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Facts that Matter - Extra Documents & Tests for Class 9

  • Everyone in Europe was not in favour of complete transformation of society. Some conservatives thought that some changes were inevitable but believed that the past had to be respected and change had to be brought about by a slow process.
  • But the group of liberals lobbied to change the society rapidly. They wanted a nation which tolerated all religions. They also opposed the uncontrolled power of dynastic rules. But they didn’t believe in universal adult franchise.
  • So far radicals were concerned, they wanted a nation in which government was based on the majority of a country’s population. Unlike liberals, they supported women’s suffragette movements and opposed the privileges of great landowners.
  • However, the groups of liberals and radicals got support from many working men and women in the 19th century.
  • Some nationalists, liberals and radicals wanted revolutions to put an end to the kind of governments established in Europe in 1815. In France, Italy, Germany and Russia, they became revolutionaries and worked to overthrow the existing monarchs.
  • The idea of socialism attracted widespread attention in the mid-19th century Europe.
  • Socialists were against private property, and saw it as the root of all social ills of the time. However, they had different visions of the future. Some believed in the idea of co-operatives. Others felt that co-operatives could not be built on a wide scale only through individual initiative. They demanded that governments encourage co-operatives.
  • Karl Marx was in favour of a communist society. He believed that the conditions of workers could not improve as long as profit was accumulated by private capitalists. Workers had to overthrow capitalism and the rule of private property.
  • By the 1870s, socialist ideas spread through Europe. However till 1914, socialists never succeeded in forming a government in Europe.
  • Socialists took over the government in Russia through the October Revolution of 1917. The fall of monarchy in February 1917 and the events of October are normally called the Russian Revolution.
  • In 1914, Tsar Nicholas II ruled Russia and its empire. He was a self-willed, corrupt and oppressive ruler. He ignored public welfare as a result of which the conditions of the peasants and workers became deplorable. Peasants frequently refused to pay rent and even murdered landlords.
  • Being influenced by the democratic experiments done by the Western European countries, the Russians also demanded a responsible government but all their demands were turned down. Consequently, even the moderate reformers began to talk of revolution.
  • The year 1904 was a bad year for the workers. Prices of essential goods rose very high. Wages declined by 20 per cent. Workers therefore went on a strike demanding a reduction in the working day to eight hours, an increase in wages and improvement in working conditions.
  • In January 1905, on one Sunday, the workers took out a peaceful procession. But when the procession reached the Winter Palace, they were attacked by the police and the Cossacks. Over 100 workers were killed and about 300 were injured. This incident is known as the Bloody Sunday. As a result of this incident, strikes took place all over the country.
  • The incident of the Bloody Sunday brought severe consequences. Most committees and unions were declared illegal. Severe restrictions were placed on political activities. The Tsar dismissed the first Duma within 75 days and re-elected second Duma within three months. He didn’t want any questioning of his authority or any reduction in his power.
  • In 1914, the First World War broke out. In Russia, the war was initially popular and people rallied around the Tsar. As the war continued, the Tsar refused to consult the main parties in the Duma. Thus, he lost support and anti-German sentiments ran high.
  • The Tsarina Alexandra’s German adviser, Rasputin made the autocracy even more unpopular.
  • The war had a severe impact on Russia. Bread and flour became scarce for the people in cities. By the winter of 1916, riots at bread shops were common.
  • In the winter of 1917, the conditions in the capital, Petrograd, were harsh. In February 1917, acute food shortages were felt in the worker’s quarters. On 22 February, a lockout took place at a factory on the right bank of River Neva. On Sunday, 25 February, the government suspended the Duma. On the 27th, the police headquarters were raided. The streets crowded with people raising slogans about bread, wages, better hours and democracy.
  • The Tsar finally abdicated his power on 2nd March, and the Soviet and Duma leaders  formed a Provisional Government for Russia.
  • In April 1917, the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin returned to Russia from his exile. He made three demands known as ‘April Theses’. These three demands were–

– War should be brought to an end.

– Land should be transferred to the peasants.

– Banks should be nationalised.

  • By and by the Bolshevik party was becoming powerful. To reduce its power and influence, the Provisional Government began arresting the Bolshevik leaders. As a result, many Bolshevik leaders had to go into hiding or flee.
  • The conflict between the Provisional Government and the Bolsheviks became the cause of the October Revolution. Vladimir Lenin in September began to bring together Bolshevik supporters for an uprising. When the uprising began on 24 October, Prime Minister Kerenskii, left the city to bring in troops to prevent the situation from going out of control.
  • The October Revolution marked the beginning of Lenin’s rule over the Soviet, with the Bolshevik’s under his guidance. Lenin brought about several changes after this revolution. For example, nationalisation of banks and industries, etc.
  • By January 1920, the Bolsheviks controlled most of the former Russian empires. But their attempt to win over different nationalities were only partly successful.
  • Stalin came in power after the death of Lenin. He started collectivisation programme to increase production. From 1929, all peasants were forced to cultivate in collective farms known as Kolkhoz. The bulk of land and implements were transferred to the ownership of collective farms. Peasants worked on the land, and the Kolkhoz profit was shared.
  • Inspite of collectivisation, production did not increase immediately. The bad harvests of 1930-33 led to horrible famines in which over 4 million people died.
  • The impact of the Russian Revolution was felt globally. In many countries, communist parties were formed. Many non-Russians from outside the USSR participated in the Conference of the Peoples of the East (1920) and the Bolshevik-founded Comintern (an international union of pro-Bolshevik socialist parties). By the time of the outbreak of the Second World War, the USSR had given socialism a global face.
  • But the international reputation of the USSR as a socialist country declined by the end of the 20th century.

Words that Matter
Liberal: One who allows a lot of political and economic freedom and supports gradual social, political or religious change.
Radical: One who is in favour of thorough and complete political or social change.
Conservative: One who opposes to great or sudden social change.
Suffragette movement: A movement to give women the right to vote.
Autocracy: A system of government of a country in which one person has complete power.
Jadidists: Muslim reformers within the Russian empire.
Real wage: It reflects the quantities of goods which the wages will actually buy.
Autonomy: The right to govern themselves.
Nomadism: Lifestyle of those who do not live in one place but move from area to area to earn their living.
Kulaks: The name for well-to-do peasants of Russia.
Kolkhoz: Collective farms.
Deported: Forcibly removed from one’s own country.
Exiled: Forced to live away from one’s own country.
Budeonovka: The Soviet hat which Lenin introduced for the soldiers.


Dateline
1850s-1880s – Debates over socialism in Russia.
1898 – Formation of the Russian Social Democratic Workers Party.
1905 – The Bloody Sunday and the Revolution of 1905.
1917 – 2nd March – Abdication of the Tsar.
24th October – Bolshevik uprising in Petrograd.
918-20 – The Civil War.
1919 – Formation of Comintern.
1929 – Beginning of collectivisation programme.

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