Socialism in Europe
Question 1: What were the social, economic and political conditions in Russia before 1905?
Answer: A large section of the Russian population was dependent on agriculture. Some industries had developed in selected pockets. The Russian empire was under the autocratic rule of the Tsar. The workers were divided in different social groups, but often united to strike work in factories. The peasants had a long tradition of working in commune.
Question 2: In what ways was the working population in Russia different from other countries in Europe, before 1917?
Answer: Compared to other parts of Europe, a larger portion of the Russian population was engaged in farming. Workers in the industry had already begun to organize themselves to stop work in factories. Farmers had a long tradition of working collectively on farms.
Question 3: Why did the Tsarist autocracy collapse in 1917?
Answer: The Tsar first dismissed the initial two Dumas and then packed the parliament with the conservatives. During the First World War, the Tsar took decision without consulting the Duma. Large scale casualties of Russian soldiers in the war further alienated the people from the Tsar. Burning of crops and buildings by the retreating Russian armies created huge shortage of food in Russia. All of these led to the collapse of the Tsarist autocracy in 1917.
Question 4: Make two lists: one with the main events and the effects of the February Revolution and the other with the main events and effects of the October Revolution. Write a paragraph on who was involved in each, who were the leaders and what was the impact of each on Soviet history.
Answer: February Revolution
- On 22 February: A lockout at a factory.
- Demonstrators thronged the centre of the capital, and curfew was imposed.
- 25th February: Suspension of Duma.
- 27th February: Formation of Soviet.
- 2nd March: Tsar leaves power and provisional government formed.
The February Revolution ended the autocratic Tsarist rule in Russia and paved the way for an elected government. There was no leader of this movement.
- 16th October: Formation of Military Revolutionary Committee
- 24th October: Pro-government troops called in to deal with the situation.
- Military Revolutionary Committee controls the city by night and ministers surrender.
- The Bolshevik take control of the power.
The October Revolution was led by Lenin. This event paved the way for complete control of the Bolsheviks over Russia and the beginning of a single-party rule.
Question 5: What were the main changes brought about by the Bolsheviks immediately after the October Revolution?
Answer: Major changes after the October Revolution:
- Most of the industry and banks were nationalized in November 1917. The government took over ownership and management.
- Land was declared social property. Peasants were allowed to seize the land of the nobility.
- In cities, large houses were partitioned as per family requirements.
- Old titles of aristocracy were banned.
Question 6: Write a few lines to show what you know about;
Answer: The wealthy landowners were called the kulaks. Stalin was suspicious of them for hoarding. During collectivization of farming, the kulaks were raided and their lands were seized.
- The Duma
Answer: The Russian parliament is called the Duma. The first Duma was constituted in 1905.
- Women workers between 1900 and 1930
Answer: Participation of women workers was quite significant in Russia. About one-third industrial workers were women. Especially during the war years, the number of women workers increased because the able-bodied men were called for wartime duties.
- The Liberals
Answer: Liberals wanted a change in the society. They wanted toleration towards all religions. They opposed the uncontrolled power of dynastic rulers. They wanted to safeguard the rights of individuals. They favoured a representative, elected parliamentary government. Such a government should be subject to laws interpreted by a well-trained and independent judiciary. However, some of the liberal ideas were not democratic. They did not believe in universal adult franchise and wanted the voting rights only for men with property.
- Stalin’s collectivization programme
Answer: Stalin believed that collectivization of agriculture would help in improving grains supplies in Russia. He began collectivization in 1929. All peasants were forced to cultivate in collective farms (kolhoz). The bulk of land and implements were transferred to the ownership of collective farm. Many peasants protested such attempts and destroyed livestock to show their anger. Collectivization did not bring the desired results in the food supply situation turned even worse in subsequent years.