Explain the reasons for the growth of revolutionary activity in Russia prior to WW1
Prior to world war one, there was a definite increase of revolutionary activity in Russia. A majority of this activity began when Tsar Nicholas the II came into power as autocratic ruler of Russia in 1894. His position as absolute monarch began to enrage the Russian people as they became unhappy with the inequality of the Feudal system. The weak economy of Russia and the lack of Industrialisation agrarian did not help this factor, as the people were not seeing any improvements in the growth of Russia as an economy.
The Tsar poor leadership and unpopularity was too a leading factor to the growth of revolutionary activity, especially after bloody Sunday, the people needed a strong leader and felt that the tsar was not one. The fact that the countries military was weak did not provide comfort to the people as it became hard for Russia to stand as one united nation. The long-term inequality of the feudal system and the Tsars autocratic system of parliament was one of the contributing factors for growth of revolutionary activity in Russia prior to WW1. The feudal system placed all of the Russian population into distinct classes.
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Most Russians did not question the Tsars system of government, believing he was appointed to rule by god. However some people refused to accept this, wanting to get rid of the Tsar and make big changes to the Russian society. There was a vast comparison between the royalty and the working class. The royalty lived a fine life, as did the army and the upper class, working shorter hours and working hardly at all. However the peasants or the “urbanised workers” worked extremely long hours and were paid little, most often being ordered around by the upper classes.
This resulted in restlessness in the lower classes, those making easy money, such as the capitalists, were doing little to improve the conditions of their workers causing the working class’s hatred of the capitalists to steadily grow. Workers in the lower class were unable to improve their working conditions by themselves, trade unions were not allowed by law and going on strike was illegal. As there was a large rate of unemployment any workers that caused trouble were easily and quickly replaced. The rich were so powerful that they had a majority of the control over the working class, feeding off their earnings and ordering them around.
The workers by no means were happy with the conditions in which they were living. They were especially unhappy with the Tsars reaction to this inequality, as he made no effort to improve there living and working conditions causing reason for growth in revolutionary activity. The military weakness of Russia during the Russian-Japanese war became a strong reason for the growth of revolutionary activity in Russia prior to WW1. In 1904, when Russia went to war against Japan it was at the Tsars great pleasure.
They were fighting for control of Korea and the Tsar thought that a quick victory would make him popular once again amongst the Russian people, and would cause them to stop criticising his way of government. However the Army was based on conscription, so the people had no say in weather or not they wished to fight. This resulted in a weak army who faced countless defeat, worrying the Russian people and giving them reason to question the Tsars judgment. When the army was sent on a voyage half way around the world to Japanese waters, the Japanese fleet quickly destroyed them.
This loss of many Russian men made the Tsar far from popular, as his position with the people was weakened. The conditions worsened for the working people, as the war had resulted in supplies being limited. In fact the war against Japan had not been what the Russian people had wanted, the loss and weakness of Russia enraged them and their leader was not helping the country become united as one. The poor leadership of the Tsar and his in popularity, especially after bloody Sunday, was a defining factor in the growth of revolutionary activity in Russia prior to WW1.
In 1894, when the Tsar came into power, it was at his great displeasure, as he did not fancy being the Tsar of Russia. However his wife Alexandra insisted he remain autocratic emperor, believing Russia was not yet ready for a constitutional government. The Russian people picked up on the Tsars disdain, as he never made any effort to interact and unite with them. The fact that the Tsar was shy and unable to make any decisions regarding the publics well being, made him very unpopular amongst the Russian people. The occurrence of bloody Sunday did not help the Tsars popularity.
In 1905 the crowd of 200,00 workers and there families marched through Russia towards the Tsars winter palace. There aim was to present a petition to the Tsar, asking for better living and working conditions and for an end to the war in Japan. When the protestors were stopped and many were massacred, a great uproar rose around Russia. As a result of the Tsar not even hearing the protesters out and having his forces dismiss them, he was not giving the people a voice. This became reason for protest, as the Russian population would not stand for the unnecessary massacres when all they wanted was an improvement in living conditions.
Bloody Sunday had effectively started a revolution against the Tsar. The growth of revolutionary activities in Russia prior to WW1 resulted from many contributing factors. The long-term inequality of the feudal system resulted in poverty and poor working conditions for many of the Russian people and wealth and power for the other majority. The people’s anger and cause for revolutionary activity stemmed out of their impatience with the Tsar and the fact that he did nothing to help equalise or improve conditions of living.
The military weakness in Russia at the time did not help the country become united and resulted in the Japanese defeating Russia in war. Hence angering the Russian people even more as they saw no reason for the hostile take over of japan, petitioning for the Tsar to end it. However due to the Tsars poor leadership, he would not address the problems brought to him by the Russian people, resulting in revolutionary activity and outbreaks of protest. It could be seen that much of the revolutionary activity present in Russian prior to WW1 stemmed out of the Tsars incapability to lead the country and his unwillingness to do so.