Why Did the Revolutions of 1917 Happen?

Essay by KeirHigh School, 11th grade May 2006

download word file, 6 pages 3.0

The Russian Revolutions in 1917 was the culmination of a long history of social unrest and repression. From the reign of Peter the Great, the tsardom disintegrated into an autocratic bureaucracy that suppressed the people's rights and liberties and had no regard for the improvement of the average citizen's life. The cause of the Revolution, thus, can be examined through economic, social, political and militaristic aspects.

Economically, the Russian Revolution was caused by Russia's antiquated economic system and the Tsar's unwillingness to reform it. Though serfdom had been abolished in 1861, the majority of the population, the agricultural peasant class, had to pay installments to their wealthy communal landowners for the land they supposedly possess. Not only was ownership of the land out of reach for the mass of the farmers, agricultural techniques and methods that they used were primal and resembled medieval Europe. Russia's naturally cold climate made the land arable only 4-6 months in a year, in contrast to most of Western Europe's 8-9.

So the peasant class had no direct benefits from growing the crops, seeing as the product would not belong to them, and the conditions to work with were extremely harsh. As a result, agrarian Russia had difficulty producing enough food to feed the populace, especially the urbanizing cities each year.

The transport of goods and the lack of a modern infrastructure were also impediments to the economic stability of Russia. Though under advisor Sergei Witte, a railway system was set in place, efficiency in food transport was still low and this problem was only intensified with the outbreak of World War I. The conscription swept away 12 million able bodied men, mostly Industrial workers from the cities. The inexperienced peasant farmers were then moved to factories in the cities and expected to manufacture army...