To what extent do you agree with Trotsky´s acessment of the 1905 Revolution?

Essay by dangerousdunners March 2004

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Ben Dunn


Trotsky wrote, "Although with a few broken ribs, Tsarism came out of the experience of 1905 alive and strong".

Russia in 1905 under the autocratic rule of Tsar Nicholas ll was becoming increasingly unstable and the government was unable or unwilling to tackle the people's grievances. Lower class people in the industrial centres and in rural Russia had an awful way of life living under emergency legislation. Pointless censorship was rife and brutally enforced, ranks of secret police (Okhrana) pursued people who opposed the tsarist regime, the Russian people were being crushed by the autocracy of the Tsar.

In cities and industrial centres soldiers equipped with live ammunition kept order. The rural population on whom the economy was so dependent was close to starving. The social structure was feudal, the upper classes were rich and the peasants were crushingly poor.

There was a general fear among the peasants that the government was planning to seize back lands where there had been default on mortgages being paid. Many had been unable to repay the mortgages which they had taken out to pay the high cost of their land, particularly as they had been hit by bad harvest and severe famines in during the last decade of the 19th century.

It was against this backdrop that the Tsar chose to pick an expensive fight with Japan. He believed it was a quick way to a sure victory which would help distract attention from troubles at home and raise morale. Japan was chosen as pretexts for war were not hard to find as there was an ongoing territorial dispute over Korea and Manchuria. Russia rejected Japanese proposals to settle the dispute over Korea in the hope that...