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Roots Of Russian Revolution

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The Russian revolution was caused by the continual breakdown of the
governments in Russia and the incompetency and authoritarian views of it's
czars. Their failures as leaders included policies that neither pleased
nor benefitted the people. By the end of the nineteenth century, Russia's
economy, government, military, and social organization was at an extreme
decline. Russia had become the least advanced of the major European
nations in terms of political and social development. There was no
parliament, and no middle class. The Church, officers, and other important
people and institutions were firmly against social progress. The
disastrous defeat of Russia in the Crimean War in 1855 and 1856 exposed
weaknesses of Russia's various organizations.

For the first few decades of the 1800's, Russia's outlook was brighter
under Alexander I, who was relatively liberal. He became more reactionary
however, and following his death, a group of young army officers tried to
overturn the Czardom. This was called the Decembrist Revolt. The next
czar, Nicholas, was a die hard authoritarian. The Administrative system
continued to decay regardless of his iron fisted rule. The gap between the
rich and the poorer continued to widen. Over five hundred peasant revolts
took place during his reign.

Alexander II, who took the throne in 1855 tried to avert revolt by
attempting reform. In 1861 he freed the serfs and gave them expectations
of free land allotments. But to their surprise, and anger, they were only
given the opportunity to share it as members of a village commune(mir). In
addition, the mir had to pay back the government for the land over a period
of 49 years with interest. Alexander also formed a series of elected local
councils that gave districts restricted jurisdiction of certain aspects of
life. He too became more of a reactionary towards the end of his reign.
The result was his assassination by a group of conspirators called the
People's Will movement. The next Czar, Alexander III, was yet another
reactionary. He was active in silencing criticism of the government,
exiling agitators, and stamping out revolutionary groups.

Industrialization began to appear and with it an increase of
dissatisfied workers. They were underpaid and forced to work in

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