Why were there two revolutions in Russia in 1917?

Why were there two Revolutions in 1917?

The most adequate question would not be why there were two Revolutions, but why Russia required a second one in the first place. Russia had been in turmoil for quite some time due to poverty, dissatisfaction and hatred for the regime during the early 1900s and by March 1917 the Russian people had successfully overthrown the Tsar and had instated a provisional government. The people believed this government would remedy the issues of the state. However, this was not to be, and another Revolution followed a few months later. The reasons as to why will be analysed through three main points. The continuance of a bourgeoisie government, the lack of amenities that were promised to the people and the absence of Lenin
The promises of the Provisional Government to provide a leadership base formed by the people had been completely ignored, thus prompting more conflict. Once Tsar Nicholas II had been overthrown, the promises of the provisional government wafted over the populace, however they ignored the promises that had been put in place. Richard Pipes argues that by the end of the first revolution the Russian People had merely gained “a breathing spell” as one tyrannical dictator had just been replaced a bourgeoisie government. Essentially voiding the entire revolution and just creating another Tsar in a different format. Due to the fact that the Russian people had the aim of eliminating a bourgeoisie government from the very beginning, they did not take too kindly to the provisional governments change of heart. In simplest terms one of the reasons behind the second revolution was because the first revolution had not accomplished what the people had sought after for so long. Even Lenin stated that “owing to the insufficient class consciousness” another Bourgeoisie government was allowed to dig itself into Russia’s skin. In addition, do this as Christopher Reed states “Russia was a bottle of fizzy water that had to burst” which meant that due to the class divides and oppression the Russia had to blow. Thus providing another reasoning for both revolutions, as they were both based off of the same premise, elimination of the Bourgeoisie and incurrence of the Proletariat.
Another major factor in the need for a second revolution was the lack amenities that the entire revolution had been based off of. “Peace, Bread, Land”. After the February revolution of 1917 the people had great hopes for a new Russia. They had begun the revolution on International Women’s day with the motto of “bread and peace”. So it would be only natural to assume that since that was their goal, and that they succeeded in the Revolution, they would achieve “bread and peace”. However almost the complete opposite took place. The current Politicians of the Duma that the Tsar had created at the time, had taken the opportunity to instate the provisional government. The problem with this was that all of these politicians were nobles and rich landowners that had no intent whatsoever to give up their belongings and distribute them to the people. The Second Minister of the provisional government was Alexander Kerensky, a Lawyer/Politician who was also a wealthy Landowner realized that the people would not be content with the current conditions, so the provisional government promised free elections for the people. However again, the elections that were promised never came to fruition, and the longer that they did not occur, the longer the Russian People had time to realize that they may never happen. Thus prompting revolutionaries to take arms. In addition to this the Provisional Government had not stopped fighting in the Great War and had kept the troops on the front. This was a contributing factor to major unrest for a number of reasons, one of them being that many of the supplies such as food and resources were being funneled to the front, this meant that the people of Russia were still getting the same amount of food as they had been getting under Tsarist rule. In addition to this the Russian people had essentially become tired of war. Sending their men off to die in a war that was not theirs to fight, yet just an auxiliary line to keep the Germans off of the United Kingdom and France. This further created unrest and created another Revolutionary mindset that would’ve been triggered with the arrival of Lenin.
Finally, one of the most critical factors for a need for a second revolution was the Absence of Lenin in February of 1917. Lenin had only arrived in Russia on April the 3rd 1917, this meant he had not been in Russia to organize the February revolution, that is why the February-March revolution was called a spontaneous. Simpson argues that the outcome of the First revolution can mainly be pinned on the lack of organized Revolutionary leadership and the abundance of Revolutionary parties in complete confusion. In short nobody was on the same page. The Women’s Revolutionary party may have been lobbying for “peace and bread” while a worker’s party may have been lobbying for higher wages and so on for far too many different parties. This art of revolution is usually called a bottom-up revolution, in which the people conduct it. Subsequently since the February revolution had no clear goal from the beginning and essentially achieved nothing. They were not able to concretely capitalize on the lack of leadership in Russia and form unanimously a legitimate Government that suited the peoples. Which is why a second revolution was needed. The importance of Lenin is this circumstance is that he would have created a very organized and focused revolution had he been present in the 1st revolution, however he was relegated to Switzerland at the time and actually believed the Revolution had failed. ‘Once you lose control of the army, you lose control of your government.’ This held completely true due to the dissonance of policies between the military and the provisional Government. The Army had no intention or want to stay in the Great War and had the motives to aid Lenin in his conflict. This meant that the provisional government had all the authority and none of the power, as stated by Georgy Lvov himself, the prime minister of the Provisional Government, this shows that even the ruling party at the time new that another revolution was bound to occur and they would lose. This weakness opened up a perfect opportunity for Lenin to capitalize and incorporate 6 months of planning with the military might of the Russian Army. This is another reason why the second revolution occurred, the pure potential and drive behind the Russian people tied with Lenin’s fervour and planning was the third major factor.
In conclusion the two revolutions occurred mainly based off of the need for a non-bourgeoisie and proletariat centred rule after decades of oppression and poverty. The need for the second revolution was based off of the lack of social, political and Welfare satisfaction heralded by the first revolution and the survival of a bourgeoisie regime due to the lack of organization because of the Absence of Lenin’s planned ‘top down revolution’.

Why were there two revolutions in Russia in 1917?

The issue with this question, is that it is very hard to consider the events of February 1917 a revolution. The provisional government was not voted in, did not address or solve the issues that the people were desperate for, and it was simply a change in the figure head, from Czar Nicholas to prince Georgy Lvov and later Alexander Kerensky. The provisional government did not affect the “Peace, land and bread” that Lenin promised (which was based upon what the people wanted) and this is why it was completely necessary for the October revolution to happen. This essay will analyse the ways in which the provisional government failed to provide the people with peace (pulling Russia out of the second world war), land (giving the land to the peasants) and bread (ending the food shortages that had been apparent since the start of world war one).

The Russians were unprepared for the war, and the majority people hated it, the provisional governments support of the war was the opposite of what the people wanted, proving to be the main reason for its failure. Russia was never ready to go to war, they were not industrialized enough to support their own soldiers, nor organized enough to support their citizens during this period. There are many stories of the lack of resources Russian soldiers received on the front lines, in 1914, the Russian Army had around 6,553,000 men, however they had just 4,652,000 rifles, leaving almost 2 million men without a gun Many untrained peasants were sent into battle told to try and loot a corpse for some form of weapon. Furthermore, Russia’s already small railway network was further stretched by the war, as the majority of lines were dedicated to moving soldiers into battle, imports of food into major Russian cities were all but stopped, provoking the people even further. Many Russian citizens only saw the negatives of the first world war, and thought that whether they won or not, they were always much worse off than at the beginning of the war, and believed a quick departure would be better than an elongated participation. The provisional government maintained that the war was a good thing with fairly sparse support from the people. However, the Russian governments failed attack on Austria in June 1917 proved to be the final straw of support for almost all Russians, and Lenin’s maintained mantra of ending the war proved to be what the people wanted, and he received much more support after this. Lenin managed to end the war on the 3rd March 1918, with the treaty of Brest-Litovsk. However, this ending of the war proved not to be the instant solution the Russian people longed for.

After the events of February, the ‘bourgeoisie’ still held positions of power, making it almost certain that land would not be given to the Russian people, further alienating the average Russian people. The people of Russia wanted land, to grow food, raise animals, and build houses, but the aristocrats left over from the Czarist regime did not want to give up the huge estates they had accumulated under the royal administration. Even so, the peasants had been seizing and dividing some of these estates after February, this was still not a recognized fact by the government, and the people were doing so illegally. However, this was not what the Russian people wanted, again they saw the lack of land for the people as a source for their lack of food (fairly correctly), the Russian people wished for land of their own, given to them by the government. As Richard Pipes argues that lack of land distributed between the large groups of peasants led to the very inefficient method of farming, strip farming. This inefficiency was a huge reason for the lack of food among Russian people, naturally a large issue for them. This legal accumulation of land would never happen under the provisional government, as too many of the cabinet would lose out if this were to happen. The lack of land distributed to peasants was a large contributing factor to tensions toward the provisional government, and a large reason for the October revolution occurring in the same year.

As was previously stated the lack of bread was caused mostly by world war one and the nationalization of Russian land, and this lack of bread spawned a lot of hatred toward the provisional government. Orlando Figes stated that the 1905 revolution was “caused by bread”, and that the lack of food for Russian people gave them nothing to lose and propelled them to revolt. This argument is still relevant to the revolutions in 1917, and the fact that the provisional government were unable to address these issues was important to create an atmosphere of discontent towards the social democratic government. While bread was seen as part of a ‘domino effect’ of the solution of Lenin’s two other points, it was perhaps the most important, as a lack of food affected all of the of the citizens of Russia. The lack of food for the Russian people created a further divide between the citizens and the politicians, as the majority of politicians were not suffering from a lack of food, due to the majority of them being quite wealthy, this perhaps led to them believing the government was not listening to them, as the issue did not affect them directly. However, the issue of solving Russia’s food crisis was not as simple as just ending the war, and creating land reform, as Lenin found when he took power in October. He successfully ended world war one, and gave land to the peasants (admittedly they had already taken most of it themselves) but he could not find a solution to Russia’s food problem. The Russian peoples calls for food were never heard by the provisional government, and the Russian people saw this as a side effect of their distance from the average Russian citizen, it caused a lot of tensions, and led in large part to the October revolution later that same year.

Lenin failed to change Russia’s food problem, but he had succeeded in the other two of his policies. The provisional government failed in all three, and was seen by many to have not even tried. Therefore it must be said that was the accumulative lack of reform in peace, bread and land that caused there to be a revolution in October 1917.

 Example 3

“Go, go into the dustbin of history.” These were the words of Trotsky, said to the competitors of the Bolsheviks following the success of the October revolution, when they walked out of the Winter Palace room and left Lenin as Russia’s new leader. However, this is also the point of view of some towards the revolutions in 1917, due to the fact that the result was the communist USSR. Indeed, the actions of both the February Revolution, where the Tsar was overthrown, and the October Revolution, where the Bolsheviks were placed in power, did not garner the results that the people wanted: equality. Therefore, I will be arguing that both revolutions cannot even be classified as such, due to the issues and the lack of change garnered.
Firstly, there was no February revolution, as no changes to Russia were made. On the 23rd of February, 1917, bread riots began in the capital of Petrograd. Riots and uprisings began to spread throughout the capital. However, it was not the lack of food that sparked these revolts; it was Russia’s involvement in World War 1. The war had meant that farmers were going out to fight and no crops where hence being tended, that loved ones were dying on the battlefield, and that the economy was collapsing due to all the country’s money and resources being sent to the soldiers. Since the Tsar was the absolute leader of the country, all the blame turned to him. The uprisings of the next few days of the revolution caused the Tsar to abdicate on the 30th of February, 1917, allowing a provincial government to be set up and the revolutionaries to believe that everyone would become more equal. However, no aspect of this revolution proved successful. Firstly, it was spontaneous. The revolution lacked leadership, meaning that everyone who revolted had their own goals, and that virtually no changes could be made as no one could agree on how to make them or how to go about getting them. In fact, the February Revolution was very similar to the previous attempt in 1905, as argued by historian Adam Ulan in his book The Bolsheviks: The Intellectual and Political History of the Triumph of Communism in Russia. “Up to now the script was not too dissimilar to the events of October 1905. But soon the vital difference appeared: the Tsarist regime disintegrated.” Here he compares the two revolutions, seeing no difference between them other than the Tsar’s abdication. This tells us that the February Revolution was just as unsuccessful as the 1905, being another spontaneous uprising that achieved virtually nothing other than the transition of the governing leader of the country. Perhaps the only saving grace was the Provincial Government, that promised the people what Lenin later argues for, “Peace, Bread, Land”. Hence, they promise the people land reforms, enough money and resources to actually live on, and the end of the war. However, what Adam Ulan fails to argue in his book was the lack of results garnered by the revolution; that the Provincial Government never delivered on these promises. Sergey Mikhaylovick Eisenstein, a Russian Propaganda Film Director, created the movie Ten Days That Shook The World in 1928. In it, it depicts life of the Russians after the February revolution, and, most importantly, portrays the Prime-Minister Alexander Kerensky as the “new Tsar”, living in the palace and doing an appalling job at running the country. Hence, he was displaying that nothing in the country had improved, and that the only difference garnered was the change of leader. Back in the century of 300BC, the Greek philosopher Aristotle defined the two types of political revolutions: “Complete change from one constitution to another” and “Modification of an existing constitution.” Since the revolutionaries desired a complete change of governing, the fact Provincial Government did not make any changes to Russia meant that it was no different to the Tsarist regime, and therefore the revolution was a failure. Therefore, the February Revolution was not even a revolution to begin with, as the results desired by the people did not come to pass, meaning that it failed in its purpose.
The October revolution also cannot be classified as a revolution, as it was unsuccessful as well. It is true that it garnered more results than the revolution in February, due to the leadership of Lenin that allowed the uprising to be directed and controlled. In fact, this uprising happened due to the failure of the last one, being the reason as to why two revolutions happened in the same year. In the introduction I called the October revolution a success. This was not a contradiction to the main point of this paragraph. Rather, it was the belief of the Bolsheviks, and of Trotsky and Lenin, who came into power after the revolution overthrew the provincial government. Their desires for the revolution did indeed happen, as they got control over the country. However, for the majority of the people in Russia, the results that their uprisings garnered were not what was promised. The biggest result desired were equal rights. While the Provincial Government was in power, they promised democracy, that the people would have a right to vote for the new leader. However, this never happened, with the government electing Alexander Kerensky as the prime-minister without any input from the people. In response to this, Lenin promised to allow the people democracy following the October Revolution. And an election did indeed happen on the 12th of November, 1917, called the Russian Constituent Assembly Election. However, the problem was that the Bolsheviks did not win, only gaining 25% of the votes. Instead, the winner of democracy was the Socialist Revolutionary Party. This caused Lenin to remove democracy entirely and put himself in charge of the country, going against the people’s wishes. Adam Ulan believes this to be the actions of a coward, arguing that “Any group of determined men could have done what the Bolsheviks did in Petrograd in October 1917: seize the few key points of the city and proclaim themselves the government.” Therefore, he thinks that the Bolsheviks are nothing special and they did not have the country’s best interests at heart, taking power just for the sake of power rather than a tool to bring about positive change. However, historian John Reed believes the exact opposite. “Instead of being a destructive force, it seems to me that the Bolsheviki were the only party in Russia with a constructive program and the power to impose it on the country.” He sees the actions of the Bolshevik party as necessary, in order to make Russia a better place despite the consequences. Nevertheless, the October revolution was also not a revolution, as the results garnered from it were once again not the ones that the people wanted. 
There are still those out there who believe that the events of February and October in Russia were indeed revolutions. However, the Australian-American historian Sheila Fitzpatrick argues in her book The Russian Revolution that the Russian Revolution was one long combined process, rather than two separate uprisings.  In the sixth chapter, she refers to Crane Brinton’s theory of revolution; that it is “like a fever that grips the patient, rises to climax, and finally subsides, leaving the patient to a normal life.” The metaphorical purpose of this view is that revolutions inspire the people, or in this case the patient, to rise up against the government. The climax is the actual overthrowing, where they are usually results that are garnered. Then, after all is said and done, the revolutionary feeling goes away and the people continue to live normally. However, Fitzpatrick then goes on to argue that the Revolution, the uprisings, and all the Civil War that occurred between 1918 to 1921 were just the first bout, meaning that they were only the beginnings of the revolution. This was due to the lack of results garnered by the events of 1917, where the wishes of the people were not taken into consideration. The fact that the people did not get what they wanted out of the revolution meant that they were unhappy and angry at the years after 1917, harbouring rebellious feelings as Russia became the Soviet Union and Lenin, followed by Stalin, shaped the country the way they wanted. Thus, the revolution, as argued by Sheila Fitzpatrick, was a long continuous process, meaning that there weren’t two revolutions in 1917, but rather one large one spanning many years. There are faults with this claim however. It fails to consider to consider the other side of the argument. The fact that the revolution was compared to a fever means that she considers the revolution to have impacted negatively on the people. On the other hand, Adam Ulan on the 314th page in his book The Bolsheviks: The Intellectual and Political History of the Triumph of Communism in Russia considers it as positive. “Thus the Bolsheviks’ achievement in 1917, great though it was, pales in comparison with the enormous task they accomplished in the next five years: … the most authoritarian state in the world.” Here he puts the work of the Bolsheviks during the revolution, and after, in a positive context. He tells the reader to focus on the bigger picture – that the Bolsheviks were able to accomplish their goals in a short amount of time, creating an authoritarian state, meaning that they were successful. Nevertheless, according to the historian Sheila Fitzpatrick, the revolutions in 1917 in Russia were actually just the beginning of one massive revolution spanning years.
The reason that there were two revolutions in 1917 was because of neither was successful. In fact, neither the February Revolution or the October Revolution can be called such, as they did not get the results desired. Even if you believe otherwise, the two revolutions were indeed only the beginning of an elaborate revolution that lasted for several years. So the line “Go, go into the dustbin of history” perhaps is not justified, as it is important to remember the past in order to improve the future. 

Example 4 

Peace, bread, land. Three promises by Lenin to gain support of the people that would spark the second revolution in October 1917. The February Revolution, beginning on 8th March was disorganised and its effect was purely a change of leader, rather that the improvements to the way of living for the people that the first revolution had been after. This essay will argue Lenin’s promises of land, where peasants lacked ownership of their own land, bread, the lack of bread or money that these peasants had as a result of the February revolution, and finally the peace, where Russia was still fighting in the war. These were ultimately the factors that caused a second revolution in 1917.

The peasants of Russia who had taken part in the February Revolution had wanted ownership of land but this was not what they had received as an outcome of the revolution and thus strived for a second one that would give them the change they were after. The Czar had abdicated and Алекса́ндр Фёдорович Ке́ренский (Alexander Kerensky) had become Prime Minister but the effects of the revolution were simply a change in leader. For the people, they were working in the same factories, living in the same circumstances, and still not having the freedom of owning their own piece of land that they were after from the February Revolution. In the opinion of Vladimir Brovkin, the Bolsheviks had been able to seize power from their land reform policies that had ensured the peasants to be on their side. This is important as it shows how the provisional government that was implemented as a result of the first revolution did not help the people and that its only change was that of the leader. However, as Brovkin was born into Communist Russia in the 1950s, it demonstrates how censorship at the time may have influenced his judgement. His arguments seem to support and glorify the Bolsheviks, in the same way that his leader at the time of his birth, Stalin, and when he was growing up, Khrushchev, would have wanted to promote. This shows the possible biases that his writing may contain as he had to be very careful with what he published due to the strict communist regime at the time. All in all, the lack of land given to the peasants after the February Revolution was a key factor in the beginning of the October Revolution in 1917, as Lenin showed them a way to achieve what they had previously failed to do and obtain their own land.

Bread was Lenin’s second promise to the people. The February Revolution that had begun on International Women’s Day, also known as the Bread Riots, was an act that also effective at the time, yielded few benefits in the long run. A photograph, captured by the amateur photographer, Vladislav Mikhailov, shows women rioting in the February Revolution. They are holding banners and seem to be rather aggressive in their approach which demonstrates how desperate they are for food. As so many of them are taking part in the riot, it shows that the starvation was not only amongst a few, but the masses and that they knew something had to be done. However, this photograph is limited to the fact that it only shows what is occurring at the time it was taken. We do not know the outcome of the riots and if these people were any better off as a result of the revolution. We do know however, that this revolution did not improve the situation for the people’s food shortages as Lenin was still required to promise the people bread in his speech that had taken place after the Czar had been overthrown and the provisional government implemented. Lenin offered the people hope and as they were starving to death, they didn’t need much persuading to join his cause as he promised them a way out through his second revolution in 1917. He had the peasants on his side and as they were so desperate, they followed his lead to fight for bread, which was a main factor in initiating the second revolution of the year in October.

Russia was part of the first world war and the people of this nation wanted peace. After the first revolution, the peasants of this nation still wanted bread and land. However, with the soldiers at war, most of the bread was being given to them, and the government wouldn’t give the people land as this would cause outrage from the soldiers, possibly leading to rebellion at the front line. In order for the country to regain its strength and build itself up once again, it needed to get out of the war and have peace. This was promised by Lenin and then followed through when he signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, taking Russia out of the war on the 3rd March 1918. However, Richard Pipes argues that Lenin was “the most significant source of unrest and was little more than a chance-taker who exploited the disorder of 1917 to hijack power.” This shows that in Pipe’s view, Lenin’s promise for peace was simply an act and that he used the people’s anger and desperation to rise to power through the second revolution in 1917. On the other hand, Lenin was a remarkable man, and gave the people what they wanted. By signing the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, he was able to bring a peace to the country that no one had seen in years and this promise by Lenin for a better future was irresistible to the peasants of Russia. They backed him up and gave him the power to overthrow the Provisional Government. Lenin was organised and knew how to plan a revolution, and with the people on his side, it was only a matter of time before a fight for peace would lead to the second revolution of 1917.

In conclusion, Lenin’s promise for peace, bread, and land, gave the peasants hope for a better life and persuaded them to fight alongside the Bolsheviks to overthrow the Provisional Government. Lenin knew how to organise a revolution, and because he led the people in their time of distress, there was bound to be a second revolution in 1917.

Example 5

“Peace, Bread, Land”, is the iconic slogan which Lenin wrote in his April Thesis promising these three aspects to all of the Russians after the first revolution in 1917. Yet why was there a need for two revolutions in 1917? The provisional government that was created after the February revolution successfully freed the Russians from autocracy and Tsardom, yet it did not fulfil the wishes of the people which were identical to what Lenin summarized. The provisional governments sheer incompetence in failing to provide peace, bread, and land for their citizens is what created a need for the October revolution in 1917.

Firstly, Russians wanted peace and an exit from the First World War. They entered the First World War very unprepared, only being able to supply rifles to every second soldier that they send out and telling untrained peasants to loot guns from deceased soldiers in the field. 1.7 million Russian soldiers died during the war, the second highest death toll following the German Empire and a several million more were injured. After the February revolution many expected a prompt exit to the war, yet the provisional government, that was not voted in by the Russian people, was in favour of the war. Russia was in outrage; these unpopular aims were still being exerted by the provisional government against the views of the majority of Russians. The provisional government wanted to stay in the war in order to continue imperialism, honor their international alliances, and mainly try and win the faith of Russians by winning the war. Yet people did not want to win in this war many argued that even if they would win they would be worse off as a whole. The Russian citizens turned to the Bolsheviks and demanded the end of this atrocious war for Russia, yet whilst the Bolsheviks had a vast support unlike the provisional government, they lacked the legitimacy which the provisional government had. Yet this did not prevent the Bolsheviks from opposing the provisional government. Lenin had come back from exile and had presented his April Thesis to his followers which were against the war. The Bolsheviks also began spreading powerful anti-war propaganda to fight the government. In addition to this Lenin had demanded from the provisional government that the military power should be handed over to the Soviets as they were more popular. Overall it is evident that Russians were extremely unhappy with the lack of peace that the provisional government brought and therefore demanded a second revolution to ensure that Russia leaves the war and peace is created.

Secondly, Russian’s were unhappy with their commodities. The first revolution in 1917 started on International Women’s Day and was dubbed the bread days as these women were seeking more bread in order to feed their families and protesting the high prices of bread. Supply lines on Russia’s sub-par railway were being used primarily to move troops which angered Russian as discussed above Russian’s wanted an end to the war and not to continue moving troops to the front. Additionally, Russia had a problem with supplying commodities. Not only were the transport systems inadequate but the so called ‘Bread Basket’ of Russia, Ukraine, had been devastated by the war, and was strongly capped producing a fraction of its normal output. Secondly the factories in Russia were too busy producing weapons and armory for Russian soldiers, once again against the will of the majority of Russian citizens who wanted a prompt exit from the war. This scarcity following the economic law of supply sky rocketed the price for such goods, making them extremely unaffordable to the Russian plebeians who thought that by a change in government they would achieve cheaper prices. They could not have been more wrong, the provisional government kept the war going occupying railroads and factories for military needs instead of feeding its own citizens. The government had been changed yet they themselves failed to make a change that their people needed so heavily. Because of this lack of action from the provisional government it comes to no surprise that the people of Russia wanted a change in the form of Lenin, who had promised an end to the First World War and his communist ideals would strongly aid workers who were not managing to earn enough for bread.

Lastly, Russians wished for a first change in government mainly to redistribute land from the aristocracy to the people. This was a main reason why the Russians revolted on the streets and distrusted the Tsar. Yet a political revolution and a change in government hardly changed anything. The provisional government apparently could not implement land policies imminently and gave the excuse that peasants who were involved in the problems of land-distribution were fighting at the war front (which once again could have been prevented by having the provisional government follow the wish of the Russian people and leaving the war).
Even after the provisional government was in power most of the land was still held by the so called ‘bourgeoisie’ prevent land to be given to the Russian plebs who wanted to use this land to grow crops, which were very needed after Ukraine being destroyed, and build houses for their families. The peasants were too impatient and began taking action by killing land lords and annexing land for themselves. This caused over 1,100 complaints to the government about such attacks. This evidently shows that the Russian people were extremely unhappy with the debacle which the provisional government failed to address and took matters, illegally, into their own hands.

To conclude, peace bread and land were not deliver to the Russians who had requested it for so long and fought for it in not just one but two revolutions in a single year. Yet the problem with this question is that many historians including Richard Pipes state that the second revolution wasn’t a revolution at all, instead it resembles a coup d’état as it only changed the political party. There is a distinctive difference between the two ‘revolutions’ as the first was a social revolution changing the authoritarian state of Russia into a state ruled by, heavily criticized and unelected but, none the less, a parliament. Yet with these issues in mind it is still important to note that both a revolution and a coup d’état was required to bring peace, bread, and land to Russia, and temporarily make citizens happy. 

Example 6

Why were there two revolutions in Russia in 1917?

Nothing depicts the reasons for the second revolution in October in Russia and thus gives reason for why there were two revolutions in 1917 better than the artwork The Pogrom of the Winter Palace by the Russian artist Ivan Vladimirov, painted in 1917 showing Bolshevik soldiers destroying artworks hung in the Winter Palace. This shows that the first revolution was simply a political revolution in, which new ministers took the spots of old ones in the same building with the same society and that they did not change any of their policies in order to meet the demands of the public. Peace, bread, land was the basis and the reason for why the Bolsheviks launched their second successful revolution in 1917.
After the February Revolution, Julian calendar, the Russian people had hoped that the provisional government would immediately try to withdraw from the Great War however no such efforts were made instead the disastrous Kerensky Offensive was launched and so Lenin used the ongoing war for one of the main reasons for why Russia needed a second Revolution in 1917. By 1917 Russia had the most atrocities compared to the other Entente powers losing around 1.7 million soldiers on the battle field and about 1.1 million civilians in the fought over regions. This was causing great troubles at home and the majority of the people wanted to opt out of the war because they no longer understood what they were fighting for. When the tsar abdicated the people hoped that the provisional government would try to withdraw from the war however the people that replaced the tsar were more interested in continue fighting and so they made no effort to end the war. When the Kerensky Offensive was launched the Russians felt as if the war would never end even though they had already suffered so much. In addition, people were starving at home because food had to be sent to the front in order to feed the soldiers, which took priority over the simple folk at home. This is why in October the masses were getting restless because they had hoped for the provisional government to retreat from the war however the war continued like before and no end was in sight. This explains why the masses stated sympathizing with the Bolsheviks as they called to end the war immediately if they got to power. John Reed argues that the Bolsheviks were the only party at the time with a constructive plan, which could aid Russia and get them out of the war explaining why they had so many sympathizers in October who all called to start a second revolution to finally enable peace to settle over Russia. When considering John Reed one has to be aware of the fact that he is a Bolshevik sympathizer, which goes so far that his book’s foreword is written by Lenin. This means that he might glorify some of his argument in order to shine a better light on the Bolshevik party. His arguments have to be used with care however he was in Russia at the time of the revolution giving him insight into why the people wanted a second revolution after a successful first one and he will understand the strong longing for peace, which the Russians experienced in 1917. In conclusion the people craved a second revolution because one of their biggest hopes of change was not fulfilled by the first revolution and so a second one was necessary to bring about positive change.
Another major problem the provisional government, which was set up after the first revolution, faced was that they were not able to meet the bread demands of the population. One of the main reasons for why there was a first revolution in 1917 was that the people were starving to death because there was not enough bread to feed them. The food rations for each person had been cut down by the government until they were so little that the people starved to death. The problem that the provisional government faced was that they were still not able to feed the population because on the one hand most of the food was given to the soldiers on the front and on the other hand the country lacked farmers to produce the food because they were mostly fighting at the front. Michael C. Hickey on the other hand argues that there was enough food to feed the nation however due to harsh winters the rail way system between rural areas and the cities had been broken down so the food simply did not reach the cities. Moscow alone required 120 freight cars of grain a day however only 20 reached it in 1917 because the carts were simply not able to surpass certain points due to the bad state the railway tracks were in. Far from improving the situation as the provisional government had promised, which the general public trusted during the beginning of their short rule, nothing changed and the people were still starving on the streets due to the food shortages, which the provisional government had promised to resolve. The fact that there was still not enough bread for the people even without the tsar changed the people’s opinion of the provisional government and they lost trust in them as the bread shortages were yet another situation, which the government failed to improve. The food shortages, which were not resolved were another aspect, which caused the people to initiate a second revolution in order to change this deadly situation.
 The last major issue, which the provisional government faced and one of the main reasons for why there had to be a second revolution was that they were not able to satisfy the populations land reform requests. During the time of the Romanovs 95% of Russia’s population were peasant farmers who did not own any land but had to pay unreasonably high rents to the landlords who owned the land and who they had to rent it from. After the first revolution these peasants hoped that situation would improve and that the land would be split up equally between them so that everybody could own their own land. This issue, which the newly appointed provisional government faced was that many of them had strong links to land owners and so they were primarily opposed to land reforms. In order to calm the masses however they argued that land reforms would come about once Russia had settled and proper elections could be held in order to ratify the government’s position. The government used the excuse that they had not been elected and because of this had no power to change the constitution to not have any land reforms at the time. It is of course possible that they would have had land reforms once the war was over and they were elected however the people were not willing to wait. Firstly as stated before the Russians felt as if there was no sight of an end to the war, which had already lasted for three years and so it seemed as if Russia would never be stable enough to hold elections. Secondly the tsars had rules the country since 1613 and the people felt as if they been oppressed since then regarding their land ownership rights and with the provisional government nothing had changed yet and the possibility of change in the future seamed too far away at that point. The fact that nothing definitive had changed regarding landownership right after the first revolution caused the people to rely on a second revolution in 1917 to finally bring about positive change.
In conclusion Lenin with the help of the Bolshevik Party thought it necessary to start a second Revolution in 1917 since the first one did not have the effects, which the people were hoping for and so he planned and conducted a coup d’etat or a gosudarstvennyy perevorot as the Russians would have called it. The Russian population were not satisfied after the first revolution since it did not meet their demands and so a second revolution was necessary to bring about the change that met their demands and satisfied them.

  Example 7

Why were there two revolutions in 1917?

John Reed, historian and author of “Ten Days that Shook the World”, claims that the Bolsheviks were “the only people in Russia who had a definite programme of action while the others talked for eight long months”. This essay will seek to validate the claims of Reed in that the October revolution only occurred because the provisional government failed to address the most important needs of the people, as stated by Lenin’s April theses: peace, bread and land. The provisional government of Russia failed to introduce any significant social changes, making it much more of a coup d’état rather than a revolution. Thus, the October revolution was the only conceivable revolution in 1917.
The first reason for the Bolshevik success lay in the fact that they brokered a peace treaty (Brest-Litovsk) with the Central Powers that ended a highly unpopular Eastern front of WW1. The provisional government remained persistent in the belief that Russia should continue its war efforts, despite having 9,750,000 casualties by the time they came to power. Moreover, the Kerensky offensive (named after the minister-chairman of the government, Alexander Kerensky) against Germany and Austria was a disaster. By September 1917, the situation became so dire that soldiers and sailors mutinied and deserted the front to return home. The provisional government, instead of making any genuine efforts to stop the war, even issued ‘death squads’ to hunt down deserters and execute them in order to keep the people on the front. On the other hand, when Lenin arrived in Petrograd on April 3, 1917, one of his April theses included the promise of peace to the people. He appealed to the people’s outrage at the unpopular war, condemning it as a “predatory imperialist war”. More importantly, the Bolsheviks kept their promise of peace by brokering the harsh, but peace-bringing treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The Russian people could finally devote their resources to fixing the food shortages at home instead of supplying a pointless, lost war. On this issue, Reed wrote that the Bolsheviks succeeded in fulfilling “the vast and simple desires of the most profound strata of the people, calling them to the work of tearing down and destroying the old”. The reason why Reed is so sympathetic to the Bolsheviks is that he himself was a socialist. He had travelled to Russia experiencing the success of the revolution and the burning emotions of the people there. Reed himself was an avid critic of the first World War. He saw his own people, the American working men, fighting a war that was incited by the “great financial patriots”. Just as Reed despised the war that the USA was fighting, he empathized with the hatred for the war that the Russian working class was fighting at the behest of a bourgeois government. However, Reed fails to recognize that shortly after the Bolshevik seizure of power, another civil war occurred in which 2 million Russian lives were lost. Even though the Bolsheviks under Lenin were seemingly intent on establishing peace, the Bolsheviks (which were supposed to be a volunteer force) used conscription tactics similar to that of the Tsarist regime in order to force rural Russians to join the Bolshevik cause. In fact, three-quarters of the Red Army officer corps were former Tsarist officers and 83% of the Red Army were former Tsarist soldiers. In this respect, Russia did not see any more peace in the period of 1917-1923 than it did in WW1 itself. Nevertheless, the Bolsheviks were successful in the sense that they ended the most unpopular war in Russian history, which garnered significant support for the Bolsheviks.
Secondly, the provisional government did not manage to improve upon the severe poverty in Russia, which also led to a mass famine. Essentially, the provisional government inherited the problems with which the Tsarist regime was confronted. The focus of production to the war effort forced the provisional government to use its limited railways to supply the fronts, instead of using these railways to supply blockaded cities such as Petrograd in order to solve the extreme food shortages there. Ukraine, the breadbasket of Russia, was devastated by the war that the provisional government refused to stop and therefore, was unable to supply the hungering Russian civilian and military populace. In addition, as necessities became scarcer, the prices rose and led to hyperinflation, which were key factors in the July Days/Crisis in which 500,000 demonstrators took to the streets against the provisional government. On the other hand, the Bolsheviks under Lenin once again promised “bread”. This meant that the Bolsheviks engaged in a new agrarian reform, to make the most out of Russia’s lands that were formerly privatized and owned by either the provisional government, or private owners. For example, Lenin’s agrarian reforms included the policy of setting up a model farm on each estate that would range from 100-300 dessiatines in size, which would in turn increase food production output. From this we can see that the Bolsheviks had genuine intentions to improve the food supply of Russia, which the provisional government had neglected for so long. Once again, the “bread” thesis addressed the needs of the majority of the population of Russia, which is why a second revolution in October 1917 was needed in order to ratify these changes in policy. In fact, the October revolution was, as previously stated, the only real revolution in 1917. However, one must recognize that the great Russian famine of 1921, which killed 5 million people, was mostly due to the civil war that followed the Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917. The Bolsheviks had provisioned themselves by living off the land that the peasants owned, which lead to a drastic decrease in crop production. Once again, crops were only reserved for the war effort, just as it used to be during the provisional government. In fact, the Bolsheviks became so paranoid that peasants would withhold their supplies in order to sustain themselves, that they actually believed they undermined the war effort. Ironically, there was another “Kronstadt rebellion” in 1921 against Bolshevik government, since the Bolsheviks were relentless in their seizure of crops, which lead to the collapse of the Russian economy. From this we can see that the Bolsheviks, even though promising to uphold the decree of food, ultimately neglected food distribution themselves in their own need to support the war effort during the civil war that would ensue. Despite of this, one of the reasons why the October revolution was brought to light was simply because the Bolsheviks made promises on improvements of agricultural output, which the provisional government neglected. Henceforth, it is only natural that the Bolshevik movement would have thus garnered support.
Finally, the provisional government defaulted on the people’s wish to abolish private property and redistribute land to the peasantry, which is why a second revolution by the Bolsheviks was needed in order to finally pursue such decrees. The main mistake of the provisional government was Kerensky’s decision to delay a Constituent Assembly, which would have legitimized its power and introduce a land reform. In principle, the rights of peasants to the great landed estates were recognized, but the provisional government was in no position to implement this. The government’s underestimate of the peasants’ desire to attain access to privately owned lands, led to mass desertions in the army and peasants returned home to claim the lands themselves. As a result, the majority of Russia lost faith in the provisional government’s ability to grant any concessions and great disorder spread in the countryside. The Russian people were already enraged by the fact that Stolypin’s land reforms in 1905 had never really surfaced to introduce any new change and were one of the reasons for the February revolution in 1917 in the first place. Thus, when it became clear that the provisional government still did not act upon these demands, it is only natural that another revolution (October) had to follow in 1917 in order to put the Russian people’s wishes into practice. Since the Bolsheviks introduced the land decree under Lenin, which was to abolish private ownership of land, reduce the influence of landlords and kulaks (wealthy peasants), and repair damages caused in WW1, the Russian people finally had a tangible prospect of being able to sustain themselves again and live off the land that had been denied to them since the 19th century. Henceforth, the unresolved land issues that had its roots in the Tsarist system and continued into the provisional government period made a final revolution in 1917 inevitable. The people needed change, and the provisional government failed to bring it about. However, even though the Orthodox view holds that the Bolsheviks made great strides in terms of freedom of land ownership following Lenin’s decree on land, one must note that the revolution’s encouragement to mass-collectivize the formerly private lands actually lead to the enrichment of the kulaks: a group that was supposed to have less influence over land ownership. The mass-collectivization program, which had its early phase in 1918 and lasted until 1923, encouraged peasants to treat the lands they were given access to as their own property (which Lenin’s decree was originally against), which in turn contributed to the hoarding of grain, famine in the cities and the development of a bureaucracy, which once again administered lands and served as a basis for Stalin’s seizure of power. The inability of the Bolsheviks to implement their promises to the full end eventually lead to the Stalinist degeneration of the revolution, which made the USSR virtually no different than Tsarist Russia.
In conclusion, the provisional government’s failure to address the people’s needs to end the highly unpopular first world war, stabilize the food situation and make land concessions, ultimately caused the people of Russia to look to new leaders: the Bolsheviks. Since the first “revolution” in February 1917 failed to resolve unresolved issues, the demand for significant changes in Russian society still stood open. That is why a real revolution needed to occur in October 1917. Even though the Bolsheviks were initially successful in changing Russia’s social order, the revolution’s aims were in the latter phases distorted and disregarded mostly by selfishness and lust for power (see Stalin).

            It is believed that this question is quite a difficult question to address due to the fact the Russian people themselves are still debating why there were two revolutions in 1917. Russia faced two revolutions in 1917 which saw major changes in Russia, however, the two revolutions were not connected and the political aspirations of both revolutions were entirely different. Orlando Figes, a British historian and writer, believed that the intentions of the February revolution were to overthrow the Tsar government in favour for a new form of leadership. They believed in a new form of government due to the people’s demand of financial stability and the improvement of Russia backward agricultural system. However, the Bolshevik seizer of power was a coup d'état which depended on the social forces unleashed by the February Revolution, the real revolution of 1917. It could be argued that 1917 was one entire revolution that was split into two separate parts. According to Harold Williams the October Revolution was caused by the failure of the provisional Government due to the strengths of the Bolsheviks.
         Figes draws a lot of his arguments from the revisionist point of view and he is very conservative in his political persuasion. He likes to remind people of the importance of the key individuals of the Russian revolution such as Lenin when seeking to address the criticisms made of some early revisionists. He found that due to the outbreak of the first world war, the Tsarist government was almost fighting a war on two fronts, against the people in Russia and against the Germans. It was on March 1 that General Alexeev called off the counter-revolutionary expedition, partly out of fear of losing more troops to the mutiny and partly in the conviction that the best hope for the war campaign was a Duma government. Despite this, the war campaign was suffering and it became clear that nothing less than the Tsars abdication would save the war campaign. Figes being a revisionist means he believes in the evolutionary rather than the revolutionary. Therefore, he believed in a movement in revolutionary Marxian socialism favoring an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary spirit. Therefore, Figes will always favor the provisional government due to its similarities to capitalism. Therefore, his opinion upon the February revolution could be considered bias to due to his disbelief in monarchy rule.
         On the 8th July, 1917, Alexander Kerensky became the new leader of the provisional Government. In the Duma he had been leader of the moderate socialists and had been seen as the champion of the working class. Harold Williams believed that the Kornilov Revolt dramatically changed the situation and increased the influence of the Bolsheviks on Russia. He believed however that there was still danger from extremists who want at once to run Russia into a Socialist Republic. When Kerensky returned from Headquarters he was no longer actively supported by either left or right. He was then forced to ask the Soviets and the Red Guards to protect both him and Petrograd. The Bolshevik party who led both organizations agreed to his request but Lenin made it very clear that they would be fighting against Laver Kournikova rather than for Kerensky. Harold Williams, a journalist from New Zealand who was believed to speak 58 languages has a very credible point of view. His idea that it was due to the provisional government that the Bolsheviks and Lenin were able to gain popularity with the Russian people can be believed to him both living at the time of the Revolution and his capability of speaking the language. He travelled to Russia due to him being a journalist and was able to obtain first hand primary information. Despite this, Marxism was a brand new regime introduced by the Bolshevik party and Lenin and due to Williams being from New Zealand, it might be easier for him to understand the frustrations of the Russian people. New Zealand after all was under British occupation due to it being a part of the British empire.
         In hindsight, the provisional government was never going to retain stability, as long as nationalism was growing in Russia. The issue was, despite the hatred towards the Tsar, Russian people still felt very proud of their country and still wanted to be a powerhouse. This is why Lenin became so popular. The issue with Figes is that he was never able to experience the hard ship of life in Russia therefore in his political persuasion will not fully understand the roots of Russian nationalism. However, Williams could not only speak Russian but also visited the country as a journalist, wrote articles on the revolution and lived at the time. He was able to grasp the emotion and frustration that was being portrayed by the Russian people. It wasn’t the leader that the Russians were frustrated with but the regime. Although Russians demanded less working hours and higher pay, they still believed in a powerful Russia that would be feared around Europe. Therefore, the provisional government was not able to establish that kind of order and demand on other nations. That is the true reason why a second revolution broke out in 1917.         
            It was found that there were two revolutions on Russia due to active nationalism being spread across Russia. The conclusion was that the choice to overthrow the Tsar was for better working conditions and pay however the new form of government still needed to rule Russia with an iron fist and keep up the reputation that Russia is a dominant world power house. Harold Williams argued that the provisional government was not able to sustain the Russian nationalistic views and in the eyes of the people weakened the country. It was therefore Lenin came to Russia with the holy grail in his back pocket with the answer to Russian struggle. Figes was not very credible because although it could be argued that the provisional government was the right answer, his lack in primary sources meant his views may not have been very credible. There were two revolutions in Russia due to the provisional government not being able to control the nationalistic ambitions of the Russian people.