Compare and contrast the causes and nature of the two 1917 Russian Revolutions
- The two revolutions of radically different nature.
- Role of Bolsheviks: From a surprise to full implication.
- Scale and spontaneity: From overthrow of a government to people's revolutions.
- Power vacuum: Collapse of inner authority.
- The role of the war: humiliating defeats and alienation of the army.
- The situation of socio-economic decline: inability to solve the internal problems.
- Major difference: An ever-growing discontent that Lenin was able to exploit.
- An ever-growing discontent of the masses: workers' and peasants' distress.
- Lenin's impact: the influence of a strong and charismatic leader.
?Every social group, every nationality, every region, every town, every village, had its own revolution?, wrote Christopher Read and indeed, 1917 proved to be for Russia a year of turmoil and change. Traditionally, however, 1917 is known as a year of two revolutions, February Revolution and October Revolution . Yet, how different were they, in their nature and in their causes? On the surface two 1917 revolutions divided by eight months had nothing in common: the first was a rather spontaneous collapse of the tsardom from within, while the second was a seizure of power by the Bolsheviks from Provisional Government which had replaced the Tsar. The nature of two revolutions does seem rather dissimilar, especially in terms of preparation and scale; however the causation appears to be analogous at many points: many reasons that led to collapse of the tsardom, such as social and economic discontent, war, attitude of the armed forces and incompetence of the government, resemble reasons that led to destruction of the Provisional government. Yet, unlike rather spontaneous February revolution, October revolution was planned and carried out by a particular group ? Bolsheviks, without participation of which the revolution would have not been possible.
[...] Lenin's arrival in April 1917 was marked with April Thesis that manifested unique and new position complete rejection of the Provisional government. Lenin combined the new ideas of his Thesis with some successful action: knowing about land seizures in the countryside he adjusted Marxist theory to present peasants as a revolutionary class thus initiating great afflux not only of peasantry to Bolshevik party but also of some of the left SRs, raising party membership sharply. The campaigning to win the support of workers and soldiers was also undertaken, and soon Bolsheviks gained a majority in Petrograd and Moscow Soviets. [...]
[...] Spreading rumours about Rasputin's extreme influence over Tsarina and the government, and about his vulgar relationship with Alexandra led to alienation of Russian nobles and professional classes from the court. Power vacuum was gradually forming; the base of the autocracy masses' belief in the divine right and infallibility of the Tsar, was being shaken. Even liberals and monarchists, potential supporters for the regime felt that the regime was on the verge of collapse, coming to believe that Tsar's abdication would prevent a revolution. [...]
[...] Thus, the atmosphere in the army preceding revolutions in February and October was alike: the misunderstanding of the war and vanishing loyalty were common features, the government could only rely on voluntary consent of soldiers that in turn depended upon peace, land and bread. However, if pre-February army did have some loyal units, pre-October armed forces lacked this completely: the length of the war was becoming impossible, brief stability was ruined by Kornilov affair and Bolsheviks were undermining the morale. [...]