Unit 7: Revolutionary Russia: Marxist Theory and Agrarian Realities
The Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917 reshaped the country's political institutions and led to a century of conflict with the West. During the 1905 revolution, Russian liberals challenged the absolute authority of the Russian tsar, when a coalition of workers and middle-class Russians used economic and political means to demand democratic concessions. While their gains were temporary, they inspired the future Bolshevik revolutionaries.
In February 1917, during the height of World War I, a coalition of Russian liberals and socialists challenged Russia's autocratic government and organized a series of general strikes and political protests which forced Tsar Nicholas to abdicate. The leaders created a weak provisional national government, while socialist officials organized local soviets (political councils) of Russian's industrial workers. These factions soon came into conflict.
By October 1917, the Bolshevik Party, a communist organization led by Vladimir Lenin, staged a revolution against the provisional government and seized control of the state. The Bolsheviks used military force to consolidate power and establish control over the local soviets. Throughout the 1920s, Lenin and his successor Joseph Stalin used violence and political control to impose communism on Russia's political, economic, and social institutions. Communist leaders also tried to export the revolution by supporting communist political organizations in Europe and the United States.
In this unit, we study the Russian Revolution and examine its initial connection to Marxist theory. We will compare Russia's experiences with the revolutions we studied in earlier units, and examine the global impact of the 20th century communist revolution.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 11 hours.