Wikipedia:WikiProject Outlines/Drafts/Outline of the Russian Revolution

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Pre-Revolution Russia[edit]

  • Final true autocracy in Europe
  • No representative political institutions
  • Nicholas II became Czar in 1884
  • Believed he had the divine right of kings
  • Russo-Japanese War (1904)
    • Defeat led to political instability

The Revolution of 1905[edit]

  • Rapid growth of (discontented) working class
  • Vast majority of workers concentrated in St. Petersburg and Moscow
  • Little help from the countryside
    • Impoverished peasants
  • No individual land ownership
    • Rural Famine

Conservatism Continues: 1905-1917[edit]

  • Czar neglected the Duma
  • Political parties suppressed
    • Only token land reform was passed
  • Nicholas became increasingly remote as a ruler
  • Numerous soviets began to appear

Alexandra: The Power Behind the Throne[edit]

  • Even more blindly devoted to autocracy than her husband
  • She was under the influence of Rasputin
  • Origins of Rasputin’s power - ?
  • Scandals surrounding Rasputin served to discredit the monarchy

World War I: “The Last Straw”[edit]

  • War revealed the ineptitude and arrogance of the country’s aristocratic elite
  • Corrupt military leadership had contempt for ordinary Russian people
  • Average peasants had very little invested in the War
  • Ill-trained, ineffective officers, poorly equipped (Russia was not ready for ind. war) = mass desertions and 2 million casualties by 1915
    • Result: Chaos and Disintegration of the Russian Army

The Collapse of the Imperial Government[edit]

  • Nicholas left for the Front (September, 1915)
  • Alexandra and Rasputin threw the government into chaos
    • Complete mismanagement of the wartime economy
      • Industrial production plummeted
      • Inflation and starvation were rampant
      • Cities were overflowing with refugees
  • Alexandra and other high government officials accused of treason
  • Rasputin assassinated (December, 1916)
  • Cities became a hotbed for political activism
    • This was ignited by serious food shortages in March 1917, esp. in St. Petersburg

The March Revolution: March 12, 1917[edit]

  • Origins of the revolution
    • Food riots and strikes
  • Duma declared itself a Provisional Government (March 12)
  • Czar ordered soldiers to intervene
    • Instead they joined the rebellion
      • The Czar thus abdicated on March 17
  • Menshevik, Alexander Kerensky headed the Provisional Government, along with Prince Lvov
    • Very Popular Revolution
    • Kerensky favoured gradual socialist reform
      • He saw the war effort as a major priority

Kornilov Affair[edit]

  • General Lavr Kornilov attempted to overthrow Provisional Government with military takeover
  • Kerensky prevented this takeover by freeing many Bolshevik leaders from prison and supplied arms to many revolutionaries

The Petrograd Soviet[edit]

  • Leftists in St. Petersburg formed the Petrograd Soviet
    • Which they claimed to be their legitimate government
  • Germany was aware of the Russian situation and began to concentrate on the Western Front
  • Germany even granted Lenin "safe passage" in order to return Russia (April, 1917)
    • Allowing Lenin to create a revolution

Soviet Political Ideology[edit]

Vladimir Lenin: Founder of Bolshevism[edit]

Lenin Steps into This Vacuum[edit]

  • Lenin’s arrival in Petrograd
  • A tremendously charismatic personality
    • Lenin and his fellow Bolsheviks promised "Peace, Land, and Bread."[1][2]
    • “All Power to the Soviets”
    • He preached that the war was a capitalist/imperialist war that offered no rewards for the peasants/workers; he also believed the war was over with the czar’s abdication
  • Bolshevik party membership exploded; their power was consolidated
  • Lenin formed the Military-Revolutionary Council and in May 1917 he urged the Pet. Soviet to pass Army Order #1
    • This gave control of the army to the common soldiers
      • Discipline thus collapsed, and Kerensky was undermined

The November Revolution: Nov. 6, 1917[edit]

  • This was the ideological aspect of the revolution
  • The coup itself planned by Leon Trotsky had gained the confidence of the army
  • All private property was abolished and divided among the peasantry
  • Largest industrial enterprises nationalized
  • Political Police organized called the CHEKA
  • Revolutionary army created with Trotsky in charge called the "Red Army
  • Bolshevik Party renamed Communist Party of the Soviet Union (March 1918)
  • Lenin’s first task was to get Russia out of the war
  • The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk negotiated with the Germans
    • Giving them much Russian territory, population, and resources
  • Civil War: 1917-1920
    • Complete breakdown of Russian economy and society

The Reasons for the Reds victory:[edit]

  • The Reds occupied the strategic center of the nation; the Whites were on the fringes.
  • The White opposition was ideologically fragmented, including reformists, Mensheviks, Czarists
    • This wartime coalition proved to be incompatible
  • Trotsky had increased the efficiency of the Red Army
    • Strict military discipline (e.g. deserters were shot)
    • Made use of czarist officers and their military experience
  • Lenin made use of Revolutionary Terror (Cheka – a secret police force)
    • Kept the citizens in line
    • They were responsible for killing the Czar and his family, including the youngest daughter, Anastasia (1918)
  • War Communism
    • Period of strict government and economic control
  • Foreign intervention (eight western nations, notably France, aided the Whites)
    • Promoted a sense of nationalism that aided the Reds.
    • Lenin used this as a propaganda device
    • The intervention of the western nations was based on ideological grounds
      • They feared communism

End of Civil War[edit]

The New Economic Policy[edit]

  • An attempt to rebuild agriculture and industry thru a free market system
  • Many dissidents were shipped off to the gulags
  • Lenin was presumably ready to return to Marxist principles when the NEP did work
    • But his health deteriorated after a 1922 stroke, and Lenin died in 1924
      • This created a power vacuum and a struggle between Trotsky and Stalin

Leon Trotsky[edit]

  • Opposed the NEP
  • Intellectual, head of the Red Army
  • Favored the doctrine of World Revolution
  • Felt that the USSR could not survive as the sole communist state
  • The USSR must therefore seek to export revolution to world

Josef Stalin[edit]

  • Supported the NEP
  • Favored “Socialism in One Country”
  • Believed the USSR should strengthen itself and lead the communist world by export
  • Became the Party’s General Secretary in 1922
    • Appointed many assistants crucial to Stalin’s rise
  • Power struggle lasted until 1928, when Stalin’s complex system of alliances and ability w/ realpolitik allowed him to succeed

Stalin Prevails[edit]

  • Trotsky was forced into exile and eventually murdered in Mexico City in 1940
  • Stalin went on to condemn all deviation from the party line
  • He also created a “Cult of Lenin” and worked to connect himself to the fallen leader

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Russia. Britannica". Retrieved 2010-06-03. 
  2. ^ "Vladimir Lenin: From March to October. SparkNotes". Retrieved 2010-06-03. 

External links[edit]