Socialism In Russia

Socialism in Russia

Before the Russian Revolution, Russia was ruled by Tsar Nicholas II. In that time Russian empire was extended up to present day Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, parts of Poland, Ukraine and Belarus, Central Asia, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

But in this vast empire people were not happy. Because at the beginning of the 20th century more than 85% of Russian population earned their living from agriculture. The peasants worked from down to dusk with very low wages or share. Most of the land was owned by rich people. Most of the industry was controlled by private individuals. The workers worked and lived in poor condition and were ill paid. Unemployment rate was very high. Women made up 31% of the factory labour force. They were paid less wages and were forced to work for long hours.

In that condition different types of groups prevail in Russia like - Liberals, Radicals, Conservatives and Socialists. There were many workers organization also. Though all were illegal.

In 1900 Socialist Revolutionary party was formed and became important. This party was divided into two parties - Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. Behind the Russian Revolution this Bolsheviks were responsible.

In 1914 when the First World war began, Tsar Nicholas II without consulting Duma (the Russian Parliament) had participated in the war. But Russia suffered shocking defeats and it's economy was badly hit. Russia had few industries and the supplies of industrial goods were cut off due to war. Industrial equipments began to disintegrated rapidly, railway lines began to break down. As the able- bodied men were engaged in war, small workshops shutdowns due to labour shortage. Food grains supply also hampered. People faced scarcity of food.

Winter of 1917 made the condition worse . So the workers started a protest against factory lockout. The government imposed curfew . Later the government suspended the Duma . The protest began  sharply . The demonstrators ransacked the police Headquarters and raised slogans demanding about bread , wages , better working hours and democracy. Cavalry and police was called to restrict demonstrators. But soldiers mixed with the striking workers and formed a Soviet (council) , which was called the Petrograd Soviet.

The very next day , the delegates went to see the Tsar the military commanders advised the Tsar to abdicate . The Provincial government was formed ,a constituent assembly was elected by Universal Adult Suffrage. Tsar Nicholas II was finally brought down in 1917.

In this condition Lenin ,the Bolsheviks leader , returned from his exile and declared that 1.the war (the first World war) be brought to a close 2. Land be transferred to the peasants and 3. Banks be nationalised. These three demands were known as the Lenin's April Theses. Bolsheviks party was renamed as Communist Party . Workers and peasants started to support  the Communist Party and movement began , trade unions grew. Seeing the power and influence Provincial government took stern steps to curb Bolsheviks.

Intense conflict between the Provincial government and Bolsheviks grew. Lenin feared that the provisional government would set up dictator ship. So he thought of an uprising . He made a secret plan for seizing power . According to the plan the uprising began  on 24th October 1917. Prime Minister Kerenski left the city. By the night the city had been taken over and ministers had surrendered. All Russian Congress of Soviet in Petrograd approved the Bolsheviks action . By December the Bolsheviks controlled the Moscow - Petrograd area.

Effect of the Revolution

After the Revolution Bolsheviks government took several steps to implement socialism in Russia.

  1. Most of the industries and banks were nationalised
  2. Land was declared social property and peasants were allowed to seize the land of the nobility.
  3. Partition of large houses according to family requirements
  4. Use of old title was banned.
  5. Uniform were designed for the army and officials.
  6. Russia became a one party state.
  7. A process of centralized planning was introduced.
  8. Industrial production increased .
  9. Extended schooling system was developed.
  10. Collectivisation of farms started.


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