THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION: THE BIRTH OF COMMUNISM?
By Neel Shah
What was the Russian Revolution?
The Russian Revolution is the name for a pair of rebellions against the oppressive Tsardom that ruled the Russian Empire. Life under Tsar Nicholas was difficult for the serfs (peasants) living in imperial Russia, especially with the pressures of World War One. Due to the increased dissatisfaction of the public, rebellions began to occur. The February Revolution was a failed attempt to instate a democratic government, based on the French models, however was crushed by the imperial forces. Following this, the Tsar did not respond to the rebels, and continued to rule an oppressive Tsardom based on hierarchal power. This meant the people remained frustrated with the government and prepared to strike again.
This would be the revolution that changed history; the October Revolution saw the birth of communism in the real world, under Vladimir Lenin.
Communism is an ideology based on principles of social equity in a utopian state. Initially designed by Karl Marx for Germany, the idea of communism was picked up by Vladimir Lenin, who used it to form a new government in Russia. This was the birth of the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics).
What was the USSR?
Being the first socialist state, the USSR was a new entity in Europe under a new ideology. The West, under the British and Americans, was sceptical of the new state, unsure of its ability in ruling the Soviet population. The radical ideas appeared to work in strengthening the nation, which soon became a world superpower. However, the Soviet invasion of Poland (along with Nazi Germany) deteriorated relations between the two ideologies, with the West perceiving the Soviets as expansionists. Following the co-operation between the Soviet Union and the West in World War Two, there was an improvement in relations between the superpowers, evident by the creation of the United Nations. To some, it appeared a united earth could have arisen.
Then came the Cold War. The Cold War was an ideological conflict between the USA and the USSR that arose following World War Two. The superpowers had divided the world, contrary to the premise of friendship in 1945. This war would last until 1990, occupying Europe, the Americas and Asia, as well as parts of Africa for over four decades.
How does the Revolution impact our lives today?
The Revolution demonstrated the collapse of European empires and monarchies, with the largest absolute monarchy at the time crumbling under socialism. This weakened the opposition to democracy and set the path for a more unified Europe, as we have today.
The Revolution also led to the creation of an ideological dispute under which both good and bad rose. The advances in science, such as astronomy, and peace through the UN were hidden behind the premises of nuclear destruction and World War 3. Today, the possession of nuclear weapons in the hands of oppressive regimes, namely North Korea, poses a threat to global peace. However, advances in science in numerous fields have led to the creation of new technology, transportation and business.
Recommended Wider Reading:
Horrible Histories, Series 7: 9. Revolting Russian Revolutions - www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0954tv5