Why were there Two Revolutions in 1917

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Russian revolution in 1917 resulted in the collapse of centuries of Tsarism and the establishment of the world’s first communist state. There were said to be two revolutions in that year, the first one being in February, which was spontaneous and largely unorganised by the provisional committee. The other revolution being in October which in contrast to the February revolution, was well organised and masterly executed coup d’etat by a party who had skilfully aligned itself with the demands of the worker and peasants. With Russia going into war, may have been a factor, which helped cause the February revolution.

An example of this was the economic effects, the acute food shortages. This led to people joining in the full-scale strike called Putilov Steel as they heard rumours of worsening bread shortages. Also on the 23rd February, it was International Women’s Day, which brought thousands of women onto the streets protesting about food shortages and calling an end to the war. After the initial wave of patriotism, the war caused vast economic and social hardship, which the regime failed to deal with. The people began to see that Tsarism could not deal with the events and challenges it was confronted with.

A factor that helped the October Revolution was when the Provisional Government took over, they carried on with the war, and had failed to address the basic problems, which had caused the demise of the Tsar. Lenin was a firm believer of the theories and ideas of Karl Marx. So with his slogan of “Bread, Peace and Land”, Lenin gained the support of the peasants and gained control of Russia and setup a communist state. The bluntness of their messages and the sense of priority proved extremely appealing to the proletariat. Even though Rasputin had been murdered few months before the February Revolution, he was another factor that led to it.

Rasputin had been universally loathed: the peasants disliked his association with the aristocracy and his abandonment of his roots. Political opposition reviled him as a pivotal figure in the Tsar regime; and the aristocracy hated his influence over the Tsar and saw their leader as a weak-minded individual easily led by an ignorant peasant. He was considered to represent all that was wrong with Tsarist regime, he became a significant figure for opposition to highlight as a justified reason to oppose the regime. The Petrograd Soviet was sailors and workers deputies gathered the main force behind this group was the Menshiviks.

The Petrograd Soviet was one factor that caused the October Revolution, as the reason it formed was due to hyperinflation, acute food shortages and inadequate food shortages. Leading revolutionary Trotsky commented ‘it would be no exaggeration to say that Petrograd achieved the Russian Revolution…. ‘ Indeed, it would be correct to say that the protests and strikes in Petrograd were not the main cause of events. It was more the rejection of Tsarism by the very people who had supported it. Rodzyanko suggested to the Tsar that the way to salvage imperial power would be a genuine concession of governmental power.

Nicholas stubbornly refused and ordered for the Duma to be dissolved. The Duma was dissolved but twelve members disobeyed the idea and remained in session, calling themselves the Provisional Committee. The situation escalated when one of these twelve, a lawyer named Alexander Kerensky, a leading SR member, called for the Tsar to stand down as Head of State. This was perhaps his biggest mistake, and was one of the main reasons why there was a revolution in February. In terms of Marxism, the February revolution was not a proper revolution, as a revolution is when the working class overthrows the government as well as the upper class.

But in this case, only the government was overthrown not the upper class. It would also be perhaps a over exaggeration to consider the February revolution to be an overthrow of Tsarism, more prominent is the distinct unwillingness of those connected with the regime to fight for the system. The February revolution was not classified as a true revolution but a palace coup, designed to protect the upper class through the bourgeoisie. This is the same case with the October revolution; it was not a real revolution in Marxist terms.

As for this the workers need to overthrow the capitalist but however, the workers didn’t but the Bolsheviks did, who were a small elite group of professional revolutionaries. We also have to remember that the disorganisation and chaos of the Provisional Government meant that it was hardly worth overthrowing, it had little choice but to surrender the little power that it still had. The Bolsheviks were able to walk through the gates of the Winter Palace and take national control without putting much of a fight up. This was not really a revolution at all, it makes us think whether there was a revolution at all in 1917.

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