What societal changes occurred in Russia after the October Revolution?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Society became more regimented, more tightly controlled. The Bolsheviks gradually pushed other parties out of the government, before eventually banning them altogether. Press censorship was stepped up, and under the leadership of Lenin, a one-party dictatorship was established, with the Bolsheviks renaming themselves the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The new secret police force, the Cheka, soon gained a brutal reputation for its hardline crackdown on the least sign of any dissent against the Communist state.

Although most of the Soviet leaders, like Lenin, were not of working-class origin, they nonetheless proceeded to establish a class dictatorship in which certain elements of society were regarded with at best fear, and at worst, downright hostility. Many of those of the upper-classes who hadn't already fled the country were put to work in manual occupations. Those considered especially dangerous were imprisoned in forced labor camps or in some cases executed. Their property was seized and often given to the lower-classes.

At that time, the vast majority of the Soviet population lived in the countryside, and it was there that the Communists' radical leveling of society was most keenly felt. Wealthier peasants had their land broken up to be handed over to state-controlled farms. Prior to the Revolution, the Bolsheviks had gained much support for their policy of breaking up large parcels of land and giving them to poorer peasants. Yet, having achieved power, they cynically went back on their promise and instead nationalized the land, which from now on would be run by the state. Many peasants resisted the new policy, and not just those with most to lose. The Cheka responded with the ruthless application of terror, executing opponents of the regime, both real and imagined, and forcibly seizing grain and other produce, which led to the first of the USSR's many man-made famines.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Life in Russia before the October Revolution was one of hard work and censorship.  After the revolution in 1917, the hard work and censorship remained with governmental cruelty as well.

Prior to the Bolshevik Revolution, land ownership was maintained by government-connected wealthy individuals, much like the feudal system in Europe.  Freedom of the press was non-existent, and the economy struggled to maintain any stability.  The disastrous losses of World War I haunted the country and ensured dismal morale throughout the populace.

After the October Revolution, which actually occurred in November 1917, there was little change in Russian society as a whole.  The press was still tightly regulated, and the economy struggled.  One of the major changes was the re-distribution of land.  Peasants were given de facto permission from the new government to divide the land previously owned by large landlords amongst themselves.  This allowed the peasants to farm the land as their own.  However, the poor economy failed to support them, leading in part to the Civil War.  Independence and criticism of the young government were not tolerated.  The Kronstadt Soviet Republic was a naval station traditionally serving as a revolutionary sector.  The Bolsheviks crushed the Republic and reintegrated it into greater Russia.

The communist regime put into place by the Bolsheviks remained until the fall of the USSR.  Average Russian citizens remained largely isolated from the advancements of Western societies.  Party officials and black markets allowed for some exposure to Western comforts.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial