The Various Causes of Russian Revolution of 1905
Revolution refers to the forceful overthrow of a country’s government so as to introduce a new political system often by using war or violence as stated by the University of Cambridge (2018). The revolution occurred due to a number of reasons such as Russia being involved in The Crimean War, The Russo-Turkish War, The Russo-Japanese War and the First World War often leaving the country’s government and economy weak.
Also, the peasants who made up most of Russia suffered famine, while the industrial working class experienced poor housing as well as low wages, soldiers lacked ammunitions and medical supplies during war and Tsar Nicholas II ignored the struggle the Russians were facing leading people to revolt. This revolution led to the collapse of Tsar Nicholas II and the rise of the Marxian socialism under the Bolsheviks and Lenin according to Fernholz (2007). This essay will expound on the reason the Russian revolution took place and issues that led to this revolution.
What initially caused the revolution was in 1762 to 1796, Peter and Catherine were representatives of Europe’s absolutism with the aim of ensuring Russia is not backward and adversely develop like the rest of the Western countries (Qualls, 2003, p.4). Both Peter and Catherine reforms made Russians feel isolated due to the strict punishments they enforced on them. For instance, men had to shave off their beards, all homes in St. Petersburg had to be stone homes and ensure that they adopt to Western dress codes. Additionally, this led to many intellectual reforms suffering brutality while the rest turned to violence. ‘’The failed revolt led to a crackdown of dissent that created a movement of intellectuals who sought to change the system’’ this implies that Russia should not adopt to the Western culture and Europe was going to eventually collapse hence Russia could avoid the bourgeoise society and capitalism, and instead embrace socialism, this system was led by Alexander Herzen, a Russian philosopher (Bowkett, 2012, p.3).
Moreover, Alexander Herzen had failed to improve the lives of the Russians due to his reforms not satisfying the radicals and liberals who wanted freedom of speech and democracy. Also, peasants were frustrated about the agricultural reforms as some were given inadequate amount of their needs, others took about thirty years for them to obtain their land and majority were forced to pay more than the land’s worth. Statistics show that by 1900, 85 percent of Russia earned their living from agriculture and lived in countrysides whilst the peasants lived in absolute poverty as stated by Simkin (2014). The Populists then noticed that the peasants were paying for the development of Russia despite them earning low wages. This was unfair since Russia was not developing and was still backward as compared to the other Western countries (Riha, 1996).
The Populist movement was later categorised into two; the People’s will which mostly considered of aggression and violence and the Black Partition which came up with a strategy to give land to the peasants. Due to the Populist being split into two led individuals to have different views as well as opinions influencing the rise of Karl Marx who regarded workers as the catalyst that could help transform the social unrest hence replacing the Populist movement. Marx saw that the main problem Russia had was that workers suffered due to low wages and poor working conditions due to owners being greedy thus if all workers came together and overthrew capitalism a socialism state would be created (Qualls, 2003, p. 8). This socialism state would then be improved to a point where communism would emerge and all individuals will be equal. However, Karl Marx still viewed Russia as a rural and autocratic state that was not ready for revolution. This still did not prevent Russians revolutionaries.
Furthermore, in 1904 prices of essential goods rose drastically that the real wage declined by about 20 per cent (Simkin, 2017, p.12). Georgy Gapon, a Russian Orthodox priest tried to look for jobs for the unemployed by talking to the governor of St Petersburg and factory owners. Nevertheless, he demanded that workers should be treated well, this is in terms of working for not more than eight hours a day, free medical aids, higher wages for women, freedom of trade unions, and an improvement of working conditons. This clearly failed to happen since by 3rd January, 1905, 13,000 workers were on strike and by 8th January, 1905, 110,000 workers were on strike. Tsar Nicholas II became very concerned about thousands of workers going to strike however, Gapon argued that workers were being mistreated like slaves and given unbearable work that humans themselves cannot do. Most people believe that this is what led to the Russian revolution since workers were being oppressed.
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