Russian Revolution: Causes, Consequences and the Impact on world

By Sudheer Kumar K|Updated : February 13th, 2021

UPSC IAS GS Paper-I: World History

In this article, we will be discussing the Russian Revolution, which inspired many colonies of their right to self-determination and also the growth of socialism and socialist parties across the world.


Russian Revolution

  1. Introduction
  2. Causes
  3. Revolution
  4. Consequences
  5. Impact
  6. Conclusion 

1. Introduction

Russian Revolution took place between 1905 and 1917. The revolution ended the decades of absolutist Tsar (Czar) rule and installed a communist government led by Lenin

2. Causes

  • By the nineteenth century, the rule of the old feudal aristocracies in many of the European countries had been replaced by the new middle classes.
  • But Russia was still under autocratic rule by the Tsar (aka Czar) King Nicholas II, who believed in the divine right of kings.
  • Serfdom was abolished in 1861, but the peasant conditions were not improved.
  • Small landholdings with little capital to develop
  • A society divided into Clergy, Noble and common people. The Tsar Empire had the support of only the clergy and the nobles. People were unhappy and hostile to the King.
  • The Tsar King conquered many countries in Europe and Asia and forcefully imposed Russian culture and language on them.
  • The profit motive of Russian capitalists and foreign investors and miserable working conditions.
  • Workers had no political rights. Their plight could be better understood by Karl Marx quote: “The workers have nothing to lose but their chains”.

3. Revolution

  • Having seen developments in many European countries like France, Germany and Italy etc. many Russian thinkers wanted similar reforms in Russia.
  • The majority of the Russian Socialist Democratic Labour Party was called Bolsheviks and minority group, called Mensheviks.
  • Lenin, the Leader of Bolsheviks, was instrumental in bringing about a revolution.
  • The defeat of Russia by Japan strengthened the Revolution in Russia in 1905.
  • The firing was done against a group of peacefully gathered workers’ family. The day was called Bloody Sunday.
  • This led to several uprisings and in October, the Tsar King yielded and empowered ‘Duma’ to make laws and declared freedom of speech, press and association.
  • Tsar King’s appetite for Constantinople and Straight of Dardanelles took Russia into WWI. There was widespread discontent among people and the army with the King as the price of bread spiked and conditions were ripe for revolution.
  • February Revolution: Tsar Empire was dethroned and a new provincial government formed.
  • The provincial government did not implement the demands of the people-
    • Peace
    • Land to the tillers
    • Control of industry by workers
    • Equal status to non-Russian nationals
  • This led to the October Revolution.
  • Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, promised equal rights to all including non-Russians and right of self-determination.
  • The collapse of the provincial government and the Russian Congress of Soviet assumed full powers. Declaration of rights of people was issued including the right of self-determination to non-Russian nationals.
  • Nationalised banks, companies, large industries, factories, mines, transport and water etc.
  • Bolsheviks were formed into Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

4. Consequences

  • The first achievement was dethroned autocratic and the power of Church
  • Tsar Empire was transformed into USSR
  • Adopted Economic Planning to remove inequalities and build a technologically advanced society.
  • Right to work is a constitutional right and it is state duty to provide employment
  • Education to all is given high priority
  • The Constitutions of 1924 and 1936 recognized “Equality of all”
  • Autonomy to republics formed by nationalities to develop their languages and culture.

5. Impact on World

  • The Russian Revolution was the first successful revolution that proclaimed building a socialist state as its objective.
  • The Soviet Union played a leading role in determining the policies of the Comintern.
  • Socialism fastened the end of imperialism as it believed in universality and internationalism. According to Marx, a nation which enslaves another can never be happy.
  • It openly supported the independence of all nations from foreign rule.
  • The popularity of socialism helped to mitigate discriminations based on race, colour and sex.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru, in his book Autobiography, said: “it made me think of politics much more in terms of social change”.
  • Socio-economic planning, the formation of the Communist Party of India, a socialist pattern of economy, etc. are the impact of the revolution.

6. Conclusion

Russian Revolution shook the foundations of imperialism and inspired many colonies of their self-determination. It influenced the independence movements by widening the objective of independence include social change and equality through planned economic development. Russian Revolution strengthened socialism and socialist parties across the world. 


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