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Date Posted: 09:13:09 06/15/03 Sun
Author: Mr John D Clare
Subject: Causes of the Russian Revolution on March 1917
In reply to: 's message, "pleaseee!!" on 05:38:25 06/15/03 Sun

This is an opinion 'essay', so you know how to do it:
- In some ways yes
- However, in other ways no
- Considered conclusion with the telling point.

In this case:
1. It is very easy to argue that WWI was VITALLY important in the collapse of the Tsar. Look at http://www.johndclare.net/Russ3.htm. Follow the links and build up some ideas which argue that WWI led to the revolution. Key ones are going to be the number of dead soldiers/ the disruption to industry and the transport system/ the lack of men to bring in the harvest and the ensuing famine (the Revolution started with food riots)/ the damage to the Tsar's prestige.

2. But there were clearly many other factors involved. The Tsarist government was already critically weak in 1913 - see http://www.johndclare.net/Russ2.htm for a list of weaknesses. Also, there were other factors in 1917 (see http://www.johndclare.net/Russ3.htm) - the Tsar's mistakes, and his abandonment by the soldiers and the Duma.

3. Conclusion. Look at the essay title again. It is asking you 'to what extent' (= 'how far'). What proportion of the blame lies with WWI?
What I would say here is that, as we have seen, WWI was a massively important factor in causing the Revolution, although there were clearly other factors involved.
However (I would go on - this is my 'clever' point) the effects of the war was critical also in exacerbating (='making worse') all those 'other factors'.
- The Tsar's mistakes were ALL because of the war (leaving to take charge of the army/ leaving Rasputin in charge/ leaving the tsarina to make bad decisions/ ignoring the crisis of March 1917 - he did all this because he was concentrating only on the war). The war highlighted his errors.
- The soldiers abandoned the Tsar - but they did this because millions of them had died and they were fed up with him because of the war. The soldiers had not hesitated to kill the peasants in 1905.
- The Duma abandoned the Tsar - but they had been planning to do this for months because the Tsar was making such a mess of conducting the war; the crisis of March 1917 was the opportunity, not the cause.
- weaknesses - but the dynasty had had all those weaknesses for 300 years without collapsing! It was only when the government was subjected to the pressure of WWI that all those weaknesses became terminal.
Thus (you can say) WWI was the most important factor in the revolution because, not only was it a factor in its own right, but it was critically important in all the other factors.


[Alternative conclusion if you want:]
Note that it wuld be just as easy to argue that WWI was only of minor importance. If you wanted to do this, your conclusion would go like this:
3. Conclusion. Look at the essay title again. It is asking you 'to what extent' (= 'how far'). What proportion of the blame lies with WWI?
What I would say here is that, as we have seen, WWI was a factor in causing the Revolution, but there were clearly many other VITALLY important factors involved.
Also (I would go on - this is my 'clever' point) the war was merely another example of the 'other factors'.
- if the Russians lost millions of men dead, it was because the Tsar told them to charge machine guns armd with pitchforks. That is not 'the war' causing the revolution, it is a wicked and stupid Tsar doing it.
- if the war ruined Russian industry, it was because Russia was woefully unindustrialised. By contrast, WWI stimulated British industry, particularly the munitions industry.
- if the war reduced Russian transport to chaos, it was because the government was so muddled and incompetant. The Germans (with their Schlieffen Plan) had planned every detail of how to get soldiers where they needed to be. The factor here was the Tsar's incompetence, not the war.
- if men going to the Front caused a famine, it was because Russian agriculture was backward and unmodernised. Britain (which produced only half the food it ate) managed to actually INCREASE food production and get food where it was needed.
- the Tsarina messed up the government because the Tsar took leave of his senses, LEFT the government to her, and went off to do worse what his generals were already doing badly. That is not 'the war', it is the Tsar and his wife causing revolution.
- Rasputin was ALL the Tsar's fault. How can you blame 'the war' for Rasputin? If you appoint a mad monk as head of your government, you get all you deserve.
- In the last resort, the Tsar fell from power because he ignored Rodzianko's appeal to do something.

By such an argument, it becomes clear that WWI was merely 'the last straw that broke the camel's back'. To give a sad analogy, patients with Aids do not die of Aids; they will get something minor like a cold - but, because the Aids has destroyed their immune system, the cold kills them. It was the same with the Russian revolution of March 1917 - WWI was 'the cold' that the Tsar's governemt got caught with, but the real disease was a terminally weak, out-of-date country with an in-bred, incompetant ruler.


I hope I haven't confused you by arguing both ways. At GCSE, it doesn't matter whether you find 'the truth' - only that you develop a well-argued case, backed up with facts.

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