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Modern Russia

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Modern Russia

Modern Russia Final

Essay I

The Russian Revolution of 1917 was a revolution that was driven by the masses, and was inspired by western ideas. The policies and events between Alexander's II emancipation of the Serfs and the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 facilitated this event. The real cause lies behind the conditions which existed within Russia. The revolution was the culmination of a long period of repression and unrest. As Western technology was adopted by the czars, Western humanitarian ideals were acquired by a group of educated Russians. Among this growing intelligentsia, the majority of whom were abstractly humanitarian and democratic; there were also those who were politically radical and even revolutionary. The university became a seat of revolutionary activity; anarchism and later Marxism were introduced to the public. . The university, along with the workers, who were susceptible to radical ideas, were the Russians who called for Revolution. I intend to show the development of these conditions through the course of events in Russia.

First, I will begin with the Emancipation of the Serfs. This reform was achieved under Tsar Alexander the II. He enacted this reform as a response to modern technology in other European countries. Russia has not yet become an industrialized power, and in order to accomplish this she needed a work force. Alexander understood this and saw the solution to this problem as the emancipation of the Serfs. However this act laid the ground work for Revolution.

This swift action created a large body of unemployed peasants, who were very poor. This group consisted of the "urban serfs". These serfs were to be Russia's new workforce. Most of these serfs went to work in the cities, taking jobs that were created by industrialization. Even though these jobs involved hard labor and low pay, peasants were able to provide for themselves, and were free. However, life as a factory worker in Russia was not that easy. Russia had not yet begun to fully industrialize, but spinning mills with all the characteristics of Factory industry did exist. The workers of these establishments were badly fed, baldy housed, and very dangerous. This proletariat could easily become rebellious. In fact, the Tsar often reacted very harshly to workers who would send him petitions asking for better working conditions.

"Rural serfs" were to be granted an allotment of land. In order to get this land to give to the serfs, the Tsar had to buy it from the landowners. This created a huge expense on the part of the Government. Alexander decided that each rural serf should pay for this land through the means of taxes. This created a big problem with the Serfs. The land allotment was too small to support a family, and the serfs were forced to pay for the land unless they agreed to take a smaller allotment. This created a felling of discontent among rural peasants, which led to uprisings in the countryside. Occasionally these uprisings would spread to rural areas, such as the 1905 rebellion, but they were more common and harder to control in the countryside. Another contribution to this outbreak of violence was the general poverty among the peasants. This poverty also caused the peasants to often be late on their redemption payments.

Another key attribute to Revolution took place in the Universities. Alexander II was faced with the question of how to educate his people without encouraging them to question the state. The universities were already a mixing pot of discontent, due to the harsh restrictions placed on them by Nicholas I. Alexander's II first steps at increasing public liberties only intensified the students' ability to publicly protest. Because of this response to his liberal policies Alexander imposed new restrictive legislation, which would spur more student protests. These restrictions included banning student organizations, and even unauthorized student gatherings. In 1862 the students began massive demonstrations, in the two capitals, which had to be suppressed by troops.

By the mid 1860's similar types of attacks by peasants and student, "revolutionaries" wore down Alexander's II zeal for reform. Alexander's II relaxation of control did not create the contentment that he desired, but rather led to increasing demands for concessions which he had never been prepared to grant. Wars and uprisings had worn down the government, while the government wore down the people. Such uprising include those of the students, the before mentioned peasants, and new nationalist movements in Poland.

The Russo Japanese War created yet another embarrassment for Russia. Not only was this foreign policy blunder an embarrassment internationally, but it crushed morale at home. Russia engaged in the potentially highly lucrative business

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