The Russian Revolution: From Tsarist Rule to Soviet Power

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1. The Russian Revolution

1.1. Causes of the Revolution

At the beginning of the 20th century, Russia was a vast empire ruled by the Tsar of the Romanov dynasty. Social discontent was brewing among the middle and working classes due to the autocratic government, where the Tsar held absolute power. The stark economic disparity between the wealthy minority and the rest of the population further fueled tensions, culminating in the Revolution of 1905. This forced the Tsar to accept a parliament (Duma) and implement various reforms. However, the autocratic system persisted.

1.2. The Revolutions of 1917

The revolutions of 1917 were triggered by two main factors: the immense casualties suffered during World War I and the ongoing social and economic inequalities. Two significant revolutions occurred in 1917:

  • February Revolution: Tsar Nicholas II was overthrown, and a republic was established. The provisional government, led by the Duma, promised reforms and land redistribution. However, the slow pace of change and the decision to continue the war led to its downfall.
  • October Revolution: The Bolsheviks, a radical Marxist group, seized power from the provisional government and established a Bolshevik regime. Lenin, their leader, withdrew Russia from World War I and promised reforms such as land redistribution to peasants, worker control of factories, and nationalization of banks and transportation.

Initially, the Soviets (local councils of peasants and workers) held power and were freely elected. However, the Bolsheviks eventually gained exclusive control. Between 1918 and 1921, a civil war raged between the Red Army (Bolsheviks) and the White Army (conservatives, liberals, and moderate socialists). The Red Army's victory solidified the Revolution.

1.3. Lenin's Government (1921-1924)

Under Lenin's leadership, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was formed, encompassing Russia and several Asian republics. Lenin implemented the New Economic Policy (NEP), which combined communist and capitalist principles, leading to economic improvement.

1.4. Stalin's Government (1927-1953)

Following Lenin's death, Stalin established a totalitarian regime characterized by the suppression of any opposition. Stalinism involved the nationalization of production means:

  • Land was collectivized into worker cooperatives.
  • Industry and banks were state-controlled.
  • The economy was restructured through Five-Year Plans, setting specific objectives to be achieved within five-year periods.

These measures transformed the USSR into a global economic and military power.

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