Compare and contrast the causes of the 1905 and February/March 1917 revolutions in Russia.

IBDP History HL 2000 Test: Paper III

Whether this question is even legitimate should be the first consideration; it could be argued that the “Revolution of 1905” is a misnomer. The resistance is considered by many to not be a revolution at all because the majority of the masses did not have truly revolutionary aims. A revolution is defined as the “forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favour of a new system.” Most of the so-called “revolutionaries” were primarily concerned with obtaining a better quality of life for themselves rather than the destruction of the entire system. Another weakness of this question is that it has not been unanimously agreed upon that this “revolution” even failed. Of the 1905 Revolution Lenin wrote: “The uprising has begun […] Rivers of blood are flowing, the civil war for freedom is blazing up.” He said that 1905 was but “the beginning of a reaction which is likely to last twenty years,” and the fact that the events of 1905 grew from a strike to a mutiny “over the heads of the organizations” was “the greatest historic gain the Russian revolution achieved.” The czarist government only achieved temporary containment of the ongoing “revolution,” though an ephemeral victory over the uprising masses that they attained through their strategy of repression and the appearance of concession (in order to deepen the already apparent divisions of the opposition). 

Accepting the question’s utilization of the word “revolution” as legitimate, I believe to answer this question one must be aware of the differences between the 1905 and 1917 revolutions that may have led to the firsts failure and the latter’s success. Michael Lynch has said: “The lesson of 1905 was that as long as the tsarist government kept its nerve and the army remained basically loyal, the forces of the opposition would not be strong enough to mount a serious challenge.” Perhaps the crucial difference between the events of the two revolutions is the czar retaining support of the military and other repressive forces aiding preservation of the status quo. In the 1905 Revolution the military largely remained loyal to the czar, with any internal mutinies being repressed by the czar’s Cossack force. The resulting stability of government “enforcers” gave the czar the offensive advantage. Attacks ranged from police savagely beaingt revolting workers’ children to “teach them a lesson” to entire villages being obliterated and thousands of their residents incarcerated in areas of particularly strong peasant uprising. If it was the case that jails lacked space, the peasant “criminals” were simply shot or hanged. Wives and daughters were raped by Cossacks in front of the men. This horrific act in particular shows that the regime’s tactics were not just the means of ending the revolution but of reminding the people that even after their humiliating defeat by Japan, the monarchy remained powerful. After the October Manifesto, the brutality continued as the Okhrana located and arrested the Moscow and St. Petersburg soviets; the Bureau of the Peasant’s Union. Pytor Stolypin utilized the right wing “Black Hundreds” gangs to use violent tactics against protesters. As further proof of the horror of Stolypin’s violent orders, after he executed 2390 people accused of terrorism by hanging, the gallows became known as “Stolypin’s necktie,” a nickname stemming from Kadet Duma member Feuder Rodichev (a comment which he quickly apologized for in order to avoid a duel to the death with Stolypin himself). State imposed terror and fear reinforced czarist aims. This terror experienced by the people is shown in Sergei Eisenstein’s powerful Battleship Potemkin in the Odessa Steps sequence, a fictional addition to the 1905 events in which czarist soldiers brutally murder civilians. The government’s brutal repression tactics could be seen as, to quote Graham Darby, “the key to the regime’s survival.” 

Another vital difference between the two revolutions was the opposition’s lack of organization and/or cooperation. Abraham Ascher said the revolutionaries in many ways were also guilty of the czarist system’s main weakness, stubbornness. This stubbornness prevented the coordination of the revolutionary forces’ resistance. For example, in 1905 the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks, two factions of the Russian Social Democratic Party, competed for control of the Moscow and St. Petersburg soviets. The right-wing liberals disagreed with the radical liberals; the moderate Socialist Revolutionaries disagreed with the radical Socialist Revolutionaries. If infighting wasn’t divisive enough, programs of the political parties were generally failed to represent the Russian people’s wishes, and thus could not garnish sufficient support from the masses to be effective. The Social Democratic Party promoted class struggle that would result in a socialist state, but the majority of the workers, chiefly concerned with receiving better wages, did not understand the party’s revolutionary theories (Lenin would address this problem later with his simple but catchy list of Bolshevik demands: “bread, peace, land!”). Rumors that these factions were intent on staging a Jewish takeover of Russia did little to add to the revolutionaries’ popularity in a historically anti- Semitic country. While most peasants simply desired to divide the larger estates among them, the Socialist Revolutionary Party encouraged land nationalization. The Liberals did not even include social and economic reforms in their program! Consequently the strength of the mutinying masses was not used to its potential, as the forces were not quickly enough organized or properly led (many leaders were in exile), and so the government could suppress each mutiny and each opposing party one by one with the support of his loyal bureaucracy, most of the army, and the nobility.

“The first saviour of the monarchy was Sergei Witte, who was the architect of the October Manifesto” said Christopher Read. He is partially correct: the October Manifesto and its promise of a Duma irreparably split the opposition. The lack of revolutionary zeal in most liberals and peasants was revealed when they accepted the government’s promises for political change with a hope for better times ahead, with only the radical socialists, radical workers, and hungry peasants remaining unappeased. Ascher argues that the peasant’s enthusiastic submission of cahiers demonstrates a faith in the reformative powers of the newly created Duma that proves that these reforms marked the point at which “the word replaced the sword as the main weapon in the struggle between the opposition and the autocracy.” Stolypin subsequently created law that cancelled remaining redemption payments for peasants and, in November 1906, instituted land ownership reforms under Article 87 that would aid peasant households in becoming more independent. These actions significantly helped in bringing about the end of collective resistance. Stolypin and his reforms could thus be said to be the second savior of the monarchy. Or at least temporarily, for by the time of the revolution of 1917 these reforms had been revealed for what they truly were: a sham.

In conclusion, the three main differences between the 1905 and the 1917 revolutions, namely the army’s loyalty, the organization of the opposition, and the people’s faith in government reforms, were the factors that ultimately combined to bring about the temporary suppression of the Russian Revolution.

Example II: Why did the 1905 Revolution fail?

The problem one has with answering this question is determining what a revolution is. This essay, shall consider a revolution being: the overthrowing of a government in order to establish a new leading order. One tends to answer this question with a rather broad and imprecise perspective, when it can simply be responded to, using one word: corruption - being the idea of “dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power”. The query will be analysed in the following text by investigating how the high corruption in Russia in the early 20th century led to the end of the tsarist autocracy, looking at two main points: the leader and the infrastructure.

The first essential reason for the revolution’s failure was the incompetence and corruption of the Russian leader, Tsar Nicholas II. To understand to what extent corruption contributed to the failure of the 1905 revolutions, one can look at the immediate aftermath, following the attempted coup. The fact that the creation of a Duma requires 3 attempts clearly portrays a corrupt state. The key explanation for this idea is the incapability and inexperience of the Tsar. He stuck to conservative concepts of tsarist ideals, which received great opposition from the people. The Menshevik and Bolshevik were the two main movements, leading the population suffering from hunger, various illnesses, and poverty. In this frame of tension was convinced of autocracy being the perfect structure for the Russian governmental system. Being extremely young (26 years old), following a much respected leader (Alexander III) who stated “what I have, I will leave to my son”, led to Nicholas II being very fatalistic. According to Marc Ferro, Nicholas II “reigned but he didn’t rule”. Therefore, his youth and inexperience led to a lot of external influence upon him, being constantly manipulated from his wife Alexandra. The government consisted of corrupt opportunists with good relationships with the Tsar, protecting their own privileges and power. Instead of considering the interests of the country, these were focussed on their personal advantage. One can clearly see, due to the Tsars inexperience, external influence and corruption played a significant role within the Russian government, this is also reflected in Franklin Schiffer’s ‘Nicholas and Alexandra’: “God is too high and the Tsar is too far away” - clearly showing that the Tsar did not play an active role in leading his nation.

Secondly, one often tends to focus too much on the leaders of nations when looking at history, ignoring the actual situation in Russia. Therefore, one needs to look at the corruption involved within the Russian infrastructure and industry. Robert Tucker argues, that the revolution of 1905 failed, due to the lack of an equilibrium within the infrastructure and industry: Russia disposed of great amounts of natural resources, which could not be handled due to undeveloped industry. This is reflected in the soldier equipment of WWI where a Russian soldier received three bullets per day. Within the nation itself, this could only be solved through corruption. There was one railway going from East to West Russia, with a 4000 mile gap (= three days of dogsled) in between, which clearly was inefficient. The mood among the Russian industry and the proletariat is efficiently portrayed in Marine Tsvetaeva’s works of the 20th century, in which corruption is often a key theme and idea. This is indicated in the fact that the revolution itself was initiated by mainly factory workers, fighting for better working conditions, of which about 2.5 million where striking by the end of 1905. Corruption led to disorder, unsafe working conditions, with bad payment and long hours. The lack of infrastructure also led to very inefficient communication throughout the nation, leading to small, local corruption. Concluding, one can understand through the works of Tsvetaeva, and the revolution itself that the corruption within the lack of infrastructure and industry, played a significant role in the cause of the 1905 revolution.

However, it is argued that the revolution of 1905 was firstly not Russian, and secondly actually lasted until 1917. According to Orlando Figes, there was only one Russian revolution of 1905 to 1917, as opposed to two (one in 1905 and the other in 1917), which should not be considered to be a ‘Russian’ revolution, due to the fact that only about 45% of the Russian population was of Russian origins. He sees this time period to be 1 single process, similarly to Schumann arguing that WWI and WWII were one ‘Great War. Furthermore, the majority of the population was actually Georgian, Ukrainian, and other eastern European nations. Therefore, Figes would argue that the revolution of 1905 to 1917 failed due to several reasons, but concluding that it does not matter who you put in which position: “the situation is wrong”. This is supported by Father Gapon’s letter explaining “death was seen as a preferable prolongation of our unbearable suffering”. Both showing how horrific the situation was, and agreeing that it was not events or factors that caused the revolution and its failure but one general, almost unstoppable idea, which one can see as being corruption.

In conclusion, one can see that corruption clearly was the cause of the failure of the revolution of 1905. The most valuable evidence for the role of corruption in the early 20th century is the criminal code, introduced in 1922, in which bribery was interpreted as an illegal act, which could lead to as far as death penalty. It was not due to conservative or revolutionary political ideals, that the revolution failed. A long term and global idea as to the reason of why the revolution failed, is the corruption present within Russia at that time. The corruption, poisoning every aspect of the nation: an already inexperienced and weak leader, a poor infrastructure supplying a rich industry, as well as the uncontrollable geographical size of Russia making communication extremely difficult. Therefore was not only the responsible government corrupt, but every small local aspect was too.

Example III: Why did the 1905 Russian Revolution Fail? 

There are many faults in this question that must be addressed before attempting to answer this query. Firstly this so-called revolution cannot be labelled as Russian, because the Romanov Empire spanning from Europe to Asia had a Russian population of 45% thus making them the minority in this revolution. If this were a fully Russian revolution perhaps it would have been more successful as the vast space between demonstrating crowds as well as ethnic and cultural barriers stood in the way of a mass revolt. More importantly this question labels the demonstrations as a revolution, although revolutions are often, and in the sake of this essay, defined as a change in government and governmental system. Thus this essay will argue that the revolution in 1905 failed, precisely because it was not carried out as a revolution in the first place. 

The reason that the Russian revolution failed is explained by Richard Pipes in a simple quote “the ‘masses’ neither needed nor desired a revolution”. The evidence for this quote lies in Father Gapon’s petition towards the Czar, which he read out in front of the St. Petersburg summer palace on Bloody Sunday. In this announcement he referred to their Czar as “our ruler” and pleaded for his “help”. These words demonstrate that this protest was made in order to improve circumstances for the working class, for example by creating better working conditions and providing a duma. It was not however requesting for the Czar to step down, much in the contrary, people still believed in him as a holy figure and went to him for support. This contradicts the definition of a revolution because the aim of these demonstrations was not to overthrow and change the whole government but rather to make reforms in the already standing government, in other words it was a reformist movement. A reformist movement is defined as a movement that desires gradual changes and not a revolution and this is exactly what Pipes is trying to clarify, that this revolution failed because it was not planned to succeed in the first place. 

However Orlando Figes argues that the 1905 revolution was indeed a revolution, but a revolution that began in 1891 and ended in 1924. This view is also rational as it is supported by many facts. Between 1891-1892 there was a famine in Russia in which triggered half a million deaths, thus Marxism began to flower as people were upset by the way in which this situation was handled by the Czar. During the Czar’s coronation in 1894 when Russians were being trampled to death in the streets as they rushed to receive bread from the ceremony, Nicholas II himself was at a banquette with the French signing the Franco-Russian alliance. This once again stirred up an anti-Czarist emotion in the Russians and Figes argues it kept increase from there. In fact in 1903 the Bolshevik and Menshevik parties had already been formed in London. Furthermore the Russo-Japanese war fed to this anger and dismay with the Czarist regime adding to the tension between the people and their government. “Many of the younger comrades of 1905 were the elders of 1917” says Figes believing that the 1905 revolution to have been transcendental because it prepared the Russian people for the 1917 revolution, such that they knew what bloodshed and violence would be involved. Though Figes’ theory that the 1905 revolution was part of a gradual revolution one must not that Orlando Figes has been proven to have twisted facts, dates and historical events in order to fit his explanations even taking them out of context at times. Therefore it is not certain whether all the facts and explanations he provides in A People’s Tragedy is valid and must be careful before jumping to conclusions based on his work. 

Nonetheless even if we consider this revolution not as a revolution but as a reformist movement, it was still a failure. This point can be proven by the outcomes of this event. In movies such as Fall of Eagles Bloody Sunday is portrayed by masses of workers walking towards the summer palace are presented holding crosses and Jesus figurines, symbols of their faith in god and thus the Romanovs, as they were believed to be god’s representatives. Even so, approximately 1000 of the 200 000 people at the demonstration were cold bloodedly murdered by the Czar’s military. Though these numbers will always remain unclear as do the results of all governmental shootings, it already proves that the movement was a failure as in their aim to receive help from the Czar all they received was bullets and oppression. In addition to this, the requests that they asked for such as 8-hour workdays were not fulfilled neither considered by the government. The only point that was responded to in their petition was the formation of a Duma. Though this was fulfilled for a short period of time, in early 1906 the Czar was able to shut down the Duma, due to its weak position in the monarchical government. Thus, the formation of a Duma though a positive response to the petition it is often not seen as a true reform as the change was reversed in a short period of time and even in the rule of the duma the land owners still had 45 times more voting power than the workers meaning that it was more or less useless for the people who actually fought for it. 

In conclusion, though the 1905 Russian revolution was not by definition Russian nor a revolution, it was definitely a failure because it did not fulfil the aims it set for the Russian government, even if these aims were not a complete change in government.

Example IV: Why did the Revolution of 1905 Fail? 

The revolution in Russia of 1905 was a wave of social unrest and political mass movements a fact which is supported through historian James De Fronzo who states that discontent with the Tsar’s rule was expressed through the “growth of political parties… through industrial strikes for better wages and working conditions, protests and riots among peasants, university demonstrations, and the assassination of government officials"1. It can be argued that the 1905 revolution was little more than outbreaks of rage, with the intention of forcing concessions – this can be seen through Bloody Sunday, the event which sparked the revolution – rather than a proper revolution which aimed to overthrow the Tsar. The fact that 1905 was no proper revolution played a key part in its failing, other factors however, such as the fatal lack of unity and military support also contributed. 

One of the key reasons for the failure of the revolution of 1905 was the lack of military support for the revolutionaries due to their remaining loyal to the Tsar. While mutinies such as on the Potemkin and in Sevastopol, had occurred over the course of the Russo-Japanese War due to the soldiers’ dislike of the war, and as a protest against the horrid conditions in the army, they soon stopped and the army reunited behind the Tsar, after receiving pay and changes to the service conditions. Following this change in the army, the Tsar employed them to fight revolutions and strikes in the cities and later uprisings in the countryside; the Tsar benefited from their willingness to destroy revolts, especially ones like the strike in St. Petersburg which led to the arrest of the leaders of the St. Petersburg Soviet, these including Leon Trotsky and Alexander Parvus, on December 3ed 1905, before they could cause legitimate damage to the Tsar’s regime2. The Tsar’s willingness to rely on such harsh measures to end the revolutionary activities in cities and towns caused them to become less and less, until troops could be spared to be sent around the Russian Empire to restore order by January 1906 – thousands of peasants were found guilty of causing unrest in the countryside, 3394 of which were sentenced to death3. Although strikes and riots were still carried out in the larger cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg many important revolutionaries fled the country in order to escape; on February 18th 1906 new punishments were introduced for those “seeking to undermine government offices and agencies by verbal or written 'inaccuracy'”, which resulted in the arrest of more revolutionaries4. As the army dispersed and weakened Nicholas’ II opposition, it played a key role in the failure of the revolution of 1905. The Tsar’s reign would have been threatened if mutinies like the Potemkin Mutiny in the June of 1905, had succeeded; the army may have turned against the Tsar, if the men returning from Japan had not been loyal to Nicholas due to a strong belief in the Tsar and economic benefits. Had the army joined the revolutions and turned against the Tsar, he would have been overthrown easily, thus making this one of the key aspects contributing to the fail of the revolution.

Another key factor, which caused the failing of the 1905 revolution, was the fact that the Tsar’s opposition was disunited and that the revolution itself lacked a clear leader. It can be argued that if the revolution would have had two strong leaders like in 1917, it could have overthrown the Tsar. It was however, not only this fatal lack of leaders, but also the fact that the regime’s oppositions – the different political parties, the proletarians, middle class, students and general public – failed to unify and cooperate to form an effective opposition. As argued by Richard Pipes, “the ‘masses’ neither needed nor desired a revolution; the only group interested in it was the intelligentsia”5, a fact which can be seen through the drastic ideological differences between different social classes and political groups – this making it nearly impossible for the different groups to work together in a coherent revolution. The Tsar managed to divide his opposition so that the already separated parties had even less common ground, through October Manifesto; the moderate liberals, which wanted to keep the Tsar with limited control over the government, were happy with the promised reforms causing their support for the revolts to diminish. Moreover, the middle class, which had been created through Witte’s industrialization was scared of anarchy – Peter Struve, a Marxist turned liberal, stated “thank God for the Tsar who saved us from the people” after harboring peasants in his home during the revolution of 1905 – this showing the division between different political groups which inevitably contributed to the revolution’s failure6. Additionally, the Tsar’s regime succeeded in splitting the revolutionaries even more through the proposal of a Duma – the alliance of liberals, proletarians and peasants fell apart as every group had different objectives. As a result, the differences between different social groups and parties became clear making collaboration even more difficult. The Tsar also managed to diminish unrests and riots in the countryside by announcing that redemption payments would be reduced and even entirely abolished7. Furthermore, peasant unions were given up on as those who continued fighting where faced with no mercy. Other parties, such as the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, worked together and organized mass strikes in cities which were however, often crushed forcing their leaders to flea, resulting in a lack of commanders on the side of the revolution. As a result, the drastic differences between different political groups and the subsequent lack of unity, in addition with the absence of one strong leader caused the revolution to fail in 1905.

Another problem, which contributed to the failing of the 1905 revolution, was the unrest among different nationalities. The Russian Empire covered nearly 23 million square kilometers, with a population of 128 million people, of which only 45% were ethnic Russian.8 As the governing elite was almost entirely culturally russified, people of different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds were discriminated against and maltreated – Jews and Muslims in particular where shunned and forced to live miserable and circumscribed lives and forbidden to settle or acquire land outside the cities and towns9. As a result, different ethnical groups separated during the revolution – even though they had a common goal, they could not overcome deep-seated prejudices and antagonisms in order to unite. Unrest among different nationalities was also caused through the vast size of the Russian Empire – it was close to impossible to communicate with the 85% of the Russian population living in the center or the east of the empire – and as a result people did not know what was happening in different regions and how the revolution was being carried out there10. Furthermore, nationalistic movements of minorities in the Russian Empire grew steadily to reclaim and revive their culture; Poles especially strived to regain independence, which caused tension between different ethnicities as many did not want to give up the land they owned for a new country to be formed. As a result, the revolution was unstable from the start due to well-established contempt and distrust between different ethical groups with clashing cultures.

In contrast to this, one can however also argue that the revolution of 1905 was no proper revolution at all; the term ‘revolution’ is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as a “forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favour of a new system”, the revolution in Russia initially requested changed to the Tsar’s ruling and did not wish to overthrow him, and as such it did not fail. The people’s outcry for a reform however, also failed as the Duma was soon closed and Fundamental Laws were introduced in 1906, which enabled the Tsar to over-go the Duma. As proposed by Orlando Figes, “…although the regime succeeded in restoring order, it could not hope to put the clock back. 1905 had changed society for good. Many of the younger comrades of 1905 were the elders of 1917. They were inspired by its memory and instructed by its lessons”11 – as such the revolution had never failed, as it set the foundations for the revolution in 1917, which resulted in the collapse of the Romanov Empire, the point of a revolution. Nevertheless, many argue that 1905 was a failed revolution, most notably due to its chaotic nature, a lack of unity on the side of the revolutionaries, distrust between different ethnicities and cultural groups and a strong opposition in form of the army.


1 De Fronzo, James. Revolutions and Revolutionary Moments. Westview Press, 1996. Print. 2 Trotsky, Leon. 1905. Random House, 1972. Print. 3 Fitzpatrick, Sheila. The Russian Revolution. Oxford University Press, 2008. Print. 4 Martin, Claudia. Die Revolution 1905 in Russland. Munich: GRIN Verlag, 2007. Print. 5 Pipes, Richard. The Russian Revolution. Vintage Books, 1991. Print. 6 Lynch, Michael. Access to History: Reaction and Revolution: Russia 1894-1924. 3ed ed. Hachette UK, 2005. Print. 7 Robinson, Geroid T. Rural Russia under the Old Regime. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967. Print. 8 Gaddy, Clifford G., and Fiona Hill. The Siberian Curse: How Communist Planners Left Russia Out in the Cold. Brookings Institution Press, 2003. Print. 9 Harcave, Sidney. The Russian Revolution. Collier Books, 1970. Print. 10 Gaddy, Clifford G., and Fiona Hill. The Siberian Curse: How Communist Planners Left Russia Out in the Cold. Brookings Institution Press, 2003. Print.

Example V: Why Did The Russian Revolution of 1905 Fail?

“Sire! We workers, our children and wives, the helpless old people who are our parents, we have come to you, Sire, to seek justice and protection. We are in great poverty, we are oppressed and weighed down with labours beyond our strength; we are insulted, we are not recognised as human beings, we are treated like slaves who must bear their lot in silence. […] Sire, our strength is at an end! The limit of our patience has been reached: the terrible moment has come for us when it is better to die than to continue suffering intolerable torment. 
With these words, the proletariat of Russia made their debut on the stage of history. 150,000 protesters, holding religious icons, singing hymns (“God save the Tsar! Strong and majestic, Reign for glory, For our glory!”) and led by a priest carrying the above petition were fired upon in their attempt to deliver their demands to the Tsar at the Winter Palace. The escalation of this, according to a member of the Duma Professor Maksim Kovalesky was more than 14,000 executions and 75,000 imprisonments against the protesters. Traditionally, this ‘failure' of the revolution is put down to several key factors, however perhaps one should address the failure of the question. Did the revolution of 1905 truly fail? To fail is to be unsuccessful in achieving one’s goal, and a revolution is a forcible overthrow of a government or social order for a new system. This essay will argue that the goals of the people were met, and that there was no intention of over-throwing the government. Forward as it may sound, the question’s blind assumptions lead it to answer itself. The ‘Russian Revolution’ of 1905 was not Russian, nor was it a revolution, and it can be argued that in fact, it did not fail 

According to popular historical belief, there are several factors which can be attributed to the failure of the Russian Revolution. One such belief stems from one of the assumptions this question makes that is in fact false – that the revolution was ‘Russian’. The Russian Empire was, in a word, vast. It was almost 1/6 of the Earth’s landmass, consisting of more than 100 different ethnic groups. Only 45% of the population was Russian. After the events of Bloody Sunday it was not only the Russians that revolted, but the Empire. By the end of January 1905, over 400,000 workers in Russian Poland were on strike. Other strikes took place in Finland and the Baltic coast. By February strikes had erupted in Caucasus, by April in the Urals and beyond. In such a manner a localised protest in St. Petersburg had spread across the different nationalities of the Russian Empire. It was the Tsar that had connected all these people under the 'Russian Empire', and as they turned from him they turned to fight hard for autonomy. With splits between these nationalities where each fought for different purposes, there was no sense of common purpose or common goal to achieve, and as a result the possible force and might of the empire failed to come together and take power.  

Another issue this question raises is the concept of a ‘revolution'. For example, according to Trotsky, “the events of 1905 were prologue to the two revolutions of 1917… Although with a few broken ribs, tsarism came out of the experience of 1905 alive and strong enough.” However, no one is quite clear as to what they believe the events of 1905 were trying to achieve. There are two types of revolutions according to International Relations expert Neil Davidson – social and political. Political revolutions are struggles within a society for an existing state, but ones that leave the social and economic structure intact. Generally, the class that was in control stay in control (although individuals and political parties may have been replaced), and the class that was exploited remains so. Social revolutions on the other hand result in the complete and total transformation of one type of society into another. From this, it can be clearly seen that the events of 1905 attempted to do neither, but instead were requesting some change in policy. Bloody Sunday, which arguably triggered the event, called not for a new government, or a new political system, but merely for longer working hours, a Duma, and a few other requests. These were not 'revolutionary' demands, they were simple changes in policy that were met with strong resistance by the inflexible Tsar. 

Not only were the events of 1905 not a revolution, but furthermore, they did not fail. Almost all aspects of the 1905 unrest led to the successful social revolution of 1917. It can, and is, argued that the October Manifesto was the true reason the 'revolution' failed. It was so unexpected from the unyielding Tsar that it stopped the 'revolutionaries' in their tracks and led them to accept it, and settle back into their lives. Further evidence of this failure is often produced through what the Tsar did after instigating this Duma - he then undermined his pledge of democracy with Article 87 of the 1906 Fundamental State laws, and then chose to dismiss the first two Dumas when they proved obstinate. These unfulfilled hopes of democracy were, according to historian Martin Frost, the fuel to “revolutionary ideas and violence targeted at the Tsarist regime”. Although Martin Frost claims that 1905 failed, his proposal here is certainly accurate. These slight political and social reforms weakened the Tsar, and left the people blood-hungry for later change. They created the conditions where in 1917 true social revolution could occur. For example, the number of prisoners throughout the Russian Empire (which had peaked at 116,376) fell by over a third to 75,009 in January 1905 as the Tsar granted mass amnesties. S G Wheatcroft has wondered what role these prisoners played in the 1906-1907 social unrest. Although a seemingly small and short term issue, many of the decisions and actions taken during 1905 were vital to the revolution of 1917. In this way it can be seen that the events of 1905 did not fail.

To conclude, one must pose the question to the reader, why do we think it failed? I concede that the Tsar was not overthrown, but that was not the aim. According to Figes “although the regime succeeded in restoring order, it could not hope to put the clock back. 1905 had changed society for good.” Similarly, historian Norman Hapgood said, “from 1905 on, all the conditions have been such that made some kind of revolution inevitable. Agreement between historians in history is a rare thing, but almost all believe that 1905 was vital to 1917. As a result, how can one say that it failed? The events of 1905 were did not completely change society, first of all because they were dealing with the 'Nationality Problem' and second of all because they had no intense of being a revolution. Instead, they were a very important dress rehearsal, without which the revolution could not have succeeded. 

Example VI:

The revolution of 1905 failed to overthrow the Tsarist government and to improve the situation for the people of Russia, for which there are various reasons discussed in this essay. However, to understand the significance of 1905 one has to look at its successes rather than failures. This essay will argue, that although the revolution of 1905 failed in terms of being a revolution, it did not fail to instruct the revolutionaries of 1917.

 One very obvious and significant reason the 1905 revolution failed was because it lacked focus. Several factors played into this. At the time, the Russian Empire dispersed throughout 13 different time zones and consisted of a population of over 120 million people. This population was made up of a variety of ethnic groups, languages and religions, which made Russia a huge multinational state. Inevitably, this caused various tensions and violent confrontations throughout the population. For instance, between 1890 and 1904 the Finnish had an independence movement, revolting against Russian rule. Poland was equally nominally independent but administered by Russia, which resulted in another fight for independence. Also there was a bloody wave of anti-Jewish pogroms between 1903 and 1906. These events show how torn the population of Russia was and how diverse its aims and issues were. Furthermore, looking at the geographical size of the empire and looking back at the fact that it consisted of 13 time zones, how could a revolutionary unity among the people of the Russian Empire possibly be achieved? If there are nomadic tribes in the East and central Asia, continually on the move, while there are Eskimo tribes within the Arctic Circle keeping to themselves, it appears as though controlling the population was impossible. It did not help that the revolution had no apparent leader; although Lenin returned to Russia in 1905, he had lived in Munich and London in the years before, where he could not contribute to revolutionary ideas except through newspapers and pamphlets. 

Another aspect that played into the failure of the revolution was the disagreements over revolutionary ideas and strategies. The revolutionaries were simply divided about how to revolt. Some used violence and political assassinations (a social revolutionary murdered the Tsar’s uncle, General Duke Sergei in February 1905), while others favoured propaganda and debate. This disagreement caused the biggest socialist party, the Social Democrats, to split, forming the Bolsheviks in 1903 under Lenin and the Hanna Wiesenfarth Mensheviks. Although both wanted to overthrow the Tsar and establish a Socialist State, the Bolsheviks wanted to achieve this through small, secret professional membership and a tight control while the Mensheviks supported the idea of mass membership organised within trade unions. However, not all revolutionaries agreed with Lenin and Martov’s political programme. The Liberals supported the idea to keep the Tsar but limit his powers by introducing a democratically elected parliament, while many peasants’ attitude towards monarchy was far from hostile; some referred to the Tsar as “Papa”, which suggests they did not consider revolting against him at all. This shows, not only was Russia loose and divided within its population, but also did its people disagree about what they wanted to achieve through a revolution. Some wanted to get rid of the Tsar, others simply wanted a say. However, looking at the different aims the revolutionaries had, one has to ask oneself: what is a revolution? Looking at Libya, Egypt and Syria today, I believe a revolution is when a current form of government is overthrown, when there is a complete change. If half of the Russian population merely demanded reforms and more rights, was the revolution not bound to fail? A revolution would have required stronger, more powerful appeals to spark successfully, which the divided population could not give enough of, implied by the points above. This raises the question of whether 1905 was in fact a revolution, or merely a series of riots and upheavals. 

The popular demand for reform lead the Tsar to introduce the “October Manifesto” on October 17th 1905. This provided the Russian people with an elected parliament, which could prevent new laws from being passed, freedom of speech, the right to form political groups and created laws on the press as well as an assembly law, which allowed public meetings. The workers called off their general strike immediately, allowing the Tsar to come down hard on leading socialists, hence, restoring order. This involved 3,349 people being sentenced to death. Lenin fled to exile once more. Unfortunately the manifesto did not give any of the Tsar’s powers away; he could dismiss the Duma if he wanted, create a State Council, which would stop laws that were proposed in the Duma and he could select government ministers, instead of the Duma. In short, nothing had changed. The Tsar had simply appeased the workers, to ease the situation and make it possible for him to bring an end to rioting within three years. This leads back to my previous point. It appears as though the revolution could not have succeeded, simply because its people were unclear about the aims and were satisfied by the Tsar’s Hanna Wiesenfarth compromise. Furthermore, comparing the 1905 revolution to the successful revolution of 1917, it did not have a backbone as the army was with the Tsar, whereas in 1917, the army was with the revolution. Looking at “Bloody Sunday”, January 9th 1905, where 150,000 peaceful protestors marched to the Winter Palace and 200 were killed within minutes, shows that a fully equipped army will always emerge as the victor against unarmed and poor people. Many revolutions in history could not have been possible without aggression. One simply needs to remember Mandela’s call for violent uprisings during the Apartheid Regime in South Africa, to see that without armed forces, revolutionaries hardly ever stand a chance. Also referring back to Libya, one can see that without violence the government could never have been overthrown, seeing as Gaddafi’s rule was ended by a military operation. History has shown that, unfortunately, revolutions of such an enormous scale are most successful when strengthened by armed forces, which was not the case in Russia in 1905. 

However, the problem I have with the question is that it fails to acknowledge that the revolution may not have been a complete failure after all. Historian Orlando Figes argues that in fact, it set an important foundation for the revolution of 1917 to succeed. “…although the regime succeeded in restoring order, it could not hope to put the clock back. 1905 had changed society for good. Many of the younger comrades of 1905 were the elders of 1917. They were inspired by its memory and instructed by its lessons” Through this, Figes shows how the 1905 revolution could possibly be seen as a vitally significant pre-stage to 1917. Hence, one could argue that 1905 was a series of riots and upheavals, which gave the Russian people important experiences and lead them to start a real revolution successfully. One can see that this significantly increases the importance of 1905 and that perhaps, although it did not succeed in terms of changing the government and enforcing new laws, the revolution successfully created an important path leading towards the so desired change. 

Therefore, one can argue that the 1905 revolution did not succeed due to instability and weakness of revolutionary forces, geographical disadvantages and the clash of over 150 nationalities and languages. Furthermore, a failure was inevitable as the aims were unclear and revolutionaries were divided among each other. Thus, 1905 as a revolution failed, however in terms of the lessons and experiences it created, it could be seen as a success, rather than a failure. 

Why did the Revolution of 1905 Fail?

 Prior to answering this, the term “revolution” must be clarified for the question pre-supposes that the revolution of 1905 failed. In the Oxford Dictionary the definition for revolution is „ A forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favour of a new system“. There was some change, albeit limited, resulting from the revolutionary events of 1905, for the government moved away from an absolutist rule and towards a constitution. However the Tsar was still in place and many people unhappy. The “revolution” did not lead to a long lasting and satisfying change. This essay will be concerned with the reasons for which the “revolution” was not effective. 

Most historians agree that the way in which the revolution was lead and the fact that it was spontaneous, are key factors for its failure. Abraham Asher, for example, draws attention to the revolutionaries not having any experience in the political field. He writes, “The lack of political maturity among all social groups undermined every endeavour to reach a reasonable solution.” This is surely true. Moreover, in “A people’s tragedy”, Figes states, “the strikes were not really organized; they were more like a spontaneous outburst of anger; and the workers demands were often not even formulated till after the strike had begun. The socialist parties were still much too weak to play a leading role”. This quote contains even more of the reasons for which the revolution could have failed. To begin with it supports the argument that the revolution was very spontaneous and stretched out over a long period of time. Next Figes argues that reasons for the revolution were mainly the revolutionaries wanting to be violent as a display of their anger towards the rich. It seems the revolution was only a culmination of feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction with the Romanov dynasty. The revolutionaries acting in a violent and undiplomatic way in fact made it harder for their parties to advance along a productive path. The next point is that the different groups of revolutionaries and later parties had a wide range of very different opinions and all wanted a different kind of reform. They were not coordinated enough to act at the same time and this way form a strong unit, which could overthrow the government. The revolutionaries did simply not manage to set the threat of a systematic attack or have a clear aim. Lastly the revolution lacked in leadership and management. Evidence for this are leaders like Lenin, Martov, Trotsky, Plekhanov and Chernov that remained in exile instead of stepping in even if this meant a harsh and difficult life in Russia. While the revolutionary forces suffered from a lack of organisation and leadership, it was clearly an important factor in the Tsar’s favour that he could count on the support of the Russian army, for they stayed loyal to him, supporting his regime by terrorising the revolutionising population. It was only during the revolution of 1917, that the soldier’s faith in Nicholas II started faltering and they turned against him. In 1905 however, they were still completely on his side. This thesis is proven in the fact that the army fully supported the Tsar’s will in combating the uprisings and revolts that followed the “Bloody Sunday Massacre”. Even after returning from the Russo-Japanese War, which they had lost, the army was willing to side with the Tsar against the revolution and from January to October 1905 the Russian military silenced 2,700
peasant uprisings. Having the army’s support was an immense advantage for the government in the 1905 revolution because the opposition could simply not match the army’s weaponry and organisation. The military siding with the government meant that all the force and power they needed in crushing demonstrations, strikes and uprisings, were at their disposition. Whilst the “October Manifesto” seemed as if Nicholas II was making a concession it is arguable that it actually played into the hands of the government. Over half a year after the “Bloody Sunday Massacre” and what is sometimes referred to as the start of the revolution Nicholas II finally acknowledged the revolution as well as the demands of the Russian population and allowed there to be a parliament or “Duma” and a “constitution” which was announced in the from of the “October Manifesto”. As Figes puts it “ The Manifesto’s proclamation was met with jubilation in the streets”. Even though this “constitution” could be seen as giving in to the revolutionaries, it turned out to actually be an advantage to the government. For the Tsar, the new “constitution” did not make any big promises and was not something that he planned to adhere by. For the people this was the first real step towards a reform and caused great excitement. In the words of a liberal, quoted in “A People’s Tragedy“, “the whole country buzzed like a huge garden full of bee’s on a hot summers day”. So, the “October Manifesto” can actually be counted as a reason for the failure of the 1905 revolution. As said before, with this “timely concession” the Tsar was setting up a great advantage for himself. Firstly, he was gaining time by satisfying the majority of the population. Secondly, the because of the diversity of parties, the revolutionaries agreed to different parts of the new “constitution”. This meant that it split the revolutionaries. There was now no longer one big, mass of people but different “parties”. The “parties” were obviously a much easier target for the government to proceed against. Finally, however, the “October Manifesto” enabled the government to stay flexible. It was now in a position from which it could easily move between reform and repression. The loyalty of the army to the Tsar, the spontaneity of the revolution and lack in leadership on the side of the revolutionaries, as well as the ways in which the “October Manifesto” lured the revolutionaries into a false understanding of what the Russian government meant by “constitution”, all contributed to the Tsar being able to hold his position as absolute ruler. In this respect, the revolution can be seen as a failure for the revolutionaries. However, there were also elements of success for the revolutionary forces. The Tsar had only a limited rule and could no longer force his old fashioned and autocratic policies onto the Russian population with ease. The Revolutionaries themselves had gained experience and would now be able to confront the opposition in a politically strong and successful way. To conclude with, I think that Lenin referring to the “revolution “ as a “dress rehearsal” describes the situation very well. The 1905 “revolution” was what the Russian population needed for a positive result in the revolution of 1917

Why Did the Revolution of 1905 Fail? 

It is important to note that this question is contentious for a couple of reasons. First, it is unclear whether or not the 1905 Russian revolution was even a failure. When the workers and middle class of St. Petersburg took to the streets in protest, they demanded that two main points should be met by the Tsarist regime. First, they wanted radical social reforms to help guarantee the safety and well-being of the Russian factory workers. This included demands for an 8 hour working week, amongst others. The second major demand made during the 1905 revolution was the creation of an elected parliament, known as a Duma, so as to take some of the political power away from the autocratic Tsar and have it given to the people. By October 30th, 1905, the Tsar had passed the October Manifesto, a precursor to Russia’s first constitution, that granted basic civil rights to the people as well as created the Duma and stated that no law shall be passed without the consent of the Duma. This indicates that by October, the two main demands that the protestors had made in January had been fulfilled, although it could be argued that the Tsars social reforms were nowhere near as radical as had been suggested. The second reason why this question is contentious is because there is widespread debate as to whether the 1905 revolution was a revolution at all. The commonly agreed definition of a revolution is a “forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favour of a new system”. While on the one hand it is true that the so called revolutionaries were looking for a new system to replace the old, they were looking to achieve this through appeals to the existing government as opposed to its forcible overthrow. Thus it can be argued that the 1905 revolution was not so much a revolution as a series of mass protests. Other historians counter this by saying that although the masses may not have initially wanted to replace the Tsarist regime, there was even in 1905 a revolutionary undertone, as reflected by Leon Trotsky in his account of the so-called revolution, published in 1909, where he states that “the power still has to be snatched from the hands of the old rulers… a general strike only creates the necessary preconditions; it is inadequate for achieving the task itself.” While this may be an isolated view and may only provide a narrow focus on the events of 1905, this quote clearly shows that some Russians did indeed seek to take these protests further and turn them into a revolution. 

Accepting, however, that there was a “revolution” in 1905 and that it failed, in that the Tsar was able to retain most of his political end economic influence, one of the main reasons why this “failure” occurred would be that the army and in particular the Cossacks, unlike in 1917, had remained loyal to the regime. During the aftermath of the disastrous Russo-Japanese war, various sections of the Russian army, perhaps most notably on the Battleship the “Potemkin”, mutinied against orders from St. Petersburg. This apparent unrest may have spurred revolutionary factors throughout Russia on to wards the 1905 revolution, believing that the internal conflicts in the Russian military might cause them to be less inclined to follow the orders of the Tsarist government. This did not prove to be the case. As argued by the revisionist historian Orlando Figes, who, it is important to note is very selective in his facts when supporting his very opinionated arguments; “the only way, they argued, to prevent a revolution was to rule Russia with an iron hand”. This is indicative of Tsar Nicholas II initial Jonathan White response to the mass protests sweeping , where he uses his military to try to disperse the mass protests. The best known and perhaps most historically significant example of this was Bloody Sunday, where a large mass of workers peacefully marched, led by Father Gapon, to the gates of the Tsar’s palace to make their demands for their civil rights, only to be dispersed (massacred) through the usage of live ammunition by the loyal Cossack garrison stationed there. Although it is argued by Robert K. Massie that this massacre was done without the knowledge of the Tsar, it is important to consider that he published his book, “Nicholas and Alexandra”, before the opening of Soviet archives in 1991, and since then the common view has been accepted that the Tsar was directly involved in the massacre of an unknown quantity of peaceful protestors. Thus, it can be seen that the fact that the army remained loyal to the Tsar despite internal conflicts allowed the Tsar to suppress the uprisings through the usage of police violence, as seen on Bloody Sunday. This contrasts with the successful revolutions of 1917, where the military, particularly the Cossacks, to some extent betrayed the Tsar and sided with the rebellious factions. 

A second reason for the failure of the 1905 revolution lies in the weaknesses of its conception. The 1905 revolution was very spontaneous in its nature. It started through the agreement of workers throughout St. Petersburg and, eventually, Russia, to cease working all at once in a show of solidarity against the Tsar. This resulted in there not being one single motivation or group to lead this so-called revolution. Indeed, the protests consisted of multiple different groups and showed little evidence of effective leadership. Many of the figures associated with the Russian revolution of 1917 were, in Lenin’s case, abroad, or, as in Trotsky’s case, were still only minor members with marginal influence. As a result, although there was a common theme to the protests, the riots themselves were organised and led by many different professional and amateur political groups with minimal communication between them. This caused various disparate groups to conflict with one another, allowing for a weakness in the revolutionary movement that the Tsar can exploit through the dividing of his opposition. One clear dividing factor was the nationalism and the resulting civil unrest this caused in Russia during 1905. Of the Russian empire, only 40% of its population were ethnically Russian. As many of the ethnic minorities were harshly discriminated against and were held in contempt by the Russians, this resulted in various nationalist movements, especially in Poland. This translated during the 1905 revolution into the creation of rifts between rebellious factions of various different nationalities, thus greatly weakening the revolutionary movement. This weakness was recognised by Lenin in 1916, just prior to his revolution, where he states in a letter that the “International unity of the workers is more important than the national” implying that he recognises that only through the unifying of the various ethnic groups of workers could he succeed in his revolution. 

The final reason why Tsar Nicholas II was able to retain so much power following the 1905 revolution was through the use of the October Manifesto. Through the concessions that the Tsar made within the manifesto, the regime was able to satisfy some of the revolutionaries, buy off others and alienate the rest, thus effectively causing the revolution to be broken up. The key to the Jonathan White October Manifesto was the creation of the Duma. Through the creation of an elected parliament, the Tsarist regime was able to satisfy the demands of the moderate-liberals, who had sought to gain influence over foreign policy due to their great dissatisfaction with the Tsar’s policies during the catastrophic Russo-Japanese war. By stating that the Duma could control which laws got passed or not, the Tsar appeared to be giving consent to the demands of the middle class moderate-liberals who had been at the forefront of the organisation of the riots throughout 1905. In truth, however, the Tsar was able to retain most of his influence and power simply by later restricting the ability of the Duma to act effectively. In 1906, the Tsar passed the Fundamental Law of the Empire, which stated, “The Emperor of All Russia has supreme autocratic power.” This law allowed the Tsar to reserve the right to act in various key areas, such as declaring war, free from the influence of the Duma, thus rendering it pointless. Indeed, if the Tsar did find the Duma to be obstructive, he could then just dissolve it, as he did in July, 1906. By 1906, it was clear that the creation of the Duma, which had initially satisfied the wishes of the moderate-liberals and middle class, was an empty promise of power, although by the time the former revolutionaries had realised this, the revolution was over. The other half of the October Manifesto guaranteed civil rights including “real personal inviolability, freedom of conscience, speech, assembly and association”. Following the break-up of the makeshift alliance between peasants, workers and the liberals due to the proposing of the Duma, this granting of civil rights along with offers of money and land allowed the Tsar to buy off most of the peasant and workers. Those who remained were regarded as revolutionaries and were suppressed in St Petersburg and Moscow by the troops loyal to the Tsar who had returned from fighting against Japan. Thus, it can be seen that the terms held within the October Manifesto allowed the Tsar to split up the revolutionaries, satisfying some, buying the loyalty of others and then using brute force to suppress what remained. 

To conclude, the so called 1905 revolution was considered to be a failure as the Tsar emerged, as stated by Trotsky, despite “a few broken ribs… alive and strong enough.” The Tsar was able to retain his power and influence through the loyalty of his armed forces, in particular the Cossacks, allowing him to respond with deadly force, the disorganisation and fractured nature of the revolutionary movement in 1905 and through the clever use of the October Manifesto, with which he breaks up the rebellious factions. Despite the Tsar remaining in a powerful position, the 1905 revolution was by no means a complete failure, as it was, as Trotsky puts it, “A dress rehearsal [for the Bolsheviks] for the real revolution in 1917.”  


Why the Russian Revolution of 1905 Failed

The Russian Revolution of 1905 was a misguided and disordered struggle of the people for rights that only ended in thousands dead. Lionel Kochan refers to it as the stepping-stone to the greater revolution of 1917, in his book Russia In Revolution 1890-1918, however it was undoubtedly a tragic failure for the citizens of Russia, whether it led to greater events or not. Its downfall was due to three main factors, a lack of organization and leaders, no military support and the appeasement of the people by the Tsar Nicholas II. These factors took away the power and strength of the revolution, diminishing the force of the people to nothing more than a bug under the foot of the Tsar waiting to be crushed.

The lack of organization of the rebellion was detrimental to the success of the people and was one of the main components for its failure. Although there were a very large number of citizens who rose up, there were no formal leaders to guide them in the slightest. The most committed and devoted revolutionaries weren’t even in Moscow or St. Petersburg at the time; they were completely absent from the beginning, like Lenin who only returned in December from exile. The division between the separate revolutionary parties contributed to this absence of leadership. The breaking up of the people between the social-revolutionaries, Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks left no tangible leaders to take charge and co-ordinate planned events or rebellions. Instead, the people were forced to take action themselves, a series of weak and clumsy acts that lead to only defeat. The greatest example of this is Bloody Sunday, January 22nd 1905, the massacre of the people on the steps of the Tsar’s Winter Palace. The only leader being Father Gappon, the people marched to present a petition requesting higher wages, shorter working hours, as well as an end to the Russo-Japanese war and universal suffrage. The Tsar never saw this petition however, and the protesters were immediately gunned down and killed. Its greatest failure was the lack of strategy; their only planning was that the Tsar would accept their petition and terms. Their approach was so un-revolutionary that the Tsar could turn them down as easily as swatting away a fly. With no efficient leadership in command the crowd turned to chaos, stampeding down the steps and trampling those who were unfortunate enough to come in their way. The figures of the dead range from 4,000 killed to 1,000 depending on the source, yet it is undeniable that the day was a tragic misadventure that failed mostly due to the fact that there was no leadership or organization of the people whatsoever. The first sign of violence and the whole crowd turned to chaos. This was only the beginning of a series of missteps, as the people had no unification. They were all only rebelling for their common hatred of the Tsar; they shared little to no views and didn’t have a single party to lead them. Their actions, for example the rebellion of the peasants and the mutiny of the workers, were not organized or coordinated at all between them, and thus were inefficient in combining forces, something that was necessary for a revolution at the time. Without a proper leader or unified party, there was no organization, and without organization there could be no revolution.

The support of the army is vital to the life force of any revolution. Although it is not necessary for the entirety of the army to turn themselves against the government in a grand revolt for power, it is critical that there is a degree of disloyalty in the military for any amount of success. However this was exactly the opposite in the revolution, instead of turning against their leaders or even anything remotely close to disobedience they remained incredibly loyal, crushing the force of the revolutionaries. Any mutinies that arose were smaller and were immediately stamped out by the more loyal troops to the Tsar. This restricted the mutinies from growing and spreading, destroying any chance of military support. The staunchest of the soldiers were responsible for the killing of any resistance. Thousands were killed mercilessly while many more were exiled to Siberia, something that would not be possible without the devoted and always dutiful service of the soldiers. With a fraction more resistance from the army perhaps the resistance would have been given a chance, however instead the army stayed true. A constantly overwhelming sense of fear was instilled in all those who dared rebel, and for any of those foolish enough to, the punishments were carried out without hesitation. The army didn’t just stop there, villages were destroyed in areas of revolt and reports came forward of woman being brutally raped. There are estimates of approximately 15,000 rebels shot or wounded during the rebellion with many more wounded or exiled. As Michael Lynch states, “The lesson of 1905 was that as long as the Tsar’s government kept its nerve and the army remained basically loyal, the forces of the opposition would not be strong enough to mount a serious challenge.” If perhaps the army hadn’t stayed so steadfast to the Tsar then the people would have been given a chance to resist, sadly to the loss of the rebels this was not the case and the people of Russia suffered greatly for it. With such a devoted army in truth the rebellion was lost before it had begun.

From the outright the true intentions of the rebellion were not very revolutionary, raising the question if it was truly one at all? However if we accept that it was in fact a revolution then it is blatant that the demands of the people were easy to satisfy with only a small amount of effort on the part of the government. The Tsar’s method of appeasement was one of the most effective and largest contributors to the conclusion of the rebellion. In November it was decided to issue the Peasant’s Manifesto, in order to put an end to the last of the resistance. All redemption payments were to be cancelled, corporal punishment was to be outlawed and all pre-existing tax debts were to be removed. Also, peasants weren’t to be restricted from leaving any more and the Peasant Land Bank was permitted to issue loans, allowing the peasants to purchase more land. These were important steps forward for the people in terms of rights, but it wasn’t close to what could have been gained from a revolution and not nearly enough to genuinely satisfy them in the long-term. The goals of the people had been lost sight of and the Tsar received exactly what he wanted, the return of the support of the peasants. The majority of the peasants became so fixated by the small amount of progress they had made that the big picture was lost on them. Even if this support was temporary, as soon as the last remaining pieces of resistance turned to the Tsar it marked the end of the rebellion. The appeasement through the Peasant’s Manifesto was the killing blow to the dying beast of the revolution.

The revolution of 1905 was a tragic blow to the people of Russia, a tantrum of death and chaos that made baby steps of progress in a time when the citizens needed leaps. It was a mess of random protests and mutinies with no clear strategy or goals. The people were doomed before they even rebelled, overpowered by the threat of the army and eager to take any scraps of progress offered to them. To call this endeavor a revolution is almost a mockery of the word for it achieved nothing revolutionary. It acted as the metaphorical boost up to the greater revolution of 1917, providing the foundation for the future at the price of a cataclysmic failure at the time.

Example 2:

Many conflicting arguments are proposed about the success or failure of the Russian Revolution of 1905. Workers strikes, revolts by the navy and student walkouts from universities took place, whilst lawyers, doctors, engineers and other middle class workers established the Union of Unions demanding an assembly in which they had representation. This essay will argue that the initial approach by the peasants to Tsar Nicholas II was a reasonable attempt at improving their conditions. The October Manifesto and the subsequent creation of the Duma was indeed a small step forward for their rights, but in 1905 the Tsar’s power, backed up by a strong military, was insurmountable for the peasants and workers in 1905.

In 1903 a priest, Father Georgi Gapon, had formed the “Assembly of Russian Workers” in response to the failed attempt by workers to form trade unions. In 1905 Father Gapon, as the leader of the so-called “revolution”, gathered some 1,500 workers to make a personal appeal to Nicholas II. The fundamental aims were encapsulated in the petition that they wanted to present to the Tsar. The conditions set forth by the workers included a working day of eight hours (previously the average working day was 11 hours on weekdays and 10 hours on Saturdays), increased wages and improved working conditions.[1] The demand that the Tsar “destroy the wall between yourself and your people” was extremely reasonable and definitely did not warrant the response received from the military on January 22nd (January 9th, Old Style) 1905; a response that has gone down in history as “Bloody Sunday”. When the procession of workers reached the Winter Palace in St Petersburg Nicholas’s forces opened fire. There is no confirmed death toll however the government announced it to be less than 100. This is probably just as inaccurate as the counter-rumours that thousands had died. It is however believed that soldiers discarded a large number of bodies to falsify the actual amount of people killed.[2] Nevertheless the demonstration by the workers could hardly be called a “revolution”; it was merely a reasonably appeal for Nicholas’s sympathy and support.

What happened in 1905 did not fail. Although the initial protest and subsequent strikes did not achieve all that they hoped for Nicholas did create the October Manifesto, a liberal scheme proposed by Sergei Witte. This document granted the people some of the basic civil liberties and rights for which they had been petitioning.[3] The document introduced the concept of a Duma, which was offered to give the Russian citizens a voice in the government. However Nicholas then created a second upper chamber, neutralizing the Duma’s supposed power. The first Duma met in 1906 but only sat for a few weeks before the Tsar eventually disbanded it.[4] Even though the series of Duma’s did not fulfill all the aims of the peasants they were an important part of the progress towards the 1917 revolution. In 1930, when in exile, Leon Trotsky confirmed this, writing in his history of the Russian Revolution that, “the events of 1905 were a majestic prologue to the revolutionary drama of 1917.”[5] Once again this supports the argument that 1905 was not a failure, but rather a step towards eventual success.

The power of the Tsar’s military in 1905 also impeded any success. By December 1905, after the failure in the Russo-Japanese War, troops had returned to Russia. These troops were loyal to Nicholas and helped dismantle the St Petersburg Soviet, a worker’s council designed to coordinate worker’s strikes, and of which Trotsky was a member. On December 3rd members of the St Petersburg Soviet were arrested “en masse”. In late October mutinies had taken place in Kronstadt and Vladivostock and in November the telephone/telegraph workers were striking. Finally in December with the rebels and militias attempting to take the city by force in the Moscow Uprising the Tsar called in the police and the army across all of Russia to crush any dissent.[6] In his 1925 silent film “Battleship Potemkin”, in which the Cossacks brutally murder anyone in their path, Eisenstein portrays the military as not only powerful, but also barbaric. If what is shown in his film is a true representation of Nicholas’s military, then it would have been very difficult for any peaceful demonstration to be successful. The army was too cruel and powerful for the worker’s, which is why it took until 1917 for a genuine revolution to take place.

To conclude, the events that occurred in 1905 were not a revolution. A revolution is defined as, “an overthrow or repudiation and the thorough replacement of an established government or political system by the people governed.”[7] The workers were not trying to overthrow Nicholas at the start of 1905, but were rather demanding better working conditions. They could have achieved this through the Duma, which was agreed in October, however Nicholas never actually allowed the Duma to be successful. This and the power of the military managed to hold back the workers until tensions reached breaking point in 1917, and the workers finally got what they wanted. In essence the happenings of 1905 were merely a dress rehearsal for the revolution of 1917.

[1] Simkin, John. "1905 Russian Revolution." Spartacus Educational. N.p., Sept. 1997. Web. 27 Oct. 2015. .

[2] Trueman, C. N. "The 1905 Russian Revolution." History Learning Site. N.p., 22 May 2015. Web. 27 Oct. 2015. .

[3] Bowman, Corianne. "The 1905 Revolution." Then Again. N.p., 12 Sept. 2003. Web. 27 Oct. 2015. .

[4] "October Manifesto | Russia [1905]." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 13 Mar. 2014. Web. 27 Oct. 2015. .

[5] "Trotsky on the Failure of the 1905 Revolution (1930)." Alpha History. N.p., 12 Dec. 2012. Web. 27 Oct. 2015. .

[6] "Timeline of the Russian Revolutions: 1905." Education. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2015. .

[7], n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2015. .


Why did the 1905 Russian Revolution fail?

“The monarchy survived the revolutions of 1905 by a mixture of concessions and repressions”- Michael Lynch[1]. This quote by Michael Lynch, clearly demonstrates the two main reasons for the failure of the 1905 Russian Revolutions to overthrow the government. The first main reason is that the military remained loyal to the tsarist regime and successfully repressed any strikes and protest. The second main reason is that the Tsar did make some concessions to the people, which divided the revolutionary parties. Another factor contributing to the failure of the revolution was the lack of revolutionaries, and therefore leadership and organization (excluding Trotsky who emerged as leader of the St. Petersburg Soviet).

Even though it took nearly a full year, the Tsarist government managed to suppress all revolutionary activity through the use of the army. Revolutionary actions simply weren’t possible even Mutinies within the army were brutally repressed by Cossack troops loyal to Nicholas II1. Graham Darby believes “The key to the regime’s survival of course, was its use of repression and undoubtedly the loyalty of the army” which is exemplified by the fact that 15,000 people were executed, shot or wounded at least 20,000 and deported or exiled 45,000 between mid-October and the opening of the first State Duma in April 1906[2]. The ruthless nature, the disposition to use brutal force terrified the people into submission. Military support plays a major role in a revolution, without military support the Russian revolution in 1917 succeeded, and this tendency for revolutions to fail if the military stays loyal to the ruling regime is exhibited in modern examples[3]. All revolutions during the Arab Sting only succeeded if the military didn’t remain loyal to the dictator in respective nations. This is why the Syrian revolution has been unsuccessful until now is that the military remains loyal to Assad. With superior weaponry and organization the Syrian Military has for over 4 years prevented Syrian rebels seizing full control of the country. The Syrian government has also adopted a similar strategy to the Tsarist regime, by execution people leading these revolutions to attempt to prevent organization being instigated into the rebel party. In the Russian revolution it is also important to recognize the role of the Black Hundreds, who were right wing forced who emerged after the October Manifesto to defend the Monarchy. During November and December they attacked not only revolutionists, but also students, nationalist Poles and Finns, but most importantly Jews. It is vital to recognize the Jews as a prominent component amongst the revolutionary parties. These actions tie into my next point, the lack of leadership.   

The issue is that committed revolutionaries played little to no part in the 1905 revolution. Hardly any of them were present in St. Petersburg or Moscow when it began; even Lenin failed to return until December 1905. Lack of clear leadership is fatal to a revolution. This Aristotelian Perspective is explained by Kevin Morrell through this quote; “The strength of the working class is organization. Without organization of the masses, the proletariat is nothing. Organized it is everything. Being organized means unity of action, the unity of practical activity[4].” During the Russian revolution of 1905 there was no unity between political ideals and methods to achieve this revolutions. The various opposition movements such as the workers, mutinies in the armed services, the urban public and notional independence movements failed to combine politically which made it easier for the Tsar to divide and defeat each separate movement in their isolation even though they all hoped to improve conditions of workers and introduce a more influential Duma. It is possible had more revolutionaries played a larger role in this revolution, that it could have achieved the desired aims of the opposition movements. The clear lack of definitive leadership and co-ordination between movements weakened the impact of the revolution. This point is based on the great man theory popularized by Thomas Carlyle who believes that highly influential individuals utilized their power in a way that had a decisive historical impact. In this case the lack of definitive leaders prevented the proletariat from being utilized to make an impact[5]. The Tsarist regime also made sure no leaders emerged from this revolution by constantly executing and exiling any prominent figured in any of the opposition movement. This meant the revolution couldn’t gain an exclusive, organized style that Lenin stressed the importance of in the 1917 revolutions.

“There were only two ways open … to find an energetic solder and crush the rebellion by sheer force. There would be time to breathe then but, as likely as not, one would have to use force again in a few months; that would mean rivers of blood and in the end we should be where we had started [and with] no possibility of progress achieved. The other way out would be to give the people their civil rights, freedom of speech and press, also to have all laws confirmed by a State Duma [and] a constitution.” This was the Tsars Proclamation when he presented the October Manifesto. The Manifesto itself had no constitutional effect or legal binding; it was simply a statement of promise and intent. This Manifesto suggested reform in the core areas: the election of a state Duma and civil rights and freedoms of all people.  The vagueness of these promises was so that the Tsar wouldn’t actually accomplish the promises he makes. The object of the manifesto however was achieved as it provided a rallying point for less radical elements in the opposition[6]. It split the opposition by placating moderate liberals. After the Manifesto was presented a significant portion of the workers were also satisfied and returned to their jobs. Their was a group ‘the Octobrists’ whose goal was to ensure the Tsar would actually ratify the manifesto and ensure Nicholas II eventually fulfilled the terms in the Manifesto, however this group lost popularity quickly and eventually became negligible[7]. So Nicholas managed to placate a large number of the rebelling people and divide the factions of the rebellion, before suppressing each faction individually, in a divide and conquer fashion.
   There are many factors contributing to why the 1905 Russian Revolution failed, one argument is that it wasn’t even a proper revolution. A revolution is defined as “a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favour of a new system.[8]” And since the people on many protests such as the bloody Sunday actually went to appease to the Tsar, the term revolution does not apply. Even though a lot of strikes were performed, they do not count as a forcible overthrow, and again are therefore not revolutionary acts. Since the Russian revolution could be considered not to be a revolution at all; bearing in mind no one was attempting to forcibly overthrow the Tsar, this could show why they failed to gain the civil rights they wanted. Furthermore one could argue that the ’Russian Revolution’ was not Russian. This ‘Revolution’ consisted on nationalist Poles and Finns, but a main sector of the revolution was Jewish. While there was some protesting from Russian’s (mainly working class and students) one could argue that that it was a Jewish or nationalistic movement[9].  However I believe the main reasons this revolution failed is because of the concessions Nicholas II had made. While the military played a huge role in suppressing revolution and clearly played a major role, if the October Manifesto had not been presented, the revolution could quickly have engulfed more Russian people. Vladimir Lenin himself said” A revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation[10]”, and the Tsar, by placating the peasants with the manifesto managed to remove the revolutionary situation, thus making revolution itself unachievable.  

[1] "Why Did the Revolution of 1905 Fail to Topple the Tsar?" (n.d.): n. pag. 2013. Web. 7 Nov. 2015.
[2] Lynch, Micheal. "Why Did Nicholas II Survive the 1905 Revolution?" Schoolshistorycom. Hodder Arnold H&S, 01 June 2010. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
[3] "Why Did the 1905 Revolution Fail to Overthrow the Tsarist Regime? - A-Level History - Marked by" Why Did the 1905 Revolution Fail to Overthrow the Tsarist Regime? - A-Level History - Marked by Marked by Teachers, n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
[4] "Lenin: Party Discipline and the Fight Against the Pro-Cadet Social-Democrats." Lenin: Party Discipline and the Fight Against the Pro-Cadet Social-Democrats. Marxists Internet Archive, 2004. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
[5] Why Did the 1905 Revolution Fail to Overthrow the Tsarist Regime? BBC, 21 Nov. 2013. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
[6] "H.6 Why Did the Russian Revolution Fail?" Why Did the Russian Revolution Fail. Anarchist Writers, 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
[7] Lynch, Micheal. "Why Did Nicholas II Survive the 1905 Revolution?" Schoolshistorycom. Hodder Arnold H&S, 01 June 2010. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
[8] "Revolution+defintion." Google, n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
[9] "H.6 Why Did the Russian Revolution Fail?" Why Did the Russian Revolution Fail. Anarchist Writers, 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
[10] Lenin, Vladimir. "Vladimir Lenin Quote." BrainyQuote. Xplore, n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.

 Why did the 1905 Russian Revolution Fail?

    According to political theorist Alan Wood the 1905 Russian Revolution was “a wide spread manifestation of popular grief, indignation, and anger…”. In order to understand why the revolution failed one must look at three key elements of the events leading up to and during 1905. Firstly it is important to understand that the Russian Revolution of 1905 was spontaneous rather than planned. Furthermore it was not one revolutionary movement but a series of revolts and strikes organized by different parties and entities. This meant that the revolutionaries were divided and each group wanted to achieve different aims. It is also important to analyse the Tsar’s ability to use military force against the protesters. The military supported the Tsar throughout the protests and strikes of 1905 and helped to put down rioters and forcibly end protests. Lastly the concessions made by the Tsar’s regime were extremely important in ending the revolution of 1905 because they gave the revolutionaries a sense of victory.
    A huge factor that lead to the failure of the Russian Revolution of 1905 was that it was not coordinated and rather spontaneous. The trigger event of “Bloody Sunday” lead to many riots and protests yet they were never unified into one movement. The revolution spread from major Russian cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg to the Russian Territories. The Poles and Finns wanted to gain independence, however this stood in direct conflict with the interests of those revolutionaries who owned land in Poland and Finland. Furthermore the protesting middle class wanted more rights yet they did not believe that Jews should be equal citizens. This allowed the Tsar to keep the revolutionaries in check. As Figes argues “For all too many of these highborn revolutionaries, the main attraction of the cause lay not… in the satisfaction they might derive from seeing the daily people’s lives improved…”. This statement highlights the divisions within the revolutionary cause. Those revolutionaries who were of higher social standing had no interest in the struggle of the common folk. They were never in favor of achieving social equality because that would mean that they would have to share their wealth. If the revolutionaries had unified they would have been a serious threat to the Tsar’s regime. A unified opposition could have organized nation wide strikes and protests. However the conflicting interests and ideologies of many revolutionary groups prevented this from happening. Ultimately this lack of unity allowed the Tsar to take back control.

    The second factor behind the failings of the 1905 revolution was the involvement of the Russian Military. Throughout 1905 and 1906 the Russian Military stayed loyal to the Tsar. With the exception of the Potemkin mutiny, Russian troops never abandoned the Tsar. The end of the Russo-Japanese War in September 1905 allowed the Tsar to use his returning troops against the revolutionaries. Using money and better service conditions as incentives the Tsar ensured that his troops were motivated to fight.. The result was that the military was able to put down multiple revolts and strikes around the country. The arrest of Trotsky in St.Petersburg effectively ended the St.Petersburg Soviet. Factory workers went back to their posts and production continued. In Moscow and territories such as Poland, the Baltic, and Georgia the revolution was crushed using brute force. The defeat of revolutionaries was only possible with military intervention. Nicholas II would have been easily overthrown if the military had not been loyal to him, as seen by the 1917 revolution. However the loyalty of his soldiers allowed him to remain in power for some time.
    Lastly the concessions of the Tsar regime played a key role in halting the Revolution of 1905. With the issue of the October Manifesto the Tsar gave the people a sense of victory. Many members of the bourgeoisie were satisfied by the creation of a Duma. Thus the resistance in the bourgeoisie ended and their demands for a constitutional monarchy with representation were met. Furthermore the inclusions of free speech and free press helped quell the fire of revolution. Protesters felt they had been victorious and had achieved their goal of democracy. However the Tsar had not given up any real power. In April 1906 the Tsar issued the Fundamental Laws. These allowed the Tsar to dismiss the Duma at will and issue ‘emergency’ decrees which lasted indefinitely. Thus the Tsar retained his power to make laws. Therefor the October Manifesto did not bring about any real change and was not a defeat for the Tsar. Nicholas II was able to appease the protesters long enough to re-instate control.
    The failure of the 1905 revolution was down to three key things. The spontaneousness of the riots and protests along with the divisions between different revolutionary groups. Secondly the loyalty of the military to the Tsar allowed Nicholas II to use brute force to crush revolutionaries. Lastly the October Manifesto helped to appease many protesters long enough for the Tsar to regain control. When Nicholas II issued the Fundamental Laws it was already too late to re-instate revolution. The 1905 revolution could have been more successful if it had been a unified effort. The people could have caused greater change by pushing for even more reform after the October Manifesto. However the lack of military support was in the end the damning factor for the failing of the 1905 revolution.

Why did the 1905 Revolution fail?

“Don't put your trust in revolutions. They always come around again. That's why they're called revolutions.[1]” wrote the late Sir Terry Pratchett. This quote can be transferred well to the outcomes of the 1915 ‘revolution’, its failures and its purpose as the ‘stepping-stone’ for the two 1917 revolutions that transformed Russia. The events of 1905 could not be successful and indeed were not, due to the fact that there was no unity on a national scale and it wasn’t a planned revolt, there was no unity within the ‘revolutionaries’ and the there was a lack of military support. However 1905 succeeded in one area, it sparked the overthrow of Tsarism in 1917.

Oxford Dictionary defines a revolution as ‘A forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favour of a new system’ and if one follows this definition the events of 1905 do not qualify as such. The Bloody Sunday on the 22nd January 1905 is referred to as the starting point of the revolution. However, the 200,000 people led peacefully by Father Gapon (Fiehn 19)[2] did not call for an overthrow of government, in their workers’ petition they appealed to their Tsar for ‘protection’ and asked for (as Lenin later recited): ‘amnesty, civil liberties, fair wages (minimum one rouble a day), gradual transfer of the land to the people, and the convocation of a constituent assembly on the basis of universal and equal suffrage’. [3] The protesters gathered before the Winter Palace, the spark of the events of the following months did not qualify as revolutionaries, and the reforms they requested, such as the Duma, a sort of parliament, was undone with the introduction of the Fundamental Laws leaving them with no new system to speak of. Although 200,000 individuals allegedly marched on the Bloody Sunday this number meant nothing when one considers the empire had a population of 130 million.[4] The events of the Bloody Sunday sparked outrage and violence across the country with there being 3 million strikers by the end of the calendar year, and assassinations and violence against the nobility and landowners growing increasingly common as well as the formation of soviets later in the year[5] however due to the lack of organization and unity these remained singular actions instead of the uniform pulling of an arranged revolution.

The lack of unity and a clear leadership are arguably the second reason for the failure of the 1905 events. No one person or organization ordered the revolution and the regime’s opposition (select political parties, students, the proletarians, members of the working public (in cities or towns) and some of the middle class did not communicate and consolidate to form an opposition and remained lots of small pockets of unrest. They all had drastic ideological differences and objectives, this of course not aiding their collaboration. There was no ‘mass desire’ for revolution with ‘…nine-tenths of the people plunged in a crass ignorance which is equalled only by their utter indifference?’ [6] as published by Melville E. Stone, an American newspaper publisher and general publisher of the Associated Press. While he was not a Russian he travelled throughout Europe during the events of 1905 and his representation of events shows irrelevance of events for Russia’s mass: the peasants. The tsar therefore managed to separate and divide all of the regime’s opposition, mostly through the introduction of the October Manifesto.[7] For example, the liberals were perfectly satisfied with keeping the Tsar as long as his power was limited and certain social reforms were me. The middle class who had started to appear with the industrialization of Russia was scared of anarchy and had been benefiting from the prior systems. Even in the creation of the Duma the opposition was divided as each section had different ideals and objectives. This course of action and the promises aligned reduced the violent outbreaks and disruptions, and unions or individuals who had caused unrest were faced with no mercy. [8] However the ideological divide of the people was also prominent in their different ethnicities, nationalities and faiths and in 1905 not even 50% of the Empire’s population were ethnic Russians. [9] Not only was there dispute, discrimination and inhuman treatment by one group to another, the government itself pursued and mistreated minorities such as the Jews or Muslims within the empire as can be seen in the works of Solomon Naumovich Rabinovich such as Tevye the Dairyman. [10] The people of the revolution could not overcome centuries of prejudice and hate to collaborate, and this lack of unity, as well as the desire for independence issued by certain minorities, such as the Finns and Polish, only drove them further apart.

The third factor, which caused 1905 to fail, was its lack of military support and the issues that arose with the troops alliance to the Tsar. Mutinies and disgruntlements such as on the Potemkin[11] did indeed occur and increased with the number of defeats faced in the Russo-Japanese war, mostly because of the soldiers’ contempt of the war and the conditions they were subjected to. However, the Tsarist regime soon won them over again by offering an increase in payment and improved conditions. Following these changes the soldiers were more than willing to be employed to counter uprisings, strikes in cities and use brute force against the revolutionaries, as well as aid in the arrests and destructions of the Soviets. [12] While the Tsar had always been willing to use force against those who had opposed him in oppose to more diplomatic ventures, the amount with which he commanded the destruction of riots through violence meant that opposition became less and less. At the beginning of 1906 he sent out his troops throughout the empire to convict those guilty of causing unrest or treasonous behaviour. Thousands were executed for their wrongdoings. [13] Had the military power been with the revolutionaries Nicholas II would not have been successful in dampening the events of 1905. Their role was pivotal as whoever controls the weapons or the armed mass, controls the law and what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. The consequences of not being backed by the military that believed in their divine right ruler, and that success and growth could only come with his leadership can clearly be seen in the results of the 1917 revolutions.

In conclusion, the uprisings and outrage of 1905, although not strictly a revolution, failed due to their utter lack of unity and organization, both as an organised revolt, unity within the revolutionaries, and its lack of military support. However one cannot argue that the happenings of 1905 were insignificant, they were as Trotsky said: ‘the prologue to 1917’ and were what in hindsight seems to be a learning curve for the people, a sort of trial run or spark on how to succeed in overthrowing the Tsarist regime. While the events were failures in the short term, within the next dozen years there was success.

[1] Pratchett, Terry. Night Watch. 1st. London: Corgi, 2002. Print.

[2] Fiehn, Terry. Russia and the USSR 1905-1941. London: John Murray Ltd, 1996. Print.

[3] Lenin, V.I. Lecture on the 1905 Revolution. Zurich People’s House., Zurich. 4 Nov. 2015. Speech.

[4] Fiehn, Terry. Russia and the USSR 1905-1941. London: John Murray Ltd, 1996. Print.

[5] Poon, HW. "COURSE OF THE 1905 REVOLUTION." 2007. Web. 4 Nov. 2015. .

[6] Stone, Melville E. "The Real Russia." Evening Star [Washington DC, 14 May 1905: Print. (

[7] By the Grace of God Emperor and Auto, Nicholas II. Manifesto of October 17th, 1905. St. Petersburg: 1905. Print.,_1905

[8] Fiehn, Terry. Russia and the USSR 1905-1941. London: John Murray Ltd, 1996. Print.

8 Fiehn, Terry. Russia and the USSR 1905-1941. London: John Murray Ltd, 1996. Print.

[10] Aleichem, Solomon. Tevye the Dairyman. Russian Empire: 1894. Print.

[11] Eisenstein, Sergei, dir. The Battleship Potemkin. Mosfilm, 1925. Film.

[12] Trueman, C.N. The 1905 Russian Revolution The History Learning Site, 22 May 2015. 4 Nov 2015.

[13] Poon, HW. "COURSE OF THE 1905 REVOLUTION." 2007. Web. 4 Nov. 2015. .

Works Cited:

Aleichem, Solomon. Tevye the Dairyman. Russian Empire: 1894. Print.   By the Grace of God Emperor and Auto, Nicholas II. Manifesto of October 17th, 1905. St. Petersburg: 1905. Print.,_1905   Eisenstein, Sergei, dir. The Battleship Potemkin. Mosfilm, 1925. Film.   Fiehn, Terry. Russia and the USSR 1905-1941. London: John Murray Ltd, 1996. Print.    Lenin, V.I. Lecture on the 1905 Revolution. Zurich People’s House., Zurich. 4 Nov. 2015. Speech.   Poon, HW. "COURSE OF THE 1905 REVOLUTION." 2007. Web. 4 Nov. 2015. .   Pratchett, Terry. Night Watch. 1st. London: Corgi, 2002. Print.   Stone, Melville E. "The Real Russia." Evening Star [Washington DC, 14 May 1905: Print. (   Trueman, C.N. The 1905 Russian Revolution The History Learning Site, 22 May 2015. 4 Nov 2015.

Why did the Russian Revolution of 1905 fail?

To address this question, one must consider that a revolution is a “forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favour of a new system”, according to the Oxford dictionary. In the context of the series of uprisings in 1905, one cannot consider them as a revolution per se. It failed to establish any significant leaps in terms of social and political change, which left Tsarism with “a few broken ribs” but “came out of the experience of 1905 alive and strong enough”, in the words of Leon Trotsky himself. Even though the unrests in 1905 left the Russian Empire cautious and weary of public order in the future, the Tsar continued to exercise absolute authority over Russia, with little concessions made to the public. Henceforth, the major reasons as to why the 1905 revolution failed is attributed to the aims of the revolt itself, the strict repression methods of the regime and the insignificant leaps in terms of social and political order it achieved.
            The poor organization of the revolution, which included the aims of the revolt (which was not an overthrow of the Tsarist government) and the disunited opposition to the Tsar made its failure inevitable. First and foremost, the goal of the revolt was not to overthrow the Tsar and his government, but rather for the people to make an appeal to him in peace, without any intention of forcing change upon the government. For instance, Georgi Gapon, the Orthodox priest who rallied the 150,000 workers to make an appeal to the Tsar, wanted to say the following to him: “We workers, our children, our wives and our old, helpless parents have come, Lord, to seek truth and protection from you”. Through the intentions of the leader of the revolution himself, one can see that the “revolution” did not assume a hostile spirit, since it still recognized the Tsar as the authority with the power to make the changes. In contrast, a revolution would encompass change enforced by the people themselves, with the government simply being exchanged for another. Therefore, the peaceful aims of the revolt do not make it a revolution in the sense of substantial change. In addition, the revolution was spearheaded by different parties formed in the years prior to the revolution in 1903-1904, with each of the parties contemplating different political futures for Russia. This bears the result that with no universal aim, a revolution cannot be successful: each individual force must struggle for one goal in order to achieve unity between the people taking part in the revolution. This was not the case in 1905: the revolt consisted of the liberal opposition movement of middle classes, the Party of Socialist Revolutionaries, Russian separatists, the Saint Petersburg Soviet and the Russian Social Democratic Party. The parties themselves contradicted each other in terms of ideology and were only brought together by their common dislike of the 11-hour work day, the 20 percent drop in wages and the deteriorating health conditions in the factories. As Vladimir Lenin said, “without revolutionary theory, there can be no revolutionary movement”, which implies that one, shared doctrine must be behind the movement in order to unite people of all walks of life. Therefore, the difference in political motives as well as the overall recognition of the Tsar’s authority did not make the events of 1905 a revolution in terms of substantial leaps in political and social order, hence why it failed.
            Secondly, the regime’s brutal repression methods enabled it to put down the revolts swiftly and cause panic among the oppositional forces and also ensured the weakness of the political parties by giving them no chance to develop effectively. The repression methods of Tsarist Russia had come into being via the Statue of State Security, which was passed in 1881. Due to this, the Tsar had the ability to set up special courts outside the legal system to exercise absolute control over universities, newspapers and schools and close them, if necessary. In addition to this, the reduction independence of the Zemstva (an elective council in provincial districts responsible for much of the political awareness), made control more centralized and in the power of the Tsarist regime. Because of such restrictive methods on the freedom of the public, the rise and development of individual parties was seriously hampered, which made their organization difficult in the first place and therefore, ineffective in mounting a revolution. Alongside capital repression, the regime was only able to exercise these methods through the absolute loyalty of the army. The army had violently put down uprisings not only during Bloody Sunday on 22 January 1905, in which 100 people were killed and 300 were wounded, but all across the Russian Empire: in the Polish city of Lodz, close to 200 people were killed by Tsarist forces and in December 1905, Bolshevik forces in the Presnia district of Moscow, were decisively defeated (1,059 dead), putting an end to the revolution. Peter Kropotkin states that “in a couple of days, more than 300 men and women were shot in Warsaw, 100 at Lodz, 43 at Sosnowice, 42 at Ostrowiec, and so on, all over Poland!”. Such mass instances of brutal repression against the opposition emphasize the operational capabilities of the army empire-wide and thus, the continued loyalty to the state, which ultimately caused the revolution to be a resounding defeat. According to Leon Trotsky, the revolutionary parties faced the army “for the first time, lacking experience and confidence”, which made it easier for the army to crush the loose conglomeration of rebels.
            The revolution of 1905 ultimately failed because its consequences heralded no significant changes in civil liberties. Even though the Tsar maintained the façade of a having established a constitutional monarchy through the October Manifesto, he was free to disregard the Duma’s legislative and oversight “powers”. Whenever the State Duma (quasi-elected parliament) attempted to pass laws, which do not suit with Tsar Nicholas, he had the ability to dismiss the Duma and announce new elections whenever he wished through his veto power. Furthermore, the state Duma exercised no power in the executive branch of the government, which holds the responsibility and authority of state administration. This shows that the revolution achieved nothing substantial in terms of civil liberties, when the acquisition of these liberties was the whole purpose of the revolution in the first place. In addition, article 87 of the Russian constitution allowed the Tsar to enforce emergency laws without the approval of the Duma, which would mean that the Russian state maintained its de facto status as an absolute monarchy; the very status that the revolution sought to be rid of. However, according to Orlando Figes, the regime “could not hope to put the clock back. 1905 had changed society for good. Many of the younger comrades of 1905 were the elders of 1917. They were inspired by its memory and instructed by its lessons”. The brutality of the government in the 1905 revolution had left the people, especially those in the socialist parties, radicalized. Tsar Nicholas had lost his image as a benevolent ruler and was henceforth known as “Nicholas the Bloody”. The 1905 revolution was important in the sense that it provided the framework for future rebellions against Tsarist rule, by making the former participants realize the mistakes that led to defeat. While the revolution may have yielded no substantial political and social changes, it left a mark on the revolutionaries in terms of future organization. Furthermore, the revolution left a mark on the Tsarist regime from which it never recovered: the scale of the uprisings and the dissatisfaction of the people had come to an unexpected shock for the government. Therefore, it could be said that 1905 was an important precursor to the 1917 revolution, since the mistakes of the former revolt were not repeated in the successful, latter revolt.
            In conclusion, the 1905 revolution was a strategic defeat for the anti-Tsarist conglomeration, due to the uncoordinated and un-revolutionary aims of the uprising, the brutal repression methods by the Tsarist regime and the insignificant changes in political and social order that emerged as a result of the October Manifesto. The Tsar continued to exercise absolute rule over the Russian Empire through it de jure state as a constitutional monarchy, but its de facto status as a continued absolute monarchy. Due to the failure of the revolution the people largely continued to live under the illusion of having achieved at least some of the desired civil liberties until 1917, when the real, radical changes where put forth into practice by the Bolsheviks in a successful revolution.

Why did the Tsar survive the 1905 revolution?
Vladimir Lenin once said, in referral to the 1905 Russian revolution, “it was the dress rehearsal of the October revolution of 1917”, conversely, Orlando Figes believes that the Russian Revolution was actually during the time period of 1891-1924, which goes further to state that the chain of riots and strikes of 1905 were usually not referred to as a revolution, but a part of the long chain of events, or even preparation. Although there are certain view points to the 1905 ‘revolution’, the reason why Alexander II survived is still questionable, the Tsar survived because he created the October manifesto to give hope, the poor organization of Russians no matter if it were to be the Tsar or the civilians, and the Cossacks that were loyal to the him.
The beginning of the 1905 revolution is usually marked by Bloody Sunday 9 January 1905, the reasoning for this strike coursing from St. Petersburg city center towards the Tsar’s Winter palace is best described by the head of the assembly of Russian factory and mill workers and the leader of the strike, Father Gapon’s petition that he intended to read out to the Tsar, “We are suffocating in despotism and lawlessness. O Sire we have no strength left, and our endurance is at an end. We have reached that frightful moment when death is better than the prolongation of our unbearable sufferings.” Gapon completely expected, along with the rest of the Russian civilians of St. Petersburg, that the Tsar would peacefully listen and be suddenly enlightened with the problems of his nation and create changes as Orlando Figes in his book The Russian Revolution 1892-1924 “In the mind of the ordinary peasant the Tsar was not just a kingly ruler but a god on earth. He thought of him as a father-figure who knew all the peasants personally by name, understood their problems in all their minute details, and, if it were not for the evil boyars who surrounded him, would satisfy their demands. Hence the peasant tradition of sending direct appeals to the Tsar.” However, the outcome was completely different because the strike was not in favor of the Russian police, approximately 200 people were killed and 800 wounded by the gunman in front of the Tsars palace, and this reflected the idea of “God is too high and the Tsar is too far away” as said from Russian civilians at the time, in Robert Massie’s book Nicolas and Alexandra. After this scare that the Tsar went through, he decided in return to create the October Manifesto. In a letter to his mother on November 1, 1905, the Tsar explains that he cannot get rid of the rebellion by killing because it would have to be reinforced again in a few months, and instead “give the people their civil rights, freedom of speech and press, also to have all laws confirmed by a state Duma – that, of course, would be a constitution.” After the October Manifesto, the people of Russia were given some piece of hope of change and a “road to democracy” as Peter Oxley’s Russia: from Tsars to Commissars exclaims, and this hope was one of the main reasons the Tsar kept his position.
However, Bloody Sunday was not a success for the people of Russia, as it was heavily unplanned as most events and actions in Russia, and could be considered a failure as the petition was not given to the Tsar, hundreds of people died, and the Tsar did not even come out which let down his people and the thoughts of him being a father figure to Russia (also documented in in Robert Massie’s book Nicolas and Alexandra). In addition, these actions were very usual of the Tsar since he killed thousands of people during his rule all across Russia, but in contrast, Robert Massie portrays Nicholas II as oblivious to the fact that his people are suffering and are being killed by the Russian police. But there is a fatal flaw between Robert Massie’s work, since it was created for Americans that were fighting Communists at the time and wanting to stay off the side of Communism actually being better for the Russians. Orlando Figes in his book about the Russian Revolution said “Nicholas was the source of all the problems” in relations to Russia’s problems and went on to say later on “Nicholas had not been blessed with either his father’s strength of character or his intelligence”, and in addition, “It was not a weakness of will that was the undoing of the last Czar but… a willful determination to rule from the throne, despite the fact that he clearly lacked the necessary qualities to do so” which all together explain how unfit Nicolas II was to be the Tsar in the first place. But, the Tsar also survived the 1905 revolution, which can only be credited to that fact that his people were also as unorganized as him (until a revolution did ‘succeed’ around 1917). As Orlando Figes proclaims, “It was ironic but somehow fitting that the 1905 Revolution should have been started by an organization dreamed up by the tsarist regime itself. No-one believed more than Father Gapon in the bond between Tsar and people.Father Gapon leading groups of Russian workers towards the winter palace with no plan other than showing a petition to the Tsar was also very disorganized and with no back-up plan other than when the Cossacks did start to shoot, they would place the women and children in the front in hopes to cease fire. But, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and an American President, Theodore Roosevelt once gave light to the fact that every time that there is a revolt one should shoot the women first because they are more aggressive and it scares the men that they would shoot women, and this was what the Russians did coincidentally.
The Cossacks (Russian Police) and their determination to stand by the side of the Tsar during the Revolution also kept the Tsar alive. The Cossacks stayed by the side of the Tsar throughout the whole of 1905, unlike their actions in 1917 which was the main factor as to why the 1917 revolution was much more successful for the people in Russia. Without the army, the Tsar could have easily been murdered or taken out of charge (again, as seen in the events of 1917 and the murder of the Romanovs by the Cossacks). The battle between Russia and Japan, Port Harbor Falls, was when the entire Russian Navy was shot down by the Japanese in one afternoon in a matter of hours, which forced then upper lass students to fight in Japan and because the upper class didn’t want educated pupils to go to war and waste their education to die in a war they thought was unnecessary, which caused these strikes which was mindful at the time and in the ignorance of the Tsar. Thus, the Cossacks loyalty was also somewhat unexpected because of the national disapproval for the battles going on between Russia and Japan, but especially because it was the first loss to an Asian country, and the strikes because of the students that did not want to go off to war, which would later impact the Bolsheviks success.
Nonetheless, the revolution was not any of the two types of revolutions, political or social, as its intentions were not to overthrow the Tsar, but just, in the eyes of the people, in order to give the Tsar an understanding of the difficulties of life in Russia. In conclusion, whether the revolution was a revolution at all, the Tsar survived the series of events throughout 1905 in the arms of the Cossacks, in favour of the disorganization, and because he created the October Manifesto. The Tsars actions and some type of consequences of equal disorganization and the Cossacks not going against him kept him alive.

Why did the 1905 Revolution Fail?

In 1905 Tsar Nicholas II of Russia was on the brink of being overthrown by Russian Revolutionists. His inability to mend the terrible living standards and food shortages caused by the great spurt of 1893-1903 and his needles participation and failure in the Russo-Japanese conflict made the Russian people extremely angry. The Russian people yearned for change. So how did the Tsar manage to escape the boiling pot relatively unscathed? To answer this question one must first understand what needs to happen for a revolution to succeed. The question will be analyzed by looking at three main factors: Repress, Concession and Lack of Organization and how this affected the success of the revolution.

One of the most pertinent reasons to why the Tsar survived the 1905 revolution was the Tsars oppression of the people through the use of his military regime. During the 1905 revolution the Tsar was able quell most outbursts of resistance through the use of violence. Since the Tsars military stayed loyal to Nicholas II even after losing to Japan at Port Arthur, and were willing to side with him from January to October. This meant the Tsar had all the tools he needed to disperse or destroy the protests, strikes or attacks that were directed at him. A perfect example of this was the January 22nd Bloody Sunday march on the winter palace, where the Tsars military was able to easily repel and kill 1000-4000 protester depending on the source. Although it is argued by Robert Massie that the Tsar did not sanction the event it still made it harder for the revolution to succeed. By the end of the revolution the Russian military was able to silence 2,700 uprisings, further dissuading any aspiring protesters from joining the fray. However, another key reason for the failure of the revolution was the distinct lack of military support for the Russian people, as they had no weapons, no military training and no strategic background. This meant that the men and women brave enough or stupid enough to stand openly and threateningly against the Tsar were easily obliterated.

However, Christopher Reed argues that the concessions appointed by the Tsar such as the October Manifesto created by Sergei Witte was actually the “First Savior of the monarchy”. It is argued that the October 30th Manifesto spearheaded by Sergei Witte and sanctioned by the Tsar was the main reason behind why the Tsar survived the 1905 revolution. In this Manifesto the Tsar promised basic civil rights and promised to introduce A Duma (A parliament) into the Russian political system. The manifesto instantaneously caused irreparable disorder to political parties making it even harder to organize proper physical protests. This is due to the fact that most workers and peasants had lost all zeal for revolution, as the October Manifesto and the Duma gave them hope for the future. The only ones that still drove on were those that had such terrible living conditions that the manifesto couldn’t appease or those that had an extreme radical mindset. This meant that the already fragile political parties that were in place fragmented and could not act. In addition to this the Duma was never meant to pose any limitation to Tsars power, as all petitions had to pass through him. Nevertheless, this merely meant that the revolutionists switch from sword to word as they had acquired a parliament for them to speak as is expressed by Abraham Ascher. Of course this meant that Nicholas II could live a little while longer, as most peasants and workers had laid down their arms. This also meant that the “revolution” had lost its momentum and manpower.

         The lack of any leadership in the 1905 revolution was a very important reason as to why the 1905 revolution did not continue and why the Tsar managed to quell the movement. Michael Lynch argues in his book “Reactions and Revolutions that almost all of the SD (Social Democrats) revolutionary leaders with the exception of Trotsky had no impact on the 1905 revolution at all and were unable to finalize any actions against the Tsar himself. The only real figurehead that even had the bravery to mix with the common rabble was actually Father Gapon, and he was actually a double agent working for the Okrahna. Due to this the very unorganized proletarian peasants had a very difficult time organizing themselves against armed repressors, this ultimately meant that there was very little threat towards the Tsar in the first place. The only legitimate revolutionary leader was Trotsky as he was part of the First St. Petersburg Soviet of Workers Deputies. Abraham Ascher also argues that the lack of organization can also be attributed to the stubbornness of the Russian Revolutionaries, as they shared this with the Tsarist system, this made prevented co-ordinated revolutionary resistance from occurring. A pertinent example would be the conflict between the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks as they were competing over the St. Petersberg and Moscow Soviets. The Right wing representatives disagreed with the Radicals and caused interior conflict further dividing them. In short if the two parties hadn’t had been so stubborn and united and not been at each other’s throats at all times they might been able to co-ordinate something tangible.

In conclusion the Tsars repression and concessions towards the people combined with the lack of organization and leadership, further amplified by the lack of military support and internal conflict made it extremely difficult for a successful revolution to materialize. Thus keeping the revolutionaries unable to make progress towards an actual resolution.

 The Rise and Fall of Soviet Communism: Russia's  The student of that experience must confront the intellectual burden facing the serious student of any history, i e , how to acquaint oneself with the facts while also becoming familiar with conflicting interpretations of that history  The empirical and theoretical challenges facing the student of twentieth- century Russia are all the heavier because that country has been so deeply and frequently convulsed by different (if not radically antagonistic) forces  These lectures are intended to help you master both the facts and the interpretations  On the empirical level, the history of twentieth-century Russia has typically been divided into three periods, as follows  1  The first period centers on the breakdown of the tsarist regime (the Russo-Japanese war and revolution of 1905), the series of events culminating in the two revolutions of 1917 (Menshevik and Bolshevik), the outbreak of Russian Civil War, the triumph of the Bolsheviks, and the birth of the Communist party-state system  2  The second period begins with Lenin's announcement of the NEP (New Economic Policy) in the early 1920s and continues with the debates and power struggles of the early and mid-1920s, Stalin's consolidation of power in the late 1920s, the social terror of agricultural collectivization in the early 1930s, the political terror of the party purges in the late 1930s, the bloody horrors of World War II and its aftermath in the 1940s, and the death of Stalin in 1953  3  The third and current period begins with Khrushchev's first efforts at de-Stalinization in the late 1950s and early 1960s, continues with the Brezhnev reaction from the mid-1960s until the early 1980s, and reaches its climax with Gorbachev's startling initiatives of perestroika and glasnost in the late 1980s, leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the ascendancy of Boris Yeltsin, and the current era of post-Soviet disarray  Thus, by dividing the empirical material, we can develop a conceptual understanding of the main events of modern Russian/Soviet history by focusing on the major turning point of each era, namely the Bolshevik Revolution, Stalinism, and Gorbachev's perestroika and glasnost  Turing to theoretical concerns, we must consider two major interpretive views: 1  The "mainstream" view generally holds that the only real discontinuities in twentieth-century Russian history are the Bolshevik revolution and the collapse of the USSR  In this view, the entire Soviet period is essentially undifferentiated from Lenin to Stalin to Gorbachev  2  The so-called "revisionist" view sees major continuities in Russia's history prior to the Bolshevik revolution and following Gorbachev, but major discontinuities within the Soviet period  In general, these lectures tend toward the "mainstream" view, but they also give due account to the "revisionist" arguments  Neither interpretation has gained full acceptance for the simple reason that we are still too close in time to most of these events  Moreover, we must all appreciate from the outset the duration, complexity, and uniqueness of recorded Russian history, of which the twentieth century is but a very small part  Russia, in its vastness and diversity, has always intrigued, befuddled, and frightened "the West " Therefore, you should not be surprised that there are no easy answers to the questions raised in this lecture series      1 Learning Objectives Upon completion of these lectures, you should be able to: 2     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  Outline the main stages in twentieth-century Russian/Soviet history, from the Revolution of 1905 to the era of Yeltsin and post-Soviet disarray  Identify and place in context the most important forces (political, economic, ideological, and social) that have shaped Russian/Soviet history in this century  Trace and explain both the causes and implications of the main "turning points"— viz , the Bolshevik revolution, Stalinism, and Gorbachev's reforms—that have defined the main eras of Russian/Soviet twentieth-century history  Summarize the interaction of internal dynamics and external influences that have created the fundamental issues of Russian/ Soviet history  State and distinguish between the "mainstream" and "revisionist" interpretations of the most important events and sequences of events in Russian/Soviet history  Critically appraise the basic assumptions, both implicit and explicit, guiding "mainstream" and "revisionist" approaches to Russian/Soviet history  Compare and contrast the relative adequacy of "mainstream" and "revisionist" interpretations in making sense of specific events and eras in twentieth-century Russian/Soviet history  Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of both "mainstream" and "revisionist" views in making sense of the entire sweep of Russian/Soviet history in the twentieth century  Interpret events taking place in contemporary Russia from the perspective of an informed understanding of the key dynamics of the country's historical experience leading to the current era  Lecture One Nicholas II and the Russian Empire Scope: This lecture sets the stage for our exploration of the tumultuous events that swept over Russia following the turn of the twentieth century  These events are important to understand because so much of our own experience has been defined by our love-hate relationship with Russia, especially during the 45-year "Cold War " To understand modern Russia, however, we must have at least a basic understanding of what preceded the Communist regime  Thus we will look back to the nineteenth-century tsarist Russia familiar to readers of Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky  We will explore the political, ethnic, and economic characteristics of Russia as it entered the twentieth century under the rule of Emperor Nicholas II  Outline I  Setting the Stage  A  At the dawn of the twentieth century, Russia was a large, multinational empire ruled by a conservative Christian (Russian Orthodox) divine-right emperor, Tsar Nicholas II  B  The history of Russia in the twentieth century is a story of hope and tragedy  1  There was hope that Russia would continue under the "benign" rule of the Emperor and return to its former glory  Others harbored hopes for greater social justice in the here and now  2  As we will see, the tragedy came from the devastation of World War I, the Russian Revolution of 1917, the imposition of Communist rule, the even greater bloodshed of World War II, and the dissension, disintegration, and uncertainty that overshadow post-communist Russia today  II  Outline of the Lectures  A  Lectures one through four cover government and politics under Nicholas II during the early years of the twentieth century  Specific events under consideration include the following: 1  The Russo-Japanese War 2  The Revolution of 1905 3  World War I 4  Events leading to the 1917 Revolution B  The next set of lectures (five through nine) addresses the imposition and evolution of the Communist state, first under Lenin and then under Stalin  C  Lectures ten and eleven examine the military, social, economic, and political impact of World War II on the Soviet Union  D  Lectures twelve and thirteen chronicle the start of the Cold War, the last years of Stalin's rule, and de- Stalinization  E  Finally, lectures fourteen through sixteen examine events since the late 1970s, as the Soviet Union reassessed the legacy of Stalin in light of realities of the Cold War  The Soviet state finally disintegrated, generating new hopes and fears for the new Russia  Specifically, we examine the following: 1  The Brezhnev regime 2  The transitional regimes of Andropov and Chernenko 3  Gorbachev and perestroika 4  The collapse of the Soviet Union 5  Post-communist Russia under Yeltsin III  Nicholas II—the Theory and Practice of Autocracy  A  Tsar Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra were traditional divine-right rulers  1  Nicholas II was the last ruler of the 300-year-old Romanov dynasty  He succeeded his father, Alexander III, in 1894      3 2  His wife, the Empress Alexandra, was the former Princess Alice of Hesse-Darmstadt and the granddaughter of Queen Victoria  She was raised Lutheran but converted wholeheartedly to Russian Orthodoxy because of its emotive, mystical nature and its stress on salvation through suffering  She supported her husband's idea of divine right rule  3  Nicholas took as his models for governance the two diametrically opposed Tsars Ivan IV "The Dread" (1533-1584) and Alexei Mikhailovich "The Most Gentle" (1645-1676)  B  As an autocrat, Nicholas expected public deference to his wishes and decisions  In fact, society was largely deferential  1  The Russian Code of Laws (Article I and other provisions) explicitly affirmed the absolute authority of the tsar and made it not only a civil, but also a religious, offense to flout his rule  2  Public order was maintained through various means: "peasant courts" in the countryside that handled minor (misdemeanor) cases; a complex judiciary to handle felonious cases; provincial governors; police agencies, including the secret police or okhrana; martial law in large cities (following the 1881 assassination of Alexander II); capital punishment for political criminals; and exile to Siberia or commitment to hard-labor prison camps  3  The use of capital punishment for political offenses under the tsars was on a much lower scale than under the Communist regimes of Lenin and Stalin  Likewise, the Siberian exiles were not necessarily as harsh as in the later periods  IV  Russia as a Multinational State  A  As the result of imperial conquests under the tsars (especially from Peter the Great on), early twentieth- century Russia was a massive nation in size, population (125-130 million), and variety of ethnic groups, languages, and religions  Three-quarters of the population was Slavic  B  The "core" of the empire consisted of Great Russians, who were numerically a minority (roughly 45 percent of the total imperial population)  The "periphery" consisted of other Slavs (Ukrainians, Belorussians, and Poles) and more than ninety different non-Slavic peoples  C  This mixture fostered ethic and economic tensions that led to violent confrontations between core and periphery  Among the ethnic problems were: V  The 1  Anti-Jewish pogroms in the Pale of Settlement (the Russian legal code enforced severe discrimination against Jews)  2  The Finnish independence movement, 1890-1904  3  Unrest in Poland (which, like Finland, was nominally independent but administered by Russia), including protest movements led by Dmowski ("integral nationalism") and Pilsudski's socialism  Russian Empire and the Spread of Market Capitalism  A  The basis of the agrarian economy was altered following the abolition of serfdom (1861) and the concurrent rapid expansion of railroad construction  Market forces created both opportunity and risk, fostering peasant hostility toward capitalism  B  Industrial development and urbanization in Russia was not unlike that experienced in Western Europe  1  Russia's urban population tripled between 1850 and 1900  2  Further resentments were generated by the expanding gulf between the wealthy merchant elite and an impoverished laboring population  C  The government's program of promoting rapid capitalist development while trying to control its social effects was at best self-contradictory  Essential Reading: Pipes, The Russian Revolution, pp  1-120  Hosking, The First Socialist Society, pp  15-34  4     Recommended Reading: Mark Steinberg and Vladimir Khrustalëv, The Fall of the Romanovs  [A wonderfully edited selection of diaries and letters by the tsar, tsarina, and figures close to the royal family ] Lev Tolstoy, Resurrection  [A didactic novel that analyzes the corruption of the tsarist legal system from Tolstoy's peculiar, Christian anarchist perspective ] Questions to Consider: 1  What policies, forces, and institutions worked to enforce political stability in Russia before 1905? 2  What policies and forces contributed to political instability in Russia before 1905?     5 Lecture Two The Failure of Constitutional Government Scope: This lecture examines the rise of organized liberal and revolutionary opposition to the conservative, divine- right rule of Nicholas II  Several events in the early years of the twentieth century caused Russia to move toward some form of representative government  One was the Russo-Japanese war, a military disaster for the tsar  Another was "Bloody Sunday," a violent clash between the authorities and labor-movement demonstrators  I  II  As the government took steps to address citizen concerns, numerous political parties came into being  Some split into factions; some joined others in coalitions; others went out of existence  These parties represented a wide spectrum of political outlooks  Their often-similar names and nuanced political stances might seem bewildering at first  We will examine the roles of the major parties in creating the Duma, an elected bicameral legislature  However much this unprecedented step appeared to be a solution to the very real economic, social, and foreign-affairs problems facing Russia, two problems militated against the Duma's success: the conservative tendencies of Nicholas, and the lack of common ground and political experience among the newly emerged political parties  Against the backdrop of Russia's long history of autocratic rule (even older than the Romanov dynasty), so different from the experiences of contemporary Western European nations, this bold constitutional experiment had tenuous chances, at best, for success  Outline Russia's Compromise Between Autocracy and Representative Government  A  The "liberation movement" and pressure for political reform before 1905  B  The impact of the Russo-Japanese War on domestic opinion  C  The Petersburg labor movement; Father Gapon and "Bloody Sunday" (9 January 1905)  D  The Manifesto of 17 October 1905 promised the establishment of civil liberties, national elections, and a legislative assembly  E  The "Fundamental Laws" of 1906 created a bicameral legislature but retained significant executive authority for the tsar  Max Weber described the post-1906 system as "pseudo-constitutional " Russian Political Parties  6     A  B  Ultra-Nationalists  1  The Union of Russian People was founded in 1905 by Dr  Dubrovin  This group was promonarchist, anticonstitutionalist, anti-Semitic, and anticapitalist, and it was linked to pogroms in 1905  It was mostly an extraparliamentary party, although a few members served in the Duma  2  The Nationalist Party emerged as major force in the Third Duma (1907-1912)  Its constituency was the Great Russian minority in Western peripheral provinces  It was a conservative monarchist party that defended the interests of Russian landowners and Orthodox clergy  Its membership overlapped somewhat with the Union of Russian People, although it was larger and generally less extreme politically  Neither ultranationalist group had any chance of appealing across ethnic divides  Constitutionalist parties  1  2  3  The Union of 17 October (Octobrists) defended constitutional monarchy, private property, and a market economy  It was a minority party drawn from landed and merchant elites, but it thought of itself as Russia's future  The Constitutional Democrats (Kadets) was a hybrid group consisting of a less radical wing supporting British-style constitutional monarchy and a more radical wing supporting French-style republicanism and genuine representative democracy  This latter group defended egalitarian social reforms and allied at times with Russian socialist groups  Both the Octobrists and Kadets were political centralists  Despite their defense of civil liberties for non-Russian peoples, their view of the empire was decidedly Great Russian-centered  Kadet views on private property and capitalism were inconsistent  Thus, neither Octobrists nor Kadets could effectively take advantage of antiempire and antimarket sentiments  C  Agrarian revolutionaries  1  The Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs) were heirs of nineteenth-century "populists" and sought to build distinctively Russian socialism on the model of the peasant land commune  To do so, they called for elimination of the nobility, the St  Petersburg government, and market capitalism  2  There were two SR factions  "Minimalists" favored socialization of land (involving the replacement of private with communal ownership) and gradual preparation for socialization of production (collective farming and sharing of production)  "Maximalists" favored simultaneous socialization of land and production  Out of the "Maximalist" faction came many political terrorists, including the notorious SR Battle Organization  3  The SRs appealed to the peasantry, mainly in central Russia  Their attractiveness outside central Russia was negligible  SRs considered themselves revolutionaries, but their anticapitalist stand makes it possible to call them reactionaries  D  The Social Democrats were internationalist and anticapitalist  Their program was most likely to span ethnic divisions in the empire and exploit anticapitalist sentiment  However, they were hostile to the monarchy, and so could not collaborate with it  They also had contempt for the propertied elites—the nobility and merchants  III  Conclusions  A  Nicholas II's traditionalist approach to governing made him reluctant to share power with the elected Duma  The ideological extremism of Russia's political parties, their extreme heterogeneity, and their fractiousness prevented them from arriving at a modus vivendi with the crown  Thus, the constitutional experiment was politically unlikely to succeed  B  In his book Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu argued that a democratic regime probably cannot succeed in a large empire  The Russian liberal Chicherin argued in On Representative Government that the Russians were the least well prepared of all European peoples for constitutional government  Imperial Russia's failed constitutional experiment suggests that Montesquieu and Chicherin may have been right  Essential Reading: Pipes, The Russian Revolution, pp  121-194  Recommended Reading: Paul Miliukov, Political Memoirs, 1905-1917  [Useful, if sometimes dry, memoirs by a leading liberal who closely observed Duma politics ] Geoffrey Hosking, The Russian Constitutional Experiment  [A shrewd account by a first-rate historian of Stolypin's attempt to collaborate with the Duma ] Abraham Ascher, The Revolution of 1905, 2 vols  [A masterful narrative and analysis of the turmoil between 1904 and 1907 that led to the establishment of the "pseudo-constitutional system "] Terence Emmons, The Formation of Political Parties and the First National Election in Russia  [A rich monograph focusing on constitutionalist parties and their electoral activity in 1906 ] Questions to Consider: 1  In what sense can the "Fundamental Laws" of 1906 be characterized as a "pseudo-constitution"? Is such a characterization accurate? 2  In what ways did Russia's constellation of political parties contribute to instability in the empire after the Revolution of 1905?     7 Lecture Three Russia and the First World War Scope: World War I was a military disaster for Russia, dramatically revealing the bankruptcy of the tsarist regime and the fledgling attempt at constitutional government  Like other European nations, Russia fell victim to a series of interlinking alliances that turned a seemingly small Balkan incident into "the Great War " Further entangling Russia was the issue of support for Slavic interests  Russia's military preparedness was low compared to other countries, especially Germany  By 1916, after a series of disastrous defeats, Russia was in retreat on the central front  The use of a "scorched earth" policy reminiscent of the Napoleonic invasion created further hardship and hard feelings toward the government  Despite some success on the southwestern front and a generally improving overall Allied position in early 1917, political infighting between the tsar and Duma intensified  We will explore why the two power centers could not cooperate effectively, and how this failure led to revolution  Outline I  Russia's Way to War  A  Russia's foreign policy generally opposed Austrian and German aims  1  In 1894, Russia under Alexander III concluded a secret military alliance with France  2  Russian and Austrian interests collided in the Balkan crises of 1908, 1912, and 1913  3  There was considerable internal debate in Russia over military expansion  The "peace party," led by Prime Minister Kokovtsov, opposed war in the foreseeable future  Hardliners such as War Minister Sukhomlinov and Kadet "patriots" thought war was inevitable  B  The 1  The assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo (28 June 1914) precipitated a results of treaty alliances  flurry of diplomatic activity and military mobilization across Europe  2  Russia wavered between limited and general mobilization  A conference between General Yanushkevich and Foreign Minister Sazonov in July led to a request for full mobilization  In a fateful meeting, Sazonov received reluctant approval from Nicholas I for general mobilization  3  Germany and France followed suit, and efforts to effect a peaceful resolution ended as declarations of war brought allies on both sides into armed conflict  II  Initial Reactions to the War  A  Popular sentiment was divided  People in large cities initially favored mobilization, but the countryside showed less enthusiasm  B  Leading political parties, except the Bolsheviks, supported the war  C  At first, intellectuals generally supported the war (e g , the graphic art of Moor and Mayakovsky)  However, Anna Akhmatova warned that the war would devastate Russia  D  These favorable reactions were predicated on the mistaken assumption that the war would be short  The Russian-French war plan failed to secure a quick victory  By 1915, the Russian army had abandoned its forward line of fortresses and arsenals  It experienced acute shortages of ammunition and fell back toward Moscow  III  Political Impact of the War, 1915 to 1917  8     A  B  Sagging fortunes on the battlefield led to a political crisis in 1915  The Duma demanded a "ministry of confidence" (a ministry enjoying the support of the Duma leadership), but the crown refused  Some ministers sided with the Duma, but Nicholas remained obstinate  He personally assumed the position of Commander in Chief of the armed forces  The 1916 Brusilov offensive was the last gasp of the Russian army  Initially successful against the Austrian army, the collapse of the offensive was marked by another and more severe political crisis  1  One important symptom was the desperation and anger of Petrograd workers in 1916  2  As the crisis wore on, opposition to the tsar's handling of events led to numerous public statements against him and Tsarina Alexandra  Miliukov's 1916 "Stupidity Or Treason?" speech to the Duma is an important example  C  The 1  Palace conspiracies in late 1916 and early 1917 led to the murder of the monk Rasputin, who had nearly total control over Empress Alexandra (and by extension, Tsar Nicholas II)  2  Nicholas prorogued the new session of the Duma  3  The March Revolution took place in Petrograd  The new premier, Prince Lvov, and Alexander Guchkov (head of the War Office) had Nicholas II and his family arrested  IV  By 1917 the tsar was politically and socially isolated  In March the Duma created a provisional government, wresting power from the last Romanov tsar  The situation was, however, far from stable; revolution was imminent  Essential Reading: Pipes, The Russian Revolution, pp  195-271  Recommended Reading: Norman Stone, The Eastern Front, 1914-1917  [A political and military history of the Russian war effort, which is very good on the Russian general staff ] Alan Wildman, The End of the Russian Imperial Army, 2 vols  [The best social history of the imperial army before and during the war  An excellent supplement to Stone ] Michael Cherniavsky, ed  Prologue to Revolution: Notes of A  N  Iakhontov on the Secret Meetings of the Council of Ministers  [A stunning document, revealing the brutal, almost hysterical, atmosphere inside the tsar's cabinet during the political-military crisis of 1915 ] Questions to Consider: 1  Why did Russia fight against Austria and Germany in 1914? 2  How did the war deepen Russia's political instability in Russia from early 1915 to late 1916? plot thickened as both sides maneuvered      9 Lecture Four Lenin and the Origins of Bolshevism Scope: To understand why the Russian Revolution became a Communist Revolution, we must explore nineteenth- century Russian intellectual and political thought  From the 1840s on, "Westernizers" and "Slavophiles" competed to define the best way to form Russian society, which was still essentially feudal and lagged far behind the West in industrialization and cultural achievement  The writings of the German idealists and others, including Karl Marx, interested the Russian intelligentsia, although many Russian thinkers remained skeptical  We will trace the parallel developments of liberal versus revolutionary movements in nineteenth-century Russia and place V I  Lenin into this context  The lecture will discuss various themes that eventually became associated with Marxism-Leninism  By exploring the intellectual underpinnings of Leninism, we will better understand why the "great proletarian revolution" occurred not in an industrialized Western country but in agrarian and absolutist Russia  Outline I  The A  The Russia intelligentsia was fascinated by Marx in the late 1860s  The anarchist Bakunin and the Initial Russian Reception of Marxism  populists Lopatin and Natanson translated Das Kapital  B  Russian populists considered Marx a critic of Western European capitalism who identified the "crippling" effects of the division of labor on industrial workers  C  Marx reciprocated the interest of Russian populists in his theories  He speculated about the possibility of a "separate road" of development for Russia, as seen in his 1881 draft letters to Zasulich  D  Marx had many Russian critics  Chicherin attacked Das Kapital in his work, Property and State  II  "Classical" Marxism in Russia  A  Georgii Plekhanov became interested in Marx in the late 1870s  By 1883, he accepted Marxism as the "science of society " 1  Plekhanov believed that Marx had successfully identified the "laws" of historical development  Class antagonism propels history through successive stages (slaveownership, feudalism, capitalism, socialism), each "transition" marked by revolution  2  Hence Russia would have to experience capitalism  Only at the end of the capitalist stage would successful socialist revolution become possible  Premature revolution would be disastrous  B  Plekhanov distinguished between freedom and necessity in a revolutionary movement  1  A tradeoff exists between scientific confidence in the victory of the proletariat and the quietist implications of determinism  2  Determinist Marxism virtually denied the role of autonomous will as an agency of change and subtly diminished the significance of intellectuals  C  Plekhanov's attitude toward art was unimaginative, hyperrealistic, and representational  D  Plekhanov, like Marx himself, was hostile to religion, which he thought would be replaced by science and theater  E  Much of Plekhanov's Marxism was preserved in the so-called Menshevik faction after 1903  The subsequent Communist regime adopted many of its notions  III  Lenin's Contribution to Russian Marxism  10     A  B  Lenin's road to Marxism was shaped by family tragedy: the arrest and hanging of his brother in 1887  Lenin viscerally hated liberalism  Lenin was an elitist who believed in the power of intellectuals to lead the masses and of a hardened professional revolutionary vanguard to point the way to socialism  He was influenced by Chernyshevsky's What Is To Be Done? and also by Tkachev and the People's Will  C  Lenin's early Marxism followed the ideas of Plekhanov in most respects  1  Lenin was a materialist; he was hostile to religion; and he had crudely reductionist ideas about art  2  He viewed Marxism as scientific guide to the future  3  However, he combined these notions with a robust theory of revolutionary will  Ultimately, his voluntarism moved him away from Plekhanov  D  Lenin's central idea was the role of a proletarian vanguard in guiding the revolution  1  Left to their own devices, workers are capable only of "trade-union consciousness " 2  Revolutionary consciousness comes from outside, from the vanguard  This idea contained the germ of future party dictatorship  E  Lenin saw the revolution as an international phenomenon  1  Within Russia it would unite heretofore divided ethnic groups by uniting proletarians in a common endeavor  2  It would also be a world phenomenon  Lenin considered Russia a capitalist country, due to antagonisms between proletariat and bourgeoisie  He knew Russia was not as advanced economically as England or Germany, but he thought the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism would occur first in Russia  F  Lenin thought it was possible to transform a revolution against the tsarist government into a proletarian revolution  He demanded an immediate transition to socialism, to be accompanied by the destruction of the ruling elites, the imposition of proletarian dictatorship, bank seizures, nationalization of property, the destruction of markets and the money economy, and the introduction of a planned economy  G  Lenin's program meant civil war between proletariat and hostile social classes, a phenomenon he foresaw but whose bloodiness he underestimated  1  He did not foresee difficulties in destroying the market  2  He did not desire any division of powers in proletarian government; he saw undivided government as the essence of proletarian dictatorship  3  He expected socialism to spread rapidly to the more advanced Western Europe countries  IV  "God-Builder" Marxists  A  A group of Marxists emerged in 1907 who regarded the religious impulse as inherent to human beings and who hoped to turn that impulse to the service of socialism  This group, which included such thinkers as Lunacharsky, Gorky, and Bogdanov, was sometimes labeled "God-builders " B  Lunacharsky saw Marxism as a "human religion " 1  Marxism was a way for individual proletarians to experience the ecstasy of communion with the collective  2  The individual's contribution to socialism lives on in the collective, leading to a kind of collective immortality  3  Gorky thought that the collective will could "work miracles" and even "banish fear of death " 4  Bogdanov predicted that socialist medicine might one day conquer death  C  Bogdanov's Red Star was an imaginary template of future socialist society  1  It depicted the planet Mars as a marketless society with remarkable productivity and a well- functioning planned economy  2  Bogdanov feared that socialism might fail to conquer nature; it might not banish egoism and sexual longing  D  Lenin criticized the "God-builders " Their "fit" in the Communist movement was uncomfortable, and their place within Bolshevism was especially uneasy      11 V  Conclusions  A  Marxism on the eve of revolution in Russia was not a simple phenomenon  It contained several currents in mutual tension  Sometimes Russian Marxism is described as an intellectual-led mass movement, as totalitarian, or as a secular religion  Such labels might apply to particular currents or individuals, but they do not comport with the movement's complexity  B  The impending collapse of imperial government gave Russian Marxists a chance to persuade workers of their "wisdom," but the Mensheviks' wisdom clashed with that of the Bolsheviks, planting the seeds for future trouble  Essential Reading: Bogdanov, Red Star  [See above, IV C ] Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, What Is To Be Done? [A founding document of Russian Social Democracy, six parts tedium to one part intellectual power, but worth reading for its historical significance ] idem , State and Revolution  [Written by Lenin on the eve of the October Revolution, this document was meant as a kind of guide to the destruction of the "bourgeois" state and the building of the new Communist order ] Recommended Reading: Andrzej Walicki, Marxism and the Leap to the Kingdom of Freedom  [A brilliant, very critical analysis of the Marxian, Engelsian, and Leninist views of freedom by the leading historian of Russian social thought ] Questions to Consider: 12     1  2  What were the main assumptions of Russia's "classical" Marxists? What were the major assumptions of Lenin and his followers? Lecture Five Lenin Comes to Power Scope: This lecture will examine how a discredited, exiled social theorist was able to lead a revolutionary movement that terminated the Romanov dynasty's 300-year-long absolutist rule and established a Communist regime  We will review the sequence of events in Russia during 1917 within the context of World War I, the preceding decade of tentative progress toward representative government, and competing currents of Marxist thought regarding state transformation  We will particularly examine the Bolshevik party's role as the vanguard of the proletariat revolution  Note: In our discussion of specific dates, you will notice that two dates often appear together, e g , "23February/8March " The difference of dates in this and other lectures has to do with the Old Style Calendar versus the New Style  If you see only one date, it refers to the New Style Calendar  Outline I  Two Political Revolutions During 1917  A  The first uprising ended the autocracy, and the second brought Lenin and the Bolsheviks to power  B  Both of these revolutions responded to the war, to rising social tensions, and to the disintegration of old political arrangements  II  The A  The Revolution began on 23 February/8 March, when women from textile factories in the Vyborg district February/March Revolution and the Overthrow of the Autocracy  of Petrograd (the wartime name of St  Petersburg) staged a strike over the absence of bread  1  Within hours the strike spread to metallurgy factories in the same region  By the next morning, 75,000 workers were on strike  2  By the morning of 25 February/10 March, roughly 200,000 workers engaged in a general strike  The following day, army units that had been called in to help suppress strikers and restore order began to waver  3  On 27 February/12 March, the government lost control of Petrograd  B  The rapid collapse of imperial control over the capital brought the cabinet's resignation, demands for genuine constitutional order and the abdication of Nicholas II  1  The Army High Command played a crucial role in this very murky and fluid situation  2  Tsar Nicholas II announced his abdication on 2/15 March, ending the Romanov dynasty's 300-year rule  Five days later, Nicholas and his family were arrested  C  No political party directed the February/March revolution, although various factions jockeyed for influence  This event illustrates the difference between a "conscious" and "spontaneous" revolution  D  The end of the Romanov dynasty led to a power vacuum  In Petrograd, the vacuum was filled by two competing agencies: a Provisional Government formed by the Duma, and the Petrograd Soviet  1  Outside the capital, the existing government apparatus and officials tried to function as a competing "parallel" or "shadow administration" took shape  2  Within the army and navy, the control and authority of officers associated with the imperial regime came under challenge  III  Ascendancy of the Provisional Government  A  The new Provisional Government was dominated at first by liberals from the Octobrists and the less radical wing of Kadets  The Socialists had only a marginal presence  By late October/early November, however, Socialists and radical Kadets dominated the Provisional Government, foreshadowing the likelihood of an all-socialist government  B  The Provisional Government adopted sweeping reforms, including the following:     13 C  IV  The A  B  C  D  1  Legal reforms of March/April  2  Laws against discrimination on ethnic/national and religious grounds  3  Universal suffrage for all adults, including women  4  Social legislation (adopted but not fully implemented)  5  Initiation of debate over a constitutional convention  Shortcomings of the Provisional Government  1  It failed to remove Russia from World War I  2  It decided not to implement social legislation  3  It delayed calling the constitutional convention  Petrograd Soviet The Petrograd Soviet was dominated at first by moderate socialists, SRs, and Mensheviks  By October, radical socialists dominated the leadership of the Petrograd Soviet  Bolsheviks and SR Maximalists (Left SRs) were in charge  The initial policy of the Petrograd Soviet  1  The Petrograd Soviet gave limited support to the Provisional Government  2  SR minimalists and Mensheviks did not wish to seize power  The Soviet tried to control administration outside Petrograd  1  The Petrograd Soviet demanded joint control over the army  2  Coordination of soviets outside Petrograd was undertaken by the All-Russia Congress of Soviets  Shortcomings of the Petrograd Soviet  1  Representation within it was informal  2  Control was surrendered to self-appointed radicals from the various socialist parties  V  Lenin's Contribution to Revolution  A  The Bolsheviks at first played along with the Provisional Government, accepting a "dual power" arrangement  In April, Lenin pressed the party to oppose the Provisional Government and to transform "bourgeois revolution" into "proletarian revolution " B  Lenin consistently advocated withdrawal from the war, calling for "peace without annexations or tribute " C  Driven underground between July and September 1917, the Bolsheviks flirted with insurrection  D  The Bolsheviks planned for armed insurrection in October  Debate occurred within the party over the "legal" road to power versus seizure of power  Ultimately, Lenin's strategy of seizing power triumphed  E  Stages of insurrection 1  Initial Bolshevik success in the "Red triangle" (Latvia, Kronstadt, Petrograd)  2  Creation of the Military Revolutionary Committee and the seizure of arsenals  3  The crucial events of 25 October/7 November led to seizure of power by Lenin's Bolshevik faction  (The Communists always referred to the Bolshevik Revolution as the "Great October Revolution," although, according to the New Style calendar, it occurred in November ) VI  Conclusion  A  1917 witnessed two revolutions which, together, brought the disintegration of the old order and the gradual appearance of a new socialist order  B  Lenin made a decisive contribution to the eventual form and success of the Bolshevik Revolution  Essential Reading: Hosking, The October Revolution, pp  35-56  Pipes, pp  195-271  14     Recommended Reading: Tsutosi Hasegawa, The February Revolution: Petrograd 1917  [The best book in any language on the overthrow of the imperial government ] Alexander Rabinowitch, The Bolsheviks Come to Power  [A lively book that mixes good social history of the Petrograd working class with careful political analysis ] John Reed, Ten Days That Shook the World  [An eyewitness account of the October Revolution written by the American romantic leftist/journalist; high on drama and closely observed street scenes but rather superficial otherwise ] Nikolai Sukhanov, The Russian Revolution, 1917: A Personal Record  [Actually much better than John Reed on every score: very penetrating on the behavior of the Petrograd Soviet and surprisingly good on the Bolsheviks ] Questions to Consider: 1  What was "dual power," and how did it come into existence? 2  Why did the Provisional Government survive for such a short period?     15 Lecture Six Lenin and the Making of a Bolshevik State Scope: This lecture examines the aftermath of the October Revolution, in which the Bolsheviks seized power from the other parties in the Provisional Government  As the Bolsheviks attempted to consolidate their power and launch a Socialist-Communist state, they faced intense military opposition from opponents within Russia, strong centrifugal nationalistic forces in non-Russian parts of the Russian empire, and foreign intervention  Despite overwhelming odds, Lenin and the Bolsheviks prevailed thanks to ruthless party discipline, a fatal lack of coordination on the part of their opponents, and considerable good luck  We will study the main events of the Russian Civil War and the reasons for the Bolsheviks' success, as well as the impact of this struggle on the future course of the new Soviet Union  I  Civil War  II  2  This foreign assistance enabled the Bolsheviks to portray themselves as socialist patriots  They used propaganda effectively (e g , they issued posters depicted "fortress Russia as besieged socialist motherland")  D  Non-Russian nationalism was a major factor in the Russian Civil War  1  The desire for territorial independence was manifest throughout the imperial "periphery," sometimes benefiting the anti-Bolshevik forces and sometimes not  2  Integral nationalism was often undercut by class struggle and Bolshevik "internationalism " E  The Bolsheviks' eventual victory resulted from various factors: unified territory, ideological cohesion, and the use of terror  F  The Russian Civil War exacted a very high price, especially in view of the significant losses suffered by Russia in World War I  1  Several million Russians died  2  Physical devastation was widespread, and agricultural production fell sharply  Bolshevik Policies, 1917-1921  16     A  The B  The strong risk of civil war was implicit in Bolshevik policy  Bolsheviks faced numerous opponents within the Russian empire  Outline 1  In southern Russia, anti-Bolshevik forces crystallized in December 1917 around army generals Kornilov, Alexeev, and Denikin  2  In the Siberian region, anti-Bolsheviks crystallized around the Czech legions, the SRs, and Admiral Kolchak  3  In the White Sea region, anti-Bolsheviks followed General Miller, and in the Baltic region they followed General Yudenich and emerging national leaders  4  Despite their large numbers, these anti-Bolshevik factions never fully united or coordinated their efforts  C  The 1  The British, French, Germans, Japanese, and Americans all became involved in anti-Bolshevik A  The gradual imposition of "partocracy " 1  The Bolshevik fait accompli was presented to the Second Congress of Soviets  2  Party leaders were appointed to executive posts with retroactive Soviet approval  3  The Soviet established the Council of People's Commissars, under formal control of Central Executive Committee of the Soviet  Both bodies were dominated by the Bolsheviks and Left SRs  anti-Bolshevik forces were compromised by foreign intervention  activity  4  Real power was vested in the Bolshevik party Central Committee, not in the supposedly representative Soviet or the government as such  5  Lenin was the chair of the Council of People's Commissars, but his stature derived from his authority in his party's Central Committee  B  The 1  Mensheviks and SRs opposed Bolshevik policies and control and walked out of the Soviet, prompting the Bolsheviks to forge a temporary alliance with Left SRs  2  The Bolsheviks shut down the "bourgeois" press and arrested the Kadet leadership  3  One month after the October Revolution, Lenin created a secret political police force—the Extraordinary Commission for the Suppression of Counterrevolution or "Cheka"—to conduct a terror campaign against political enemies of the party  4  A vigorous debate ensued over elections to the forthcoming constitutional convention  5  Following their defeat in balloting for the constitutional convention, the Bolsheviks dismissed the convention in January 1918  Lenin redefined "democracy" as it applied to Russia  6  Repression continued with the establishment of an embryonic system of concentration camps  The "Red Terror" reached its height in the fall of 1918  next step was the suppression of "bourgeois democracy " C  The economic transformation to socialism  Bolsheviks moved rapidly to abolish the market and launch the first "state capitalist" phase of 1  The steps included an immediate seizure of the banks and gradual establishment of control over money, followed by formal nationalization of the banking system in December 1917  2  Some crucial industries were nationalized at once, but most remained in private control until June 1918  Since private industry depended on banks, the state (or rather the Bolsheviks) had effective control over the market system  3  The government permitted trade unions and elected factory committees to exist until June 1918, partly because Bolsheviks controlled most union boards  Even in the revolution's earliest days, the Bolsheviks opposed trade unionism not subject to party control  4  The Bolsheviks encouraged peasant land seizures as a necessary part of class warfare against the landed nobility and merchant elites  Finally, private ownership of land was abolished in February 1918  D  The 1  On 28 June, 1918, the government decreed the nationalization of industry and several other measures abolition of the market continued under the second "war Communist" phase  constituting "war communism " 2  "War communism" involved the formal end of independent trade unions, forcible grain requisitioning, seizure of private housing by public institutions, the establishment of local collectives, dispossession of family properties, redistribution of housing space, and destruction of the old monetary system  3  War communism persisted from June 1918 until March 1921  It was viewed as a stage in the transition to socialism  E  The 1  Initially, Lenin supported the principle of unconditional national self-determination  Any nation might nationality problem re-defined  freely choose to secede from the Russian empire  Poland, Finland and Ukraine all seceded in 1917  2  Rapid disintegration of the old imperial fabric brought a reexamination of self-determination  Lenin now defined self-determination according to the will of organized workers in a particular ethnic group  A decision by the organized workers to affiliate with Bolshevism was interpreted as a call by the nation for inclusion in a socialist state  3  During the Russian Civil War, vast regions were reincorporated into the new regime  Much of the old Russian empire was reconfigured as a new Soviet empire  4  As with the pre-Revolutionary empire, the Soviet empire grew from the core outward, starting with the consolidation of Bolshevik power within the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic [RSFSR] itself  In legal terms, the Russian Federation acquired international status by negotiating, signing, and ratifying the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1918 (which ended the war with Germany and the Central     17 Powers) and by promulgating its own constitution in July 1918  De facto the RSFSR was not secure until the end of the civil war  a  During the civil war, a series of bilateral treaties bound the RSFSR with other soviet republics: first, the Ukraine and Belorussia, then Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia  b  In December 1922, these republics were affiliated under the terms of the so-called Union Treaty  The Union constitution was ratified in January 1924  Superficially, the Soviet Union resembled a federation in which the constituent republics held substantial authority  The legal terms of the Union Treaty and constitution were less important than the fact of party control exercised from Moscow  Essential Reading: Hosking, The First Socialist Society, pp  57-120  Recommended Reading: Richard Pipes, Russia under the Bolshevik Regime  [A very controversial book, sharply criticized by some historians for its polemic against the Bolsheviks, but a book that is also brilliant and indispensable  Read especially pp  3-165 on the civil war; and pp  337-368 on the assault against religion ] W  Bruce Lincoln, Red Victory  [A perceptive, morally-sensitive, well-researched narrative of the civil war; sometimes difficult to follow because the events themselves are so complex ] Paul Avrich, Kronstadt 1921  [An intellectually engaged, sympathetic portrait of the Kronstadt rebels by a leading historian of anarchism and socialism ] Evgenii Zamiatin, We  [A famous anti-utopian novel  Zamiatin's "United State" eerily resembles the socialist paradise about which some Bolsheviks dreamt ] Questions to Consider: 18     1  2  Why did the Bolsheviks win the civil war? After seizing power, did the Bolsheviks immediately attempt to institute socialism in Russia? Lecture Seven The Twenties Scope: The 1920s were crucial years for the young Soviet Union  The civil war and famine wreaked much bloodshed and devastation, and the new regime attempted to remake Russian society along Marxist- Leninist lines  This lecture will review and place in context the key developments of the 1920s  These include counter-revolutionary rebellions against Soviet rule, the Volga famine of 1920-1921, the New Economic Policy (NEP), confrontation with the Russian Orthodox Church and religion in general, and the succession crisis brought on by Lenin's stroke and ensuing death in 1924  I  An Overview of the 1920s  A  B  II  The A  B  C  The 1920s are sometimes portrayed as the "golden age" of Soviet communism, characterized by cultural vitality, utopian dreams, relative peace, and "market socialism " The Twenties are also portrayed as an alternative model or face of communism  This interpretation rests on a peculiar reading of the New Economic Policy and the intentions of the Communist leadership  Crisis of 1921-1922  The Kronstadt sailors' rebellion of winter 1920-1921  1  Sailors in the Red Navy garrison at Kronstadt rose against Bolshevik policies, asserting that socialism should respect the popular will as expressed in local soviets and that all socialist parties should be allowed to participate in Soviet elections  2  The Kronstadt rebellion was rapidly crushed in March 1921  3  This uprising frightened Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders, leading them to impose even more repressive measures to stamp out opposition to the party  Peasant rebellions  1  Numerous peasant protests broke out late in the civil war and immediately afterward, directed against food requisitioning and the presence of Soviet institutions in the countryside  The largest was the Tambov peasant rebellion (Antonov uprising) of 1920-1921  2  At the height of these uprisings, roughly forty thousand peasants fought against Soviet authorities  This was classic guerrilla warfare, which the regular army could not suppress  The government resorted to hostage-taking and even threatened the use of poison gas  The uprisings were not suppressed until June 1921, and Antonov was killed in 1922  The Volga famine of 1921-1922 has not been well understood  The historian Richard Pipes has called it "the greatest human disaster in European history until then, other than those caused by war, since the Black Death " III  The A  The New Economic Policy (NEP) was promulgated in March 1921  Outline Government's Response  1  This policy was intended to provide temporary "breathing space" for the Bolsheviks  2  Its goal was the elimination of food requisitioning and the anti-market campaign of "war communism," and the encouragement of grain production by (re)creation of a limited market economy  3  Nonetheless, the state retained control of the "commanding heights" in economic policy and planning  4  The NEP allowed limited private economic activity in cities and in the service sector  5  Until 1928, the NEP achieved its main objectives, but at the cost of a painful ideological retreat in economic policy  B  The NEP was accompanied by the tightening of other ideological controls  1  A prime example is the "anti-factionalism" rule, which forbade intraparty debate once the "party line" was determined  This rule was intended to prohibit opposition within the Communist Party      19 2  Confrontation with the Orthodox Church  By 1922, relations between the Bolsheviks and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Tikhon, resembled a "cold war " The government used the famine as a pretext for all-out war against the Church, which it excoriated for not handing over consecrated vessels to the government for famine relief  Patriarch Tikhon was placed under house arrest, and numerous bishops and priests were arrested and even executed  The government broke popular resistance to its antireligious policy  3  This attack on the Church's hierarchy was accompanied by other antireligious initiatives: ridicule of religious beliefs and the closure, confiscation, or destruction of church buildings (e g , the infamous dynamiting of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in 1931)  4  In addition to attacks on the predominant (formerly state) religion, the Communists also attacked Jewish religious practices  In 1922, many synagogues were closed or confiscated for government use, and Torah scrolls were forcibly removed from their sacred repositories  The previous government ban on the use of the Hebrew language was rigorously enforced  C  Despite ideological control within the party and the assault on religion, there was limited freedom in literature and the arts (e g , Pilnyak's short stories, Mayakovsky's Bedbug, etc )  IV  Succession Crisis  A  The first stage of this crisis corresponded to Lenin's gradual incapacitation between May 1922 and January 1924   1  Lenin suffered a stroke in May 1922  He seemed to recover but then suffered a second and more serious stroke in December 1922, followed by another in March 1923 that left him unable to speak  2  Written after the second stroke, Lenin's "Testament" contained assessments of leading Bolsheviks and criticisms of government and party bureaucracy and backwardness  Lenin suggested in this document that Stalin should be removed as party secretary  3  Lenin died in January 1924 and was immediately apotheosized  B  Intraparty maneuvering for power between January 1924 and December 1928 marked the second stage of the crisis  1  Lenin's lingering illness and then death created a power vacuum  Trotsky was the only other leader with stature to rival Lenin's, creating animosity with potential rivals  A complex series of political maneuvers followed  Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, and Bukharin failed to share power or agree on a single successor to Lenin as primus inter pares  2  Josef Stalin emerged as Lenin's successor  He had been a professional revolutionary since 1898, and his association with Lenin and the Bolsheviks dated from at least 1905  He was characterized as rude, crude, and ruthless (cf  Tucker's psychological interpretation of Stalin)  3  Stalin was close to Lenin in his understanding of NEP, proletarian dictatorship, "democratic centralism," and revolutionary maximalism  4  The "triumvirate" of Stalin, Zinoviev, and Kamenev eliminated Trotsky's influence (and later Trotsky himself)  Stalin then eliminated his two associates and gained full control of the party, which he held for the next thirty years  V  Conclusion  We can view the 1920s as a "breathing space" and as a "turning point where history failed to turn " This decade witnessed the survival of the fledging Communist movement from the struggles of the Russian civil war, famines, peasant uprisings, foreign intervention, and economic chaos, as well as attendant social dislocations  Lenin's death, which occurred just as new Communist policies were being implemented, precipitated a power struggle that ended with the emergence of Josef Stalin as party chief  The late 1920s marks the start of the Stalin era of Russian history  Essential Reading: Hosking, The First Socialist Society, pp  119-150  Volkogonov, Stalin  Triumph and Tragedy, pp  3-158  20     Recommended Reading: Boris Bazhanov, Avec Staline dans le Kremlin  [This little book by Stalin's former personal secretary speaks volumes about the personality of the future Soviet leader; it is one of the first exposés of Stalin ] Stephen Cohen, Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution  [A very fine biography of Stalin's rival, Nikolai Bukharin, and an implicit indictment of the "cold-war" school of historians whose descriptions of the Bolsheviks as monolithic and dictatorial Cohen finds wrong-headed ] Moshe Lewin, Lenin's Last Struggle  [A clever, not always persuasive description of Lenin's efforts to save the Bolshevik party and Soviet government from bureaucratism, antidemocratic tendencies and Stalin ] Nina Tumarkin, Lenin Lives! The Lenin Cult in Soviet Russia  [A wonderful, surprising book on the posthumous cult of Lenin  Not to be missed ] Questions to Consider: 1  Can the early 1920s rightly be characterized as the "golden age" of Soviet communism? If so, why? Also, provide a countervailing view, with support for your answer  2  What was the significance of the prolonged succession crisis that ensued following Lenin's illness in May 1922?     21 Scope: Lecture Eight Stalin and the "Second October Revolution" This lecture examines the transformation of the Soviet economy under Stalin's Five-Year Plan, promulgated in 1927  The effectiveness of Soviet central planning was undermined by Russia's economic woes and the NEP, which clashed with tightly controlled state planning  We will trace how Stalin's Five- Year Plan became a fixture of Soviet rule after 1928, and we will study in particular the effect of forcible nationalization of production and distribution on various sectors of Russian society, especially the rural sector  Outline First Five-Year Plan in Industry  Rudiments of state planning had existed earlier (e g , GosPlan)