By the beginning of the twentieth century, what factors contributed to the making of a revolutionary situation in Russia?
Actually, by the time of the revolution, the Czar, Nicholas II had been forced to grant the Russian people the right to a legislative assembly, known as a Duma. Also, he was quite popular with the Russian people, who considered him almost a deity. Sadly, Nicholas was woefully out of touch with the needs of the Russian people, He ignored calls for reform by the Duma, and ultimately dismissed it. Nicholas believed he had a sacred duty to preserve the royal prerogative; which put him even more out of touch. A ridiculous situation was exacerbated by the influence of Grigori Rasputin, a self styled "holy man" who interfered in political matters while claiming to be able to heal Nicholas' only son of hemophilia.
Russia was actually industrialized somewhat, in fact it produced a large number of weapons for World War I; however it could not produce nearly enough. Also, almost all land in Russia was owned by the aristocracy, known as the Boyar class. Peasants were forced to pay high rents and were abused by Boyars with abandon. Many peasants starved, clinging to the hope that Nicholas would one day save them. When it became apparent this would not happen, revolution was inevitable.
The situation of the Russian people was perhaps best illustrated by Vladimir Lenin's famous slogan: "Peace, land, bread."
- Peace: Russian soldiers were sent to war with poor training and often with no weapons. They were told to pick up the weapons of fallen comrades and keep fighting. The effect on morale is obvious.
- Land: As stated above, the Boyar class owned almost all the land. Ownership of land was such a prized ideal that during the war, many Russian soldiers deserted to grab land after the Revolution was underway.
- Bread: Also as stated above, people were starving, primarily because so much of Russia's economy was geared to production of war materials (however inadequate) and little food was produced.
Collectively, these problems set the stage for the Russian Revolution.
There were political, social, and economic factors that contributed to this. Politically, the Russian czars were very autocratic. This meant that the masses of people in Russia had essentially no say in the government. Economically, Russia was backwards as well. Russia was still very agrarian and had very little in the way of industry. This contributed to the general poverty of the Russian people. Socially, the masses of Russian peasants were uneducated and oppressed. Russia was still a very feudal country where most peasants lived in ways similar to how serfs had lived not long before. All of these factors helped cause a situation that was potentially explosive as the 20th century began.