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The year 1905 in Russia


Revolution of 1905
Revolution of 1905

In 1905 it appeared that a democratic revolution might happen in Russia. In January 1905 in Saint Petersburg, then the capital of Russia, the tsar’s troops fired on a peaceful labor demonstration of workers and their families. This massacre sparked a massive uprising of workers. Radical ferment, strikes, and insurgencies spread throughout the countryside, the towns, and the cities. All the revolutionary parties suddenly gained mass followings. The tsarist regime felt sufficiently threatened to offer a variety of concessions, which included an expansion of civil liberties and the creation of an elected legislative body (with very limited powers) called the Duma. It was in this period that workers established the first soviets (democratic councils) in Saint Petersburg, Moscow, and other cities.

Within the RSDLP, many Mensheviks and Bolsheviks alike thought that revolution was at hand. Lenin envisioned what he called an uninterrupted revolution. This process would involve the democratic revolution being pushed forward by a new workers’ and peasants’ government—what Lenin called a democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. Such a government would be a radical regime that would abolish the tsarist system and clear the way for thoroughgoing democracy and modernization. Leon Trotsky, the president of the Saint Petersburg soviet (and at this time a left-wing Menshevik) put forward a theory of “permanent revolution.” According to this theory, the democratic revolution could only be won if the workers took political power, with support of the peasants.

the working-class government would then begin Russia’s transition to socialism; and this transition would spark both attacks against Russia by capitalist countries and also revolutionary upsurges that could overturn capitalism throughout the world. In 1919 this theory would become an influential outlook among Russia’s revolutionaries. By the end of 1905, however, the tsarist regime reasserted its authority through military and paramilitary violence. It quelled peasant unrest, victimized non-Russian ethnic minorities, and repressed workers’ organizations—especially the soviets that had been organized in Saint Petersburg and Moscow. The regime arrested or drove into exile thousands of revolutionary activists. But the experience and ideas of 1905 contributed to later revolutionary developments in Russia. "Russia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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