russian people had no will to support neither the person of monarch, nor the system which he represented." (Waldron) Marx's dictum came true- there developed such a disparity between political form and socio- economic content, that the only viable prospect was revolution and the abdication of the Tsar. While war was a slap on the back of tsarist collapse, no war did not mean no revolution. The seeds of downfall had been germinating for decades, always fed nutritiously with economic failures, social misunderstandings, military failures, and political stagnancy, watered by tsarist general inadequacy. "A revolution (abdication) was more likely than not" (Pipes) ...read more.

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