There were two revolutions with varying characters that transpired in Russia during 1917. The first revolution occurred with spontaneity. This was perpetrated by the Russian masses due to their resentment towards their monarchical government, which suppressed the people of their civil and even personal liberties. Soon the Russian set up a Provisional Government composed mainly of liberal bourgeoisie. Their objective was to build a democratic republic in Russia that is comparable to those of the United States and France. They wanted to provide the people the same liberties that other Western countries enjoy.
However, since this was initiated by the middle class, they were not able to consider the sentiments of the masses on matters regarding hunger and war. It was later that the masses shifted their support towards the Bolsheviks and embraced the movement’s slogan of “peace, land and bread. ” The working class gladly accepted the slogan “All power to the Soviets. ” It was quite apparent that the Bolsheviks were gaining popular support as the existing government continued to suffer economic inflation and military defeats in World War I.
About 200,000 new members joined the Bolsheviks between the months of January and August of 1917. The Provisional Government of Russia further weakened itself through an internal schism. Vladimir Lenin took advantage of this situation and directed his party to immediately seize power. This takeover was successful and Russia turned into a socialist society. The first communist government in the world came into existence. After the power siege by the Bolsheviks in Petrograd in November of 1917, they inevitably encountered numerous problems. First was that they were not in full control of Russia.
Many territories outside Moscow and Petrograd were highly opposed to the rule of the Bolsheviks and even within the vicinity of Petrograd and Moscow the party was not free of enemies. But they still possess significant advantage compared to their opponents, starting with their historical leader Vladimir Lenin. Lenin even had his exceptional military commander named Leon Trotsky. Despite the relatively low number of party members, this allowed for better manageability and control. The organizational structure of the party was mainly based on a central body of authority which was called the National Council.
This body elected the commissars or the ministers and Lenin here served as the President. This party discipline and efficiency was very important in their party’s triumph. Lenin’s first objective was to withdraw his nation from a war the his people hated. This allowed him to give his full concentration and all his efforts on the situation inside Russia. An armistice was signed between Russia and the Central Powers in December 14, 1917 and formally concluding Russia’s participation in World War I. However, Russia’s relations with Germany was not as smooth as one would expect.
Lenin’s view on the situation was that there is a need for a peace agreement with the Germans. Trotsky thought otherwise and believed that the Revolution in Russia would catalyze an international revolution of workers worldwide and would express their support for the Bolsheviks. Trotsky thought that the Germans did not possess enough strength as they anticipated. He even though that the workers in Germany would eventually lead an uprising against the government in support of the Russian Bolshevik party. But this was not so and Trotsky withdrew from the negotiations. Lenin’s decision then was to sign a peace treaty with Germany.
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk took away from Russia some land territories acquired since the reign of Peter the Great. Russia even lost control of Ukraine. Despite this, Lenin had the necessary time in order to focus his attention on Russia. Within the country, many groups were being formed in order to bring the Bolsheviks to their end. The Russian Civil War broke out, but the groups created only had one common goal and that is to remove Russia from the rule of the Bolsheviks. Lenin also imposed an economic policy known as the “War Communism. ” This lasted from 1918 until 1921.
This was a system introduced in order as a response to the economic problems plaguing Russia due to the civil war. This policy was comprised of both emergency measures and socialist dogma. War Communism imposed the nationalism of land, banks, and even shipping. The state even declared that it would monopolize rights for foreign trade. On the 28th of June 1918, all private ownership and capitalism was abolished. Factories formerly owned privately were transferred to the possession of the state. Even food distribution was placed under the government’s control as the Food Commissariat was established in order to perform this task.
This economic policy basically operated under six basic principles. First is that the state should run all forms of production and private property must be confiscated by the government. Second is that citizen labor should also be controlled by the state and third is that the “state should produce everything in its own undertakings. ” Fourth, the economy was centralized under the control of the Supreme Economic Council. Fifth, the government imposed that it would be the only producer and distributor of all goods, and last, money was to be abolished as instrument of trade.
As as a result, this economic policy was highly flawed and Russia fell into a disaster. The economic situation was even worse compared to that of 1914. There was a low production of crops and malnutrition became a common problem among Russians. The number of workers on factories and mines declined by 50% as many moved to the countryside. Although private enterprise were prohibited, most Russians still engaged to private trade. The situation even grew more ill as skilled laborers no longer chose to employ themselves in large factories.
Factory yields declined and productivity rates were reduced to 44% of the 1913 totals. Another problem encountered by Russia was that there was a tremendous difficulty in transporting goods around Russia as the rail system moved towards chaos by the end of 1918. For residents of rural areas, crops were not grown and the producers of cotton were deprived of the basic commodities they were in need of. Due to the fact that this economic policy is proven unjust to the Russian people, Lenin ordered a very different New Economic Policy in 1921.