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Nicholas II was Anti-semitic, a quality which is why he did nothing about attacks by the black hundreds or the like, and this is also why many Jews joined the revolutionary parties. Nicholas also appointed many bad ministers, who actually worsened the situation, rather than keeping the better ministers such as Stolypin and Witte, who had aimed to reform Russia, instead dismissing them. He refused to grant political reforms such as those demanded in the 1905 revolution. His government’s failure to politically reform also led to problems.
They promised reforms that weren’t carried out, didn’t pass reforms that could have been extremely helpful to Russia’s situation. They also didn’t accept ideas such as liberal freedoms, and Stolypin’s own reforms soon proved to be too little, too late. Nicholas’ Failure to reform due to his conservatism, as well as his government’s failure, proved to be its downfall. Lack of reform left the working classes in poor conditions, which let Socialism grow rapidly, with the middle class becoming Critical of the Tsar and his system.
The Government didn’t deal with the peasantry and the land hunger, and Stolypin’s reforms did not aid the situation in the end. They increasingly used suppression as War grew closer, causing more and more discontent. As well as this, if Nicholas II hadn’t been the way he was, there wouldn’t have been the revolutionary parties that pushed for change. The First World War is a highly important factor, and Russia’s entry into it was due to its foreign policy, and it ties to France due to loans.
There were three years of very little success, which demoralised the people.
The army was highly inefficient and unorganised, with massive casualties in battles. The war caused a great strain on the economy, which affected the working class and the peasantry, in that the peasantry were pushed to produce food which was hard to produce in the harsh conditions of Russia, and the working class were pushed hard to produce weaponry in the factories. And this caused discontent among the many classes of Russia. There was also a strain on social cohesion, with people beginning to grow more discontent on the whole, and with less unity.
As well as this the incompetence of the government was revealed, which was shown to all the people of Russia now that it couldn’t be hidden. To add to this, the government began to increase its use of suppression, forcing Russian culture on Minorities, persecuting Jews, using reactionary actions to deal with protest, and continuing with the oppressive Okhrana. The government also showed its lack of understanding on how to deal with protest, as it most often simply reverted to suppression rather than negotiation, which just led to more discontent and riots.
Industrialisation is another important factor, as well as the working class. The proletariat was growing, with poor conditions and overcrowding, combined with the lack of reforms by the government. Socialism was becoming huge in working class circles, and they began to move for change. There were many working class strikes, especially during the February revolution. The higher industrial demand of the war as well as the growing industry put strains on the peasantry, with high taxes, which caused mass discontent.
The peasantry as well as the land hunger in Russia was also a factor of fair importance. The Peasants wanted the land that belonged to the gentry, and Stolypin’s reforms hadn’t resolved this, as peasants began taking land for their own. As well as this, the peasants that were conscripted into the army became disillusioned and would eventually join the others in the February revolution against the Tsar and his regime. There was also a lack of food, and the failure to supply sufficient amounts of grain led to urban unrest.
The Middle class’ opposition towards the government began to grow in the lead up to this period. There was a growth in Political debate, despite Autocracy’s ongoing reign, as well as a growing middle class involvement in the Zemstva and a general belief in the need to widen the basis of the regime. There began a development of Professions, and the Intelligentsia that had been educated in the Universities began to see what was going wrong. As well as this, Education was becoming more widespread, so more and more people were becoming disillusioned about the government and its actions.
The lower classes began seeing what was wrong with the country and its government, and began wanting change. Alexandra and Rasputin were a strong influence on Nicholas II, and she reinforced his belief in autocracy. As well as this, Alexandra’s German origins led to fake rumours of her treason against Russia, which although fake, still sowed discontent among the people, especially in Petrograd. Rasputin gained influence over the Royal Family, leading to people being unsure who was really in power.
Nicholas was influenced by both of these people, and this means they too contributed to Russia’s problems. The Revolutionary parties only really took control after the revolution, but they still had their part to play in it, albeit a more passive part. Their propaganda undermined loyalty to the Regime, and they reduced the quality of the Bureaucracy by drawing away the able young ministers. The Government grew afraid of them, and tried to use increasing amounts of suppression to try and control them, which just increased discontent.
Overall, Nicholas II is the most important factor in the outbreak of the Revolution. If he had not been there, the other factors would probably not have existed. He caused the discontent and protest simply because of the failure of his government to reform, rather they chose to uphold Autocracy and not give any power to the people of Russia. The least important factor is the Revolutionary parties, as although they played a more active and important part in the aftermath of the Revolution, they were mostly passive in the largely spontaneous February revolution.
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