causes of the russian revolution quotes by historians

Causes of the 1905 Revolution. }.article-wrap .article-body aside.left.custom_background_250962{background:#1fab00 !important;}.article-wrap .article-body aside .action_tout_heading .sailthru_custome_heading_250962{color: !important;} Stalinism was thus the deformed offspring of Marxism and Russian political culture, warped by larger social, economic, and political factors that often had little to do with ideology. When Lenin, who had been living in Western Europe for 17 years, received the news of the February Revolution, he was desperate to return to Russia. Workers, acting on their own, raided the armory and stormed the Kresty Prison, the courts, and the main artillery depot. Start studying historians quotes (Russian revolution). After a long banishment, Marx is returning to mainstream political discourse, as a new generation discovers that many of his observations about the predatory logic of capitalism still hold startlingly true. The Menshevik Nikolai Sukhanov wrote of Lenin’s speech: “It seemed as if all the elements had risen from their abodes, and the spirit of universal destruction, knowing neither barriers nor doubts, neither human difficulties nor human calculations, was hovering…above the heads of the bewitched disciples.”, Lenin on the Train is full of vivid details like these, taken from the memoirs and letters of Lenin’s contemporaries. Lenin’s liability was his history of German support, which Kerensky and others tried to use against him. Upon his arrival in the Finland Station’s waiting room, Lenin told the festive crowd, “The piratical imperialist war is the beginning of civil war throughout Europe.” When he arrived at the headquarters of the Bolshevik central committee, he lectured for two hours straight, though it was already in the early morning and he’d just spent eight days on a train. (Indeed, throughout the Russian Revolution, Germany continued to send large sums to the revolutionaries.) In American political discourse, Russia’s cautionary tales are still used as blunt instruments to assert the impossibility of any kind of socialist revolution. Some historians have concluded that this wasn’t the case; the problem was that Nicholas was determined to govern while lacking any idea or ability to run an autocracy properly. Nixon’s Ghost Haunts the Impeachment—and American Culture. The planned coup was an open secret: Kerensky begged the British to help him negotiate an armistice in the war, understanding at last that peace offered his only hope of remaining in power. Politics cannot be contained in the sealed train cars of superpowers, and social movements cannot be treated as simple instruments in great games. Russian Revolution Quotes. 1. Its members couldn’t decide on what they wanted, either, with some hoping for a social-democratic system and others a constitutional monarchy. In the early years of the 20th century, McMeekin writes, Russia was expanding its territory, modernizing, and increasing its population at breakneck speed; he compares it to China in the 21st century. He enumerates the ways in which violence was ingrained in the czarist order, especially for the lower classes. Quotes tagged as "russian-revolution" Showing 1-30 of 72 “I hate purity, I hate goodness! Though they hadn’t liked the Kerensky government much, civil servants went on strike to protest the Bolshevik coup, shutting down the trains until January 1918. For more information, visit our Privacy PolicyX. The Cheka was also responsible for containing the damage done by the Bolsheviks’ defeat in the November 1917 elections, in which the party won only 24 percent of the vote, as opposed to 40 percent for the Socialist Revolutionaries, who had indeed maintained the loyalty of the peasants. Exiles received a living allowance for clothes, food, and rent, and they could bring along family members or hire domestic servants. In contrast, historians of the Russian Revolution of 1917 can jus-tifiably say: “the revolution is continuing.” Researchers, politicians and ordinary citizens in Russia continue to identify with the main figures of their revolution and view the events of ninety years ago through the eyes of their participants. Workers and peasants were told to wait their turn. Other Bolsheviks walked into the Central Telegraph Office and disconnected the phone lines to the Winter Palace. The Russian Revolution was, while a huge economic, social, and political change, the result of a number of different factors that built up over time, including economic, military, […] In the tsar’s train, there was a whole chapel full of large and small images, and all sorts of fetishes, which were brought to bear, first against the Japanese, then against the German artillery. slotId: "thenation_right_rail_250962", Russian Revolution historians These pages contain some profiles of prominent Russian Revolution historians. The Bolsheviks’ abandonment of democratic principles and their cavalier approach to coercion and violence played a central role in their victory, at least over the short term. Smith’s approach to history, with an emphasis on long-term factors and the experience of ordinary people, also feels the most relevant to our own historical moment. Lenin on the TrainBy Catherine Merridale Refresh and try again. Smith emphasizes the agency of ordinary people in determining the trajectory of Russian history, devoting particular attention to workers, who did so much to further the revolution, and to the peasants, who rose up against the old order and then rebelled against the new one. Perhaps the hardest thing to understand about Lenin and the Bolsheviks is their insouciant attitude toward mass death, despite their adherence to a utopian philosophy that sought to eradicate human suffering. Introduction - When considering an in-depth analysis of any given historical period, all good historians will make some reference to historiography: the different views and debates that are held by a variety of historians; Copyright (c) 2021 The Nation Company LLC, As its title suggests, Catherine Merridale’s, In fact, he and other Russian revolutionaries. The revolutionary elements were thrown from the factories to the front. “Generally speaking, by the way, that is the moral of the opponents of violence in politics: they renounce violence when it comes to introducing changes in what already exists, but in defense of the existing order they will not stop at the most ruthless acts.”, “Let us not forget that revolutions are accomplished through people, although they be nameless. For Smith, the February Revolution was the result of a crisis brought about by economic and social modernization and aggravated by the world war. Discover and share Quotes About The Russian Revolution. And is not this, after all, the essential movement of every material process? Attempts to strengthen Tsarism, 1905-1914. For a few brief months, Russia became one of the freest countries in the world. Russia was unusual only in that it had few intermediary institutions to buffer popular resentment of the czar. You can read our Privacy Policy here. In that lies the fundamental, and you may say the whole, difference between the Russian Revolution and all those preceding it. tn_subject: ['biography', 'history', 'world'], The story of the revolution is not the story of a terrifyingly powerful Lenin, but rather of the failure of the czarist administration and the provisional government to kill him and other key revolutionaries. Czar Nicholas II sent Cossack horsemen to put the rebellion down, but they simply cantered through the crowds without using their swords or whips; they had chosen not to fight the people. The workers’ press was swept away. The Russian Revolution was, first, a political revolution that overthrew the monarchy of Nicholas II and made the construction of a new governmental system a central problem of the revolution. How historians narrate the story of the Russian Revolution tells us much about their philosophy of history, as well as about their attitude toward the revolutionary project and the politics of the left. 1917 saw two distinct revolutions in Russia: the overthrow of the Tsarist regime and formation of the Provisional Government ( February Revolution), and the October Revolution in which the Bolsheviks overthrew the Provisional Government. Workers flocked into Petrograd for a three-day general strike. Lenin’s refusal to compromise with the provisional government or the pro-war “revolutionary defencists” made the Bolsheviks the only political party offering an alternative to dual power, which came to seem like a form of impotence or treachery in its failure to end the war, food shortages, and general disorder. Lenin on the Train is often engaging and evocative, but as historical analysis, it is not entirely satisfying. McMeekin’s account of the longer-term causes of the Russian Revolution also deviates from the standard narrative. mind, listen to the Revolution.’ This part of True October is a collection of quotes from historians purposefully structured so that they read like a conversation. The local committees had an episodic existence, and often had no connections with the workers’ districts.”, “The principles of liberalism can have a real existence only in conjunction with a police system. Of the three books under review, Smith’s is the most sympathetic to emancipatory politics, and it offers the most persuasive explanation of the Russian Revolution’s origins and terrible failures. At the begin-ning of the twentieth century Russia was the last major power of Europe in which the monarch was an autocrat, his power unlimited by laws or Sign Up For Take Action Now, Ready to Fight Back? By signing up to receive emails, you agree to receive occasional promotional offers for programs that support The Nation's journalism. There were many factors that led to the Russian Revolution. Christopher Read, From Tsar to Soviets: the Russian People and their Revolution 1917-1921, London 1996. It wasn’t easy: Britain and France, which were relying on their alliance with Russia, had no wish to help a fierce opponent of the “imperialist war” return home. tn_author: ['sophie-p'], “For the information of these “friends” who consider themselves called to defend against us the role of the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution, we give warning that our book teaches not how to love a victorious revolution after the event, in the person of the bureaucracy it has brought forward, but only how a revolution is prepared, “Thousands and thousands of books are thrown on the market every year, “Nicholas is sometimes compared with his half-crazy great-great-grandfather Paul, who was strangled by a camarilla acting in agreement with his own son, Alexander “the Blessed.” These two Romanovs were actually alike in their distrust of everybody due to a distrust of themselves, their touchiness as of omnipotent nobodies, their feeling of abnegation, their consciousness, as you might say, of being crowned pariahs. It wasn’t a surprise that these latter groups welcomed the more radical Bolshevik position. In October, Lenin returned to Petrograd in disguise and argued forcefully that the Bolsheviks should seize power before the November elections. Though the lot of the Russian worker was difficult, it was nevertheless comparable to that of workers throughout Europe. The tsar and tsarina used shingles for the greatest variety of purposes. Such a support was guaranteed to it by the agrarian problem.”, “Slavophilism, the messianism of backwardness, has based its philosophy upon the assumption that the Russian people and their church are democratic through and through, whereas official Russia is a German bureaucracy imposed upon them by Peter the Great.”, “The serious and critical reader will not want a treacherous impartiality, which offers him a cup of conciliation with a well-settled poison of reactionary hate at the bottom, but a scientific conscientiousness, which for its sympathies and antipathies—open and undisguised—seeks support in an honest study of the facts, a determination of their real connections, an exposure of the causal laws of their movement.”, “The war produced a dreadful desolation in the underground movement. S.A. Smith’s Russia in Revolution takes a more familiar line than McMeekin’s, linking the origins of the revolution to czarist abuses. Welcome back. Panicked liberal politicians formed a provisional committee, hoping to maintain order as the imperial administration dissolved. Lenin was not Zeus, with the revolution bursting, fully formed, from his head. Nicholas II abdicated, passing the throne to his brother, who took fright and refused the next day. In times of social disintegration, displacement, and starvation, mass violence is a familiar result and should not be viewed as the inevitable outcome of a socialist revolution. Upon his arrival at the Finland Station, Lenin was virtually alone in his insistence that society was already passing to the second stage of the revolution, when power would be placed in the hands of the proletariat and the poorest peasants. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. Ready to Fight Back? He had long called for an immediate end to the war. Russia was unusual only in that it had few intermediary institutions to buffer popular resentment of the czar. Explore 1000 Revolution Quotes by authors including John F. Kennedy, Victor Hugo, and Henry Ford at BrainyQuote. In their petition, they called themselves oppressed, … still unfolding, The Soul of the Russian Revolution (New York I9I7). One English observer wrote: “As the streets cleared, little heaps, some very still, some writhing in agony, told of the toll of the machine guns.”, Protesters stormed the Tauride Palace, home of the Duma, the consolation-prize parliament formed after the 1905 revolution. The causes of these two revolutions encompass Russia’s political, social, and economic situation. W.H.Chamberlin, The Russian Revolution, (2 vols. Dismissing him as “out-of-touch,” McMeekin argues that Lenin would have had “little impact on the political scene had he not been furnished with German funds to propagandize the Russian army.” Lenin and the Bolsheviks, he adds, “played no role worth mentioning in the fall of the tsar.”. To a tickle, people react differently, but to a red-hot iron, alike. Once again, economic inequality is a pressing political issue around the world. Historiography of the Russian Revolution. Merridale acknowledges as much in her book, but her narrative is nevertheless structured on the idea that Lenin brought with him a new social and political world. In September, the Bolsheviks won a major electoral victory, a sign of their surging popularity. But the economic situation was deteriorating rapidly, with factory closures and rampant inflation. Nicholas”, “On December 13, the tsarina suggests to the tsar: “Anything but this responsible ministry about which everybody has gone crazy. Its very position as minority of the nation suggests that it could not have given its struggle a sufficient scope—certainly not enough to take its place at the head of the state—if it had not found a mighty support in the thick of the people. ), The Petrograd Soviet’s executive committee was less than overjoyed at Lenin’s return, fearing that he would further destabilize the situation. The Beginning Causes of the Russian Revolution of 1917 Essay 509 Words | 3 Pages. Lenin found that his only viable route back was through Germany, Sweden, and Finland, but traveling through Germany would leave him vulnerable to accusations that he was on the German payroll. Before 1905, Nicholas II was, at least, tolerated by his people. In Smith’s view, the failure of Russian democracy in 1917 is best explained by the willingness of moderate socialists to continue the country’s involvement in World War I, in keeping with their belief that the bourgeoisie was next in line for political power. As McMeekin puts it, “The world’s first proletarian government was thus forced to devote its primary energies to strikebreaking.”. For Reprints and Permissions, click here. But nevertheless what moves things is not the piston or the box, but the steam.”. Anarchism is an attempt to cleanse liberalism of the police. The question is teleological and therefore fruitless. freestar.config.enabled_slots.push({ }); The Revolution started during World War I, and eventually the Soviet Union was formed. However, the Duma committee wasn’t eager to take responsibility for the increasingly volatile situation. The Russian Revolution: A New HistoryBy Sean McMeekin The Bolsheviks’ victory was brought about by Lenin’s skillful but risky effort, at a moment of Russian vulnerability, to transform the “imperialist war” into a civil war by infiltrating the armed forces and “turning the armies red,” spurring mutinies and mass desertions by soldiers who took their weapons with them. The unfavorable result was explained away with allegations of electoral abuse and fraud, while the Cheka closed the Tauride Palace to prevent the opposition from gathering there. […] This superintendent’s approach to the historical process is exactly characteristic of the leaders of Menshevism, this handing out of instructions to various classes and then patronizingly criticizing their fulfillment.”, “For the first time in world history the peasant was destined to find a leader in the person of the worker. History of the Russian Revolution Quotes Showing 1-26 of 26 “Generally speaking, by the way, that is the moral of the opponents of violence in politics: they renounce violence when it comes to introducing changes in what already exists, but in defense of the existing order they will … Severe penalties were imposed for striking. (Germany’s support would remain a closely guarded secret throughout the Soviet period. Their nature demands the whip—writes the Russian tsarina to the Russian tsar about the Russian people, just two months and a half before the monarchy tips over into the abyss. Smith’s approach to history, with an emphasis on long-term factors and the experience of ordinary people, also feels the most relevant to our own historical moment. As the French socialist leader Jean Jaurès, assassinated in July 1914, warned, “If the social revolution emerges from this chaos instead of coming about as the supreme expression of progress, as a higher act of reason, justice, and wisdom, it will be part of this universal mental crisis, an excess of the contagious fury brought about by the suffering and violence of war.”. Tend to adopt a pessimist view that Russia was already in terminal decline. Like every sect which founds its teaching not upon the actual development of human society, but upon the reduction to absurdity of one of its features, anarchism explodes like a soap bubble at that moment when the social contradictions arrive at the point of war or revolution.”, “The so-called “breeding” of the tsar, his ability to control himself in the most extraordinary circumstances, cannot be explained by a mere external training; its essence was an inner indifference, a poverty of spiritual forces, a weakness of the impulses of the will. McMeekin’s focus on historical contingency and Bolshevik ruthlessness suggests that revolution is less about large-scale historical processes and more about cold-blooded political opportunism. Here’s Why. tn_articleid: [250962], You may unsubscribe or adjust your preferences at any time. A now out-dated but still useful history by the Western economic historian James Mavor, The Russian Revolution (London I928), suggests that the real revolution in economic and social matters was yet to come, and thus anticipates the concept of the "second Revolu- Some great quotes from Orlando Figes’ history of the Russian Revolution (endorsed by Communist Eric Hobsbawm, no less!). The next day, nearly 75,000 people were on strike. Russia remained a nation at war, though the war had been the catalyst for revolution and peace was one of the primary demands of the strikers and demonstrators. Kerensky sent a telegram summoning two Cossack regiments, but they refused to come to his aid; they were loyal to a general whom Kerensky had accused of treason. The lessons of 1917 also testify to the risks that accompany any political position that sees progress as a by-product of history. But the notion of Lenin, or communism, as a bacillus betrays a willful blindness to the larger constellation of factors that make profound social change possible. At the time, even many of his fellow Bolsheviks thought this was madness: There was no way that Russian workers were ready to form a dictatorship of the proletariat. Accused of treason and espionage, Lenin fled to Finland in July, and many of his comrades were imprisoned. They needed a second coming of “the Son of Man.” In Rasputin the rejected and agonizing monarchy found a Christ in its own image. But Paul was incomparably more colorful; there was an element of fancy in his rantings, however irresponsible. Focus on the ordinary experiences of people – especially in localities. Merridale acknowledges as much in her book, but her narrative is nevertheless structured on the idea that Lenin brought with him a new social and political world. 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