Around 85% of the Russian population earned their living from agriculture. Charismatic, gifted, passionate, and ruthless though he was, Lenin was only one man, and one man is not enough to foment or sustain a revolution. In 1905, Nicholas faced revolution in Russia for the first time. Early Sunday morning, the police launch wide scale arrests of over 100 leaders of revolutionary organisations, including the Bolsheviks. The meeting became a mass walkout; as the women headed for the Neva River, other people—men and women—joined their ranks. He publishes the ‘April Theses’, offering people: ‘Peace, bread, land’, and proclaims: All power to the Soviets.’, Lenin returns to Russia, 1917 by A. Aksenov / Peter Newark Pictures, May 1917: Leon Trotsky returns to Petrograd from exile. Accused of treason and espionage, Lenin fled to Finland in July, and many of his comrades were imprisoned. Here again, Lenin was in a tiny minority.

For Merridale, the story of Lenin’s train journey is partly “a parable about great-power intrigue, and one rule there is that great powers almost always get things wrong.”. Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin during the Russian Revolution, 1917 Russian Photographer / Peter Newark Pictures. 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. No revolution is inevitable, but it feels perverse to minimize longer-term factors so energetically.

He married and produced children; however, his only son had hemophilia. Nicholas II believed in the power of the Russian autocracy; however, he was unable to maintain the traditional power of the Tsar during his reign. (His consistent attention to the experience of Russian women is laudable.) By signing up to receive emails, you agree to receive occasional promotional offers for programs that support The Nation's journalism.

Required fields are marked *. Nicholas’ throne had already been challenged by a premature Russian revolution, a decade before the outbreak of World War I.

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. (Lenin brought his wife and mother along and hired a maid when he arrived.) .article-wrap .article-body aside.left.custom_background_250962{background:none !important; The German government was also willing to arrange for Lenin’s journey back to Petrograd. As in the early 20th century, we are living in an age in which mass movements and popular fury have a new currency. n. Sophie PinkhamSophie Pinkham recently received a PhD in Slavic languages and literature from Columbia. Due to Rasputin‘s influence over the Tsarina and his involvement in government decisions, he was blamed for the failings. Lenin on the TrainBy Catherine Merridale After an absurd series of scandals and intrigues involving his own generals and officers, Kerensky released most of the Bolshevik prisoners, whose comrades had already made substantial progress in indoctrinating the rank and file of the army and navy. Ready to Fight Back? 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. Meanwhile, the foolish, foppish Kerensky unwittingly smoothed the way for the Bolsheviks, remaking himself as a dictator, moving into the Winter Palace, sleeping in the czar’s bed, and traveling in the czar’s train carriage. (Germany’s support would remain a closely guarded secret throughout the Soviet period. Nineteen seventeen is a year that resonated through the 20th century. A new generation of democratic socialists may glean more complicated lessons from 1917: not only about the dangerous magnetism of power and violence, but about the possibility of achieving a political transformation that spans continents. When Nicholas departed to lead Russian forces in World War I, the Tsarina had been put in charge of domestic affairs and dismissed many ministers. Smith marshals extensive economic, social, and cultural evidence to help explain the nature of the social transformation that led to the revolution and then to the Soviet order.

Instead, he was plotting a civil war, the next step on his road map to international communism. The Bolsheviks and radical left, in contrast, had warned against the danger of a military coup and now seemed vindicated. Lenin on the Train is often engaging and evocative, but as historical analysis, it is not entirely satisfying. This philosophy produced one of many historical examples indicating that while violence is often the most effective way of seizing power, antidemocratic coups do not usher in utopia; more often, they devolve into terror. 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. The provisional government, the Petrograd Soviet, and others argued over whether the country should continue fighting the war—and, if so, on what terms. Its members couldn’t decide on what they wanted, either, with some hoping for a social-democratic system and others a constitutional monarchy.

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. 2. February Revolution, Petrograd in 1917. date taken: 23/02/1917 / UIG, February 26-27 – The Tsar orders the use of military force to break the strike. 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.

Logged in as  For the most part, the crises, reversals, and surprises, along with the long strings of names, places, and deaths, are consistent from one account to another. Buy this book 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. From his exile in Zurich, Lenin expressed his disgust at the new arrangement. His other children were all daughters.

He takes the long view, privileging large-scale economic, social, and political trends over individual actors and contingent circumstances.

Russian Revolution, October 1917. People had nothing to lose any more, the essential ingredient for any revolution, Famine-Stricken Villagers who have left their Homes on the Way to St Petersburg (engraving) by Johann Nepomuk Schonberg (1780-1863) (after) / © Look and Learn / Illustrated Papers Collection, 1887 May – Lenin’s brother, Alexander Ulyanov, is hanged for plotting to kill Tsar Alexander III, Lenin (1870-1924) and his mother learning of the execution of his brother, 5th May 1887, Russian School, (20th century), 1894 October – Tsar Alexander III dies and his son, Nicholas II, becomes the ruler of Russia, Tsar Nicholas II and Tsaritsa Alexandra in full coronation regalia, May 1896 by Russian Photographer, (19th century) / Peter Newark Pictures, 1905, January 22 – Bloody Sunday in St Petersburg – The first Russian Revolution. The Second Revolution: 'Peace, bread and land' Vladimir Lenin knew how unhappy the people of Russia were. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. 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. In their petition, they called themselves oppressed, and said they were looked on as slaves. 1.5 million soldiers deserted the army in 1916. Acting under the Tsar’s orders, troops fire on protesters causing tens of thousands of casualties but they begin to mutiny later in the day and join the protesters. Lenin did not seek to make the lives of those already living better; he believed that revolution would cleanse the world of injustice and create an entirely new society. If the tragedy for McMeekin is that the czarist regime and the liberal provisional government failed to stop the rise of Lenin and the Bolsheviks, the tragedy for Smith is the corruption of Russian revolutionary ideals. There were assassinations, mutinies, and attacks on the homes of the wealthy. To submit a correction for our consideration, click here. Timeline of events. You can read our Privacy Policy here.

Kerensky especially suspect; arming the proletariat is the only guarantee…no rapprochement with other parties.” Lenin was virtually alone in his insistence that power pass into the hands of the workers immediately. A disastrous defeat in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5), coupled with a flagging economy, poor living conditions and the shooting of protestors in St Petersburg, led to a spontaneous but intense challenge to the tsarist rule. On January 22, 1905, 150,000 people gathered to ask Nicholas II for his support and assistance.

  VIDEO: People in Denmark Are a Lot Happier Than People in the United States. The Manifesto’s proclamation was met with jubilation in the streets on October 17 and the general strike was called off. Kerensky sits at position no 1 / /UIG, August –  A failed coup by General Lavr Kornilov, commander of Russian Army. McMeekin’s account of the longer-term causes of the Russian Revolution also deviates from the standard narrative. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin / Undated Communist poster / UIG, See more images and clips for the Russian Revolution, Note: Russia used the Julian or Old Style calendar until January 24th 1918, when this system was replaced by the Gregorian or New Style calendar. History; Russia; Books & the Arts; July 3-10, 2017, Issue; What Caused the Russian Revolution?