Causes of the Russian Revolution

Causes of the Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution of March 1917, started with the February Revolution, cannot be understood without a series of causes that dynamited her. The international situation, mired in First World War, helped to light the fuse of a large-scale social protest. The reforms carried out by the tsars did not serve to appease the problems that Russia suffered, but worsened the situation until plunging the country into a civil war.

Tsarism I was in a very delicate situation at the beginning of the 20th century. Between 1901 and 1903, Russia was affected by a deep economic crisis, characterized above all by an unfair distribution of wealth and dependence on foreign capital. The Russo-Japanese war (1904 – 1905) was completely criticized by the population and the defeat did nothing more than damage the image of the house of the tsars, who had resorted to tributes and troop levies to face that conflict.

The 1905 revolution was also one of the keys that would eventually unleash the "great revolution”. It was a spontaneous movement of popular masses that had partially the support of the army (Uprising of the sailors of the battleship Potemkin). Soviets began to be created (tips) of workers and soldiers in the main cities of the Russian Empire.

This fostered the articulation of a popular opposition force against tsarism. Within the monarchical circles it began to be seen as a problem, so they approved the “October Manifesto", By which civil liberties were granted, an expanded electoral law was established and a" Duma "was formed (parliament) with legislative powers.

Within the Marxists, there was a slight split in terms of political tendencies. The Mensheviks were created (minority) who defended the idea of promote the bourgeois-democratic revolution as an indispensable condition for the proletarian-social revolution to take place. This position clashed with that of the Bolsheviks (most), who aspired to radicalize the bourgeois-democratic revolution to its last consequences in order to turn it into a proletarian revolution.

The Great War originally united the Tsar, the Duma and the people to face an enemy that threatened the nation. However, the results were catastrophic. They lost two great armies in campaigns against Germany, arms production failed and there began to be problems with the food supply. All of this made the population start looking to the tsar as the main responsible. Riots, strikes and protests appeared in the streets of the Empire.

Apart from the riots in the streets, Opposition groups to the tsar also emerged. On the one hand, there was the “legal opposition", formed by MPs of the Duma of the progressive bloc. Nicolas II he saw that it was a source of riots, so he closed it down. The closure of the parliament provoked great criticism from the reformist sectors, the military officers and the industrial bourgeoisie, who called for the abdication of the tsar.

On the other hand, there was the “illegal opposition", formed by Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, Anarchists and Socialists, who signed the Zimmerwald manifesto in 1915. This document condemned the imperialist war supported by the Tsar and his entourage.

All these causes and antecedents were what led to the first revolution in March 1917 (February Revolution). But also revealed the division within Russian society. The bloc formed by the bourgeoisie, the army officers and the intellectuals would be facing the bloc of the working class and the poor peasantry. Those who benefited most from this situation were the Bolsheviks, who only had to wait for their moment to gain power in the October Revolution (November 1917).

Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved history and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.

Video: Overview of the Bolshevik Revolution