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Why Was the 1917 Revolution Successful?

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Why was the 1917 revolution successful?
The underlying causes of the Russian Revolution are rooted deep in Russia's history. For centuries, autocratic and repressive tsarist regimes ruled the country and most of the population lived under severe economic and social conditions. During the 19th century and early 20th century various movements aimed at overthrowing the oppressive government were staged at different times by students, workers, peasants, and members of the nobility. Two of these unsuccessful movements were the 1825 revolt against Nicholas I and the revolution of 1905, both of which were attempts to establish a constitutional monarchy. Russia's badly organized and unsuccessful involvement in World War I (1914-1918) added to popular discontent with the government's corruption and inefficiency. In 1917 these events resulted in the fall of the tsarist government and the establishment of the provisional government and the Petrograd soviets who ran the country together until, the Bolsheviks in October staged a coup thus overthrowing the unpopular provisional government.
The immediate cause of the February Revolution of 1917 was the collapse of the tsarist regime under the gigantic strain of World War I. The primary cause was the backward economic condition of the country, which made it unable to sustain the war effort against powerful, industrialized Germany. Russian manpower was vast. Russian industry, however, lacked the capacity to arm, equip, and supply the some 15 million men who were sent into the war. Factories were few and insufficiently productive, and the railroad network was inadequate. Repeated mobilizations, moreover, disrupted industrial and agricultural production. The food supply decreased, and the transportation system became chaotic. In the trenches, the soldiers went hungry and frequently lacked shoes or munitions, sometimes even weapons. Russian casualties were greater than those sustained by any army in any previous war. Behind the front, goods became scarce, prices sky rocketed thus causing severe inflation, and by 1917 famine threatened the larger cities. Discontent became ubiquitous, and the morale of the army suffered, finally to be undermined by a succession of military defeat. Desertion rates began to rocket and casualties were high. These reverses were attributed by many to the alleged treachery of Empress Alexandra (who was from German descent) and her circle, in which the peasant monk known as Rasputin was the dominant influence. When the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, protested against the inefficient conduct of the war and the illogical policies of the imperial government and offered to set up an alternative provisional bloc to run the country while the tsar was otherwise occupied, he refused and ordered them to disband.
The Lenin announced the April thesis promising Peace, Bread and Land meaning that the power of the government would be given to the people and all their needs would be met. He also claimed that all power should be handed over to the soviets.
At first all parties except a small group within the Social Democratic Party supported the war. The government received much aid in the war effort from voluntary committees, including representatives of business and labor. The growing breakdown of supply, made worse by the almost complete isolation of Russia from its prewar markets, was felt especially in the major cities, which were flooded with refugees from the front. Despite an outward calm, many Duma leaders felt that Russia would soon be confronted with a new revolutionary crisis. By 1915 the liberal parties had formed a progressive bloc that gained a majority in the Duma.
As the tide of discontent mounted, the Duma warned Nicholas II in November 1916 that disaster would overtake the country unless rasputin was emoved from court from the court and a constitutional form of government was instituted. The emperor ignored the warning. Late in December a group of aristocrats, led by Prince Feliks Yusupov, assassinated Rasputin in the hope that the emperor would then change his course. The emperor responded by showing favor to Rasputin's followers at court. Talk of a palace revolution in order to avert a greater impending upheaval became widespread, especially among the upper ranks.
The peasant also where discontent with the tsar’s rule in Russia as the government did not pay them their fair wages for the grain that they were buying in order to support the army in response to this they began hording their harvest thus causing food shortages spanning across the whole of Russia.
The Revolution of 1917 grew out of a mounting wave of food and wage strikes in Petrograd during February. On February 23 meetings and demonstrations in which the principal slogan was a demand for bread were held, supported by the 90,000 men and women on strike in the national capital. Encounters with the police were numerous, but the workers refused to disperse and continued to occupy the streets. Tension steadily increased but no casualties resulted.
On February 26 the troops of the Petrograd garrison were called out to repress the uprising. When the workers and soldiers came face to face in the streets, the workers tried to fraternize with the soldiers. In some of these encounters the troops were hostile and fired on order, killing a number of workers. The workers fled, but did not abandon the streets. As soon as the firing ceased they returned to confront the soldiers. In subsequent encounters the troops wavered when ordered to fire, allowing the workers to pass through their lines. Nicholas dissolved the Duma; the deputies accepted the decree but reassembled privately and elected a provisional committee of the State Duma to act in its place. On February 27 the revolution triumphed. Regiment after regiment of the Petrograd garrison went over to the people. Within 24 hours the entire garrison, approximately 150,000 men, joined the revolution, and the united workers and soldiers took control of the capital. The uprising claimed about 1500 victims.
Agitation grew the following day, February 24, until it involved about half the workers of Petrograd. The slogans now were bolder: "Down with the war!" "Down with autocracy!" On February 25 the strike became general throughout the capital. During these two days violent encounters took place with the police, with casualties on both sides. The dreaded Cossack troops, however, which had been called out to support the police, showed little enthusiasm for breaking up the protesters The workers captured several police stations, seized the small arms inside, and then burned the stations to the ground; the police went into hiding. The first elections to the Petrograd Soviet were held in several factories, on the model of the Soviet of 1905, which had been formed during a revolution at the end of the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905).
The imperial government was quickly dispersed. Effective political power subsequently was exercised by two new bodies, the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and a Provisional Government formed by the provisional committee of the Duma. The Soviet, a representative body of elected deputies, immediately appointed a commission to cope with the problem of ensuring a food supply for the capital, placed detachments of revolutionary soldiers in the government offices, and ordered the release of thousands of political prisoners. On February 28 the Soviet ordered the arrest of Nicholas's ministers. On March 1 it issued its famous Order No. 1. By the terms of this order, the soldiers of the army and the sailors of the fleet were to submit to the authority of the Soviet and its committees in all political matters; they were to obey only those orders that did not conflict with the directives of the Soviet; they were to elect committees that would exercise exclusive control over all weapons; on duty, they were to observe strict military discipline, but harsh and contemptuous treatment by the officers was forbidden; disputes between soldiers' committees and officers were to be referred to the Soviet for disposition; off-duty soldiers and sailors were to enjoy full civil and political rights; and saluting of officers was abolished. Subsequent efforts by the Soviet to limit and nullify its own Order No. 1 were unavailing, and it continued in force.
The Petrograd Soviet easily could have assumed complete power in the capital, but it failed to do so. The great majority of its members, believing that revolutionary Russia must wage a war of defense against German imperialism, did not want to risk disorganizing the war effort. Taken by surprise, as were all the political parties, by the outbreak of the revolution, the working-class parties were unable to give the workers and soldiers in the Soviet strong political leadership. Even the Bolsheviks, who, in a sense, had been preparing for the revolution since at least the early 1900s, had been unaware of its imminence and had no program to take advantage of the situation. It was not until April 16, with the return from Switzerland of their exiled leader, Vladimir Ilich Lenin, that the Bolsheviks put forward a demand for immediate seizure of land by the peasantry, establishment of workers' control in industry, an end to the war, and transfer of "all power to the Soviets." In the Petrograd Soviet, however, the Bolsheviks were then a small minority. The majority was composed of Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries. The Mensheviks envisioned a period of capitalist development and complete political democracy as the essential prerequisite for a socialist order; in the main, they supported continuation of the war. Most of the leading Socialist Revolutionaries, a peasant party with vague socialist aspirations, also advocated continuation of the war. Under the leadership of the moderate majority, the Petrograd Soviet recognized the newly established Provisional Government as the legal authority in Russia.
The reasons for the Russian uprising in 1917 can be attributed to many different factors the most important being its lack of modern facilities and the government who refused any idea of reform and insisted of deploying the outdated method of autocracy. This angered all the classes of Russia and convinced them of the need of revolution.

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