To many, the Russian Revolution is marked as planting the birthroots of the communist movement - a series of economic and political upheavals that eventually led to the establishment of the world’s first communist dictator. While Russia was no stranger to social upheaval, having already experienced a small scale revolution in the early 1900’s, it was the 1917 revolution that lead to the eventual abdication of the Russian tsar and the establishment of a communist regime. The Russian revolutionaries “knew what a revolution was all about and the course it was likely to take.” The causes of the 1917 Russian revolution, much like the French revolution, are difficult to pinpoint exactly, but it was likely the result of the pile up poor decisions of monarchs as well as the disorganized state of affairs in the countries economic resources. Russia could be seen as an exposed wound with many opportunities for infection. One such opportunity was the mass emigration of country workers into the cities. Russia’s economy was in desperate need of industrial development and this mass emigration lead to a constant supply of cheap labour. As the rich became richer, the poor became poorer. As wages fell, working conditions followed. Russian citizens were either clamouring for new expensive goods or more jobs to provide for their families. Class lines became even deeper etched in the Russian psyche. Additionally, the country was under the rule of Tsar Nicholas II, infamously known for being poorly adapted to political leadership and easily lead by the hidden agendas of his political advisors and ministers. Tsar Nicholas II was ignorant to the strife of the common worker and turned a blind eye to the social conditions of the citizens. The Russian autocracy had learned very little from their slaughters in Russo-Japanese war and in late 1914, sent millions of Russian citizens and untrained soldiers to the war against Germany. This further depleted the accounts of the Russian government, sending the economy into turmoil and further increasing general resentment towards the autocracy of the Russian people. Conscription became government policy and the social conditions of the people were neglected in favour of a ‘see no evil’ policy by the Russian monocracy. Additionally, Russia was far behind it’s European counterparts in the industrialization of the country. While western Europe was accepting rapid new advances in technology, Russia was limping behind with old technological and old techniques. Where resources were common the harvesting of these resources presented so many economic challenges to the country that it was considered better to let the businessmen take care of it. It was due to the poor conditions forced upon the Russian people that made them more willing to become sponges to new ideas. This enlightenment of the workers and adoption of new ideals by revolutionary thinkers placed Russia on the edge of the cliff of change. It was the poor economic conditions and enlightened radicals who would provide the push, causing Russia to plummet towards a long fall towards an eventual adoption of communist dictatorship and revolution.
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It was these poor conditions that lead to the first event of the 1917 revolution. Commonly known as the February Revolution, it broke out as the result of poor resource management and sweeping food shortages across the country. Thousands of factory workers streamed into the streets of Petrograd, Russia’s foremost capital to join in general strike against the government and wealthy factory owners. They were soon joined in support by the Duma, a group of socialist and liberalist thinkers established in the first Bolshevik upraise. The Duma pushed strongly for the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II and on the 27th of February, Nicholas finally gave in to the will of the Duma, abdicating the throne and allowed for the establishment of a provisional government lead in power by the members of the Russian Duma. After several months of disagreement between political deputies over the election of members of government, the provisional government finally landed upon a leader - Alexander Keresnky, a popular young lawyer from the bourgeoisie Russian class. While Kerensky promised political freedoms and attempted to keep Russia in the war, his provisional government soon became unsteady, with heavy military losses and worsening food shortages. It was due to this that Vladimir Lenin, a prominent leader of the Bolshevik party, returned from exile in Switzerland to reform the provisional government in bring in support for Bolshevik ideals. It was under this premise that Lenin arranged the October Revolution, a revolution that marked the beginning of the communist movement in Russia. On November 7th, 1917, Lenin, along with his ally, Leon Trotsky, lead an armed uprising against Kerensky’s provisional government. Known as the Red Army, Lenin and his Bolsheviks overthrew the short-lived provisional government and established soviet councils across the country, the most prominent being termed the Central Committee Secretary. It was this committee that exploited all political powers and exerted forces upon all divisions of government in order to maintain a Bolshevik run country. Similarly, it was for control of the committee that Russia’s most well known political leader, Stalin vied for. In 1929, Stalin ran for and won the struggle for the succession of Lenin.


Mayer, Arno J. The Furies: Violence and Terror in the French and Russian Revolutions. New Jersey: Princeton UP, 2000.
Acton, Edward, Vladimir I. Cherniaev, and William G. Rosenberg, eds. Critical Companion to the Russian Revolution. Indianapolis: Indiana UP, 1997.