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The New Russia: Bolshevik Revolution and its Implications.

by Jessica Dean

 

The Romanov dynasty was replaced during the Russian Revolution of March 1917 by a parliamentary provisional government dominated by parties made up of primarily leftist members. This was a drastic indicator of the mood of the people who wanted change in their governments as well as in their lives. People were angry because of declining economic conditions that were worsened by their involvement in World War I. Furthermore many did not understand why they were giving their lives to this war. Thousands were losing their lives in a war that the government gave them no moral or economic reason to fight. When the provisional government took over they wanted to increase freedom for the people but were not ready to back out of the war. The new progressive government in Petrograd wanted to honor the military and diplomatic engagements of the old regime.

As the war waged on, economic conditions in Russia worsened and the Russia people were paying a high price to hold off the German offensive. The public still did not find reason to fight this bloody war. The Bolshevik leader V.I Lenin came from exile in neutral Switzerland to the Russian capital to offer a solution. Severe food shortages, the maldistribution of arable land, and the mounting casualty rate at the front collectively represented a sufficient incentive for large sections of the Russian population to respond favorably to Lenin's enticing slogan of "bread, land, and peace" (Keylor, 62). The new provisional government did not provide the radical changes that the Russian people were anticipating. This made the overthrow of the Russian provisional government by the Bolshevik movement possible on November 7, 1917 only months after the Romanov dynasty came down.

When in power Lenin wanted to 'place power in the hands of the proletariat and the poorest sections of the peasants' (Lenin, 2). He believed that above all else the Russia had to be at peace from the European conflict. He believed that the governments of capitalists were the worst enemies of peace and socialism (Lenin, 3). Only one day after gaining power, Lenin announced over the radio his intention for immediate cessation of the war, if necessary by a separate peace with the Central Powers. Next the new Russian government repudiated the czarist regime's debts to foreign lenders, thereby wiping out roughly a quarter of France's foreign investment portfolio. The Bolshevik further demonstrates its antagonism to capitalist nations when they published secret agreements concerning the postwar redistribution of enemy territory. This caused considerable embarrassment to Britain, France and Italy. The ally nations responded by ignoring the Bolshevik announcement and refusing to recognize the new government. In response Russia opened separate peace negotiations with the Central Powers in the city of Brest-Litovsk on December 3, 1917 (Carr, 18).

Three months later in March 3, 1918 the Brest-Litovsk peace agreement was signed by German and Russian emissaries that officially removed Russia from the war. According to the treaty the Bolshevik regime was forced to cede virtually the entirety of its non-Russian territories in Europe: Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland in the north, Ukraine and the provinces of Transcaucasia (Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan) in the south (Keylor, 62). These territories were not annexed but represented the new policy of 'association' which made these providence's German nation states.

This had server implication for Russia who became cut off from the Baltic Sea. Russia lost mass amount of people, resources, industry, vital minerals, raw materials and food supplies due to the peace agreements. Russia lost mass iron resources, food, Caucasus, cotton and wool from Ukraine alone. Lenin quickly learned there would be a high price to pay for a separate peace.

The result of the Bolshevik revolution had international implication. Russia's absence in the war allowed Germany to put all of its resources and men on the western front. Furthermore, German gained the territory and resources from Russia in which they employed for their war effort. In response there was an inter-American alliances sent to monitor Russia to make sure Germany did not retrieve further Russian goods to aid them in the war. The United States, Britain, France and Japan all had a station in Russia. This had implication in the civil war that Russia would soon face and for the reshaping of international politics. The Bolshevik revolution of November 7, 1917 was a turning point in international history.

Works cited:

  1. Carr, E.H. A History of Society Russia: 1 The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1923. Trinity College, Cambridge, 1978.

  2. Keylor, William R. The Twentieth Century World: An International History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

  3. Lenin, V.L. The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution. Pravada, No. 26, April 7, 1917.

 

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