IntroductionDuring the late 1800s, Russia was one of the most populated countries in the world. It was also well endowed with natural resources. However, Russia remained economically undeveloped because of the resistant to change by the government of that time (Zum.de, 2000). The Russian society was made up of the nobles, middle class, and the serfs. The nobles owned land and dominated the peasants. The middle class was composed of few people and, therefore, less influential in the society. The Serfs were farmers and laborers they were bound to their masters and lacked land (Plight of the Serfs, n.d. p.711). An emperor, also called tsar, led the government. The leader at the time was Czar Nicholas 11. He was autocratic and led the people in absolute power. He resisted change because he feared the change could undermine his power. Certainly the Russia’s unrest during the late 1800s and WW1 was predominantly due to a discontent socioeconomic system and weak leadership of Czar Nicholas 11.
Causes of the unrest in Russia
The government of Russia was facing intense criticism from a majority of the public because of the inefficiencies and bureaucracy in its system (Zum.de, 2000). Many Russians felt that the government could do more to improve their living standards. The rigidity to change was a major reason for discontent. The leadership of Czar Nicholas 11 did not respond to the concerns raised by the citizens appropriately (Plight of the Serfs, n.d. p.712). It remained autocratic and used excessive force to silence those who protested for their rights. Some of the main areas where the social-economic system and the leadership of Czar Nicholas caused discontent among the citizens are wars, industrial working conditions democracy and the rights of serfs.
Russia faces defeats in the Crimean War and the Russo- Japanese war (Zum.de, 2000). The citizens viewed the defeats as national embarrassment. The Russian army was the largest at that time. However, it suffered from the poor military leadership of Czar Nicholas 11. The army was not fully mobilized and supported during the war period. The decision to join the Second World War was a mistake by Czar Nicholas. His troops were ill equipped and poorly organized. Russia lost an enormous part of its territory to the Germans (Zum.de, 2000). Many soldiers and civilians died in the war. Many of the military personnel were annoyed by the death of their comrades and left their duties to join the activities advocating for changes.
Democracy and the rights of the citizen was a point of conflict between the government and the citizens. The emperor adopted an autocratic form of leadership. There was no representation of the people in decision-making. The people were divided into social classes. The serfs didn’t have right to own land, but they were bound to their masters. Scholars felt that the society needed to adopt a fairer system. Czar Nicholas gave in to the pressure at some point and gave a royal decree allowing the serfs are free and to own land. The reforms however did not bring the expected changes (Plight of the Serfs, n.d. p.712). The economic situation became even higher. The peasants didn’t not have enough money to purchase land from the nobles.
The work conditions in the industries were not pleasant to the workers. Workers wanted an increase in their salaries and an improvement of their working condition. To agitate for these rights, Workers staged demonstrations to push the government to grant their rights. However, the demonstrations were confronted with excess force from the government agencies (Zum.de, 2000). An example of such incidents is the “Bloody Sunday” where soldiers opened fire to demonstrating workers killing hundreds (Historywithmrgreen.com, n.d. p.869).
The unrest witnessed in Russia during the late 1800s would have been avoided had Czar Nicholas been a better leader. There could also have been few less conflict if the society were democratically led with t equality to all citizens.
- Historywithmrgreen.com, Revolution in Russia. Retrieved 12 April 2015, from http://historywithmrgreen.com/page2/assets/Revolutions%20in%20Russia.pdf
- Plight of the Serfs, Russia: Reform and Reaction. Retrieved 12 April 2015, from http://file:///C:/Users/USER/Downloads/Section%205.pdf
- Zum.de, (2000). The Russian Empire, 1905-1914. Retrieved 12 April 2015, from http://www.zum.de/whkmla/region/russia/rusemp19051914.html