The Russian Revolutions of 1917

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The Russian Revolutions of 1917 Kevin James Patrick McKay

. The revolutions of 1917 were brought about by a number of long and short term factors.

Long term factors

Over 80% of all Russians were agricultural workers. They were living in what we would know today as a "third world" lifestyle. Low life expectancy, constant manual labour and a very isolated state of being. They were allowed to own land from 1861 however they paid vast sums back to the land owners or to the crown. Little was left for their own needs.

The town workers (Proletariat) were a small but crucial group making up 10% of the population. They would work on average a 14-16 hour day and worked in appalling conditions.

Ethnic minorities were targeted by a policy of nationalisation known as "Russification" they were forced to learn Russian and to convert to the Russian Orthodox church. The Russian Orthodox Church fully supported the devine right of the Tsars rule.

Russians believed Tsar had been chosen by god. The Tsar ruled absolutely through heredity bloodline. It was an outdated and corrupt regime. He chose his Imperial Council and his Cabinet of ministers had been chosen by his Imperial Council. The Ministers basically ran the country while the Tsar (Nicholas II) had a life greatly contrasting to that of his people. He was a weak leader however stongly conservative.

The revolutionaries inspired the workers to rise. These groups of men gave the workers hope and encouraged them to join in the revolution. Around 57% of the proletariat were literate. (1897 Census-Communism under Lenin + Stalin, London 2002). This meant they were more lucid and more keen on new ideas. Meaning they were more easily influenced than the peasants.

Socially the regime was unstable with over 50% of the population not even being Russian. The ruling class made up only 0.5% of the population and ruled while the majority of people were peasants a massive 82% of population (long term causes handout 9b) who had no control whatsoever, this in itself created a social and political imbalance.

The educated intellectuals saw Russia as being part of the "old order" politically it was far behind its European neighbours democratic Germany, Britain and France. They wanted representation in government. They also wanted a free-press to publish their views.

Short Term Factors

Short term factors included the vast amounts of food shortages and Russian casualties in the frontline. Tsar had gone off to lead his troops (linking the monarchy to the Russian military) and left his German born wife to rule. Accusations of treason poured in at the very heart of Government . Nicholas II was defeated and this was to be seen as the collapse in belief of his "god given" rights to overall rule. For revolutionaries, a war was welcomed. Lenin believed a war to be a "useful thing". Political deficiencies were unveiled greatly when Tsars appointed army commanders who were appointed not on merit, but by the sheer fact they were upper class were humiliated by experienced Germans.
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Economic chaos drove the Russians to revolt, the working class contempt of the regime had now swept into the middle-class, Russia was starting to unite under the disillusionment of the regime . Food shortages meant that in January 1917 food shipments fell by 60%, leaving the population starving. Soldiers (mostly conscripted peasants) were returning home in their thousands to take part in the Revolution. Armed forces brought in to reinforce the Tsars power were disappearing into the crowds and joining with the soviets.

In conclusion I believe that long term factors were the most important in ...

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